Thursday, September 30, 2010

Patterns of Poetry 3: alliteration

The third in the Patterns of Poetry series of brief talks is on the technique of alliteration, and uses 'The Windhover' by Gerard Manley Hopkins to illustrate how powerfully it can be used.  Here's an article on Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Get our Audioboos as podcasts on iTunes here. Our Audioboo page is here. Listen to today's talk via the player below.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TY Book Recommendations

IV form: fill in the form below (or go directly to it here; the link will be top right of this blog for a while). Many of these will be posted on the blog in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Patterns of Poetry

Today we start a 'major new series', as they say, of podcasts on poetry. These snappy talks (under five minutes, courtesy of Audioboo) will focus on individual elements of poetry, starting with titles (no 2, below), and including topics such as tone, metaphor, alliteration, the sonnet and lots more. Over the next few months these will build up into a library of ideas of ways to look at poetry. Get our Audioboos as podcasts on iTunes here. Our Audioboo page is here. Listen to the first talk, an introduction to the plan, below:-

The second in the series is the first that actually looks at poems, considering the importance of titles in poetry, and uses Elizabeth Bishop's 'The Fish' and Robert Frost's 'Out, Out' during the 4-minute talk.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poetry Aloud performers

Mr Jameson has now completed the auditions for the 2010 Poetry Aloud competition, and has posted the list in school. There are 3 senior, 3 intermediate and 8 juniors listed. More once the competition gets underway next month.

2010 TY House Speech Competition

Our annual House Speech competition was held last night in the BSR. The first event of the year which brings all the Transition Year together, it features two pupils from each House speaking for 3-5 minutes on a topic of their own choice.

Niamh Faulkner started off by talking about the very different culture of Oman, where she lives. Following her were: Conor McCooey (Liverpool Football Club), Tim Hone (bikes and bikers), Jamie Boyd (Lower Gwynn), Aifric Tracey ('improper' words), Zach Stephenson (speech-making), Hugo Hollis (collecting for charity), Jasmine Blenkins O'Callaghan (her 'mad' family), Neil Dalrymple (being small), and finally Catie McGonagle (cheerleading in America).

The judges Dr Stone, Ms Smith and last year's winner Tom Gibbs gave 5th place to Niamh, 4th to Jasmine, equal second to Aifric and Catie, and a popular and deserved first place to Neil Dalrymple for his confident (and visually striking) talk about what it is like to be vertically-challenged. Hollypark won the House competition, followed by Iona and Stackallan.

A pupil review will appear on this site shortly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Come to our Open Day!

On Saturday next, September 25th, we at St Columba's have our annual Open Day, from 10am to 1pm. This is a genuinely open invitation. Just turn up and you will get a tour of the College facilities, led by senior pupils, and be able to meet teachers and current parents. Our website has a huge amount of detail about the school for your interest, and you can learn there about the very high academic standards (including recent exam results) and the excellent extra-curricular life.
However, we thought we'd get together with our colleagues at  the science Frog Blog and write a joint post on what we offer as English and Science Departments to our pupils. Both Departments, as can be seen from our blogs, are forward-looking, enthusiastic and technically-innovative. 

Here are some reasons to come to St Columba's from the perspectives of the Science and English teachers:-

  • You'll become part of a reading culture. However technically-aware we are, real old-fashioned books are the core of what we do. Reading isn't a 'strange' activity here. Everyone does it. And you'll be able to write about the books you enjoy on the blog, too. 
  • You'll also become part of a publishing culture. SCC English posts a huge amount of writing every year, and every two years publishes a book of the best writing (yes, that's a real book).  There’s also the Second Bell magazine, written by pupils each term, and also the excellent Library magazine The Submarine (full of good pupil and staff writing).
  • Poetry is everywhere too- the Poetry Aloud competition, Teaching English national poetry competition, the annual poetry prizes, the Poems of the Week, and the Voices of Poetry evening.
  • We have a brilliant Library, with over 11,000 books and a professional Librarian. It's a beautiful space, perfect for reading, with a superb fiction selection.
  • Our Transition Year Programme will really stretch you. You'll write a 3000+ word literary essay, believe it or not, and develop your writing in this crucial year.
  • You'll be able to see lots of good theatre productions in Dublin, including Shakespeare through our Shakespeare Society. Last year’s visits included Dancing at Lughnasa, A Christmas Carol, Stones in his Pockets, Macbeth and All’s Well that Ends Well.
  • There's an amazing amount of drama taking part in the school, with plenty of involvement from English teachers and others. Within weeks of coming, you'll have a chance to audition for a part, whatever age you are.
  • If you have problems with literacy or learning, you’ll be well looked-after by our Learning Support Department, which works closely with English teachers.
  • Your learning will be supported by podcasts, especially as you come up to exam time.
  • There's lots more – just surf around SCC English and find out for yourself.

