Tag Archives: #revise2017IGCSE

On scaffolded descriptive writing openings

This is a great post by a colleague on Twitter: Thanks Rebecca.
I post it for my Yr 10s and 11s as they approach exams and exam prep – the ability comment is not an issue for me – this applies ot all who need to boost their creative writing marks… give it a try.

The Learning Profession

bournemouth beach

My low attaining year 10 class (average aspirational target of a grade 3) have been struggling with descriptive writing. I have provided some structure (e.g. using zoom boxes to focus in on areas of the image) and we’ve explored what makes good descriptive writing, with lots of modelling and practise, but, invariably, students in this group have found it difficult to move from writing with ‘some success’ to producing writing that is ‘consistent and clear’. In timed conditions, they have been struggling to get started and some have barely managed a couple of paragraphs in the time allowed.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about cognitive load theory and I’ve come to the conclusion that, for these students, the cognitive load in our descriptive writing lessons has been excessive and therefore their learning has suffered. They’ve been battling a plethora of demands: starting effectively; structuring sentences accurately; using paragraphs; using a range…

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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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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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Y11 planning Anthology A: Boys messing and Goat.

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Two hexagon plans: Boys messing around and Goat from Edexcel IGCSE Anthology A.

new-doc-2017-02-27-09-18-35

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Much Ado: Comedy and Marxism

 

I gave a short lecture as an extension exercise for y11…

maan-comedy-and-marxism

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Year 11: exploring key passages in TKAM

Sheets created in class in 25 minutes in order to focus on aspects of context, language and plot devices in TKAM.

passages-pdf

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Filed under Harper Lee, IGCSE support, KS4, mockingbird, Uncategorized

Much Ado: Deceit planning

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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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The Theme of Innocence in TKAM: A giveback

Again, a PowerPoint for students to refer to after a lesson.  In this case an essay question from May 2014 from the Edexcel IGCSE Literature paper.

innocence-exam-question

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Chinese Cinderella: Revision and Review

A short PPt accompanying a revision-type lesson.  Trying to use fewer prepared PowerPoints, but I like to leave something concrete for students to use in their own revision slots…

Here I consider the passage Chinese Cinderella in the Edexcel IGCSE/Certificate Anthology.

cc-revision-and-review

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Notes from class: Year 11. Most memorable character

These are notes from class to share with my y11 class in a lesson following up from the post looking at the most memorable character in TKAM

tkam

The IWB was not working and I am trying to wean myself off PowerPoint…

Mainly for their benefit (you had to be there…).

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