Jack Flash (Countdown 5, June 2019)

story by Elizabeth Williams , illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Worksheet: ‘Wanted’ poster

Understanding EN2-4A

Conduct a Question Starts Visible Thinking Routine to generate creative questions about what the story could be about. Brainstorm a list of at least twelve questions about the story. Use these question-starts to help students think of interesting questions:

  • Why ...?
  • How would it be different if ...?
  • What are the reasons ...?
  • Suppose that ...?
  • What if ...?
  • What if we knew ...?
  • What is the purpose of ...?
  • What would change if ...?

Review the brainstormed list and highlight the questions that seem most interesting. Then, select one or more of the highlighted questions to discuss. Students could use this Question Starts Thinking Routine worksheet.

Find three interesting words from the story, ‘Jack Flash’. For example: Sari, jalebi, twine, gnome, snitch/es and TSM word of the month, placid. Research their meaning and use them to increase student vocabulary in this Vocabulary Graphic Organiser worksheet.

Conduct a See, Think, Wonder thinking routine. This routine encourages students to make careful observations and thoughtful interpretations. It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry. Use student See Think Wonder worksheet to record responses.

  • What do you see?
  • What does it make you wonder?
  • What do you think about that?

Engaging personally EN2-2A

Write a suspenseful narrative using a similar plot to the one in ‘Jack Flash’. Use one of these Graphic Organisers to help scaffold writing. Option to publish using Storybird or Book Creator.

Remind students that in order to engage their audience, they need to consider character identification (families/neighbours), situations (moving to a new house) and themes (mysteriously missing items) to warrant reader interest and build a decent plot. Language choice, and choosing which ideas will connect with their audience, directly influences student writing choices, and helps in their writing development.

Point of view: Write a diary entry from Jack Flash’s point of view about his new treasures or his new neighbours on Wattle Street. Explore further the English Textual Concept ‘Point of View’.

Conduct a Step Inside visible thinking routine. This routine is designed to help students look at characters and events differently by exploring different viewpoints. Three core questions guide students in this routine:

  1. What can the person or thing perceive?
  2. What might the person or thing know about or believe?
  3. What might the person or thing care about?

Brainstorm perceptions from the story and use themes and ideas generated by the class as story titles, for their own narratives. Choose from this selection of Step Inside worksheets to record responses.

Connecting to the text EN2-11D

Background reading: Strategy explained: text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world

  • Text-to-text connections occur when we make connections between other texts in relation to the text we are reading.
  • Text-to-self connections occur when we make connections between personal experiences and the text.
  • Text-to-world connections occur when we relate the text with what we already know about the world.

Text-to-World: How do the ideas in this text relate to the larger world—past, present and future.

Students explore the following statements using a Text-to-World Connections worksheet.

  • What I just read makes me think about (event from the past) because …
  • What I just read makes me think about (event from today related to my own community, nation or world) because …
  • What I just read makes me wonder about the future because …

Discuss as a class or use a Think, Pair, Share worksheet to record responses.

Engaging critically EN2-2A & EN2-7B

Write a letter to author Elizabeth Williams using the writing a letter to the author guidelines and worksheets and the Praise Question Polish scaffold. Encourage students to highlight three elements within the narrative that they would Praise, Question and Polish:

  1. Praise: What I like about the author’s writing style or ideas.
  2. Questions: For the author to remove any confusion.
  3. Polish: Things to improve, I would change, I wish that…, I wonder if…, I couldn’t believe …

Support: Write a postcard

Experimenting EN2-10C

Write a persuasive letter to the school principal to request an incursion by ‘Birds in Schools’. Organise arguments using this Persuasion Map worksheet. For information, facts and ideas to support student writing, see this outline of the Birds in Schools environmental education project.

Create a script, for a news reporter interviewing people who have lost blue items due to bowerbirds like Jack Flash. Highlight the parts of the text that lend themselves to questions. Use a Question Creation Chart (Q-Chart) to support students. Option to use iMovie or Microsoft Movie Maker.

Create an advertisement to encourage people to become ornithologists (people who study birds). For more information, visit Birdwatch Australia and Birdlife Australia.

Journal a descriptive/creative passage about a day in the life an Australian bird, titled ‘Bird’s-eye view’.

Animate ‘Jack Flash’ using Comic Life or draw a simple film strip using this story board worksheet.

Reflecting EN2-12E

Conduct an I used to think ... But now I think … routine. This routine helps students to reflect on their thinking about a topic or issue and explore how and why that thinking has changed. It can be useful in consolidating new learning as students identify their new understandings, opinions, and beliefs. Record responses on this I Used to Think … Now I Think … worksheet.

Further reading

English Textual Concepts


Harvard Thinking Routines

Think From the Middle: Strategy Toolbox