Reading to Write – The New Year 11 English Common Module

In this post, we explain the new Year 11 Common Module: Reading to Write.

In this post, we will guide you through “Reading to Write” – the new Year 11 English Common Module.

The new Stage 6 syllabus begins in 2018. This means that the 2017 Year 10 cohort will be the first to study its new modules at school in 2018. The new Stage 6 syllabus has mandatory modules, meaning that all English Advanced and Standard students across the state will be studying the same module.

How can you prepare for the new Year 11 English Common Module? Some questions that you should be asking are:

  • What does the study of Reading to Write entail?
  • What does the common module require you to do?
  • How should you analyse your texts and what should you focus on in your responses to excel in this unit?

Read on to find out how best to study for the new Year 11 English Common Module: Reading to Write.


Introducing the New Year 11 English Common Module: Reading to Write

What is a “Common Module”?

Modules are the units of study for each subject. Stage 6 English is broken down into 3 Modules for Year 11 and 4 for Year 12. These Modules prescribe the approach that you are meant to take in studying, analysing, and responding to your texts.

The “Common Module” is a unit taught across different levels of Year 11 English. In Year 11, all the students from English Standard and English Advanced take the same Module. The Reading to Write Module should ensure that all Year 11 English Standard and Advanced students intending to sit the HSC, are introduced to the ideas and concepts they will need to succeed in Year 12.


The Year 11 English Common Module: Reading to Write must be taught in Term 1 of Year 11.

The Reading to Write Module must be taught as the first Year 11 English Module by all schools. The content that it covers is the foundation to a study of Stage 6 English at all levels that will be assessed for an ATAR. Teaching this content first ensures that students are prepared to tackle the more difficult and complex content that follows in later Modules and in Year 12.

Reading to Write is aimed to develop students analytical skills and their ability to communicate in their own voice. We will now unpack some of the key statements from the Reading to Write Module outline. This document is known as the Module Rubric (a rubric is a set of rules for a task).

The complete rubric for the Common Module can be found here on the NESA website. All Year 11 English Standard and Advanced students should take the time to read through it.


Understanding the Objectives of the New Year 11 English Common Module Reading to Write

What does Reading to Write mean?

As its name suggests, the Reading to Write English Module will develop your writing skills by guiding your reading of a variety of different texts. You will study several different texts, from different text types. This exposure to different forms and genres will help you develop an understanding of how composers try and convey meaning.

Reading to Write aims to give Year 11 English students the skills to understand and analyse how texts from a variety of media convey information to audiences. NESA has given the Common Module the sub-title ” Transition to Senior English”. As this suggests, this is a Module that develops students’ skills for tackling HSC English. Importantly, there is a strong focus on student literacy in this Module. This Module will, thus, get you writing and thinking about your writing in terms of your voice and purpose.

Why focus on literacy?

Previous Stage 6 cohorts have struggled with writing for English. This Year 11 English Common Module will equip you with some basic skills to be competitive in online workplaces and environments.

Many students find it is all to easy to finish writing a piece of work and put it in the done pile, never to be read again! This a poor approach to producing work for English, but far too common. Such work is often full of errors, poorly structured, or doesn’t address the set task. Written communication skills are becoming increasingly important in an online content heavy world.

In contrast, successful English students proof their work and assess its quality. Successful students will appraise and rewrite flawed work. The Reading to Write Module teaches all Year 11 English Advanced and Standard students these important skills and processes. As a consequence, your study of this module will teach you to write well using proper grammar and syntax in your own strong voice.


Explaining the Expectations in ‘Reading to Write’ Rubric

Let’s have a close look at NESA’s key expectations from the Reading to Write Module rubric:

Rubric Statement: “Students undertake the intensive and close reading of quality texts from a variety of modes and media”.

The first step in analysing any text is reading it. A fundamental skill taught in this module is how to read a text effectively. When we talk of close reading, we mean that students analyse their texts closely for a variety themes and techniques.

Processes, such as reading and viewing a text several times, will enable yous to discuss your set texts in greater detail and from more reasoned positions. Ideally you should read a text 3 times during your study:

  1. First, to get a feel for plot, characters, themes;
  2. Second, to begin analysing key scenes and moments in the text;
  3. And finally, analyse specific quotations/ scenes. This reading will help you understand how the composer is using techniques to create meaning.
  4. Now you can begin making detailed notes! You must take the time to discuss the effect of these techniques on YOUR understanding of the text.

You will study texts drawn from a wide variety of media including – poetry, novels, articles, and drama. And you will engage with complex texts and demonstrate understanding of how texts shape meaning.

An important aspect of the study of English is being able to understand and explain how mode, medium, and form contribute to meaning and shape audience reception. Different text types have different conventions. And these represent different kinds of meaning. For example, a bildungsroman novel – such as the Harry Potter Series – will show a character’s development over a period of time, while a sonnet – such as one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets From the Portuguese – is traditionally a love poem. Our knowledge of these conventions informs our understanding of the texts that use them.


Form influences and shapes meaning by appealing to, or challenging, audience expectations.


Rubric Statement: “Students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate, understand, analyse and evaluate how and why texts convey complex ideas, relationships, endeavours and scenarios.”

Texts convey human experience from one individual to another. They present vicarious representations of human experience. Reading and viewing texts allows us to engage with, and grasp, the experiences and ideas of others. Consequently, we often experience things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to by engaging with the representations we find in art, such as films, books, and poetry.

