Category Archives: Edexcel IGCSE from 2016

Bright Lights of Sarajevo: discussion and resources

A class in which y9 (!) discuss this poem. Now part of the IGCSE materials for study, they worked so well – the video is testament to their attitude.

sarajevo sheets

A movie of the lesson can be found here on the department you Tube feed.  the boys explain each sheet in turn.

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Night: Alice Munro, for Edexcel IGCSE.

Alice Munro’s semi-autobiographical short story is the longest of the stories in the anthology.

This PowerPoint uses material from the Edexcel text book to give a starting point for analysis. The story engages with her struggles as a teenager to cope with mental illness and also develops an interesting discussion about her evaluation of her father’s role in stabilizing her as she grows up….

Night

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Edexcel IGCSE approaching an unseen poem: Stopping by woods…

A resource for unseen poems based on Robert Frost…

jwp unseen poetry

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‘Still I rise’ Q&A

In response to Year 10 who are studying this for EDEXCEL IGCSE. It was intended to be a short question and response activity – not a long essay…

Still I rise: Maya Angelou.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Q1: Describe the speaker in lines 1-4 of the poem? What specific language supports your description? In the opening stanza the poet is clearly angry and defiant. Her language is strengthened by the use of alliteration of B and T sounds in ‘bitter, twisted lies’. Not only does this seem to spit defiance at the speakers of the lies, but shows a clear understanding of the liars themselves: bitter because, presumably, they resent the idea of a black female becoming so successful.

Q2: Why does the poet use the image of dust in line 4? How does this image contribute to the tone of lines 1-4?  The stanza concludes with the first statement of fact – she will ‘rise’ like the dust. The simile suggests not just the current position of blacks at the bottom of society but also links to the Biblical image of Adam and Eve being created from the very dust of the Earth. The language is calm – the rise is inevitable and she knows it.

Q3: What 3 other images in the poem contribute to the poem’s tone? Explain the effect of each image.

  • Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
    Weakened by my soulful cries?
  • This simile manages to link the physical appearance of the downtrodden slave, wearing a metaphorical yoke to weight down the shoulders with the physical distress caused by slavery, likening the slope of the shoulders to the constant dropping of tears.
  • Does my sexiness upset you?
    Does it come as a surprise
    That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
    At the meeting of my thighs?
  • A knowing simile – the speaker is well aware that her confident sexuality is highly attractive and that men cannot resist watching her. More than this, the use of ‘diamonds’ both shows the degree to which she values her sexuality and also the extreme attractiveness of her as a potential sexual partner.
  • Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.
  • The moons and suns in this simile are not just visual representations of wonder – both life giving in that the moon is an ancient fertility symbol in many cultures, but also suggests a never ending cyclical process – as she rises, a blazing sun, the moon – a cold and white symbol- must inevitably sink.

Q4: The speaker poses 7 questions in the poem. What is the purpose/effect of these questions?

To force the reader to re-evaluate their pre-conceived perceptions of her as a black woman. Angelou challenges her readers in highly sensitive societal areas – wealth and sexuality. It is worth remembering that miscegeny (mixed-race sexual relations) was a deep-seated fear of many of the Southern States of the USA.

Q5: What is the effect of the repetition in the poem?

The poem relies on the creation of a sense of inevitability. As the repetition becomes more intense, almost as though there is a congregational joining of the affirmation of the message, the inevitability becomes unstoppable. The tone becomes that of a rally or a church service.

Q6: Who is the audience (the reader) for this poem? How does the speaker portray this audience?  

Both an audience of similar women to herself – her repetition of the ‘still I rise’ message linked to the figurative images of wealth and sexuality are designed to give others the confidence to express their feelings in this way – and a potentially hostile (white) readership who rest their short-sighted attitudes on the single story of the black woman of loose morals who is a threat to their well ordered society.

Q7: Briefly explain the connection between the language and syntax of the title and the theme and style of the poem “Still I Rise.”

