The Bone Sparrow: A Novel Study

1. Identifying and Exploring Ideas in Texts

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To identify and explore ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can identify a range of viewpoints in a variety of texts
  • I can recognise layers of meaning in a text
  • The Bone Sparrow Visual Prompts: docx PDF
  • Access to FUSE (sign in using your department credentials) 
  • 4-5 pieces of stimulus material, for example a political cartoon, meme, video, or newspaper article
  • Access to ClickView (sign in using your department credentials) 
  • 4H Graphic Organiser Template: pptx PDF

Introduce the word ‘detention’ to the class to stimulate a conversation about the term and its possible meanings. You could use the following questions as prompts:

  • What does detention mean in the context of your school?
  • Why are students given a detention?
  • What are the conditions of detention in your school? How long does a detention last? Who decides when a student receives a detention? Where does it occur?
  • What is the purpose of a detention?
  • Who has authority or power when a detention is being served?
  • What sorts of rights do you think students should have if they are being given a detention at school?
  • What sorts of rights should teachers have if they are running a detention?
  • Do you think you could come up with a definition of detention as it applies to your school?
  • Are there any alternatives to students being given a detention?

    Using a visual image of a detention centre, deepen the conversation with your students by prompting them to think further about the possible meanings of the word ‘detention’. You will need to adapt the questions suggested below to suit your chosen visual text.

    • What does this image make you think or feel?
    • How has the author of this image depicted their experience of being in detention?
    • What thoughts and feelings do you think are conveyed by this image?
    • How might the child who has drawn this image understand the concept of detention?
    • In what way might their understanding of detention differ to the definition devised by your class?

    1. Modelled analysis

    Provide your class with a stimulus that presents multiple points of view on the issue of asylum seekers and refugees, for example, this sequence of short excerpts on ClickView taken from a 2009 episode of the ABC program ‘Insight’. Sign into ClickView using your department credentials.

    If using ClickView, you may also wish to create an interactive video that incorporates question prompts and key vocabulary prior to viewing to enable students who require a higher degree of support to access the text.

    To facilitate comprehension and analysis of the stimulus, record class responses to the viewing material on the board or an anchor chart as you watch. Consider pausing digital content regularly to allow time for thinking and responding. A table listing the prompts suggested below may provide a useful framework for analysis, though there are multiple schemas that could be used in this instance:

    Evaluations: which statements or points of view do you agree or disagree with?

    Questions: what are you wondering? Is there anything that needs clarification?

    Connections: does this text relate to other texts you have read or viewed, or to your own experiences?

    Predictions: how do think the audience members or the host might respond to opposing/different points of view?

    As you commence viewing, model an evaluation, a question, a connection and a prediction based on the material being used for your class in order to check understanding of the framework. You could use the first excerpt of ‘Insight’ for this purpose (4:46).

    Once the stimulus has been read or viewed, explore the contributions students have made. A useful focus point for the discussion would be to draw out the opposing ideas and viewpoints expressed within the material. The questions you use to elicit student responses will differ according to the stimulus you have provided.

    Possible questions:

    • Can you identify two or more different or opposing opinions on the issue of refugees and asylum seekers?
    • How might people form their opinions about refugees and asylum seekers? For example, personal experience; family history; exposure to media; political viewpoints; education.
    • What evidence do the guests provide to support their points of view?
    • Has the information presented in the video challenged your thinking about the issue of refugees or asylum seekers, or reinforced an opinion you already have? How?

    Taking the context of your school and your classroom into consideration, you could extend students in this phase by offering them the opportunity to research and compare a range of international policies on asylum seekers and refugees.

    2. Collaborative Learning: analysis

    Organise students into small groups and provide each group with a different text on the topic of refugees and asylum seekers. It would also be valuable to include a text on the Rohingya people and their history and plight within Myanmar (Burma). It is important to ensure that the texts are engaging and cover a variety of social, cultural, and historical periods. FUSE has a wide variety of digital resources suitable for this activity.

    Possible resources:

    • an excerpt from a newspaper
    • a political cartoon
    • a meme
    • a news report
    • an excerpt from a picture book or graphic novel
    • an episode of ‘Woven Threads’
    • a poem
    • an encyclopedia entry.

    Provide students with a structure to support them to analyse and respond to their individual text, such as the 4H’s (template is available in Materials and texts):

    Here: the answer is literally in the text; on the page, represented visually or stated explicitly in the words that are spoken.

    Hidden: responses are formed using inference. Students combine information from two or more places in the text or draw on the text in addition to knowledge they already possess.

    Head: students’ responses are informed by their background knowledge, what they already know about a subject.

    Heart: students’ responses consist of an opinion, or an emotional response to the text.

    Provide students the time to read and analyse their text, with the expectation that they will report their findings back to the class once they are done. Encourage students to assign roles to the members of their group to support constructive collaboration.

    Enable the learning of students who require further support with this task by focusing their attention on the ‘here’ or ‘heart’ component of the 4H’s in their group.

    Extend the learning of students by scaffolding a critical thinking exercise about the context within which they have formed their ‘heart’ responses to the material. A hierarchy chart would work in this instance.

    Collect ‘Here, Hidden, Head, Heart’ organisers for assessment.

    Facilitate a class discussion in which each group briefly outlines the nature of their stimulus material and then feeds their thinking about and exploration of the issue back to the class. Consider using this opportunity to assess whether students can identify and explore the ideas and viewpoints represented in their text.

    Prompts for reflection include:

    • How might the Australian community’s thinking about or response to refugees and asylum seekers have changed over time. How may it have it remained the same?
    • How have other countries responded to the issue of people seeking refuge or asylum?
    • Can you identify one idea or piece of information that was new to you today?

    You may wish to formulate a class question to investigate further, or to identify areas of understanding that require further support.

    Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014. Australian human rights commission. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 15 March 2022].

    ClickView, n.d. How do I create an interactive video on ClickView?. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 15 March 2022].

    Freepikcompany, 2013-2019. Flaticon. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 15 March 2022].

    State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Asylum seekers in the 1990s and 2000s. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 15 March 2022].

    State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Woven Threads. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 15 March 2022].

    Visme, 2019. 15 Graphic Organizers and How They Help Visualize Ideas. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 15 March 2022].

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