Teaching the Language of Climate Change Science

PETAA Book Extras — Supplementary Resources

Julie Hayes and Bronwyn Parkin

We are seeing how climate change is strengthening our storms, wildfires and heatwaves. We need to join with others globally to take action and teachers have an important role to play in preparing students to act. Teaching the language of climate change science will support you in facilitating the big conversations in the classroom — demonstrating how scientific concepts are developed through the language you use in class, and strategically handing over agency to your students.

Buy the book    New Title Information (.pdf 1.4 MB)

Watch a webinar with co-author Julie Hayes in which Julie shares tips for introducing scientific language to young people, and classroom examples of best practice.

Teaching the language of climate chnage science book feature linked ot membership

Chapter 1

Sites and links for Chapter 1 originally accessed 24 January 2021

Chapter 2

Sites and links for Chapter 2 originally accessed 26 January 2021

Chapter 4

Sites, videos and links for Chapter 4 originally accessed 26 January 2021

Chapter 5

Rose M (2013) How paper is made

Sites, videos and links for Chapter 5 originally accessed 26 January 2021

Chapter 6

Sites videos and links for Chapter 6 originally accessed between 4 December 2020 and 28 January 2021

Chapter 7


Sites, videos and links for Chapter 7 originally accessed between 17 December 2020 and 3 February 2021

Chapter 8

Sites, videos and links for Chapter 8 originally accessed between 28 December 2020 and 5 February 2021

Chapter 9

Sites, videos and links for Chapter 8 originally accessed between 24 January and 9 February 2021

Recommended books to support teaching about climate change and sustainability

Recommended books with PETAA classroom units of work

Fire illustration on book cover for Fire

A fiction picture book with rhyming text, by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley about the devastating effects of a fire on people, animals and environment. An Australian story about courage, kindness and resilience.

Unit of work for Primary Years 4–5

Flood cover with a dig looking out a window to flood

A fiction picture book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley about a flood, which leads to destruction. An Australian story about bravery during a natural disaster, and communities helping each other.

Unit of work for Upper Primary Years 5–6

Young Dark Emu cover, with colours of ochre and black

The young readers version of the award-winning text by Bruce Pasco that gives an insight into the sustainable culture of Aboriginal Australians pre-European settlement, through use of historical documents from early Australian settlers.

Unit of work for Upper Primary Years 5–6

Recommended books for Early Years

  • Be an Active Citizen in Your Community (2017) by Helen Mason discusses communities and different ways to be an active citizen, including looking after the environment.
  • Big Rain Coming (1999) by Katrina Germein and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft is picture book set in an indigenous community, and highlights the importance of rain.
  • I Can Make a Difference: Helping the environment (2012) by Vic Parker has suggestions for positive actions kids can take to volunteer and help the environment.
  • I Care About ... My Planet (2020) by Liz Lennon has clear, positive ideas about why things like saving energy and not wasting food, are important. Gives practical suggestions (like taking rubbish home with you, if there isn’t a bin nearby when you’re out).
  • Lily Learns about Wants and Needs (2014) by Lisa Bullard is a fiction about a girl called Lily and her Dad discussing the difference between wants and needs. Could be used to discuss sustainable choices.
  • Nya’s Long Walk: A step at a time (2019) by Linda Sue Park and Brian Pinkney is a picture book companion to A Long Walk to Water. Nya helps her sick sister to return home from the waterhole, one step at a time. Raising awareness that water is not ‘on tap’ for everyone. An afterword contains information about projects to supply clean water wells in South Sudan to reduce waterborne illness.
  • Sustainable Living (Protecting Our Planet series) (2018) by Harriet Brundle is a book is about making choices which can help look after our planet.
  • The Lorax: 50th Anniversary edition (2021) by Dr Seuss. In this classic rhyming text with the signature humor of Dr Seuss the Lorax works to save the trees from being destroyed.
  • The World That We Want (2004) by Kim Michelle Toft is a beautifully illustrated picture book, exploring different habitats and the animals that live in them.
  • Think of an Eel (2001) by Karen Wallace and Mike Bostock is poetic narrative and scientific information text about eels in the publisher's Read and wonder series.
  • Turtle’s Song (2001) by Kim Michelle Toft and Alan Brown is a Beautifully illustrated picture book, about the life of a green turtle.
  • Uno’s Garden (2013) by Graham Base is the story about fictional forest animals, and what happens when more and more people come to live in their forest home. A gentle introduction to concepts of habitat destruction, and extinction. Also a ‘look and find’ book.
  • Waterlilies (2007) by Diane Lucas and Colwyn Campbell is an information book about water lilies as a rich indigenous food source in the Northern Territory.
  • Starfish, where are you? (2016) by Barroux is an almost wordless picture book about rubbish accumulating in the ocean, and the effects on the environment of the creatures who live there.

Recommended books for Early Years and Primary

  • Climate Change (Protecting Our Planet series) (2018) by Harriet Brundle is an information book that provides a simple explanation of weather, climate, climate change and its causes.
  • Living Green at Home (2014) by Molly Aloine suggests ways to be more environmentally friendly at home.
  • Recycling Materials (2016) by Gemma McMullen is a simple text looking at different materials which can be recycled, and how they can then be reused.
  • The Watcher (2011) by Jeanette Winter is a simply written, illustrated biography of the naturalist and environmentalist, Jane Goodall, and her observations about chimpanzees. Describes her lifelong interest in wildlife conservation. A book about perseverance, the power of observation, trust, and quietly making a difference.
  • Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu (2003) by Diane Lucas and Ken Searle follows the seasonal calendar of the Gundjeihmi speaking people in northern Australia, through changes in the bird, animal and plant life.

Recommended books for Primary

  • Cyclone (2016) by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley is a rhyming picture book about Cyclone Tracy and its effects on the people of Darwin in 1974. Earth has always had extreme weather, but it’s becoming more frequent, so we have to learn how to look after each other during these events.
  • Drought (2016) by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley is a picture book and fiction about the devastating effect of drought on many Australians and their farms.
  • If the World Were a Village second edition (2011) by David J Smith describes percentages of the world’s population in a way that is accessible to children — for example, if the world was a village of 100 people, 88 have easy access to clean water, but 12 do not.
  • My Wounded Island (2017) Jacques Pasquet and Marion Arbona is a picture book addressing the topic of rising sea levels, climate refugees, and the effects on indigenous cultures. Based on the challenges faced by the Inupiat people who live on the small islands north of the Bering Strait near the Arctic Circle.
  • Planet Greta: How Greta Thunberg wants you to help her save our planet (2020) by Emily Stead and Laura Baker has information text about Greta Thunberg and her actions to fight climate change (it is an unofficial publication). Includes 50 suggestions for actions that children and families can take to help reduce environmental impacts.
  • The Giant and the Sea (2020) by Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai is a picture book about a giant who warns the people about rising sea levels.

Recommended books for Upper Primary

  • Blueback (2009) by Tim Winton is a story about a boy who lives in harmony with creatures of the sea, the interconnection of all living things, and challenges faced when this is compromised.
  • You are Eating Plastic Every Day: What's in our food? (2020) by Danielle Smith-Llera discusses issues of plastic pollution, microplastics, and how these enter the food chain.
  • Your Planet Needs You! (2020) by Philip Bunting has information about environmental issues, presented with a quirky sense of humour appealing to young independent readers, for example, when talking about food waste: ‘Very little icecream seems to get wasted. No idea why‘.

Books lists provided by Vicki Newton.

Find more resources including units of work on our Resources for Sustainability page

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Interactive and downloadable classroom resources

Year 8 Science assessment task

Download the interactive form for the Year 8 Science assessment task (.pdf 73 kB)

Year 8 Science assessment task exemplar

Download the interactive form for the Year 8 Science assessments exemplar (.pdf 79 kB)

Understanding paragraphs in factual texts

A paragraph has two or three parts.


Paragraph example:
Non-renewable fuel sources

What the writer is thinking

Topic sentence
(what this is about)

Coal, crude oil and gas are non-renewable fossil fuels.

I’m putting the three fossil fuels into the theme position so they’re right up front.

Tell us more
(what is important to share)

They were formed over millions of years, from the remains of dead organisms. Coal was largely formed … while oil and gas were formed … Over millions of years this organic material was … (Geoscience Australia 2000).

I want the reader to know just how long it takes for fossil fuels to be produced, so that they understand why they are called ‘non-renewable’.

So what?
(useful but not always necessary) Segue to next paragraph

Burning fossil fuels is one of the most significant causes of climate change (NASA 2020a). It produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat inside the atmosphere. Many alternative renewable and non-polluting energy sources are now being investigated and harnessed.

I want the reader to know the reason that we cannot continue using fossil fuels.
I want to link this information to the next paragraph, when I give the reader alternative fuel sources and
make them feel hopeful

The topic sentence

The topic sentence should be strong but not too long: don’t tell us everything in one sentence, just flag what the paragraph is going to be about.

Try to avoid using ‘there are …’. Sometimes you need to begin a paragraph with these words, but see if you can put the topic closer to the front to give it more punch. Compare …

  • There are these fuels called fossil fuels and they are coal, crude oil and gas.
  • Coal, crude oil and gas are non-renewable fossil fuels.

Tell us more

Next is the body of the paragraph. It develops the idea that was flagged in the topic sentence. It can include:

  • a more detailed description
  • a sequence of events (Coal was formed from decaying plants …; Over millions of years …)
  • the idea expanded with other words (In other words …; that is to say …)
  • examples (for example …; one example is …; this is exemplified by …)
  • compare and contrast (Unlike renewable fuel sources …)
  • a challenge (While some claim that … )
  • proof: back up what you say with evidence or authority (Geoscience Australia 2000, NASA 2020; research shows that …; this is evident in the way that …).

So what?

This part is sometimes useful but not essential. It could be:

  • a summary of the paragraph (All of these have one characteristic in common: they are nocturnal)
  • a comment (Burning fossil fuels is one of the most significant causes of climate change.)
  • a segue to the next paragraph (Many alternative renewable and non-polluting energy sources …).

Whatever you choose, it has to be relevant to, and elaborate on, the topic sentence of the paragraph, support the purpose of the text as a whole, and make sense to your intended audience.

You can also download a one-page hard copy of this text (.pdf 52 kB)

Chapter 5

The first three stages of the paper making process

Diagram with three final stages of paper making

Figure 5.4: Making paper from trees. Physical changes from tree to paper. Source: M Goldsmith. Used with permission

Stages of recycling paper

Figure 5.5: Physical changes when recycling paper. Source: M Goldsmith. Used with permission

Chapter 7

Labelled drawing of the albedo effect

Figure 7.17: The albedo effect: reflection from different surfaces. Source: J Hayes. Used with permission

Labelled illustration of the enhanced greenhouse effect

Figure 7.4: The enhanced greenhouse effect. Source: M Goldsmith. Used with permission

Chapter 8

Labelled drawing of a hydro-electric turbine

Figure 8.10: How a hydro-powered turbine works. Source: M Goldsmith. Used with permission

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Text analyses

Text analyses for Chapter 3: Climate change science in Preschool

Teachers of preschool students: all the language resources included in the text analyses provided here are not intended for you to explicitly teach in the class. We’ve included them so that you can see that the language we’ve chosen for texts is intentional and carefully selected: to gradually apprentice students into the world and language of science.

Download a print version (.pdf 1.2 MB)
Consider the environment before printing

Focus text: Living things in our preschool (page 30)

Language resources

Definition of living things

P.1 Living things grow and move by themselves.
Technical term ‘living thing’ applied in familiar contexts: to children, and to animals and plants already known by children

P.2 Nina is a living thing. She moves by herself and grows.
Use of third person (she) to describe children in the class
P.3 A tree is a living thing. It moves by itself and grows.
Use of pronoun ‘it’ and ‘she’ to connect the first sentence to the second (cohesion).
P.4 A lizard is a living thing. It moves by itself and grows.


Focus text: Living things song (page 30)

Language resources

Explanation of interdependence

The bee helps the plant, and the plant helps the bee. (x3)
Living things help each other.

