Category Archives: CIE IGCSE

CIE: notes on a Literature passage question

The following sound file is a “give back” for my year 11s based on a close study of the following passage from All MY Sons, Act 2:

George: (To Ann) What more do you want! (There is a sound of footsteps in the house).
Ann: (turns her head suddenly toward house) Someone's coming.
Chris: (to George, quietly) You won't say anything now.
Ann: You'll go soon.  I'll call a cab.
George: You're coming with me.
Ann: And don't mention marriage, because we haven't told her yet.
George: You're coming with me.
Ann: You understand? Don't... George, you're not going to start anything now! (She hears footsteps) Shhh!
Mother enters on porch. She is dressed almost formally. Her hair is fixed. They are all turned toward her. On seeing George she raises both hands, comes down toward him.
Mother: Georgie, Georgie.
George: (he has always liked her) Hello, Kate.
Mother: (cups his face in her hands) They made an old man out of you. (Touches his hair) Look, you're grey.
George: (her pity, open and unabashed, reaches into him, and he smiles sadly) I know, I...
Mother: I told you when you went away, don't try for medals.
George: (laughs, tiredly) I didn't try, Kate. They made it very easy for me.
Mother: (actually angry) Go on. You're all alike. (To Ann) Look at him, why did you say he's fine? He looks like a ghost.
George: (relishing her solicitude) I feel alright.
Mother: I'm sick to look at you. What's the matter with your mother, why don't she feed you?
Ann: He just hasn't any appetite.
Mother: If he ate in my house he'd have an appetite. (to Ann) I pity your husband! (To George) Sit down. I'll make you a sandwich.
George: (sits with an embarrassed laugh) I'm really not hungry.
Mother: Honest to God, it breaks my heart to see what happened to all the children. How we worked and planned for you, and you end up no better than us.
George: (with deep feeling for her) You... you haven't changed at all, you know that, Kate?
Mother: None of us changed, Georgie. We all love you. Joe was just talking about the day you were born and the water got shut off. People were carrying basins from a block away... A stranger would have thought the whole block was on fire! (they laugh. She sees the juice. To Ann) Why didn't you give him some juice!
Ann: (defensively) I offered it to him.
Mother: (scoffingly) You offered it to him! (thrusting glass into George's hand) Give it to him! (To George, who is laughing) And now you're going to sit here and drink some juice... and look like something!
George: (sitting) Kate, I feel hungry already.
Chris: (proudly) She could turn Mahatma Ghandi into a heavyweight!
Mother: (to Chris, with great energy) Listen, to hell with the restaurant! I got a ham in the icebox, and frozen strawberries, and avocados, and...
Ann: Swell, I'll help you!
George: The train leaves at eight thirty, Ann.
Mother: (to Ann) You're leaving?
Chris: No, Mother, she's not...
Ann: (breaking through it, going to George) You hardly got here. Give yourself a chance to get acquainted again.
Chris: Sure, you don't even know us anymore.
Mother: Well, Chris, if they can't stay, I don't...
Chris: No, it's just a question of George, Mother, he planned on...
George: (gets up politely, nicely, for Kate's sake) Now wait a minute, Chris...
Chris: (smiling and full of command, cutting him off) If you want to go, I'll drive you to the station now, but if you're staying, no arguments while you're here.
Mother: (at last confessing the tension) Why should he argue? (she goes to him. With desperation and compassion, stroking his hair) Georgie and us have no argument. How could we have an argument, Georgie? We all got hit by the same lightning, how can you...? Did you see what happened to Larry's tree, Georgie? (She has taken his arm, and unwillingly he moves across the stage with her.) Imagine? While I was dreaming of him in the middle of the night, the wind came along and...
Lydia enters on porch. As soon as she sees him:
Lydia: Hey, Georgie! Georgie! Georgie! Georgie! Georgie! (She comes down to him eagerly. She has a flowered hat in her hand, which Kate takes from her as she goes to George)
George: (As they shake hands eagerly, warmly)

The question:  How does Miller use dramatic devices and language to convey the character of mother in this extract?

150506_001  The Give back
 all my sons  The CIE marking criteria

Leave a comment

Filed under All my sons, CIE IGCSE, IGCSE support, KS3/4 drama ideas, KS4, podcast for english revision

Horses: Edwin Muir. A revision lesson (and other ideas for CIE)

I have adapted a resource pack that I have bought to make this Powerpoint to support Muir’s Horses for CIE IGCSE. The zig zag education pack is full of good ideas!

horses revision lesson Not really suitable for first teaching…

Also, there are a couple of excellent videos on YouTube for use in this area :

For City planners/Planners: The song “ouses, ‘ouses, ‘ouses” by Imagined Village. Use as a listening stimulus prior to working – stop it around 2.19 before it gets loud and allow discussion.

For Where I come from, City Planners: The Chernobyl drone.

Leave a comment

Filed under CIE IGCSE, IGCSE support, KS4, poetry

Continuum, Alan Curnow: Revision for CIE English Literature 2015

This powerpoint supports a revision session for Curnow’s Continuum. I hope it is useful. The PowerPoint should be used after initial work using the resource in this earlier post : 

continuum revision

Leave a comment

Filed under CIE IGCSE, exam techniques, GCSE support, IGCSE support, KS4, poetry

I’m the king of the castle revision lecture

On Thursday I will give a lecture on Susan Hill’s I’m the King of the Castle for my yr 11 as part of their revision programmme. I will publish the MP4 file here. In the meantime, here is the PowerPoint that will form the basis of the lecture.

