If I were you… The Statement of Intention

Two weeks ago I promised that next time, I’d talk about the Statement of Intention and what you need to include in this very important and often overlooked piece of writing.

I broke my promise. Sorry.

Image result for promise brokenI hope you can forgive me.

Let’s move on.

Today, we’re looking at what the Statement of Intention is all about. What does it want from you? What do you need to include? What is its purpose? Why do you even have to do it?

The SOI is hardly a new thing, it’s been around in some form or another since at least 2008, but instead of being attached to the oral, it was attached the old CRAP area of study (CReating And Presenting). It asked students to explain their linguistic and creative choices, detailing the links between their writing, the context and their source text. It, like the current incarnation, was all about making thinking visible and forcing students to consider what they were writing- not just pulling something out of the air. It had the added benefit of forcing them to admit that they reasons for writing the way they did and therefore, maybe so did the authors, playwrights, directors etc they were studying did too.

Image result for what the author meant
(This meme is dumb and people who believe it are dumb as evidenced by the spelling and grammar featured in this meme.) 

So, it’s likely that you’ve come across a SOI in some form before now. But it is also likely that you may have ignored it until the last minute or hashed something together in a hurry. Let’s remedy that today. Ready?

Begin.

The Statement of Intention: 

VCAA Assessment Task Description: A written statement of intention to accompany the student’s own oral presentation, articulating the intention of decisions made in the planning process, and how these demonstrate understanding of argument and persuasive language. (10 marks- 1/4 of total grade for this assessment piece) 

The suggested length of the statement of intention is approximately 300–500 words.

Top marks gained by providing: Insightful articulation of the intention of decisions related to selected content and approach made during the planning process, demonstrating complex understanding of purpose, audience and context.

You’ve probably noticed two or three things in this brief blurb of information which VCAA has provided. Firstly, this is not a long piece of writing. You don’t have to detail every sentence and why you chose every single word which you did. It is much more holistic than your average language analysis. Secondly, it’s basically a mini language analysis completed on your own work and therefore, you already know what to comment on as it is the same as what you’ve been doing in all your LA prep.

The key here is that you show your teacher (remember, you will never write one of these in the exam) your thinking processes and how they show that ultimately, you have a complex and well rounded understanding of the art of persuasion.

So, what does that involve?

At my old school, we used a helpful little acronym for our SOIs which you can utilise too!

FLAPA

Image result for flappy

F-FORM: Obviously, this is an oral presentation which brings with it a whole host of things you need to consider. How will you use and vary your voice, what props or visuals- if any- will you use, are you presenting as yourself or as a characterised stakeholder (not something I would recommend, btw). When you address your form, address any key choice you make in the presentation of your speech and why they matter. Due to length restraints you can’t include everything, but if you choose to use a certain image, it might be helpful to include the rationale behind this choice.

L-LANGUAGE: This should make up the bulk of your SOI. Your language and how you’ve shaped it is vitally important as your analysis of your own language will demonstrate that you understand how language can be used to in other works to persuade, which as we read earlier, is the whole point.

A-AUDIENCE: This is sort of a given in your case but you should mention at least one way you’ve catered to your specific audience of your peers and teachers- how have you shaped your language or form or argument to fit your audience? I would be v impressed if a student wrote about the duality of their audience and how they shaped their speech to cater to both their highly educated teachers and their peers.

P-PURPOSE: Your purpose is not to get a good grade. Nor is it to persuade your audience. LIKE YES, I KNOW that both of those things are your purpose here but get specific. Like I mentioned in the post about your speech, your purpose needs to be something like:

  • Convince my audience to sign up for the organ donation program
  • Convince my audience to donate a blanket this winter
  • Make my audience feel guilty about eating chocolate and therefore buy fair trade chocolate

And then you can discuss how your purpose fits with your audience, language, form and argument. The last example came straight from a student I watched present last year who opened her speech by offering around chocolate which nearly everyone took and ate while she systemically described the slave trade which exists to support our sugary, creamy addiction. At the end of her speech, she offered some more chocolate. The response was quite different. It was a great hook and closer and I hope she discussed it in relation to her audience and purpose in her SOI (I do not know- she was not my student, sadly)

A-ARGUMENT: The MOST important part of ANY writing you do in AOS  2 is ARGUMENT. You need to articulate the structure of your argument and how it is ultimately persuasive due to the audience and purpose you have and how you intend to further the progression of your argument in the form and the language of your speech. This is what underpins your entire speech and therefore your SOI.

Questions?

Yes, you can use first person (though check with your teacher first, I’ve heard some get funny about this. Generally speaking though, first person is fine and I personally prefer it IN A SOI)

No, you don’t have to follow the order of FLAPA. In fact, I’d prefer you just to make sure that you include all the components of FLAPA but beyond that, forget it exists. I do not like SOIs which are 5 dot points of: “Form: I started with an image because… Language: I used a rhetorical question…” Your SOI may not be a formal essay but it must still be “Insightful articulation”. 

Yes, your teacher will actually read it (it makes up 1/4 of your mark!!) and it will actually count. I found the SOI most helpful when ranking students as orals, in my opinion, can be notoriously hard to judge and distinguish between 3 16s or between a 27 and 29. The SOI and the care which you put into the planning and crafting of your piece can make all the difference.

Yes, you can include things which you chose not to do. Just include what you chose to do instead and why you chose to do the latter over the former.

No, you can’t hand it in after. It’s due the day of speech or first day of speeches, depending on the format of your presentations.

It’s really not that daunting and basically it’s just an opportunity to talk about how good you are. Essentially, your entire SOI is you sidling up to us and saying “see what I did there?” and sometimes, we don’t, so they’re really useful too.

Image result for see what i did there

Hope this helped you in some way and again, deepest apologies for the interruption.

Happy SOI-ing!

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