Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hamlet quotations: all 5 Acts

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, the entire play, with quotations jumbled by Act (total of 97).

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Hamlet quotations, Act V

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 5.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hamlet quotations, Act 4

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 4.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Museum of Literature Ireland

Some details of a fine new addition to Dublin's cultural attractions, MoLI.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Hamlet quotations, Act 3

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 3.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Hamlet quotations, Act 2

Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 2.

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others? 

Hamlet quotations: Act 1

The first of a series of Quizlet tests for retrieval practice on quotations from Hamlet. Here, Act 1. 

Think of what should replace 'blank' in each case, then click to see the answer. Now write down (or, better still, discuss with a friend): how could this quotation be used? how is it helpful/interesting? how does it connect with others?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

TY House Speech Competition

Maxim Meddah gives an account of the annual TY House Speech Competition:

On Sunday 29th September, the annual Transition Year House Speeches took place once again in St Columba’s College. Each house was represented by two pupils. The topic the pupils could choose was up to them. Some were serious and some were humorous. The contestants were marked out of ten points for delivery and content and five points on lack of reliance on notes. They each spoke for three to five minutes.  

Glen was represented by Antoine Dulauroy who spoke about how Astrophysics can change your view on the world and Akin Babajide who spoke about why the idea of world peace is naive. Gwynn was represented by Tom Casey who spoke about why the earth is flat and Peter Taylor who spoke about anxiety. Stackallan was represented by Marcus O’Connor speaking about the profound message of Kung Fu Panda and Andrew Maguire on the importance of team sports. Edna Johnston spoke about being a twin and Amalia Falkenhayn speaking about being tall represented Iona. Representing Hollypark were Emma Hinde talking about ‘the power of words’ and Caroline Hager speaking about Flying.  

The event started with the announcement of the first speaker Edna Johnston by the evening’s MC, Guy Fitzgibbon. Edna then commenced with her speech which was about being a twin. She talked about her least favourite response to people finding out she has a twin which was “Oh I know a set of twins” and her favourite response being when people look in shock with their mouths wide open. In retrospect, her speech was really about being her own person and that she and her sister are not one and the same person but two individuals that merely look alike. The next speech was by Antoine Dulauroy. He talked about the two different ways someone's view of the world could be affected by astrophysics, showing us how big the universe really is. The first point was that you feel tiny in such a huge world and that nothing matters. The second being seizing that feeling of feeling small and meaningless and use it as a pretext to trying scary and challenging new things. In the end, he mentioned his dream, or rather his objective of becoming an astrophysicist.

The third speech, a humorous one, was given by Tom Casey and he talked about the earth being flat with the example of a grapefruit. His first reason was that if the earth was round an aeroplane which flies from the northern hemisphere to the southern one should arrive upside down, which quite evidently does not. He also reasoned that all the water would pour down the face of the earth if it were round. His speech entertained the audience well and by the end of his speech the whole room was filled with laughter. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

INOTE 2019

Some reactions and resources from the annual conference of the Irish National Organisation for Teachers of English.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Articles of the Week

This is an ongoing listing of links to the Articles of the Week used with our Leaving Certificate pupils, from September 2013 onwards.

The idea came from the American teacher and writer Kelly Gallagher, and it fits very well into the Leaving course, getting pupils used to reading interesting articles and thus helping them in both the comprehension and composition sections of their Paper 1, as well as expanding their knowledge base and vocabulary and providing interesting topics for discussion.