You will read texts to understand how composers represent the world around you. On the one hand, you need to learn how to appreciate and enjoy literature and art. But on the other hand, you also need to understand why composers represent their ideas and, importantly, why they choose the forms that they do. You need to ask yourself questions like:

  • Why is the composer representing this idea?
  • What does the composer seek to achieve by depicting this scenario?
  • What does this representation of a relationship convey to me?
  • Most importantly, how has the composer represented this idea?
  • What techniques and structural choices have they used to do this?


Rubric Statement: “Central to this module is developing student capacity to respond perceptively to texts through their own considered and thoughtful writing and judicious reflection on their skills and knowledge as writers.”

This module wants you to become a better writer. You will have to respond to texts, and then revise and edit your work. You will notice that there is a focus on reflection.

One of the core ideas NESA wants you to take away from this module is that self-reflection on your work is essential to good writing and communication.

To do well in this module you need to develop confidence in rereading and editing your own work. This means more than merely correcting misplaced commas. The editing process involves restructuring pieces of work, or even rewriting them, to ensure that you represent your ideas in a clear and accessible manner.

Another central part of this module is to develop your own voice, and your careful writing practice. Therefore, as you study the works of others, and reflect on your own practice, you will begin to develop your own voice in both critical and creative writing.

A Student’s Voice

A student’s voice is the tone and personality that is conveyed through written expression. You are a distinct person, different to your peers. It’s possible for your written expression – both creative and critical -to reflect this. Developing your voice means that elements of your personality are demonstrated in your writing, when it is appropriate.

What does this mean? This doesn’t mean that you should adopt colloquial language and “street talk” into your essays. It means developing your own style of writing.

For example:

  • Do you like to demonstrate your vocabulary and knowledge of grammar? Do you enjoy reading complex language? You might try experimenting with more complex sentence structures and advanced word choices. But be careful, you must make sure that the words you use mean exactly what you think they do. And your sentences must be both grammatical and readable. Writers such as Virginia Woolf and China Miéville are beautiful essayists who wrote in remarkable prose.
  • Do you find overly long sentences frustrating? Do you wish people would just get to the point? You can bring this attitude to your writing by utilising short and concise sentences. Just because you write in a utilitarian manner, doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. Ernest Hemmingway and Gerturde Stein both succeeded with such brusque and hard prose styles.

Developing your voice takes time and practice. It will not happen overnight. Reading the writing of other writers and trying to imitate their style will help you find your own. Processes like reviewing your grammar and researching other words in thesauruses like Roget’s thesaurus will add depth to your voice.


Rubric Statement: “Through the study of texts, students develop insights into the world around them, deepen their understanding of themselves and the lives of others and enhance their enjoyment of reading.”

Humanity has a history of artistic representations; as a species, we love to write about ourselves, our experiences, and the communities we are part of. Similarly, reading about the experiences of other humans is something central to our identity. We love to celebrate the successes and failures of others, and see something of ourselves in these. We try to learn from and reflect on the mistakes and successes of others.

In this module, you will read texts to understand how they reflect the world around you. NESA expects that studying this module will expose you to complex ideas. As a consequence, these texts will demonstrate to you how composers present universal ideas and concerns.

Encountering these representations will allow you to reflect upon your own experience. NESA wants you to ask of yourself:

  • Does this text represent themes common to human experience?
  • Does this text represent my experience?
  • What is my response to the representation of this human experience?

You want to reflect on these questions as you read, and use them as the basis of your notes on the texts. Most of all, these are the insights that your teachers and markers want to know about!

NESA hopes that this unit will foster your enjoyment of a wide range of literary texts and forms. Reading and viewing texts should be a pleasure and not a chore.


Rubric Statement: “Through imaginative re-creation students deepen their engagement with texts and investigate the role of written language in different modes and how elements, for example tone, voice, and image, contribute to the way that meaning is made.”

What is “Imaginative re-creation”? An imaginative recreation is an adaptation of a text or a discussion of a text through different forms. In practice, this could take several different forms. For example, tasks set may include:

  • Writing a piece of fiction inspired by your text.
  • Writing a piece of fan-fiction.
  • Producing a podcast discussing your text.
  • Writing a review of your text.

These kinds of tasks will allow you to engage with your text in a deeper way.

Students often struggle with developing new ideas for their writing. Similarly, you may find it difficult to explore the ideas present in a text.

By producing an imaginative recreation, you are forcing yourself to engage with the core ideas in a text. Thus, this act will also help come to grips with how the structural features of a text are integral; to its meaning.


Rubric Statement: “Through responding and composing for a range of purposes and audiences students further develop skills in comprehension, analysis, interpretation and evaluation”

Rubric Statement: “By reading and writing complex texts they broaden the repertoire of their vocabulary and extend control of spelling, punctuation and grammar to gain further understanding of how their own distinctive voice may be expressed for specific purposes.”

To produce better writing, you need to write and reflect on your writing and the writing of others. And to do well in English, you need to develop strong skills in the comprehension and analysis of texts. This is not just to understand the content, but to understand how writers present content.

Hence, you should analyse how composers structure the syntax of their sentences, what perspectives and tenses they use, and how they present their voice. Successful composers write clearly and concisely. Consequently, you want to understand how they do this and imitate it.

Clarity in writing requires the careful and appropriate use of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Examining how other composers do this will give you examples of how to create you own distinctive and effective voice. As a result, to do well in English for the HSC, you need to write clearly and have an engaging and authoritative voice.


Are You Ready For Your Year 11 Multimodal Presentations?

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Written by Patrick Condliffe

Patrick has been an English teacher at Matrix since 2012. He is the editor of the popular Matrix blog.


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