Sunday, February 28, 2010

Selected SCC Tweets

Selection of last week's tweets:-
  1. The Poetry Channel - poems on video :
  2. Irish Times review of new Emily Dickinson biography:
  3. Catriona Crowe reviews 'Dictionary of Irish Biography' (now in our Library):
  4. Excellent advice! Ten Twitter Turn-offs to avoid when building your Teacher PLN:
  5. Recommend this thought-provoking article by Jacob Epstein on the future of books - "displacing the Gutenberg system" -
  6. In Ireland "three-quarters of parents believe teachers are doing a good job, a new survey reveals."
  7. How to Use the Upload Widget to Collect Student Work
  8. Poetry from Faber - 'Human Chain' by Heaney, 'Maggot' by Paul Muldoon, Paterson on Shakespeare sonnets:
  9. Tremendous essay from TY student comparing 'Middlemarch', 'Pride and Prejudice' & 'Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire':
  10. Violent but Charming: Dictionary of Old English explores brutality & elegance of our ancestral tongue.
  11. Bound to strike a chord with English teachers: Teenage fiction's death wishes | Alison Flood
  12. Keats-Shelley House - well worth visiting if you're in Rome (beside Spanish Steps):
  13. Formidable TY essay comparing '1984', 'Fight Club', 'Trainspotting' ('transgressive fiction'):
  14. Geoffrey Chaucer: an interview with Terry Dolan via @sharethis
  15. Thoughtful TY essay- 'Life After Death' in Looking for Alaska, Brief History of the Dead, 5 People You Meet in Heaven:
  16. Junior Cert pupil's essay comparing 'Bad Day at Blackrock' and 'The Outsiders':

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ghostly Encounter 1

Last term all I form studied Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, and also went to the Gate Theatre dramatisation. Mr Jameson used this as a springboard for a writing exercise, and over the next few days we'll post three pieces based on encounters with ghosts: "Using Scrooge's meeting with the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, as their inspiration, I asked my I form English group to write about an encounter with a ghost."

The first is by Rowland Fitzgerald Barron: The first thing I noticed when I entered the house was the bite of cold inside which was very strange as it was usually warm. After doing my homework, I put on the television and after ten minutes, the screen started flickering and then it switched off. I tried to switch it on again but had no success. I went into the kitchen and found all the lights switched off. There must have been a power-cut, I thought. After having only a few peanuts for dinner, I went to bed on an empty stomach. It was quite hard to get to sleep and when I did, my sleep was full of nightmares...

Read Rowland's full piece here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Extended Essay: Eliot, Austen, Foreman

In a formidable Transition Year Extended Essay, Emma Moore compared three books on the theme 'relationships': the classic novels Middlemarch by George Eliot and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and the recent biography Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. This essay focusses particularly on women's lives during the 18th and 19th century in England.

Emma writes: I chose these books because they all have the same central theme; relationships. I chose this theme because I find it interesting to see how relationships can be affected by many different things, and how many different relationships there can be between people. It also interested me to see how the characters in the three different books overcame the same problems but in their own separate ways, showing that every person has their own way of dealing with things.

Read Emma's full essay here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Extended Essay: Orwell, Welsh, Palahniuk

Michael Kemp received a Commendation for a formidable and wide-ranging Transition Year Extended Essay on 'Transgressive Fiction', in which he compared George Orwell's 1984, Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club.

Michael writes: The term Transgressive Fiction was coined in the last twenty years although the works of Marquis De Sade from the 17th century are certainly the first of the genre; but most novels put under obscenity trails have been considered Transgressive (even James Joyce’s Ulysses). Transgressive fiction has a wide base, from the work of the 50s New Age Beat Writers, to the bitter realism of Hubert Selby Jr. and the drug fuelled accounts of Hunter S. Thompson’s dying American Dream, have all set the foundations for Transgressive Fiction.

The Genre really soared during the 90s with the rise of alternative rock and its anti-establishment subculture. Also the arrivals of Transgressive protégés Bret Easton Ellis, Irvine Welsh and Chuck Palahniuk increased the Transgressive writer’s influence. This led to the extreme success of Douglas Copeland’s
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (which he recently released a similarly titled novel containing the same subject matter called Generation A, intended for our own generation). Transgressive fiction is still young and each of its voices has a signature style, subject matter varies from across the globe. The trend in Britain being that its subjects are the lower and working class; while in America they focus on the mediocrity of being middle class.

