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Assessment 1 Jennifer Seach 18795136

The Craft of Writing

“Module C: The Craft of Writing”, as outlined within the English Standard Stage 6 Syllabus, explicitly
stipulates the requirement for all students to develop their “skills and confidence as writers” (NSW
Education and Standards Authority (NESA), 2017, p. 74) through involvement in the recursive practices of
writing craft. The overall intention of the Module is for students to establish their own authentic writing
voice, meaning that throughout the module, students progressively explore and develop their written
expression, as they experiment with language, to express ideas and create meaning, with increasing
power and authenticity (NESA, 2017). This maturation of students’ writing craft, is intended to develop
through intentional and scaffolded engagement with recognised contemporary and historic texts,
selected to exemplify a particular aspect of writing craft. One such prescribed text is J.K. Rowling’s 2008
Harvard commencement address entitled, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of
Imagination”. This text, when foregrounded as the model text within a two-lesson plan sequence, has the
capacity to facilitate students developing understanding of a chosen textual feature, as intended within
the “Module C” rationale (NESA,2017).

J.K. Rowling’s “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” (2008), constitutes a
recognised contemporary text, in the form of a speech, which exemplifies the ways a composer can utilise
selected combinations of language codes and conventions, literary devices and language techniques, to
create complex texts which are powerful, engaging and purposeful, and which deliver captivating and
memorable textual experiences. The textual analysis of this text commences with an exploration of how
the overall text adheres to the codes and conventions of a speech (English Textual Concepts, 2016).
Students can utilise their existing knowledge to identify the textual features associated with a speech,
such as the modality, register, first person perspective and personal pronouns, and the inclusion of
personal narratives. It is also essential for students to recognise that a speech is a purposeful text,
intended to share a message, perspective or idea and is composed with a specific audience in mind
(English Textual Concepts, 2016).

However, while the text adheres to the codes and conventions of a speech, there is one specific literary
device embedded throughout the text, which makes this text a functional exemplar of the craft of writing.
“The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” (Rowling, 2008) is a text which is
highly engaging, humorous and insightful, and it is through the prolific use of interconnected anecdotes,
that J.K. Rowling achieves this. An anecdote is a highly complex literary device which requires the
composer to balance considerations for audience, purpose and humour, to produce an anecdote which
shares personal experience in a humorous way, in order to convey a perspective or impart wisdom
(Senatori, 2017). Nonetheless, despite the complex nature of an anecdote, this textual feature is one that
all students are inherently, if subconsciously, familiar with, as the practice of story sharing for
entertainment happens daily amongst peers (Senatori, 2017). Therefore, this text provides the

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Assessment 1 Jennifer Seach 18795136
opportunity for students to experiment with the craft of composing an anecdote in written form, for an
authentic audience and purpose, through those recursive writing practices which are central to the
intentions of the module (NESA, 2017).

Throughout the two-lesson sequence, designed to highlight the teaching and learning opportunities
associated with J.K. Rowling’s (2008) “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”
as part of “Module C: The Craft of Writing” (NESA, 2017), students first appreciate the anecdotes within
the text. Students discuss their purpose, the perspective that is being shared and speculate about what it
is that makes an anecdote effective. Students are then required to select an anecdote from within the
text and to intentionally rewrite it badly. While this particular activity may not appear to adhere to the
academic rigour associated with Stage 6, the intention of the task is to eliminate the fear of failure which
often plagues students as they commence the writing process (Goebel, 2009). By eliminating this
pressure to succeed, students are empowered to explore, through their intentionally poor rewrite, the
intricate nature of an anecdote, and to compare and contrast the changes to the power and meaning, of
both the effective and ineffective anecdote. This activity directly correlates with the outcomes and
content of the syllabus as students engage with, use and analyse the language features contained within
a complex text, to “understand and appreciate the power of language to shape meaning” (NESA, 2017,
p.57). Furthermore, this task encourages students to look beyond the current activity and to contemplate
how their writing could be improved.

The second lesson in the sequence, involves scaffolding students crafting of their personal anecdote. This
lesson embodies the recursive practices of drafting, reflecting and revising (NESA, 2017; Murakami, 2006).
Students first identify a personal experience that taught them a life lesson, and which is useable as the
basis of their anecdote. The attached resource then scaffolds students work as they begin with the
rudimentary details of their narrative, adding detail and humour, whilst considering the purpose of their
anecdote along with their audience. Through sharing their draft anecdotes, students reflect on their own
work and receive constructive and critical feedback from their peers, to revise and enhance their
composition (NESA, 2017). Moreover, students’ anecdotes are intended to be integrated into a
hypothetical graduation speech delivered to their peers, requiring students to adapt their knowledge of
anecdotes as powerful literary devices, to share personal experiences for authentic purposes, audiences
and contexts (NESA, 2017).

