Friday, September 27, 2013

Poetry Success

Many congratulations to Sadhbh Sheeran, winner of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry for the last two years, who has achieved further success, being chosen by the British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy as one of four runners-up in the Headmasters' Conference international poetry competition.  The other VI formers involved are from Fettes College; Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Blackburn; St Edward's, Oxford; and Surbiton High School.

Sadhbh will travel to London next week to recite her poetry in front of Carol Ann Duffy and the conference in an evening of music and poetry on Tuesday 1st October. More on this here next week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Like Dolmens...

These 'pen portraits' were written by Ms Smith's Fifth Form pupils in response to John Montague's poem 'Like Dolmens Round my Childhood', in which he revives a handful of the figures he grew up with in Tyrone in the 1930s and 40s.

Some fascinating figures emerged from the pupils' memories; here's a small selection of their work, written in the style of Montague's own poem.

'Gaffer' by Charlotte Cooper

Gaffer, mind of a ten year old, crippled body of a ninety-four-year-old.
Gleaming white teeth sparkle behind a distorted glass filled with water,
Always a gappy smile shining while telling us World War Two stories.
Never would you see him, unless accompanied by his Jack Russell, Kanga -
             also crippled.
At every birthday party he would say to the children, 'sing for your cider',
And only when they would he pop the bottle.
Generously he would hand out jelly snakes from the brown paper bag
Much like the one he ordered his ashes to be buried in -
             for the sake of the environment.

'Kia in Kenya' by Wolfe Purcell

Kia Makawezi was always frightening.
The leopard fur bracelets around his ankles never a happy sight.
The bells hanging from his dirty, matted hair warned of his arrival.
The way he glowered made even the jolliest people silent and miserable.
It was like this because he was 'the man before death':
The man who performed last rites.
            He was Kia Makawezi, the witch-doctor.

'Last Time' by Gemma Bewley

A distant cousin yet a familiar face,
Warm and caring, an artist.
Old furniture, sometimes scary and hulking,
A tiger-skin rug sprawled across the floor,
Ornaments watching from every corner of the room.
Last time I saw her, in a home before Christmas.
             Last time I felt her presence, in the church soon after.

'Kerry' by Stephanie Woods

Kerry lived in an isolated house,
Where fields were endless and horses played.
A lonely old farm girl whistling Irish tunes,
A stench of sweat from a hard day's labour,
Telling old folk tales by the fire,
              Until it was time to leave.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two Films for class

Two short films with lots of possibilities for class discussion around the areas of story-telling, narrative structure, denouement, messages, manipulation, corporate image and more. 

The first commercial is from Thailand (with English sub-titles) from TrueMoveH, a mobile phone company. The Buddhist idea of 'karma' is to the fore.

The second comes Guinness, with the cheesy tagline "Dedication. Loyalty. Friendship. The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

English Twitterbag 1

A new series fishing a few interesting English links out of our recent Twitter stream, expanding on them and throwing in a few comments...

All teachers and students of poetry should be interested in the Emily Dickinson Archive, which "will make high-resolution images of manuscripts of Dickinson’s poetry and letters available in open access, along with transcriptions and annotations from historical and scholarly editions." You can sign up to get an email alert when the Archive opens this autumn.

The Great Language Game [audio] is fun: the first few languages are easy enough, but then things get harder, especially when the choices multiply.

For any teacher of English in Ireland, the main issue at the moment is the impending change to the Junior Cycle. Evelyn O'Connor of has a meaty and characteristically passionate response here. As she suggests, get a cup of coffee ready for the long but worthwhile read.

The biggest and saddest recent event in literature was Seamus Heaney's premature passing from us: our own response is here, followed by a Storify of reactions from around the world. 

One of the most inventive and interesting users of Twitter is the novelist Teju Cole. He recently tweeted a series of modern 'received ideas' ("ARTISAN. A carpenter, in Brooklyn.") and wrote about them in the New Yorker here. Enjoy.

Finally, there are some excellent poetry posters for self-printing from the Scottish Poetry Library here - lots for classroom display.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Junior Certificate results 2013

Congratulations to our candidates who today achieved excellent results in many subjects. In English, 83% sat the exam at Higher Level (nationally, 73% do), with the remainder sitting Ordinary Level (no-one took Foundation Level).

At Higher Level, of all our candidates:-

11.4% achieved A
20.0% B
34.3% C
20.0% D.

Transition Year course and Extended Essay

Transition Year pupils are now choosing books for their major Extended Essays (to be handed in on Monday 18th November). We'll be posting here as usual recommendations once their reading is well underway, and the best essays themselves in December/January.

Click here for the TY course 2013-14.
Click here for the advice/suggestions sheet on selecting books.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

8 years a-blogging

Here we go again, for our 8th year of blogging as a Department... 

Coming up this term, lots of news and resources for English (including the completion of the ShowMe analyses of Pride and Prejudice), pupils' work, book recommendations and much more. And, as always, there will be posts and ideas coming out of nowhere. This is also a significant term for all English teachers in Ireland because the first training takes place for the new Junior Cycle course - see Evelyn O'Connor's lengthy response here to the new specifications.  

Also, as always, our Twitter feed will be abuzz with all things English.