High Achievers

poem by Kate O’Neil , illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to consider the key written and visual features of a text so that I can identify the audience and purpose of imaginative texts.

Success Criteria:

  • I can make connections between a text and other texts that I have read and viewed.
  • I can locate and consider key written and visual features of a text and link them to a specific age range and purpose.
  • I can justify the decisions I have made about audience and purpose by using subject specific metalanguage.


Essential Knowledge:

More information about how authors craft texts to suit a particular audience and purpose can be found in the NSW Government Education’s resource Stage 2 reading – Audience and Purpose.

Prior to reading the poem, introduce or revise the meaning of audience and purpose with your students:

  • Audience: the intended readers, listeners, viewers. This may include age, cultural background, education level and economic status.
  • Purpose: the reason an author has composed a text. The purpose can be broadly categorized as to inform, to educate, to persuade and to entertain.

You may wish to delve further, using the information and quizzes presented on the BBC Bitesize page Audience, Purpose and Form.

Explain to students that they will view three texts that have the same form (poem) and subject matter (climbing and adventuring). However, these poems have different audiences and purposes. It will be up to students to decide the intended age for the reader of each poem and how the different messages link to different purposes.

Provide students with two additional poems about climbing and adventuring. Suggested poems are:

  • ‘Hill’ by Shirley Hughes, published in ‘Out and About.’
  • ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen

Read the poems as a class. After reading each poem, provide students with a modified Purpose/Audience Quadrant Analysis. A suggested structure for the Quadrant Analysis, with answers for the poem ‘Hill’, are included below:

Name of poem: ‘Hill’ by Shirley Hughes

Key vocabulary

Mainly simple and childlike

Contains some ambitious and specific vocabulary such as ‘tangled’, ‘stalks’ ‘scramble’

Simple rhyme scheme

Key visual features

Very realistic drawing

The eye catching (salient) image is the young girl who is walking behind her family and later appears rolling down the hill.

Maybe she is the speaker in the poem?

Events in the poem

A girl describes how hard it is to climb up a hill. The grass and weeds are so tall it looks like a jungle. She then makes it to the top and rolls down.

Meaning of poem

This poem is about climbing a difficult hill and then having fun rolling down it.

There does not seem to be a hidden or inferential meaning.

After students have read the three poems and completed the corresponding quadrants, ask students to compare the audience and purpose for each poem. Explain that students should be able to justify their decisions about audience and purpose using the following subject specific metalanguage:

  • Key vocabulary
  • Key visual features (extension: salience / salient image)
  • Events
  • Hidden / inferential meaning.

Students should recognise that ‘Hill’ and ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ are for younger readers, preschool and early primary school (infants) age children respectively. While ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ does potentially have a hidden meaning of the power of imagination, or threats in the local area, both poems are predominantly literal.

In contrast, ‘High Achievers’ is a poem written for later primary school age children. This is due to a more complex vocabulary (Sublime, channels) and illustrations that feature older looking children. Furthermore, students should recognise that this poem has an inferential meaning and thematic message: the resilience and determination of children and their ability to defy adult expectations.