It has been another busy term in the English classroom, with students in a range of years focussed on responding to texts in the form of analytical essays. In the junior years, students having been honing the discrete writing skills that comprise high level written responses. These include, for example, ensuring that quotes are incorporated seamlessly into the student’s own prose, developing ideas for each paragraph, and including a range of required elements in the essay’s introduction and conclusion.
In the senior years, the challenge develops further, as Year 10, 11 and 12 VCE English students are expected to compare and contrast ideas presented in two texts. Our Year 10s have compared the film ‘Gattaca’ with the short story, ‘Flowers for Algernon’, while the Year 11s have been exploring ideas presented in Geraldine Brooks’ novel ‘Year of Wonders’ and the film ‘Contagion’. Similarly, Year 12 English students have engaged with ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, and are currently refining their skills of comparison and analysis by comparing George Orwell’s seminal text with Anna Funder’s non-fiction work, ‘Stasiland’. Comparison is also a regular feature of both the VCE Literature and English Language classrooms, undoubtedly because this particular skill requires students to move from surface to deep-level learning. Comparing one idea with another improves comprehension by focussing students on prioritising important details; it makes abstract concepts more concrete; and it also encourages students to hypothesise and theorise about other concepts.
In other news, the Statewide DAV Debating Competition has run throughout the year and our 57 competitors in Years 7-12have enjoyed many successes. Five of our 11 teams finished at the top of the ladder in the Berwick regionand progressed to the finals series, unfortunately bowing out at the third Playoff.Additionally, a group of Year 7 students will participate in the annual DAV Junior Secondary Program in early September, which provides them with invaluable skills should they wish to take up the co-curricular activity next year or beyond. Finally, our two Debating Captains and A Grade Debaters, Annabelle Lamb and Claudia Klose (Year 12), have both been awarded a ‘Swannie’. The highly prestigious Swannie Awards are awarded to the speaker/s in each region and grade with the highest average speaker score after completing at least three debates during the year. I congratulate these two students on such a wonderful achievement.
With VCE examinations just around the corner, the English Department wishes our Year 12 students well, in both thecompulsory English subjects and, indeed, across all of the curricula. I also thank the tireless English staff for their dedication to achieving positive outcomes for our studentsthroughout the year.
Head of English Department