HSC English

HSC English students – trial exams are coming soon. Be prepared with individualised tuition in Standard and Advanced English.

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Creative writing



While not everyone dreams of writing a storybook or novel, there are some people who do dream of spending their time with words in solitude.

If you or your child loves to write, English tuition can help those students who are keen to write, yet need a little guidance with grammar, structure, or the choice of present or past tense.

I’ve also included some links below to other sites that will assist in fine-tuning your piece of creative writing.

NSW Writers’ Centre http://www.nswwc.org.au

Scholastic Story Starters http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/

Australian Writers’ Centre https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/

Daily Writing Tips http://www.dailywritingtips.com/creative-writing-101/



Reading as part of the Year 7 and 8 syllabus

This section is reflective of the current Australian Curriculum (found at https://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/english/english-k10) and is designed to give teachers, parents and students an idea of what texts are appropriate for this stage of schooling.

The outcomes for this stage (stage 4) are shown in the image below:

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This excerpt above indicates the level of complexity that students should be capable of by the end of this stage of schooling. Parents and teachers can assist students to reflect deeply on the texts that they read in – and out – of class in order to “expand their perspectives” and critically explore texts.

The reading requirements from the board of studies website are shown as follows:

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Examples of texts to explore at this level can include:

Blueback by Tim Winton which is a story that encompasses ideas of sustainability, environment, and courage;

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The Arrival by Shaun Tan which deals with themes of belonging, migratation, and race; and

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Bran Nue Dae, a film that explores racial tension between indigenous and non-indigenous communities within outback Australia.

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As a parent or a teacher, we can encourage our students to enjoy the texts, infer meaning within the texts, and apply the learning to everyday life.


On Keeping a (Writing) Notebook (or Three) — Discover

While reading through some other blogs I came across this article by Randon Billings Noble on the site http://brevitymag.com/craft-essays/on-keeping-a-writing-notebook-or-three/

I’ll share this with you here because I think that the importance of using a journal (or three) for creative and academic writing can be adapted for each of us. You’ll just need to click on the link below to go to the full article.

Randon Billings Noble on the importance of keeping a notebook: “But my writing notebooks keep me writing — through rejection, triumph, inspiration, and disenchantment…”

via On Keeping a (Writing) Notebook (or Three) — Discover

Author interview with Belinda Murrell

Belinda Murrell writes childrens fiction – both junior readers and for older children. Belinda kindly offered some insights into her writing:



1.    What does your workspace look like?

I live in an on old Victorian house near the sea with my husband Rob and three children. I am lucky enough to have a beautiful office at home, which is lined with hundreds of books, has a fireplace and looks out over my garden. My dog Asha keeps me company, sleeping in front of the fire. It is a gorgeous place to work – sunny, calm and quiet.

2.    Who or what inspires your work?

As a children’s author, perhaps it’s not surprising that kids are my greatest inspiration. Initially it was my own three children Nick, Emily and Lachie who inspired me to write books for them. Now however I am also inspired by readers who love my books and children I meet. One of the greatest inspirations is receiving hundreds of emails, drawings and letters from children who love my books. They tell me what they love about each book, and beg me to write more. I also spend several weeks each year on tour – speaking at literary festivals, schools, bookstores and Book Week events. Each year I meet thousands of children and I love talking with them, discussing what they enjoy about books, what interests them and intrigues them. Many of my ideas for books are triggered by conversations or experiences I’ve had with children.

3.    What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

I have four tips which all begin with P! They are:

Passion – write what you love. Write from your heart. Don’t try to follow trends. Write for yourself.

Persistence – there are so many writers with talent, who write extremely well. But to succeed as a writer you need bucketloads of determination and tenacity. Succeeding as a writer can only be achieved through lots of hard work over many years!

Practise – write constantly. Write every day. Take a notebook with you everywhere and fill it.

Pack your bags – travel the world and have amazing adventures. Work at various jobs, volunteer, experience life, fill your notebooks with sights, people and experiences.

4.    What was your reaction when you found out that your first manuscript was going to be published?

Utter joy! I screamed and cried and laughed. It was definitely one of the most exciting days in my life. My agent rang to tell me the news. My family all came running to find out what was going on. Then I rang my sister Kate (who is also an author). She was as thrilled as I was and we celebrated with French champagne. Despite all the excitement, I couldn’t really believe it was true until I first saw my name on the cover of a book in a bookstore.

