When we’ve been teaching Rossetti this year, we’ve been preparing for the AS-level. We’re not doing that next year (switching to linear now every other spec has caught up and reformed!) but I think it’ll probably take a similar approach:
- Identify the poems that work well together in comparison and teach them alongside one another (in the new Y12, teaching them at key moments in their comparison text)
- Each ‘mini-unit’ of poems ends with a written assessment in timed conditions, in the class room.
- In a single lesson, I use a question/answer format, which usually guides students through a discussion exploring the poems and they make notes on it. i’l;l model the annotations in the first lesson but we do this an awful lot at GCSE so find it unnecessary at A-Level – it’s mainly to get them back into things after nearly three months off (!) and to model the detail I expect.
This year, I also showed them my teaching notes – which turned into my revision guide when I realised I didn’t have enough space on the page to write everything!
Some of my question prompts are on a shared Dropbox folder – I tend to use these as the starting point, and then go from there depending where the discussion takes us.
This is a different proposition, to my mind, partly because of length and partly because it’s so very complex! We did a couple of mini-units/groups of poems, and then spent three weeks on Goblin Market – but could have spent a lot longer!
We discussed it in a very similar way, including guiding them towards a more subtextual understanding, but by this point they were pretty good at reading into Rossetti.Then I gave each pair a presentation topic – also in the shared folder – and they had a lesson and homework to prepare. Topics included, among others:
- Interpretation as a discussion of addiction and mental health, with reference to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Lizzie Siddal (AO1: interpretation; AO2: FSL; AO3: CR’s own context)
- Presentation and interpretation of character: Lizzie (AO1: interpretation; AO2: FSL)
- Interpretation as a comment on economics and female position in society (AO1: interpretation; AO3: Victorian context)
- Effects of rhyme, rhythm and narrative form (AO2: FSL)
- The importance of sisterhood and female relationships with one another (AO1: interpretation; AO2: FSL)
- Where does it sit in relation to other Victorian fantasy, and children’s fantasy? (AO1: interpretation; AO3: Literary context)
Once you’ve done Goblin Market, it’s a great opportunity to review and bring it into the other comparisons, because it really does fit with everything.
Poems I’d put together:
Presentation of women
- No Thank You John
- From the Antique
- Maude Clare
- Winter: My Secret
Religious doubt / faith
- A Birthday
- Good Friday
- Shut Out
Death, loss and grief
- In the Round Tower
- Song When I am Dead
Desire and sex
- Soeur Louise de la Misericorde
- Goblin Market
I’d also single out some particularly important (for me) images or forms e.g. the door and other liminal imagery; nature, particularly birds, the monologues.
Other resouces, including assessments are here on Dropbox