Developing context in the pre-1900 question – Rossetti and A Doll’s House

Reading Time: 5 minutes Sometimes my students probably think I’m either a sadistic, a bit loopy, or both. I LOVE this question from the OCR comparative pre-1900 paper: Endings are always, in some sense, artificial.’ In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers conclude their work. And the reason I love it is because it’s SO GOOD for teaching them how to address the balance of assessment objectives. It’s so easy with this question to ignore the fact that it’s 50% context. There’s an OCR blog that explores what context actually is in more detail, including some examples and this nifty …

Manageable revision – Rossetti and A Doll’s House

Reading Time: 3 minutes Been thinking about a few different strategies for A-Level recently, but one lesson I think is really valuable in prepping revision techniques is this one. Here’s a list of 60 comparative questions (OCR, pre-1900 drama and poetry) Put them on separate cards (or get students to cut them up first) Get them to categorise into themes e.g. love, death, power, gender Discuss. It’s great. It’s the only ‘card sort’ type thing I ever do, but why it works so well is it really crystallises their exam preparation. This isn’t a teaching the texts and concepts lesson; it’s pure exam/revision technique. It’s …

Beauty and ugliness in Jekyll and Hyde

Reading Time: 7 minutes If it is a book of anything, Jekyll and Hyde is a book of appearance versus reality, and one of Stevenson’s key methods is to explore beauty, ugliness, and the Victorian belief that the soul is reflected on the outside. This isn’t just a Victorian belief, either: think of the sheer volume of characters whose inner beauty is reflected in their golden shiny hair, fit bodies, muscular physiques or tall statures. And think of the villains – often deformed or disabled, physically twisted to match their inner state. Think Shakespeare’s Richard III’s (fictional) hunchback, Chaucer’s pilgrims’ noses and chins. It’s …

An extract to whole text question – a quick guide

Reading Time: 2 minutes Introduction: What’s the writer’s message or purpose? End with a sentence linking the extract to the major theme of the question. E.g Through the character of Macbeth, Shakespeare explores the corrupting nature of power. In the extract, we see him at a crucial moment as he decides whether to be virtuous – or fulfil his ambition.  Paragraphs: 3-4 depending on time and length Use a writer – technique – theme/purpose structure to stay focused. E.g. Shakespeare uses the motif of seeing to represent the way Macbeth changes across the play. Or Shakespeare shows us Lady Macbeth’s thoughts to explore the way …

A Handmaid’s Tale – abortion laws in context

Reading Time: 2 minutes With fertility and children being at the heart of A Handmaid’s Tale, this article from the BBC is excellent context. It includes the image below, a timeline of pregnancy with information on when states allow abortions to occur, as well as a historical timeline of information – perfect for the OCR A-Level Literature exam. For further context, the NHS states that abortions in England, Scotland and Wales can be carried out up to 24 weeks, with some after that in some circumstances e.g. the mother’s life being at risk or a child being born with a severe disability. In Northern …