Area of Study 1: reading and responding You need to demonstrate your understanding of: the ideas, characters and themes constructed by the author and presented in the text the way the author uses structures, features and conventions to construct meaning. How to prepare, construct and support a response to a text in an essay form You need to be able to use: appropriate textual evidence to support your response. Appropriate metalanguage to discuss the textual features in your response Expressive, fluent and coherent writing including the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English. Understanding an essay topic is crucial to developing a relevant response. There are five aspects to consider when looking at a topic: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Common Topic format Common Instruction Terminology Key Words and Phrases Rewriting the topic The Scope of the Topic COMMON TOPIC FORMATS There are three common topic formats: A statement on the text followed by a task instruction. For example: ◦ ‘In a totalitarian world, conformity is necessary for survival’. Discuss A direct quote followed by a task instruction or question. For example: ◦ ‘The past was erased … the lie became the truth.’ Why is the refusal to record the past accurately so important in the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four? A direct question on an aspect of the text: ◦ Are Julia and Winston really in love? Is love really possible in Nineteen Eighty Four? Instruction Terminology – Understand Instructions. Discuss – what does this require? ◦ Debate, question or explain a topic, giving evidence, reasons and explanations for and/or against the topic. Do you agree? ◦ Present your own interpretation of the topic, giving evidence, reasons and explanations etc. How? ◦ Explain, outline or describe the ways in which the text illustrated the topic by drawing on textual evidence, structures and features and metalanguage. Why?: ◦ Explain reasons to support the idea represented in the topic. Key words and phrases –definitions and synonyms Identify key words, phrases, terminology and concepts in the topic. Use a dictionary to clarify your understanding of these terms. Come up with a list of synonyms for the key words and phrases (this will help you avoid constantly repeating the same words) Quotes – identify the context of a quote if it is in the topic and consider what the significance is. Rewriting the Topic - Paraphrasing Write a simple paraphrase of the topic by directly substituting key words and phrases with your own vocabulary or list of synonyms. Write a paraphrase of the topic by reversing the statement and using your own words. Scope of the Topic – identifying the focus Ask yourself: “In order to answer this topic what do I have to think and write about?” Your answer should consider the following: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Character/s – development and/or relationships Themes or issues The author’s views and values The social, historical or political context The use of structures, features and/or conventions A contention is your point of view, stance, position or argument in response to a topic. Generally there are four positions you can take: Yes: complete agreement Yes, however...: partial agreement, presentation of other considerations in relation to the topic. No: complete disagreement, presentation of alternative view on the topic. No, however...: part disagreement with the topic; presentation of other considerations in relation to the topic. “Fence sitting” is discouraged as it gives the impression of uncertainty, lack of knowledge and lack of focus. Once you have considered what the question is asking, form your overall opinion of the topic. Your contention should be clearly expressed in one sentence. Use different vocabulary to the words in the essay topic. For the following topics identify: I witness the ones who are left behind... they have punctured hearts.”- Death. ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Topic format Instruction Terminology Key Words and Phrases Rewrite the topic Consider the Scope of the topic The Book Thief shows that death and war are often more difficult for those who survive. Discuss. “The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both”. The Book Thief explores how beauty can exist in the midst of brutality. Discuss. Now establish your position on one of the topics below and write your contention in one sentence. I witness the ones who are left behind... they have punctured hearts.”