5.    What dreams do you have for your writing career?

To keep writing books which kids love. To stretch myself and keep getting better as a writer. To challenge myself and try different genres and styles.  I have been incredibly lucky to have a career as a writer doing something I love so much. I work with a fantastic team at Random House who are so talented and supportive. I get to spend time with lots of extremely gifted and inspirational authors. I am now writing my twenty-first book, yet I still get very anxious when I finish a new book and am waiting for my publisher to read it. Will she like it? Is it any good? Writing can be a solitary and often difficult job. Yet opening that package with your book straight from the printer is still one of the best feelings in the world.

And a quick biography:

Belinda Murrell is an internationally published, bestselling children’s author. Her 21 books include The Sun Sword Trilogy, a fantasy-adventure series for boys and girls aged 8 to 12. Her time-slip books – The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman, The Forgotten Pearl, and The Ivory Rose – have been shortlisted for various awards, including KOALAs (2013, 2012 and 2011), CBCA Notable List and highly commended in the PM’s Literary Awards. Her new book, The River Charm, is based on the thrilling adventures of her ancestors. For younger readers (aged 6 to 9) Belinda has a new Lulu Bell series, about friends, family, animals and adventures growing up in a vet hospital. http://www.belindamurrell.com.au <http://www.belindamurrell.com.au&gt;


Writing an annotated bibliography

Writing an annotated bibliography

A bibliography is a list of references that have been used in an essay or academic paper and are shown at the end of the essay or academic writing.

This list is important because it shows the reader where your ideas as a writer came from.

An annotated bibliography is a list of references that are important to the topic written about, but each reference is given more information (annotated), such as what the book or article is about, who wrote it, and why it is important to your own writing.

I have provided an example (below) of one annotated reference, that will give an idea of what an annotated reference looks like for anyone writing an essay or academic paper.


Gross, M. (2004). Exceptionally Gifted Children (2nd edition). RoutledgeFalmer, New York.

Miraca Gross, (2004), presents case studies conducted with exceptionally gifted children, explicitly outlining the methodology and procedures of the study, focusing on academic achievement levels and school history of the 15 children studied. Within this text there are numerous examples from the case studies, accompanied with relevant research from other academics in the field, reinforcing Gross’s (2004) theories that gifted children require special provision within the school setting, clearly illustrating through longitudinal case studies how different gifted children are from regular students. Although her text refers specifically to exceptionally gifted children (IQ 160+), Gross’s (2004) text alerts the reader that all gifted students have specific and special academic, emotional, and social needs that require intervention from teachers and parents with knowledge in gifted education to ensure the optimal development of the student (Gross, 2004, p. 23). This premise of special needs in gifted students directly links to my research regarding the use of IEPs for gifted students in Australian classroom.

Each chapter of Exceptionally Gifted Children (Gross, 2004) covers an important aspect of gifted education in Australia. The chapter on psychosocial development (chapter 9) relates to the research on IEPs as gifted children not only have specific academic learning needs, but also have social and emotional needs that differ from their age-peers. Incorporating these differences into an IEP for support and development in these areas could be invaluable to gifted children.

Although, Gross (2004), does not specifically advocate for IEP’s for gifted students, the IEP, thoughtfully used, can provide differentiation, accountability, and individual pacing that gifted students require.

It is evident in Exceptionally Gifted Children (Gross, 2004), that there are a two areas useful for a systematic review: the need for teacher training in the area of gifted education; and the recognition of specific academic, social, and emotional needs of highly gifted students.


Hopefully, the above example, combined with helpful advice from your English tutor or teacher, will help you write your own annotated bibliography.

Literacy in the secondary classroom – essay excerpts

Literacy in the secondary classroom – essay excerpts

Below are excerpts from an essay that discusses the various types of literacy that are required to be learned in NSW secondary schools. Literacy is an often debated topic, and with the additional of digital literacies to the curriculum, new methods are needed to teach the new types of literacies.


The question arises as to how the theories of social discourse and literacy can be implemented in the classroom. The Board of Studies NSW (2012, p. 25) states that English Stage 4 students “must study examples of spoken texts, print texts, visual texts, media, multimedia and digital texts”. In view of literacy, and multiliteracies, there are a wide choice of texts to meet the needs of the students in the classroom (Board of Studies NSW, 2012, p. 26). Various strategies will also help meet the needs of students. Strategies vary from ‘flipped classroom’, think-pair-share, see-think- wonder, use of prompt cards for spelling words, visual timeline to illustrate the plot of a story, brainstorming, graphic organisers, jigsaw, and modelling the construction of a text.

