story by Alan C Williams , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning intention:

I am learning to connect ideas in a story to my own experiences and present and justify a point of view.

Success criteria:

  • I can consider the theme of a story.
  • I can undertake a role within a class discussion.
  • I can follow rules when participating in a group discussion.
  • I can reflect on how a theme in a story connects to my own life.
  • I can justify my point of view.

Ensure students are aware the theme of a story is its moral or message. View The School Magazine’s video on Theme for more information.

Read Possum. Discuss the theme of the story. Steer students towards concluding how Britney’s uniqueness (being nocturnal) is a help rather than a hinderance.

Inform students that they will be discussing the theme identified and considering how it relates to their own experiences.

Briefly discuss the rules when it comes to group discussion, and display these for students’ to refer back to. For example:

  • Allowing others to speak without interrupting them
  • Respecting others’ ideas even when they are different from you own
  • Keeping language neutral and impartial when debating

Place students in groups. Allocate each student a role to undertake during their group discussion and briefly explain each role. Roles include: observer (watching the discussion, ensuring all group-members follow the rules and encouraging all group members’ to contribute their ideas), chair-person (leads the discussion, ensuring everyone has a turn and moving the group through each discussion question) and debaters (members of the group who will be discussing their ideas).

Inform students of the question to be discussed: ‘is being unique a help or a hinderance?’

Display additional discussion questions for students to consider:

  • Are there times in your own life when you have found being unique, either in yourself or others, a help or a hinderance?
  • Are your personal experiences similar to or different from those of the characters’ in Possum?

Inform students that they should strive to provide reasons for their point of view. Allow time for students to discuss their ideas with their group. Once students have discussed the questions, inform students that they will be discussing their ideas as a whole class. Instruct students to briefly discuss with their group some of the main arguments discussed.

Allocate one observer and one chairperson for the whole-group discussion. To be equitable, ensure these are different from those who acted in these roles while in the group discussions. Inform the rest of the students that they will be debaters.

Instruct the chairperson to each of the questions, and instruct the observer to ensure members from each group share their groups’ responses.