- Death. The Book Thief shows that death and war are often more difficult for those who survive. Discuss. “The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both”. The Book Thief explores how beauty can exist in the midst of brutality. Discuss. After you have understood the topic and formed your contention, you have to plan your knowledge into a well structured and detailed text response essay. The essay plan is your first draft or “roadmap” to writing an effective, focused text response essay under pressure. What an essay plan should include: ◦ Statement of contention ◦ Outline main points or reasons for contention ◦ Ideas should be organised in sequential, logical order, indicating paragraphs. ◦ Brief description of key evidence for each main point. You should aim to have 3 to 5 main points, one per body paragraph. Example Written Plan: Write your contention ◦ Brief outline of first reason/point Evidence 1 to support first reason Evidence 2 to support first reason ◦ Brief outline of second reason/point Evidence 1 to support second reason Evidence 2 to support second reason ◦ Etc... Example Visual Plan: Introduction Main Points Evidence Contention Reason 1: Evidence 1 Evidence 2 Reason 2: Evidence 1 Evidence 2 Reason 3: Evidence 1 Evidence 2 Let’s plan the essays we’ve begun. “I witness the ones who are left behind... they have punctured hearts.”- Death. The Book Thief shows that death and war are often more difficult for those who survive. Discuss. “The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both”. The Book Thief explores how beauty can exist in the midst of brutality. Discuss. The introduction must be relevant, focused and convincing. The basic introduction should immediately establish the contention and the main points that will be presented (in order) There are a number of features that you can include in your introduction, though not all will be appropriate for every essay. Features of an introduction: 1. A sentence introducing the author and text in relation to the topic. ◦ In the novel, The Book Thief, Markus Zusak explores... [outline key theme/idea] 2. A clear sentence stating your contention in relation to the topic. ◦ At the centre of the text is the idea that [contention]. 3. An outline of the main points ◦ This is revealed through [first point]. Additionally [second point]. Finally [third point] also supports [contention] Information contextualising the text in relation to the topic. ◦ Zusak’s novel acts to alert his readers to the dangers of war...etc Contextualising a quote that is part of the topic. ◦ Through the narrator, Death, Zusak expresses his own view that [quote from topic] In the introduction you could make use of: key words, phrases, synonyms, metalanguage sophisticated explanation of key terms and concepts (NOT dictionary definitions) How easily can you write an introduction for the question you’ve begun? The body is the meat in your sandwich. It is where you show the extent of your knowledge of the text in relation to the topic. The body should develop the central contention from beginning to end. Overall, you should aim for 500 words for this section – 3 body paragraphs (possibly 4). USE TEEEEL: especially the T ◦ Topic Sentence: state an idea that relates to the essay topic, do not describe a character or scene from the text. ◦ Evidence: quotes, paraphrases, brief descriptions ◦ Explanation: elaborate on how the evidence relates to the topic and the main point of the paragraph. ◦ Link: Concluding sentence to the paragraph, making sure that everything you’ve written relations to the TS and the overall contention. Also relate each new paragraph to the previous idea (see list of sentence starters. The conclusion is essentially a restatement of your contention and summary of the main points. ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Make sure you use different wording to your essay Make sure you link to the topic and contention No new ideas. Don’t ask rhetorical questions Finish with a quote or a make a statement about the relevance of the text to the wider world. Using Quotes Quotes must be relevant to the point, and clearly punctuated with quotation marks Incorporate short quotes within sentences. ◦ E.g. Zusak describes Death as comforting because “even death has a heart”. If a quote doesn’t flow fluently in a sentence, it should be introduced by a colon. ◦ Michael Holztapfel cannot bear to live in the knowledge that he has survived and his brother has not: “He killed himself for wanting to live”. Use an ellipse (3 dots) if you are omitting a word or phrase from a lengthy quote. ◦ Death assures his readers that he is “not violent... not malicious”. Style Title of the Text: Use capitals for each word and underline. Do this consistently throughout: The Book Thief Use the author/director’s full name in your first reference to them, then their surname. NEVER their first name. Use a formal style and tone. Avoid colloquial language (basically this means...; pretty much; sort of like), slang (heaps good, epic failure) and clichés (up a creek without a paddle) Write in the present tense when referring to the text. Do not self-reference (‘I’ or ‘me’). Use ‘one’. Do not refer to the reader as ‘you’ (e.g. This makes you feel like...) use ‘the reader’. Write fluent sentences by using linking words, commas, semicolons or colons accurately. Avoid overusing key terms, descriptive or linking words. The more essays you plan, the more ideas you have explored and the more quickly you’ll be able to respond to exam and essay topics. Try these: ◦ The characters in the end of The Book Thief have changed from who they were at the beginning of the novel. Discuss. ◦ How does having Death as narrator changes the readers’ response to the novel?