Compound sentence joined by ‘and’
Technical term ‘living thing’, and reflexive verb (help each other)

Focus text: How living things help each other (page 30)

Language resources

General statement about interdependence

P.1 Living things help each other to stay alive and be happy.
Technical term ‘living thing’, and reflexive verb (help each other).
Statement about one symbiotic pair, followed by elaboration

P.2 This ant and the broad bean plant help each other. The plant gives the ant food, and the ant helps the plant to make broad beans.
Complex sentences, with second clause beginning with ‘to’: clause of purpose.

Statement about one symbiotic pair, followed by elaboration

P.3 This hen and the children help each other. The hen gives the children eggs and lets them hug her, and the children give the hen food, water and shelter.

Pronoun ‘this’ links the text to the illustration. (This hen ...)

Statement about one symbiotic pair, followed by elaboration
P.4 The teacher and the children help each other. The teacher reads the children stories, and the children help sweep up the leaves.
Ellipsis: when two sentences with the same subject are joined with ‘and’, the second subject can be left out (for example, the hen gives the children eggs, and [the hen] lets them hug her.)

Text analyses for Chapter 4: Climate change science in Foundation

Teachers of foundation year: all the language resources included in the text analyses provided here are not intended for you to explicitly teach in the class. We’ve included them so that you can see that the language we’ve chosen for texts is intentional and carefully selected: to gradually apprentice students into the world and language of science.

Download print version (.pdf 464 kB)
Consider the environment before printing

Focus text: How living things look after each other (page 34)

Language resources

Heading (as a question)
—tell us more
Some examples
—tell us more

What are living things?
Living things on Earth are called organisms. Organisms are animals and plants. They grow, move by themselves, and have babies (reproduce).

Flies, bees and ants are living things. They are insects. Most adult insects have three-part bodies, wings and six legs.

New technical term ‘organisms’ powered down to ‘animals and plants’.
Use of pronoun ‘they’ in second sentence connects it to the first, making the para ‘stick together’ (cohesion).
‘Most’ is qualifies ‘adult insects’ so that the info is true (modality). Technical and compressed noun groups: ‘three-part bodies, wings and six legs’. Scientific writing is dense: no unnecessary words.

Heading (as a question)
List of needs
Specific example

What are the needs of living things?
To survive and thrive, living things have four needs. They need air, food, water, and shelter. Insects need these things too.
Question as heading is simple way to show that the heading and the paragraph to follow belong together: question and answer.
‘To’ clause at front of sentence foregrounds the most important information. Also a complex sentence.
‘These things’ refers back to ‘air, water ...’: needs to be explained.

Heading (as a question)
Need — how met
Need — how met
Need — how met
Mutual help

How do insects have their needs met?
To get food and water, insects visit the flowers on plants. For shelter, insects build homes in gardens. In return, insects help the flowers to make seeds. To survive and thrive, plants need insects and insects need plants.
Needs of insects are addressed in same order as previous paragraph.
In each sentence, the purpose or need is foregrounded at the front of the sentence: ‘to get food ...; ‘For shelter ...’. ‘In return ...’ foregrounds reciprocity of the actions. Final sentence foregrounds important goal: ‘to survive and thrive’.

Heading (question)
What might happen
Human’s role
Ways we can help to meet specific needs
What happens when needs are not met?
If the needs of insects are not met, they might die and then plants might die. We can help insects. We can give them food by planting flowers. We can put water out for them, and we can make them shelter..

Opening sentence begins with ‘if’ clause: clause of condition. ‘Might’ makes the statement true: says this is a possibility (modality). Use of ‘we’ in this para is intentional: students take on the role of helper. We ‘can’ help says helping is possible, but also our choice.

Focus text: Materials and properties (page 37)

Language resources

Heading (as a question)
Definition and examples
Series of classroom and personal examples

What are materials?
All objects that we can see or feel are made of materials such as wood, glass, paper, plastic, metal and fabric. In our classroom, chairs and tables are made from plastic and metal. Books are made from paper. The windows are made from glass and wood. Our clothes are made from cotton fabric. Our jumpers are made from wool.
Use of a question as heading is a simple way to show relationship between the heading and the para to follow. Para answers the question.
‘All objects that we can see or feel’ contains important part of definition ‘in the one noun group. Use of verbs in passive voice ‘are made…’ allows us to put the objects at the front of the sentence. Who did the making is omitted — not relevant.
Most sentences have the same grammatical structure: [objects] are made from [materials].

Heading (as a question)
Topic statement
Two sources: living things and ground
Examples from living things
Examples from ground

Where do materials come from?
All materials come from the Earth. Some come from living things and some are dug up from the ground. Paper and wood come from trees. Cotton comes from cotton bushes. Wool comes from sheep. Plastic, glass and metal all come from the ground.

Modality: begins with ‘all’ from the Earth, then ‘some ...’ Notice that we don’t repeat ‘materials’ each time. It is ellipsed: left out because scientific writing is dense and non-essential words are excluded.

Remaining sentences have same grammatical structure: [Materials] come from [source].

The properties of materials
(Table to fill in)
Notice use of technical terms in the table: inflexible, durable, absorbent. (Couldn’t find anything more technical than ‘throw-away!).

Reason and our response (respect).

Respect elaborated
Examples of respectful use


How we use materials
Because all materials come from living things or from the Earth, we must respect them and use them wisely. We don’t waste them, and we try to use objects made from reusable, durable materials (meaning, not just objects that can be re-used once, but objects that will last a very long time). Some ways that we can use materials respectfully are:

  • We use our own water bottles
  • We bring our lunch in a lunch box
  • We don’t buy too many clothes
  • We recycle paper and we don’t waste it
  • We don’t break our toys.

Modality: ‘must’ — no option compared to ‘try to use’ — more options here. ‘Some ways…’ suggest that the readers might think of others.
Notice that the definition of ‘durable’ has been included in brackets to make sure that the audience knows what we’re talking about.

First person plural ‘we’ is used throughout this paragraph because it is the ‘call to action’ and students have to take on these actions as their own.

Focus text: What is weather? (page 41)

Language resources

Heading (as a question)
Scale of changes
Elaborations — features of weather

What is weather?
Weather is what is happening in the atmosphere around us right here right now. Weather changes from place to place, and it can change from hour to hour, and day to day. When we talk about weather, we are talking about temperature, wind, clouds and rain.
Definition of weather: ‘weather’ on one side of ‘is’, and expanded noun group on the other side. (Typical for definitions.)
Repetition is a feature: ‘right here, right now; hour to hour, day to day’ to help memory.
Prepositional phrases of place: right here, right now; from pace to place; and time: ‘from hour to hour’, and ‘from day to day’. Important to understand difference between weather and climate.
Technical terms: atmosphere, temperature.

Heading (as a question)
Elaboration with local details
Issues from climate change

What are seasons?
Seasons are changes in temperature across the year. In (South Australia) there are (four) seasons: (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter). Our Summers are getting hotter and longer and that is difficult for some living things.
Another definition: ‘Seasons’ on one side of ‘is’, and expanded noun group on the other.
Where phrase ‘In ...’ foregrounds students’ own context before elaborating on seasons. Seasons are capitalised as proper nouns.
Final sentence uses comparatives ‘hotter and longer’. ‘That’ is pronoun referring not to a thing but a process ‘getting hotter and longer’.
Topic sentence introduces extreme weather
Examples of extreme weather
Our actions in extreme weather

Extreme weather
Sometimes we have extreme weather. Extreme weather can be extreme heat, extreme rain, extreme cold, or extreme wind. When the weather is extreme, we have to make sure we care for the needs of other living things.
Modality ‘sometimes’, meaning, not always: don’t want to alarm. ‘Can be’ says ‘these are examples’.
‘Extreme’ is repeated for emphasis. ‘When’ phrase of time is foregrounded at front of sentence because it’s important.
Verb group ‘have to make sure we care for’ is pretty complicated. Take away one bit at a time and see how it changes in meaning.

Text analyses for Chapter 5: Climate change science in Years 1 and 2

Teachers of Year 1 and 2 students: all the language resources included in the text analyses provided here are not intended for you to explicitly teach in the class. We’ve included them so that you can see that the language we’ve chosen for texts is intentional and carefully selected: to gradually apprentice students into the world and language of science.

Download a print version (.pdf 539 kB)
Consider the environment before printing

Focus text: Habitats and their organisms (page 45)

Language resources

General definition
Types of habitats
Role of organisms

What is a habitat?
A habitat is a place where an organism makes its home and where its needs are met. There are land habitats and water habitats. Each animal and plant plays a part in keeping its own habitat healthy.
Headings framed as questions invite the reader to find the answer.
‘habitat’ is a technical term.
Definitions usually have the thing, ‘a habitat’, on one side of ‘is’, and the definition, a big noun group on the other side: ‘a place where an organism …’
‘plays’ is a singular verb form because it agrees with ‘each’, which can be read as each one, or each individual.

Heading: habitats at specific place
Types of habitat

The habitats and organisms in Felixstow Reserve
At Felixstow Reserve, the habitats are gardens, wetlands, river, and rocks.
‘Where’ phrase at front of sentence foregrounds the place before listing the habitats.
Comma separates each item in the list, including before ‘and’. (Otherwise the reader might think ‘river and rocks’ is one habitat.

Table: list of habitats and organisms

Table 5.1: Habitats at Felixstow Reserve
Table: Listing specific animals and plants in certain habitats puts the text inside the discourse of science.

Heading: Chosen organism
How their needs are met: food, water, shelter

Slaters and their needs
Slaters are organisms found in the garden. They are the only land-living crustaceans, and need a moist habitat. Slaters are oval-shaped, dark grey, and 6–12mm long. They get food and water from leaf litter, and shelter by hiding under mulch and logs.

Another definition: thing on one side of ‘is’, and expanded noun group on the other.
Technical terms throughout, for example, crustaceans. Specific, scientific adjectives: oval-shaped, 6–12 mm long.
Sentences elaborated with ‘where’ and ‘how’ phrases to add information on how needs are met.

(These are typical headings for an information report on an organism. Others are ‘Behaviours’, ‘Diet’ and ‘Hunting’)


When the habitat meets their needs, female slaters make eggs which they keep in a pouch on their bodies until they hatch. If it is too dry, they will not reproduce.

‘When’ clause begins the sentence because the timing is important and is foregrounded. Expanded noun group: ‘eggs which ... until they hatch’ condenses information into one sentence.
‘If’ clause, also foregrounded at front of sentence, is clause of condition: the conditions in which reproduction will fail.

Explanation of diagram
organism 1–organism 2
organism 2–organism 1
organism 1–organism 3
organism 3–organism 2

How slaters, plants and ducks help each other
Plants help slaters by giving them food and shelter. Slaters help plants in their habitat by eating decaying matter and putting nutrients back into the soil. Slaters are also food for ducks. When ducks eat slaters, their poo gives nutrients for plants.

Complex sentences expanded with ‘by..’ to tell us ‘how’. These additional clauses match to the heading ‘How..’
Technical terms: ‘decaying matter’; ‘nutrients’.
When’ clause of time foregrounded at the front of sentence (but also implies ‘how’. (You could consider substituting ‘poo’ for something more technical!)

Diagram: symbiotic relationship between three organisms. Summarises previous paragraph in diagrammatic form.

Figure 5.1: How organisms help each other
Each two-way arrow represents two sentences from the previous paragraph and is accompanied by an abbreviated text in note form to elaborate on the arrow.

Heading: role of humans
How humans help specific organism

How humans can help
Humans can help slaters by providing moist mulch, logs and leaf litter for shelter and food.

