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Reading Non-Fiction: Comparing Book Excerpts

In this worksheet, students develop an ability to select, compare and summarise information from different texts and use it to form their own ideas, arguments and opinions.

'Reading Non-Fiction: Comparing Book Excerpts' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In an English exam you may be asked to study book excerpts.

We are going to look at two book excerpts and then practise analysis and comparison of their content in this activity.

Before you complete this activity you should have already completed "Reading Non-fiction Texts: Chilean Miner Rescue" and "Reading Non-Fiction Texts: Lifeboat Rescue".

Part of your exam requires you to compare different pieces of non-fiction based on the same theme. The theme of this activity series is rescue.

Read the following excerpts until you feel that you have fully understood them.


Lost

Two survivors of a plane crash high in the South American mountains set out on foot to find rescue help for themselves and their companions.

When they started off again at dawn Cortez kept the pace up, energised by the desire to reach the end of the gorge. Steiger lagged behind. The night's rest had not returned his strength. When Cortez asked him to hurry up he complained loudly that he was tired and needed to stop.

They continued nonetheless, and eventually the dull sound of their boots in the snow, the only sound that could be heard, was killed by a thunderous noise which increased in intensity as they reached the end. They were gripped by panic. What if an unforgiving rapid hindered their way? Cortez raced ahead, consumed with the desire to see what was in front of them. His pace quickened rapidly and the gaps between his footprints in the snow lengthened. "You'll hurt yourself," Steiger called after him, but he was also driven forward less by curiosity that by the terror of what they might see.

Cortez was a hundred metres ahead when he suddenly found himself at the end of the gorge.
The landscape in front of him was of the Garden of Eden. The snow disappeared. From under the white blanket a fast-flowing torrent of water raced into another gorge, tumbling over boulders and rocks to the east. And there was further beauty as he looked beyond at patches of greenery: moss, gorse, rushes and grass interspersed with blue and red blossom.

As Cortez surveyed the landscape, tears trickled down his face. When Steiger reached him, he too sighed with amazement and happiness.

Then they stumbled forward onto the rocks and sat by the river. They rested in the sun for hours. The birds that had been absent for so long flitted around the riverbank, seemingly unalarmed by the unusual sight of two filthy, bearded and skeletal beings, bodies puffed out by multiple layers of filthy clothes, rucksacks clinging between narrowed shoulders, their faces red and cruelly weathered.

They were now sure that they were saved, but they still had to keep going.

They advanced farther down the side of the gorge. The going was rough and tiresome as they had to climb rocks bigger than armchairs. They were brought to a halt suddenly by a rocky, impassable outcrop which rose up high above them. The more even ground on the other side of the river prompted them to cross through the raging torrent rather than climb the obstacle in front of them, braving the boulders that the ferocious river forced along its path.

 

Class Lifesaving
 

Life guards on a beach


"I'm drowning, help me!" a twelve-year-old girl shouts to her friend. Fortunately, the friend knows that he must instantly call a lifeguard who rushes to the scene, ready to assist.

Happily, the incident is not in real-life on a beach. In reality, we're miles away from the sea. We're in an inner-city school where the young people are role-playing scenes as part of the Lifeguard's Beach to City project.

The project is based in urban regions and is intended to teach children who don't live by the sea. The lifeguards tour such areas to educate children about the hazards of the seaside and how to protect themselves from trouble. It targets primary pupils. Those children living far from the coast in towns and cities have been identified as a higher risk group who are less aware of the lifeguard's work.

Each team in the Beach to City project consists of an acting RNLI lifeguard and a beach safety supervisor. The task is not easy. Within 40 minutes they must put across key safety messages for the beach that the children will absorb. The sessions are intended to be enjoyable and memorable with plenty of role-playing and new equipment to handle.

The sessions start with an introduction to lifeguarding and the lifeguard service. The pupils learn where the lifeguards can be found and how to identify them. Beach safety messages come next. Firstly, protection against the sun: wear a T-shirt, don a hat, splat on the sun cream. Secondly, beach flags and what they mean. A few children have significant knowledge of the flag system, though some think the red flag means there's a shark about, not just dangerous waters! Toy inflatable boats represent a real threat to beach users that sharks don't, and the Beach to City project provides a guideline on their use as a key message.

"In North Cornwall there were many days where most of our work involved saving children in drifting inflatables", said Brian Worth, a beach safety supervisor.

The sessions also cover the use of public rescue equipment (PRE), particularly in areas like Birmingham which has many canals. Teaching respect for equipment such as life-rings, throw lines and emergency communications is as important as how to use it. In London, the Beach to City project visited 30 schools to deliver PRE advice to children.

In 2014 the Lifeguard Education Team plans to expand to a fifth city on the project tour, and to add further cities in the years to come.

