Greenling / During Reading / /

‘We’ve been living in his all along!’

Using text marking to support close reading.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Greenling teaching sequence

Required reading: Pages 19-22

A note about page numbers

This book does not have page numbers. For ease of reference, we have numbered the pages from 1 starting after the title page where the text reads 'What is this growing on Barleycorn land.'. You may like to pencil page numbers in a teacher copy for quick reference.

Text potential

  • Inference opportunities: Elaborative inference


  • Read Aloud
  • Text Marking


Text marking can be used to encourage close reading. Children reflect on parts of the text that they find puzzling, as well as identify important ideas and interesting literary language. A text marking strategy is a useful skill to develop. Much of the process will be internalised as they gain experience, skills and confidence.

Teacher’s Note: You might follow this lesson with the Digging Deeper lesson Hearts, Minds and Voices. Alternatively, you can teach all the First Encounters lessons before moving on to the Digging Deeper phase.


  • Copies of Greenling at least one between two.
  • Children will be text-marking pages 20-21 using either sticky notes or writing on printouts of this page.
  • Soft pencils, coloured pens or sticky notes or highlighting and annotation.
  • Dictionaries for defining unfamiliar vocabulary. Ensure the dictionaries you are using include hurled, boiling, bellows.


In pairs, use partnered reading to read from the beginning of the story up to the end of page 18.

Gather the class and read aloud the next section from ‘A screech of brakes’ to ‘we’ve been living in his all along!’ (pp 19 -21).

Working in pairs, ask the children to re-read the page, ‘This cuckoo must go!’ aloud to each other.

Gather the class and ask:

  • What’s the most important change in this part of the story?
  • Are you surprised by Mrs Barleycorn’s reaction, or were you expecting it? Why?

Clarify any unfamiliar vocabulary. First, see if the word can be worked out in context, then check in dictionaries. Then, return to the text to confirm which definition best fits.

You might make the following teaching points:

  • ‘bellows’ has more than one distinct definition
  • ‘boiling’ is used metaphorically rather than literally in this context

If text marking is new to the class, explain the process and model the strategy on the whiteboard. Tell the children that they can mark the words and the pictures if they want to,

Use coloured pens (if using printouts)  or sticky notes (if using the books) to mark the text.

A simple annotation key can be used. For example:

  • ? for something I find puzzling or don’t understand
  • Circle around a new word
  • Star next to something important or a main idea
  • Heart for a bit that I liked

Gather the class together and work through some of their ideas together.

Final reflection

Return to the text to consider the following if they haven’t already been covered in the feedback.

  • Why do you think Mrs Barleycorn has changed her mind about Greenling?
  • Mrs Barleycorn is turned away from the reader, facing the crowd. What expression do you imagine she has on her face?
  • What do you think about the dog’s response?
  • Which characters in the crowd are most noticeable?
  • What do you notice about the body language of different characters in the crowd? (Note the man with the clenched fist and the man pointing to the sky. Why do you think they are so aggressive?)
  • How does Greenling react to what’s going on?
  • Are there any words or phrases used that indicate the mood in this scene? (cuckoo, hurled, boiling over, bellows).

Consider with the class how marking a text can help us focus on reading, help us form opinions and back up our ideas with evidence from the text.

Teacher’s note: This session could be followed by ‘The cuckoo must go!’


Key vocabulary

hurled, boiling, bellows


Subject-specific and technical vocabulary 
Academic process words

opinion, evidence

Advanced vocabulary 
Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 


Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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