HomeIDIOM back issue reviewsVCE Oxford Resources 2015

VCE Oxford Resources 2015

Title: Reading and Creating/Reading and Comparing
Authors: Kellie Heintz, Michael Horne, Timothy Nolan and Rachel Williams
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2015, 164 pages

Title: Analysing and Presenting Argument
Author: Ryan Johnstone
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2015, 172 pages

With the new English study design comes a range of new textbooks for teachers to explore for relevance in their teaching program and Oxford’s duo, Reading and Creating/Reading and Comparing and Analysing and Presenting Argument provide much to discover.

Visually, the books are consistent with Oxford’s typical presentation—a mixture of subtle graphics, relevant images and varied fonts that are engaging without being too busy.

Reading and Creating/Reading and Comparing is presented through 4 parts: an Introduction to the study; Reading and Creating; Reading and Comparing; and finally, English Toolkit.

Each subsection within these parts is informative, followed by an opportunity for students to then have a ‘turn’ in using those skills and respond to questions that test their understanding. The ‘your turn’ section is accompanied by short texts, graphic organisers, short answers and opportunities to explain and construct. It is presented using a Bloom’s approach asking students to first recall and then apply and finally create.

While the language of the resource is suited for senior students and the examples are relevant and engaging, the activities and sections within Part 2: Reading and Creating, in particular, may be less relevant for most classes. It’s fairly straightforward and brief—just skimming over the form, structural elements and language of text analysis we’re all doing as standard practice within our classes—and from the starting point of our unique texts and textual elements.

The comparative elements in particular provide interesting points of comparison and activities for doing so, but still don't seem to establish the text as more than a teacher resource rather than an essential student textbook. Providing comparative language choices, structures and planning ideas would likely be useful as we head into the new study design and it’s a text any VCE English teacher would find value in as a resource for the course.

The other text in the duo, Analysing and Presenting Argument, contains 7 ‘parts’ or sections: How to Analyse and Present Argument; Formulating and Developing Arguments; Persuasive Language; Persuasive Texts; Analysing Argument; Presenting Argument; and Toolkit.

The language in this resource is perfectly suited to our senior students and to the metalanguage of our school contexts. Using words like 'annotate', 'decode' and, indeed, 'metalanguage' provides students with the technical starting point they require at this level.

Both books tend to use examples from relevant issues and texts. Analysing and Presenting Argument has a seemingly endless array of real-world, current and interesting texts to analyse for varied techniques; a helpful solution to those of us constantly searching for issues and articles to practise with.

The text explores not only language techniques—through extensive activities and varied texts that focus on that technique—but reflects a range of forms and structural elements. All of the essential elements are there, without being verbose or convoluted. It’s simplistic yet insightful—a balance that textbooks rarely seem to achieve.

What’s missing? More than a single annotated piece to explore this process with students and even further sample responses. Overall, Analysing and Presenting Argument is a valuable student text with plenty to explore and incorporate into our teaching and learning programs; a strong asset for both teacher and student to navigate the new study design with its increased emphasis on media literacy.

Recommendations for the texts vary. Both texts are excellent teacher resources and would support students as part of wide reading lists from Years 10-12, becoming more relevant for Year 12 teachers and students in 2017. In addition to being a valuable teacher and student resource, Analysing and Presenting Argument would prove a strong student textbook for use across the units.

Reviewed by Melissa Goffin, VATE President and Leading Teacher of Literacy and English at Mount Erin College.