Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Heinemann 'Heroes' series

The Library has just catalogued eight books in the Heroes series from Heinemann/Pearson Education.

These are specially commissioned books by established children's authors and are, as Heinemann themselves say "Epic stories of villains, crime, horror and adventure, these are the books boys and girls will not be able to put down... Created with series editor Frank Cottrell Boyce,HEROES is a new series of short, accessible original fiction novels and plays that teenage boys and girls will love. The perfect whole-class readers for Key Stage 3!"  (in Columban terms, KS3 is ages 11-14, effectively forms Primary, 1st and 2nd).

Librarian Mr McConville recommends these very much, both for slightly reluctant readers and for pupils whose second language is English. They are a step up from the Barrington Stoke easy readers. In content they are very direct - you are straight into the adventure through the eyes of the protagonist - yet skilfully written and very engaging, and at about 120 pages there is room for character and plot development too, so they are genuine novels. They are also nicely made small hardbacks with excellent cover designs.

The titles are:

  • The Perfect Enemy by F.E. Hinton - a boy opens a mysterious box and releases his evil double.
  • Demon Hunters by Bali Rai - a time-travelling demon hunter takes on Jack the Ripper.
  • i-assassins by Christopher Edge - ELITE teenage cyber spies protect the world.
  • Do not Wake the Devil by A.F and P. Peters - Strange beasts roam the hills, an ancient menace is stirring.
  • Ghost Game by Nigel Hinton - a haunted house, the presence of evil, a deadly game.
  • Blood Oath by Chris Priestly - a young tribesman seeks to revenge the death of his father by joining the Roman Army in Britain.
  • Eg and Me by David Grant - a key to a secret door leads to a tunnel to a secret and very scary world.
  • Monster Island by Justin Richards  - experiments on a secret island have produced monsters, and now they're out.
They are to be found on the Quick Reads shelves in the Junior Reading Room, and are identified by a red dot on the spine (the Barrington Stokes have a yellow dot).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Whole School Evaluation (MLL)

In September 2012, inspectors from the Department of Education and Skills visited the College for four days. The official Whole School Evaluation (Management, Leadership and Learning) has now been published on the DES website, and can be read in full here.

The College welcomes the strongly-positive nature of this report, which is a tribute to the quality of education available at St Columba's, and to all who work here, both pupils and staff.

Among the findings are (quotations in bold type):

·The quality of teaching ranged from good to very good with some examples of excellent practice.
·The level of planning and preparation for the lessons observed was of a consistently high standard.
·Staff, many of whom live on campus, give their time and expertise to support the school and to foster student academic and sporting attainment and personal development.
·There is a carefully organised programme of support for academic attainment. ·Academic results in state examinations in the vast majority of subjects are consistently high.
 ·Students with special education needs are well supported through individual and group withdrawal and by significant individual support from subject teachers. ·In class, the quality of questioning was consistently high.
·There are excellent levels of formative written assessment and also high levels of oral feedback.
·Students and parents were particularly complimentary about the Transition Year Programme in the school.  

·In class, student engagement was very good, showing students’ willingness to contribute to discussions and their participation in planned activities. ·A positive rapport was evident between students and teachers.
·Student behaviour was very good and was underpinned by effective classroom management and positive interactions between students and teachers.
·There is continual tracking of student academic progress, and rigorous analysis of state examinations annually.
 ·There is comprehensive guidance and counselling support available to students underpinned by the boarding school staff most of whom teach in the school.
·The school is pro-active in highlighting and pre-empting issues around bullying. ·Social, sporting and personal development are effectively catered for.
·There is a very comprehensive sporting programme.
·There is an effective students’ council.
·Pupils have a range of opportunities ... to get involved in leadership roles.
·Pupils show significant levels of satisfaction with life in school.

·The school is very well managed by senior management comprising the principal and deputy principal who have a clear and shared vision and work together as a committed and highly effective team.
·There is a strong culture of delegated leadership and devolved responsibility. ·St Columba’s is a very reflective school and is excellently placed to engage in the school self evaluation process.
·The Board of Management members bring a wealth of educational knowledge, expertise in various fields and experience to their work and show a deep commitment to the school.


·Parents are very happy with the quality of education, care and range of supports being provided for their children.
·There is a vibrant parents’ association which has a significant social purpose which is to include and to invite parental involvement in the school in every way possible.
·The parent body is both valued and listened to by management.


·This is a unique educational environment with a vast range of educational and recreational facilities.
·The campus and buildings are very well maintained.
·Partly because of this, there is an atmosphere of well-being in the school.