In regard to speaking and listening, an effective literacy-based strategy is the ‘flipped classroom’ where students are required to present information to their peers. For example, a Stage 4, Year 7 English class who are studying a unit on Sustainability might view an artist’s impression of a trash-filled scene and discussing it in class using the see-think-wonder strategy. The year 7 students are then encouraged to create their own trash scene with a caption that promotes a sustainable lifestyle. The literacy

tool for this task is Minecraft which is popular with young people, has an emphasis on problem-solving, and is a highly visual environment. Students will be asked to write down what they know about Minecraft and how it relates to creating a trash scene. Students will to teach their peers about the capabilities of Minecraft – the images will appear on the Interactive White Board – in order to create images that are a product of critical analysis of a previous visual text. As the students lead the class by teaching about the gaming program, the classroom is effectively ‘flipped’. This method allows students to research, write, speak, and it accesses the higher-order thinking in Blooms Taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002, p. 215) through analysing, evaluating and creating.

In conclusion, being literate “is more than the acquisition of technical skills” (NSW English Syllabus K-10, 2012, p. 29). Literacy arouses public debate regarding its meaning, purpose, and implementation in the classroom. With this in mind, teachers of English focus on speaking and listening, reading and viewing, and writing and composing, in order to “develop personal and social capability” (ACARA, n.d., para. 6) in their students. Many strategies can be used to implement the areas discussed, and the flipped classroom, tapered spelling list, and think-aloud model have been highlighted in this paper. Multiliteracies are becoming increasingly relevant and a powerful learning tool, while traditional forms of literacy are changing in order to meet the literacy demands of our future leaders.






Australian, Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), (n.d.). English: Overview. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/General-capabilities#Critical-and- creative-thinking

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), (2013). Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/Literacy

Board of Studies NSW, (2012). English K-10 Syllabus. Retrieved from http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/download/

Callow, J. (2011) When image and text meet: teaching students with visual and multimodal texts. PETAA paper, no. 181, 2011, pp. 1-8

Cornish, L. & Garner, J. (2009) Language in the classroom. In: Promoting student learning / by Linley Cornish and John Garner. 2nd ed. Frenchs Forest, NSW : Pearson Education Australia, 2009. Chapter 7, pp. 242-281

Derewianka, B. & Jones, P. (2012). Teaching Language in Context. Oxford University Press, Australia.

Freebody, P. & Luke, A. (c2003) Literacy as Engaging with new forms of Life : The ‘ Four Roles ‘ Model In: The Literacy Lexicon / Edited by Geoff Bull and Michèle Anstey. 2nd ed. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: Prentice Hall, c2003, Chapter 4, pp.51-65

Gee, J. (2003) Literacy and Social Minds In: The Literacy Lexicon / Edited by Geoff Bull and Michèle Anstey. 2nd ed. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: Pearson Education, 2003, Chapter 1, pp. 3-14

Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B. (n.d.). New Learning. Retrieved from http://newlearningonline.com/multiliteracies/theory

Knapp, P. & Watkins, M. (2005). Genre, text, grammar: Technologies for teaching and assessing writing. UNSW Press

Krathwohl, D. (2002). Revising Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from http://www.unco.edu/cetl/sir/stating_outcome/documents/Krathwohl.pdf

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. Routledge Press.

Lankshear, C. & Snyder, I. & Green, B. (2000) Understanding the changing world of literacy, technology and learning In: Teachers and Technoliteracy: Managing literacy, technology and learning in schools / Colin Lankshear and Ilana Snyder with Bill Green. St Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2000, Chapter 2, pp. 23-47

Macken-Horarik, M. (1996) Literacy and learning across the curriculum : towards a model of register for secondary school teachers In: Literacy in society / [edited by] Ruqaiya Hasan and Geoff Williams. London ; New York : Longman, 1996. Chapter 8, pp. 232-278

Macken-Horarik, M. & Adoniou, M. (2008). Genre and Register in Multiliteracies, In: B. Spolsky and F. Hult (Eds. ) Handbook of Educational Linguistics, Blackwell, MA, Oxford, Victoria, pp. 367- 382.

Mojang, (2015). Minecraft. Retrieved from https://minecraft.net/

NSW Department of Education and Training, (2007). Writing and Spelling Strategies. Retrieved from http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/media/downloads/schoolsweb/studentsupport/progra ms/lrngdificulties/writespell.pdf

Unsworth, L. (2001). Developing Multiliteracies in Content Area Teaching In:

Teaching Multiliteracies Across the Curriculum : Changing contexts of text and image in classroom practice / Len Unsworth. Buckingham, England; Philadelphia: Open University, 2001, Chapter 7, pp. 220-259

Winton, T. (2008). Blueback. Penguin Australia.