Saturday, January 29, 2011

10 Characters from 'Hamlet'. 3: Laertes

The subject of the third short podcast on characters from Hamlet is Laertes, another young man in the play who is a revenger, and who provides a useful foil to Hamlet in our understanding of the latter's situation and personality.

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

10 Characters from 'Hamlet': 2. Horatio

The second of the 'audioboos' on characters in Hamlet looks at the hero's most loyal friend and supporter, Horatio, a man who 'is not passion's slave'.

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Characters from 'Hamlet': 1. Fortinbras

This 'audioboo' is the first of a series which will look at (relatively) minor characters in the play Hamlet. Later and longer revision podcasts will consider the main characters, including Hamlet himself.

Number 1 examines a character who hardly appears in the story, and who hardly says anything, and yet who has a crucial role: Fortinbras, Prince of Norway.

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


Monday, January 24, 2011

Web 2.0 Tools

Here's a reposting of a one-sheet summary of the kinds of tools this blog uses, including Blogger, Audioboo, Podbean and lots more. Click here, or read it embedded below.

Friday, January 21, 2011

TES English resources

We're delighted to be featuring currently in the Times Educational Supplement English resources, with our King Lear and Macbeth podcasts, and also Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream and others from the Shakespeare Wordle series, and our Hamlet Wordle slideshow.

Click here for the TES English site, or on the play titles above to go straight to the resources.

Lots of Shakespeare resources are gathered on the Ask Shakespeare page (read more there about Ask Shakespeare Day on February 2nd).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TY Extended Essay: Downham, Christopher, Frank

In her Transition Year Extended Essay, Catie McGonagle wrote on three books which feature women who are trapped in different circumstances: Anne Frank's Diary (original cover, left), Leslie Downham's Before I Die, and Lucy Christopher's Stolen.

Catie writes:-

'I find it exceptionally odd that someone would willingly, and in full knowledge of his or her actions, trap themselves and even get some kind of sick enjoyment out of it. I used to understand why they do it. I even used to think it was a good thing. But now, after reading the three books I chose for my extended essay, I can understand what being trapped really means. The Oxford English Dictionary defines trapped as a verb meaning to prevent from escaping or getting free. But for Gemma, Tessa, and Anne, the characters in my books, being trapped takes a unique new form that is specific for each character and their situation.'
Read Catie's full essay here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

TY Extended Essay: Hosseini, Dickens, Ballard

Last term Eleanor Dolphin of Transition Year received a Commendation for her fine comparative Extended Essay entitled 'Life-Altering Journeys Through Childhood', which ambitiously examined three novels: Dickens's David Copperfield, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun.

In her introduction, she explains:

Childhood, for me is a delicate fragment of glass. It shines so bright and pure and yet it can strike out with a vengeance and cut the bearer of it to pieces. It can be pulverised and manipulated, but not without effort. A child is pure, optimistic even in the most hopeless of cases. Encased in their own world they are a shining beacon of hope, unaware of the world’s harsh realities. Their instincts are razor sharp and usually correct, yet their beautiful naivety allows them to be made vulnerable by people who have no boundaries.

I think that a child is like a complex sponge, in that they absorb the smallest things occurring around them and are influenced immensely by what they experience. Nine times out of ten, if a child encounters some drastic event or something similar, then they will have this dragging along behind all the way to adulthood, as if they’re suspended on chains. An adventure to a child can range from the most insignificant event to the most spectacular occurrence.

Some children go through life-altering journeys and are changed, sometimes for the better and sometimes for worse.

Read Eleanor's full essay here.


It's back- the Campaign for the Removal of English Errors in Public, thanks to our friend @humphreyjones, who spotted this interesting spelling near a restaurant in Gorey during the holidays. Where do we start with this one? Perhaps best just to let it sepeak for itself.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

English Prizes 2010-11

At the end of last term we held our annual English Prize exams, and results are now in: many congratulations to the winner of the Senior Prize, Miriam Poulton, and of the Junior Prize, Aidan Chisholm. In addition, the department awarded book tokens for excellent entries to Sebastian McAteer, Olivia Plunket, Opeline Kellett and Rosie Agnew (Senior), and Eliza Hancock and Gregory Munday (Junior). The prizes are awarded at the St Columba's Day celebrations in June.