Extended Essay: Donoghue, Christopher, Frank

In her Transition Year Extended Essay, which last term received one of just four Commendations in the Form, Bethany Shiell wrote about three books in which the central characters are 'confined' in some way. She comments:-
"My first plan was to write this essay on the theme of Racism. So I began reading Anne Frank, but I soon realised that the book didn’t actually have much on that theme, but it did have a lot of insight on being trapped; Anne constantly wrote about her relationships with the people she was stuck with and the troubles she found living in such a small space. This made me change my theme to Confinement, as I found it more interesting.
According to the Collin’s English Dictionary, to Confine is to “keep close or within bounds; limit; restrict. To restrict the free movement of.” This is the case of all the main characters in the
three books I have chosen, which were Room by Emma Donoghue, Stolen by Lucy Christopher and The Diary of Anne Frank." 

Read Bethany's full essay here

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sports Books in the Library

The Librarian, Mr McConville, has put together a handy list of some new sports books available in the Library now: click here to read and/or download it.  Included is a book much in the news recently, David Walsh's Seven Deadly Sins: my pursuit of Lance Armstrong.

This supplements our summer reading list last year, which has its own sports section (pages 6-7), and which will be updated next term.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Green Shoots

We've previously used the excellent and very efficient self-publishing service from Lulu to create two books based on this blog, Going Places (2008) and Outside the Frame (2010). Here's a DigiTeach article from the Computers in Education Society of Ireland site on how this worked.

We've now built on this by, for the first time, self-publishing our own text-book for internal use in our Junior Certificate classes, called Green Shoots (the title is from Bernard O'Donoghue's poem 'Aine'). This collects our material for II and III forms (leading up to the JC exam) in an attractive form and cuts down on lots of photocopying. As before, the cost is remarkably reasonable, and we are likely to repeat the exercise in future, certainly with the new Junior Cycle Programme which starts in English in September 2014.

Below and above, photos by Bella Purcell (last year's winner of the school Photography Prize) which feature as the front and back covers of the book. Click on them for a closer look.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Macbeth ShowMes

Here is the final list of moments on this site analysed using the iPad app 'ShowMe' to analyse Macbeth (also done for Hamlet and The Great Gatsby). Click here for lots more revision resources on Macbeth.

1. Act 1 scene i - 'Fair is foul': In this famous opening scene, we see images of turbulence and confusion.

2. Act 1 scene ii - 'Disdaining Fortune': A soldier describes how Scotland has been rescued from disaster in battle by the 'worthy' and 'valiant' Macbeth.

3. Act 1 scene iii - 'supernatural soliciting': Macbeth's first soliloquy, in which he shows his fascination with the 'imperial theme'.

4. Act 1 scene vii - 'If we should fail?': This is the moment when Macbeth is 'lost', fatally weakening on the idea of murdering the King.

5. Act 2 scene ii - 'Consider it not so deeply': Macbeth returns to Lady Macbeth after the murder, and she tries to stop him obsessing over what he has seen.

6. Act 2 scene ii - 'A little water clears us of this deed': Macbeth is horrified by the sight of the blood on his hands. Lady Macbeth says that 'a little water clears us of this deed'.

7. Act 2 scene iii - 'expectation of plenty': The Porter's language hits on some of the deeper themes of the play.

8. Act 2 scene iii - 'the wine of life is drawn': Macbeth expresses in public his horror at the sight of Duncan's body.

9. Act 2 scene iv - ''Tis unnatural': Ross and an Old Man talk about the disturbing things happening in the natural world following Duncan's murder.

10. Act 3 scene i - 'To be thus is nothing': the beginning of Macbeth's soliloquy in III i, in which he expresses his fear of Banquo and of 'nothingness', and continues his precipitous moral decline.

11. Act 3 scene i - 'The worst rank of manhood': Macbeth meets two killers who will murder Banquo. Perhaps there are some similarities between these low-life characters and the new King... 

12. Act 3 scene ii - 'restless ecstasy': While Macbeth plans to have Banquo murdered, we see his sense of the nightmarish 'torture of the mind' from which he is suffering. 

13. Act 3 scene iv - 'cabined, cribbed, confined': Macbeth finds out that Fleance escaped the murderers, and he expressses his sense of being 'bound in to saucy doubts and fears.' 

14. Act 3 scene iv- 'blood hath been shed': Macbeth expresses his horror at how the dead are returning from the grave, and nothing is at 'an end' any more. 

15. Act 3 scene iv - 'strange things': Macbeth decides to seek out the 'weird sisters' and to learn more, as well as to do more.

16.  Act 4 scene i - 'be it thought and done': Macbeth decides to slaughter Macduff's family, and not to 'think' any more, but to act without conscience or rationality. 

