Saturday, May 23, 2015

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. May 2015: 'Our Mockingbirds' by Fintan O'Mahony,, May 16th 2015 [marriage, equality, teaching].
  2. February 2015: 'Secrets of the teenage brain' by Katie Forster, The Guardian, January 25th 2015 [teenagers, neurology, parenting].
  3. January 2015: 'Does competitive sport in school do more harm than good?' by Matthew Jenkin, The Guardian, January 29th 2015 [sport, school, health].
  4. January 2015: 'Where are the "Je suis Nigeria" banners?' by Patrick Cockburn, Independent, January 18th 2015 [terrorism, Nigeria, censorship].
  5. January 2015: 'Dorchester Grill: restaurant review' by Jay Rayner, Guardian, December 28th 2014 [food, luxury, taste].
  6. January 2015: 'Sugar Season. It's Everywhere, and Addictive' by James J. DiNicolantonio and Sean C. Lucan,  New York Times, December 22nd 2014 [diet, nutrition, health].
  7. November 2014: 'Caring for my mother' by Alex Andreou, The Guardian, November 28th [dementia, old age, parents]. 
  8.  October 2014: 'The kids aren't all right' by David McWilliams,, October 23th 2014 [Ireland, recession, emigration]. 
  9. October 2014: 'Curiosity prepares the brain for better learning' by Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, October 2nd 2014 [brain, learning, neuroscience]. 
  10. September 2014: 'Students protest 'slut shaming' high school dress codes with mass walkouts' by Rory Carroll, The Guardian, September 24th September 2014 [school, uniforms, sexism, personal choice].  
  11.  September 2014: 'Can Reading Make You Smarter?' by Dan Hurley, The Guardian, January 23rd 2014 [reading, intelligence, education].
  12.  September 2014: 'Why ISIL is worse than al-Qaeda'  by Bobby Ghosh, Quartz, August 10th 2014 [current affairs, politics, terrorism].
  13.  May 2014: 'Do Our Kids Get Off Too Easily?' by Alfie Kohn, New York Times, May 3rd 2015 [education, psychology, childhood]. 
  14. May 2014: 'Missing Nigerian schoolgirls: Boko Harem claims responsibility for kidnapping' by Monica Mark, The Guardian, May 6th 2014 [Nigeria, Islam].
  15.  March 2014: 'Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?' by Ben Carter, BBC News Magazine, March 1st 2014 [education, skill, learning, talent].
  16.  February 2014: The Disunited Kingdom by Kathleen Jamie, New York Times, February 23rd 2014 [Scotland, democracy, politics].
  17.  February 2014: A giraffe has been killed - why the fuss? by Mary Warnock, The Guardian, February 10th 2014 [ethics, animals].
  18.  January 2014: The Roma - review of I Met Lucky People by Yaron Matras, by Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian, January 29th 2014 [Roma, prejudice, society]. 
  19. January 2014: 'We're a nation of mass dog murderers' by Aaron McKenna, The, January 18th 2014 [animals, society].
  20. January 2014: 'How Language Seems to Shape One's View of the World' by Alan Yu, NPR, January 2nd 2014 [language, bilingualism, brain].
  21. December 2013: 'Why European women are still smoking like chimneys' by Carmel Lobello, The Week, December 6th 2013 [health, marketing].
  22. December 2013: 'How Music Makes Us Feel Better' by Maria Konnikova, New Yorker, September 26th 2013 [music, brain].
  23. November 2013: 'How Do Spies Bug Phones?' in The Economist, October 31st 2013 [spying, internet, privacy]. 
  24. October 2013: 'A Tiny Pronoun Says a Lot About You' by Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal, October 7th 2013 [language, psychology, status].
  25. October 2013: 'Best. Column. Ever.' by Shane Hegarty, Irish Times, October 4th 2013 [sport, language, journalism].
  26. October 2013: 'Westgate mall attacks: urban areas are the battleground of the 21st century' by David Kilcullen, The Guardian, September 27th 2013 [terrorism, conflict, cities].
  27. September 2013: 'Synesthesia Sells' by Laura Spinney, Slate, from the New Scientist, September 22nd 2013 [science, marketing, commerce].
  28. September 2013 : '12 things we know about how the brain works' by Shane Parrish, The Week, August 26th 2013 [science, learning, studying].
  29. September : 'Never be lost for words' by Richard Fitzpatrick, The Irish Times, September 13th 2013 [sport, language, rhetoric, motivation].

Sunday, May 17, 2015

'The Great Gatsby' revision

Another shout-out for our 15 video/audio analysis of key moments in The Great Gatsby as our VI formers prepare the novel as their single text for the Leaving Certificate.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Shakespeare Prize 2015

Congratulations to the winner of the Willis Memorial Prize for Shakespeare 2015, Iyobosa Bello-Asemota, and to John Clarke, who was awarded a Commendation for his entry. 

One of the tasks the candidates had to complete was an analysis of the tricky and interesting Sonnet 71:

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse.
But let your love even with my life decay,
   Lest the wise world should look into your moan
   And mock you with me after I am gone.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Maria Popova's Brain Pickings has a useful article on the eleven stages of the hero's life as seen by Joseph Campbell. Food for thought for pupils studying texts. Below, Matthew Winkler's animation.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

My Grandmother's Hands

Another entry from the recent Junior Poetry Prize. This is by Rowan Sweeney of Second Form:

My Grandmother’s Hands

These were the hands that held
Me when I cried.
These were the hands that wiped
Away the tears while in pain.
These were the hands that gave
me money, sweets and love.
These were my Grandmother’s hands.
These were the hands that protected
Me when Mummy wasn’t there.
These were the hands whose hugs
could stop tears.
These were the hands that read me
Stories when I was afraid
To go to sleep.
These were my Grandmother’s hands.
These are the hands that are now
So cold.
These are the hands that have
grown old.
These are the hands that I will never
These are my Grandmother’s hands.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Junior Poetry Prize 2015

Congratulations to Tania Stokes, winner of the 2015 Junior Poetry Prize. Here are two of her poems, 'The Colours of the Senses' and 'Tarzan's Pool'.