Click here for Gallagher's current articles, and read more about the theory behind the scheme in his excellent book Readicide: how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Pupils have to mark up the articles with annotations before class discussion.
  1. October 2019: 'A psychotherapist explains why some adults are reacting badly to young climate strikers' by Caroline Hickman, The Conversation, October 11th 2019 [climate change, teenagers].
  2. September 2019: 'Curiosity: we're studying the brain to help you harness it' by by Ashvanti Valji and Matthias Gruber, The Conversation, September 13th 2019 [neuroscience, learning].
  3. September 2019: 'A California high school found students' cellphones too distracting, so they're locking the devices up' by Safia Samee Ali, NBC News, August 21st 2019 [education, learning, teenagers, technology].
  4. May 2019: 'How Exercise Affects Our Memory' by Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, May 1st 2019 [exercise, physiology, neuroscience].
  5. January 2019: 'Aviation is the red meat in the greenhouse gas sandwich' by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, January 29th 2019 [environment, aviation].
  6. January 2019: 'Filling the Silence with Digital Noise' by the Nielsen Norman Group, November 18th 2018 [technology, learning].
  7. November 2018: "Window for saving Earth from ecological annihilation closing" by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, October 16th 2018 [ecology, environment].
  8. October 2018: "'Fortnite' teaches the wrong lessons" by Nicholas Tampio, The Conversation, October 12th 2018 [gaming, adolescence, technology]/
  9. October 2018: "Why true horror movies are about more than things going bump in the night" by Aislinn Clarke, The Conversation [film, horror, comedy], October 3rd 2018.
  10. October 2018:  'Is Serena Williams right? A linguist on the extra challenges women face in moments of anger' by Kieran File, The Conversation, September 11th 2018 [women, gender, sport].
  11. September 2018: 'Why you should read this article slowly' by Joe Moran, The Guardian, September 14th 2018 [reading, internet].
  12. September 2018: 'The ideal school would put children's development before league tables' by Sue Roffey, The Conversation, September 17th 2018.
  13. September 2018: 'Another Angle: For the love of God, put down the phones' by Adrian Weckler, Irish Independent, August 20th 2018 [technology, phone].
  14. May 2018: 'Neuroscience is unlocking mysteries of the teenage brain' by Lucy Foulkes, The Conversation, April 23rd 2018 [adolescence, neuroscience].
  15. March 2018: 'The Tyranny of Convenience' by Tim Yu, New York Times, February 16th 2018 [modern life, technology].
  16. February 2018: "The death of reading is threatening the soul" by Philip Yancey, Washington Post, July 21st 2017 [reading, books, internet].
  17. January 2018: 'Why more men are wearing makeup than ever before' by Glen Jankowski, The Conversation, January 15th 2018 [make-up, masculinity].
  18. January 2018: 'Why 2017 was the best year in human history' by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, January 6, 2018 [history, progress, health].
  19. November 2017: 'Boys must behave if women are to be safe' by Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times, October 31, 2017.
  20. October 2017: 'A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans' by Michael McCarthy, The Guardian, October 21, 2017.
  21. October 2017: 'We can't stop mass murder' by Shikha Dalmia, The Week, October 6, 2017.
  22. October 2017: 'What every teacher should know about ... memory' by Bradley Busch, The Guardian, October 6, 2017 [learning, memory, teaching].
  23. October 2017: 'Think the world is in a mess: here are 4 things you can do about it' by Alexandre Christoyannapoulos. The Conversation, November 16, 2016 [activism, citizenship, economics].
  24. September 2017: 'The power of silence in the smartphone age' by Erling Kagge, The Guardian, September 23rd 2017 [technology].
  25. September 2017: '5 reasons why people share fake photos during disasters' by A.J. Willingham,, September 8th 2017 [journalism, psychology, social media].
  26. September 2017: 'Can you identify the psychopaths in your life?' by Rob Hastings, iNews, August 29th 2017 [psychology].
  27. February 2017: 'Our roads are choked. We're on the verge of carmageddon' by George Monbiot, The Guardian, September 20th 2016 [environment, transport].
  28. January 2017: 'Girls believe brilliance is a male trait' by Nicola Davis, The Guardian, January 27th 2017.
  29. January 2017: 'What do teenagers want? Potted plant parents' by Lisa Damour, New York Times, December 14th 2016 [adolescence, parenting].
  30. November 2016: 'Trump makes it easy to vote for Her' by Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald, November 6th 2016 [politics, America].
  31. October 2016: 'How being alone may be the key to rest' by Claudia Hammond, BBC, September 27th 2016 [rest, reading, introversion].
  32. September 2016: 'Why Parents are Getting Angrier' by Nicola Skinner, The Guardian, September 3rd 2016 [parenting, psychology, childhood].
  33. September 2016: 'Burkini beach ban: must French Muslim women become invisible?' by Delphine Strauss, The Irish Times, August 22nd 2016 [culture, Islam, France].
  34. May 2016: 'How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99?' by Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian, March 13th 2016 [economics, retailing, manufacture].
  35. April 2016: 'Teaching men how to be emotionally honest' by Anrew Reiner, New York Times, April 4th 2016 [gender, adolescence, masculinity].
  36. February 2016: 'Then and now: how things have changed for teenage girls since the 1950s' by Clare Furniss, The Guardian, January 29th 2016 [teenagers, gender, sexism].
  37. January 2016: 'Teenagers risk being defined for life by their social media posts' by Karlin Lilllington, Irish Times, January 14th 2016 [social media, teenagers, identity].
  38. January 2016: 'Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era for the world', The Week, January 8th 2016 [geology, climate change, environment].
  39. November 2015: 'Birth Order Determines ... Almost Nothing' by Jeanne Safer, [psychology, parenting, childhood].
  40. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  41. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, [reading, entertainment, education].
  42. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  43. September 2015: 'Fifth of secondary school pupils wake almost every night to use social media' by Sally Weale, The Guardian, September 15th 2015 [social media, learning, teenagers].

