The Dragon

poem by Amy Dunjey , illustrated by Rosemary Fung

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to use linking devices so that I can understand how to compose cohesive texts.

Success Criteria:

  • I can define the features of a cohesive text.
  • I can identify and explain how the linking device of pronouns works in a poem.
  • I can compose my own poem using pronouns for cohesion.

Before reading the poem, revise/familiarise students with the grammatical features of pronouns and pronoun reference (suggested definitions are from the Australian Curriculum glossary).

Next, explain to students that pronouns are very important for cohesion: the grammatical and lexical features that bind the different parts of a text together and give it unity. Writers use repetition, connectives and conjunctions (among other things) to achieve cohesion. Pronouns are a type of reference word that play an essential role in ensuring that a text is cohesive. Provide students with the following sentence and ask them to identify why it lacks cohesion:

As I walked down the road he realised that my shirt was on backwards and his shoes untied.

Students should recognise that the sentence uses a mix of first (I, my) and third (he, his) person pronouns. It is unclear whether there is one person who is unusually dressed, or instead the narrator has a backwards shirt and a second person appears with untied shoes.

Once the definition and functions of pronouns and their relationship to text cohesion has been established, read the poem to students. You may wish to play pronoun bingo, either providing students with a sheet prefilled with personal and possessive pronouns, or asking students to predict which pronouns will appear in the poem. After reading, provide students with a list of the pronouns that appeared:

  • Personal: my, I, it, they, he
  • Possessive: their, our

Ask students to read the poem independently and carefully. Challenge them to try to replace the pronouns with their reference nouns (note, this cannot be done for I and my as the poem is narrated in first person). Some examples of rewritten lines include:

I watched the dragon pass the laundromat

Until the children heard the bell

Now the children’s classroom

Discuss whether these lines are an improvement on the original poem or whether they sound less sophisticated. Ensure that students understand that not only does the repetition of reference nouns make a piece of writing sound less engaging, it also interrupts the meter of a poem and often makes the lines of a stanza too long and clunky.

Students should also identify that some lines cannot be rewritten and the pronouns cannot be eliminated. These include:

could not believe their eyes.

until they heard the bell. (At a stretch, this could be rewritten as ‘until the bell was heard by the students.’)

Therefore, students should recognise that pronouns are not only an essential stylistic feature, but also an essential component of grammar to make a poem cohesive.

Finally, write a summary of one of the stories in this edition of Blast Off using the ‘Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then’ strategy. For example a summary of ‘A Train in Africa’ might be written as:

Somebody: Bongani

Wanted: the train to arrive as he had been waiting many months.

But: he had to hurry very quickly with his grandmother Ugogo to meet the train when it finally arrived.

So: the kind train driver Mandla ensured that they were able to make it to the train platform.

Then: Bongani and Ugogo were able to be seen by the medical team and receive glasses.

Students should write a narrative poem based on their summary. After writing their poem they should highlight all the examples of pronouns. For example:

Bongani looked across the veld,

He trained and strained his ears.

His grandmother asked him to wait some more,

She was confident it would one day appear.