Life is Non-fiction

6. Researching and Creating Non-Fiction Texts

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To plan, draft and publish a non-fiction text

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can use non-fiction text structures, such as headings, sub-headings, paragraphs and images in my writing
  • I can use topic specific vocabulary
  • Writing materials
  • Access to digital devices
  • Information texts on adaptions for collaborative research
  • A pre-pared plan and text to refer to during a modelled writing task

Discuss the article,  ‘Sulphur-crested cockatoos raiding wheelie bins are (annoying) examples of animal behavioural adaptation’. (This article was also used in the stage, Using Vocabulary to Improve Meaning.)

Invite students to comment on the language features used in the text and how they differ from a more conventional information text. For example:

  • The author uses humour, referring to the birds’ nickname as ‘jerk bird’.
  • The author describes the birds with almost human features, [it] melodramatically throws [rubbish from the bin], ‘sulphur crested gang’, rooftop antics, the caption ‘partners in bin crime’.

Ask students to evaluate the style of the article:

  • What did they find entertaining?
  • How easy was it to understand?
  • How might you improve the article?
  • How relevant were the photographs and captions?

Explain to students that they have the opportunity to plan, draft and publish an information or explanation text exploring a research question that is of interest to them. Topics that interest the students may have been identified in earlier stages.

Use a shared or modelled writing strategy to draft an information text on an engaging topic. Model your planning methods and thinking strategies.

Annotate key features of your text. Key features could include:

  • Introduction including the method you used to highlight the main topic and the general questions that might be addressed.
  • Paragraphs with a topic sentence and supporting detail
  • Concluding paragraph
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Sections of the text where photographs, diagrams or illustrations could be placed.
  • Glossary to define topic specific vocabulary.

Provide resources for students to research their inquiry questions.

Support students to plan, draft and revise their writing. Conference with students during all stages of the writing process.

Encourage students to identify individual writing goals. For example:

  • use a graphic organiser to map out ideas with some detail
  • develop ideas with supporting details
  • restate information derived from research
  • uses a topic sentence and supporting evidence or examples in a paragraph
  • including supporting visual information.

The Literacy Learning Progressions may provide other examples of appropriate writing goals.

Present mini lessons to target student learning needs. For example:

  • using visual information to support meaning
  • using connective devices effectively
  • editing and revising writing to improve meaning
  • using topic specific vocabulary effectively

Discuss publishing options with students.

Enable students requiring further support to organise their research notes by providing a range of visual organisers. Support students with regular writing conferences during the planning and drafting stage.

Provide sentence stems to aid student writing or support students to use sentence and paragraph structures from non-fiction texts to modify and develop.

Extend students in their thinking by asking them to include information on how human and environmental factors may affect the ability of animals to survive and adapt.

Co-construct an assessment rubric with students to clearly define and expand on the success criteria.

For example, a rubric may address one or more of the following skills: writing in third person and maintaining a consistent tense, including headings, subheadings photographs and a glossary, writing in clearly defined paragraphs or using topic specific vocabulary.

The rubric could be designed earlier in the sequence to direct student writing goals and support them throughout the writing task. Advice on rubric design is available on the VCAA website.

Department of Education, State of NSW, 2016. Resources for processes. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Jones, A., 2019. Sulphur-crested cockatoos raiding wheelie bins are (annoying) examples of animal behavioural adaptation, ABC News, 1 September. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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