GCSE Revision: comparing texts

We did this lesson this morning. Fuelled by last-day tiredness, meaning I was searching for something more creative, and also because that class is feeling a little burned about the amount of revision ahead (particularly as they have just complete d revision essay based on last year’s text, and feel like they don’t remember much!) It was so simple, fun, and awesome. They wrote the name of every character they’ve studied on a piece of paper. From Jane Eyre, Lord of the Flies, Much Ado About Nothing, and the Love and Relationships poetry cluster – a recall exercise which had …

Creating readers – or literary critics?

While writing this post on the importance of colour symbolism, I was writing about the ways we often expect students to implicitly understand the symbolism in literature, and I wrote the sentence: “it’s part of our job as literary critics to figure out whether that choice is important.” I almost edited it to write “as readers”, but then decided it crystallised a few things for me that I’d been thinking about. One was the ongoing debate about how to create great readers, and the other was something that had stuck in my head from reading the research of model texts …

Shelley’s Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas

Percy Bysshe (“Bish”, apparently) Shelley is a Romantic poet – the capital R meaning not necessarily overcome with love all the time, but part of a group of poets who took a particular attitude towards life. They used a lot of natural imagery, thought and wrote about the excesses of emotion, and were often a little melodramatic. Shelley also has some extremely scandalous personal life-stories, which I’ve found great hooks for students! He was married to Harriet, when she was 16, and they had two children together before he abandoned her for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin – also 16 at the …

GCSE Mister Pip – what is context and how is it useful?

One of the biggest problems with this novel at GCSE is often exploring the context of it. When you’re studying it for AQA’s Literature exam, it can seem like a difficult bit of the mark-scheme to hit. Mister Pip is an option on the same list as Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both those books have a lot of stuff online about them, but the benefit of doing Mister Pip is that it is less common – which means there’s more opportunity to interest an examiner with something new. Context is the social, cultural, and historical …

Winter Swans – an exploration of one of my favourites

I’m teaching the new AQA GCSE anthology at the moment, and it has Winter Swans in, which is one of my favourite poems from Sheers’ collection. So I figured I’d set down some thoughts on it. Winter Swans On initial reading, the poem isn’t overly complex – the story of a couple whose relationship is undergoing some turbulent times but, but the end of the poem, they experience a brief interlude of calm. Sheer’s imagery of the swan has been criticised as being slightly heavy handed in some reviews of the collection – the dialogue in particular, of the lover …