Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes

article by Anne Renaud ,  photo by Tara Lowry

Learning intention:  

I am learning to identify, describe, and discuss similarities and differences between texts by the same author so that I can apply this knowledge when analysing the style of other writers. 

Success criteria:  

  • I can identify elements that relate to a writer’s style.  
  • I can examine two texts searching for similarities and differences based on specific elements. 
  • I can draw conclusions about a writer’s style.  
  • I can share my ideas with my peers. 

Essential knowledge:  

View the video Style produced by The School Magazine. Discuss elements that make individual writer’s styles unique that are outlined in the video. The teacher should provide examples of each, such as: 

  • the words writers choose (e.g., lots of adjectives/adverbs, emotive vocabulary, modal verbs) 
  • the way they phrase sentences (e.g., short and snappy sentences, long complex sentences, featuring the dependent clause before the main clause) 
  • the dialogue (e.g., the length of lines of dialogue, the way it moves the story on)  
  • an individual writer’s use of punctuation (e.g., exclamation marks, rhetorical questions, colons, semi-colons) 

 

Learning resource: 

Refer students to Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes. Inform students that both this and the article Baobab: Giant of the Savanna, also featured in this issue of Touchdown, are written by the same person, Anne Renaud.  

Tell students that they will be comparing the two articles to identify similarities and differences between them. Inform students that they will also be evaluating characteristics that define the writer's individual style. Discuss the elements identified from the video Style, that students might look for when analysing a writer’s style, referring to the list of examples above.  

Inform students that as the articles are both non-fiction, dialogue has not been included so that can be excluded from the list of elements currently under consideration.  

Read both articles. Inform students that they will be examining similarities and differences between the two articles. Discuss further ideas for elements students might use when comparing and contrasting based on what they have read in the articles and add these to the list. Sample ideas include:  

  • whether a writer includes lots of background information  
  • if a writer writes in a formal or conversational tone  

Note: ensure students are aware that tone means the attitude the writer expresses towards a topic, for example, objective or subjective, and that tone can be positive or negative, formal, or informal. For more information on tone, read the section tone on the webpage from CentreGrove.   

Display the following headings:  

  • vocabulary 
  • the way the writer phrases sentences  
  • punctuation 
  • types of information 
  • tone - formal (like a textbook) or informal (which sounds like a conversation) 

Select the first heading ‘vocabulary’ and collaboratively examine both articles, ‘Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes’ and ‘Baobab: Giant of the Savanna Place’. Discuss observations about vocabulary. Demonstrate scanning the first article, ‘Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes’, and use the strategy think-alouds to explicitly express your thoughts. Sample responses include:  

  • they have used adjectives such as ‘colourful balls’, ‘sparkling lights’ and ‘impressive sizes’ 
  • words like ‘so’, for example ‘so popular’ to express the degree of popularity are used 
  • they have included complex vocabulary such as ‘gamut’ as in ‘they run the gamut of imagination’ 

Repeat this process with the next article, Baobab: Giant of the Savanna. For example:  

  • includes adjectives such as ‘countless’ as in ‘countless insects and creatures’, ‘Africa’s widespread’ as in, ‘baobabs can be found throughout Africa’s widespread savannas’ and spectacular, nocturnal as in ‘spectacular, nocturnal flowers’ 
  • uses words like ‘most astonishing’ to express degree, as in ‘One of the most astonishing things’  
  • have included complex vocabulary, such as fibrous as in ‘fibrous sponge-like trunks’  
  • Features emotive vocabulary such as ‘disgusting’ as in ‘Disgusted with his draw’ 

 

Discuss similarities and differences between the writer’s style in both articles, for example similarities such as, in both articles they have used adjectives, words to express degree and complex vocabulary, and differences such as in Baobab: Giant of the Savanna the writer also used emotive language.   

Place students in pairs or small groups. Allocate each group to one of the elements from above.  

Sample responses have been provided:  

  • the way the writer phrases sentences – students may need to be reminded of the different types of sentences by viewing the webpage Sentence Structure (The writer uses a variety of complex sentences, compound sentences, both articles begin with a complex sentence, where the dependent clause appears first, e.g., ‘Centuries ago in Oaxaca, Mexico, merchants carved radishes to attract buyers at the Christmas market,’ from ‘Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes’ and ‘According to African folklore, the Great Spirit gave every animal a tree to plant’, from ‘Baobab: Giant of the Savanna’) 
  • punctuation (the writer uses exclamation marks and rhetorical questions in both articles) 
  • types of information (both articles include information about ideas and customs from other cultures, they both include factual information, such as the date of the festival and the weight of the radishes in ‘Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes’ and the diameter and height of the Baobab trees’ trunks and the lifespan of the tree in ‘Baobab: Giant of the Savanna’) 
  • tone – (in ‘Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes’ the writer adopts a more conversational tone, such as, ‘They decorate trees with colourful balls and sparkling lights, hang wreaths and mistletoe, send cards, bake gingerbread cookies, sing carols, carve radishes ... Wait, what?’ and ‘Who knew that radishes could be so versatile!’ whereas ‘Dossier of Discovery: Night of the Radishes’ is a more formal in tone) 

Once students have had time to investigate their allocated focus area, discuss students' findings.  

Extension: 

Inform students that they will be using the same headings to analyse an author who specialises in fiction. Instruct students to select an author they are familiar with and analyse at least two of their texts using the same headings as were used earlier.