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HSC Area of Study: Discovery

This resource was developed by Karen Yager, The Sydney Grammar School/State Library of NSW Fellow 2015.

Background notes

Overarching question

How does the representation of the concept of discovery in and through a range of texts across different contexts make meaning of ourselves and our world?

Rationale

You need to demonstrate deep understanding of the concept and key ideas of Discovery. This understanding will be developed through a close engagement with the prescribed text and an exploration of texts of your own choosing, and a concentrated focus in class on the key learning ideas of the concept and the demands and expectations of the rubric and the HSC examination through rich and varied texts. Time will be dedicated in class to focusing on the craft of writing. You will be composing a range of imaginative and critical responses grounded in the concept of Discovery.

Read the teacher notes for each activity before commencing.

Activity notes

The Key Concepts of the Rubric

Representation

Representation refers to how the composer’s choice of language modes, forms, features and structures convey key ideas and shape responses. These choices are influenced by a composer’s perceptions, perspectives, context and agenda. All aspects of a text are deliberately selected to shape and convey meaning.

Imagine if you were asked to compose an imaginative response about a re-discovery from the past. You would base your response on your experiences. The re-discovery could have been triggered by the sight of an old rope swing down by a river. You recall when you and your brother were small, and how you both loved to swing high over the river. You want the reader to be transported to the past and visualise and hear the laughter of the boys and whoosh of the swing as it flies higher and higher. Therefore, you craft evocative visceral and auditory imagery through metaphors, alliteration and onomatopoeia. You employ the elliptical form so that you begin and end in the present but your final paragraph features a rediscovery of how much you miss your brother.

When a composer represents the concept of Discovery he or she follows a similar process. Thus, you need to be able to identify the relevant language forms, features and structures that convey meaning, and provide specific examples from the text. The next step is to explain what meaning is conveyed about Discovery and how it is conveyed through the specific examples you have chosen. To elevate your analysis, discuss how you have been positioned to respond to what has been discovered and the consequences of the discovery. Finally, evaluate the effectiveness of the specific examples.

You need to consider how the concept and the process of discovery is conveyed through the representation of people, relationships, societies, places, events, and ideas in the texts you are examining, and how you are being positioned to appreciate the intended meaning of the text. Your own context, values and perspectives will shape your response and determine whether you discover or rediscover something about yourself the broader world.

Assumptions

You need to analyse the assumptions underlying various representations of Discovery. ‘Assumption’ refers to preconceived ideas and ways of thinking. You can uncover assumptions by considering the cultural and personal biases that every composer brings to the act of representation, and by questioning your own assumptions.

Contextualisation

Our perspectives of discovery and what we learn from the discovery vary as they are shaped by our personal, cultural, historical and social context. The place that we live in, our cultural and historical background and our experiences influence our ways of thinking.

The Process of Discovery

Catalyst or Trigger:

Something or someone triggers a discovery. It could be curiosity or a shock or an object that has been lost.

Response:

Triggers a reaction: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and/or Emotional (SPICE)
Can be embraced or ignored
Can be provocative or unexpected

Ramifications:

Rediscovery
Planned discovery
Self-discovery
Unexpected discovery

Outcome:

Assumptions challenged
New understandings
Introspection
Epiphany
Transformation
Or no change

The Reading Task in Section 1 of Paper 1 features texts that have been chosen because of their connection with the concept of Discovery. Your challenge in this section of the paper is to uncover the overarching concept related to Discovery and analyse how language and visual features have been used to convey this concept. To analyse a text:

  1. Ask what the text is saying about the human experience to discover the overarching idea or main message.
  2. Find the emotive words or salient images to uncover the meaning.
  3. Identify language features, exemplify, explain and extrapolate by discussing the meaning conveyed by the language features and textual details about what has been discovered and what impact the features have on the responder.
  4. Analyse how the form and structure of the text shapes the way that Discovery is represented and the meaning conveyed.
  5. Interrogate the composer’s purpose and intended audience. Question his or her perspective and assumptions.
  6. Question how the text makes you feel personally and why.

Please note the following when responding to questions:

  1. Ensure that you check what each question is worth. If it is worth two marks provide two language and/or visual features and the main idea in response to the question.
  2. ‘Ways’ and ‘how’ questions are asking you to analyse the language and/or visual techniques and the meaning conveyed. You should start with the idea being conveyed and then provide the examples and techniques. 
  3. The final question in the Reading Task is the most challenging. It is always worth the most marks and the questions could be:
    1. Evaluative: In your opinion, which text was most effective in conveying an idea about belonging?
    2. Comparative: How did two of the texts convey different ideas about belonging?
    3. Conceptual: How did two of the texts reflect the concept of Discovery?

