Darcy Does Things Differently

story by Lara Cain Gray , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning Intention:

I am learning to engage in a range of oral activities so that I can explore how different perspectives and language styles can be developed in response to a range of scenarios.


Success Criteria:

  • I can engage verbally in class discussions.
  • I can engage in a range of verbal interactions of different formality and adjust language use accordingly.
  • I can identify different perspectives within a story.
  • I can connect personally with varied perspectives.
  • I can present an informal/impromptu verbal presentation.


Essential knowledge:

View the English Textual concepts Perspective video.


Oral language and communication:


Prior to reading the story, ask students to imagine they were going to an animal shelter to adopt a new pet. Ask them to engage in a role play activity with a partner. In the role play, one person takes on the role of somebody wanting to adopt a pet, the other person is the animal shelter worker who tries to match pets with people.

Before starting the role play, ask the class to suggest the kind of questions that a person in an animal shelter might ask somebody who wishes to adopt a pet so that they can match that person with a suitable animal. (Suggestion include: What kind of animal would you like? Have you had a pet before? What kind of personality are you looking for in a pet? What size pet? What kind of activities do you wish to do with your pet?)

Allow pairs time to role play the interview between the person wishing to adopt a pet and the animal shelter worker. Encourage students to find a solution for the right kind of pet. If time allows, students are to switch roles and do the role play again from a different perspective.


After the role play discuss how they changed the way they spoke or the language they used when they swapped from one role to the other. (Students might identify that they put on a more ‘professional voice’ and used bigger words and more formal language when they were the animal shelter worker. They might have noticed that when they were in the role of the potential pet owner, they might have spoken faster and have been more excitable and casual in their speech.)


Understanding text:

Read the story as a class or listen to the audio if you have a digital subscription.

After reading, engage the class in a whole class discussion using the following prompts:

  • The story is written in third person limited style, it shows one character’s perspective – whose perspective do we see? (Darcy’s perspective)
  • Why is Darcy different? (He is an older dog, he doesn’t show off, he is not playful, he likes a quiet life)
  • What kind of figurative language device is used throughout the story? How many examples can you find? (Alliteration: There are many examples including “Darcy Dawson Donnelly was a very distinguished dog who suddenly found himself solo in his senior years.”)
  • What did the different people want in a pet dog? How does dialogue help to show these different perspectives? (The conversation ‘Look at this one, he has pretty brown patches!’ ‘Oh, I prefer this one! She’s all white and fluffy!’ shows how different people have different preferences and perspectives of the animals they see in front of them.)
  • Why do you think different people prefer different dogs?
  • What did all the people say when they chose their dog? (‘Hooray, this dog’s for me!’) What is the effect of using this phrase each time a dog was chosen? (It shows how excited all these people are when choosing their dog)
  • How might the dialogue used by the people wishing to adopt a pet be different to the dialogue that a worker at the animal shelter might use? Why? (The people adopting a pet will be very excited and might use informal language. A worker at the animal shelter might use more formal language so that they appear professional.)


Assessment for/as learning:

Have students prepare a Vlog reflection which they can record on a tablet, video camera or other electronic device. Students are to speak informally about the lesson and what they have learnt regarding the way that they engaged verbally with their classmates and how they changed their style of speaking and interaction style during the lesson to suit the different roles they were playing.

Give students the following prompts to help them prepare for their Vlog recording.

  • Why is dialogue and spoken language important for understanding different people’s perspectives?
  • When you took part in the role play, what did you change about the way you spoke when you swapped roles? (Is the animal shelter worker going to use a more formal style of language because they are at work?)
  • When you worked with a pair, did you speak differently compared with when you offered an answer in a whole class discussion? Why?
  • Did you feel more confident answering questions about the story from your own perspective compared with when you took on a different role?


Below are some sentence starters to help students think about what they will say in their Vlog:

  • In class today we talked about dialogue and spoken language. I learnt…
  • We took part in a role play in class, when I played the role of…
  • When I work with a partner, I speak… When we do whole class discussions I…
  • I felt the most confident when…
  • It is important to be able to match the way you speak and the words you use to different situations because…