The Department makes three other awards: the Shakespeare Prize, and Senior and Junior Poetry Prizes (at the end of this term),

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Obama in Tucson

As part of a series of Wordles on language used by public speakers and in public documents (useful for language study in English as well as in subjects such as History, CSPE, Economics, Religion and so on), here is a word cloud of the text of President Obama's well-received speech in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday. Click on the image for a closer look. You can see and hear the speech itself below. There's also a fascinating comparison to be made with Sarah Palin's controversial 'blood libel' speech (again, click for a larger view).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

'No and Me' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Term started today, and we have another busy term ahead of us on the blog. First, we need to catch up on some pupil work done last term, including Junior Certificate III form book reports.

Sally Kemp read and then wrote about two novels: No and Me by Delphine de Vigan, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (which Transition Year will shortly be studying).

Sally writes:

Both these books are from a first person narrative, both of which are female. Lou, a thirteen year old genius with already a very developed mind and Scout, who is very intelligent but still has a lot of learning ahead of her in terms of morality, and much younger. Lou’s perspective was something completely new to me, there would be so many ideas buzzing around in her head and she would analyse every single aspect of those ideas, each possible outcome of it.

Between the two, I found Lou the more interesting character to read about because of this fascinating mind. Whereas Scout was still learning, she was also very clever and articulate for a girl of her tender age. She is confident, brave and with the best of intentions. The fact that she would beat all the boys up and speak her mind in class, really reminds me of when I was her age. For that reason, I can identify with Scout a lot more than I can with Lou.

Read the rest of the book report here.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Using a Visualiser

Last term the Department started using a visualiser (sometimes known as a document camera) in class. Our model is the Elmo L-1ex (pictured). We'll be demonstrating it, and its tremendous effectiveness in the classroom, at an in-service session for staff tomorrow.

Here's a brainstormed rough-notes list of ways a visualiser can be used in English teaching and learning (without an interactive whiteboard):-

  • Pupils have their own books open, but also show the text of play/poem/novel on the board, and annotations/highlighting on this. This helps pupils stay on track on the the page, and teacher to point out things on the board. It is also very helpful for getting the class to focus together on a point (also handy if some pupils have different editions of texts).
  • Text displayed for pupils missing a textbook.
  • Text annotation demonstration. Have a store of different coloured highlighters and pens for underlining.
  • A big saver on photocopying.
  • You can also remove the screen and annotate directly on whiteboard (there may be some glare).
  • Large focus on small part of text - line, stanza, phrase: ‘every small book becomes a big book’. Use the highlight function to select/reveal parts of the text.
  • Display good work by pupils - a paragraph, an opening, a piece particularly well presented, quotations list, well-organised notes.
  • Easy to show something from a newspaper/magazine.
  • Mark ‘live’ (with pupils’ consent).
  • Use a smartphone app/watch/stopwatch to time class test, or to time a discussion/conversation, divide class into sections.
  • Media Studies: close up and 3D look at packaging, advertising brochure, magazine etc.
  • Quick look-ups: dictionary, cross-reference to another book etc.
  • Quickly prepare handwritten notes / mind-map before class.
  • Postcards as stimulus for writing.
  • Postcards of author photos/portraits.
  • Old photos are fascinating: lots of writing prompts - and camera quality allows close zoom.
  • Shuffling lines of poetry (cut up into strips). Pupils can then try to rearrange, discuss.
  • Discuss book covers (try different covers for same book). What expectations are raised by different covers?
  • Smartphone: project apps on screen (angle to avoid glare).
  • Objects for texts: pupils bring in image or small object as symbol of character, idea, etc.
  • Lesson objectives. Faster and more direct than the whiteboard. Return to the sheet at the end.
  • Notes for pupils with writing difficulties - hand them over at the end or capture as image for electronic distribution.
  • Project lines onto the whiteboard for notes.
  • Answers to a test/self-test, revealed by masking.
  • Display illustrated book / storybook / graphic novel / comic.
  • Display past papers.
  • Hand out sticky Post-It notes for some exercise/answer/ideas, and display returns.
  • Prep: pupils find a favourite poem, bring it in, display and talk about it.
  • Have image/postcard/words projected on screen as pupils come in for discussion, thought, idea later in the lesson.
  • Image save and recall means for last 5 minutes of class you can go back over all elements.
  • Flash cards: pupils can make own, demonstrate question/answer.
  • Use record function to capture short acted scene and then replay.
  • Project Story Cubes on the screen.