Lesson 5: Using visual mentor texts

Links to the Victorian Curriculum – English

Discuss different texts on a similar topic, identifying similarities and differences between the texts (Content description VCELY220)

Explore different ways of expressing emotions, including verbal, visual, body language and facial expressions (Content description VCELA201)

Discuss how authors create characters using language and images (Content description VCELT205)

Links to the Victorian Curriculum – English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Pathway A

Speaking and listening

Level A1:

  • Use non-verbal language to sustain interaction with others (VCEALA009)

Level A2:

  • Adjust speech to suit the audience and purpose (VCEALA090)

Reading and viewing

Level A1:

  • Recognise and explore different types of texts (VCEALL042)
  • Recall or repeat familiar or favourite parts of a text using memory or home language resources (VCEALA041)

Level A2:

  • Identify and compare differences in text genres (VCEALL123)
  • Relate something from a text to own experience (VCEALA122)

Theory/practice connections

Texts are organised in ways to meet their social purpose. The organisation of the text includes its structure and the language and/or multimodal features used. A scaffolded teaching sequence can help students understand the social purpose of texts and use the features to best meet the purpose. Use of the teaching and learning cycle can help teachers construct a scaffolded teaching sequence, which results in students independently constructing texts. Although the emphasis in on writing (creating), reading, viewing, speaking and listening are included in the teaching sequence capturing the reciprocal relationship which exists between all modes of language. The teaching and learning cycle has distinct stages. However, a teacher can move students backwards and forwards between the stages. The stages of the teaching and learning cycle are as follows:

  • Building the context or field
  • Modelling the text (or deconstruction)
  • Guided practice (or joint construction)
  • Independent construction

The amount of time spent building the context or field will depend upon the students' existing knowledge and experience. Lessons 1 – 4 all serve to build students' field of knowledge.

Additional resources

A collection of books about friendship, such as:

  • Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, by Aaron Blabey
  • Sunday Chutney, by Aaron Blabey
  • Friends, by Eric Carle
  • Amy and Louis, by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood
  • Clancy and Millie and the very fine house, by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood
  • Frog and Toad books, by Arnold Lobel
  • Bear and Chook, by Lisa Shanahan

Learning intentions

We are learning to identify how authors/illustrators show friendship through the pictures.

Success criteria

I will be able to name the visual elements that help to show the theme of friendship in picture storybooks.

Role of the reader

Text participant: How have the visual elements been used to create meaning?

Group size

Small groups

Lesson Sequence: Building the context or field

  1. Clearly articulate learning intention. We are learning to identify how authors/illustrators show friendship through the pictures.
  2. Students work in friendship groups and discuss the sorts of things they do together. Refer to the friendship words generated in Lesson 1.
  3. In their groups, students prepare a tableau (this is a drama strategy, where students create a living picture) to show the class an element of their friendship. Lead students in a discussion about what we can see and what we can infer about friendship. Assessment: Anecdotal observations about students' references to facial expression and body language to indicate their understanding of meaning made through the visual. Take photos of the students' tableaus.
  4. Students work with a partner to peruse picture storybooks, which include the theme of friendship and draw comparisons between their friendship and what they see presented in the texts.
  5. Students share their findings with the class group.
  6. Revisit the picture storybooks and examine how the illustrators have shown the elements of friendship through the illustrations. Focus particularly on the use of colour, gaze and framing.

Assessment: Formal assessment - Record these observations.


Teacher guidance for students who have yet to develop the social skills for co-operative group work may be needed. At Step 2, the teacher could remind students of classroom tasks that students complete together and help students articulate the elements of friendship in these tasks. For students who have not yet developed writing skills, proforma 2 could be completed through drawing.

For able students, a digital device could be used to photograph the tableau before presenting it to the class. Teacher or peer feedback could be provided and students could act on this to improve their tableau.