Sonnet 29 analysis – Elizabeth Barrett Browning AQA GCSE

Context: Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a Victorian poet, incredibly successful and celebrated in her time, both by the public and literary critics – she was the one other female poets were measured against. Perhaps her most famous and enduring collection is Sonnets from the Portugese, which was a collection of love poems written to Robert Browning – the one who wrote Porphyria’s Lover. They were in love at a distance for a long time, partly because her family disapproved of the relationship (she was disinherited following her marriage) and partly because she was quite an invalid, suffering from severe illness …

GCSE Language paper 1- student revision booklet

With loads of reading from @fkritson and Mr Hanson, I put together a student revision book for GCSE Language 1, It’s got some top tips, space for notes, peer assessment (inspired by C.Spalding!). The sharing of #teamenglish on Twitter is amazing. I think the best way through this paper now is individual practice. I’m giving this booklet to students as a quick-reference guide in lessons. It’s also got a list of terminology suitable for each question. We’ll be doing regular questions at the beginning of lessons with a combination of self, peer and teacher assessment, and there’s a tracker at the …

Climbing My Grandfather: analysis AQA Love and Relationships

Context: Waterhouse is a contemporary poet; this was written in 2000, just before he died aged 41. Andrew Waterhouse was a concerned environmentalist, studying an MSc in Environmental Science and this follows through into his poetry. A review written after his death said that “His imagination is both vivid and uncluttered.” He uses his love of nature to inform his imagery. “The world their writer imagines is full of solid objects and hard edges – stones, wood, frozen ground – which offer little purchase to its inhabitants. These may be familiar problems of modernity, but both the strength and the …

Whole-class feedback and triadic structures in English lessons

My GCSE groups are studying The Lord of the Flies – I like doing the same texts with them as it eases up my planning a little bit. One is slightly ahead of the other and wrote an essay on the significance of Simon in the novel. I wanted a feedback lesson that would give them the opportunity to improve their own work but which would also get them to read each other’s, as I think they often have so much to gain from this sharing. I read all their essays, and wrote a grade on the bottom – a …

Represents / Characterises / Symbolises literary analysis

Recently, I’ve been working on ways to improve students’ analysis of language.  For me, it’s always the weakest assessment objective and is difficult to achieve a balance. You risk moving into the plodding “write three things about this word” approach, or tortured variations of PEA. On the other hand, neglect language analysis and you end up with a fluffy high-level essay that floats somewhere above the text without ever really pinning it down. My students often have a real flair for the interpretation of ideas, themes and characters, but the issue is that close analysis of how writers create meaning. …

GCSE – a more chaotic approach to medium term planning

This term, I’ve approached my Y10 English class slightly differently. Traditionally, we’ve done what the majority of English departments (I think) do: half-termly unit blocks on Shakespeare / modern novel / poetry etc. An assessment at the end of each half-term. Teaching the old spec, we interspersed the language paper simply because we found it so dull we couldn’t face a full half-term of it. Reading a lot in the last year about memory, interleaving learning and so on, I decided to take a slightly different experimental approach. I’d teach it all at once. Essentially, returning to learning regularly is …