‘Humans’ is a more general than ‘we’ and more technical than ‘people’. It is 3rd person, not 1st person (i.e., we) as a shift from the personal to the general.
The verb ‘can help’ is an example of modality: expresses possible actions and implies choice.
‘by providing’ is the present continuous verb form to explain ‘how’.
Expanded noun group; moist mulch… includes purpose ‘for shelter and food’

Focus text: Materials and their uses (page 51)

Language resources

Heading (materials)
Definition of materials
Elaboration: properties

What are materials?
Materials are any stuff that takes up space. They have properties that make them useful for humans. Table 5.3 lists which objects in our classroom could be made of what materials.
Definition: ‘materials’ on one side of ‘is’ and expanded noun group ‘any stuff’…on the other. (The spoken-like word ‘stuff’ is often used: hard to find word that Year 1–2 students will understand.) ‘They’ and ‘them’ refer back to the materials to stick para together.
‘properties’ is a technical term = ‘what they’re made up of’.
‘that make them useful …’ part of noun group. Only stuff that is useful for humans is called a ‘material’.

Table 5.3: Materials in our classroom
Only teachable point here is the uncountable nouns in the “Materials’ column: substances can’t be pluralised.

Heading (physical changes)
Definition of physical changes
Physical changes in materials
Materials can undergo physical changes. That means they change shape, but are still the same material.
Technical terms: physical, materials, undergo. ‘That means’ signals further elaboration of this definition.

Example 1 Change and how. Confirmation of material and why


  • Water changes from ice to liquid by melting. It is still water because melting is a physical change.
Grammatical pattern remains the same in each of these examples, making it easy to improvise in your classroom.
In each example:
—‘by melting’ and ‘by crushing’ etc are ‘how’ clauses that tell how physical changes happen.

Example 2 Change and how. Confirmation of material and why


  • A balloon (which is made of latex) changes from blown up to bursting. It is still a latex balloon because bursting is a physical change.


Example 3 Change and how. Confirmation of material and why


  • Chalk changes from a stick to powder by crushing it. It is still chalk because crushing is a physical change.
— the second sentence begins with ‘It’ refers to the object in the previous sentence, for example, ‘chalk’, ‘eggshell’.
Example 4 Change and how. Confirmation of material and why


  • Eggshell changes shape when it is broken. It is still eggshell because breaking is a physical change.

—‘still’ = ‘up to the present time’, ‘even now’
—‘because’ is a causal conjunction justifying why the processes of ‘melting’ etc are regarded as physical changes; because no new material is formed.

Example: Sequence of physical changes

Physical changes when paper is made
Paper comes from trees. To make paper, trees first have three physical changes. They are cut down, chipped and mixed with water. After boiling, there are some more physical changes. The water is removed, the paper is rolled flat, and is cut into pieces.

‘To make paper’ is a clause of purpose at the front of the sentence.
The verbs ‘are cut down’, ‘chipped’ etc are passive verbs, for instance, the ‘doer’ is not stated because it’s not important who is making the physical changes. The process is what’s important.
‘After boiling’: clause of time in theme position.
Lots of ‘ellipsis’, that is, words left out when they’re not necessary. ‘Trees’ is not repeated in each clause, neither is ‘paper’.

Heading: how to avoid physical changes
Elaboration (benefit)

How to reduce the use of materials
When paper is recycled, paper is re-used to make new paper, in place of using trees. Each time we re-use or recycle paper, we re-use materials and save trees. That is good for the Earth.

‘When paper is recycled’ is a dependent clause starting with a time conjunction. Placing this clause at the beginning focuses attention on change of topic to recycling.
‘That’ is a pronoun (reference item) referring to the reusing, recycling and saving of trees. Pronouns make the paragraph stick together.

Focus text: All about water (page 55)

Language resources

Heading: importance of water
Topic sentence
Tell us more: why
Tell us more: dry country
Tell us more: why

Why water is important
Water is important for all living things. Without water, living things cannot survive. Australia is a dry country, so we have to make sure we don’t waste any water. We have to save water to share it around and for times of drought.
Water is first word in topic sentence.
‘all’ living things emphasises how important.
‘Without water’ in theme position at front of sentence for emphasis.
‘so’ is conjunction beginning new clause, means ‘therefore’.
‘We’: 1st person plural, selected so that students own these statements for themselves.
Modality is strong throughout: cannot, have to make sure, have to save water.

source of water
Fresh water

Where does water come from?
Most water on Earth is in the oceans and it is salty. Fresh water comes from the sky as rain, from rivers and lakes, and is stored underground. Sometimes fresh water has to be made from sea water if we run short.
Modality qualifies statements to make them true: ‘most water’, ‘sometimes’.
List of ‘where’ phrases as expected to describe all the places water comes from and where it’s stored.
Final sentence is complex: ‘if’ clause explains the conditions under which desalination happen.

Example in one place
When rain comes
Where it is stored
Energy use and comment

In Adelaide, most of the rain arrives in winter. Some is stored in rainwater tanks in our gardens. Most is stored in reservoirs like the Hope Valley Reservoir. When the water level gets low, water comes in pipes all the way from the Murray River, which is the only big river in our state. After it is treated for dirt and germs, it comes out of taps as clean water. But it takes a lot of energy to make water clean enough to use, so it is important that we don’t waste it.
‘Where’ phrase marks shift from the general ‘on Earth’ to the specific ‘in Adelaide’. More modality to make statements true: ‘most of the rain’, ‘some’, ‘most’.
Expanded noun groups to condense meanings ‘reservoirs like the Hope Valley Reservoir’, ‘the Murray River, which ... Throughout this text, verbs in passive voice ‘is stored’, ‘is treated’, (with the ‘doer’ absent) are used because the doer is not important.
Little sequential explanation here: when the water level gets low ... After it is treated ...
Final complex sentence: ‘But’ marks disruption or contrast; ‘to make ...’ purpose; ‘so ...’ means ‘therefore’.

Question as heading
Destination 1 (treatment plant)
Destination 2 (ocean)
OR Destination 2 (irrigation)


Where does our water go?
Wastewater goes down the plug and pipes to a wastewater treatment plant. It takes a lot of energy to filter water so that it is clean enough to go out into the ocean. Recycled water comes in purple pipes for watering farms, gardens and footie ovals.

Some slightly technical language: wastewater, treatment plant, filter.
‘Where’ phrases as expected to answer heading question.
Final complex sentence: ‘for watering ...’ is clause of purpose.

Question as heading
School water sources
Water use
Home water sources
Water use


How do we use water?
In our school our water sources are taps and the rainwater tank. Some taps are connected to hoses, dripper systems and toilet cisterns. We use water for:

  • Drinking, etc

In our homes, our water sources are taps. Some taps are connected to hoses,our dripper system, the toilet cistern and the swimming pool. We use water for

  • Drinking, etc

‘Where’ phrase marks the first site of study ‘in our school’.

Some slightly technical language:
‘water sources’, ‘dripper systems’, toilet cisterns.
List of actions are part of complex sentence: ‘for ...’ states purpose.

No new language resources here. Reuse of grammatical structures from ‘In our school’ paragraph.

Question as heading
Topic sentence signals two reasons.
Reason 1
Tell us more
Reason 2
Tell us more
How we can save water


Why we need to save water
There are two reasons why we need to save water. Firstly, humans need to share water with all living things. If we use too much water from rivers and reservoirs, trees and animals might suffer, especially in times of drought. Secondly, it takes a lot of energy to get clean water to our homes, and a lot of energy to clean wastewater. Saving water saves energy.
We can save water by:

  • Having short showers, etc 

Persuasive paragraph: argument for saving water.
Firstly, secondly: connectors to stage the argument (and match with ‘two reasons’ in topic sentence)
Modality is mostly strong:
‘Need to save ...’, ‘saves energy, ‘can save’ BUT ‘might suffer’.
‘If ...’ is dependent clause: states the conditions of suffering.
As in previous paragraph, list completes a complex sentence: by ... is clause of manner (that is, how ...).


Text analyses for Chapter 6: Climate change science in Years 3 and 4

Teachers of Year 3 and 4 students: some language resources included in the text analyses provided here are not intended for you to explicitly teach in the class, particularly our use of the verb in passive voice. Passive voice is very useful in scientific writing, and you can use it as part of joint construction of texts so that students become familiar with the grammatical form, without explicitly teaching it at these year levels.

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Focus text: What are living things? (page 62)

Language resources

Question as title
Topic sentence introduces both living / non-living
Living things +
Technical name
Two types
Tell us more: size

What are living things?
Some things on earth are living and some are non-living. Living things are also called organisms. Organisms include both animals and plants, and have five characteristics: they grow, move, breathe, reproduce, and can sense things in their environment. Some organisms are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope. Examples of living things — or organisms — are trees, mushrooms, bears, ants and seeds.
Question as title invites the reader to find out more.
Modality: ‘some’ organisms: qualified to make it true.
‘things’ is a generic everyday term used before the technical term ‘organism’ is introduced.
Verbs ‘are’, ‘include’, and ‘have’ are common in definitions where typically one thing equals or belongs to another.
‘characteristics’ is a term summarising the attributes of living things.
Passive verb ‘be seen’: the viewer is not important.
Final sentence has two big noun groups joined in the middle by ‘are’ (Examples of organisms are trees ... seeds.)

Question as title
Non-living things
What are non-living things?
Non-living things do not grow, move, breathe, reproduce or sense things in their environment. Examples of non-living things are rocks, glass, metal, sand, dust, water, and air.
The definition of non-living things is defined by the absence of the five characteristics of living things, using not.
This paragraph re-uses the paragraph structure and grammar from previous paragraph for cohesion and consistency.

Question as title.
Once-were-living things
Characteristics: time scale

  • Recent with examples
  • Ancient with examples

What are once-were-living things?
Some things used to be living, but are no longer living. Some organisms died or were cut down a short time ago, like timber, bark, olive oil and vegetables in the fridge. Some once-were living organisms died millions of years ago and have, over time, turned into coal, oil and gas.

The words ‘once-were-living’ are acting like a single describing word, thus the use of the hyphens that practically join them together.
‘used to be living’: novel verb form signalling ongoing living in the past.
‘but’ is a conjunction of contrast (past cf now).

Focus text: Polar Bears (page 66)

Language resources

Heading (typical of info reports on organisms)
Classification (definition) /habitat
Indigenous name
Classification and habitat
Polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) are mammals that live on the ice and snow above the Arctic Circle. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic, the Inuit, call polar bears ‘nanuk’.
Topic sentence defines polar bears with name on one side of ‘are’ and expanded noun group on the other. Noun group (mammals ...) includes habitat (that live ...)
Technical terms Ursus Maritimus (bear of the sea), and ‘mammal’.

Indigenous perspective is also frequent in information reports. (Note extended noun group ‘The Indigenous ... Inuit’.)

Heading (Appearance) also typically follows Classification. )
Sentence 1: Feature — function
Sentence 2: Feature — function
Sentence 3: Feature — function
Sentence 4: Feature — function

Polar bears have large, paddle-like claws that help them to swim to find food, and to spread their weight so they don’t fall through the ice. The claws and soft pads provide a good grip for climbing out of the water onto the ice. They have creamy-white fur for camouflage, which helps them to hide in the snow. They have a thick layer of fat under their skin for warmth.
Each of the features or attributes is packaged as a big noun group. The feature appears first (for example, ‘large, paddle-like claws’), then information about its function or purpose follows, still as part of the noun group (for example, ‘that help them to swim ... and to find food ... and to spread their weight’). Other noun groups include ‘where’ phrases to tell us where these features are useful.
Including all this detail inside a noun group condenses the information into shorter, information-packed sentences.
Another grammatical feature is nominalisation, meaning, verbs or adjectives turned into nouns (weight, grip, camouflage, warmth) also condenses information.
Heading: nominalisation (for instance, verb turned into noun)
Topic sentence links to heading.
Tell us more about how
Tell us more about where.

Hunting behaviour
Polar bears feed mainly on seals that swim in the ocean under the ice. They use their camouflage to sneak up on their prey that is sleeping on the ice. Polar bears roam far and wide across the sea ice, searching for food.
Polar bears head the topic sentence. (Note consistency of plural noun for bears.)
More expanded noun groups here (for example, seals that swim ... ice; prey ... ice).
Modality: ‘mainly’ is adverb that makes the statement true.
‘They’ is a pronoun referring to polar bears. (Makes paragraph stick together.)
Some technical terms: ‘camouflage’, ‘prey’.
Careful choice of verbs in habitual present tense to describe bears’ actions: feed, roam, sneak up.
Final sentence is complex: second clause begins with -ing, implying ‘at the same time’.

