Copyright Agency: Connecting authors and illustrators with schoolsMahtab’s Story

Exploring human experience and resilience

Author: Libby Gleeson

Close up a a young girl wearing a head scarf from book cover (detail)

Allen and Unwin   |  ISBN: 9781741753349

The content description links on this page have been updated in line with Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum. Use this guide to compare codes across versions.

A unit of work for students in Upper Primary years

Synopsis: The vivid and compelling story of a young girl fleeing Afghanistan with her family and their journey to Australia. Inspired by a true story.

Mahtab was empty. She felt hungry ... for water, for her father, for her grandmother, her aunts and uncles, for the trees in the back yard, the cabinet on the wall, the silver and glass objects so lovingly collected, for her mountains, the jagged peaks that cut the sky.

Her father was dead. She felt sure of it. She was just a speck of dirt on the floor, drifting through the gap between the boards, falling to the ground.

Mahtab and her family are forced to leave their home in Herat and journey secretly through the rocky mountains to Pakistan and from there to faraway Australia. Months go by, months of waiting, months of dread. Will they ever be reunited with their father, will they ever find a home? This compelling novel by one of Australia's best-loved children's authors is based on the true story of one girl's voyage to Australia with her family.

Key skills, knowledge and understandings developed in this unit

Through reading, viewing, talking, listening, writing and representing activities students will explore themes of loss and grief, family, refugees and the ways in which ordinary people cope in extraordinary circumstances. Students will learn about the craft of writing and representing human experiences.

Teaching and learning sequence (each lesson will open in a new window/tab)

Lesson 1: Before reading  | Assessment for learning  | Book bits

Lesson 2: Exploring Afghanistan  | Shared or guided reading  | Creating timelines

Lesson 3: Map the novel  | Video conference Part 1  | Family history

Lesson 4: Assessment task 1 — Mahtab's perspective   | Reading Mirror

Lesson 5: Creating a fact file booklet about Australia

Lesson 6: Building empathy  | Assessment task 2 — writing a dramatic scene

Lesson 7: Writing on assylum seekers  | Assessment task 3 — letter to the editor

Lesson 8: Diaries  | Personification  | Dialogue, imagery and other literary devices

Lesson 9: Video conference Part 2 — response to student writing | Creating similes

Lesson 10: Exploring tense  | Assessment task 4 — creating a book trailer

Video note: This unit resulted from a collaborative project between PETAA and the Copyright Agency. The unit links to videos recorded live at Gymea Bay Public School using the NSW DEC videoconference network. The videos are presented as recorded with minimal editing.

Australian Curriculum: English Year Level   Year 6

Content descriptions

Language: Text structure and organisation – Understand how authors often innovate on text structures and play with language features to achieve particular aesthetic, humorous and persuasive purposes and effects AC9E6LA03 – Understand that cohesive links can be made in texts by omitting or replacing words AC9E6LA04. Expressing and developing ideas – Investigate how vocabulary choices, including evaluative language can express shades of meaning, feeling and opinion AC9E6LA08.

Literature: Literature and context – Make connections between students’ own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts AC9E6LE01. Responding to literature – Identify and explain how choices in language, for example modality, emphasis, repetition and metaphor, influence personal response to different texts AC9E6LE02. Examining literature – Identify the relationship between words, sounds, imagery and language patterns in narratives and poetry such as ballads, limericks and free verse AC9E6LE04. Creating literature – Create literary texts that adapt or combine aspects of texts students have experienced in innovative ways AC9E6LE05 – Experiment with text structures and language features and their effects in creating literary texts, for example, using imagery, sentence variation, metaphor and word choice AC9E6LE05.

Literacy: Interacting with others – Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions AC9E6LY02. Interpreting, analysing, evaluating – Analyse strategies authors use to influence readers – Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse information and ideas, comparing content from a variety of textual sources including media and digital texts  AC9E6LY05. Creating texts – Use a range of software, including word processing programs, learning new functions as required to create texts – Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience   AC9E6LY06.

Source for content descriptions above: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)


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