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ATAR English taking on the Wild West

21 March 2024

Our ATAR English classes have been busy getting creative and looking into the Western Genre. Take a look at what they’ve been up to.

Year 11 ATAR English Creative Writing Incursion

Creative writing can be scary and challenging, but seeing your ideas come to life on the page can be so rewarding. Tracey Rouhiainen from the Fremantle Literature Centre spent some time with our Year 11 ATAR English students to help them empower themselves to tackle the composing section of the English exam with courage and confidence. Tracey used examples from last year’s WACE exam to guide students through the process of planning engaging plots, interesting characters and realistic dialogue.

As we know, the only way to get into the ‘performance zone’ with any skill is to practice. Tracey had the students complete an activity where they write non-stop for five minutes, repeating the last word if their mind goes blank. This activity is a great way to start a writing journal, and to generate new ideas. The importance of regularly practicing their writing skills was impressed upon the students.

Anyone who has ever marked creative writing assessments will agree that quality is more important than quantity. Developing a toolkit of creative writing skills will help students use their planning time in exams more effectively, and therefore produce writing of a high standard. The Year 11s were challenged to engage with the process of their learning in this area and develop skills that will stay with them in their future careers.

Year 12 ATAR Western Film Night

Can you name the features of the Western Genre? And how has it changed over time? Ask our Year 12 ATAR English students, they will be able to tell you! Our focus for Unit 3 ATAR English is the Western Genre, as the syllabus asks us to examine “how genres and their conventions have changed and been adapted over time,” and to consider “how the conventions of genres can be challenged, manipulated or subverted”. During class time, we have closely analysed comic books, short stories and films from the genre. To complement the work being done in class, we held a Western Film Night, to give students access to more texts to engage further with their learning journey.

Held in the SLC Lecture Theatre, we first watched Stagecoach, the iconic 1939 Western starring John Wayne. Following the dinner break, we watched the 1993 film Tombstone, reintroducing students to Wyatt Earp from our comic book study but with a 1990s interpretation. Students who attended the evening were gifted with a Western ‘showbag’ containing mini cowboy hats, terrible harmonicas, stickers and chocolate wagon wheels. Mr Pinkerton and Mr Thorne managed to keep up their accents all evening. Ms Boughton didn’t try! Our hope is that students enjoyed themselves whilst also building their knowledge and making connections that will support their success in their ATAR exams and beyond.

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