Stage 1: Denning and birth
Stage 2: Feeding in den
Stage 3: Leaves the den

Life cycle
In winter, a mother bear has her cubs in a den under the snow. They are kept warm by her thick fur. For two months they feed on milk made from the mother’s fat. They leave the den together to hunt for food when summer comes.

The stages of the life cycle often have time phrases or clauses foregrounded: ‘In winter’, ‘For two months’, ‘when summer comes’.

Heading: nominalisation: risk and melting sea ice.
Reason for risk.
Implications for polar bears.
Tell us more.
Possible final outcome.

Risk from melting sea ice
Because the Earth is warming, the sea ice in the Arctic forms much later each winter and melts earlier in spring. For this reason, the polar bears’ hunting season is getting shorter. As the ice disappears, the bears are going hungry because they can’t walk over the sea ice to find their prey. Polar bears might disappear from the Arctic.

‘Because the Earth is warming’ is foregrounded because it is crucial information. ‘For this reason,’ is a connector that links to ‘because’ in previous sentence.
Expanded noun groups condense meaning (for example, ‘the sea ice in the Arctic’; ‘polar bears’ hunting season’). ‘is getting’ is a continuous present verb. ‘shorter’ compares the length of hunting season now that the Earth is warming to before the warming.
Second last sentence is complex: begins with ‘when’ (As the ice disappears ...) and finishes with ‘why’ (because they can’t walk ...)’ Use of ‘might’ in final sentence, along with drastic ‘disappear’ raises this event as possible.

Topic sentence provides general action and why
More specific action
Examples of actions

How humans can help
Humans everywhere can help polar bears by using fewer of the Earth’s resources so that the Earth is not heating up as fast. We can reduce, re-use and recycle. That means driving less, having shorter showers, buying less, and buying local when we can.

‘can’ offers the reader (who is included in ‘humans everywhere’) the option to act.
The first sentence is complex: the second clause begins with ‘by ...’ to tell us how. The third clause begins with ‘so that ...’, telling the reader the outcome or consequence.
The rest of the paragraph is a list of actions, so the action verbs are very important. Just what we should reduce, reuse and recycle, and what we are buying local are left out: the writer assumes that the reader will know this.

Focus text: The Earth (page 70)

Language resources

Tell us more: revolution
Tell us more: source of energy
Tell us more: rotation

The Earth is a spherical planet in space that revolves around the sun. (This is the Earth’s revolution around the Sun.) The sun is the source of most of Earth’s energy, providing heat and light. While the Earth is revolving around the Sun, it also rotates on its own axis. (This is the Earth’s rotation.)
Capitalisation of Earth and Sun as proper nouns. Definition made up of the thing on one side of ‘is’ and a big noun group on the other (a spherical planet ...)
‘This’ is pronoun that links back to the verb ‘revolves’. This sentence turns the verb ‘revolves’ into noun ‘revolution’: nominalisation.
The sentence beginning ‘The Sun ...’ is a complex sentence. Second clause begins with ‘providing ...’
The sentence beginning ‘While’ is also complex. Tells us two actions happening at the same time.
The sentence beginning ‘This’ turns verb ‘rotates’ into nominalisation ‘rotation’.

Question as heading
Topic sentence: first material.
Second material
Physical features: poles (named)
Material at the poles.
Arctic materials
Antarctic materials

What is the Earth’s surface made of?
The Earth’s surface is mostly made up of water. The remainder is land. At the top and bottom of Earth are the poles: the Arctic in the north, and the Antarctic in the south. The poles are made up of ice. The ice at the Arctic is mostly sea ice (formed on top of the ocean). The ice in the Antarctic is land ice (formed on top of rock).
‘The Earth’s surface’ is the topic of the paragraph and so goes in theme position.
The terms ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ are terms that, while approximate, are sufficient to begin learning about the poles.
Many sentences use verb ‘are made up of ...’ to mirror the words in the heading. Repetition adds to cohesion.
Use of brackets to reword and add meaning : ‘sea ice (formed on top of the ocean).
Ellipsis: words left out when not needed to condense meaning: ‘The remainder [of what?] is land.

Topic sentence
Gas 1 and why it’s important
Other gases and their function
More about their function
Group name of these gases
More about atmosphere

The atmosphere
The air around us is the Earth’s atmosphere, made up of different gases. The most important gas for living things is oxygen, because without it, they would not survive. The atmosphere has other gases that help keep the Earth warm. They act like a greenhouse or like the windscreen of a car out in the sun, keeping the sun’s warmth trapped in our atmosphere, and are called greenhouse gases. Air in the atmosphere moves around the planet from one place to the next.
First sentence is definition: ‘air’ on one side of ‘is’, and an expanded noun group on the other side.
The phrase ‘the most important gas ...’ links back to ‘different gases’ in the previous sentence, and forward to ‘oxygen’, elaborated with ‘why’ clause beginning with ‘because…’ (complex sentence).
The sentence beginning ‘Atmosphere’ is similar: begins with definition: ‘atmosphere’ on one side of ‘has’ and expanded noun group on the other (other gases that…).
The sentence beginning ‘They’ uses pronoun referring to gases (cohesion). Action is elaborated with two ‘how’ phrases: ‘like a greenhouse ..., like a windscreen’. ‘keeping ... is extra clause telling us more about how they are similar to greenhouse.
Final sentence implies the importance because we all breathe the same air, wherever we are on Earth. We are all influenced by what happens around the globe.

Tell us how
Tell us why

The oceans
The oceans around Earth are interconnected. Warm water near the Equator moves to cool water at the poles and back again, keeping everything in balance [NASA 2020].

Topic sentence gives message about interconnectedness of the oceans (implied in paragraph about atmosphere. Explicitly stated here).
Expanded noun groups place water at different parts of the Earth: ‘Warm water near the Equator’, etc.
Final clause ‘keeping ...’ tells us the effect of this movement (matches grammar in previous paragraph: repetition adds to cohesion).

Topic sentence
One example of a change and problem.

Tell us more about the problem
Impact of change
How we have to help
More about how we have to help.


How humans affect the Earth
When humans make changes to the Earth, there are consequences for all living things. Sealed surfaces such as bitumen are not viable habitats for living things. Rain cannot soak into some surfaces, like bitumen or bare earth, so living things can’t use it. Instead, rain runs into drains and out to sea.
These changes that humans are making affect all living things on Earth. We have to protect Earth by acting thoughtfully and carefully whenever we use Earth’s resources. We have to reduce, re-use and recycle to conserve the Earth’s resources.

Title uses ‘affect’: first sentence uses ‘make changes’. These are ‘meaning chains: add to cohesion — making text stick together.
Technical terms: ‘consequences’, ‘viable habitats’.
The sentence beginning ‘Rain’ is complex: with cause and effect using the conjunction ‘so’.
Expanded noun groups are used to condense meaning ‘some surfaces, like bitumen ...’
‘Instead’ is a connector to signal alternative action.
‘These changes that ...’ is a noun group with pronoun ‘these’, referring to the entire paragraph above. ‘changes’ are further described by:
Modality that is strong: ‘all living things’, ‘have to protect ...’ ‘whenever we use ...’
‘By acting ...’ is a dependent clause telling us ‘how’ to protect (complex sentence)
‘…to conserve…’ is a dependent clause of purpose (complex sentence).

Focus text: Materials and their changing forms (page 75)

Language resources

Definition and scientific rewording
Material forms and scientific rewording
Behaviour of solids and examples
Behaviour of liquids and examples

Materials and their states
Every object in the world is made of ‘stuff’. Scientists call them ‘materials’. Materials take different forms. Scientists call forms ‘states’. Solid materials (solids) keep their shape unless cut or broken. Rocks and glass are examples of solids.

Liquid materials (liquids) flow and take the shape of their container. Water and oil are examples of liquids.

Powered down term ‘stuff’ is followed by scientific powered up term ‘materials’. (Similarly forms – states.)
Use of italics for emphasis, and brackets to add additional, colloquial term.
Difference between solids and liquids described by their behaviour (verbs such ‘cut’, ‘broken’, ‘flow’, ‘take the shape’).

Topic sentence: heat
Heat added
Name of process
Example of process
Heat removed
Name of process
Example of process

Materials can change state
Materials can change state by adding or removing heat. When heat is added to a solid, it becomes a liquid. This process is called melting. When ice melts it becomes a liquid: water. When heat is removed from a liquid, it becomes a solid. This process is called freezing. Water in a freezer turns to ice.

Topic sentence is complex: ‘by’ clause tells us ‘how.
Grammatical structure of rest of paragraph is repeated:

  • General ‘when’ clause —
  • ‘this process’ names result.
  • Specific ‘when’ clause provides example.

‘liquid: water’ — colon: is used as substitute for ‘namely’ or ‘more information’.

Heading: specific example of changes in states of matter.
Change in state and effect
How to reverse change of state

Melting ice in the poles
In the Antarctic and Greenland, ice caps are melting from higher temperatures, causing a rise in sea level and flooding. To stop flooding, we have to keep the ice at the ice caps from melting.
The ‘where’ phrases foregrounded to tell us where these changes in state are happening.
Clause beginning with ‘causing’ makes sentence complex, signifies cause and effect.
To stop flooding: another dependent clause foregrounded at front of sentence, signifies purpose.

Investigative report: How melting ice affects sea levels (page 77)

Language resources


To test how the melting of sea ice and land ice affect sea-levels.

Not a complete sentence: dependent clause of purpose (implied continuation of heading, namely, ‘The aim is to test ...’)

List of materials


  • two clear containers of equal size to represent the poles
  • one wooden block or rock representing land at the Antarctic
  • two large blocks of ice of equal size
  • water

Slightly technical term ‘materials’ instead of more spoken like ‘what you need’.
List consisting of expanded noun groups, which contain all specific requirements sufficient to make the demonstration a success.

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4


  1. Set up the containers. Label one Arctic and the other Antarctic
  2. The Arctic has no rock. Pour in water until it fills about a third of the container. Place a large ice-block in the water and mark the water level. Measure the height of the water.
  3. Now for the Antarctic. Place a rock with a flat surface in the container to represent land. Pour in water until it is at the same height as the Arctic. (Make sure the top of the rock is not underwater). Mark the water level.
  4. Put a large ice-block on top of the rock to represent land ice.
    As the ice melts, observe and mark the change in the water level in each container.

Each step begins with the verb in theme position: they are in the imperative, that is, giving orders.
Each sentence includes the ‘things’ or the objects or materials that are acted on: container, rock, ice-block, etc.
Each sentence contains strings of phrases such that anyone who reads the instructions will be successful: ‘where’: in the container, at the same height, on top of the rock.
Some sentences contain additional clauses so that the follower understands the conditions needed: ‘until it fills about one third ...’, ‘as the ice melts’; or the purpose of the action, ‘... to represent land ice’;
Note that there are no personal pronouns in these instructions. This makes it sound more objective and authoritative.

Outcomes (usually in table form)
Table 6.6: Sea level over time with melting sea ice and land ice

Apart from succinct headings, the results here are quantitative, namely, numbers, representing millimetres of sea level rise.


Observation in Arctic

Elaboration with changes in states of matter

Observation in Antarctic

Elaboration with changes in states of matter


The height of the sea water in the Arctic did not change as the ice melted. This was because the ice was already floating in the ocean. When it melted, it changed state from a solid to a liquid, but did not add new water to the ocean.

In the example (Table 6.6), the height of the sea water in the Antarctic was 4mm higher after the land ice melted. This increase in height is important. The increase was because the ice was on the rock, and when it changed state from a solid to a liquid, it flowed into the ocean. Therefore, melting sea ice does not cause the sea level to rise, but melting land ice does.
Expanded noun groups with nominalisations ‘The height of the sea water in the Arctic’ (high changed to ‘height’) for density of language.
‘This’ in next sentence refers back to the process in sentence 1, not to a thing.
Further nominalisation: ‘increase in height’ (not ‘it got bigger’).
This increase: pronoun referring back to data in previous sentence.
Therefore: connector often used to draw a conclusion. Means ‘in this way ...’

