Tag Archives: Exploring transitions

Making updates

22 Jan

I am taking time during the school holidays to update some of related text lists.  Thus far, I have tackled Exploring Transitions and Discovery.

There are now over 30 related text suggestions for Exploring Transitions and approximately 60 related text suggestions for Discovery.

I would love to hear in the comments sections if any of these texts have worked for you or your students.  I would also love to hear if you have any additional suggestions for me to add to the lists.

Selecting examples

14 Aug

During my recent bout of Year 12 marking I noticed that many students in our cohort are having difficulties selecting examples that are relevant to the question.  To help these students I want create a mix and match activity: quotes will be printed in one colour and questions in another, students have to work in pairs to find the SIX BEST quotes for each question.  After each round, students will have to complete a grid in which they list and justify their chosen quotes.

An uphill battle

9 Aug

In Billy Elliot the titular protagonist faces a number of challenges during his journey of transition. In particular, he faces significant disapproval from his father when he seeks to escape the confines of traditional masculinity and pursue ballet dancing.

One of my particularly attentive students noted that when these challenges are most acute Billy is typically shown to be running or travelling uphill.  The student wondered if this was deliberate and, if so, if it could be read as a metaphor for the obstacles that Billy must overcome during his period of transition.  The student is now tracking this across the text, hoping to use changes in the inclines and trajectories of Billy as a means of mapping the complexities and nuances of his transition.



90 second thesis

4 Aug

I am on a mission to find creative ways of helping my students to develop requisite skills and revise knowledge.  It is now halfway through the year and I think it is time to up my game in terms of the learning activities that I offer my students.

One activity that I am keen to try is a game entitled ’90 second thesis’.  Here, students listen to 90s music while moving around the room.  When the music stops, students grab a pen, pad of paper and partner and work together to write a thesis statement that responds to an essay question.  In keeping with the 90s theme, students have only 90 seconds to write their thesis statements.  After the 90 seconds have expired, students share their thesis statements with the class.

I think this activity would be valuable as it would help build students’ confidence regarding (a) the composition of thesis statements and (b) to compose said thesis statements quickly, as would be required under exam conditions.

A desirous related text

21 Sep

One of the things my Standard English students struggle with is the selection of appropriate related material.  As such, I find it helpful to have a list of possible texts handy which are clearly referable to the rubric and the set text.

One text that I think would work particularly well for Module C: Exploring Transitions is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.  As required by this module, the text engages well with shifts in values as Blanche transitions from one phase/experience to the next.  The text is also interesting in that Blanche is shown to regress (transition backward) which offers an interesting counter to the forward momentum of transitions in many of the set texts.

Related text: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

1 Jul

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a film based on a novel by the same name written by Jonathan Safran Foer.  It is about a boy, Oscar, who believes his late father left him a final message hidden in New York City.  The film showcases Oscar’s journey in pursuit of this message and allows us to travel with Oscar as he finds himself.

This text would work well as a related text for AOS Discovery and ‘Exploring Transitions’ for Standard English.

AOS Discovery

As flagged in the plot overview, this is a a story about Oscar’s journey to discover something specific and, instead, learning about himself and his world.  This text has particular relevance if students wish to craft arguments around accidental discoveries, openness to discovery, and the ways in which one person’s discoveries impact others.

For other AOS Discovery related texts, click here.

Exploring Transitions

Oscar undergoes a number of transitions.  He moves, for example, from frightened to brave, closed to open, confused to certain, and from weak to strong.  Similar transformations are evident in Rita in Educating Rita.  It is, however, worthwhile noting that Rita’s transformation is intentionally and purposefully pursued.  In contrast, while Oscar’s journey is intended, it is not undertaken with the purpose of facilitating a change in self.

For other ‘Exploring Transitions’ related texts, click here.

Related text: ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

30 Jun

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty works well as related text for both AOS Discovery and for ‘Exploring Transitions’ in Standard English.

AOS Discovery

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty charts the journey undertaken by the eponymous protagonist as he discovers himself and his world.  At the start of the film, Walter lives a mundane and uneventful existence, retreating into imaginative worlds in order to express his aspirations for the future.  As the film progresses, he begins to really live, discovering qualities and desires about himself that had previously been suppressed.  By the film’s end, Walter is far less reliant on his imagination, and is thriving in the real world, suggesting that his journey of discovery has been liberating.

For other AOS Discovery related texts, click here.

