The Siren's Mirror

part one of a story by Geoffrey McSkimming , illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Learning Intention:

I am learning to interpret sequential images in texts so that I can make informed predictions about plot, character and narrative.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use my knowledge of narrative codes and conventions to make informed predictions.
  • I can analyse character through dialogue and actions to make informed predictions about their next actions.
  • I can explain how sequential images can contribute to the meaning of a text.


Essential knowledge:

For more information about how to identify narrative structure, view The School Magazine’s videos on Narrative and Code and Convention.

For more information about understanding character, view The School Magazine’s video on Character.


Oral language and communication

Before reading The Siren’s Mirror (part two), refer to part one of the story in this year’s Orbit issue 1. Ask students to analyse dialogue and character actions to evaluate Mr Erasmus and Sylphie’s characters. For example, while the text tells us that Mr Erasmus is a serene and thoughtful chap, he also keeps a box of mysterious objects, suggesting he’s interested in the supernatural. Another example is Mr Erasmus and Sylphie’s opposed reactions to the book Molluscs for Fun and Profit: The Joy of Gastropods, which tells the reader that Mr Erasmus finds joy in all knowledge and reads for pleasure, while Sylphie, who had visited Mr Erasmus on a whim, probably can’t sit still long enough to read an informative book on molluscs.


After refamiliarising themselves with part one of the text, ask students to write predictions on the trajectory of the story. Remind them that part two will be a similar length to part one. Discuss the codes and conventions of a narrative structure, such as building suspense before heading to the climax scene where everything is resolved. For example, students might predict that at first Mr Erasmus doesn’t believe Sylphie, as this will increase tension and suspense. Also, knowing about Mr Erasmus’s character, students might predict he would want to read up about siren’s mirrors while Sylphie might fly around searching for the “ghost”. Ask students if they believe there is a ghost in the garden, the siren’s mirror is warping time or whether there’s a logical explanation for the second Mr Erasmus.


Understanding text:

Without introducing part two of the story, display the images from part two in sequential order for students to view. Discuss the images. Students might notice the following:

Image one: The Mr Erasmus with the frangipani scones is sitting with Sylphie, who is likely explaining in more detail about the second Mr Erasmus.

Image two: Mr Erasmus may be searching the garden for the second Mr Erasmus. Students may predict from his worried expression that he has seen something, or perhaps he hasn’t found anything at all.

Image three: Sylphie is looking in the mirror again and can see the second Mr Erasmus.

Image four: Mr Erasmus is looking in the mirror. The image doesn’t show anything in the mirror, which may lead students to believe Mr Erasmus thinks Sylphie’s making it up.

Image five: It appears Mr Erasmus is waving, though looking more closely at his awkward stance, students might suspect this isn’t the Mr Erasmus they’ve analysed closely, but rather someone else.


Creating text:

Students make adjustments to their predictions based on the images. Read The Siren’s Mirror part two as a class or listen to the audio recording if you have digital subscription. Ask students if their predictions were correct. Discuss how the images gave clues to help with their predictions.


Assessment for/as learning:

Students complete an exit ticket stating one clue from the images that helped inform their predictions.