poem by Desna Wallace , illustrated by Lesley McGee

Learning Intention:

I am learning to create a visual representation based on a written text and create a written text based on a visual representation so that I can experiment with ideas and a range of text types.


Success Criteria:

  • I can create a visual representation based on a poem
  • I can discuss my visual representation with a peer
  • I can use a visual representation as stimulus for narrative writing
  • I can develop characterisation, descriptive language and a message for readers in my story


Essential knowledge:


Information about Cicadas can be found on the Australian Musuem website.


Understanding text:


Prior to reading the poem, ask students what they already know about Cicadas. Tell them that they will be reading a poem about cicadas – ask them to write down a prediction of what the poem might include, based on their knowledge of the subject. If students need further information about cicadas, they can visit the Australian Museum website, link in ‘Essential knowledge,’ above.


Have students represent the story told in the poem as a 4 or 8 square storyboard. Use the template from the Digital Learning Selector. Ask students not to use words or captions in their storyboard, they are to represent the poem in pictures.


Encourage students to use a range of viewing angles (sometimes a close up, sometimes showing the action from a distance. To teach students the difference between different viewing angles, look at the following examples from this issue of orbit – discuss the angle of each one and when they are useful in a storyboard.

  • The illustration for ‘Finding El Dogado’ on page 6. (This is an establishing shot, or extreme long shot. Taken from a distance to set the scene, useful at the beginning of a new scene to orient the reader/viewer)
  • The illustration for ‘Escape’ on page 28. (This is a mid-shot – showing the boy from the waist up. This is useful for showing both facial expressions but also body language)
  • The illustration for ‘Eione’ on page 22. (This is an extreme close up, zooming in on a key details)
  • The illustration for ‘Eione’ on page 24. (this is a close up, useful for showing facial expressions or key details)
  • The illustration for ‘Eione’ on page 26. (This is a long shot, useful for showing characters within a scene).


Creating text:

Students swap their storyboard with a partner. Students look at their partner’s storyboard in comparison with their own and discuss:

  • What is similar and what is different?
  • Why are there similarities and differences?
  • Where have you each chosen to use close ups, long shots or other angles in your storyboard? Why?


Students now take their partner’s storyboard and in their own workbook, write a short story (not a poem) based on the storyboard. They are to follow the sequence in the storyboard, but think about adding details such as characterisation, descriptive language and a message for the reader.

When students have finished their stories, they can give their partner’s storyboard back and then share their story with their partner.


Assessment for/as learning:

Students engage in a peer marking activity in which they offer feedback on the short story using the ‘Two stars and a wish’ method.  Use the Peer Feedback document from the Department of Education website.