New Blog for 2012!

For an up-to date look at On the Waterfront visit the 2012 Blog at

All the best with your exam preparation!

Contact for feedback and comments

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New Blog

2012. A new classroom, new students and a new year.

Time to refresh the blog, try again and see what else we can dream up.

Visit for the latest VCE activities, advice and tips.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Language Analysis #1

Michael Gery’s opinion piece about child solo sailors and parental neglect provides good exam practice.

Revise your own response, and observe the improvements that can be made in the examples found below.


All italicized text is the work of students. Have a think about how we might improve the following sample student responses:

Sample 1. Compare these two topic sentences from different essays. Both use the same quote.

Mr.Gray also states ‘life endangering activities’ although the life endangering was not really necessary it was necessary for him to get his point across to readers that it’s not just a life risking activity but it’s a life risking activity that parents let their kids do at such a young age.

Mr Grey’s claim that the youth are involved in ‘life endangering activities’ may appear exaggerated, but he uses this emotive language to convey his point that solo underage sailing is a risk that parents negligently allow their children to embark upon.

Sample 2. Compare these two topic sentences from the same essay

Throughout this text Mr.Gray speaks with emotional language to attempt to persuade his readers.


Mr.Gray denigrates his opponents to show readers that there is no positive effect on letting kids rides solo around the world.

The first is very general. The same could be said for any opinion piece! The second specifies what the writer is doing (denigrates his opponents), and why  he is doing it (to show readers…).

The second topic sentence invites the writer to include a selective quote in the next sentence. ‘By calling them ‘irresponsible and selfish’ he refutes the cited benefits to children by arguing that parents are really acting out of selfish parental pride; the children risk their lives and the parents get the glory. This essay can them explore the exaggerated claim that there are no positive effects of solo child sailing.

Sample 3. The image

Remember, it doesn’t hurt to place your visual analysis more prominently – towards the top of your essay rather adding it as an afterthought just before the conclusion. After all, it is a large image, placed at the start of the piece, so it has a role in setting the tone of the piece.

Mr.Gray also adds a photo to give readers a little insight on how sailing around the world solo looks. He puts a picture of a little boat where it’s driving at an angle due to the harsh wind conditions. The picture also shows a cloudy day indicating severe rain conditions which makes it more physically unsafe for adults let alone children. In doing this it captures reader’s attention because some have little information on how riding a boat solo around the world is but now they do as the picture tells everything there is to know. By showing all the physical dangers that a boat can undergo in one photo simply gives readers an insight on how dangerous it can be, they then might begin to question the ‘unfit’ kid’s parents of their morals.

The picture tells everything there is to know. Keep in mind that the picture has been deliberately constructed to convey the writer’s POV. To claim that is tells everything is not so accurate. Maybe it tells everything that the writer wants readers to know!

– Have a look at the published sample responses above to make your own observations and comparisons.

Posted in Language Analysis | Leave a comment

More reading

Plenty of interesting Waterfront ideas to explore here.


Posted in On the Waterfront | Leave a comment

Old VCAA exam questions

Reading and Responding, 2010 Exam

On the Waterfront

i. How important is family loyalty in the film?

ii. Terry says to Charley: “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum. Which is what I am”. Does the film support Terry’s judgement of himself?

Life of Pi

i. Pi describes his time in the lifeboat as “my trial”. What is being tested?

ii. To what extent does Pi’s imagination help him in his quest to survive both physically and emotionally?

Encountering Conflict

2008 Exam. ‘In times of conflict ordinary people can act in extraordinary ways.’

2009 Exam. ‘It is the victims of conflict who show us what is really important.’

2010 Exam. ‘It is difficult to remain a bystander in any situation of conflict.’

Posted in The Exam | Leave a comment

Another sample response

Responding to one of last year’s On the Waterfront exam questions, rival teacher blogger The Fraudulent Teacher has recently posted (Sept 14, 2011) a sample essay.

How important is family loyalty in the film?

Note the way ‘family’ has been broadly interpreted to include the community under Friendly’s rule, and be impressed by the sheer number of text references packed into each paragraph.

Posted in On the Waterfront | 1 Comment

Visual Prompts

When writing our response to Section B, the exam instructions tell us to ‘draw directly from at least one selected text’ and to ensure that our writing is ‘based on the ideas in the prompt’.

But who said that the prompt had to be written language?

To spice up your exam preparation, have a think about how the following three visual prompts can give us new ways of thinking about our texts, The Crucible, and The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif:


Who is seeking change in the texts we study, what sort of change is desired, and how is this change sought? When is more money not the answer? If money can’t solve our problems, then what can?


You may also like to consider the photographer’s own reflection:
“A young girl soon after dawn in the village of Ghulam Ali on the Shamali Plain. Fighting between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, along with massive US air strikes, made it a critically dangerous place to live.

This image—or maybe this girl—always makes me ask: Who are you? Are you still alive? What are you doing now, 10 years later? Do you still live in Afghanistan? Do you still live in your village on the Shamali Plain, north of Kabul? Are you married? Have you ever seen this photograph? Would you let me photograph you now?”

WARNING: some of the images in the extended TIME magazine slideshow contain graphic content


If this is a crime fighting hero, what does a ‘conflict fighting hero’ look like? What are they fighting, and can they do it alone?

Have a look around you, revise your texts, and remember to write down your ideas.

Posted in The Crucible, The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif | Leave a comment

Exam Cover Sheets

The VCAA website recently published the exam cover sheets.

It pays to be familiar with the layout, and it’s well worth reading over the Instructions. Note, ESL students will have their script books assessed online this year, so there are some extra resources for you to explore.

Posted in The Exam | Leave a comment

Trial exam

In preparation for the practice exam I was going to watch the film again, but ran out of time. Instead – while sitting at the bus stop – I had a quick read of your last SAC and got some good ideas. So thanks.

Have a look at these sample responses. They were written according to exam specifications.

Happy reading.

Essay 1

Essay 2

Essay 3


Posted in The Exam | Leave a comment

Heaps of Prompts for Section C

Well done to those of you who sat yesterday’s practice exam. It certainly was tiring. I find that it is always interesting to compare what you think you know with what you manage to write down under exam conditions. It was also heartening to hear how honest you were about your own performance.

So, what’s the next step?

If you enjoyed yesterday, then have a go at this one: Without conflict we are doomed to live mediocre lives.

And for those of you with ink left in your pen, this blog has HEAPS of prompts. So there’s no excuse, get writing!

As usual, email me for feedback.

Posted in The Crucible, The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif | Leave a comment