Once by Morris Gleitzman

Michelle Hildebrand & Alicia Mitrione

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Learning Intention

Students will organise information to answer their question using a question web to expand and organise their thinking, answer questions, and deepen comprehension.

Success Criteria

  • Students can identify an essential questions from the text
  • Student's can identify relevant information in order to build answers to their question
  • Students can organise their thinking by adding relevant information to their question web.

(Harvey & Goudvis, 2007)

Australian Curriculum: Level 4 English

Discuss literary experiences with others, sharing responses and expressing a point of view

  • Sharing and discussing student's own and others' understanding
  • Drawing comparisons between students' own experiences - asking questions such as 'What new idea does this bring to story?'

(ACARA, n.d.)

Reading Strategy - Questioning

According to Harvey & Goudvis (2007):

  • Questions are the master key to understanding as they clarify confusion.
  • Questions stimulate research
  • They thrust us forward and deeper into our reading.
  • By nature we are driven into finding answers and to make sense of things.
  • Richard Feynman (as cited in Harvey & Goudvis) referred to questioning as his “puzzle drive”. As a Nobel prize winning physicist, he couldn’t NOT search for answers to his questions. Good teachers need to encourage this seeking of answers to questions.
  • Good questions come from background knowledge.
  • Good questions engages us and inspires us to continue reading.

Link to a Literacy Model - Four Roles of the Reader

Text Participant

  • Students use "background knowledge to make meaning of the text" (MyRead, 2002)
  • Uses meaning clues to make meaning of the text. (MyRead, 2002)
  • Students make meaning of the text through interpretation, prior knowledge and questions, and how aspects of the story are relevant to their own lives
  • Students question what might happen next and "what words or phrases give me [them] this idea" (Wing Jan, 2013, p. 6)

Teacher Directed Learning

  • Discuss the purpose of questioning
  • Model the questioning process and a question web by reading a non-related text - for example The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
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Lathner students reading Once

Dear Anna,

Thank-you for picking such great novels for us to read next term. You know I have been reading and LOVING the whole Dragonkeeper series. Yes, I know I talk about these books ALL the time! Maybe I should have been born a dragon. I want to read something new. I’ve read the whole Deltora series so maybe I need another style.

I’d like to read Once. I want to read this novel because the book looks interesting. The cover made me want to know more. I read the blurb at the back and like you told us to I also read the first two pages and guess what? I got hooked!

Yours Truly,

Fiona Young

Dear Ms Jones,

I don’t know much about the second world war but I know a bit about Hitler and I think I’d like to know more about what happened to the Jewish people. And Edward thinks war books are interesting. So my idea to read Once may be a good one. What do you think?

From Koichi

Dear Teacher,

I told my mums boy friend the names of the books to pick and he said pick Once. I picked that one but I hope its not boring.Trying to remember how you told us you pick books.

From Grace

Dear Ms Jones,

The book I select is Once.The cover is interesting and the first few pages make me want more! I can’t wait to read it.

Please Ms Jones!!!


Hi Anna,

I looked at all the books you put out for us. I also talk to Ahmet and Simon. They sade I would like Once. It’s not too thick and wont be to hard for me to read but I may need help.

Tanks Anna,


(Semple, 2014).

Digital Teaching Tool for Student Centred Learning

  • Students will view the Voicethread individually on iPads or Netbooks
  • Students will develop their own essential question for the text Once
  • Students will begin to add relevant information from the text to their question web while they continue to read Once in order to build an answer (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007).
  • Students will discuss their question web during literacy rotations.


ACARA. (n.d.). English. Retrieved September 25th, 2014 from: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/Curriculum/F-10?layout=1

Gleitzman, M. (2005). Once. Penguin Group (Australia): Melbourne.

Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2007). Strategies That Work; Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement. Stenhouse Publishers: Portland, Maine.

Ludwig, C. & Holm, S. (2006). What’s Hot! Curriculum Corporation: Carlton South.

MyRead (2002) MyRead; Strategies for Teaching Reading in the Middle Years. Retrieved October 4th 2014 from: http://www.myread.org/index.htm

Semple, C. (2014). Booktalk group - students who are reading 'Once'. Retrieved September 25th, 2014 from https://lms.rmit.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_296857_1

Wing Jan, L. (2013). Write Ways: Modelling Writing Forms. Oxford University Press: South Melbourne.