Friday, October 11, 2019

INOTE Conference 2019

Notes and links from the keynote at the annual conference of the Irish National Organisation of Teachers of English in Portlaoise on Saturday 12th October 2019.

Link to presentation

Collection of tweets and resources.

The SCC Fortnightly newsletter: subscribe here





    Some more recommended books

    • Sinead Gleeson: Constellations
    • Emily Pine: Notes to Self
    • Tim Winton: The Boy Behind the Curtain
    • Rachel Cusk: Kudos, Transit and Outline, as well as Coventry (essays)
    • Robert Macfarlane: The Old Ways, Landmarks, Underland.
    • Joseph O'Connor: Shadowplay
    • David Park: Travelling in a Strange Land
    • Melatu Uche Okorie: This Hostel Life

    Wednesday, October 09, 2019

    researchED Dublin

    On Saturday 5th October, the first-ever researchED event in Ireland took place at SCC. Below, a video of impressions (credit to Ian O'Herlihy) and plenty of Twitter reaction.

    English teachers, current and former, were strong on the ground, including Alex Quigley, Daisy Christodoulou, Carl Hendrick, David Didau, Leona Forde, Kate Barry, Rebecca Foster, Conor Murphy and Edmond Behan. 

    Wednesday, August 21, 2019

    For English Teachers

    We are in a golden age of writing about teaching, much of which (though not all) has been prompted by online connections and blogs. Here is a small selection of books aimed at English teaching, or which will be of interest to English teachers. It will be added to gradually.

    • The Book Whisperer: awakening the inner reader in every child by Donalyn Miller is now ten years old (it started as an online advice column), but still fresh and inspiring: Miller's relentless focus is on promoting independent reading and individual choice.
    • Closing the Vocabulary Gap by Alex Quigley (2018) might well be the single most useful and important recently-published book for English teachers. Rooted in research, it addresses this fundamental matter, giving lots of practical ideas on how to develop 'word-rich' pupils. "The future success of all of our students rests predominantly on their ability to become proficient and fluent readers. Their capacity to learn, and enjoy learning, is bound inexorably to their reading skill." Alex will be giving a talk on this at researchED Dublin in October.
    • Reading for Pleasure: a passport to everywhere. Kenny Pieper's beautifully-written short book echoes much in Donalyn Miller's. "We need to step up and be their reading mentors, getting involved in their lives, or at least be the ones who will properly encourage them to turn the key. It won’t happen by accident."
    • How to Teach English: novels, non-fiction and their artful imagination by Chris Curtis is brand-new, and packed full of good sense and ideas and how these can work in the classroom. "Simplicity in writing is not encouraged in schools. There are writers whose work is seemingly effortless and beautiful, with very few unwieldy words or obvious techniques, and they are the ones we should be including in lessons. For me, these include Patricia Highsmith, Angela Carter, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, Ian Banks, Stephen King, Saki, George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway."
    • Maryanne Wolf's Reader, Come Home: the reading brain in a digital world should be read by all English teachers (lots of others, too, of course). "The transition from a literacy-based culture to a digital one differs radically from previous transitions from one form of communication to another." And here are Doug Lemov's pessimistic thoughts in his review: "It is true that schools are one of the few places that could ensure time and space for deep reading, sustained and meditative. But this would require a changed vision: school as a place apart as much as a place connected; school as bastion against technology as much as acolyte; school as a place that shapes rather than merely accepts social norms. Not easy work, in other words, nor work most schools seem willing to do."
    • The Enchanted Hour: the miraculous power of reading aloud in the age of distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon follows on from Wolf's in many ways. It's for everyone, not just teachers, and of course parents are the first and most important readers out loud. The author's case for reading out loud is completely convincing (and reminds those of us who are teachers not to stop as our pupils get into the final years of their schooling).
    • How to Teach English Literature: overcoming cultural poverty by Jennifer Webb also came out this year. It's directed partly at GCSE study in England, but will still be found useful by teachers in Ireland and beyond. Again, this is a rich resource. "To create brilliant literature critics, you need teachers who are: a) Experts: both in their subject and in pedagogy, who continue to learn; b) Happy: fulfilled, well-rested, valued, and trusted."
    • Making Every English Lesson Count: six principles to support great reading and writing by Andy Tharby (2017) has lots of practical guidance. "When employed without subtlety, however, some teaching strategies can imply a distrust of literature. Even though games, role plays and flashy slideshows all have their place, trying to engage students through these alone can be a case of not seeing the wood for the trees. A battered, dog-eared copy of Frankenstein is an extraordinary tool for teaching and engagement. Use it."
    • England: Poems from a School edited by Kate Clanchy isn't in fact aimed (just) at teachers, but every English teacher will love it: over several years Clanchy has elicited extraordinary work from the pupils at Oxford Spires Academy. This collection is full of the voices of children building their new homes in England, and trying to manage their new emotional and mental distances from their original countries.

