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Glenda Shopen & Tony Liddicoat

Monitoring and Assessment

First Steps Reading Developmental Continuum

Four Resources Guideposts

Classroom Organisation

Engagement: Empowering Teachers with Successful Strategies

Interlinks: Annotated Learning provides opportunities for students to link school curriculum with their own interests, goals and purposes for learning.

Through Interlinks: Annotated Learning students practise the skills and strategies of literacy to solve problems in the cognitive, social and physical worlds. Students also produce their own texts which link prior learning, new understandings and possible future annotations.

Interlinks: Annotated Learning attempts to use what we know about how students actively engage with problem-solving tasks outside of school in the real, imagined and virtual worlds. It introduces these skills into the school setting in order to enrich current teaching practices and improve motivation and outcomes for students.

It supports the idea that learning should be exciting, challenging and engaging for individuals and related to issues, interests or problems that are part of their experiences. In addition, it demonstrates the way that new technologies can play a critical role in the transformation of teaching and learning.

Engagement: Engaging Students in Purposeful Social Practices


Interlinks: Annotated Learning


Multiple texts such as print, screen, images, events, music and artefacts related to the theme of ‘Towers’

  • draws on students’ contemporary personal, scientific, social, emotional and cultural knowledge and interests
  • involves students and teachers in making links between personal and/or community interests and school curriculum
  • involves students and teachers in a critical review of the links they have made in relation to the learning they want to achieve
  • engages students and teachers in multiliterate behaviours as they inquire into the way meanings are constructed in their world
  • allows students to set and review their own goals for learning
  • engages students in constructing annotations linking their own interests and understanding with those suggested or required by the curriculum
  • excite, interest or challenge students to think more deeply about a concept or to address a problem or issue
  • are the personal, local and global texts available to students in their learning communities
  • are multimedia texts selected to challenge understanding of concepts, problems or issues
  • are linked for reasons that are made explicit and which include personal and community perspectives
  • are considered critically in order to build understanding of a concept and its relevance for personal, local and global communities
  • scaffold the creation of new texts that link explicitly with stimulus texts and with possible future texts

Four Roles/Resources of the Reader

Based on the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader developed by Freebody and Luke (1990), Interlinks: Annotated Learning involves the following repertoire of purposeful social practices:

Code breaker

Decoding the codes and conventions of written, spoken and visual texts, eg:

  • critically decodes texts reflecting on the way they are influenced by other texts
  • focuses on particular words, phrases, statements, images, music, graphics, style and other text and code conventions and their personal and social effects
  • identifies and interprets links between literal and symbolic codes and images

Text user

Understanding the purposes of different written, spoken and visual texts for different cultural and social functions, eg:

  • uses knowledge of the codes and conventions to produce texts for specific audiences and for personal and social purposes and goals
  • reflects on and analyses links between own experiences with texts and the development of personal and social practices
  • makes interpretive links within and between texts to produce a storyboard or hypertext

Text participant

Comprehending written, spoken and visual texts, eg:

  • identifies the texts which stimulate own interests
  • draws on own background knowledge to synthesise information from a range of text inputs
  • develops explicit links among a variety of texts to construct a web of meanings
  • sees their own interests as vital to their learning and as contributing significantly to the production and meaning of texts

Text analyst

Understanding how texts position readers, viewers and listeners, eg:

  • understands how social and personal perspective is constructed in texts
  • constructs own positions on texts
  • links texts as a way of presenting texts and positioning audiences
  • acknowledges the perspectives of others in responding to texts

Four Resources Guideposts

The Interlinks:Annotated Learning Guideposts provide a useful assessment tool.

Implementing the Strategy

  1. Teacher provides the task and the stimulus for the task
Preparation: selecting a stimulus is a way of making a link between the text and the real world
  1. Teacher models choosing an interest from stimulus text(s)
Modelling: the teacher supports the students in developing their own perspectives
  1. Teacher models making an annotation
  1. Student chooses an interest (ie a link to the stimulus)
Task: students make links between the stimulus and their own interests and develop these
  1. Student develops an annotation
Iteration: each annotation becomes a platform for proceeding to a further annotation
  1. Student makes another link to the stimulus

  1. Student makes a link to the annotation


Teacher provides the task and the stimulus for the task

Present students with a problem to be solved, an issue to be investigated or a concept to be explored, eg What makes a tower a tower?

The problem, issue or concept should involve opinion, consideration of different perspectives and argument.


Collect stimulus materials related to ‘towers’ for your students, eg:

When providing resource material consider a range of multimodal texts:


  • a novel or short story or an excerpt from these
  • newspaper articles
  • poetry
  • brochures
  • letters
  • biographies
  • advertisements
  • information texts or reports


  • videos and DVDs
  • television programs
  • films
  • websites
  • computer games
  • music videos


  • films
  • paintings
  • posters
  • sculptures
  • photographs


  • excursions
  • experiments
  • drama/theatre


  • CDs and tapes
  • music videos
  • radio programs


Teacher models choosing an interest from the stimulus.

  • Identify key elements and interests from the stimulus materials. Consider what is important, puzzling and interesting. Generate own questions. Work in small groups to scaffold the discussion. The key elements may include words, images, concepts, people/characters, information, events and emotions.
  • Make appropriate links to increase understanding and develop own perspectives.

