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  4. NSW English 7-10 Syllabus
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NSW English 7-10 Syllabus

Sequencing literacy learning in the Syllabus

The natural starting point for students with little experience of reading for pleasure or for learning is with short stories. Short stories and novels include passages of narratives, anecdotes and exemplums. These passages can be used as patterns to begin writing complex literate stories.

The second stage is then to explore stories with a theme or message, both to interpret the message, and to practise writing stories with a message. Such thematic stories are a major component of the English curriculum, as adult literature is expected to convey messages of personal and social significance which the reader is expected to interpret. As such thematic stories they are seen as a vehicle for students’ personal development, and as a first step towards critical interpretation of literature.

A third stage is then to begin reading and writing text responses. The starting point here is with reviews which simply describe and evaluate a literary text (verbal or visual), but then to practise writing interpretations that both evaluate a text and interpret its message. The interpretation genre is thus a key genre in the English curriculum. Research shows that this is the response genre most highly valued by English teachers and in public assessments, that reviews are less highly valued, and that students who can only write personal responses are likely to fail. This is despite the tendency of both English teachers and assessment tasks to encourage students to respond personally to texts (Rothery & Macken 1991). A fourth stage is then to look beyond stories and text responses to other genres, particularly argument genres that argue for a point of view or discuss two or more points of view. These four developmental stages in the English curriculum are set out as follows.

1 Engaging 2 Interpreting 3 Critiquing 4 Arguing
Read and write complex literary stories Recognise and interpret messages in thematic stories and write stories with a message Analyse, evaluate and interpret literary texts (including verbal & visual texts) Use literate strategies to argue for a point of view or discuss two or more points of view

In such a curriculum sequence, skills that students develop in reading and writing genres at each stage provide a platform to begin mastering more complex genres in the next stage. The first stage enables all students to read and write stories with full comprehension and enjoyment, and to recognise how authors construct complex stories. The second stage builds on these skills to start recognising how authors construct the themes or messages in stories, and to use this knowledge to write thematic stories. The third stage builds on these skills to recognise how texts are evaluated and interpreted in literary culture, and to begin writing reviews and interpretations. At the same time these skills can be applied to recognising how arguments are constructed in public discourse, and to begin writing expository texts.

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These materials are provided for research purposes and may contain opinions that are not shared by the Board of Studies NSW.