Read Michael's full essay here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Extended Essay: Green, Brockmeier, Albom

Rosie Agnew received a Commendation for her thoughtful essay on 'Life After Death' in three books: Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

She writes: The three novels I chose to study all delve into very different possibilities of the afterlife. As it is an extremely complicated subject, with no simple explanation, it is important to understand how the themes of the novels interlace and intertwine with the influences that govern ideas of life after death. It is very unclear what the basis of a lot of speculations regarding the hereafter is. The most influential force would certainly be that of religion.

The followers of Christianity follow the words of the prophet Jesus Christ, and believe that after we die we go to a place called Heaven, and we become angels. This, however, is only if we have been faithful to God within our lives. If we have not, or if we have somehow behaved wrongly, we may go to Hell. In between these two lies Purgatory and this is where Kevin Brockmeier retrieves the foundations to build his story around. His is possibly the most complicated literary piece of them all; because the story is built very slowly as the reader must take the book chapter by chapter in order to be able to understand it. As each member of the living realm within the book dies, the only people left in Purgatory, or the City as it is so called, are the ones which Laura still remembers. When people we love pass away, we often have a passionate longing to see them again, or, more simply put, we miss them, sometimes for years after their death. A lesson that has to be learned is that we cannot still rely on the dead to comfort us, for they are gone to a different place now, one which we cannot reach without being there ourselves.

Read Rosie's full essay here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book review: Power and Hinton

In his Junior Certificate book report, Chris Doherty chose two books for his comparison which clearly fit together well - S.E. Hinton's classic The Outsiders, and the much more recent Bad Day in Blackrock by Kevin Power, recommended by SCC English here last April.

Chris writes: - My main novel, Bad Day in Blackrock, is based around the glamorous lives of wealthy private schoolboys in South Dublin and is set in the modern era. It focuses on the difficulties associated with teenagers’ experiences today, and the challenges faced by upper-middle class teenagers. I feel that I can relate well with this book and therefore understand its complexities more fully. The Outsiders, on the other hand, is based in the 1960s, and concentrates on the life of the lower class citizens, or ‘thugs’ and ‘greasers’, as they are known. This is also interesting because it is a setting I am not familiar with, and therefore my reading had an element of learning to it, giving me an insight into a different world.

Read the full report by Chris here.

Last week's Twitter selection

Our weekly selection from our tweets:

  1. John Lanchester on Google: 'mix of innocence and arrogance':
  2. Elmore Leonard: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it". Guardian's feature on 10 rules of writing-
  3. Henning Mankell interviewed:
  4. Great site for English #poetry teaching: Poetry 180 -
  5. SCC English: 56 Web 2.0 links:
  6. Oddest title of 2009-"Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich" / "The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease"? Vote:
  7. Checking out "The iPad--A Potential Revolution in Education" on English Companion Ning:
  8. Recording of a Billy Collins #poetry reading in Key West:
  9. ''Teaching English" Irish National Poetry Competition for secondary pupils:
  10. Teaching 'The Merchant of Venice':
  11. Reassessment of Emily #Dickinson as an epileptic; #LCEnglish:
  12. SCC English podcast no 17; revision on Eavan Boland's 'This Moment': #LCEnglish

Friday, February 12, 2010

Podcast 17: 'This Moment' by Eavan Boland

Half-term starts today, so it's that great time, when we can dive into books for a week or so. After half-term, we have a lot of really good pupil writing to post here; some excellent material is promised. Meanwhile, our VI form are preparing for their Mock exams, so this seems an appropriate time to produce another poetry revision podcast.

Our 17th podcast is the second in a series dealing with individual poems on the Leaving Certificate course (following the first on Yeats's 'The Wild Swans at Coole'). This one deals with 'This Moment' by the contemporary Irish poet Eavan Boland, examining how this apparently simple lyric achieves its memorable impact, and quoting from Boland's own comments and other writing.