Focus text: Heat transfer (page 79)

Language resources

Question as heading
Definition of Earth’s energy by source
Elaboration: forms as it reaches the Earth.

What is heat?
Almost all of Earth’s energy comes from the sun. It reaches the Earth as heat and light.

Modality: ‘almost all’ to make the statement true.
‘It’ is pronoun referring back to ‘energy’. ‘As heat and light’ tells us ‘how’, that is, the form it takes to reach the Earth. (very important: heat and light are energy).

Topic sentence: direction of heat transfer
Example 1
Example 2

Heat transfer
Heat energy transfers from a warm object to a cool object. For example, ice frozen in a plastic bottle melts on a hot day when the heat from the warm air around the bottle is transferred through the plastic and into the ice. A warm hand transfers heat to a frozen ice block, causing it to melt.

Transfer used as a nominalisation: heat transfer, and a verb ‘heat energy transfers ...’
‘Where’ phrases very important: show the direction of transfer.
For example is connector linking this sentence to previous sentence.
Expanded noun groups including inside them ‘where’ and ‘when’ phrases to identify circumstances under which this process of heat transfer takes place, for example, ‘heat from the warm air around the bottle’.
Final sentence is complex: the second clause begins with ‘causing’ signalling cause and effect.

Definition of insulators

Insulation in our home
Insulators are materials that do not transfer heat easily. They keep heat in or out. They are used for insulation in our homes.

‘Insulation’ is nominalisation from ‘insulate’.
First sentence is definition: ‘thing’ on one side of ‘are’, and the expanded noun group on the other side as the definition.
‘They’ refers to insulators.
‘Are used’ is verb in passive voice: the ‘user’ is not specified because it’s not important.

Specific material as insulator: air
Example 1
Example 2 with reason (because)
Example 3 with purpose (to)
Example 4 with reason (because)
Elaboration of reason

Air is an insulator
Many materials that are good insulators use air. An esky uses polystyrene to insulate food or drinks. A woollen jumper keeps us warm because it traps warm air next to our skin. Insulating batts with air are used in the walls and roof spaces of houses to help keep them warm in winter and cool in summer.
The atmosphere is a good insulator, because it is made of air. It keeps the Earth not too hot and not too cold.

The topic sentence links to previous paragraph, and to heading, with use of the word ‘insulator’. It introduces one insulator: air.
Each subsequent sentence provides an example of insulators using air, and is a complex sentence.
Function in first clause + reason in second clause (using ‘because ...’)
Function in first clause + purpose in second clause (using ‘to ...’)

Topic sentence
Stage 1 of greenhouse gases
Stage 2
Stage 3
Problem with this effect
How we solve this problem

How greenhouse gases insulate the Earth
Greenhouse gases rise up into the atmosphere and stay there. They act like a blanket, trapping heat in the atmosphere. Some of the heat is absorbed by the land, but most is absorbed by the ocean. Scientists are warning us that too much heat is now being trapped by greenhouse gases. The best way to solve this problem is to stop using fossil fuels.

This is a mini-factorial explanation (if you care!) .
Stage 1 consists of two actions: rising up, and staying.
Stage 2 is how they act when they get there. This stage uses a simile ‘like a blanket’ and elaborates with an additional clause ‘trapping ...’ elaborate on its effect.
Stage 3 uses passive voice for the verb ‘is absorbed ... : it is absorbed by both land and ocean. We know what is doing the absorbing, but using passive voice like this enables us to put ‘heat’ as the topic of the sentence.
‘Are warning’ and ‘being trapped’ are in present continuous tense. This tells us that these actions are ongoing and happening now.


Text analyses for Chapter 7: Climate change science in Years 5 and 6

Teachers of Years 5 and 6 students: Please don’t feel daunted by all the grammatical information provided in these text analyses. You do need to display the whole text so you can teach how a text is logically structured (the information in the left-hand column). When it comes to teaching language and grammar resources (right-hand column), choose one or two paragraphs to teach thoroughly, taking sentences, noun groups and phrases apart and put them back together again so that students understand how a good paragraph is structured. Don’t try to cover every little thing in every paragraph. You’ll all cry!

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Focus text: Adaptation (page 89)

Language resources

Question as heading
How it helps
Five examples of how adaptation helps

What is adaptation?
Adaptation is a change that happens to organisms such as plants and animals, helping them to survive, thrive and reproduce in their habitat. Adaptations help organisms to find a niche where they don’t have to compete with other organisms. Adaptations help organisms with protection from predators, finding food, communicating with each other, reproduction and surviving harsh weather
Heading as a question invites the reader to find answer.
Adaptation is a noun formed from verb ‘adapt’.
Verb ‘is’ points to the definition which is a big noun group (begins with the way and ends with habitat.
Help .. to protect one verb group).
Commas separate verbs in a list ‘to survive, thrive ...’
All three sentences in the paragraph start with ‘adaptations’ (helps with cohesion).
List of ways that adaptations help: some are ‘how’ phrases ‘with protection from predators’, some are ‘how’ clauses beginning with ‘-ing’ verbs ‘[with] finding food’.

Question as heading
Topic sentence
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
How long does an adaptation take?
An adaptation usually takes many generations. It starts with one accidental change that gives the organism a better chance of surviving. Over time, the organisms without the adaptation die out, and those with the adaptation keep on reproducing.
This is a mini-explanation in three stages.
Modality: Usually included to make statement accurate (scientists do this a lot).
Many generations: time scale is implied: maybe hundreds of years (you may have to explain this).
Expanded noun group ‘one accidental change ...’ to surviving condenses information.
Over time marks next stage, and supports time scale in generations.
'those ... is ‘ellipsed’. It’s short for those organisms but leaving the noun out helps the paragraph to stick together.
These are generalised statements about adaptation. Subsequent paragraphs become more specific.

Topic sentence signals types
Structural adaptations with examples
Behavioural adaptations with examples

Types of adaptation
There are two types of adaptation: structural and behavioural. Structural adaptations are physical, such as size, shape and colour. Behavioural adaptations are actions that help the organism to survive, such as hunting at night, spitting at predators or curling up in a ball for protection.

‘There are’ is like saying ‘there exist’, to introduce the two types of adaptation.
The next two sentences describe the two types of adaptation, and have similar grammatical patterns: type of adaptation, followed by features and example.
Note that physical adaptation examples consist of adjectives and nouns, behavioural adaptation examples consist of actions with adverbial phrases (which makes sense!).

Focus text: Adaptations of the green turtle (page 90)

Language resources

Heading: classification
Habitats in general
Australian habitats
Classification and habitat
Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are reptiles found in coral and rocky reefs and seagrass meadows in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

In Australia, populations of green turtles nest in seven regions, including the southern Great Barrier Reef, the northern Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea, the Gulf of Carpentaria and several reefs off the coast of northern Western Australia.
Now the focus of the text shifts to adaptations of one animal.
Definition of green turtles: name on one side of ‘are’, and big noun group on the other. It includes classification and habitat.
Technical terms: ‘reptiles’, ‘regions’, ‘nest’, Latin name (often in brackets or italics).
Second para is more specific: Australia only, and ‘populations of green turtles’, not all. Specific numeric detail in the ‘where’ phrase: ‘seven regions’, followed by a list of habitats. These are all part of the same noun group that, along with ‘in’, makes up the ‘where’ phrase.

Heading: Physical adaptations
Adaptation (shape) and function
Adaptation (shape) and reason
Adaptation (shape) and function
Adaptation (colour)
Adaptation (organ)

Physical adaptations
Unlike some other turtles with a domed shell, green turtles have a streamlined, wide, flat rounded shell and paddle-like flippers to help them swim fast and far. Their head and legs are non-retractile, that is, they do not fit under their shell. This is because retractile limbs would reduce their speed. They have a jaw with fine serrated edges to help them eat sea grasses and algae.

Green turtle shells are olive green, red-brown and black on top. Underneath they are pale yellow or cream coloured for camouflage. Seen from above, green turtles blend in with coral and sea grass on the ocean floor. Seen from below, the pale underside of the shell blends in with the lighter surface of the ocean.

Green turtles secrete excess salt from glands behind their eyes. This adaptation allows them to live in the salty ocean and not absorb too much salt into their bodies. When they are digging in the sand to lay eggs, the salt ‘tears’ help to wash away any sand that gets in their eyes.

‘Physical adaptations’ is a nominalisation of verb ‘adapt’.
Very technical descriptions of shape attributes here, all condensed into noun groups: for example, ‘wide, flat and rounded, ‘non-retractable’ ‘fine serrated edges’. ‘This’ refers to the non-retractile adaptation. Note contrast with ‘other turtles ... domed shell’: compares adaptations.
Each adaptation is followed by either its function, for example, ‘to help them eat sea grasses and algae’, ‘for camouflage’ , Or a reason, for example, ‘because retractile limbs ...’
Technical descriptions of colour here: such as, olive-green, cream coloured.
Once again, form is followed by function. Colour above is contrasted with colour below, ‘seen from above’ and ‘seen from below’ (useful scientific phrase to learn) because these colours have different purposes.
Technical words ‘secrete’ ‘excessive salt’, ‘glands’.
‘This adaptation’ refers to all of the information in the previous sentence, ties the sentences together, points to two useful functions: living in salty water, and washing away sand.
Note well: complicated verb groups here:
'allows ...’ ‘to live ... 'and not absorb ...’ '... help to wash away ...’

Heading: behavioural
Adaptation 1
Adaptation 2
Adaptation 3
Reproductive adaptation 4

Behavioural adaptations
Like all reptiles, green sea turtles cannot generate their own body warmth. To keep warm, they swim near the surface of the ocean, where the water is warmer. Sometimes they sunbathe on beaches. The green turtle diet of sea grass and algae helps to keep the sea grass beds healthy, much like mowing a lawn.

Every five to eight years the females return to lay their eggs on warm tropical beaches, where the temperature of the sun incubates the eggs.
‘Like all reptiles’ is in theme position: first paragraph places turtles as part of larger group of reptiles. (Very common in scientific writing do this.)
‘own body warmth’ is nominalisation, which links this sentence to next one: ‘To keep warm’ which is function of adaptation. This time the function precedes the adaptation in the sentence.
The function of sunbathing can be inferred from previous sentences.
Expanded noun group: ‘green turtle diet ... algae’
Verb group ‘helps to keep’ signals function of adaptation (this time helps habitat, not themselves)
In final paragraph, lots of inferences to be made: frequency of return (time phrase at front), homing instinct (return to lay), and function of adaptation: to a warm place (temperature of sun ...)

Heading: risks
Topic sentence: introduction to risks

Risk from climate change
In northern Queensland, where green turtles breed, they are facing two impacts of climate change. First, the temperature of the sand is rising and heating up the turtle nests. Because sand temperature influences whether turtle hatchlings will be male or female, about 99% of hatchlings are now being born female. Without males, the turtles cannot reproduce. The second impact is the flooding of nests by the rising sea level.

The title indicates a change of focus.
‘Where’ phrases begin topic sentence, and issues are foregrounded. ‘they’ refers to the turtles, ‘are facing’ continuous present tense verb tells us this is now and ongoing. are ‘two impacts of climate change.’
‘First’ and ‘second’ sequence the risks or impacts. The ‘because’ clause identifies the cause and the ‘about’ clause identifies the risk for instance, ‘female hatchlings’
‘The second impact’ and ‘the flooding of nests’ are both noun groups with nominalisations: ‘impact’ and ‘flooding’ are both verbs acting as nouns. ‘By ...’ is a ‘how’ phrase.


Heading: human help
Topic sentence: humans needed
Scientists’ help (Risk 1 above)
Scientists’ help (Risk 2 above)
All humans help
How: actions
How: talk

How humans are helping
Green turtles need the help of humans to survive the threat of climate change. They cannot adapt quickly enough by themselves. To lower the temperature of the sand, scientists erect shades over the nests, and use water to cool the sand. This way they make sure that at least some hatchlings are males. Scientists are also raising the height of nesting sites that are threatened by sea level rise.

