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Forensic Reading in English: Useful beyond the classroom

May 12, 2023

Year 10 English are reading a broad range of texts in Semester 1 ranging from classics such as Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, to Australian author Craig Silvey’s ‘Jasper Jones’ and award winning play ‘Dear Evan Hansen’.  

These texts provide Year 10 students with the opportunity to become independent and critical readers. 

One of the key skills targeted early in the Year 10 program is text ‘annotation’ or ‘forensic reading’. By focusing on close reading of texts students are able to unpack the intent of the author and the ways in which the reader is being positioned to think about the text. 

Students learn that author’s make very specific choices when they are constructing a text – about what to include and what to leave out, about using specific sentence types, literary devices, point of view and characterisation techniques. 

This is empowering for our Year 10 students—it gives them the skills to deeply understand the way a text is constructed and that the appreciate the skill of an author. 

One Year 10 class looked perplexed when their explained to them that this ‘forensic’ or close reading is a skill for life beyond the classroom! How on earth can we apply these skills to life outside of the English classroom?  Will we have to read novels? 

Every time we have conversations (at work, at home, with friends) we are applying powerful skills we have been honing in English..  Although we may not be listening for metaphors or similes in our daily life, reading between the lines and understanding what people say, do and think can improving our personal and work relationships.  

The skills learned in English may often be related to texts, but they are far reaching in their impacts way beyond the classroom. 


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