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Advice to teachers of the VCE

VCE English: Units 1 & 2

PAUL KELLY — STORIES OF ME can be used successfully for the “Reading and Responding” and “Creating and Presenting” Areas of Study, for either Unit 1 or Unit 2.

The focus of Units 1 & 2 English is on the reading of a range of texts, particularly narrative and persuasive texts, in order to comprehend, appreciate and analyse the ways in which texts are constructed and interpreted.

The school is responsible for text selection for Units 1 & 2. No more than one of the set texts (for each Unit of study) may be a film text. At least one of the set texts must be by an Australian or about Australians. Further parameters for set texts are clearly set out in the VCAA’s English Study Design (re-accredited to 2015).

The material in the Portrait of an Artist Resource, available as a free download from www.englishteacher.com.au, provides many activities and ways to enter the text. This can successfully be used in support of the study of the text for VCE.


PAUL KELLY — STORIES OF ME can be used as the basis of a “traditional” text study. The text can be explored as a documentary film text or as a biographical narrative.

Reading and responding

This area of study includes an analysis of the ways in which structures and features of texts are used to construct meaning. In response to this documentary, students can discuss narrative structures, and features such as point of view, the use of camera angles, symbolism, images and design features, using appropriate metalanguage to facilitate their discussion. Students will also examine the ways in which viewers construct meaning from the text through awareness of context and purpose.

Outcome 1

To demonstrate knowledge of the text, students need to show an understanding of the ideas, individuals and themes constructed by the filmmaker as these are presented in the documentary. Structures, features and conventions used to construct meaning in relation to the development of ideas and themes in the film need to be explored. Different, supportable perspectives as to the interpretation of the documentary need to be considered, as well as the strategies used by viewers to make meaning from the text. Students must be able to use evidence from the text to support these readings.

All of the above needs to be addressed using the metalanguage appropriate to discuss the medium of film, with specific emphasis on the making of a narrative for a documentary.


Students must develop and justify a detailed interpretation of a selected text. This must be in the form of an extended written interpretation of one selected text.


PAUL KELLY — STORIES OF ME can be used as the primary text for a Context study. This primary text can be supported through a number of easily available resources. The full text of Kelly’s lyrics are available from many sources; however, Don’t Start Me Talking (published by Allen and Unwin) is a particularly good resource.

Kelly’s autobiography, How to Make Gravy, is recommended reading, particularly for teachers of this documentary. There are invaluable insights which will support your teaching of this text.

Other supplementary material could include: the film One Night the Moon; a selection of poetry by the Beat poets; short stories, poetry or lyrics by Indigenous Australians; extracts from the Bible, influential philosophical texts (such as Proust), Shakespeare’s plays and poetry; or historical accounts pertaining to place or history referred to in Kelly’s lyrics.

Although this is a documentary film text, this text can be studied in component parts, with emphasis on a number of forms and concerned with a number of contexts.

As we know, creating a text is a particularly powerful way of coming to know and understand the topic that one writes about, especially if one uses the writing to come to understand in and through the process.

There are many sections of the Portrait of an Artist Resource, available as a free download from www.englishteacher.com.au, which can be used to support Context exploration.

Creating and presenting

In this area of study students’ writing is informed by their reading of a range of texts relevant to a Context. They are encouraged to read widely and to study at least one set text or a collection of shorter set texts in order to examine the effects of form, purpose, audience and context on the authors’ choice of structure and language.

They draw on the knowledge gained from this study to create their own written and/or multimodal texts in a process which includes planning, reviewing and editing. Students can be asked to create a response to the context in any written form. This documentary invites us to explore numerous genres. Students can be invited to write: lyrics and/or poetry; a screen play; short stories; a documentary; interviews; a report on issues raised by the Context concerns.

Context studies are not mandated in Units 1 & 2; the decision is school-based. However, within this Area of Study, students are encouraged to explore the ways in which particular themes or ideas are presented in texts. Students draw on this exploration to create and present their own text/s on the same theme or idea for a specific audience, purpose and context.

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit, students will be able to create and present text/s taking account of audience, purpose and context. To achieve this, students need to be able to discuss and employ different structures, features and conventions of a range of texts created for different purposes and be able to identify the effects of form, context, audience and purpose on the author’s choice of structure and language. They need to be able to articulate the visual, auditory and digital features used by the author/s to make meaning, and use the appropriate conventions to convey understanding of these elements.


Students need to draw on ideas and/or arguments suggested by the chosen Context to create written texts for a specified audience and purpose, and discuss and analyse in writing their decisions about form, purpose, language, audience and context.

Students have two options. Students may create at least one sustained written text created for a specific audience and context, with a written explanation of decisions about form, purpose, language, audience and context. Alternatively, students may create three to five shorter texts, created for a specific audience/s and context/s, with a written explanation of decisions about form, purpose, language, audience and context.