Listen to the podcast via the player below:-

You can also listen to our podcasts via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Selected SCC Tweets from the last week

Our second weekly summary of useful 'tweets' from the previous week:

  1. For any teacher: great classroom clock/timer for projection, from Teachit:
  2. #LCEnglish: Shakespeare search engine - great for revision, self-testing...
  3. Senior and Junior Poetry Prizes 2010 launched:
  4. SCC English Web 2.0 links on Delicious:
  5. Poem of the Week 60: 'Valentine for Ernest Mann' by Naomi Shihab Nye:
  6. 'Using ICT to teach English' from UK 'National Strategies' :
  7. 'Improving the Teaching of #Shakespeare', resources, especially 'Romeo and Juliet':
  8. #LCEnglish: King Lear's map of Britain: #Shakespeare
  9. #LCEnglish: King Lear 'visualisations' :
  10. #LCEnglish: strong recommendation to all Leaving Cert pupils - Yeats exhibition - @NGIreland
  11. 'Paragraphy': good class tool for writing coherent paragraphs:
  12. Encouraging English teachers in Ireland to join @ecning :
  13. Patrick Kavanagh: poet for the recession? #LCEnglish:
  14. Hypertext version of 'The Waste Land' by #Eliot. #LCEnglish:
  15. 7 #Macbeth revision podcasts. #LCEnglish:
  16. #LCEnglish: Leaving Certificate English resources:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010 Poetry Prizes

We've now launched our annual Senior and Junior Poetry Prizes. Entries are due in by the last day of term to Mr Canning and Ms Smith respectively. Here is the senior rubric, here the junior. Click here for previous senior poems, here for junior ones.

Next term, as usual, we'll be posting the best entries to these prizes. Meanwhile after half-term, which starts tomorrow, we'll be posting some poems from Ms Smith's 'Images in Poetry' Transition Year module, as we did last year.

Poem of the Week 60: Valentine

Our 60th Poem of the Week is Naomi Shihab Nye's 'Valentine for Ernest Mann'. You can read more about the poet here, and also listen to her read some poems.

Only three more days until the relevant time...but then we'll all be on half-term.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I form Public Speaking Competition

Toss aside your 3D glasses and get comfortable. This is entertainment at its simplest, and best.

Today saw the final of the Form I Speech Competition in Blackburn. Topics were varied: speakers doing parrot impressions, an unusual tale about the journey of a euro coin, the origin of well-known sayings such as ‘sleep tight’, eating camels’ hooves in China, Christianity, and much much more.

The overall winner was John Clarke with his speech entitled ‘My Brother’, about his brother Jamie. His speech was funny, authentic, used anecdote to great effect, and was perfectly pitched. He might as well have tossed his notes aside along with the 3D glasses - he didn’t need them once. Well done to John, and the seven other finalists, for informing and entertaining us in such style!


Review of 'Adrian Mole'

On Monday we posted pictures of last weekend's excellent Junior Play production. Now here's a review of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Transition Year pupil Opeline Kellett (herself often seen treading the boards in the BSR).

She writes: Overall this was a superb production. Special credit must go to Patrick Tice who played Adrian. His portrayal of the character was flawless and he managed to combine humour with the more serious without ever letting his energy drop or the audience's attention lapse. It seemed to me everyone was glued for the duration of the play. Full credit must go to the whole cast and of course Mr. Jameson who directed the play in a very short amount of time. In brief it was an excellent show and it was greatly enjoyed by all.

Read Opeline's full review here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mr McCarthy's Library Selection

Currently featuring in the Library is a selection of books from our Classical Studies colleague, Peter McCarthy, the second of a series from staff which we'll be featuring (see the first from scientist Peter Jackson here). This is a way of sharing with pupils and staff the books which we love and have made us the people (and teachers) we are.

Among Peter's choices are Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and Homer's Iliad. On a more modern and personal note, he writes about his brother Ted's book November Wedding and other poems:-

My brother Ted is the artistically creative member of our family and this collection of poems was published in 1998. We were all very proud of his achievements and it was a great thrill to see his book on the bookshop shelves, beside Irish poets like Yeats and Heaney.

See the full selection here.

Jim Burke on EC Ning

We've recommended the English Companion Ning before to all English teachers (it still seems overwhelmingly American, but a vast amount is still useful for those of us on this side of the world). Its creator, Jim Burke, was recently interviewed by the Ning people, and you can read this interview here.

Among his comments: We have had nearly 11,000 join in little over a year and it just keeps expanding. Within two years it is very possible that it will be the largest organized community of English teachers in the world.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Adrian Mole Photos

The Junior Play, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, was a great success on Friday and Saturday night. Later this week we'll have a pupil review here. Meanwhile, above is an Animoto video of the photographs taken by Mr Peter Watts on Friday (the music is Maple Leaf Rag 2), and below are the stills in a Picasa album.

