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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

The big "C"

Writer: Margaret Johnson

NCEA Level: 2 Duration: 3 weeks

Unit standard being assessed

US 12420 Version 3

  • Read transactional written text closely.

Performance criteria

  • One main idea in the text is explained with reference to at least one relevant section of the text
  • The significance of a main idea in the text is analysed with reference to at least one relevant section of the text
  • Three examples of language features are identified using appropriate terminology, and each example is described in terms of its effect
  • A technique used to shape the text is identified and analysed with reference to at least one relevant section of the text.

Curriculum links

This unit standard is derived from reading language achievement objectives up to and including Level 7: close reading, exploring language, using texts, processing information, thinking critically.

While the subject matter in this Unit Standard may not at first appear to be relevant to ESOL students, it will be at least partly familiar to students who have studied Biology Level 1 Achievement Standard 90166 (Describe the functioning of human digestive and skeletomuscular systems). In this AS knowledge is required of some named malfunctions of the digestive system. One of these is bowel cancer. However it should be possible for other students to pick up the necessary information from the recommended texts.

Guidelines for use

  • Class time will be spent establishing prior knowledge, pre-teaching vocabulary and teaching language features and text structure.
  • Students will then read several texts, applying this knowledge.
  • This will be followed by formative and summative assessments. Students will complete ONE of the two required assessment activities for US 12420. Students will develop close readings of provided texts on the topic of cancer. Other texts with a similar focus could also be included as material for further close reading activities.

While tasks are supplied for some of the texts used, teachers will need to design tasks to activate prior learning and pre-teach vocabulary for each other new text chosen. Research has shown that making links with students' prior knowledge is vital to the learning process. Some suitable web pages to access for ideas on how to do this are:

  • KWL
    A chart where students list things they already know about the topic, what they want to know and what they have learned later in the topic.
  • Structured overviews
    These are an arrangement of keywords and concepts which can help to tie new information to existing knowledge.
  • Graphic organisers
    Graphic organisers can be used to record information that students already know about a topic.
  • There are several useful websites with strategies that can be used for pre-teaching vocabulary in the following website in ESOL online under Teaching strategies.
  • When pre-teaching vocabulary it is useful to include words from the Victoria University of Wellington Academic word list. These are words which students are likely to encounter at tertiary institutions.


  • This activity requires both classroom and homework time.
  • Students should be given class time to become familiar with vocabulary and language features and aspects of text structure.
  • Closer analysis of other texts could be done in class or at home.

The first formative assessment is more scaffolded. For more information about scaffolding there is a useful article on the NCREL website about scaffolding. This assessment is a practice run so is an open book assessment done after some group work.

For summative assessment, teachers must be satisfied that the close reading work is the student's. Students should complete close reading activities in class. If the close reading activity is to be used for summative assessment, teachers should ensure that the extent of teacher input does not compromise assessment validity; in other words, the work is the student's, not the teacher's.

Teachers may guide students actively through the initial tasks. When completing close reading activities for summative assessment, students can compare their answers to those in the initial tasks to ensure that their close reading answers are at an appropriate level.

Students should have several opportunities during the year to develop their close reading skills.

Note: Teachers using this unit will need to check that it accords with their school assessment policy.

Teaching and learning activities

Learning task 1

Learning task 2

Learning task 3

Learning task 4


This assessment is to be completed individually, in class and under exam conditions. It cannot be taken out of class.

SlayingDragons (Word 1MB)

See the AssessmentSchedule (Word 59KB) which is linked to the When they told me ... text indicating the level of answers required. Successful completion of this task will fulfil part of the range statement (one of two close readings) for the level 2 Unit standard 12420: Read transactional text closely.

Other texts (or text extracts) with a similar focus to texts included in this unit could also be included as material for a second close reading activity to complete the range statement for this unit standard. The questions could be adapted as required. A second close reading activity could also be completed using the Getting Around unit.

Published on: 24 Jun 2009