Exploring Transitions 

As flagged in the discussion of this text as a Discovery related text, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film about Walter’s transformation from an introvert to someone who lives life with enthusiasm.   Much like Rita in Educating Rita, Walter’s transformation is upwards and is intended to better his life.  Unlike Rita, however, Walter’s transformation is not planned.  Instead, it occurs in response to circumstances and gains momentum.

For other ‘Exploring Transitions’ related texts, click here.

‘Set No Path’

10 Jun

Set No Path‘ is a short film about a group of friends who are spending one final night together before they disperse, go to college and embark on new adventures.

The film functions as a great related text for  AOS Belonging (which many schools have adopted as the Year 11 AOS) as it foregrounds the complexities of personal relationships.  Flashbacks and diptych-style shots highlight the dynamics of friendship and the numerous ways belonging is demonstrated.  The film also explores the consequences when one group member is unable to cope with changes in relationships and circumstances.

Speaking of changes, this film also works as a related text for AOS Change (another popular Year 11 option).  Of particular interest if using the film for this purpose is the tension and conflict that result when not all members of a group have the same views about an impending change.

Students studying the Year 12 course are also able to utilise this text.  As a related text in AOS Discovery, this text can be used to highlight the impact of discoveries on individuals and the way that relationships shape responses to discoveries.

As flagged by the inclusion of this film in my ‘Exploring Transitions’ related text list, this film also has particular relevance to Module C of the Standard English course.  The film begins on the eve of group members’ transitions into new worlds and canvasses the emotions associated with this impending change in environment and circumstances.  It also presents the perspective of someone who resists changes, not just for himself but for the whole group.  Ultimately, this person’s actions impede the intended and anticipated transformations of others in the group, instead condemning them to repeating their parents’ lives rather than living their own.

Exploring Transitions related texts

8 Jun

The Exploring Transitions elective in Module C of the Standard English course requires students to find a related text.  The list below represents my suggestions.  I will update it as I find new potential texts.

  1. Set No Path (short film)
  2. Marisa (short film)
  3. Fourwalls: London‘ (short film)
  4. Freedom Writers  (film)
  5. ‘Two Words’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  6. ‘And of Clay We Are Created’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  7. Making it in America‘ (short film)
  8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  9. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (film)
  10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (novel)
  11. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)
  12. Persepolis (film or graphic novel)
  13. A Streetcar Named Desire (play)
  14. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen (biography)
  15. Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy (novel)
  16. Room (novel)
  17. Briar Rose (novel)
  18. Hairspray (film)
  19. Girl Rising (film)
  20. The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho (novel)
  21. The Kite Runner (novel, film or graphic novel)
  22. My Fair Lady (musical)
  23. ‘The Moment Before the Gun Went Off’ by Nadine Gordimer (short story)
  24. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  25. Eric by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  26. The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (picture book)
  27. Martin’s Big Words (picture book)
  28. To This Day‘ by Shane Koyczan (poem or graphic novel)
  29. El Deafo by Cece Bell (graphic novel)
  30. Nutshell by Ian McEwan (novel)
  31. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (novel/memoir)
  32. The Door (short film)
  33. The Book of Mormon (musical)
  34. Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  35. Scattered Lives (play)
  36. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)


‘Fourwalls: London’

7 Jun

My Year 12 Standard English class has just started their ‘Exploring Transitions’ unit.  As part of this unit, students are required to find a related text which, alongside their set text, can help them to illuminate ideas about transitions.

Their set text, Educating Rita, is a play that explores a woman’s journey from what she perceives as a negative or limiting working class world to a world of knowledge and sophistication.  Rita, the eponymous protagonist, sees this transition as positive.  Her Open University teacher, Frank, recognises that in making this transition Rita is losing a bit of herself.

The two sides to this narrative of transition also play out in the numerous articles about the housing crisis in London.  There, development is pushing lower-income earners out of London, and also causing some areas to lose diversity and vibrancy.  This loss of vibrancy and character is what Frank laments in Rita.  However, others see development and gentrification as ways of bettering neighbourhoods, much like Rita sees her foray into the world of education as necessarily leading to a better version of herself.

‘Fourwalls: London’‘ (by Lewish Knaggs) is a short film that has been created to illuminate the complexities and impacts of gentrification.  It would be an interesting complement to Educating Rita as it seems to present a stronger version of Frank’s sentiment namely, that transitions and transformations are not always completely positive.  Indeed, Frank would have liked for Rita to retain some authenticity, some roughness, some uniqueness, in much the same way that many would like to see transformations of London housing remain sensitive and inclusive to history and diversity.