Archive for March, 2012

Year 7
We’re making great progress with our magazines. Don’t forget, you all have the articles you’ve been assigned to be researching and planning. Next week you’ll be finishing off in class and collating your final magazines for submission. Editors need to check progress and your diaries must be completed after each lesson. This week we’ll be practicing writing horoscopes and problem pages.

Year 9
The music producer project is going well and we’ve had some great practice at writing to argue and persuade with a test today to consolidate our learning. So far we’ve written magazine articles to promote our band and designed a promotional poster. This week we’ll be doing some descriptive writing and going on a world tour!

Year 10
Our exam preparation has now covered the basics of the reading and writing papers (and we’ve even squeezed in a final Speaking and Listening task to push those grades up!). But there’s still some time to practice some descriptive writing techniques. We’ll be stepping back in time to take on the persona of a young soldier in the trenches, using real life stories to base our letters home on. Once the skills are in place we’ll be dissecting the exam paper with lots of exam question practice.

Year 11
We’re saying goodbye to poetry for a while (don’t forget to keep revising and reading them regularly) and we’re entering the spooky world of the ghost story genre with Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black in preparation for Unit 1 Modern texts. Don’t forget the deadline for redrafts of coursework is this week. Some of you still have your literature coursework to complete so come to the flexis!

Feedback from Poetry Mock

Posted: March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve taken a look at the year 11 poetry mock papers and have some immediate feedback to give on question 1. More detailed feedback will be on individual papers but I thought you might like an overview of what’s going well and what we need to concentrate on for revision purposes.

In general I was really pleased to see that most of you know the poems and are able to confidently use PEE+E to structure your responses. I think the main area for improvement is using the technique of simultaneously comparing the poems. Many of you talk about one poem, then the other without ever really linking them in terms of what is similar of different about them.

Imagine you have two chocolate bars, one is a Mars Bar, the other is a Twix. How would you compare them? You might start by saying something about the wrappers:

A Mars Bar is wrapped in a black paper wrapper whereas the Twix has a golden foil wrapper.

You can apply exactly the same technique when comparing poetry. I’ll be covering this in more detail during the Easter flexi but it’s something you should consider for yourselves as you attempt practice questions at home.

Using PEE+E doesn’t seem to be too tricky for anyone but it’s good to try to embed your quotes into your sentences rather than having them added on the end or the beginning. Here’s an example:

In Medusa the character is distraught at the effect the ageing process has had on her beauty and despairs that her’ bride’s breath’ has ‘soured’.

Other general observations are that explanations are still vague at times. Really analyse the language for those top marks, explain the meanings of words and phrases and link them back to the point you’re making.

Watch out for repeating yourself! Some of you are falling into the trap of waffling. Make your point, give evidence, explain it and then LEAVE IT!

And now a nag: WHY ARE YOU NOT USING PARAGRAPHS AND CAPITAL LETTERS FOR NAMES AND TITLES? Unlike previous papers and coursework, structure counts towards your grade so paragraphs are essential, not an added extra.

Other things to avoid include:

DO NOT tell me what you are going to compare… just DO IT! Academic writing simply addresses the question, there is no need for you to announce what you’re doing! 🙂

DO NOT address the reader as you…ever. This is not someone you socialise with, you must maintain an academic, formal tone throughout your writing. e.g.

The reader is made aware of the jealousy the character feels towards younger women. = RIGHT

You are made aware of the jealousy the character feels towards younger women. = WRONG

Finally, don’t be scared of your ideas, explore them. Don’t feel constrained by using PEE+E, allow it to provide you with a basic structure to your paragraphs but don’t be a slave to it. We’re looking for flair and your own unique expression.

Don’t forget that you need to comment on structure and form as well as language and themes. This is an area you should revise to increase your confidence.