17. Act 5 scene i - 'unnatural deeds': In the sleepwalking scene, the Doctor expresses one of the central ideas of the play.  

18. Act 5 scene ii - 'dwarfish thief': Caithness and Angus give us images of Macbeth as he approaches his inevitable doom. 

19. Act 5 scene iii - 'cure her of that': Macbeth reveals perhaps more than he planned as he asks the Doctor to 'cure' Lady Macbeth of her 'rooted sorrow'.  

20. Act 5 scene v - 'sound and fury': Macbeth expresses his final philosophical understanding of the meaninglessness of life.  

Macbeth 20: Act 5 scene 5 - 'sound and fury'

This is the 20th and final post in a series of analyses of key moments in Macbeth using the iPad app ShowMe. 

Macbeth expresses his final philosophical understanding of the meaninglessness of life.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Macbeth 19: Act 5 scene 3- 'Cure her of that'

This is the 19th in a series of analyses of key moments in Macbeth using the iPad app ShowMe. 

Macbeth reveals perhaps more than he planned as he asks the Doctor to 'cure' Lady Macbeth of her 'rooted sorrow'.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Radio 4 Bookclub

BBC Radio 4 has a great resource for readers: there are currently no fewer than 179 episodes of its Bookclub available online. You can hear authors such as David Almond (Skellig), Jan Morris (Venice) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) discussing their books with James Naughtie and listeners. They're also available as podcasts. Recommended.

Macbeth 18: Act 5 scene 2 - 'dwarfish thief'

This is the 18th in a series of analyses of key moments in Macbeth using the iPad app ShowMe.

Here, Caithness and Angus give us images of Macbeth as he approaches his inevitable doom.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Macbeth 17: Act 5 scene 1 - 'Unnatural deeds'

This is the 17th in a series of analyses of key moments in Macbeth using the iPad app ShowMe.

In the sleepwalking scene, the Doctor expresses one of the central ideas of the play.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Ms Smith's Library Choice

Every now and then the Library features a selection of books by a teacher. The latest is from one of our own, English teacher Ms Smith, whose books are featured currently in the Library. 

Her choice can be seen below via Issuu (click once for a closer look, again for still closer, and use the arrows to navigate). Among her selection: Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (touched on in our Transition Year course), the Wesley College Lifelines anthology of poems and Jane Austen's great late novel Persuasion.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Twelve Angry Jurors

Last weekend saw the two performances of the annual Junior Play, this time Twelve Angry Jurors (adapted from the original 'Men' and best known for the film version featuring Henry Fonda) by Reginald Rose. Here, Ally Boyd Crotty from Transition Year reviews the production:-

On Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd February a cast of eleven Transition Year pupils and three third formers performed a thoroughly rehearsed play called Twelve Angry Jurors. The play was presented in three acts, and was excellently directed and produced by Mr. Swift.
Before the play had even begun the unusual and intimate layout caught everyone's attention - in the middle of the BSR (instead of on a raised stage) was a table around which the audience sat in tiers. This meant that everyone felt more involved, and this layout also resulted in everyone being able to see properly.

The play was about a nineteen-year-old boy on trial for murder. It followed the decisions of the jury involved in the case. When the jury first began their discussions at the beginning of the play, they first decided to see where they stood by taking a vote. The vote stood at eleven to one - eleven voting that the boy was guilty. Only one voted not guilty, and this was jury number 8, played by Christian McKeever.
For the remainder of the play we tracked the jury proceedings, and watched as the eleven jury members gradually began to be convinced by number 8 that the boy was not guilty, until finally Alex Barnes-Auld cracked and the boy was acquitted. The tension was cranked up skilfully, as the actors revealed the motives and attitudes behind each juror’s decision-making. Eireann Tinkhof, Alex Barnes-Auld, Iyobosa Bello-Asemota, Jamie Maher, Eliza Hancock, Nadia Al Lahiq, Oisin Large, Arthur Moffitt, Alina Stiehler and Muqtadir Shah performed the parts of the other jury members, while the foreperson of the jury was Celine Klee. Eleanor Moffitt and Janet Boyd played the parts the judge and court clerk.

The standard of acting by all members of the cast in my opinion was extremely high, everyone stayed in character and there were no errors to be seen. This production got an extremely good reaction by everyone who was fortunate to have been able to see it, and I would say it was very successful.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Macbeth 16: Act 4 scene 1 - 'Be it thought and done'

This is the 16th in a series of analyses of key moments in Macbeth using the iPad app ShowMe. 

Macbeth decides to slaughter Macduff's family, and not to 'think' any more, but to act without conscience or rationality.