  • You'll become enthusiastic about science and nature and be encouraged to explore, ask questions, investigate and experiment - not just remember facts and regurgitate them in exams (we believe exam success will come naturally through an inherent interest in the complexities of the natural world and a willingness to explore these complexities).
  • You'll learn how science really works, see the simplicity of the scientific method and use it in the learning process.
  • You'll spend your time learning about science in our purpose-built Science Building - complete with four dedicated laboratories, wireless internet access, computers, interactive whiteboards, an extensive DVD library, live (and dead) specimens and other resources.
  • You'll get access to our Science Department Website, with weblinks, fully downloadable teacher notes, exam archive material and more. 
  • We'll also ask you to contribute to the Frog Blog, our frequently updated blog and our principal means of promoting science within the school, encouraging you to become part of St. Columba's publishing culture.
  • In Transition Year you'll be challenged to explore science beyond the confines of the Junior or Leaving Certificate syllabi, kept up to date with science news and be asked to produce projects on topics that interest you. Transition Year pupils also undertake an Astronomy Module, where the wonders of the solar system and universe are explored.
  • You can take part in our Science, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Agricultural Science prizes - our annual science competitions for pupils. These competitions vary in their format but encourage exploration, investigation and self directed learning.
  • You'll explore science beyond the boundaries of the schools gates with science field trips both nationally and internationally. As well as the annual Form I science trip to Northern Ireland and the Form V Biology trip to the Burren, members of all forms will visit science attractions like the Natural History Museum, the Science Gallery, the Bodies Exhibition, the Wax Museum and Dublin Zoo. Recently, the Science Department organised a cross-curricular trip to London and visited all the science attractions there (Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the Darwin Centre)
  • You'll gain access to our brilliant Library's extensive and ever increasing collection of science-related books and magazines and you'll be encouraged read and review them!
  • You'll be taught by enthusiastic, experienced, dedicated, professional and (mildly) entertaining science teachers, many of whom are involved with in-service teacher training and leaving cert exam marking. We aim to make science interesting but also fun!
  • There’s loads more, so please visit our Science Department Website, the Science Department Page on the St. Columba's website and explore the archives of our Frog Blog to find out more!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Soliloquies in 'Hamlet' - a Wordle slideshow.

A handy way of looking at language in any play by Shakespeare is via Wordle (click here for our series of all the plays via this word-count app). The more often the word is used, the larger it appears in the Wordle. By applying Wordle to the vital soliloquies in Hamlet, we can see easily which ideas are most important. Below is a slideshow of 7 such images (or click here to go directly to the slideshow).

The easiest way to look at it would be by clicking the 'full screen' icon just to the left of 'Share' at the bottom. However, if you click on the slideshow link itself you can go on to hear several famous actors give the speeches by clicking on the 'hot-spots' in slides 2 to 6 (YouTube videos open in separate windows; if you are accessing on a smartphone without Flash via the QR code to the right, click on the actors names below instead).

