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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Language and Literature

Inquiry is at the heart of language learning and aims to support students’ understanding by providing them with opportunities to independently and collaboratively investigate, take action and reflect on their learning.

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Language and Literature is a critical component of the IB curriculum. All IB programmes value language as central to the development of critical thinking, which is essential for cultivating intercultural understanding and responsible membership in local, national and global communities. Language is integral to exploring and sustaining personal development and cultural identity, and provides an intellectual framework that supports the construction of conceptual understanding.

As Middle Years Programme (MYP) students interact with a range of texts, they generate insight into moral, social, economic, political, cultural and environmental domains. They continually grow in their abilities to form opinions, make decisions, and reason ethically—all key attributes of an IB learner.

Diploma Programme (DP) students take at least one subject from studies in Language and Literature. Taking two studies in language and literature subjects in different languages is one way of obtaining a bilingual diploma.

The courses offer a broad range of texts, and students grow to appreciate a language’s complexity, wealth and subtleties in a variety of contexts. Students take their studies in a language in which they are academically competent.

Through each course, students are able to develop:

  • a personal appreciation of language and literature
  • critical-thinking skills in their interaction with a range of texts from different periods, styles, text types and literacy forms
  • an understanding of the formal, stylistic and aesthetic qualities of texts
  • strong powers of expression, both written and oral
  • an appreciation of cultural differences in perspective
  • an understanding of how language challenges and sustains ways of thinking.

Through studies in Language and Literature, our intention is to develop a student’s lifelong interest in language and literature, and a love for the richness of human expression.

Year 7 Language and Literature

Unit: Creative Narrative (Term 4)
Task: Create your own HORROR story
Statement of Inquiry: Narrative form and structure are vehicles to express ideas and feelings creatively.
Learning Intention: Create a HORROR story, concentrating on narrative structure, setting, characters and theme.

In the spirit of Halloween this term, the Year 7 students are getting their spook on by analysing horror narratives as a step into genre fiction, before developing their own horror story. They’ll be using Philip Pullman’s rewrite of the classic Frankenstein and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. It’s highly creative and has been amazing to watch how far they’ve come this year.

Year 7 Language and Literature

Unit: Persuasive Language (Term 3)
Task: Create your own TED Talk
Statement of Inquiry: The structure and form of the information we present about ourselves can reveal our true identity.

Learning Intention:

  • Use a variety of persuasive language techniques to communicate with a variety of audiences
  • Create original works and ideas
  • Use critical thinking to analyse and interpret media communications.

Last term we took a deep dive into the persuasive language and prepared our own TED talks. Students were very persuasive, using carefully crafted scripts rife with persuasive language. They got to practise their oral skills and analyse many TED talks along the way. Oh, and I almost forgot, we tried our hand at starting a pay-it-forward movement!

Year 8

Unit: The Poet X Exploring poetic conventions, devices and meaning

In Term 4, Year 8 students are undertaking a study of poetry through the textual analysis of The Poet X. Students are learning some mechanics of poetry such as poetic devices, form and style,  as well as analysing the themes within the text.

Students have already begun writing poems for their summative assessment ‘Poetry Collection’. One such poem was called ‘I am from’, the following is a fantastic example of work from a Year 8 student:

I am from confusing backstories and medals passed down

I’m from eleven-hour drives in two cars

From dinner at the pub and “I’m just going for a drive”

I am from a big family that once gathered for Christmas, but now gathers for funerals

I’m from classic rock and Sunday roasts

I am from nerf gun fights and tap dancing on a roof of an old mall

From things I shouldn’t have heard, and secrets only my sisters knew

I am from loving when you shouldn’t, and love that didn’t work out

I am from “you’re just like your nana, she was a ballerina too”

I am from unorganization and “Calm down” but confusion when ido

I am from swearing too young and hiding under my blanket

I am from dealing with too much too early, and trying to stay strong

I am from “Didn’t you notice? Everything was wrong.”- 

Year 9

Unit: THUG Exploring global issues through both literary and non-literary texts

In Term 4, Year 9 students are exploring a number of global issues such as police brutality, implicit bias, BLM, Indigenous deaths in custody, code-switching and perspective.

