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 …

How to memorise quotes for English Literature exams

Download this post as a pdf Go through your exercise book and gather quotes It’s the best revision resource you have! Look back through your notes and essays. Make a list of the quotes you’ve used often – there’s a reason you keep coming back to them. Little and often Choose five or six at a time to work on. Trying to memorize too many will be difficult and you’re likely to get them mixed up. You won’t be able to learn 100 quotes in an afternoon – so start early, choose your list, and work through them gradually. Keep …

Appropriation of Language in dystopian fiction

As an English teacher – and student, still, I think! – I love novels that engage with the idea of language itself. For me, literature’s how we enter and understand the world, and dystopian novels often bring that to the forefront. They explore communication, memory, story-telling, and the way that language works to soothe, manipulate, warn, and memorialise. In particular, I’ve been studying The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 with A-Level students, and both novels have some interesting discussions about language’s role in our society. World-building Setting a novel in the future, as many speculative fictions do, language is a good …

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 …