The Line

poem by Lisa Varchol Perron , illustrated by David Legge

Learning intention:

I am learning to identify how theme relates to a text so that I can use themes to create persuasive texts.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify a theme from a published text.
  • I can connect the theme in a story to experiences from my own life
  • I can compose a for and against argument to consider both sides of a topic
  • I can use the triangle of persuasion (Ethos, Pathos, Logos) to help develop and improve my writing.


Focus question:

How do our own experiences help us understand themes in texts?

Essential knowledge:

View the video Theme from The School Magazine. Ensure students note that a theme in a story provides a lesson about life for the audience.

More on Theme can be found from the English Textual Concepts site.


Read The Line. Discuss the ending (the animals discover they lined up without realising it was a trap set by a fox). Discuss the theme of the poem (the lesson about life that the poem teaches us). Students may find it challenging to identify the theme so discuss the following questions to scaffold their responses:

  • Why do the animals line up at the sign? (Because the sign tells them to)
  • What do the animals discover after they have waited in line? (The fox placed the sign there as a trap)
  • Do you think the animals should have waited in line? Why/why not? (No because the fox planned to eat them)
  • If you were in the animal’s position, what would you do? (Check what the line was for)
  • What lesson could the animals learn from this story? (Don’t line up somewhere just because the sign tells you to)
  • What lesson could people learn from this story? (Don’t do what a sign tells you to without finding out what it means)

Discuss the themes identified in the poem, encouraging students to sum up their ideas in one sentence.


For Against
Don't follow others without thinking for yourself Following someone else's lead will provide you with new perspectives( ideas)



Question everything!


If we constantly ask questions, we never have time to listen and learn.

Don't be too trusting.


Trust opens up new and unimagined possibilities (Robert Solomon)

Discuss ways these themes might remind students of their own lives, posing the question:

  • How do our own experiences help us understand themes in texts?

Provide an example from your own life, such as a time when you have trusted someone or something without questioning it only to be caught out. Instruct students to share their own examples. Then flip the discussion around and share an example where you trusted someone enough to follow their lead and you experienced something new and wonderful.

Inform students that they will be creating their own discussion to convey the same themes as that in the poem. Tell them that you will be constructing an example as a class first. To compose a collaborative example, complete the following:

  • Select one of the themes from The Line that students identified (e.g., Question everything)
  • Brainstorm all the points that help to support each side of this discussion. Discuss examples from students’ lives where they have experienced an event that made them question everything (e.g., When a friend told them to go somewhere at school but they didn’t know if it was out of bounds, so they checked first) Alternatively, record examples where children have listened and learned a great deal (e.g., a presenter spoke to the class about the dangers of riding your bike without a helmet)
  • Refer to The School Magazine Comprehending and Creating Persuasive Texts Rubric to develop an anchor chart with the class that will act as a reference guide for joint and independent construction.
  • Discuss how the ideas might be included in a discussion and use the brainstorming points to justify each of the discussion positions. Teacher scribes while the class jointly constructs the example text. Teacher maintains control of the construction and restates incomplete sentences or contributions from the class. In doing so, the class has many opportunities for oral construction before committing their words to paper.
  • During Joint construction, give students and pairs of student’s opportunities to construct sentences or paragraphs that can be added to and used in the joint construction. This is a very dynamic process and children should be as actively engaged as possible. Teacher continues to act in the role of elaborator and restates incomplete ideas or sentences.
  • Upon completing the joint construction, provide an opportunity for children to continue to work with the teacher in a guided setting or allow children to independently construct their own discussion on one of the remaining themes. Encourage self-determination by allowing children to choose the mode in which they want to publish their work. E.g., a written discussion piece or an oral recording of their discussion piece. Provide students with the Comprehending and Creating Persuasive Texts Rubric as a guide for independent construction.
  • Peer Assessment: Provide time and opportunity for children to give feedback to peers using the Persuasive Text Rubric. This feedback can be incorporated into their work.