Surprise Delivery

article by M Gim , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning Intention:

I am learning to follow criteria when engaging in class discussions so that I can successfully engage in debates.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify criteria for discussions.
  • I can analyse articles to identify practices that differ from today.
  • I can consider opinions about these practices.
  • I can follow the criteria to successfully engage in a discussion.
  • I can reflect on my contribution to the discussion.


Essential knowledge:


View the video Argument from the English Textual Concepts. Discuss the ideas presented in the video, ensuring students note the following:

  • That arguments are powerful things when structured properly and in a sensible and persuasive manner
  • A number of elements can be used to support an argument, such as making a claim, including statistics and describing research
  • Arguments can be presented in a variety of ways including poems, articles and stories

This text also provides opportunities to discuss Perspective and Context particularly as the text examines cultural contexts that were deemed appropriate in previous cultures, but would not be approved of in our modern day society.


Oral language and communication:


Discuss strategies students feel are important when conducting discussions. Collaboratively agree on criteria and note these on the board. Sample ideas include:

  • Waiting for your turn to speak
  • Using impartial language
  • Providing clear evidence for opinions
  • Showing respect to each other

Inform students that they will be conducting a class discussion later in the lesson.


Understanding text:


Read Surprise Delivery or listen to the audio file if you have a digital subscription. Discuss the following:

  • What is the subject matter? (The delivery of babies by the postal system)
  • What period in time is the article referring to? (From 1913 to a couple of years after that)
  • How does the information described in the article differ from the practices of today? (Babies can no longer be delivered by mail)

Inform students that they will be conducting a brief class discussion about whether babies should be delivered by mail in the present day. Divide the class into two groups and inform one group that they will be arguing in favour of delivering babies by mail and the other group that they will be arguing against this. Tell students that they should plan three to five strong arguments to support their claim. Discuss ideas of arguments, for example:

In favour:

  • Babies should be delivered by post as long as their well-being can be ensured as it is cost effective
  • Delivering babies by post would save the long and tiresome journeys some parents and carers may undertake when transporting their children to childcare.


  • Delivering babies by post would be dangerous and it would put the safety of all parties involved at risk
  • It may be unsettling for the babies who would be unfamiliar with the delivery staff


Remind students of the elements that help create a strong argument, such as rhetorical questioning and the inclusion of statistics and information obtained through research. Inform students that they can use the information in the article to support their ideas.

Briefly conduct a class discussion. Remind students of the criteria they created around how to participate successfully in class discussions and refer back to it when required.

Following the discussion, reflect on the criteria and adjust where necessary, deleting or adding any additional ideas students deem important.


Creating text:

Inform students that they will be conducting a discussion in small groups. Tell them that they will be analysing a different article in Touchdown for information to use in their discussions. Read The Human Alarm Clocks of the 1800s or listen to the audio file. Note: This article is found on pages 10 to 12 of this issue of Touchdown. Place students in groups of six or eight. Instruct students to discuss the same questions as previously in their groups. Share responses. Sample ideas are:

  • What is the subject matter? (The article describes the work of Knocker-uppers, who after the introduction of the Industrial Revolution where time was required to be kept, woke people up in the mornings for a small fee)
  • What period in time is the article referring to? (The 1800s up to the early 1940s)
  • How does the information described in the article differ from the practices of today? (Today people use alarm clocks or settings on their phones to wake themselves up)


Divide the groups into two smaller groups. Inform one group that they will be arguing in favour of using human knocker-uppers in the modern day and the other that they will be arguing against. Instruct students to plan three to five strong arguments to support their position. Sample ideas include:

In favour:

  • Human knocker-uppers would be a reliable method for waking people up
  • Resurrecting the role would provide employment for older people who may find it challenging to gain employment


  • Using human knocker-uppers nowadays would be a waste of time and money
  • It would be unfair and unethical to have knocker-uppers working outside in unpredictable weather conditions

Allow time for students to plan their arguments before instructing them to conduct a discussion in their group.


Assessment for/as learning:

After the discussion display the following questions for students to use to reflect on their performance. Instruct students to record their answers in their workbooks.

  • The argument I am most proud of is_____
  • The criteria I followed when engaging in the discussion are______
  • I found the following criteria more challenging to follow (If any)______
  • In future, I will aim to adapt my contributions to class discussions by______
  • I think the following additional criteria should be added to the list (if any)_________