Wordle slides in order:-
  1. The entire play, including names of characters speaking (not surprising which character dominates, considering he says more than any other in all Shakespeare's plays, but notice 'Lord' - this is a very deferential society...)
  2. Hamlet's first soliloquy, 'O that this too too solid flesh'. Actor - Kenneth Branagh.
  3. Hamlet's second soliloquy, 'O what a rogue and peasant slave am I'. Actor - Richard Burton.
  4. Hamlet's third soliloquy, 'To be or not to be'. Actor - David Tennant.
  5. Claudius's soliloquy, 'O my offence is rank'. Actor - Patrick Stewart.
  6. Hamlet's fourth soliloquy, 'How all occasions do inform against me'. Actor - Kenneth Branagh.
  7. All Hamlet's main 4 soliloquies put together.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Poetry Aloud auditions

Mr Jameson will hold auditions for this year's national Poetry Aloud competition at 1.30pm on Tuesday in the BSR. All welcome - copies of the poems are available from him or your English teacher.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TY Extended Essay Books

IV formers should have filled in the online form here by this evening. Spread the word!


Number 20 in the series: Campaign for the Removal of English Errors in Public.

Despite saying we might lay the apostrophe issue down for a while, we just had to feature this multiple horror seen yesterday in Dundrum Shopping Centre. Yes, its true, its there over and over, and Bing! walk around the back and there its happening again, this time white on black. It hasn't arrived....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Teaching English' poetry ceremony

Today in the Laois Education Centre Olivia Plunket receives her joint third prize in the annual senior national poetry competition run by the SLSS for Teaching English magazine. Michael Kemp was also Highly Commended for his poem 'I am'. Olivia wrote her poem in response to the stunning 1599 painting 'Judith and Holofernes' by Caravaggio (click here for a large image):-

'Judith and Holofernes' by Olivia Plunket

Draping curtains as red as blood
The maid will encourage Judith
As she enters the realm of reality.

Holofernes’s hand clenching
The blood-stained sheets
Upon which his body lies.

His shoulder arching forward,
His muscles pulsing.
Outside the frame his legs are thrashing,
As he tries to fight his fate,
Screaming to his saviour in the heavens.

Junior Certificate results 2010

Congratulations to all our candidates who this morning receive their Junior Certificate results. Full details across all the subjects will be on the College site in due course. In English, 84% of all our candidates achieved A, B or C at Higher Level.

Monday, September 13, 2010

TY Extended Essay Reading

All in Transition Year should fill in the form here, or below in this post (scroll down for all the questions), by Thursday evening. Type in the titles of three books you have chosen, and their authors, and in the final box indicate what way you think you will link them. Don't worry if you're not certain about the theme - it can be worked out in due course with your teacher.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Poetry Aloud 2010

We've had plenty of success and a very positive experience from the Poetry Aloud competition organised jointly by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland in recent years, and the process of selecting our representatives has just started again. You need to learn one poem by W.B. Yeats (Junior- 'The Stolen Child'; Intermediate - 'Beautiful Lofty Things'; Senior - the marvellous late poem 'Cuchulain Comforted', which is reproduced below). Also a poem of your own choice from The Rattle Bag or Lifelines. See your English teachers for full details, and to register your interest.

We will shortly have internal auditions, and will select the best to go forward to local heats. Full details are on the National Library site here. There's an excellent site with plenty of resources for pupils and teachers from the other side of the Atlantic in Poetry Out Loud.

'Cuchulain Comforted', by W.B. Yeats

A man that had six mortal wounds, a man
Violent and famous, strode among the dead;
Eyes stared out of the branches and were gone.

Then certain Shrouds that muttered head to head
Came and were gone. He leant upon a tree
As though to meditate on wounds and blood.

A Shroud that seemed to have authority
Among those bird-like things came, and let fall
A bundle of linen. Shrouds by two and three

Came creeping up because the man was still.
And thereupon that linen-carrier said:
'Your life can grow much sweeter if you will

'Obey our ancient rule and make a shroud;
Mainly because of what we only know
The rattle of those arms makes us afraid.

'We thread the needles' eyes, and all we do
All must together do.' That done, the man
Took up the nearest and began to sew.

'Now must we sing and sing the best we can,
But first you must be told our character:
Convicted cowards all, by kindred slain

'Or driven from home and left to die in fear.'
They sang, but had nor human tunes nor words,
Though all was done in common as before;

They had changed their throats and had the throats of birds.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wordsworth's 'Tintern Abbey' as a Wordle

For the benefit of those studying William Wordsworth's 'Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey' for the Leaving Certificate, here is a Wordle of the 230 most frequently used words in the poem (the more often the word appears in the text, the larger it is in the Wordle. Click on it for a larger view).