All humans have to help slow down climate change to give living things a chance to adapt to the new climate. As well as reducing our use of resources — especially fossil fuels — re-using wherever possible and recycling as a last resort, we can be spokespeople for living things that cannot talk, and influence others to use resources thoughtfully.

The heading is in the form of a statement (as compared with question headings)
Lots of ‘to ...’ clauses to show purpose and goal, for example, ‘to survive the threat ...’, ‘to lower the temperature ...’.’ ‘Threat’ links with the words ‘risk’ and ‘impact’ from the previous paragraph. ‘cannot adapt ...’ is the verb group followed by two ‘how’ phrases: ‘... quickly enough’ and ‘by themselves’.
In first paragraph, participants are scientists. ‘This way ...’ refers back to the whole of the previous sentence, that is, the efforts of the scientists. ‘Scientists’ are foregrounded in the next sentence in order to recognise their work. ‘the height of nesting sites ... level ...’ is one big noun group.
In the second paragraph, the shift to ‘All humans’ includes the reader. Verb group is big: ‘have to help slow down ...’ followed by ‘to... give a chance’ clause of purpose. How we do that is listed as a series of actions. First group of actions is reducing use of resources (as well as ...), followed by second group of actions, talk: speaking out, and influencing.

Focus text: The enhanced greenhouse effect (page 70)

Language resources

Topic sentence (definition)
Tell us more: functions
Function 1
Function 2
The atmosphere
The atmosphere is a relatively thin layer of air that surrounds the Earth. It provides a habitable climate for all living things in two ways. First, it regulates the temperatures on Earth. Second, the gases in the upper atmosphere protect the Earth from the majority of harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Definition: ‘thing’ on one side of
‘is’, and massive noun group on the other (relatively thin layer…). (Noun groups are underlined.)
‘Relatively’: adverb to modify how thin. Scientists do this to make sure their statements are completely accurate.
Pronoun ‘it’ refers to ‘atmosphere’, not ‘earth’.
Many technical terms. for example, ‘habitable’, ‘climate’, ‘gases’, ‘ultraviolet rays’.
Connectors ‘first’ and ‘second’ link back to ‘in two ways’.
Most important feature in this paragraph is expanded noun groups (underlined). When defining or describing, scientists like to leave nothing in doubt, so they load the noun group with condensed and specific information.

Topic sentence; definition
Tell us more about the function of greenhouse gases.
List greenhouse gases.
More about the function.
Foreshadowing of issue.

The enhanced greenhouse effect
Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing due to human activities, including energy production, agriculture and land clearing. This is called the enhanced greenhouse effect, which is contributing to the warming of the Earth.

Humans continue to burn fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. These are stored in different states: coal as a solid, oil as a liquid, and gas as a gas. However, when burnt to produce electricity and power transport, they all release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping more heat and reflecting it back to the Earth, instead of passing through to space. Much of this heat is absorbed in the land and the oceans.

‘Concentrations of greenhouse gases’ is a nominalisation: shift from verb to noun.
Due to: preposition beginning a phrase showing cause and effect.
‘Human activity’ links back to final sentence of previous para.
List of activities uses ‘including’ to tell us this isn’t the complete list.

‘This’ is reference item referring back to the whole process in the previous sentence, not just one word. ‘Warming’ is another nominalisation from verb. Note how the large noun group condenses a lot of information into a small space.

A colon means ‘more to come’ and implies a close logical relationship on both sides of the colon. In these sentences, the colon implies ‘namely’, or ‘that is’.
‘These’ refers back to previous list of fossil fuels.
‘However’: is a connector signalling a contrast, or apparently contradicting what has been said. This links back to previous sentence, followed by a dependent ‘when’ clause in front of sentence.
‘-ing’ verbs ‘trapping’ and ‘reflecting’ and ‘passing’ all imply simultaneous action and cause and effect.
‘is absorbed ‘ is passive voice.
The final sentence foregrounds the information in the next paragraph.

Effect in temperature rise
Significance of effect
Elaboration (example)

The effects of enhanced greenhouse gases
Enhanced greenhouse gases have resulted in an average global temperature increase of approximately 1°C. Even one degree of warming is enough to change long-term weather patterns across the globe. This is known as climate change. The CSIRO reports, for example, that the south-eastern part of Australia continues to have longer hotter, drier summers than in previous decades.
Lots of nominalisations here: ‘enhanced greenhouse gases’, ‘an average temperature increase ...’
The verb ‘Have resulted in ...’ shows cause and effect.
‘Even ...’ is an adverb that signals the unexpected.
‘This’ in the third sentence refers back to the events in the previous sentence. ‘Is known as ...’ is passive voice: who are the knowers? We all are, so it doesn’t have to be stated. ‘Climate change’ becomes yet another nominalisation: encapsulates the ‘changes in weather patterns’ in the previous sentence.
‘reports’ is the simple present verb and what is reported ‘that the … previous decade’. This is a clause acting as as a noun (could be substituted by a noun).

Our response

  • response 1
  • response 2

What we can do
All over the globe, life is affected by climate change. Here in Australia the 2019/20 fires have shown how devastating those effects can be. It is up to all humans to pay attention to the scientific reports and to do all we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

The magnitude of the issue is captured in modality of this paragraph: ‘all over the globe’ (not just in some places), ‘life’ (meaning, not just some people’s lives), ‘is affected’ (not might be affected), ‘up to all humans’, ‘all we can ...’
‘Here in Australia ...’ is a circumstance of place, ‘... the 2019/2020 fires ...’ is the noun or participant, ‘... have shown ...’ is the verb group. ‘... how devastating those effects can be.’ is clause acting as noun. (Could be replaced by a noun.)
Final sentence is complex: Main clause is ‘It is up to all humans ...’, followed by three dependent clauses: ‘.. to pay attention…’, ‘to do all we can to reduce…’, by reducing ...’

Focus text: The difference between weather and climate (page 101)

Language resources

Question as heading


  • what is the same

What is different

Definition of weather

  • time scale of changes
  • characteristics

What is the difference between weather and climate?
Weather and climate are all part of what happens around living things in their habitats. The difference is the time span used to observe them. Weather is what happens in the atmosphere in any part of the Earth each day. It can change from day to day and hour to hour. The characteristics used to describe weather are temperature, wind and precipitation (water falling from the sky in the form of rain, hail or snow).

The title announces what this paragraph is about (concepts often confused in the climate change discussions)
The first sentence outlines what is common. The next sentence that starts with ‘The difference ...’ ‘Time span’ links to the time scale of changes for weather and climate.
Definition of weather: ‘Weather ...’ on one side of ‘is ...’ and a clause acting as a noun group on the other side (we can tell this because it could be replaced by a noun.)
Lots of time phrases to explain the time scale of changes: ‘... each day’, ‘... from day to day…’
Technical words: ‘characteristics’ and ‘precipitation’. As often happens, common-sense explanations are added in brackets.

Definition of climate

  • time scale of changes.


Local example of climate

Climate is the long-term weather pattern in any part of the world. Climate describes the typical weather conditions in an entire region for a very long time — 30 years or more. Different parts of the world have different climate zones with different average temperatures and different average precipitation. [Insert your town or region] has a [temperate /tropical/sub-tropical/arid /Mediterranean] climate.

Definition: ‘Climate ...’ on one side of ‘... is’, and the noun group on the other side. (as compared with ‘clause as noun’ in weather definition above.)
Time phrases here explain the time and physical scale: ‘... in an entire region ...’, ‘... for a very long time’.
‘Different’ repeated here four times for emphasis.
Technical terms here, this time without brackets. (assumes that the reader now gets this.)

Question as heading
Cause of changes
Effects in different parts of the world
Local effects

Why is the climate changing?
The world’s climate is changing because of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some parts of the world are having more extreme weather events. In other parts of the world, temperatures are increasing. Australia is experiencing both.
This is the vital question all students must be able to answer.
Complex sentence with ‘... because ...’ clause of reason, begins to answer the question in the heading.
The rest of the paragraph explains the varying consequences or effects: in ‘Some parts’, ‘In other parts of the world.’ Final sentence is declarative and alarming. ‘Both ...’ is ellipsed: means both extreme weather and increasing temperatures.

Investigative report: Extreme weather events and the effect of climate change (page 103)

Language resources

Question as heading
Definition of extreme weather
Examples of extreme weather in a specific place

What is extreme weather?
Extreme weather events are those that are significantly different from the usual weather pattern in any place. In Australia, extreme weather events include bushfires, heatwaves, floods, earthquakes, storms, cyclones and landslides.

Definition: ‘Extreme weather ...’ on one side of ...‘are ...’ and ‘those ...’ noun group (underlined here and below) on the other (‘those’ is ellipsed: short for those events.)
‘In Australia, ...’: ‘where’ phrase is foregrounded to situate the extreme weather events.
‘include ...’, like ‘is’ is a relational verb a bit like an equals sign. Implies this isn’t everything. Simple list of events.

Question as heading (one example of extreme weather)
Definition of heatwave
When they occur

What happens in a heatwave?
Heatwaves are defined as three consecutive days of high maximum and high minimum temperatures for that location. Heatwaves occur when hot, dry weather raises temperatures significantly above average day and night temperatures. When night-time temperatures are high, organisms such as humans, animals and crops don’t have a chance to recover, and the next day’s temperature rises more quickly. Heatwaves have been the deadliest of the natural disasters in Australia.


Question as heading
Topic sentence answers question.
Example in specific place:
Cause (heat in centre)
Effect (heat moves to coast)
Example: Australia as a whole
Examples: specific towns

Where do heatwaves happen in Australia?
Heatwaves can happen anywhere. In Australia, conditions in the centre of the country are often hot and dry because of its distance from the cooling effects of the oceans. A heatwave occurs when hot, dry air from the outback moves into coastal areas.

In the spring of 2020, Australia had its warmest spring temperatures on record. For example, Thargomindah in Queensland recorded the hottest November day ever with a temperature of 46°C, while Andamooka, in South Australia, recorded a record spring day temperature of 48°C.


Question as heading
Topic sentence answers question.

What are the impacts of heatwaves?
Extreme heatwaves affect all living things, including humans, animals, and crops. Vulnerable people, including the elderly, the homeless, the very young, and people who are not well, are at risk of heat stress. Animals can suffer from dehydration and put themselves in danger looking for water. Crop yields are reduced because the very hot, dry weather puts crops under stress. This can lead to food shortages (Carrington 2013). Heatwaves also affect electricity consumption, because there is a high demand for air conditioning. This can sometimes cause power outages, which make it even more difficult to deal with the heat.
This is a causal explanation: heatwaves and a list of the effects. They don’t happen in stages, the effect is simultaneous.
Topic sentence answers the heading. Modality: strong: ‘all living things’ followed by list.
‘Crop yields are reduced’, not ‘might be’.
Possibility: ‘animals can suffer…’, this can lead to …’. This can sometimes cause power…
Nominalisations: ‘heat stress’, ‘dehydration’, ‘danger’, ‘food shortages’, ‘electricity consumption’, ‘high demand’, ‘power outages’, ‘crop yields’, ‘the heat’.
Big noun groups begin with a generalised noun followed by examples: ‘... all living things, including humans ...’, and ‘... vulnerable people, including the elderly ...’
Sometimes the cause / effect is explicit: ‘affect’, ‘puts ... under stress’, 'because’, ‘cause ...’ ‘make it ... difficult.’ Sometimes the relationship is implicit and has to be inferred: ‘... at risk of heat stress.’ ... ‘... looking for water.

Question as heading
Topic sentence answers question

What is the effect of climate change on heatwaves?
In Australia, the CSIRO and BOM recognise that climate change is increasing temperatures and the number of heatwaves.
Expanded noun groups with nominalisations ‘The height of the sea water in the Arctic’ (high changed to ‘height’) for density of language.
‘This’ in next sentence refers back to the process in sentence 1, not to a thing.
Further nominalisation: ‘increase in height’ (not ‘it got bigger’).
This increase: pronoun referring back to data in previous sentence.
Therefore: connector often used to draw a conclusion. Means ‘in this way ...’