“The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” (J.K. Rowling, 2008), is a complex
contemporary text which can be utilised as a model from which students have the opportunity to
compose an original piece of writing which strengthens their skills and confidence in writing craft, as they
share their experiences and perspectives with increasing power and purpose (NESA, 2017). The role of
anecdotes in this process, is particularly powerful as students experiment with their authentic expression
through their writing as they bring their personal interests and experiences into the classroom to create

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Assessment 1 Jennifer Seach 18795136
new knowledge (Doecke & McClenaghan, 2010; Murakami, 2006). Furthermore, by creating a tangible
connection between students’ personal lives and their classroom learning, the use of anecdotes as
exemplars of the craft of writing, makes the module “interesting, accessible and applicable to students’
lives” (Murakami, 2006) as they actively and willingly refine their own authentic writing voice.

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Assessment 1 Jennifer Seach 18795136

English Textual Concepts. (2016). Codes and conventions. Retrieved from


Doecke, B., & McClenaghan, D. (2010). Reconceptualising ‘experience’. In S. Gannon, M. Howie, & W.
Sawyer (Eds.), Charged with meaning: Re-viewing English (3rd ed.) (pp. 127-138). Putney NSW:
Phoenix Education.

Goebel, B. A. (2009). Comic relief: Engaging students through humour writing. English Journal, 98(6), 38-43.
Retrieved from https://search-proquest-

Murakami, N. (2006). Not just a humor“ous” text: Humour “as” text writing in the class. Teaching English in
the Two Year College, 34(1), 32-40. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-

NSW Education and Standards Authority (2017). NSW syllabus for the Australian curriculum: English
standard: Stage 6 syllabus. Sydney NSW, Australia: NSW Education and Standards Authority.

Rowling, J.K. (2008, June 5). The Fringe benefits of failure, and the importance of imagination. The Harvard
Gazette. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/06/text-of-j-k-rowling-

Senatori, B. (2017, November 2). The importance of anecdotes in writing. The Franklin Post. Retrieved from

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Assessment 1 Jennifer Seach 18795136
Crafting Anecdotes- The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination Lesson 1

Class: Year 12 Standard Time:

60 minutes

Teacher: Objectives for self

For students:
To… examine the text as adhering to the codes and conventions of a speech.
To… explore an anecdote, through scaffolded questioning strategies which require students to
speculate and build upon their own understanding.
To… be able to define an anecdote, and to actively assess and manipulate their effectiveness

Syllabus Outcomes for students

A student:
 analyses and uses language forms, features and structures of texts and justifies their appropriateness for
purpose, audience and context and explains effects on meaning EN12-3
 engage with complex texts through their language forms, features and structures to understand and
appreciate the power of language to shape meaning

Printed text for each student- The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination (Rowling,
Students own workbooks and stationary
Projection equipment

Time Organisation Teaching/ learning activities
20 Teacher distributes copies of The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the
Importance of Imagination (Rowling, 2008) to students. Teacher outlines
the context the text. Students think, pair, share, their predictions and
expectations of the text, considering what the title suggests about its
indiv content, the purpose of the text, its modality and register.
class/groups Students read text independently.

Whole class discussion about the accuracy of students’ predictions. Did the
Groups text meet students expectations? How did it differ? Did students enjoy the
text? Why/ why not?

10 Whole class Teacher utilises classroom ICT to project the text for the class to
collaboratively and critically analyse.
Teacher instructs students to brainstorm the codes and conventions of a
speech as they appear within the text. Students identify the use of the first-
person perspective, inclusion of personal narratives and experiences.
Students should also recognise the speech as a spoken text aimed at a
specific audience, to evoke emotion and to share wisdom.

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Assessment 1 Jennifer Seach 18795136
5 Teacher instructs students to temporarily conceal their copy of the text.
Students are asked to summarise in one sentence, the most memorable
feature or aspect of the text. In another sentence students attempt to
explain why this aspect of the text was memorable after just one read.
Student responses should include references to the personal narratives
embedded throughout the text.

10 Groups Teacher to identify anecdote as the most prominent textual feature within
the text, and the focus of further study. Teacher to define an anecdote as
a true personal narrative, expressed humorously, with the intention of
sharing a lesson, perspective or idea.
In groups students identify the various anecdotes within the text. Students
focus on one anecdote and answer questions; What is this anecdote
about? What makes this anecdote effective/memorable? What is the
purpose of this anecdote/ what is its message/ lesson/ perspective?
Whole class Students share insights with class.
Teacher asks students to speculate why J.K. Rowling has utilised anecdotes
so extensively. Answers should include, to evoke emotion, to engage the
audience, to involve the responder in the narrative.