You need to write comprehensively (two pages is desirable), and discuss the form and features of the texts supported by detailed textual references. It is like a mini section III essay! If you are asked to evaluate which text you consider to be the most effective, you must analyse the texts you have rejected as well as the text you have chosen. You could use the following scaffold:

  1. In the first sentence or two introduce your thesis that is connected to the overarching concept related to how Discovery is represented in the texts. 
  2. Then launch into an analysis of the first text. Focus on the ideas first and then the language features that conveyed the meaning. You do not need lengthy quotes. E.g. In a sentence where you are using evidence from the text and analysing the use of language and the meaning conveyed, begin with the meaning, and then provide the feature and the example.
  3. Compare and contrast the texts in relation to how they represent the concept of Discovery.
  4. End with an evaluative statement that links back to your thesis. 

‘Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass’ Anton Chekhov.

The act of writing for the HSC is a carefully planned attack on the question using powerful language and a skilful structure. 

To engage the reader in the act and process of discovery you need to become an observer of places, objects and people. You need to incorporate sensual details that paint the setting, make the characters original and authentic and invite the reader to engage with the content. Sometimes the minutiae of everyday life are fascinating, such as a grandfather’s antique compass whose polished brass casing is dinted with age.

To enrich writing:

  • Have an overarching concept or message linked to discovery through the stimulus.
  • Show don’t tell.  Avoid too much information and focus on appealing to the senses through evocative descriptions.  Remember our most powerful tool is our imagination!
  • Focus on the details of a setting – create an authentic place.
  • When you create a character think about his or her back story. Avoid retelling their past. Create a single statement that captures their past, such as: ‘As he shaved he traced the fine scar on his chin that his father’s belt buckle had caused. It was a potent reminder of the man he would never become.’
  • If you are using dialogue make it authentic. Start a new line when a new person speaks. You do not have to include how they say it, such as ‘he said…’
  • Develop a strong, distinctive voice.  To achieve this it is advantageous to write about what you have experienced so that your writing comes from the heart.
  • Choose and control your use of a range of language features to engage and influence an audience.  Listen to the sound and rhythm of your language and aim for lexical density!
  • Use powerful verbs rather than too many adjectives. Verbs can be nuanced and polysemic (convey more than one meaning).
  • Plan your structure: the opening and the conclusion – a circular structure can cure a failure to produce a strong conclusion!
  • Employ a variety of sentence beginnings and sentence lengths.
  • Vary paragraph lengths – don’t be afraid to use a single sentence paragraph to make a dramatic statement.
  • Use a range of poetic devices.
  • Create tension and contrast.
  • Perfect the art of the first and last lines

Imaginative response possible structures

Linear: sequential telling of the story

Cyclical or elliptical: Starts and ends in the same place but the ending suggests that there is an epiphany or realisation. The start and end mirror each other.

Flash back: Moves between the present and the past. Could be from more than one perspective.

Fragment: A moment in time in a narrative, such as the moment that self-discovery occurs.

Parallel: Two story threads running at the same time in your response from different perspectives. The stories usually merge or connect at the end to make a unified narrative.

In Media Res: Starting your response in the middle action.

 

In Section III of Paper 1 of the HSC examination you are required to compose an integrated critical response that synthesises the ideas and concepts of your prescribed text and texts of your own choosing, demonstrating a deep understanding of the concept of Discovery and how it is represented. To arrive at this level of understanding ask the following questions:

  • How do you view the notion of Discovery?
  • How do the texts invite you to experience Discovery?
  • How do the texts represent the process of Discovery using form, structure, language modes, forms and features?
  • How do your perception and assumptions about the Discoveries compare with that of the composers you are studying?
  • How and why has exploring the concept of discovery broadened and deepened your understanding of self and your world?
  • What lines of argument have you developed as a result?

In your answer you will be assessed on how well you:

  • demonstrate understanding of the concept of Discovery in the context of your study
  • analyse, explain and assess the ways Discovery is represented in a variety of texts
  • organise, develop and express ideas using language appropriate to audience, purpose and context

Responding to the Area of Study Question 3

  • Respond immediately to the question or statement. You could agree or challenge it. The question must drive and shape your response.
  • Develop a thesis or concept that relates to the question or statement and sustain this line of argument throughout the response.
  • Use your prescribed text/s and texts of own choosing to support or challenge your thesis or concept.
  • Give a brief overview of the composer’s context and the composer’s perception and representation of Discovery, values and attitude, and how this shapes the underlying assumptions in the body of the response.
  • Focus on how a text shapes meaning; therefore, discuss and compare HOW this is done in all of the texts.
  • Integrate your discussion of the ideas and the textual features and details of your texts using your thesis to shape the analysis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how you are positioned by texts.
  • Select the texts of your own choosing that you are enthusiastic about and that connect and contrast with how the concept of Discovery has been explored and represented.

Develop a personal response to how Discovery is represented and how the texts’ exploration of the concept has broadened and deepened your understanding of self and your world.

Verbs

Elevate the style of your writing through the verbs! They drive your argument.

conveys

  • represents
  • proffers
  • advances
  • ascribes
  • affirms
  • promulgates
  • evinces
  • opines
  • posits
  • expounds
  • substantiates
  • clarifies
  • challenges
  • amplifies
  • confirms
  • espouses
  • predicates
  • enlightens

Connectives

Create cohesion through connectors!

