If I were you… What to do when watching or reading a text for the first time.

 

So, we come into a new term and with that, a new area of study. This one should be relatively familiar to everyone as it is the essay which has been retained from the old study design. It is the one which you’ve been preparing for throughout your education. It is what was once known as Text Response and is now a part of Reading and Creating.

The task is relatively simple:

“Students prepare sustained analytical interpretations of selected texts, discussing how features of the texts create meaning and using textual evidence to support their responses. They use planning and drafting to test and clarify their ideas, and editing to produce clear and coherent expression. They craft their writing for convincing and effective presentation.”

It’s about careful and considered interpretation, clear analysis and insightful comments on a piece of literature or film which has been specifically crafted to affect its audience in various ways. Your interpretation needs to be based around the authorial intent regarding the themes and ideas the author deals with in the text. It must be confident. It must be supported by textual evidence (quotes, structural features, film/poetic/language techniques etc). It DOES NOT have to be the same conclusion that your teacher comes to but it has to be VALID- and you should be aware that other interpretations exist and are as equally valid as yours. Showing this depth of thought in your essay is a great way to enhance your writing and therefore, your score.

Now, I said it’s relatively simple, I know… and then I laid down a whole lot of components and thinking and writing and pretty complex levels of thought. Sorry. Let’s start at the very beginning. (Which if I’m being honest, you should have done over your summer holidays- now, it’s almost too late. But hey, do it anyway.)

To do everything I mentioned above, you need to know the text like the back of your hand. You know how you know everything about your favourite book, movie, series, reality tv star, k-drama… whatever, well- double that level of intensity. You need to be so on top of this text that NO question could stump you.

My best friend has a copy of Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit which has the most obscure questions about the 3rd Best Boy and how he broke his toe on WHAT day precisely of filming The Two Towers.

She knows the answer.

Image result for lord of the rings nerd

She knew this too. As anyone SHOULD.

THAT is the level of knowledge you should have.

Because VCE is a competition and there will be someone else who does. Why not be that guy?

So. How do we get there?

Step One

  • Read/watch the text.
  • Repeat

Ok, it’s not that simple, but this step (including the repetition) is the MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do to gain a thorough knowledge of the text. And I’m not talking about skim reading or skim watching, though these have their place later on in the process, I’m talking about the sort of watching and reading you do where you are 100% dedicated to the plot and everything which propels it. The sort of watching where you will pause it if your family are talking too loudly. The sort of reading where people need to call your name twice before you respond. You need to invest in the text— even and ESPECIALLY if you don’t like it.

For your first viewing/reading, I would recommend just reading. Don’t take notes or highlight, just absorb it. That said, if you notice a trend or something which you think “I see what he/she’s doing there” then OF COURSE, write it down. But generally, speaking, just enjoy the read, get to know the characters, keep tabs on the plot, be impacted by the power of language, images, sound, music, ART… etc.

After you’ve read it, jot down a list of themes/ideas the text covered. DON’T READ A TEXT GUIDE yet- just use your BRAIN. What stood out to you as being a main focus of the author? Don’t try and get fancy either- the biggest inhibitor to success, in my opinion, is having the expectation that your first go will be perfect. It doesn’t need to be DEEP (at this stage), it doesn’t have to be specific (at this stage), it can be obvious (at this stage). In All About Eve– SURPRISE, one of the themes is WOMEN. Clearly, this shouldn’t be your end point by any stretch of the imagination but it can be the starting point. Aim for a list of approx. 10 themes which you think the text covers. After you’ve created this list, I recommend developing an interpretation about each of these broad themes. Ask yourself, “What is Mankiewicz saying about WOMEN in his film?” This is likely to help you narrow your theme to the ideas and insights contained within the text. If you are able, refine your list by adding these sub themes and broad interpretative statements to it. Remember, these are based on first impressions so they’re likely to be relatively basic- but also based on gut reaction which is not a bad thing. Just don’t stop there.

Image result for all about eve women

Another thing you can do after your initial read through is start building a character bank. List all the characters you can remember which had some influence on the plot, major or minor. Next to each, write their key characteristics, what their role in the text is, their relationships, their motivations- as much as you can glean from your first read/watch. These first impressions are important because authors know that most of their audience aren’t going to be studying their text intently. They want their message to get out to Average Reader- so as long as you’re at least vaguely switched on, you should pick up their message.

After each read, discussion, class you should be able to add to this. Start including what themes they are used to explore. Start developing interpretations about their purpose in the text. Start listing quotes which embody them or which explain and deepen their character.

This theme list and character list will help you gather your thoughts and ideas as you finish your initial reading of the text, but like I said, it should in no way be where you end your study. As you read and repeat and learn and discuss and debate and repeat, you will add to this initial information and refine it, eventually developing that insightful analytical writing you need to produce in your SAC and exam.

Hope this is helpful!

Happy reading!

Amy xx

Hot Cross Buns- Two Ways!

I love Easter. It’s unpredictable, sneaks up on you (not unlike a bunny!) and it commemorates the most important part of my faith- the death and resurrection of my Christ. I know that many of our Easter traditions are rooted in pagan festivals and others are adapted from Jewish passover traditions, but I don’t think that devalues them at all. I love the symbolism of rising loaves and the empty egg- trite as they may be. If the heart and the message behind them is true and well intentioned, then what harm do they bring? I also acknowledge that many do not believe in Christ and while it saddens me that they will never know the true joy of Easter until they do, I see nothing wrong with those traditions being adopted by people from all walks of life, all creeds, all religions.

Easter is about Jesus dying to bring people to Him and save us from ourselves, our fate. Who are we to deny anyone entry into that?