Question as heading
Topic sentence answers question
Short term actions

  • how, how, how


  • how


  • purpose

Long term actions

  • how
  • how
  • how

What can humans do to reduce the impact of heatwaves?
Humans have to think about short-term and long-term actions to reduce the impact of heat waves. In the short term, we avoid heat stress by drinking plenty of water, finding a cool place to stay, wearing cool fabrics like cotton and wearing a hat outside.

We look after vulnerable people, including family and neighbours. We provide animals with water by putting shallow containers around our homes and schools for animals, birds and insects to drink from. We give extra water, and make shade for vulnerable plants in our gardens. We plant trees to provide shade for animals.

In the long term, humans have to slow down climate change by thoughtful use of the Earth’s resources, especially by using electricity generated from renewable resources rather than fossil fuels.


Focus text: The useful properties of light for energy efficiency (page 107)

Language resources

Topic sentence introduces three properties
Two important properties identified

The properties of light
Light has three properties: reflection, absorption and refraction. Two of these properties — reflection and absorption — are useful to understand when making a house energy efficient.

‘Properties’ is abstract concept: presumed that readers know what it is (not explained).
A colon means ‘tell us more’: in this case linking generalisation ‘properties’ to the three examples.

Heading: nominalisation
Tell us more
Tell us more: dark and light objects

Examples in bullet list
Example 1 and why
Example 2 and why
Example 3 and why
Example 4 and why

Summary: general action and why

Light reflection means that light bounces off surfaces. When it is reflected, it remains as light. Light-coloured and shiny objects reflect more light than dark-coloured objects. Examples of how light reflection is useful in the home:

  • Choosing a white, silver or light grey car because these are least likely to heat up in summer.
  • Building houses with light-coloured roofs or painting the roofs with solar reflective paint. This helps to keep the house cooler in summer because more light is reflected back into the atmosphere instead of being absorbed as heat.
  • Putting reflective film on west-facing windows so that the light is reflected off instead of being transmitted into the house.
  • Using mirrors inside our homes. They are made of glass with a layer of silver that reflects the light. Mirrors bounce light around a room, making it brighter and reducing the need for electric light.

To slow down climate change, we can make changes to our houses in summer so that light is reflected, rather than absorbed as heat, making our houses more energy efficient.

Definition: light reflection on one side of ‘... means ...’, and clause acting as a noun group on the other side. (We know when clause is acting as noun, because a noun could go in its place.)
Each bullet point in the list begins with the action as an -ing verb
Each bullet point explains why. Sometimes as a dependent clause ('because ...’)
The why is added as an additional sentence in the second bullet point. ‘This’ links the explanation back to previous sentence.
In the third bullet point why is added as a dependent clause beginning with ‘... so that…’, meaning, in order to.
In the fourth bullet point why is added as an ‘-ing’ clause: making it brighter. We have to infer the cause and affect in this example.
Clause of purpose or goal is foregrounded in the summary sentence, because the goal precedes how we are going to achieve the goal. ‘so that ...’ used again to mean in order to.

Heading: nominalisation
Tell us more
Tell us more: dark and light objects
Examples in list
Example 1 and why
Example 2 and why
Example 3 and why
Example 4 and why
Example 5 and why

Absorption means that light ‘soaks in’: it is taken in by objects. When it is absorbed, it changes from light to heat. Dark objects absorb more heat than light-coloured objects. A few examples of how absorption is useful in the home:

  • Rooftop solar panels absorb sunlight and change, or transform, it to generate electricity for our homes.
  • Sunlight is transmitted through windows onto a concrete floor and changes to heat. The floor absorbs the heat to warm the house. At night, the concrete slowly releases the heat, gently warming the home.
  • Solar hot water systems absorb sunlight as heat via the roof panels, warming the water in pipes inside them panels, ready for use in the home.
  • A solar pool heating system absorbs sunlight as heat via black pipes on the roof. The pool water circulates so that warm water is pumped into the pool while cool water is pumped from the pool onto the roof to absorb the heat from the sun.
  • Outside blinds of different materials reflect the light or absorb the light as heat before it can be transmitted inside the house.

Grammar in this paragraph is similar to the one above. We find clauses that signal purpose: ‘to ...’, and cause and effect: ‘because ...’, 'to ...’, ‘-ing…’
Sometimes cause and effect has to be inferred from the language provided. This is a good discussion for the class.
Nominalisations: absorption.

Focus text: The albedo effect (page 111)

Language resources

Factorial explanation: heading is phenomenon identification
Stage 1: Sun—Earth
Stage 2: Absorption
Stage 3: Reflection—light surfaces
Stage 4: Absorption—dark surfaces
Name of reflection process
Where it happens

What is the albedo effect?
Radiation from the sun reaches the Earth’s surface during the day. Some of the sun’s rays are absorbed as heat by the land and the ocean. Darker surfaces absorb more heat than lighter surfaces, so ice and snow reflect more heat, while dark soils, rocks and dark oceans absorb more heat. The amount of heat that is reflected by Earth’s surfaces is called the albedo effect. The snow and ice at the North and South Poles reflect a large amount of solar radiation back into space. This helps to cool the Earth and plays an important role in Earth’s climate.

Question as heading.
Nominalisations: ‘radiation’, ‘solar radiation’
Verbs in passive voice: ‘are absorbed by…’, is reflected…’,
Big complicated noun groups are underlined.

Causal explanation
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4

How is climate change affecting the poles?
As climate change warms the atmosphere and the oceans, more of the ice in the polar regions is melting. As a result, more heat is being absorbed by the dark oceans in the North and South Poles, and by the dark rocks in Greenland and the Antarctic. This process is speeding up the melting of the ice caps.

Question as heading: phenomenon identification
Complex sentence with dependent time clause at front of sentence: tells us when the ice is melting and implies cause and effect.
Connector ‘As a result ...’ tells us cause and effect.
The phrase ... ‘is being absorbed ...’ is passive voice which tells us its happening continuously now. ‘... by the dark oceans ...’ is the absorber.
‘This process ...’ in the last sentence refers back to the previous two paragraphs. ‘... is speeding up ...’ continuous and now. The ‘melting’ is a noun, not a verb.

Text analyses for Chapter 8: Climate change science in Years 7 and 8

Teachers of Years 5 and 6 students: Please don’t feel daunted by all the grammatical information provided in these text analyses. You do need to display the whole text so you can teach how a text is logically structured (the information in the left-hand column). When it comes to teaching language and grammar resources (right-hand column), choose one or two paragraphs to teach thoroughly, taking sentences, noun groups and phrases apart and put them back together again so that students understand how a good paragraph is structured. Don’t try to cover every little thing in every paragraph. You’ll all cry!

Download a print version (.pdf 622 kB)
Consider the environment before printing

Focus text: Life in balance — ecosystems (page 116)

Language resources

Question as heading
Topic sentence answers heading, provides definition.
Tell us more: scale
Tell us more: significance
One example
Tell us more:
non-living elements
and living elements

What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem includes all living things (plants, animals and other organisms, known as the biota) in a given area, and the non-living elements (for example, sun, soil and climate, known as the abiota). Ecosystems can be as small as a rockpool, or as large as a continent. The health of ecosystems influences the health of the entire planet.

One example of an ecosystem is found in the Antarctic, a polar habitat. The Antarctic consists of ice and snow on top of rock. It is considered a desert because there is little rain. Some small shrubs, lichens, mosses and algae grow, but no trees.
Definition: ‘ecosystem’ on one side of ‘includes’ and one massive noun group on the other (underlined). Brackets are used for elaboration of some terms. Where terms are powered down (such as, living things), the powered up term is added afterwards (for example, ‘known as the biota’). ‘Ecosystem’ is a generalisation that encapsulates that whole noun group.
Modality: ‘can be’ implies possibility but not certainty. Comparatives used here: ‘as small as ...’, ‘as large as ...’
Repetition of ‘health’ supports the cohesion of the para. Modality: ‘the entire planet’ for emphasis.
Notice that ‘ecosystem’ is at the front of the paragraph to introduce the example, the Antarctic. (we could have written it in reverse, but this way links better to previous paragraph).
Verbs in ‘is found’, ‘consists of’' and ‘is considered’ all function to launch new information about the Antarctic. Very useful in information reports like this.

Nominalisation as heading (mini explanation)
Phenomenon identification
Stage 1: Producers
Stage 2: Consumers

  • carnivores
  • herbivores

Stage 3: Decomposers
Stage 1
One example: Antarctic
(matches paragraph above)
Stage 1: Producers
Stage 2: Consumers (first level)
Stage 2: Consumers (second level)
Stage 3: Decomposers

Energy flow in an ecosystem
In an ecosystem, each organism exchanges energy through its feeding relationships. This is known as the food chain. Food chains begin with plants. Plants produce food using energy from the sun. Organisms that eat plants or other animals are called consumers. Consumers cannot make food from the sun’s energy. Some organisms eat only meat (carnivores), and some eat only plants (herbivores). When organisms die, their bodies are broken down by microbes, and the chemicals (like carbon and nitrogen) from their bodies feed the microbes and also go back into the soil. Thus the cycle begins again.
Food chains in the Antarctic are very short. The producers are ocean-growing plants. The first-level consumers are krill. Krill are eaten by many predators, including whales, seals, birds, fish and squid. Other predators are penguins, which in turn are eaten by seals. The decomposers in the Antarctic are bacteria.

Heading (causal explanation)
Topic sentence
Human-induced climate change
Effect 1
Effect 2
Effect 3
Effect 4

The effect of climate change on food webs
Ecosystems can be disrupted by natural events, or by human intervention. Anthropogenic climate change is causing disruption to ecosystems around the world. This can be catastrophic. As the oceans are warming because of climate change, phytoplankton and krill populations are dropping. Without these producers and first-level consumers, the food web in the Antarctic would be in a precarious state.

Three nominalisations in heading: ‘the effect’, ‘climate change’, and ‘food webs’. Each concentrates lots of meaning into one little noun group
Verb in passive voice ‘can be disrupted by’ enables ‘ecosystems’ to go at front of sentence in prime position.
Technical terms: ‘anthropogenic’ means ‘human-induced’ but is useful step into sounding scientific.
‘As the oceans ...’ is cause — ‘phytoplankton ...’ is effect.
‘Without ...’ phrase is foregrounded at front of sentence for prominence.
Emotive adjectives: catastrophic, precarious.

Focus text: renewable and non-renewable energy sources and climate change (page 121)

Language resources

Topic sentence
Definition of renewable and non-renewable (time scale)
Issue with non-renewable

Energy sources and the human timescale

People need energy to run machines, produce goods and for transport. Some of the Earth’s energy sources are non-renewable, and some are renewable. It depends on how long it takes to replenish the supply. (Renewable sources are expected to be replaced within our lifetime, that is, approximately 100 years.) For hundreds of years, humans have relied on non-renewable fossil fuels, but this has created problems for the planet.

Phenomenon identification
Stage 1
(elaborations for coal, oil and gas)
Stage 2
Reason for their label as non-renewable

Non-renewable energy sources
Coal, crude oil and gas are non-renewable fossil fuels. They were formed over millions of years, from the remains of dead organisms. Coal was largely formed from decaying plants while oil and gas were formed from huge quantities of microscopic animals, plankton and algae falling to the bottom of the ocean and being covered by layers of mud. Over millions of years this organic material was subjected to intense pressure and heat, and slowly transformed into oil and natural gas. Given that the timescales for the formation of coal, oil and gas are so huge, fossil fuels are considered non-renewable. They are a finite resource.

Burning fossil fuels is one of the most significant causes of climate change. It produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat inside the atmosphere. Many alternative renewable and non-polluting energy sources are now being investigated and harnessed.