The links students make with the stimulus materials may be recorded on a mindmap which is a form of annotation. The links connect the stimulus material to new questions, understandings and future annotations. The following mindmap uses some of the stimulus material on ‘towers’, eg an image of the Twin Towers, an image and text of Minas Morgul from The Two Towers, a definition of towers or a photo of a castle.

towers mindmap – click for a Word version
(click on mindmap for a Word version)

Example of the teacher selecting an interest and goal setting:

In relation to the stimulus texts, I keep coming back to the idea that the Twin Towers were a symbol of strength just as fortresses were in medieval times. I decide to write a short article using images and printed text to suggest similarities between army fortresses and the Twin Towers in New York. I think that other people of my generation might be interested in this too, so I choose to write a serious article about how our use of towers has changed over time.

Teacher models for making an annotation

  • In order to extend and construct understanding when writing a text to accompany an image or text, ask:


towers mindmap – click for a Word version
(click on mindmap for a Word version)

The annotations focus the students on goal setting and linking the task to specific audiences, and personal and social purposes and goals.


Student chooses an interest (ie a link to the stimulus)

Ask students to make links between the stimulus and their own interests and develop these. Record these links on a mindmap.


Student develops an annotation

Ask students to produce their own text linked to the stimulus text/s, interacting with the teacher and/or peers as they follow the process of annotation. Students should also reflect on the text and the link with the stimulus text(s).

Student makes another link to the stimulus

Students may construct a new link that extends, reinforces, provides further applications of the concept, or develops a new problem or platform.

Student makes a link to the annotation

By asking ‘what other link do I want to make with the stimulus, with my text or with the texts of others in the group/class?’, students reflect on the links they have made and may proceed to make further links (annotations) of the stimulus text(s) or their own annotation or the annotations of others.

For example, in relation to the ‘towers’ theme, the student reflects:

Again I review my article with reference to the stimulus texts and this time I am struck by the lack of any towering structure in my community of Cairns.

  • What would students who had grown up in Cairns know about towers?
  • Could they imagine them as menacing or welcoming images in literature?
  • What films would they have seen?

Perhaps I could prepare a Powerpoint presentation of ‘Towers in Literature and Film’ as my next link.

Constructing a storyboard or hypertext

Students may construct a storyboard or hypertext, making explicit (visible) the links between the stimulus text(s) and their annotations. A storyboard or hypertext is a structure which allows the process of annotation to be graphically represented. Links may be represented by hotspots or hyperlinks (underlined) as platforms to further investigations. The stimulus may be a print or screen text, an image, music or event.

A storyboard on Towers using a definition of a tower (print text) as a stimulus. It may be represented electronically or using paper resources.

towers storyboard – click for a Word version
(click on storyboard for a Word version)


PowerPoint presentation: images of towers [3.8MB]

Excerpt from The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, describing the tower at Minas Morgul. This passage occurs near the beginning of Chapter 8, Book 4.

A long-tilted valley, a deep gulf of shadow, ran back far into the mountains. Upon the further side, some way within the valley’s arms, high on a rocky seat upon the black knees of the Ephel Duath, stood the walls and tower of Minas Morgul. All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with light. Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls of Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant in the hollow of the hills. Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing. In the walls and tower windows showed, like countless black holes looking inward into emptiness; but the topmost course of the tower revolved slowly, first one way and then another, a huge ghostly head leering.

What is a tower?

Some examples of print texts, written by workshop participants, addressing the question ‘What is a Tower?’

Tower of Pisa‘A tower is a tall narrow, accessible structure built for tower-like purposes, for example, for defence, to look over distances, to transmit radio signals, to imprison or to be clearly visible. Tower is also a description of a structure, for example a rock tower, a CD tower, based on its shape.’

‘A tower is a tower if it is called a tower. If it is called a flagpole, it is a flagpole, a crane is a crane, a pyramid is a pyramid. Other things such as rocks can be described as towers but they remain rocks – just as iron men are not actually made of iron.’

‘A tower is a tall man-made structure which, although perhaps made for another purpose such as defence or communication, frequently becomes a focus point for locals or tourists. It will be taller than its girth frequently dwarfing surrounding landforms or structures and will often feature a tapering shape, especially if it is particularly high or modern.’

‘The following are not towers: watchtower, clocktower, mobile phone tower. The following are towers: Telstra, Centrepoint, Eiffel, Pisa, water tower in Leeton or Bermagui.’

‘A tower is a tall object that either offers a panoramic view or is visible from afar. The stereotype is the tower with a specific function or name, eg castle tower, clock tower, watch tower or Telstra Tower, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa. We escape the stereotype by describing things as towering, eg a tree, a cliff, a building, a person (eg a towering figure in 19th Century literature.’


Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. South Yarra: Macmillan.

Shopen, G. & Liddicoat, A.J. (2000). Integrating Home and School Practices: Professional Development Module for Teachers, Facilitator Handbook. Canberra: ACT DECS.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954). The Two Towers. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Thanks also to Dr Ruth Hickey, School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, for the images of towers.

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