So as we leave poetry for now, be encouraged, there were few crashing disasters. What you need to do now is keep reading the poems, learn the links, the themes, revise poetic techniques and research the poets to broaden your understanding of what they are trying to communicate. Most important of all you must practice writing answers. I’ll be putting some exam style questions on here for you to try. Email them back to me for either a quick grade or a more detailed response (which will take a bit longer) :



What’s your favourite?

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

For all year 11s busy preparing for the poetry unit, take a minute to vote for your favourite poem, after all, they were written for us to enjoy!

What do you think mine is and why? (No need to use PEE paragraphs for this one! :)) I’ll give you a clue, it’s a dramatic monologue with an extended metaphor!! Post your answers as a comment.

New Secret Code

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

For those of you that cracked the code, well done!! If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about let me explain: to show me how many of you are using my blog you need to use a secret code and it’s this – when I call your name in the register answer with the word BANANA! Look out for regular changes to the code to make sure you’re checking out the blog regularly! And don’t forget, ssshhhhhh it’s a secret, don’t give it away! 🙂

To my year 11 students: just wanted to say how great it was to see a packed room at this afternoon’s flexi. You’re all doing so well and I’m seriously impressed with your focus and dedication to getting the best grades possible.

But sometimes we all need an extra bit of encouragement, so if you know someone who needs to come to flexis but isn’t, have a word with them and encourage them to come along too. Time’s running out to redraft your controlled conditions so you can come along everyday (except Tuesday) to get the work done but the deadline is MARCH 20th…
Keep going!! 🙂 PS to keep you motivated check out the countdown timer. Click on the link!

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To see how many of my students are using my blog I want you to give me a secret signal. The secret signal is that you need to answer your name in the register with the word MONKEY!  Valid until Friday then I’ll change the magic word!!

Spring Schemes of work

Posted: March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

With Easter just around the corner, year 7 are now working hard on their exciting magazine project whilst year 9 are taking on the role of music producers. Both schemes are designed to improve writing skills with tasks that challenge your ability to write in different forms for different audiences and with different purposes, whether that’s a celebrity interview or pitching to a TV company for an ad campaign. I’ve seen some great work so far and I can’t wait to see the finished magazines from year 7 and find out how many budding Simon Cowells there are in 9X3!

Meanwhile year 10 are preparing for their GCSE Language exam and year 11 are swotting up on the Poetry Anthology and their 15 Character and Voice poems. Check out the new page of poetry resources to download to support your revision.

I just want to take a moment to say how proud I am of all my year 11 students following the exam results today.

I know we’re not home and dry – that we still have Literature ahead of us, that some of us are still getting coursework sorted and others need to resit, but sometimes you just need to stop for a moment and smell the roses… sometimes we can forget to celebrate the small successes that we have along the way because our eyes are focused (rightly so) on the bigger successes.

To those who achieved their target or above, well done – you worked so hard and it paid off. But I also want to congratulate those who didn’t quite make it. I know how disappointed you are but there are a couple of things I want you to remember: firstly, no one failed. Overall, I think you all did amazingly well. Secondly, the dignity and determination you all showed today and your positive attitude towards retaking the exam was truly impressive.

When I joined you in September I told you we were on a journey. We will get there. I have faith in all of you and I know that if you commit to attending the flexis and use all the resources available to you and put the work in, you can all succeed.

So to celebrate the big successes and the small ones, there will be a treat for you all in tomorrow’s lesson.

Well done, and let’s just keep on going until we reach our destination! 🙂

Everything you need to prepare for your redraft of this last piece of coursework can be found by clicking on the link above. Please revise this ahead of tomorrow’s lesson and flexi.

Exam Results

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week is a big week for year 11 as they will be receiving their GCSE English Language results. I wish all my students the very best of luck and sincerely hope you all get the results you want.

In other news, year 7 will be starting an exciting magazine project, working in groups to produce their very own publication. Year 9 will be saying goodbye to Shakespeare having completed their APP essay and moving on to a new unit looking at writing to persuade and argue.