A process for analytical writing…

I have just set a fairly boring, traditional, but important activity for my year 12 class. They have all selected a related text for Texts and Human Experiences (I was very chuffed with their mature, thoughtful choices – I made them present them to the class in a 60 second share and had them compete for the most interesting and persuasive pitch, haha!) and now it is time to analyse them. Yay! Since I have just finished writing the latest HSC Standard Study Guide for Excel which required me to analyse about 30 extended texts and 20 shorter texts, I decided to share my process with my class. I figured since I wrote it out for my class, I might as well share it here. Who knows, it might help one kid struggling to work out how to go about textual analysis. It’s actually not very exciting, but it worked for me all year and soon I will have a lovely big book as proof!

Bianca’s (uncomplicated) textual analysis process:

1. Read the text carefully and highlight the bits that I think are really interesting and evocative (make me imagine people, places, situations or think about big ideas).
2. Under each human experience rubric heading (see table given in class) write one or two things that I found in the text. These become sub-headings under the main rubric headings.
3. I then number each thing I’ve found (e.g. ‘1. Striving for authenticity’) and then go through my highlighted bits in the text and put the relevant number beside it. (i.e. the quote(s) I highlighted that best evidences ‘striving for authenticity’).
4. I type up the quotes under the headings/sub-headings in a new document. For each quote I try to identify what device is being used by the composer to communicate the idea and add this beside it. This isn’t always something you can put your finger on in the example, like a metaphor or simile, but could be something broader like characterisation, structure, perspective or narrative voice that the example shows.
5. For each piece of evidence, I think about why the identified device is effective at making the reader think about the identified idea in the subheading, and why the composer would want me to think about that idea, or feel a particular emotion, or imagine a particular situation etc. This is about the purpose and the effect of the device used to create meaning.
6. Once I have all of this information, I start to write. Usually I write in IDEA sentences (it is natural for me now and allows me to say more in less words) but not always, so don’t confine yourself to a formula.

ANYWAY…my class were given a table to guide them through the process. I usually just did it on scrap paper, on post-its, or in the back of the book… and then I would type it into a document (or pay my sons to do it if I was really time poor!). Basically, this pre-planning analysis process was super important to do before I started writing, as it meant that I never really started with a blank page and a blinking cursor… I always had something to start writing about. This is how I could smash out about 5000 words a day when the deadline was getting terrifyingly close!

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One thought on “A process for analytical writing…

  1. Thanks for being so generous with the work you do. I often refer to your ideas.

    I was wondering if you would be happy to share with me the table you use as mentioned below( Under each human experience rubric heading (see table given in class)). I want to make a table for my EAL/D and would like to adapt yours if I can.

    Thanks, Pateenah Hordern Macarthur Anglican School

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