‘Still’ carries two layers of meaning – one level is the basic sense of an event which continues through time, another is the sense of an event happening despite all attempts to prevent it. Put together, there is a sense of growing inevitability to the ‘rise’ of the speaker.  This idea combines both the social norm of rising in society and also contains ideas relating to more religious imagery – a form of resurrection perhaps. This idea is reinforced in the structure of the poem in the second section:

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Here the repetition becomes swifter and more ecstatic. The cries of ‘I rise’ suggest that the event is actually taking place until the final 3 lines present an unstoppable momentum to the poem.  Combined with the positive imagery of a new dawn and the ‘dream and hope of the slave’, the message is clear. This is happening and nights of fear (lynch mobs and other threats being real fears) are being consigned to the past.

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A passage to Africa: notes on Explain Everything

Recently we got new laptops at work… woop!

I have been experimenting with Explain Everything – a piece of software which I had previously only encountered in an iPad form.  It’s great and allows you to annotate and record a class discussion in real time…

Year 9 (!) discuss Alagiah’s Passage to Africa from the Edexcel IGCSE anthology…

It can also be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zkm0l8ry5h9dqf5/passage%20to%20aftrica.explain?dl=0

Explain files need to be downloaded – I am working on an MP4 version. The Explain Everything App is free at first with a subscription after a month – well worth the payment.

I hope the link works – it is work-in-progress and my writing with the stylus on screen will only get better!

 

 

 

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Jamie Zeppa: Bhutan for IGCSE

A powerpoint, based on the Edexcel IGCSE materials to assist with teaching and revision of ‘Beyond the sky and the earth: a journey into Bhutan.

 

Zeppa Tasks for class

 

 

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H is for Hawk (for Edexcel IGCSE

A powerpoint, based hugely on the Edexcel text book.  PLease feel free ot use it.

H is for Hawk

From H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
[When Macdonald’s father died suddenly of a heart attack, Macdonald was
devastated. An experienced falconer, she adopted a goshawk to distract her
from her grief. In this extract Macdonald meets her hawk for the first time.]

