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Discussion in 'English' started by msv, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. msv

    msv New commenter

    Dear all,
    I would really appreciate any help/ advice anyone could kindly offer. As of tomorrow I will be taking a year 11 set 1 Literature group, they've completed their early entry English Language and they all achieved brilliant grades ranging from an A-C.
    My target (given by my head of department) is that every student in the group must pass Literature with a C or above.
    I'm so scared as i've only ever taught students from bottom sets that range from U-E grades, this is a complete different ball game for me and i REALLY want to do well and in result for the kids to do well!
    I just for some reason feel i don't know how to teach them and where to start!!
    Has anyone any tips/ ideas? More so for them to be independent learners, i'm so used to spoon feeding my EAL type students that I don't think i'll challenge these new students how they ought to be challenged.
    My usual way of teaching is just standing at the front- lecturing and then giving out comprehension style questions- I don't think this will work as well with these bright kids.
    How can I make sure they all get a C or above? If anyone has ideas on how my teaching can be stronger/ specific... please let me know.
    For instance I plan to start with 'My Last Duchess' tomorrow but have no idea where to go after that ;( please help.....
  2. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    I would certainly avoid the comprehension style questions. I think we all have our own way that suits us but, essentially, you want them to work things out for themselves. It's a difficult poem to start with, but maybe you could read it out in role and get them to say what sort of person the Duke is and then come up with a list of statements. Then in small groups, they could find evidence for these points. Once they have the quotations, they need to explain the effects of the words and phrases and what they show about him. I usually stand at the front and annotate but, by then, they should have worked out most of it for themselves. Once you've done one poem, students can do this bit.
    If you teach another poem that links well, you can then practise writing paragraphs and making connections. There are lots of fun activities you can do with top sets but you probably want to try things slowly until you feel confident with them.

  3. regentsreject

    regentsreject Occasional commenter

    Avoid prescriptive tasks and hand over to them as much as possible. They will get much better marks writing about poety with somoe of their own ideas rather than trying to remember/regurgitate what the teacher has told them. Try putting them in groups, giving them a poem each and asking them to write some questions for other groups to answer, then swap them around. Get them to storyboard some poems, or cut out shapes which represent feelings they perceive in the poems. Kinaesthetic activities like sticking thematically linked poems onto sugar paper and getting them to highlight/colour code/draw lines etc to show connections will help with the comparison aspect. Build their confidence by NOT standing at the front and lecturing but tell them they have to have their own ideas and not go looking for a "right answer" which they may think you have. Examiners love to see individual, unique responses and engagement as well as analysis of the craft of the writer. So, although they should be identifying similes, metaphors, rhyme etc, this should not be a starting point and is only ever part of the assessment. Good luck.
  4. Hey - I sympathise with that daunting feeling - there are so many poems to get through!!
    You could get students in pairs and give each a different poem. With support and guidance get them to organise presentations to give the rest of the class - this way they get a quick introduction to all the poems and can begin to familiarise with them.
    Use the AQA website for practice questions, exam criteria and candidate example material - share these with the students as well so they are fully clear what is expected of them.
    Also - are your school going to Poetry Live? You look into whether it will be near you - we are going in February. Duffy and Armitage are usually they - they discuss their poems, students have opportunities to ask them direct questions, and there is a chief examiner there who goes through the exam too and offers good advice to the students...
    HAve you got the list of revised poems that students will need to know? It narrows down what is in the anthology so they don't have to study all poems under each section - it works out at 4 Duffy poems, 4 Armitage and 4 pre-1914...
    Good luck with it all...
  5. Hit them hard! Start of with a whistle-stop tour of as many poems as you can get through in a lesson and do this three times. Once for Duffy, once for Armitage and once for pre-1914. Then I'd go over the poems in more detail.
    Be aware of their learning styles - my experience with the very best classes is that they'd rather talk and discuss stuff than have it turned into a game. Put a lot on them to annotate as they go. Get them to put the poems in a rank order of preference - encourage them to say what the like and dislike about each poem.
  6. CarolineEm

    CarolineEm New commenter

    You say, "For instance I plan to start with 'My Last Duchess' tomorrow but have no idea where to go after that ;( please help....."
    In order to link them by theme, I'd have a clear idea of where to go. I always get pupils to come up with lots of adjectives to describe the characters in the poems So, having done rather sinister male in Last Duchess, who seems to have taken revenge following his jealousy, I'd go on to Laboratory - a young woman who is also jealous and seeking revenge with murder in mind. Then you can get some immediate comparisons. After that, Salome is another woman for whom violence doesn't seem to be a problem; followed by Hitcher - male character who treats violence in a similarly casually manner. Stealing is another disaffected young male, similar to Hitcher. I actually start this list with Havisham (derranged woman driven to madness by her bitterness).
    Then some more positive poems: Before You Were Mine and Mother Any Distance both seem really positive, (and yet could also be seen as more ambiguous) about relationships with mothers; Sonnet 130 positive about his lover, as is Hathaway (and nice link via Shakespeare and sonnet form), then move to disappointment with Kid, support with Homecoming and the terrible grief of On My 1st Sonne - which takes you back to the grief of Havisham! Of course, other poems fit into these "headings" - relationships with parents in Kid and Homecoming can be tied to We Remember Your Childhood Well.
    You ask for ways of engaging pupils. Mini-whiteboards in pairs - write down adjectives to describe the character and their feelings. Come up to board and write your adjective on the board (if some has already written yours then you have to think of another one) then all copy up the adjectives and write quotes next to them to support, (can be structure, eg. Havisham breaking of synatx reflects the damage done to her spirit...)
    Have you found the BBC Learning Zone yet? There are some fun mini-films (each about five mins long) which put some of these poems into a modern, visual context, great for finishing off a lesson.
    Big sheets of paper and coloured pens - in small groups, write down all the poems and make links between them; after they being to run out of ideas, get the groups to move around the room and sit in front of another group's work. Discuss their ideas and add in any of your own. Do this a couple of times, then get groups to go back to their own, original piece of paper and see what others have added. Then, time for them to copy/write up all these shared ideas.
    Practice paragraphs: write a paragraph linking (eg) My Last Duchess with Laboratory, focusing on the fact that both characters are prepared to commit murder in revenge. If they need support with this, get them to make a table of similarities and differences (she is more open; he seems to be less so and crucially, HOW this is conveyed, eg. both use rhyming couplets, but where hers, like her plans are explicit and unhidden, his, like his meaning of what actually happened to the previous Mrs Duchess, are concealed by enjambment and caesura...) Can also give them the topic sentence of a paragraph to get them started.
    I hope some of this helps!

  7. as they are top set, take them beyond the gcse syllabus and try stretching and challenging them - use critical/contextual material and apply it to the poems/duffy. there's loads of stuff on duffy on the net - now she's poet laureate everyone is suddenly interested, and/or i've got mountains of material you could use if you let me know where to send it. if you want materials, let me know...


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