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The Burnt Stick- A Personal Response

Stories can help us see, the experiences and emotions of other people. Using stories to empathise with another person's life can be a powerful way to change the views that we might hold about other people. It puts us into their shoes, and see another person's life through their eyes.

The Burnt Stick is a book written with that intention. The story is about an aboriginal boy called John Jagamarra who was taken from his family when he was 5 years old. He was taken by the Welfare man to live with the Fathers at Pearl Bay Mission for Aboriginal Children, to learn the ways of the white man.

The students in Stage 3 have been learning about how to write a personal response to a story. Personal responses come in many forms but always need to have a summary of the story and a personal response or opinion about it.

The criteria for our personal response is:

The starting point for the writing was to brainstorm ideas about the feelings and thoughts about the story. What would it like to be taken away from your family? What would that feel like?

We then proceeded to write the Introduction. An introduction needs to introduce the following things:

  • make the opening line memorable 
  • Introduce your topic
  • be clear about your position- what is your opinion? 

A personal response comes from understanding the key issues in a story. In my introduction to my personal response, I have made the first line something that appeals to the emotions. I have then introduced the story and started to give my position or opinion about the issues in the story. This is the starting point of my discussion. 

The next part of a personal response is to write a summary of the story:

The issues that I feel come out of this story are: 
  • the children's personal experience of being taken from their home.
  • separation from their family and culture.
  • Government policy that says that the children need to learn the ways of the white man because they are half-castes. 

These issues are highlighted in the topic sentences of each paragraph. I have then found evidence and personal thoughts to support that key statement. 

The last part of a personal response is the conclusion. A good conclusion has the following features: 
  • Conclusion wraps up the response.
  • The topic sentence should summarise what was said in the introduction.
  • Rephrase your introduction with a fresh and deeper understanding.
  • Your topic sentence of each paragraph needs to be summarised in the conclusion.
  • The last sentence needs to bring closure.

What did you notice about the way that I wrote the conclusion? Do you have a topic sentence in each paragraph? Does your conclusion summarise your introduction?


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