Class feedback: IGCSE language Paper 1

This is my powerpoint give back of class improvements for Edexcel IGCSE English Language paper 1 for my Year 11 class.

give backPaper 1

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Visualiser annotation

In John Tomsett’s new book This much I know… there is a lovely example of modelling annotation for a class, using a visualiser. I ran this today with my Year 10 class – a set who do not find poetry analysis or discussion easy – and I post the result.


This is a great way to help students who are not necessarily ready to move to annotation or discussion of a text without support. The PDF shows a page from the Edexcel IGCSE anthology which we worked on under the visualiser. When I felt I wished to annotate, they were told to copy and I explained why I was writing what I wrote. Yes this is copying, but it is much more. The discussion element broadens and deepens the understanding and the modeled annotation enables them to confidently annotate their own work. For the first time the discussion was ended by the end of the lesson with much more to say.

We discussed the poem in terms of God/Satan, symmetry of good and evil, metaphors of fire and hell, the power and omnipotence of a God who could create the Tyger, the distinction between God and Satan,. the figurative idea of the heavens watered by tears, the alliteration and the rhythmic patterns, the idea of Innocence and Experience…

So much more was covered than in many lessons.  I like this, I had forgotten it and it works.

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Much Ado: Deceit planning


One of the joys of working in such a strong department as I do is finding evidence of the work left behind.  This is Miss Boyle’s classroom wall this morning.  I attach a PDF copy for closer scrutiny. Thank you.


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Hide and Seek: Scannell

My favourite poem in the Edexcel IGCSE anthology…

This is for Year 10 who spent a grand 50 minutes exploring the SCA of SCASI.

One or two didn’t copy it and one was absent.


I can’t summarise a poor photo, but the gist is that the poem is a poem of development from innocence to experience – the childish excitement of the opening becoming more of  a sense of “excited and scared” (Sondheim) as the child gains experience. We looked closely at Character to chart this development in the language used around the child and repressive nature of the imperatives which come from his internal voice (?) which add more and more inhibitions to his behaviour.

The overt sensory setting was a rich area of discussion as was the passage of time and the awareness of moving from one state to another after a cocoon-like wrapping in the sacks…  The boy emerges with heightened self-awareness as his innocent state is left behind him.

The Action divided between inside the shed and external action – the scuffling laughter suggesting his “friends” conscious rejection of him and the cold “biting at the same time suggesting the emergence of his recognition of his new state.

My boys may not have gone for the Sondheim allusion – this is Red Riding Hood ion Into The Woods – excited and scared as her “experiences” in the woods are considered – the new-found awareness s of sexuality is not really a feature here, but the personified garden of threat at the end seems clearly to signify a frightening new world which awaits our young adolescent.



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Refugee Blues group work: Y11 revision

My Year 11 were revising Refugee Blues (Auden) today. Their work is copied below.  Fee free to borrow.  They will be downloading and keeping…


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Edexcel Anthology: Young and Dyslexic?

A powerpoint resource as a starting point for work on the Benjamin Zephaniah article in the Edexcel IGCSE anthology. Other resources can be found here.

A you tube link to Zephaniah discussing Dyslexia can be found here 


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Screencast: Approaching a short writing task

A screencast to assist students studying Edexcel IGCSE with the short (20 minute) writing task.  Applicable to all and linked to material found here: short task blog post

The screencast is to be found on the department You Tube channel.


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Setting in TKAM and MAAN

A short revision lesson on the two set texts for the Year 10 exams later this summer.

setting in TKAM

other setting links can be found here:

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The theme of friendship in MAAN

Again, this question comes from the Edexcel IGCSE paper for January 2016.  And very interesting it is too.  Probably most students want to move away from friendship towards other more obvious themes such as honour and noting and try to engage from there, but I feel the theme does stand up on its own.

1: I want to establish an arc of friendship from 1.1 to the end in 5.4 Certainly 1.1 is all about friends – Leonato and Pedro have obviously known each other for a while and whilst Leonato can be seen as sycophantic, there is genuine friendship between them, as there is between Leonato and his niece, Beatrice, who is given full licence to display her wit and who is treated equally well by Pedro.  Into this mix comes Benedick and Claudio – best friends and the whole scene reeks of happy times and friendship – with the exclusion of Don John.  By the end of the play, friendship reigns again and even though Pedro is somewhat removed form the atmosphere of rejoicing, Benedick’s instruction to “get thee a wife” could be seen as some form of an attempt at reconciliation.  He has no idea that Don Pedro had once proposed to Beatrice, of course.

