Choosing Mentor Texts

Before the new VCE English and EAL Study Design was launched for consultation I had already written a few posts about using texts as models, from students’ own writing through to literary classics. When the SD came out, it was great to see that idea translated into the ‘mentor texts’ for Crafting and Creating Texts.

The mentor texts for the VCE can be selected from a very broad range of forms and styles, particularly in Year 11 where schools are at liberty to choose their own ideas. The advice from the VCAA is as follows:

“The mentor texts can include short stories, speeches or monologues (with transcripts), essays (comment, opinion, reflective, personal), podcasts (with transcripts), poetry/songs, feature articles (including a series of blog or social media postings) and memoirs and biography and can be entire texts or extracts.”

VCAA VCE English and EAL Study Design 2023-2027

In a previous post, I expanded on this as follows: The mentor texts should cover a diverse range of styles, voices, perspectives and techniques to allow students to experience a breadth of writing. Short engaging texts like blog posts, feature and lifestyle articles, flash and short fiction, and personal writing are perfect. I’ve heard a few comments that this might be seen as “dumbing down” the curriculum, but I disagree. I think that it reflects a more contemporary curriculum, with students being encouraged to produce the kind of writing which they might create in the real world. After all, if you’re reading this, you’re reading a blog post! Consider how much of the reading that you do as an adult comes in the form of novels and longer texts, versus how much is short, accessible writing on particular ideas and current affairs.

Many schools are now well into the process of creating their mentor text lists. We still haven’t seen the text lists from the VCAA for the 2014 Year 12 cohort, but there have been some resources on the VCAA Advice for Teachers pages which are helpful in compiling these lists.

A few months ago I compiled a collection of texts on the idea of ‘Futures’, which included the following texts:

I tried to find a balance between fiction and non fiction as well as aiming for diversity in the selection of authors. The Study Design states that three texts must be compulsory for study, leaving the rest as optional extras.

While I chose the idea ‘Futures’, there are near endless possibilities for Year 11, including:

  • Future
  • Food
  • Nature
  • Place
  • Identity
  • Crisis
  • The Past
  • Survival

The greatest challenge now is building up your stock of mentor texts aligned with specific ideas and demonstrating a variety of techniques and styles. A few teachers across the state, myself included, have been compiling lists of the kinds of texts schools will be using to build a shared pool of ideas.

If you have already got your list of mentor texts for 2023, I’d love to see what you’ve chosen. I’ve set up a short survey to collect ideas from across the state:

Fill out the survey here to let us know your 2023 mentor texts. The bigger the list we build, the better the range of texts for our students.

Naomi Donnelly-Weiler and Hannah Warner have already created a shared doc, and I’ll add to it once responses start to come in. You can access that document here. VATE also published a list of mentor texts collected from members in Issue 58 of Idiom magazine.

The VCE Hub officially launched this morning! I’ve piled all of my resources into the Hub including hours of videos, slides, and PDFs on the new Study Design. The VCE Hub has examples of assessment task documents, rubrics, and scope and sequence for the new SD. You’ll also find general advice, FAQs, and resources for students to help prepare for the new Study Design. Access the hub here:

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