    Saturday, June 15, 2019

    The Submarine, June 2019

    The latest edition of the pupil magazine The Submarine, or rather, given the time of the year, The Summerine, has just been published in school in paper form, and now can be read here electronically, above, via Issuu (click for closer view and navigation, click on the arrows to move through the pages). Below, Noah Leach's composition (see the back page of the magazine).

    In this issue, plenty of interesting writing, and lots of pupil art work. Thanks to this year's Editor Tania Stokes as she hands over to Avi and Edna Johnston, next year's Editors, and Emma Hinde, sub-editor.

    Thursday, June 06, 2019

    Leaving Certificate Paper 2

    Right now our candidates are deep into the marathon that is Paper 2 (Literature), but since the SEC has started to put papers online before the end of each exam, we can already assess it.

    Almost all our candidates sit Higher Level, and everyone has studied Macbeth as the single text. No character question this year (character options are relatively limited in a play with such a small cast of important characters). Instead, there are questions on the ways 'horrific, bizarre and unbelievable elements' do or do not 'heighten the tragic intensity' of the play - pretty straightforward, allowing candidates to examine elements such as the witches and the murders of Duncan, Banquo and the Macduffs. The other option is on Shakespeare's use of language, including imagery, and this should be approached with caution (only if a candidate is fully prepared for quite a technical matter).

    The comparative section asks on Literary Genre and Vision and Viewpoint, with the first question on the latter opening up possible sidetracking on the matter of 'our personal beliefs' and the second asking candidates to be fully au fait with just what 'personal integrity' is. The first Genre question, on techniques showing characters' mindsets, is straightforward, as is the second, on mood and atmosphere in texts.

    The unseen poem is Carol Ann Duffy's 'The Wound in Time', commissioned by Danny Boyle for the centenary of the end of the First World War (odd, then, that it should appear here in 2019 rather than 2018). It is dense and quite knotty, and may well challenge a lot of candidates.

    The infamous Poetry Stakes see in the frame Kennelly, Yeats, Bishop and Plath. The Kennelly question has a lot in it (let's hope all understand 'intrinsic'), while the Yeats and Plath questions seem a retreat to the more pared down questions of the past.

    Not great that 'skilful' is misspelt in a Leaving Certificate English paper (the question on Bishop), replaced by the Americanism with two 'll's...

    A handful of our pupils are sitting the exam at Ordinary Level: Macbeth is straightforward, the comparative questions were fair (on relationships or a theme), Elaine Feeney's 'Jack' is the unseen poem, and our candidates will be happy with writing on either Kennelly's 'Begin' or Bishop's 'The Fish' (skilfully or not).

    Wednesday, June 05, 2019

    Leaving Certificate Paper 1, 2019

    Good timing today for Paper 1 at Higher Level English, with one of the texts being David Park's brilliant short novel Travelling in a Strange Land, our own Book of the Year in 2018, and just last week named the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year at the Listowel Writers' Week. The extract was mostly disconnected from the narrative of the book (about a father driving across England to collect his snow-bound student son).

    Though there are many complaints about teachers about the quality of new Junior Cycle material, at this level there was consistently good writing, since the other two comprehension extracts were by the novelist Jeanette Winterson and the columnist Caitlin Moran. The former's piece 'What is Art For?' was quite dense and may have proven challenging to some candidates. Moran's essay in support of public libraries was characteristically lively (plenty of good material for the style question).

    As initiated last year, one question on each comprehension text sent candidate back into their Literature course, something we welcome as an exploration of content which certainly should be deeply embedded, and thus comfortable for candidates. The B short essays were in the forms of argument, a reflective essay (look at the photograph of the earth from space and 'imagine you are fleeing Earth on the last spaceship evacuating the planet have made our world uninhabitable' - hmm, not sure anyone would be writing a reflective essay in those circumstances...) and an introduction to a collection of essays. Again there is a lot in the instructions to such essays to grapple with.