‘We’ll check the ring numbers against the Article 10s,’ he explained, pulling a sheaf of
yellow paper from his rucksack and unfolding two of the official forms that accompany
captive-bred rare birds throughout their lives. ‘Don’t want you going home with the
wrong bird.’
We noted the numbers. We stared down at the boxes, at their parcel-5 tape handles, their
doors of thin plywood and hinges of carefully tied string. Then he knelt on the concrete,
untied a hinge on the smaller box and squinted into its dark interior. A sudden thump of
feathered shoulders and the box shook as if someone had punched it, hard, from within.
‘She’s got her hood off,’ he said, and frowned. That light, leather hood was to keep the
hawk from fearful sights. Like us.
Another hinge untied. Concentration. Infinite caution. Daylight irrigating the box.
Scratching talons, another thump. And another. Thump. The air turned syrupy, slow,
flecked with dust. The last few seconds before a battle. And with the last bow pulled
free, he reached inside, and amidst a whirring, chaotic clatter of wings and feet and
talons and a high-pitched twittering and it’s all happening at once, the man pulls an
enormous, enormous hawk out of the box and in a strange coincidence of world and
deed a great flood of sunlight drenches us and everything is brilliance and fury. The
hawk’s wings, barred and beating, the sharp fingers of her dark-tipped primaries cutting
the air, her feathers raised like the scattered quills of a fretful porpentine1. Two
enormous eyes. My heart jumps sideways. She is a conjuring trick. A reptile. A fallen
angel. A griffon from the pages of an illuminated bestiary2. Something bright and
distant, like gold falling through water. A broken marionette3 of wings, legs and lightsplashed feathers. She is wearing jesses4, and the man holds them. For one awful, long moment she is hanging head-downward, wings open, like a turkey in a butcher’s shop, only her head is turned right-way-up and she is seeing more than she has ever seen
before in her whole short life. Her world was an aviary no larger than a living room. Then it was a box. But now it is this; and she can see everything: the point-source glitter on the waves, a diving cormorant a hundred yards out; pigment flakes under wax on the
lines of parked cars; far hills and the heather on them and miles and miles of sky where
the sun spreads on dust and water and illegible things moving in it that are white scraps
of gulls. Everything startling and new-stamped on her entirely astonished brain.
Through all this the man was perfectly calm. He gathered up the hawk in one practised
movement, folding her wings, anchoring her broad feathered back against his chest,
gripping her scaled yellow legs in one hand. ‘Let’s get that hood back on,’ he said tautly.
There was concern in his face. It was born of care. This hawk had been hatched in an
incubator, had broken from a frail bluish eggshell into a humid perspex box, and for the
first few days of her life this man had fed her with scraps of meat held in a pair of
tweezers, waiting patiently for the lumpen, fluffy chick to notice the food and eat, her
new neck wobbling with the effort of keeping her head in the air. All at once I loved this
man, and fiercely. I grabbed the hood from the box and turned to the hawk. Her beak
was open, her hackles raised; her wild eyes were the colour of sun on white paper, and
they stared because the whole world had fallen into them at once. One, two, three. I
tucked the hood over her head. There was a brief intimation of a thin, angular skull
under her feathers, of an alien brain fizzing and fusing with terror, then I drew the
braces closed. We checked the ring numbers 45 against the form.
It was the wrong bird. This was the younger one. The smaller one. This was not my
hawk.
Oh.
So we put her back and opened the other box, which was meant to hold the larger, older
bird. And dear God, it did. Everything about this second hawk was different. She came
out like a Victorian melodrama: a sort of madwoman in the attack. She was smokier and
darker and much, much bigger, and instead of twittering, she wailed; great, awful gouts
of sound like a thing in pain, and the sound was unbearable. This is my hawk, I was
telling myself and it was all I could do to breathe. She too was bareheaded, and I
grabbed the hood from the box as before. But as I brought it up to her face I looked into
her eyes and saw something blank and crazy in her stare. Some madness from a distant
country. I didn’t recognise her. This isn’t my hawk. The hood was on, the ring numbers
checked, the bird back in the box, the yellow form folded, the money exchanged, and all
I could think was, But this isn’t my hawk. Slow panic. I knew what I had to say, and it
was a monstrous breach of etiquette. ‘This is really awkward,’ I began. ‘But I really liked
the first one. Do you think there’s any chance I could take that one instead . . .?’ I tailed
off. His eyebrows were raised. I started again, saying stupider things: ‘I’m sure the other
falconer would like the larger bird? She’s more beautiful than the first one, isn’t she? I
know this is out of order, but I … Could I? Would it be all right, do you think?’ And on
and on, a desperate, crazy barrage of incoherent appeals.
I’m sure nothing I said persuaded him more than the look on my face as I said it. A tall,
white-faced woman with wind-wrecked hair and exhausted eyes was pleading with him
on a quayside, hands held out as if she were in a seaside production of Medea. Looking
at me he must have sensed that my stuttered request wasn’t a simple one. That there
was something behind it that was very important. There was a moment of total silence.

1 porpentine: a type of porcupine animal
2 bestiary: a (medieval) descriptive passage on various kinds of animals
3 marionette: a puppet worked by strings
4 jesses: a short leather strap fastened to the leg

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Edexcel IGCSE English Lit: Love group

Year 10 linking work for the poetry anthology.

love grouplove group  the pdf version

 

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TKAM: Characters of Cal and Tom. A give-back

I have just been marking Y11 practice essays on Mockingbird relating to the characters of Calpurnia and Tom. Given the stem: ‘how are the characters…. presented?’ the focus is clearly on Lee’s technique but also on her intention in creating these two characters. Students need to ask themselves what the function is of any character in a question such as this and then address the ways in which the author brings out that function in the writing.