On that note, these two recipes are ones which I’ve made this Easter to bless my friends and family with. They’re both significantly healthier than the ones you’ll buy at the shops, and I think, significantly yummier! I hope you enjoy them and they’ll remind you of the love Jesus had for you as he died and was risen to new life.

The first recipe I used as a base is this one from Tales From The Kitchen Shed

Author: Tales From The Kitchen Shed with some adaptations by Amy Carpenter (The Carpenter’s Daughter
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Home Baking
Serves: 16
Ingredients
Dough:
  • Loose leaf chai (I used Hari Hai Chai and Mumbai Maple from T2)
  • 3/4 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 80ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 245g natural yoghurt
  • 1 apple – grated
  • 225g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 275 wholegrain rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1-2 tbsp of Apple Cake Spice Mix (contains cinnamon, cardamom, rosehip, ginger, cassia, nutmeg… lots of yummy things! And no sugar.)
  • 1/2 an apple, cut into match sticks
Instructions
  1. Place the chai and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes to reduce by about half. Add the sultanas (and mixed peel if using) and set to one side.
  2. Warm the buttermilk for one minute on high power in the microwave. Stir in the grated apple and, if desired, sweetener of choice.
  3. Add the flours, yeast, bicarb and cinnamon into a large bowl along with the buttermilk mixture and mix together to form a rough dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively you can use a stand mixer to knead your dough.)
  5. Spread the dough out into a rectangle and sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Bring the dough back together and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  6. Place the dough in a large greased mixing bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, approx 75 to 80 g each. Shape into balls and place on a baking tray fairly close together and flatten each ball a little. Cover with greased cling film and prove for one hour in a warm place.
  8. While your Hot Cross Buns are proving, julienne your apple and place the strips on top of your buns, like a cross..
  9. Preheat your oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  10. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

The other one I made is a GF recipe which I sourced from Gluten Free, Grain Free

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cups arrowroot/tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cups mixed dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carb (baking soda)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of aquafaba
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Chai (see above for the mix)
  • 1 apple

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175C2.
  2. Soak chia seeds and dried fruit in chai tea
  3. Combine dry ingredients together
  4. Add eggs, soaked chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, grated apple & soaked dried fruit.
  5. Combine everything well until there are no lumps (except the bits of fruit)! It will be thickish – don’t be tempted to add any more liquid
  6. I used a silicon muffin tray to cook these. Bake for 25 minutes until the hot cross buns are firm to the touch and bounce back when lightly pressed. The top will be lovely and golden in colour
  7. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack. DEVOUR!

Hope these tickle your fancy!

Workout Wednesday- Tabata TRX Total Body Toner

Holidays are the greatest gifts the modern world has given us.

octo

I mean, yes- vaccines, the 8hr work day, human rights and the 24hr news cycle with the accountability it brings are all fabulous too… but holidays, man. Just fabulous.

I am especially blessed as someone working in the education field, that I receive school holidays every year. Now, in my previous position as a full time Secondary Teacher, I would spend a fair whack of my “holidays” marking, prepping for the term ahead- both mentally and in terms of class work-, and ensuring that all the admin stuff I’d neglected throughout the term was finally dealt with.

This holiday is a little different. When I found out about my new role I went into overdrive and planned out everything for the whole semester, and while I have a little bit of thinking I need to do for a collaboration project with some of the other teachers I work with- there’s actually not too much for me to do this break!

So, I’ve run away with my parents to the sleepy little town of Lakes Entrance. It’s been good for me as, like my previous getaway destination of Yea, there isn’t that much to do beyond going for seaside strolls, SUPping and chilling out with a book.

beach

It’s been lovely to relax.

But rest assured, I haven’t been body snatched and replaced by some weird “zen” version of myself- I’ve still packed my days with lots of fun things and been keeping more active than is really appropriate on holiday (there’s been many “what have I become” moments these last 4 days) with slow, short runs with my parents for the first few mornings followed by fast, furious circuit work to get my heart rate up and muscles twitching. I’ve been Stand Up Paddleboarding- the most relaxed way to work your upper body and core. I’ve given my legs a work out by not only walking everywhere but by walking through the softest sand imaginable while watching dolphins frolic in the waves (#humblebrag… like this whole post really). Today, my mumsy and I are kayaking (to a winery) and back (I’m looking forward to the comparison of pre tasting and post tasting kayaking prowess) before doing some more beach side wanderings.

While there’s been plenty of activity out in the sun, sand and surf, it’s also been super handy having my knock off K Mart TRX trainer with me. I’ve anchored it to my door and used it in the following circuit. It’s a great little burn and the perfect way to kill time while my parents enjoy not having the most evil body clock in the world.

 

It uses the Tabata method of training  (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest x8) so you can really go hard or you can work at an easier pace. If you’re just beginning, consider doing each exercise x4 instead to make the workout shorter.

I did a tabata of each of the following TRX exercises, with 1 min of rest between each exercise to adjust straps, get in position etc. For the plank at the end, I didn’t rest for the 10 secs, instead using it to transition to a side plank or a plank in the pushup position. No knees down. Try it, for a last challenge!

Have fun and let me know how you go!

Exercises: Tabata/1 min rest between each

TRX Row

TRX Chest Fly

TRX Bicep Curl

TRX Tricep Extension

TRX Jump Squat

TRX Push Up

TRX Pull Up (for this one, I pull myself off the ground and hung there for the 20 seconds… or at least I tried! The 5,6,7 set I just did normal pull ups before smashing the 8th with another hold)

TRX Y Fly

TRX Knee Tuck (I alternated Straight Knee Tuck with Oblique Knee Tucks (tucking to each side)

TRX Hamstring Curl

TRX Pendulum/Pike (Again, alternating between the two)

TRX Plank

And that’s it!! How do you like to spend your holidays?

Happy holidays!

Amy xx