Leaving Cert English on Twitter

On our Twitter site, we've started a hashtag on Leaving Cert English resources (#LCEnglish). For anyone not familiar with the system, this is a way of gathering (and contributing to) such resources where anyone can find them. You can search on Twitter itself, and every now and then we'll summarise these 'tweets' here. Meanwhile, in the coming weeks we'll gradually catch up on LC resources from this blog over the years since 2006.

Bookmark Competition

Head on over to SCC Art for a post on this year's bookmark competition for World Book Day. This year, instead of making our own (recession and all that), we'll be entering pupils for the official WBD competition.

Left, a design from Lauren Scully from last year.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

15 Recent Tweets

A new feature: selected 'tweets' from the SCC English Twitter site over the last week. Follow us via the button on the right-hand column.

  1. Recommended: Liz Meldon's Rathgar Bookshop:
  2. Review of Paul Murray's 'Skippy Dies', 'one of the most enjoyable, funny and moving reads of this young new year' :
  3. Masters of American Literature: Salinger, Mailer, Updike:
  4. #LCEnglish: Podcast on 'The Wild Swans at Coole' by #Yeats:
  5. Current 'Atlantic Monthly': 'What makes a great #teacher?'
  6. #LCEnglish: Khaled Hosseini podcasts and interviews, useful for Kite Runner:
  7. #LCEnglish : hashtag for Leaving Cert English resources and help. Hope others will join in...
  8. Globe Theatre #Shakespeare productions coming to Dundrum Cinema:
  9. Jim Burke of the 'English Companion' interview on @ecning:
  10. Anyone have experience of using a visualiser in class?
  11. Animoto video of pictures of Afghan kites - for those studying The Kite Runner-
  12. Alliteration in Poetry:
  13. Annotated version of 'The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock' , useful for LC candidates:
  14. Great Transition Year essay on the life of an old German woman:
  15. Lots of free teachers' literature guides on the Penguin USA site- #englishteacher-

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Khaled Hosseini podcasts

For V formers currently studying The Kite Runner as part of their comparative module: there's useful material on Khaled Hosseini's own site here, including three podcasts here. There are also nine short videos in the Book Group Discussion section of the site, covering these topics:-
  • Becoming a Writer
  • Conditions in Afghanistan
  • Exile
  • Future Projects
  • Letters from Readers
  • Making Certain Character Choices
  • Practising Medicine
  • Using Real People and Events
  • Writing from the Female Perspective

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

He's back: eternally 13 and three-quarters, Adrian Mole is on the stage of the BSR tonight and tomorrow night at 7pm, in Evan Jameson's production of Sue Townsend's classic The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

It's all here - Adrian's obsession with spots, Pandora and the Norwegian leather industry. Featuring an excellent Patrick Tice in the lead role, complete with extraordinarily large and nerdy glasses. Click here for the full cast list.

We'll post a pupil review here next week.

Left, programme cover by Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Kite Runner photos

A repeat of an Animoto video, and a post, from October 2007, for the benefit of V formers who are currently studying The Kite Runner in their Leaving Cert course:-

(from October 07): "Many thanks to our friend Terry O'Malley, who has sent in pictures and material relating to Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel The Kite Runner, recently recommended here by TY pupil Mark Kavanagh who has read it for his Extended Essay. Above, an Animoto video of some of the pictures Terry took on a visit to Afghanistan, as Chair of the Irish aid organisation SAFE (Support for Afghan Further Education). On a recent visit in August, Terry had a lucky escape in an ambush in which two people were killed. (The music on the video is 'Spaceman' by The Lift).

He visited Noor Agha (whose house is near the two Sufi graveyards as pictured) and took pictures of some of his vivid kites. The string is impregnated with powdered glass ...

See more about the background in these two articles. See also a Time Magazine article here."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Oldest Person I Know

Claire Conway recently wrote a fine essay for her Transition Year Work Portfolio, under the popular title, 'The Oldest Person I Know'. A vivid recreation of a long and memorable life, it starts:-

The oldest person I know is my grandmother Hildegard. She is 85 years old and has gained so much wisdom and has experienced breathtaking events throughout her long life. She is an amazing person, full of rich memories, and I love to listen to her unique stories. What makes her most interesting is the fact that she and her family lived and experienced first hand the Second World War in Germany...

Read Claire's full essay here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

World Book Day 2010

World Book Day this year is on Tuesday 4th March: again, we'll be planning various ways of marking it, in association with the Library. Meanwhile, you can go to the Ireland site here.

See Saturday's post for a list of some recent new books in the Library.