The unit of THUG asks students to use both a literary text (The Hate U Give) and a non-literary text (articles, podcasts and videos shown in class) to inform them about a global issue. This issue will be unpacked in a recorded conversation (podcast style) in a group. This assessment is based on the IO that students will need to undertake in their final year of school.

The following is a small reflection on one of the cases of police brutality we have studied this term:

Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who died in 2019 after the police in Aurora, Colo., restrained him with a chokehold that has since been banned. Two years after his death, a Colorado grand jury indicted three police officers and two paramedics on charges including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Mr. McClain was walking home from a convenience store on Aug. 24, 2019, when someone called 911, saying he “looked sketchy” and was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.

The police arrived, and after struggling to handcuff Mr. McClain, officers brought him to the ground and used a carotid hold, which restricts blood to the brain to render someone unconscious. When medical responders arrived, after about 15 minutes, paramedics injected him with ketamine, a powerful sedative.

His last words were heartbreaking.

Pictured: Elijah McClain (Source: NY Times)

My thoughts/opinions on this issue:
I think this murder of this innocent man shows a massive part of what is wrong with humanity. The fact that to this day police brutality against people of colour continues makes me feel as though our society will never be an equal place for all to live freely. I am filled with anger and a lack of hope. I feel as though I have been born into a world that is so messed up it is beyond repair. Elijah didn’t do anything wrong and he was killed by people that took an oath to protect him and keep him safe. If this had happened to a white person all of the officers on the scene would have been imprisoned immediately, and yet because this man was black he was treated as though it was his fault. HE HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG AT ALL.

Year 10 Reflection

What a semester we’ve had! The last term saw Year 10 work on their comparative skills while exploring the world of the absurd through the texts “Rhinoceros” and “The Metamorphosis”. These comparative skills are essential for them in their toolkit on the way to the Diploma and all students tackled this task really well. This term sees Year 10 popping their creative hats on. We are devouring “Foreign Soil” and looking at how a range of literary elements can be used to create tension, emotion and characterisation. The year will finish with students having an opportunity to write their own creative pieces based on real events that encapsulate the writing styles present in “Foreign Soil”. It has been a delight to see the Year 10’s come out of their shells and put in the hard work to prepare for their senior years!

Year 11

‘Mad Woman In the Attic’ – Medea and the Essays of Rebecca Solnit

The term ‘mansplaining’ was coined back in 2008 in an essay titled ‘Men Explain Things to Me’ by Rebecca Solnit. While drawing on her own experience as a writer and academic, Solnit also uses her work to explore the silencing and erasure of female voices throughout art, literature and history. This semester students have explored how ideas and theoretical perspectives such as feminism and postcolonialism can traverse time and space during a close study of Euripides’ Ancient Greek tragedy Medea. This will pave the way for a comparative study of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, a postmodern writeback to Jane Eyre and the Gothic trope of the ‘mad woman in the attic.’

Students have also been examining how non-literary texts are constructed to persuade and inform, exploring a series of political websites for a range of parties and movements.

Year 12Farewell and Good Luck!

Year 12 students are quickly approaching the finish line, both literally (see the image below) and figuratively, as they participate in their final examinations.

Over the course of this year, Year 12 students have delivered a range of impressive assessments. In Term 2 they delivered an oral presentation, examining how a global issue of their choice is explored across both literary and non-literary works. Students explored topics such as class inequality and capitalism in Bong Joon-Ho’s sci-fi film Snowpiercer and Jonathan Swift’s political pamphlet A Modest Proposal, and the way in which global conflicts dehumanise individuals in Meagan Stack’s war journalism memoir Every Man In This Village Is a Liar and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. They also completed an extended literary analysis, exploring topics such as notions of Empire and Other in Shakespeare’s The Tempest and female subjectivity in the poetry of Wisława Szymborska.

In their exam, they’ll be analysing an unseen text, so students have been exploring a range of text types and metalanguage, from websites to travel blogs, and they can be seen below racing each other to define a range of techniques.

As we say farewell to this amazing cohort, the school gifted each student a ‘what you should read next’ novel, expertly picked by their teachers, to encourage them to find themselves in literature and continue a love of reading into their post-school lives.

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