The Colours of the Senses

Outside the door 
Is a fresh spring day, 
The scent of pale green hues 
tinged with lavender.

A waterfall 
Comes crashing down, 
The sound of raging dark blue shades 
Roaring above a pool of black

Wild berries 
Growing free upon the hill, 
The taste of deep purple 
Unattainable royalty.

Scattered pine needles 
Carpet the forest floor. 
Red to the touch 
Is their prickle defence.

The sunset 
Unravels its shining skein. 
I see its golden beauty 
As the day ends.   

Tarzan's Pool

I see the trees framing the bridge
As I tread a well-worn trail
Through a forest harbouring relics
To find a forgotten, shrouded pool.

I hear the operatic chorus,
The hum of the mosquito’s tune,
The flick of the lizard’s tongue,
My echoing footsteps.

I smell the must of mystery,
Sunbeams warming water,
Rocks, lichen, leaf mould
Come to life as scents.

I sense the silent creatures
Move beneath the water
The unseen reaches of the forest
Left untouched by humankind.

I am a gateway to another time,
I am the orchestra of the forest,
I am the guardian of the past,
I am
                A secret place.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Eason Creates Competition

Congratulations to Third Former Nyla Jamieson, who has been shortlisted in the Eason Creates writing competition in the Junior Cycle category for her story 'The Larcenist'. There is a public vote, which ends on April 29th, so we're encouraging all pupils, staff and parents to vote for Nyla here before that date (one vote per email address). The winner will be announced on May 1st.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Senior Poetry Prize 2015

We head off today on our Easter holidays. A good thing for Seniors to do over the coming weeks is to compose entries for the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry. The rubric is below:-

All entries are to be typed and sent to Mr.Canning at by the evening of Thursday 22nd May.

Entries should contain a portfolio of  between two and five poems based on or inspired by the idea of either:- PLACE or PEOPLE or PROMISES.

Poems should be at least ten lines long, and typed.  The winning entry will be based on the overall standard of the entrant’s body of poems. There will also be a prize for the BEST POEM if it is not in the winner’s selection. All other strong entries will be posted on

The English Department will also give smaller book-tokens to strong entries that do not win the Prize.

You can treat the ideas, ‘Place’, or ‘People’ or ‘Promises’ in a free way: any connection is fine, as long as the poems are clearly connected by image, inspiration, theme, form, situation, context …

The Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry was presented by the Dix family in memory of Peter, who died in the Lockerbie tragedy in 1988.  The Memorial, by sculptor Joe Sloan, is kept in the Library
and inscribed with the names of past winners.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Club

The next choice for the SCC Book Club is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.  We will be meeting to discuss it late in the summer term.  The book is available in your local library, the school library, bookshops or on an e-reader.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Consequences of Love

In her Transition Year Extended Essay this year, Ciara Dempsey gained a distinction for her writing on 'The Consequences of Love', comparing two novels - Arthur Golden's Memoirs of A Geisha and George Orwell's 1984 - and two plays: Arthur Miller's All My Sons and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Ciara writes:
"I hoped that with these stories I would be able to view as many different kinds of love as possible, to give me a better amount to compare, which I guess should have made it easier. The reason I chose this topic is really quite simple, I thought it would be easy. Unfortunately for me I found that not to be the case. That’s not to say that the topic has to be hard, but I know I personally found it difficult to write anything for it. However, in the end I hope it has all come together to be enjoyable for you to read."

Read the full essay here.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Eason Creates Competition

Many congratulations to III former Nyla Jamieson, who has been shortlisted in the Junior category of the Eason Creates Creative Writing competition. Her story, along with 8 others, will shortly be published on, and the overall winner will be selected by a combined public and judge-based vote.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


An article worth reading by V formers, who are currently studying Antigone as part of their comparative course. In the Guardian, Natalie Haynes writes:

"If the theme of Oedipus is seeing and blindness (the great irony of the play is that only when he is blinded can Oedipus truly see who he is and what he has done), the theme of Antigone is knowledge and certainty. Everyone knows that what they do is the right thing, and yet it ends in disaster."

Read the full article, "Antigone - freedom fighter or terrorist", here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gatsby revision Chapter 9 (last chapter)

Watch ShowMe analysis of

The ending of the novel:

  • ‘I found myself on Gatsby’ side, and alone.’ p.141. How is this so for Nick following Gatsby’s death?
  • What do we learn about Gatsby’s background from seeing his father (pp 144-150).
  • What are Nick’s feelings as he finally leaves Jordan Baker? (pp. 152-153)
  • What are Nick’s feelings at and after his last meeting with Tom Buchanan? (pp153-4).
  • Choose three phrases/quotations from the last 25 lines of the book, and accompany each with a short explanation of its importance/significance.

Friday, February 20, 2015

'The Departure' with Gillian Anderson

The Guardian has a short film called The Departure on its website (see it below), featuring Gillian Anderson, who played Blanche Dubois in the Young Vic's 2014 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. It is set just before Blanche travels to stay with Stella in New Orleans. Here are Anderson's comments. 

We study Streetcar in Transition Year in the summer term: good material for discussion here.