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Ministry of Education.


Learning Outcomes | Teaching and Learning | Assessment and Evaluation | Printing Version


Silvia Insley and Fran Hunter.

Adapted to meet the requirements of ESOL unit standard 2986, version 7.

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Overview This unit is written for secondary English language learners to develop information text reading and writing skills as a scaffold to NZ Curriculum science and social science learning area achievement objectives. It focuses on building topic specific vocabulary, identifying main ideas and supporting details and understanding the effect of cohesive devices.

Learning Outcomes

(What do my students need to learn?)

What are my students’ current strengths and learning needs?

Use previous reading assessments (e.g. asTTle or PAT scores, previous ESOL unit standard assessments, PROBE assessments, running records, vocabulary levels tests, formative assessments) alongside The English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) reading and writing matrices to establish the level at which students are working and their current strengths and needs. Resources from the English Assessment Resource Bank (ARB) can also be valuable for this purpose e.g. identify the main idea at levels 3-4. The unit includes activities designed to ascertain what learners already know about the topic.

Curriculum Links Assessment Links
Learning area: English (ESOL)

Unit standard 27999: Write simple texts on familiar topics

Students can also be formatively assessed on creating a visual text.

Focus: Written language 

English: Reading

AO L3/4:

Purposes and audiences

Show a developing / increasing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences.

Language features

Show a developing / increasing understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts.

English Language Learning Progressions:

Students will be working at ELLP stage 2.

English Language Intensive Programme:

The language features and text complexity focused on relate most closely to ELIP stage 2.

Learning area achievement objectives:

Links could also be made to:

Social Studies: Place and Environment

AO L4: Understand how exploration and innovation create opportunities and challenges for people, places and environments.

Science: Planet Earth and Beyond

AO L4: Develop an understanding that water, air, rocks and soil, and life forms make up our planet and recognise that these are also Earth’s resources.


Key Competencies: all five with particular emphasis on:

Using language, symbols and text: to interpret and explain text features and access information

Thinking: to develop understanding, construct knowledge and reflect on their own learning


Specific Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • identify the main idea of an information text using illustrations and layout
  • identify main points and supporting details in an information text
  • identify the effect on meaning of cohesive devices in an information text
  • understand the meaning of essential vocabulary in an information text
  • write a paragraph using a topic sentence and supporting detail
  • create a simple static image which combines visual and verbal features.
Language learning outcomes

Key vocabulary:

Topic-specific words e.g. Antarctica, ice, north, south, the equator, glacier, the atmosphere, surface, moisture, conditions, forecasters, freeze, thaw, blizzard, whiteout, intense, hostile

Collocations e.g. the ice age, ice cap, ice shelf, global warming, the greenhouse effect, weather cycles, convection currents, the wind-chill, the northern and southern hemispheres

Comparative and superlative adjectives: cold, colder; drier, driest

Text features of information reports:


general opening statement

main ideas / facts and supporting details

paragraphs and topic sentences

illustrations or diagrams which support the text


nouns and noun phrases e.g. the chill, global weather cycles, the hole in the ozone layer

timeless present tense, for example, freezes, break

relating or linking verbs, for example, is, has

action verbs, for example, sail, freeze, blow

cohesive devices including conjunctions (for example, but, because, if), pronoun reference (for example, it, they, these), repetition of key nouns (for example, ice) and lexical chains (for example, ice - freeze – snow – blizzard)

See also:

Features of text forms – Reports

ELIP stage 2 sample information report genre texts with language features annotated:

‘Kiwi’ (5c); ‘Sharks’ (5d); ‘Kangaroos’ (11c); ‘Antarctica’ (11d); ‘New Zealand’ (20c) and ‘Drugs’ (20d).

Suggested Duration 2-3 weeks

Teaching and Learning

(What do I need to know and do?)

Teacher background reading:

Derewianka, B. (1990) Exploring How Texts Work. Sydney: Primary Teaching Association.

Information Reports, pages 47–56

Schoenbach, R.et al (2003) Apprenticing Adolescents to reading in Subject Area Classrooms Phi Delta Kappan pages 133-138

Some teaching and learning resources:


Antarctic Exploration

Tramline Virtual Field Trip: Antarctica

Human Involvement and Impact


Alchin, R. (2008) Connected - The Big Chill and the Big Drill. Wellington: Learning Media

Alchin, R. (1997) Applications - Time on Ice. Wellington: Learning Media

Westerkov, K. (1991) Time Capsule in the Antarctic. Wellington: Learning Media

Select from, adapt and supplement the teaching and learning tasks below to meet your students’ identified learning needs.

Learning task 1

Learning task 2

Learning task 3

Learning task 4

Learning task 5

Assessment and Evaluation

(What is the impact of my teaching and learning?)

Assessment Task: Antarctica: ESOL unit standard 2986 (version 7)

Note that this task assesses one of two tasks required for this standard.

Assessment schedule: Antarctica: ESOL unit standard 2986 (version 7)

It is recommended that the work on reading information texts completed in this unit is extended into writing information texts in a following unit.

Printing this unit

If you are not able to access the zipped files, please download the following individual files:

Published on: 09 Jan 2018