The Bushman's Clock (the Call of the Kookaburra)

poem by Stephen Whiteside , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intention

I am learning to compose poems that adapt or combine aspects of texts I have experienced so that I may compose a poem which enables my readers to make inferences.

Success criteria

  • I can analyse textual clues.
  • I can consider my own knowledge.
  • I can combine textual clues and my own knowledge to make inferences.
  • I can compose a poem about a native Australian animal.
  • I can include textual clues in my poem.

Read The Bushman’s Clock (the Call of the Kookaburra) to students. Note: do not read the title or allow students to see the illustration that accompanies the poem for now. Inform students that they will be making inferences about the creature that is the subject matter of the poem. Re-read the poem to students and identify textual clues. For example:

As new day is dawning (Reveals the creature rises early)

Raucous (Which means laughter)

Is known as the bushman’s clock (Reveals it lives in the bush)

That in town and city (Reveals it also lives in cities)

On that call from the gum tree (Reveals it likes gum trees)

Inform students that when making inferences we combine textual clues and our own knowledge. Discuss knowledge that might assist students with identifying the creature, for example:

  • It likes gum trees so it might be a koala, however it makes a lot of noise which isn’t like a koala
  • It rises early so it might be a bird
  • Kookaburras laugh.

Reveal the identity of the creature. Discuss reasons why authors may choose to keep the topic out of a poem (to create interest and engagement, to keep readers guessing, to entertain).

Inform students that they will be composing their own text that keeps readers guessing by requiring them to make inferences about the subject matter. Tell them that first you will be completing an example collaboratively.

Discuss other well-known native Australian fauna and their distinguishing features, for example:

  • Kangaroos – distinctive hop
  • Koalas – sleep a lot
  • Emus – tall with a long neck
  • Possums – scratch on rooftops

View Wacky Weekend: Aussie Animals from Kids Geographic for further ideas.

Select one of these and identify distinguishing features, for example:

  • The kangaroo with its distinctive hop

Refer back to The Bushman’s Clock (the Call of the Kookaburra) and identify how the author has created intrigue (by focusing on one of the birds features and developing this). Inform students that they will be doing the same with their chosen animal.

Collaboratively compose descriptions of the chosen animal without revealing too much information. Inform students that these descriptions will form textual clues that readers can combine with their own knowledge to make inferences. Discuss the fact that if you use the word ‘hop’ it might give the animal’s identity away, as this is a word we commonly associate with kangaroos. Tell students that instead they should be creative with their descriptions, for example:

  • It doesn’t walk, it’s more like a ballet dancer leaping
  • It bounds across the outback
  • Its tail helps it move
  • It could rival an acrobat with agility.

Refer back to The Bushman’s Clock (the Call of the Kookaburra) to identify the rhyming scheme (mostly rhyming couplets, however this varies in lines 3 and 6 which rhyme with each other. Discuss how to express the scheme using letters (AABCCB). Inform students that they can choose whether to make their poem rhyme or not. Refer students to a thesaurus or a rhyming dictionary to identify rhyming words if they choose to make their poems rhyme.

Feature these ideas in a collaborative poem. Remind students that they should avoid explicitly stating what the animal is. A sample poem is:

The agility of an acrobat,

But it isn’t a domestic cat,

The outback is its home,

Like a ballet dancer leaping,

While we are sleeping,

Nighttime is its time to roam.

Place students in pairs. Students may also work independently for this task. Instruct students to complete the following:

  • Select an example of native Australian fauna
  • Identify its distinguishing features
  • Identify vocabulary to describe it which can form textual clues
  • Compose a poem.

Assessment for/as learning: Peer- assessment

Place students with each other and inform them that they will be reading each other’s poems. Provide them with stop watches and inform them that they will be timing each other to see how long it takes for their partner to correctly identify the subject matter of their poem. Once their partner has correctly identified the creature, students should discuss context clues and prior knowledge that allowed students to make their inferences.

Visit Effective Feedback from the NSW Department of Education for further information on the various types of feedback.