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Ministry of Education.

The living world: eat or be eaten

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

Writers: Margaret Johnson, Helen Nicholls, Michael Denny
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Overview This unit is written for secondary English language learners to develop reading skills as a scaffold to NZ Curriculum science learning area achievement objectives. It focuses on building topic-specific vocabulary, understanding main ideas and the use of descriptive language in science information texts.

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 scores, previous ESOL unit standard assessments, PROBE assessments, formative assessments) alongside The English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) reading matrix to establish the level at which students are working and their current strengths and needs. The unit includes some activities designed to ascertain vocabulary that learners already know about the topic. Tasks in the Science Assessment Resource Bank (ARB) could also be used for this purpose e.g. understanding in science - Living World – tasks.

Curriculum Links Assessment Links
Learning area: English (ESOL)

Summative Assessment

Students are assessed in a short answer test at the end of the unit.

Students could be formatively assessed using the following science ARB ‘using evidence’ task related to the Living World strand:

LW0522 (L3) Students decide whether four dinosaurs are herbivores or carnivores.

Students could also be formatively or summatively assessed using the following ESOL unit standard:

Unit standard 27983: Read and understand simple texts on familiar topics (expired)

Focus: Written language 

English: Reading

AO L4:


Show an increasing understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts

Language features

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

English Language Learning Progressions:

Students will have complete 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:

Science: Living World

AO L4: Explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced


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:

  • use simple food chains to explain the feeding relationships of familiar animals and plants
  • understand the relationship of familiar animals and plants with the environment
  • classify different organisms according to how they get food
  • identify and describe different types of adaptation that enable organisms to survive in their own environment
Language learning outcomes

Text features of information texts:


general opening statement – definition / classification – followed by specific examples and scientific description

main ideas / facts and supporting details

illustrations or diagrams which support the text


nouns and noun phrases e.g. organisms, ecological niche

countable and uncountable nouns e.g. birds, material

use of indefinite and definite articles (e.g. a carnivore, the bird)

zero article for general reference (e.g. birds) or with uncountable nouns (e.g. plant material)

timeless present tense e.g. make, carry out

relating or linking verbs e.g. is, have

action verbs e.g. eat, live

passive voice e.g. is eaten (by), is classified

classifying adjectives e.g. structural, behavioural, physiological

cohesive devices including conjunctions (e.g. but, because, also), pronoun reference (e.g. these), determiners (e.g. each), repetition of key nouns (e.g. community, members, population)

See also:

Features of text forms – Reports

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

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

For more complex sample information texts see ELIP stage 3:

‘Weta’ (2c); ‘The Walrus’ (13b)

Suggested Duration 3 weeks

Teaching and Learning

(What do I need to know and do?)

Teacher background reading:

The language of science (ARB)

Knapp, P. & Watkins, M. (2005) Genre, Text, Grammar. Sydney: University of NSW

The genre of describing: Information reports , pages 105-106

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 85 (2), 133-138

Teaching and Learning Resources:

Solve the Link in the Food Chain Activity

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?)

Formative Assessment

Instruct students to close their books. Hand out the Before and After Vocab Grid (RTF 57KB) . Students complete the revised definition column (with no dictionaries) and hand it back to the teacher. This, as well as the completed learning grid, can be used to determine student readiness for summative assessment, to identify where further teaching and learning is required and to provide specific feedback on both science and language learning outcomes.

Students who need increased challenge could investigate more complex examples of animal adaptations and describe these to the class in oral or written form. They could also read more complex science information texts on related topics in preparation for assessment. 

Having identified evidence of students’ learning progress, reflect on how effective the chosen teaching approaches and strategies have been. Plan to build on what worked well and to address any less effective areas.

Assessment Task (Word 28KB)

This summative short answer test assesses student knowledge and understanding in relation to the specific learning outcomes of the unit. It should be used only when students have demonstrated readiness in formative work.

See the assessment schedule (Word 2007 17KB) .

Printing this unit:

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

Published on: 09 Jan 2018