    The main Composition essay were well-judged, with topics such as 'a self-obsessed generation', the values of young people today, the places which shaped you and 'what feeds your imagination' attractive to all. Again short stories may have proven trickier, with one contorted choice for a collection of spy stories (a librarian, a photograph and a chair to be central to the narrative) to be treated warily by all by but the most confident - it would be easy to fall flat on your face.

    Unsurprisingly the Ordinary Level paper (we have a handful of candidates) will have frightened no-one. The third piece was of the moment: addressing waste at a festival (Electric Picnic), and the compositions straightforward.

    Now onto Literature. Lots of resources here to freshen up your understanding of Macbeth, and do some self-testing or pair up with a friend (best practice: don't merely reread notes, which wastes precious time and is largely useless).

    Friday, May 31, 2019

    Transition Year English Evening 2019

    Tuesday evening saw the 26th annual TY English Evening, the longest-established Transition Year event in the school's calendar. It was presented by the Head of Department, the Sub-Warden, who welcomed his predecessor, Mr John Fanagan, as the guest speaker. He also remembered with fondness Professor Terry Dolan, who died recently, and who for so long was an established visitor at the Evening.

    A variety of writing was heard, and afterwards Mr Fanagan commented on the pieces: Aiyuni O'Grady's personal piece looked back at holiday experiences on Lough Corrib ('a vivid sense of place'), Maybelle Rainey read 'The Silver Night' (with 'excellent pace and strong voice'), Éile Ní Chianáin's 'Learning to Dance' about a young puffin was 'a beautiful observation of nature', Gioia Doenhoff's 'Being Underwater' 'got across a sense of tension in a very creative way', Oscar Yan's 'The Wells of Silence' from the eco-fiction module was 'very thoughtful and philosophical', Ellen Homan's entertaining 'Day in the Life of the Person Beside You' achieved humorous effects with 'a light touch', Raphaela Ihuoma's 'A Casket with John and Me' was 'very different and very controlled', Eva Dillenberger's 'Perfect' on images of the female body was a strong piece, and finally Sinéad Cleary's piece on Ted Bundy and 'murder-chic' was 'really effective, and very hard-hitting.'

    Finally, Mr Fanagan announced winners of the Premier awards: Imogen Casey, Éile Ní Chianáin, Sinéad Cleary, Gioia Doenhoff, Raphaela Ihumoma, Charlotte Moffitt, Oscar Yan.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2019

    Voices of Poetry 2019

    That lovely late-season annual event, Voices of Poetry, took place on Sunday evening in the Big Schoolroom. It is a fine pause in the maelstrom of the ending of the school year, just before examinations start: listening to great verse in many languages is balm for the soul.

    Again Mr Swift co-ordinated with his characteristic skill and lightness of touch. Helen Crampton started with a reading of the first poem she had learned as a child, Wordsworth's 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' (aka 'Daffodils'), followed by Mr Finn's strong recital of D.H. Lawrence's evocative 'Piano' ('Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me'). He was followed by Iona Chavasse's 'Wild Like the Sea That Raised Her', composed in the Poetry Slam in March, a haunting incantatory piece.

    Then it was on to other languages, including Spanish (Anna Laurenceau with Neruda), French (David White with Baudelaire), Sicilian dialect (for the first time, from Ms Pirrone), Latin (Tania Stokes with Horace), Turkish (Liz Kolat), Mexican dialect (Camilla Garcia), Ukrainian (Dmytro Kasienenko), Dutch (Cato Oldenburg), German (Tatiana Hopkins), Igbo (Sarah Maduwuba), Irish (Naoise Murray), Cantonese (Sinéad Cleary) and Mandarin (Zong Yuan Kou).

    In English we also heard Stella Jacobs with Whitman's 'O Captain, My Captain!' and Ms Morley with Liz Lochhead's thought-provoking 'The Choosing'. The Warden recited Newbolt's 'Vitaï Lampada', and Mr Swift paid tribute to his late brother in his reading of John Updike's 'Perfection Wasted' (here read by Garrison Keillor). Senior Prefect Harry Oke-Osanyintolu gave us Brendan Kennelly's optimistic 'Begin' from the Leaving Certificate poetry course.

    Two highlights were readings by this year's winners of the poetry prizes, Emma Hinde (junior, with 'Tree-maker') and Tania Stokes (senior, with her sonnet 'Seeing Tunnels').

    No better way to finish it all off than with William Carlos Williams's 'This Is Just to Say', read by Daniel Murray:

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold