Saturday, February 21, 2009

Literacy Unit - Rowan of Rin

This week we began a novel study on the book Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda. This is an adventure story that usually appeals to boys aged 9-12 and can be that motivator that hooks them into reading. Emily Rodda is brilliant at crafting stories that appeal to reluctant readers. Another of hers that I love is Finders Keepers.
I'm going to keep a record here of the activities we do with each chapter. I have been using the Four Roles of the Reader to develop these activities. Feel free to use and/or modify these ideas with your students.

For the complete Rowan of Rin unit (in reverse order!) click here.

Chapters 1 and 2 - Summary
In these chapters we meet the characters and find out that the village Rin is in trouble. The stream from the mountain has stopped running and the bukshah have no water. The bukshah provide dairy, wool and transport to the people of Rin. Without the bukshah, Rin will die. The town meets to develop a plan. It is decided that someone needs to go up the mountain to find out what is blocking the stream. Strong Jonn, Marlie and Rowan consult Sheba (the village's Wise Woman) to get advice about the best way to approach the mountain. Sheba tells them a riddle that they don't understand and throws a stick at Rowan.


Code Breaker
  • Work on developing reading fluency with the first three paragraphs.
  • Highlight nouns in this passage. Convert singular nouns to plural eg. morning - mornings
Text Participant
  • Create a diary entry from the viewpoint of Rowan
  • Create a newspaper article about the first chapter. Edit and publish. Insert text into this newspaper generator to create a newspaper clipping.
  • Create a cause and effect diagram for the first chapter. (We used Kidspiration.)

Text User
  • Discuss features of a first chapter in a Narrative. It needs to create interest and capture the reader. It introduces the problem that the characters need to solve. (To aid discussion we watched snippets from The Simpsons episode 8 of 18, where Homer gets hooked into a "Harry Potter" parody).
Text Analyst
  • Take a closer look at ideas about witches and debate whether Sheba is a witch or just a crabby old woman. We used the following PowerPoint slideshow to guide the discussion. Students had 2 minutes to individually brainstorm a list of adjectives to describe witches. We then made a class list on the PowerPoint presentation. After discussion about where these ideas came from, we read the scene with Sheba and considered her witchiness. Students discussed their opinion and then we did "Lay it on the Line". Students who thought Sheba was a witch stood at one end of the line. Students who thought she was just a crabby old woman stood at the opposite end. Students who thought something in the middle lined up accordingly. We then got a couple of spokespeople to share the logic behind their thinking. There were some really well formed arguments based on examples from the text.
2014 Update: Having just taught this section of the book again, I added a Padlet page for students to share their thoughts about whether or not Sheba is a witch. Feel free to have students contribute responsibly.


  1. Hi Penny,
    It's great to follow what you're doing with the kids via this website. Well done on engaging new media. I'll be learning as I use it too.
    David (Sophie's Dad)

  2. Hi Penny,

    I stumbled across this as I'm currently working through "Rowan of Rin" with my Year 4/5 class. I just wanted to say I'm really impressed by your blog and I love the way you've been really explicit about where each of your acitivities sits alongside the text. Thanks for inspiring me!



  3. Penny
    I am about to start Rowan of Rin with my English class and I came upon your unit of work while looking for links and associated resources.
    Your unit of work is fantastic and I know it will engage my students. I am so impressed by your use of technology and different ways of enabling students to present their work using online programs like wordles.
    Your work is inspirational. I will be sharing it with my staff at a professional learning session too.
    Way to go and thanks for sharing your work with all of us.
    Sydney NSW

  4. Thanks so much for your comment, Abbey. It came with perfect timing to give me a boost of encouragement. I'm glad you are finding this useful.

  5. I also have used your unit in conjunction with an accelerated literacy unit. My students enjoyed it immensly. Thanks

  6. Excellent work. We have just been looking at the roles of the reader so this will be very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. We are currently using your unit as the basis of our novel study in my Year 6 class. The children are so engaged and can't wait to see what the next activities will be. Thanks for inspiring me with your wide range of ideas!

  8. Just had a look at your Rowan of Rin unit. The grahic organisers look good and how you have approached it looks fun for students. Thank you for sharing. I will use parts of it for my year 4s. Cheers Maria

  9. A fantastic unit. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Impressive blog! We have just started reading this book and I appreciate your willingness to share.

  11. Hi, I'm looking to do this novel with my Year 3 students for the English topic of Fantasy. Do you think it's too advanced for my little people?


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