Thursday, July 18, 2013

NCEA 3.9 - Close reading (new standard)

my year 13s have just completed this new standard, and i am keen to see their results! it has been a long, hard experience, seeing as the standard is brand new and we had to break new ground as we went.

we have spent the last two terms building up to this standard. in a nutshell, for the standard (3.9B), they have to close read two extracts by the same director. we spent term 1 viewing two films (Django Unchained and Reservoir Dogs) by my chosen director, and composing our 3.4 (writing) around those films with The Quentin Tarantino Magazine, which is full of reviews, analyses, storyboards, and fanfic. i think the boys thought i was nuts, but i'm so chuffed with the end product that i'm going to send it in for external moderation to see how we did.

in the process of preparing for 3.4, i modelled a close reading and had them do one of their own on one of our practice films. ("what? no credits?") this term, we viewed our actual film study, and they had to view yet another film on their own. this created a lot of conversation comparing and contrasting style and substance between films, some of which i had to admit to not having yet seen. (i encouraged them to watch Deathproof, which features kiwi Zoe Bell in a main role.)

for the assignment, i made them complete two separate analyses of their extracts. first they had to cut the film themselves and submit the extracts to me. then they had to capture the stills to storyboard the extracts, analysing each frame. finally, they had to prepare their final analysis, which was due friday in the form of an oral presentation outline and slideshow, to also work towards credit in 3.5. some chose to write a straight report, which was fine, but too late to be part of their 3.4 package.

boy, did they whinge all year about all the internal due dates that weren't "for credits!" but in the end, i think we've come up with some pretty solid close reading at a high level.

in the middle of all this, i was called away to the usa due to a death in the family. some might think this would be a problem, but no - this is the 21st century! they were quite used to communicating with me online, submitting work for feedback via google docs, etc, so it was easy enough to keep the assignment going while i was away for 2 weeks (NB: i do not recommend working up till flight time, running around like a looney for 2 weeks, then heading straight into work after your return flight. i am knackered!). of course, the mice thought they could have a play while the cat was away - boys will be boys, after all - but no! upon the first deadline, when those samples didn't hit my inbox, they all got a personal snappy email reminding them that any final assignment resulting in NA which had not been received for the two internal feedback due dates would not be considered for resubmission. that got them working, i'll tell you!

in the end, i'm pretty pleased with the work that has been submitted, and am looking forward with pleasure to their presentations early next term. it's been quite the learning experience for all of us, and i think we've done a damn fine job. well done, boys, well done.


  1. Thanks Kelly! I am thinking about bringing Tarantino into the English classroom (after meeting him in Auckland recently!) Your blog was really helpful. Just want to know how the students enjoyed the films and what film you used for their final film study? Thanks Deb

    1. i guess it's time for me to do an update! i've been teaching tarantino now for 3 years, and my whole programme is built around him. i'm so excited to be able to take them to the hateful 8 (which i saw last weekend)! you're so lucky to have met him!

      the students LOVE the films. some of the less academic ones don't like reservoir dogs to start, but it becomes a fave later in the year. most of them choose to do inglorius bastards for their "own choice" text, which is an excellent choice. the other most popular is django unchained (which we also saw in the theatre).

      i use reservoir dogs solely as a study tool in term 1. term 2 we study pulp fiction. term 3 they work on their own choice and complete 3.9. they may choose any film for their 3.2, as they've studied so many in depth at that point, and i feel they write a better potential E essay with a few in their pockets rather than one. having said that, i just had the best class ever, and only ONE of them got an excellence! i find it very, very hard to believe that these good writers only wrote merit essays, but that's another story for another day!

      please keep in touch. a couple of us have a shared folder in dropbox i'd be happy to add you to - especially if you'll put stuff in it too! :D