 

Next we will go through some questions on the above excerpts. You can refer back to them at any time by clicking on the Help button.

From the first excerpt, explain in detail the difference between the two characters' thoughts and feelings at the start of their walk.

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

What did they think and feel after they heard the thunderous noise?

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

What did they think and feel when they reached the next gorge?

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

What attitude did they now have to their situation?

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

What main differences and similarities can you find in the approach to writing in the two pieces?

You should consider the following:

  • the purpose of each text
  • the tone of each text
  • the content of each text

Describe in detail how one of the authors makes full use of juxtaposition in his writing, placing contrasting ideas, thoughts and experiences to engage the reader's empathy and increase understanding of the characters' plight.

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse).

Pick out three examples of emotive language in 'Lost'.

Explain the effect of the repetition of 'filthy' in "Lost".

Describe the effect of the opening sentence in "Class Lifesaving".

Describe and give details of the tone in "Class Lifesaving".

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse).

  • Question 1

From the first excerpt, explain in detail the difference between the two characters' thoughts and feelings at the start of their walk.

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
Both characters are anxious to find a way out of their situation and set off at dawn. Cortez is spurred on by his desperate desire to reach the end of the valley and races ahead: "energised by the desire to reach the end of the gorge." This suggests he wants to get there as quickly as possible. The adjective 'energised' suggests that Cortez has renewed strength from the fear and danger of the situation and he is using that emotion to spur him on to do something practical.
  • Question 2

What did they think and feel after they heard the thunderous noise?

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
When they heard the noise they panicked because it might mean bad news for them; possibly an obstacle to their attempt to get out lay ahead of them: "gripped by panic." This suggests the two survivors were very scared and obviously traumatised from the plane crash. The verb 'gripped' suggests the fear and anxiety totally overwhelmed the men and they were unable to do anything.
  • Question 3

What did they think and feel when they reached the next gorge?

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
Cortez was amazed and relieved when he saw the next gorge, reaching the end of the snow, and "tears trickled down his face". This suggests his happiness and relief at having found running water, having only seen snow for so long. The verb 'trickled' suggests the lack of energy and dehydration Cortez was suffering. The alliteration also makes the phrase stand out, showing the significance of the moment for the characters.
  • Question 4

What attitude did they now have to their situation?

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse)

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
The men are relieved and happy to have found somewhere to rest: "they were now sure that they were saved." This suggests the men feel more secure and hopeful for rescue. The adjective 'sure' suggests a certainty that the men have not felt until now. It is a stark contrast with the fear and insecurity they have felt until now.
  • Question 5

What main differences and similarities can you find in the approach to writing in the two pieces?

You should consider the following:

  • the purpose of each text
  • the tone of each text
  • the content of each text
CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
The two pieces of writing are based on the theme of rescue, but are for different purposes. One is autobiographical; the other is a news report.
In the autobiographical excerpt the tone reflects the anxiety, fear and danger of the situation the men are in. Whereas in the news article the tone is formal and informative.
The autobiographical text details the struggles of two men who have survived a plane crash and are trying to find rescue. The news report tells the story of a program teaching students vital life saving skills.
  • Question 6

Describe in detail how one of the authors makes full use of juxtaposition in his writing, placing contrasting ideas, thoughts and experiences to engage the reader's empathy and increase understanding of the characters' plight.

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
In "Lost" there are many contrasts. The attitudes of Cortez and Steiger to the walk are quite different. Cotez is eager to forge ahead to reach safety and moves quickly ("Cortez kept the pace up") while Steiger is tired and struggling to continue ("he complained loudly that he was tired"). This is effective as it shows the reader the different attitudes to the adversity they have suffered.
  • Question 7

Pick out three examples of emotive language in 'Lost'.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
"They were gripped by panic"
"consumed by desire"
"driven forward less by curiosity than by the terror"
  • Question 8

Explain the effect of the repetition of 'filthy' in "Lost".

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
Repetition is used to make a word or phrase stand out. In this case, the repetition of the adjective 'filthy' reminds the reader of what the men have gone through. It makes the fact that they have found the river even more of a relief, and builds sympathy for the characters.
  • Question 9

Describe the effect of the opening sentence in "Class Lifesaving".

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
The piece opens with direct speech and a cry for help, engaging the reader's attention and providing a sense of drama. The use of the verb 'drowning' is very dramatic and engages the reader immediately as we want to know what happens.
  • Question 10

Describe and give details of the tone in "Class Lifesaving".

Use the PEA structure in your response (point, evidence, analyse).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example response:
The report has a mainly serious tone in order to inform the reader about the life saving programme being offered to school children: "inflatable boats represent a real threat." This suggests the importance of the programme and how vital it is to teach children how to be safe. The noun 'threat' suggests the danger the sea can pose, even when something seems fun and enjoyable, it can still be very dangerous.
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