  • in contrast
  • is analogous
  • conversely
  • alternatively
  • in comparison
  • nevertheless
  • furthermore
  • similarly
  • additionally
  • moreover
  • correspondingly

Suggested Scaffold for an Integrated AOS Response

  • The question must drive and shape your response.
  • Your thesis or line of argument must be developed and sustained.
  • Integrate your discussion of the ideas, context and the textual features and details of your texts using your thesis to shape the analysis.
  • Choose your textual evidence wisely.
  • Select texts of own choosing that connect and contrast with how the concept of Discovery has been explored and represented.
  • Your personal response to how Discovery is represented and how your way of thinking has been challenged is valued!

It is always best to allow the question or the statement provided to shape your response; however, a scaffold has been included if you need the support. You do not have to start with your prescribed text. This is just a suggested framework!!

Introduction

  • Immediately address the question or statement and introduce your thesis or line of argument in relation to Discovery that challenges or supports the question.
  • Provide two or three supporting ideas that support your thesis. One idea could be related to the process of discovery: type, catalyst, individual’s response and how this is contingent on an individual’s perspective. The second idea could be about the ramifications based on the response to the discovery, such as self-discovery and new understandings. Introduce these ideas through your prescribed text and the text of your own using.
  • End with a strong statement that links the two texts and relates back to the question.

Paragraph 2

  • Connect to the question or statement through the first idea. The topic sentence needs to pick up on a key word used in the last sentence of the introduction to form a bridge between the paragraphs.
  • Briefly discuss the prescribed text’s composer’s context and times and perspectives, and how these influence the representation of Discovery.
  • Discuss how the form, genre and structure convey discovery.
  • Use quotes that are analysed in terms of how they demonstrate the ideas about discovery.

Paragraph 3 (This could integrated with the previous paragraph)

  • Now move to your related text and link the opening topic sentence with the last line of the previous paragraph. State if the text challenges or supports the question or statement or how this text further illustrates your thesis.
  • Describe the context and times of the text, and the composer’s perspective and their relevance to the text. Refer to the genre, form and structure and how they contribute to the exploration of Discovery.
  • Use quotes that are analysed in terms of how they demonstrate the ideas about discovery

Paragraphs 4 – 5

  • Zoom in to focus on the key idea related to the beginning process of Discovery in your prescribed text such as the type of discovery – rediscovery, new or planned discovery, etc. - through one or more characters or persona. Analyse and account for their response and actions.
  • Use the question or statement and your idea that develops your thesis to discuss those aspects of the text that are relevant.
  • Layer in references to context and values.
  • Integrate an analysis of the act of representation – how the textual features and details convey the aspect/s of discovery. Use quotes from the text, but don’t use lengthy quotes that are not explained or linked to your discussion. 
  • Make connections with the related text if relevant.

Paragraphs 6 – 7

  • Link the topic sentence to the previous paragraph and focus on the key idea related to the beginning process of Discovery in your related text through a character or persona.
  • Use the question or statement and your idea that develops your thesis to discuss those aspects of the text that are relevant.
  • Layer in references to context and values.
  • Integrate an analysis of the textual features and details that convey the aspect/s of discovery. Use quotes from the text, but don’t use lengthy quotes that are not explained or linked to your discussion. 
  • Make integrated connections with the prescribed text.

Paragraphs 8 – 10

  • Introduce the second idea in your topic sentence that sustains your thesis in response to the question through a further analysis of the prescribed text.
  • Refer to the consequences of discovery – self-discovery/transformation/new understandings through characters or the persona.
  • Use quotes and integrate your discussion of the textual features and details. Make connections with the related text.

Paragraphs 11 – 12

  • Introduce the second idea in your topic sentence that sustains your thesis in response to the question through a further analysis of your related text and the characters or persona. Link to the previous sentence in paragraph 10.
  • Refer to the consequences of discovery – self-discovery/transformation/new understandings through characters or the persona.
  • Use quotes and integrate your discussion of the textual features and details. Make connections with the prescribed text.

Conclusion

  • Conclude by returning to your concept or thesis and what you have discovered. You must link back to the question or statement.

Student Activities

Discovery 101

Students work through two tasks that lead them through an investigation of the concept of discovery.

Number of set tasks: 2

HSC Paper 1 Area of Study Reading Task

Students work through four tasks that replicate the Reading Task in Section 1 of the Area of Study Paper 1, using sources from the State Library of New South Wales collection.

Number of set tasks: 2

HSC Paper 1 Area of Study Imaginative Writing Task

Students respond to visual sources from the State Library of New South Wales collecting, brainstorming how they could be used for an imaginative response on the concept of discovery

Number of set tasks: 3

Area of Study and the Critical Essay

Students develop thesis statements that reflect their exploration of texts representing the concept of Discovery, and practise writing introduction statements and an essay for the Critical Essay question. 

Number of set tasks: 2