Non-renewable fossil fuels: generalisation of the three.
‘... were formed’ is verb in passive voice: the ‘doer’ is the dead organisms.
‘while ...’ dependent clause telling us these events were happening at the same time.
Time phrase: ‘Over millions of years ...’ at front of sentence to emphasise and signal new stage.
‘... was subjected to ...’ verb in passive voice
‘Given that … is a dependent clause of concession, placed at the front of sentence for emphasis.
‘Are considered ...’ verb in passive voice.
‘Burning fossil fuels’ is a clause acting as a noun.
More big noun groups here (underlined): lots of qualifications added on after the noun ...’
‘... are now being investigated and harnessed …’ more verbs in passive voice. The reason for passive voice here is often that the ‘doers’ are general and don’t need to be named, for example, scientists and engineers.

Energy source and how it is accessed
Energy source and how it is accessed
Energy source
Pros and cons
Energy source and how it’s accessed
Energy source and how its accessed

Renewable energy sources
Solar energy is harvested direct from the sun, using solar photovoltaic cells and rooftop solar water heaters. Apart from indirect emissions from manufacture and installation, it creates no greenhouse gas emissions. Solar energy is not available during the night, unless the energy is stored in batteries.
Wind is also harnessed from the sun, because wind is the movement of air caused by uneven heating of the Earth by the sun. It is used in wind farms, where the blades of a wind turbine turn a rotor, creating electricity in a generator at the top of the tower. The downside of wind energy is that it is intermittent, and not always available unless battery storage is used. Both wind and solar energy are considered renewable energy sources. Both are inexhaustible and becoming more affordable and efficient as more large-scale farms are installed around the globe, and the technology, such as battery storage, improves.
Biofuel is produced from recently living matter (unlike fossil fuels which are made from living matter that died millions of years ago). They can be solids, like wood and sugar cane waste; liquids, like ethanol made from corn; or gases, like methane and biogas that are produced as landfill decomposes. In Australia, about 130 local councils burn landfill gas to produce electricity.
Biofuels are renewable energy sources. However, burning biofuels does create some greenhouse gases.
Hydroelectricity is electricity generated when falling water from reservoirs or flowing water from rivers is harnessed to generate electricity. It produces few greenhouse gases.
Geothermal energy comes from heat stored in the Earth’s crust, for example in Iceland and New Zealand. The heat can be transferred directly to heat homes, schools, shopping centres and industries, or be transferred to power stations that use steam to generate electricity. Australia has geothermal resources (mostly in South Australia and Victoria) but the hot rocks are deep in the Earth, which right now makes it difficult and expensive to extract. 

Factorial explanation:
Effect 1
Effect 2
Effect 3
Effect 4


Why renewables?
Using renewable energy has many benefits for the Earth. Firstly, it can help to mitigate climate change because it creates no direct greenhouse gas emissions. Secondly, it can decrease air pollution and is better for our health. Thirdly, it is a reliable source of power because it will never run out. Renewable energy is becoming more affordable, and its impact on climate change will be very important.

‘Using renewable energy’ is clause acting as noun.
'Firstly, etc …' connectors to stage the explanation
Complex sentence with ‘because’ clause: clause of reason.
‘Using renewable energy’ is clause acting as noun.
Firstly, etc ... connectors to stage the explanation
Complex sentence with ‘because’ clause: clause of reason.

Focus text: The causes of sea level rise (page 135)

The structure of this text is interesting. It is a series of embedded explanations. Overall it is a factorial explanation, explaining that two factors are contributing to sea level rise. Each factor in turn, is a mini causal explanation, which explains the sequence of events which make up the phenomenon of warming oceans, or melting glaciers. When the text shifts to providing one example, that is, the Thwaites Glacier, the same embedded explanations appear again.

Language resources

Factorial explanation
Phenomenon identification
Foreshadowing of causes
Sea levels on Earth have risen and fallen over millennia. However, in the past few decades, sea levels have begun to increase significantly because of climate change. Over the past 100 years, sea levels have risen 160 to 210mm. About half of the increase has occurred since 1993. The Antarctic continent is currently losing about six times as much ice as it was in the 1980s.
There are two main reasons for this increase in sea level rise: warming oceans and melting land ice.

Technical terms: millennia, climate change.
Use of numerical data typical of scientific writing.
Cohesive devices:

  • Connector: ‘However ...’ links this sentence to the previous one with a conjunction of exception.
  • Ellipsis (repeated words left out): ‘About half of the increase [ in sea level] …

Time phrases to provide scale of phenomenon ‘... over millenia, ... in the past few decades ... Over the past 100 years ...’

Factor 1 (mini causal explanation)
Topic sentence
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4

Warming oceans
Around the globe, increased temperatures in the atmosphere are causing the oceans to heat up. As heat is added to water, the molecules gain energy and move faster and faster. This causes the liquid to expand, and this is one of the reasons for global sea level rise.

‘Where’ phrase to show extent of problem.
Nominalisation made into a big noun group (underlined).
Words to show cause and effect: ‘... are causing’, ‘... one of the reasons ...’.
Time clause ‘As heat is added …’ helps to sequence the explanation.
‘This ...’ refers back to the entire process in previous sentence.

Factor 2 (mini causal explanation)
Topic sentence and opening para: why this phenomenon is relevant to Australians.

Phenomenon identification
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4

Melting land ice
While ice does not appear to play an important role in the lives of most Australians, scientists warn that changes happening at the poles affect the entire globe. The Arctic region is warming two to three times faster than other areas on Earth. Most of the world’s ice is located at the poles, and it is the melting land ice that has scientists concerned.
In Antarctica and Greenland — both land masses covered with ice — increased temperatures are causing the ice to melt. Around the world, many glaciers, made of ice, are melting at a faster rate. Ice is a solid, and the molecules are tightly bound and do not easily move. For this reason, land ice stays on top of rock, and does not increase the sea level. When the solid turns into liquid, such as. when ice is melted, the molecules are loosely bound and flow easily. The water flows into the sea, increasing the sea level.
Time clause opens the sentence: ‘While ...’ It pre-empts a possible objection to worrying about the Antarctic.
Modality: ‘... entire globe.’, ‘... most of the world’s ice ...
Nominalisations: increased temperatures
‘For this reason’ — shows cause and effect.
Other cause and effect relationships have to be inferred: for example, when ice is melted ... the water flows into the sea, increasing ...

Topic sentence situates the glacier
Phenomenon identification
Factor 1
Factor 2
Further explanation
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3

One example: Thwaites glacier
Thwaites glacier is a huge glacier in the western Antarctic.
Anthropogenic climate change is causing the glacier to melt in two ways. Firstly, it is warming the air, melting the glacier from above. Ice at the front of the glacier is changing state from a solid to a liquid. Secondly, warm ocean water is undermining the glacier from below, resulting in the face of the glacier slipping into the ocean, leading to further changes in state from a solid to a liquid.
Ice loss has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Much of the land covered by Thwaites glacier is below sea level. Consequently, the sea water is more easily able to melt the underside of the glacier. As the ice lifts off the land underneath, more ice breaks off and drifts away, eventually melting. The ‘grounding line’, the place where the glacier rests on the rock, has moved 14km since 1992.
Scientists estimate that the total collapse of Thwaites glacier would add half a metre to the sea level, and scientists caution that this could cause other low-lying glaciers to collapse.

Effect 1
Elaboration (nominalisations)

The impact of sea level rise
Sea level rise is already impacting low-lying coastal communities such as Kiribati. The effects are flooding and erosion from storm surges, the destruction of housing and displaced people. The ingress of sea water onto farmlands makes the land unusable for farming.

What we can do
Understanding the devastating impacts of sea level rise around the globe, we have to do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down climate change.

Focus text: From carbon to carbon dioxide (page 143)

Language resources

Question as heading
Definition of chemical change
Definition of substance

What is a chemical change?
A chemical change is produced by mixing two or more substances to produce a new substance. (A substance is matter with uniform properties.) Some chemical changes are reversible, but not easily.

General definition.
How they link to first para (chem changes)
Chemical change for CO2
Chemical change for methane

Natural sources of carbon dioxide and methane
Carbon dioxide and methane are both colourless, odourless gases that exists in the Earth’s atmosphere. They are the result of chemical changes. To create carbon dioxide, one molecule of carbon combines with two molecules of oxygen to produce a new substance (carbon dioxide, CO2). To create methane, one molecule of carbon and four molecules of hydrogen combine to produce a new substance (methane CH4).

Methane (natural)
Source 1
Source 2

Natural sources of methane
Methane is created naturally when ruminant animals, such as beef cattle, ferment their plant-based food in their stomach prior to digestion, and belch out the gas. Methane is the largest component of natural gas, which we use for cooking and electricity.

Natural processes (explanation)
Definition CO2
Factor 1

  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2

Factor 2

  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2


  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
How the Earth keeps carbon dioxide and methane in balance
Carbon dioxide and methane are known as ‘greenhouse gases’ because they trap heat at the edge of the atmosphere, and keep Earth at a habitable temperature.
Carbon dioxide is kept in balance in two ways. Firstly, it is absorbed by plants. The process of producing food creates a chemical change that also produces oxygen for animals to breathe. When organisms die, the carbon is captured in the soil. Secondly, the oceans are a major carbon sink. Carbon from carbon dioxide is captured in the shells of small animals, and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
Methane is naturally kept in balance by a chemical reaction that happens when it reaches the troposphere (the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere), creating water vapour and carbon dioxide.

CO2 (human induced)
Definition: how they came about
Mini explanation
Stage 1 (burnt)
Stage 2 (changes)
Stage 3 (release in air)
Mini explanation
Stage 1 (clearing)
Stage 2 (can’t absorb)
Stage 3 (Into oceans)
Stage 4 (acidic oceans)

Carbon dioxide sources from human activity
Carbon dioxide is also produced when people dig up fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — from the ground. Fossil fuels are the result of animals and plants dying millions of years ago and, under tremendous heat and pressure, turning into fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are used as fuel for transport and to create electricity for powering factories. When they are burnt, the combustion processes produce chemical changes that result in additional carbon dioxide being released into the air, far more than would happen naturally. This is creating far too much carbon dioxide. Instead of the Earth remaining in a stable habitable state, the atmosphere is heating up.
Land clearing is also contributing to the production of carbon dioxide. When trees are cleared to build cities or for agriculture, they can no longer absorb carbon dioxide and change it back into oxygen. Absorbing additional carbon dioxide is making oceans acidic and is making the sea increasingly uninhabitable for many sea organisms.

Methane (human induced)
Source 1 (cattle)
Source 2 (Rice and decomposition)

Methane sources from human activity
Increased methane in the atmosphere comes from many human-induced sources: increased cattle production means more methane as cattle digest their food. There were approximately 1.4 billion cattle in the world in 2019, and growing. Rice production and decomposing materials in land fill also contribute methane. Permafrost in the Artic Circle has begun to melt due to increased temperatures from climate change, releasing methane that was previously stored below the ice.

Link to climate change (explanation)
Phenomenon identification
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Response by scientists

  • Example 1
  • Example 2

Required response by humans and why (hortatory)

Carbon dioxide, methane and climate change

Increased greenhouse gases are the single most important cause of anthropogenic climate change. The increase in the greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, has resulted in an increase in average global temperature of about one degree Celsius. While this does not sound like much, one degree of warming has intensified extreme weather events including droughts, floods, hurricanes and bushfires, and in some cases freezing winter storms.
The rate of increase in carbon dioxide and methane, as well as other greenhouse gases, has unbalanced the Earth’s natural carbon cycle. Scientists are working to find ways of storing carbon so that it is not released into the atmosphere. An example is carbon sequestration. Scientists have also found algae additives to add to cattle feed that significantly reduces the amount of methane produced.
All humans are responsible for reducing our energy use to slow down or reverse climate change. This way the Earth can remain habitable for all organisms.

The first paragraph is typical of the level of nominalisations and expanded noun groups required to sound authoritative as students move towards their final years of schooling. The nominalisations and noun groups are underlined. The more nominalisations and noun groups used, the simpler the sentence, because verbs and their circumstances have been condensed into noun groups.
One way for students to understand how nominalisations work is to take a sentence like the first one, and power it down into ‘commonsense spoken-like language. Compare the length and the number of clauses in the written and spoken examples.
Notice how the expanded noun groups often include a clause inside them, for example, ‘cattle feed [that significantly reduces …].
The final paragraph is known as ‘hortatory’: a call to action.