Functions:
Both are black and in a book focused on the racial divide of the deep south, this is an obvious point to make. More than this , both are ‘good’ and therefore can be seen not only as ‘Mockingbirds’ but also as the antithesis of the ‘white trash’ defined by the Ewell family. This is important since Lee is at pains to point out that there is inherent worth in Tom which cannot be seen at all in Bob, though Bob, being white, will receive the benefit of the bias of the jury.
Thus both symbolise an essential concept of goodness. Both are also part of Scout’s education though in different ways. Calpurnia, from before the start of the text is an active teacher whose role is criticised by society in the shape of Miss Caroline; Tom is himself a lesson – he never meets Scout, but is as much a part of her education as anything undertaken by Calpurnia or Atticus.

Calpurnia:
An intelligent and hard working black woman employed to replace Atticus’ wife in the Finch household. It is clear from the early stages of the narrative that Scout is utterly indebted to Calpurnia for her education and her burgeoning awareness of the world around her. Cal is not the only surrogate mother – Maudie and Alexandra must also be considered in this light, but Lee uses her for clear social education -whether when teaching Scout not to disrespect Walter or when taking the children to her church and responding to Lula’s verbal aggression.
It is Cal to whom the children turn when upset and it is Cal who will be chosen by Atticus to accompany him to call on Helen following Tom’s death. She has the feminine virtue of compassion and empathy in a way that Atticus does not. This is not to say that she is a ‘soft touch’ -Jem’s comments about the strength of her hand in a beating make that eminently clear.
Towards the end of the novel Calpurnia is presented in two scenes: Alexandra wishes to be rid of her and Atticus is clear -he can’t live without her. This is not a romantic attachment, but one of support and mutual respect. Look again at the little scene in which she enters the body of the courthouse to tell Atticus that his children are missing – she bears herself with dignity in the lair of the white folks and carries out one of her last duties in regards to the children. After this in the novel she will wait and serve at the tea party and help to comfort Helen, but her role as educator in chief is no longer relevant. In Part 1 she seems to be Atticus’ accomplice in educating the children. By the middle of part 2 she is replaced by circumstance and by Tom.

Tom

Although mentioned in Part 1, Tom plays no part in the text until part 2 – as though Part 1 has been preparation for the key idea: the black man, however poor, is not to be written off because of the colour of his skin. His trial takes up around a quarter of the text and is without doubt the central event of the whole text. In it Tom is set against Bob Ewell and the pair are held up to scrutiny. Tom is as much portrayed by his own deeds and speech as he is by Bob’s: the one is the antithesis of the other. Where Tom is quiet, respectful and unwilling to use Bob’s own words in his evidence because they are too uncouth. Bob, on the other hand, is brash, disrespectful and boorish. Lee uses the trial to give the reader a detailed description of the Ewell home which will later be contrasted with the homes of the black community. Both are near the tip but Bob’s is virtually on it – there are no windows and a fence made of savage-looking ruined tools. The only touch of softness is the attempt by Mayella to grow geraniums in a poor copy of Maudie’s garden in the centre of town. The Black community dwellings are, in contrast, cosy and carry the scent of cooking to the visitors, despite their poverty.

This is the key: despite poverty, at the middle of the depression, Tom finds time for dignity and honesty. This is seen time and again in the court house and also in the fact that he is employed at all, and a good worker. Not only this, he pities Mayella. Whilst this is used against him in court, it is so important – his thoughts are not for himself but for others. For this caring nature he is held up as a scapegoat by a jury of bigots. When he is killed trying to escape, he has run out of hope and his death presents the reader with a clear recognition that a terrible injustice has taken place.

His death is the last piece of Scout’s jigsaw. She sees Calpurnia being asked to provide comfort outside her family and also sees her Aunt – until this time a figure of hostility and perceived unkindness – in a different light. She too can see that it is time to grow up and to find dignity in the face of adversity.

Many will write that Tom is a ‘mockingbird’ but few refer to the jail scene. Here after the lunch ob has dispersed it is Tom’s weak voce which pierces the evening air. A frightened and vulnerable soul in a violent and cruel world.

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Edexcel IGCSE poetry for Lit (Anthology C)

I am preparing Y10 for the Anthology C poems for Edexcel.

This is a draft spreadsheet to try to organise their thinking in relation to the 16 poems.. I would welcome feedback and suggestions.

poems reference grid

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