A ‘Glosoli’ Fairy Story

After watching the music video for Sigur Ros’s song Glosoli, my pre-GCSE students on a Child Care course at Coleg Sir Gar discussed how many aspects of the video are similar to common elements in children’s fairy tales.

With that in mind they have set out to write their own fairy tale, with the children at their placement childcare settings in mind. They are working really hard on this. View their progress below, and I’m sure any feedback you have to encourage or help them develop will be welcome:

Here’s Lucy’s:

And here’s Alices’s

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Romeo & Juliet – compiling evidence

My Y10s will recall that one of the reports on the examination for this paper noted that answers on Romeo & Juliet tended to be done less well than some others and commented:

less successful responses usually took a chronological, narrative approach and although students demonstrated an excellent understanding of the plot and the characters, their answers would have addressed themes and Shakespeare’s techniques much more effectively by being more selective and choosing perhaps two or three sections of the play to explore in detail and to use as evidence to construct a tight argument

So, let’s consider one of the exam questions:

In Act 1 Scene 1 Romeo says: “Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.”
How far do you think that Shakespeare presents love as being more powerful than hate in the play? (40 marks)

Now, summarise very briefly what your argument will be in answer to the question, choose two or three relevant sections (remember to refer to Act, Scene and line numbers rather than pages), and begin to explore those sections in detail, remembering to try and address all strands of the mark scheme:

  • Insightful, critical, imaginative & evaluative response to texts and task
  • Insightful /impressive engagement with writers’ ideas and attitudes
  • Insightful/interpretations using imaginatively selected supporting textual detail
  • Impressive analysis of aspects of language and structure; perceptive and imaginative

Compile your response in Google Drive or Word then copy and paste it as a comment below.

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Y10 Literature coursework

The other day I got a very impressive email from a student:

As I am hoping to begin on the coursework at some
point soon, I have been just creating questions for
which I think would suit the task as a title. I have
looked at how they may meet the strands of the
assessment criteria and am seriously stuck on which
to choose. Could you please just have a look through
these and tell me if some have strayed too far away
from what the task is really asking for, or if it is ideal
as a task title.

•How does Steinbeck and Miller end dreams in the way
they began?

•How do M&S leave death as the only option for s
uccess/relief?

•How do M&S present toleration and empathy and would
this toleration and empathy be able to be implied in the
world today?

•How do M&S show that vanity/self-image is mostly
based on lies?

•How do M&S approach failure differently?

•How does M&S approach hierarchy and power shifts
differently?

•How do M&S use specific examples of tragedy to
make tragedy more relatable in a broader sense?

•How do M&S show that our own pasts are often
the reason for failure?

•How do both M&S take different takes on the
conventional genre of tragedy?

•How do M&S use supporting characters as a sense
of false hope?

Here is my response:

This is quite a list, and shows some really impressive consideration of a range thematic ideas. Tasks are best to include the word ‘compare’ (or the equivalent) and something that focuses on authors’ craft (eg. using a word like ‘present’).
Moreover, it’s probably best not to choose a title that presupposes a particular conclusion which several of your suggestions do. For example, to take your first suggestion:

•How does Steinbeck and Miller end dreams in the way they began?

I might not agree that they do, so a better title for that might be something like:
Compare how, and to what extent, Steinbeck and Miller present their characters’ dreams as remaining unfulfilled.
but it would probably be better remaining even more open-ended to allow you to explore the theme in whatever way the evidence and your interpretation takes you. For example:
Compare how the theme of ‘dreams’ is presented by Steinbeck and Miller. 

or for this topic (which I like the sound of):

•How do M&S use specific examples of tragedy to
make tragedy more relatable in a broader sense?

you could go for:
Compare how Miller and Steinbeck use features of the genre of ‘tragedy’ to allow their audience/readers to explore the human condition. 

That task would encourage you to consider key issues that are characteristic of the best candidates such as:

  • the specific characteristics of the different forms of drama and the novel (‘tragedy’ is typically thought of as a dramatic genre: does this mean that a novel cannot be a ‘tragedy’ in the same sense? What difference does it make to how the writer presents things if they are designed to be see and heard externally in a theatre alongside other audience members, compared with being played out internally in the reader’s mind, alone? (Moderator’s report said: “Moderators appreciated the sustained and detailed exploration of themes and ideas but judged that some students would have been more successful in addressing AO2 if they had been more mindful of authorial craft and the genre of the text, particularly when their interest in characters was at the expense of their appreciation of characterisation.”)
  • how do the specifics of particular characters and events, presented in a particular social, historical and literary context, relate to people encountering them in a different context? (Moderator’s report: “Of all the Assessment Objectives, AO4 tends to be the least successfully treated, especially when addressed by “bolting on” some historical or biographical facts without links to the writer’s ideas, craft and audience. Contexts are best addressed as ambient attitudes, beliefs, philosophies or values represented by or challenged by an author. Comments on such contexts are best done by relevant comment at appropriate places within the response to the two texts.”)
I hope that helps your thinking. I’m going to use a modified version of your question and my response as a blog post to share more widely: it is so useful to have this kind of student input that I want to celebrate and use it for the benefit of others, too.
So there you go. I hope that will help more of you as you plan your coursework.
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Essay Competition

Here are details of an essay competition for lower-sixth (Year 12) students that I discussed with my English Literature group earlier this week. Further discussion in the comments box would be welcomed.

You may already be aware that Peterhouse (the oldest College of the University of Cambridge) runs three Essay Competitions in History, Science and English each year for lower sixth students. The top prize in each essay competition is £500 and the second prize is £250. All winners and highly commended entrants are invited to a presentation at Peterhouse in late June/early July. This year’s competition is now live and the deadline for receipt of all essays is 21st March 2014.

For the Thomas Campion English Essay Prize, please click here:

http://www.pet.cam.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Campion%202014.pdf

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Death of a Salesman – Author’s Craft

Here is an extract from the Chief Examiner’s report on this coursework unit:

Moderators appreciated the sustained and detailed exploration of themes and ideas but judged that some students would have been more successful in addressing AO2 if they had been more mindful of authorial craft and the genre of the text, particularly when their interest in characters was at the expense of their appreciation of characterisation.

To focus yet further on this Assessment Objective I want you to answer the following essay question as your half-term homework:

How does Miller close Act One of Death of a Salesman in a way that focuses the audiences on the themes established in Act One, and sets the tone for Act Two?

 

This lesson you will do some preparatory work in pairs to further develop your ability to do the close ‘reading back into the quotation’ that we have been working on in recent lessons, and that I want to be the focus of your response in that essay..

 

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