I found the raw materials on line a while ago and am no longer able to give credit to the original writer of these notes. I have altered the detail from time to time and obviously will be discussing my own ideas. If the original writer contacts me and asks me to credit them publicly, I will be only too glad so to do.

IKOTC setting


150423_001  This is the talk that accompanied the slides… around 30 minutes..

1 Comment

Filed under CIE IGCSE, exam techniques, IGCSE support, KS4, podcast for english revision

A Life Unloved: Thoughts on IKOTC for CIE lit.

An excellent post from a blog called Exit Pursued by a bear  – a great source of material for students looking for critical writing.  They’ve even put up one of mine this month!

There’s not a lot around for King of the Castle, so fill your boots, Year 11.

Pursued By a Bear...

How the absence of love leads to tragedy in ‘I’m the King of the Castle’

J Sugden looks at how Mrs Kingshaw’s lack of love for her son overwhelmingly contributes to the novel’s tragic conclusion.

PJ Merrel was quite right to note in ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, that to label Hooper as an evil monster oversimplifies our understanding of the text because it ‘removes the responsibility of those around him’. It seems staggeringly clear throughout I’m the King of the Castle that others, aside from Hooper, are in large part to blame for what happens. For me, one of the key reasons that Kingshaw ends up committing suicide is because he feels entirely alone and entirely unloved. In her acknowledgement, Susan Hill notes that whilst some readers have complained Kingshaw’s suicide is unbelievable, she herself felt that it was inevitable. I’ve read the novel many times, and I…

View original post 1,200 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under CIE IGCSE, IGCSE support

Analysis: The Cockroach by Kevin Halligan

An excellent reading from an excellent blog: Read this and enjoy!  Not sure I agree with the reading of “rode the floor” which seems to me to refer to the dust rather than the cockroach and therefore not to show the cockroach’s youth and eagerness…

In all, this is a great poem – deceptively simple and carrying a harsh message in the sense of humanity being little better than one of the most despised forms of life on the planet.

For me, I like the way the roach is engaged in ever more random and futile actions as it gets older – even having the sense of the unnecessary and confusing climb to the shelf – almost in the same way that humans are forced to try to climb ever higher in their chosen profession.  What’s to show for it all?  Nothing.

Possibly it helps to be older when reading this – we recognise the stages of life – avoiding trouble, happy to work in a steady and repetitive environment, over time finding the treadwheel of work (the circle) repetitive and dull, a mid-life crisis, delayed ambition and… stop!

The IGCSE Blog


  • There is question whether the Cockroach is a sonnet: it has the correct number of lines. The poem’s structure could indicate a following of a 4,4,3,3 structure (number of lines per stanza). The poem is indeed not clearly separated into stanzas, however, the changing points in the poem would indicate this structure.
  • 10 syllables per line
  • A quite regular structure with few enjambements. The author does not find total clarity and this is reflected by the ‘hidden’ sonnet.
  • Rime scheme ABAB, end change in rime scheme ABCABC => The author has ceased to just observe he is identifying himself.


  • “I watched a giant cockroach”. The word “giant” makes it a specific cockroach, it has its own personal distinction, it is made more noticeable. Furthermore, its great size makes it take up a large part of the vision of the author and is therefore worth attention…

View original post 865 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under CIE IGCSE, IGCSE support, KS4

All My Sons: Revision Resource

I found a resource online which addressed All My Sons.  I have long lost the original and will be very happy to give credit where due, if the original writer contacts me.

I have added comments about Tragedy and the American Dream, links to Miller discussing his work and further detailed comment about contexts and symbolism.

I hope it is of use.



Filed under CIE IGCSE, IGCSE support, KS3/4 drama ideas, KS4

Exam Technique: a give back

Many thanks to Dr Michael Mellor, a colleague at JLS, for his initial powerpoint. I have simplified it slightly and added a voice over. The comments are based on a particular group of Year 11s who sat Mock IGCSE papers this Autumn. They do have general relevance, however.


The screencast can be heard at the John Lyon English Department You tube site:

The link to my blog post about Passage Questions can be found here:

Leave a comment

Filed under CIE IGCSE, EDEXCEL IGCSE, GCSE support, IGCSE support, KS4

Mockingbird contexts and wider reading

Year 10: you might find these links interesting as you prepare for next term:

An article about Lee and her resolute disappearance for public society, together with shenangigans relating to monies lost and involving the estate of John Steinbeck, no less. The Harper Lee website
A rare public appearance An article about the author


Filed under CIE IGCSE, EDEXCEL CERTIFICATE, GCSE support, IGCSE support, KS4

CIE English Lit: I’m the King of the Castle REVISION

Material to help with revision of Susan Hill’s novel. Is there a more unsettling exploration of childish cruelty? I realise that my revision powerpoint does not focus on innocence and experience to any degree. This is an issue of time, rather than complacency – it should emerge in discussion. The powerpoint below is mine. The other documents can be credited to my predecessor at JLS, Anna Paul. Many thanks.

IKOTC revision

Revision Booklet king of the castle

key quotes to be used for quotaton quest starter or as basis for analysis practice

Opinions About the Novel

chapter summaries


Filed under CIE IGCSE, GCSE support, IGCSE support, KS4