Consider the importance of the 'largest' words: 'thoughts', 'life', dear', 'years', 'nature', 'mind', 'deep', 'joy'...

(Click here for our Shakespeare series of Wordles).

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Apostrophe Song App

No 9 in a series of reviews of iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps useful for English literature and language learning and teaching.

Yesterday we posted a video called 'The Apostrophe Song' under our latest CREEP. We do have a bit of an obsession with apostrophes, as can be seen from many posts in the CREEP series. We then got an email from Shaun McNicholas of Cool Rules, of Adelaide in Australia, who in their own words "are dedicated to creating innovative, effective and entertaining learning resources for adults and children. We believe that learning can always be enjoyable, and that the most effective learning occurs when multiple senses are stimulated." Shaun pointed out that The Apostrophe Song is now an app, available from the iTunes store for €0.79.

We've tried it out and are very happy to recommend it, especially at that reasonable price. You can play the Apostrophe Song to your class in various forms:- Pop/Dance, Rock, Hip-Hop or Acoustic, or best still enter the Cool Rules Schools' Challenge and record your own song and try to get your version included in the App. There's also a self-test on apostrophes with dinky noises for success or failure. The website has downloads of advice and guidelines for teachers.

Cool Rules has used App technology to produce a very useful and entertaining way of learning, and we look forward to more from them.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Leaving Certificate course 2010-12

Our new Fifth Form have just set off on a two-year journey towards their English Leaving Certificate. Click here for the summary of the course (all documents are always available for download for you in Department Documents as well).

As well as some old favourites such as Dancing at Lughnasa, Hamlet and How Many Miles to Babylon? we're tackling The Great Gatsby for the first time - a treat ahead for pupils. For the first time also Thomas Kinsella appears on the 'new' course in the poetry section.


Number 19 in the series: Campaign for the Removal of English Errors in Public.

This one is a tinchy bit embarrassing for our profession. In last June's Leaving Certificate Paper II (Higher Level) the Unseen Poem was 'Seed' by Paula Meehan. On Friday we saw the Marking Scheme for the first time, and the words in the picture, above, which read 'There is a typographic error on line 12. The word "useless" should read "useful".'  The examiners are then advised to reward creative reading of the poem. Oops.


Number 18 in the series: Campaign for the Removal of English Errors in Public.

Over the porridge at the breakfast table the other morning, KS spotted this apostrophic omission - Padraigs 1st cow is presumably well past heavens door by now.

Unless we get a particularly juicy one, this might be the last CREEP referring to an absent apostrophe (shooting punctuation fish in a barrel). But we thought you'd like, below, the fine 'Apostrophe Song' first:-

Friday, September 03, 2010

Transition Year Course 2010-2011

The annual TY English course kicked off today, and pupils now have a copy (click here to download again, and always available in our Department Documents page under 'Our Sites and Info' on the right).

Literary Extended Essays: pupils should have a look at past essays in  2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006 for inspiration. Just click on the dates and have a look at the very high standard you can aspire to: such models or exemplars are a very valuable facility on this site.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Start of Michaelmas Term

This afternoon we welcome to the College our many new pupils, and tomorrow we start term properly. Somehow, at SCC English, we've arrived at our fifth year blogging, and during this term there will be much that is familiar: our prime focus during term-time is on the pupils' own work, and there will be plenty of creative writing, book recommendations and literary essays published here. Have a look here for instance at eight of the excellent literary Transition Year Extended Essays from last Michaelmas Term.

Over the holidays we've had a make-over, and there will also plenty of more substantial developments, including, as they say in the movies, a 'Major New Series' of short podcasts on the features of poetry.

Thanks to Adrian Weckler, who last night on the 'The Last Word' with Matt Cooper on Today FM radio made several very complimentary remarks on both this site and the science Frog Blog. We'd also like to draw attention to the excellent College Art Department blog, which is back in action today with a distinctly peculiar tea-cup...