Diary of an unseen text by @patricemiller_

Concealed. Hidden. Masked.

I waited; minute after minute as mere words on a page, to be read, detailed and criticised. I found out that perspectives, imagination and carefully structured words and phrases are the very being of my creation. Did you know that my recipe is structured with methods of conscientious craft split into forty? I am a moment with extreme tension. I am a source that aids the development and growth of my readers through constant engagement.

Patiently I waited; for my audience to furnish their pages with information. The marvel of my creation was unveiled. My beginning was simple. My characters were identified by their most obvious traits. I learned four things about Tom.

  • He was a sturdy man.
  • He was thirty.
  • He had a husky voice.
  • He had a supercilious manner*.

As time moved on, I became a challenge. My lines were separated for a maximum of 12 minutes of close examination by a varied audience. I was dissected. My key features, form and phrases were taken out, detailed and their effectiveness explained. In this moment, I knew that this textual examination would be the baseline for future reference.

It was never my intention to have a structure so complex. You see, my kind has been studied in the classrooms for many years. My predecessors warned me, “things will be easy at the beginning. Your audience will approach you with the utmost confidence. However, you were crafted, arranged and organised to be analysed as a whole. Never forget you are the subject of interest and your audience will eventually struggle to see that.”

My structural features were the main focus of attention.

  • What does the writer get the reader to focus on in the first sentence/paragraph? How could this be important?
  • Are there any instances of extreme tension within the source? What are they? Why do you think the writer has chosen to heighten the reader’s experience?
  • What effect is created by the last sentences of the source? What does it leave the reader thinking about?
  • What is the most interesting structural feature in this source? Why do you think this?

The final part of this analysis warranted a personal response; a distinctive view; an individualised opinion. I think some students felt like this was the easiest part. I could feel the temptation to argue my writer’s craft with limited understanding but my literary beauty commanded closer analysis. I wanted my audience to become perceptive; I wanted my meaning to reach and delve far beyond the obvious.

I’m not sure what will happen on the day of anticipation. Was my examination better than those of my predecessors? I am definitely the subject of enthused debate.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Patrice Miller and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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Reflections from Patrice

Diary of an unseen text was written as a very descriptive resource which would remind me of how to approach the new 9-1 GCSE English specifications.  It’s very simplistic in its form but details, in a chronological order, the requirements for all four questions.

The exam starts with very low order skills, which do not require deep analysis of the text. The assessment objectives just want learners to identify information or ideas within a text.

As the paper develops, the skills need to successfully respond to the questions develop too. Learners are expected to explain, compare and evaluate the source using appropriate textual references.

I have engaged in many debates about how this new exam paper is structured. Sentiments are often shared and a lot of teachers I have spoken to seem to be relieved. No more marking controlled assessments.

I do not fall into the category. I am enjoying teaching the variety contained within the new specification. I have looked at several different unseen texts. Texts that promote equality and diversity, texts rich in history and texts that are noted as GCSE English classics. I cannot wait to try Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. I am ready to bring the fun back into reading. What exciting unseen texts are you using?

Like many I do have my reserves. I am of the opinion that the questions are designed with a cut off point. Every single GCSE student I teach will be taking the same exam. My greatest fear is that there will come a time during the examination phase where my least able students will lose stamina. I fear they will be unable to attain the required mark to achieve a preferable level. Are they then destined to a cyclical notion of resits?

*Taken from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)

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