Teaching activities to help students understand direct and indirect speech

These are activities designed to consolidate student understanding of the difference between direct and indirect speech.
• From a picture book or novel select an extract that contains both direct and indirect speech. Draw students’ attention to the use of inverted commas, or talking marks, as well as the use of other punctuation within the talking marks (for example, commas, full-stops, question marks and exclamation marks).
Then ask students to identify the actual words spoken by the character or characters and to use these to create a comic strip that shows what happens in the extract. (There are many software programs, such as Comic Creator, that will allow them to do this.)
• Select from a novel an extract in which there is a fair amount of indirect speech. Ask students to convert the indirect speech into a script. Pair students so that they can act out their script and check each other’s use of punctuation.
• Ask students to identify examples of reported speech in a newspaper or magazine interview and to give these to a peer whose task is to convert the reported speech into direct speech. For example, the reported speech might say:

  • The actor said she always enjoyed coming to Australia because of the warmth and sunshine.

When written in direct speech, the item might read:

  • The actor said, ‘’I always enjoy coming to Australian because of the warmth and sunshine.”

Another student could check the direct speech and provide feedback and a further activity might require students to write the questions that they think the interviewer might have asked.
• Students write a report of what was said in a role-played panel interview. Brainstorm the names of famous people, living or dead. Select six names to be on a panel and allot roles to selected students.
All students write questions that they would like to ask these people.
Each student in the audience selects a person on whom they will report, and as the role-play occurs, students take notes in order to be able to write a report of what was said. The report should contain at least two examples of reported speech (indirect speech) and two examples of direct speech. (You might consider videoing the interviews in case students need to view more than once.

The Punctuation element on http://www.otisa.com.au contains further online interactive student activities designed to consolidate an understanding of punctuation.


Visual Literacy (photographs): a suggested lesson plan

 According to the glossary of Australian Curriculum English…

Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communication, such as print text, visual images, soundtrack and spoken word as in film or computer presentation media.

Here is a simple lesson plan to introduce students to the experience of reading and understanding a visual text.

  1. Select an interesting photograph and share with your students via the whiteboard or an ICT tool such as VoiceThread. Use the following questions with the whole class to discuss the photograph and make meaning from it.
  2. Then provide each pair or group of students with another photograph and ask them to discuss their photograph using the same set of questions.
  3. When they have finished, they could present their findings orally to another pair, group or the whole class.
  4. As a writing activity, they could write a story about the photo, a diary entry for one of the people in the photo or a statement from the photographer to explain the photograph.
  5. With older students you might talk about how images can be manipulated in order to present a particular point of view, and why this might be done.

Questions to ask about the photograph
•    Where might this photo have been taken?  (What clues in the photo helped you to answer this question?)
•    When do you think it was taken?  (What was the time of day, era, season? Again, what clues helped you to answer this question?)
•    Who is in the photo? What are they doing?
•    Is there anything in the photo that you don’t understand?
•    Why do you think the photographer might have taken this photo?
•    Where would the photographer have been standing when he took the photo?
•    Does the photo look as if it was arranged by the photographer or just taken as events happened?
•    Do you think the photograph has a particular message for the viewer?
•    Has the photographer made use of light and shade?  (If so, what effect has been created?)
•    What is the centre of interest in the photograph?  (Where does the photographer want us to look?)
•    What might be happening outside the frame?  (Are there likely to be more people, for instance?)  If you knew what was happening outside the frame might this change your understanding of the photo?