Many of you will know how these work and, whether you love them or hate them, they are an invaluable tool in the journey to exams for students across the spectrum.
We used them last year in the run up to exam prep in English, and students reported an increased confidence level and, in some exams, performed very highly because they were used to the format and had been “drilled” in the process.
For anyone who doesn’t know how these work, they generally follow these rules:
- Students sit in the same exam room where they will do their exam, preferably in the same seats
- Students are given an exam paper which is as close to being like the real thing as possible (i.e. exam writing booklet if relevant)
- Students are literally walked through every question on the paper – the person leading the session talks them through the smallest steps, such as underlining key words, how to plan, things to remember etc.
- Students then write their responses in timed conditions
Continue reading “Walking-Talking Mock Exams”
ALL credit for this goes to the talented Leslie Rowland, a PHD student and Associate Tutor in English at Indiana University. She ran a really fantastic workshop with some A Level Literature students in West Yorkshire this week, and the work she did was so great that I thought other teachers of essay subjects would benefit from it.
The powerpoint and handout below are all aimed at getting students to write in a more formal and appropriate academic tone, avoiding colloquialism and ensuring that they have the right amount of distance, while still making a personal response to a text.
You can contact Leslie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Powerpoint: Academic Expression
Handout: Academic Expression Handout
I am always amazed by the dedication and sheer geekery of some teachers. At 10am on Saturday 11th July (the FINAL weekend of the school term), teachers from around Leeds and Bradford (plus, you know, Bahrain, just because…) descended on Appleton Academy for a day of inspiration and all round teacher banter.
The day was part of our project called ‘Writing for Bradford’ which you can see details about here.
Continue reading “#TMBrad – Teachmeet reflection..”
Literature at A Level has traditionally been a very essay driven course; there are very few specifications which allow any element of creative writing, and even these are optional swap-ins for a potential second essay. This is a shame because students need to be able to appreciate the craft of the writer and have a deeply ingrained sense that someone sat down and wrote something for a reason. The specification I am teaching allows students to create a piece of original transformational writing. The idea is that they study one of their set texts, then write a ‘missing’ scene, chapter, monologue etc. Obviously this allows students to get under the skin of a particular character or idea, and to better appreciate the author’s style and craft because they are no longer just passively observing, they are actively creating. Continue reading “A Level Literature Ideas – #3: Mood Boards”
The key to all good writing is shape; when to be broad and when to be narrow, when to charge ahead and when to circle back. In a previous post I described how a good essay introduction is like an upside triangle, or arrowhead pointing the reader to a strong argument. A successful essay must be launched by this ‘arrowhead’, then explore and circle around a range of ideas, while still sticking to a firm thread, or thesis. When I was an NQT, I developed the system below by drawing out the shape I wanted by hand. It has evolved into the resource you see below, and revolutionised the way I teach essay writing. Continue reading “A Level Literature Ideas – #2: Essay Planning”
Introductions and conclusions always seem like quite abstract things, threatening to book end an essay with vague statements and ‘summing up’. However, done right, an introduction serves as the perfect vanguard of a well crafted argument.
There are tons of different ways to teach introduction writing, but the most successful in my experience is ‘Discuss, Define, Refine’ (DDR). Here is a brief outline:
Discuss: Introduce the key terms of the question, showing that you are fully aware of the given theme/issue/area. Often constitutes a simple re-wording of the question. e.g. “Madness is a topic which clearly fascinates writers across all of literature.” Continue reading “A Level Literature Ideas – #1: Writing Introductions”