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Immersion into Text

You cannot open a book without learning something. Confucius



Learning how texts are made and why they "look" and "act" the way they do is essential social knowledge. It is the structures and features of texts that make them recognizable and that communicate their meaning or message, as in "Once upon a time..." in a fairy tale, or "Dear Sir/Madam" in a formal letter, or the theme music that is used to announce a popular radio show.

We need this knowledge if we are to develop the kind of literacy that allows individuals to become knowledgeable and critical participants in society.

Talk plays a key role when students are exploring any type of text, e.g. a video, an illustration, poetry, or a newspaper article. Immersion into texts occurs when students work together (in whole class and small groups) to:






                                                     Cycle 3 students discover how myths work.

  • read, listen to, and/or view many examples of the genre/text type being studied
  • discuss how these texts are constructed and why
  • look for common patterns (e.g. the use of false clues in mystery)
  • build criteria for the genre/text type
  • support their thinking about the way the text type works with evidence from the text.
  • talk about audience and purpose


A small handbook called "How Texts Work" may also be useful as a resource and may be downloaded in PDF format here: HOW TEXT WORKS: Literacy and the English Language Arts programs


What Immersion into Text Looks Like in the Classroom

In this video clip, Michael Pellegrin demonstrates immersion into biographies.



Each of the following sample projects from Into the Classroom relies on talk as an essential part of the learning process. 

Cycle One

In Catherine Goodwin’s Cycle 1 class, students work together in small groups examining ’buckets’ of print ads. They notice that their ads often include one large image in bright colours, limited text in either black or red, and a catchy saying. They also become aware that ads appeal to different audiences. The students share their discoveries in whole class discussions and create their own ads for a classroom ’Games Day’.

Barbara Kurtzman’s students explore how photographs and print can work together in the project The Best Part of Me.

Cycle Two

Cycle 2 students are immersed in mystery picture books. Through class discussions and small group explorations they identify the common structures and features of mysteries. This new knowledge about the mystery genre is called on as the students write and illustrate their own collaborative mystery, The Case of the Chocolate Egg.

Cycle Three

In the project, Help Keep Our Parks Safe, Cycle 3 students view and discuss a number of Public Service Announcements. At the end of the exploration the students think about what they have been learning that they would like to try in their own production.


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