Chipping Away!

article by Claire Catacouzinos , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning intention:

I am learning to improve my reading comprehension by asking and answering text dependent questions in order to increase my perseverance when reading and comprehending challenging text.

Success criteria:

  • I can participate in multiple re-readings of the same text looking closely at text, paragraph, sentence and word level choices.
  • I can participate in rigorous conversations about the text with my peers.
  • I can ask questions of the text so that I can make sense of the text.
  • I can answer questions of the text using the evidence provided in the text.
  • I can share my opinions and back my interpretation of the text with evidence from the text.

Background knowledge:

Prior to any work with children set them up for success by revealing an interactive satellite  map of Deir El Medina so that children can be informed of where Deir El Medina is located in relation to modern day cities.

Allow time to watch this short video on Pyramid building which mentions the specialist workers of Deir El Medina.

Essential knowledge:

Vocabulary that needs to be taught prior to the initial reading:

Word Investigation Chart
Vocabulary I have never seen this word before. I have seen this word before. I think it means ... because... Expert definition.


Close reading of Chipping Away!

Reading Text-Dependent Questions Outcome
1st Reading:

What it says.

Key ideas and details.




Where is the text located?

What is the text about?

What elements of the text caught your attention?

What is the purpose of this text?









2nd Reading:

How it says it.

Craft and Structure










Why does the author use “Pssst! At the beginning of the text?


The author/narrator uses second person narration to tell this non-fiction piece. This less common feature is purposefully chosen through the use of “you, your and they” throughout the text. Why has the author used second person narration? Use of second person narration conveys the informal tone purposefully created by the author.


Evaluate the structure of the text. Does it fit the general structure of an information text? Introduction, statement and/or conclusion? Is this text effective in meeting the purpose of the text? Do readers prefer the less formal tone of the text?


The author is clearly persuading us to feel a particular way about the workers of Deir El Medina. Find the evidence that reveals this particular point of view.

  • Vivid minds
  • Privileged lives
  • Crafty
  • Skilled workers
  • Their hard work
  • They were literate.


3rd Reading

What it means.


Language features, sentence structures, visual components, text cohesion, repetitions devices and language features.





















Why was an understanding of Ostraca so important to the text, that the author chose to have it explained in the speech bubble?


Discuss the type of sentences the author has predominantly written the text in. There is some variety however there is a dominant type of sentence used throughout the text. It is more interesting to read a text that has different sentence structures and reinforces the style of the text the author is constructing. Complex sentences with adverbial phrases such as “Over 3,500 years ago, deep in the West Bank of the Nile and close to the modern-day city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) is the archaeological village of Deir El-Medina, the Valley of the Workers, known in Ancient Egypt as the Place of Truth”.

How is the author positioning us to feel about the workers at Deir El Medina through the sentence “Through their hard work we can get into the vivid minds of everyday Ancient Egyptians and hear their unique voices amongst the treasures they left behind.


What does the author want to infer from the sentence “But it’s okay- this is all in the name of Pharaoh!”


Throughout the text the author poses many questions directly to the reader.

  • But how do we know this?
  • But what did these tombs look like?
  • Did the tomb makers create their own tombs?
  • So, what was it like to work on the royal tombs?
  • But what about pay day, you ask?

Do you think this is an effective technique?

This is a stylistic feature the author has purposefully incorporated.


The author uses examples of idiom throughout the text such as:

  • Hop to it!
  • Cheers all around!
  • Chuck a sick day
  • legit excuse.

Why do you think idiom has been incorporated into the text structure? What effect does it have to the overall text? Is it suitable for this text? Another stylistic feature of the author?



























General follow up questions for each of the readings: How do you know this?

What evidence do you have to support that?

Why do you think this?

What examples can you find in the text?