So friendship can be seen as surviving trials and tribulations.  Time to look closely at a few friendship groups.

2: Leonato and Pedro: these old friends get on well and represent a wealthy older generation whose power is derived from status at birth and wealth.  They seem well attuned to one another and sufficiently close for Pedro to stake his reputation on the marriage of Hero to Claudio.  So close is the friendship that Leonato is minded to believe Pedro over his own daughter once John’s plot has been put into action.  Only the Friar can persuade him otherwise at this point and Leonato’s courageous challenge to Claudio is the low point of this friendship.  But it does not break.  By the end all are reconciled and forgiven and the pair are friendly again.  Benedick seems to have control and Pedro is something of an outsider, perhaps indicating that though friendship has survived, the old social order is creaking somewhat.

3: Claudio and Benedick undergo the same trajectory, though if Beatrice is to be believed, this was always going to happen due to Benedick’s appalling record of loyalty.  They are close in 1.1, teasing each other, yet there is something unkind and selfish in Benedick’s response to Claudio’s first declaration of his love for Hero.  This is freindship but it seems to be on Benedick’s terms.  In 3.2 the boot is on the other foot with Claudio joining forces with Pedro to tease Benedick mercilessly about falling in love.  In 4.1 the friendship is ended and in 5.1 Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel – he is pained by this and his cry in 4.1: “not for the wide world” shows the pain he feels at having to challenge his friend in this way.  Claudio and Pedro mistake Benedick’s arrival in 5.1 for that of their old friend and are surprised.  Benedick is coldly formal to Pedro and challenges “Lord Lackbeard” appropriately.  by 5.4 they are reunited, though there is an underlying tension – “I did thought to have beaten you” between them and one senses that the friendship will not be as carefree as it once was.

4: The gulling scenes are perhaps the most carefree examples of friendhsip in the play, yet we should recall Balthazar’s warning song that “men are deceivers ever”, is found in 2.3 and casts a darker note to the scene than one based simply on the gulling taking place.  Still this is a near as the play comes to genuine fun and we should celebrate the scenes which help to heighten the fun prior to the shock of the wedding morning.  A similar scene is 3.5 when Hero is given her one and only scene of command in a room of excited women – including Margaret, the woman and friend who has betrayed her.  This scene is complex when looked at through friendship!

5: Hero and Beatrice are true friends and they survive – the one supported by the other through think and thin.  The girls share their hopes and fears throughout the play and it is beatrice who sets in motion the eventual rehabilitation of Hero by her staunch refusal to countenance her cousin’s infidelity.  An aside – where did they both spend the night?  Beatrice says she was not with Hero, but Hero cannot have been in her bedroom for obvious reasons…

So friendship seems to span the play, framing the events of the middle section and surviving relatively unscathed.  What is Shakespeare saying here?  I find it interesting that the female friends are the strong ones and that the male friendships are so prone to breaking.  I wonder if there is a message here.  Beatrice has so many characteristics of the Queen that this might be a message about her and her loyalty to friends when so many courtiers are scheming behind her back.  She stands tall and proud.  Who knows.  In short, friendship survives when one least expects it to do so, and that is worthy of note in this play about noting!


The sound file of a discussion lesson can be found here:




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NEW Edexcel IGCSE English Language resources: The Story of an hour.

This powerpoint accompanies teaching of Kate Chopin’s The Story of an hour from the Draft IGCSE anthology for 2016 teaching in English Language.  The text is one of the short stories in section B for paper 2.

It is pretty self explanatory and covers a SCASI outline for a typical Chopin tale.

The tale is pleasingly ironic and focused as so often on the position of women in society in 19C Southern USA.  It does not have the racial overtones of many of Chopin’s stories, however.

What it centres on is one woman’s awakening to the possibilities presented by her husband’s death.  Her epiphany allows her to sense freedom for the first time in her life and to view this freedom as the “elixir of life” -emphasizing the importance Chopin places on women’s freedom in a deeply patriarchal and controlled society.

The irony of the closing paragraph- as her “heart condition” catches up with Mrs Mallard is clear for the reader to discern and possibly suggests Chopin’s own bitterness about the apparent impossibility of women ever truly discovering their freedom at this time.

The Story of an hour

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