In an earlier post, I talked about the ‘four roles of the reader’ and how there were some good tips available for targeting activities at each of these roles, provided by Holliday’s text ‘Strategies for Reading Success’. For my own learning process I wanted to focus on doing a bit of research into each of these.

The text analyst

Being a text analyst means the student knows how to analyse the author’s purpose, the intended audience, point of view or bias in a text, and the ways a texts features present a point of view. Text analysts look at language to understand how people, events and places are portrayed.

“Being a text analyst means working to see through the text to its composer, and their purposes and intentions as they constructed the text” (Holliday, 1998, p. 48).

Teaching strategies for text analyst success

  • Select texts from different cultures or historical periods. Discuss what the writer wants us to think about, why the author wrote the book and what it tells us about that period of culture
  • Analyse a fairytale – looking at the main characters, draw up character profiles, comparing how they are similar and different. Ask why this might be, especially looking at different genders and status (princesses versus maids)
  • Compare and contrast the lives of students with those in books from the past, such as ‘Seven Little Australians’ or ‘Little Women’. Highlight anachronisms, and discuss the ways that we can learn from what was considered ‘normal’ at the time of writing
  • Analyse photos and images for ‘point of view’ – what does the image tell us about a person, object or landscape? How did the composer want us to think and feel?
  • Ask students to retell a narrative from the point of view of another character
  • Look for texts that give viewpoints on issues studied in class. Consider questions such as – who wrote this text?, what are they trying to tell us? Who might hold a different opinion? Why? You can get students to design and produce a persuasive pamphlet
  • Analyse advertising texts – collect magazine ads and use one to discuss what is being advertised and who the target audience is, listing features that are there to persuade the audience (images, colour, words, price). Get small groups to each analyse a different ad, then discuss as a class.
  • Get the class to work in small groups to design an ad for a new product (e.g. a new toy, food product or soft drink) – encourage them to use technology
  • Teach students how to evaluate online sources (whose point of view is presented? What evidence supports this point of view?) Give each group a different topic to research. Model an internet search first and explain different internet concepts (.com, .org, .edu, .gov, drop-down menus). Each group can present on their research project and the steps they took to find and evaluate information
  • Find two books that present opposing points of view on a topic. For example, when studying First Contact, read a convict or settler text and one from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander point of view. Compare and interrogate the different points of view.

REFERENCES

Holliday, M. (2008). Strategies for Reading Success. PETAA: Newtown.

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