15 Individual Students rewrite an anecdote from within the text.

Teacher instructs students to rewrite the anecdote using only 2 sentences
and to intentionally write it badly. Students share their rewrite with the
Whole Class Students reflect on the comparisons between their rewrite and the
original to evaluate how the power and the meaning of the anecdote was
altered or lost through their rewrite.

Teacher asks students to evaluate how J.K Rowling’s original anecdotes

were different to their rewrites, including how and why these differences
made the anecdotes powerful, engaging and meaningful.

To conclude the lesson, students write a paragraph which speculates why

J.K. Rowling chose anecdotes as the prominent literary device through
which she shared her ideas and perspectives with the audience.

Homework Students are to brainstorm a personal event that taught them a

lesson and that they can use as the basis of an anecdote in the
following lesson.

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Evaluation/ Extension

Students who complete the outlined tasks ahead of schedule, complete an additional rewrite, attempting to convert
their badly rewritten anecdote back into an effective anecdote. In this second rewrite, students must change the
anecdote so that it is not simply a copy of the original. Students should attempt to craft an anecdote better than the

In retrospect

The intention of this lesson is for students to initially engage broadly with the text, identifying it as adhering to the
codes and conventions of a speech. The notion of an anecdote as a literary device is then explained by the teacher,
before students complete a sequence of tasks which introduce them to the process of crafting an anecdote. By having
students intentionally rewrite an anecdote poorly, the intention is for students to evaluate for themselves what it is
that makes an anecdote effective, eliminating the fear of failure and integrating it into the learning process.

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Crafting Anecdotes- The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination Lesson 2

Class: Year 12 Standard Time:

60 minutes

Teacher: Objectives for self

For students:
To… craft an anecdote for a specific audience and context.
To… provide and accept critical and constructive feedback, to improve their composition.
To… engage in reflection as part of the recursive processes of writing craft.

Syllabus Outcomes for students

A student:
 reflects on, assesses and monitors own learning and refines individual and collaborative processes as an
independent learner EN12-9
 use critical and constructive feedback from others to improve learning, including their composing and
 adapts and applies knowledge, skills and understanding of language concepts and literary devices into new
and different contexts EN12-4
 use different ways of transforming experience and ideas into imaginative texts for particular audiences and

Printed text for each student- The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination (Rowling,
Students own workbooks and stationary
Printed resource- Write Your Own Anecdote

Time Organisation Teaching/ learning activities
5 Teacher returns students’ exit slips from the previous lesson to refresh their

Teacher informs students that this lesson requires them to compose a short
indiv piece of writing in the form of an anecdote, using the anecdotes analysed in
/(indiv/whole The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination as a model.
class/groups Students are informed that the writing process will be recursive, requiring
them to draft, reflect and redraft their work.

Teacher informs students that this anecdote will be shared with their peers
during the drafting process and ultimately integrated into a hypothetical
graduation speech. Students are to craft their anecdote with this audience in
15 Individual Students utilise the provided scaffold, working through the questions and
prompts to produce their anecdote.

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5 Pairs In pairs, students take turns verbally sharing their draft anecdotes.
Each student provides their peer with two feedback comments including (1) an
aspect of the anecdote that they enjoyed or thought was effective, and (2) an
aspect that could be changed to improve the power of the overall anecdote.

15 Individual/ Students incorporate peer feedback, along with their own reflections into a
Pairs revised draft of their anecdote.
Students edit their work and produce a more polished version of their
The second draft of their anecdote is shared with a new peer and the feedback
and reflection process is repeated.

10 Individual Students use their crafted anecdote as the basis for a paragraph that could be
delivered as part of a graduation speech, incorporating the codes and
conventions of a speech.

Homework Students share their speech paragraph with a peer and complete
the feedback and reflection process.

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Students craft an additional anecdote to be integrated into a second paragraph of their hypothetical
graduation speech.

In retrospect
This lesson involves students crafting their personal experiences into an anecdote that can be shared
with their peers. Some students may be resistant to sharing their unpolished work however the
processes of drafting, reflection and editing are essential components within the craft of writing and
students should be encouraged to view these processes as stepping stones to a final product.

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Write Your Own Anecdote


 An event or an experience that has happened to you, or somebody close to you.

 The event must be true.
 The event should have taught you a lesson or altered your perspective in some

Answer these questions;

 Summarise the event in just one sentence. What happened?

 What lesson did it teach you?
 Why was this lesson important?

Now begin writing your anecdote;

 Write about your event.

 Make it interesting and descriptive, add verbs and adjectives.
 Remember your audience. You want it to be engaging so write it as you would say
it to a friend.
 Were there other people around? Include some dialogue.
 Do not forget that an anecdote can be about a serious event but can still be
presented humorously. Put a positive or funny spin on it.

Remember, this is your first draft. It will not be perfect but it will get
there eventually.

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