Monday, April 29, 2013

Olive Mooney

Photo with author's permission

On Thursday 25th April we welcomed Olive Mooney, author of The Chronicles of Cadaver College, to St Columba’s.

She read to an entranced audience of Primary and 1st Formers from the first volume of the series, The Book of Ornis, in which young Simon de Bruin discovers himself in a very strange place. He doesn’t know where he is or how he got there, and he has barely arrived before his leg is savaged by an invisible hound. What’s more, the strange people he meets seem to expect something from him—something heroic—yet at the same time they seem disappointed that he’s not somehow...bigger. And so begin the Chronicles.

After the reading we got the opportunity to ask questions. Olive, choosing from a sea of waving hands, was asked such things as: do you write longhand or type, do you have a special room to work in, who was your favourite author, what was your worst editing experience, do you like children, and would St Columba’s be a good location for the film version? All of which she answered with aplomb, and we finished a very entertaining morning with a book-signing session.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Wordle

This term, V form are studying Pride and Prejudice as part of their comparative selection. Here is a word-cloud of the 150 most-used words in the complete text (click on the image for a closer view).

For discussion in class:
  • the relative importance of the major characters
  • key words - 'family', 'sister/s', 'friend', 'Lady', 'might', 'opinion', 'manner', 'conversation' and so on...

Friday, April 19, 2013

'The Gay Rainbow Across my Electoral Office'

Check out this speech by New Zealand member of Parliament Maurice Williamson following the decision to legalise gay marriage in that country.

What rhetorical devices does he use? How does he use humour? How does he address those with whom he disagrees? Which parts of his speech are pre-planned and which off the cuff? How would you feel if you disagreed with him?

And just enjoy it...

Saturday, April 13, 2013


No 16 in a series of occasional reviews of iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps useful for English literature and language learning and teaching.
Markup has just been released by the team who created one of our favourite tools, Showme

Designed for the iPad, it is a neat 'paperless grading app' which is simplicity itself - you open a document from your iPad (using the familiar 'open in'), or by emailing it to a special address, use the writing tools to mark the piece, and then export it as a PDF by email back to the pupil. The developers have plenty of interesting plans ahead for the app, and it's available at a modest cost from the iTunes store.

This is truly handy for the increasing number of essays, projects and assignments coming to English teachers in electronic form.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Love: Kane, Rivers, Leroux, McMullan

In her fine Transition Year Extended Essay, Iyobosa Bello-Asemota examined four books dealing with love - The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane, A Voice in The Wind by Francine Rivers, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (original), and The Phantom of the Opera by Kate McMullan (revised edition). 

In her conclusion, she states: 

"Having spent so much time writing an essay with its focus on love, I finally feel as though I now have a better grasp on what it truly means to love something or someone. I now understand what motivates people to do things onlookers would regard as irrational, things that they normally would not have the strength or courage to do. I also understand why some would look upon the notion of love or being in love with disdain or would regard rash acts born of this love, to be foolish. While I do not hope to justify the evil acts people do in the name of love, regardless of whatever form it manifests in, I must admit that love’s influence is as wide and as deep as any ocean."

Read Isoybosa's full essay here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Leaving Cert English blog

Here's a quick plug for all Leaving Cert pupils for Evelyn O'Connor's site, which has lots of excellent advice on preparing for your exam. Advice and resources are clearly divided between Paper I and Paper II, and recent posts include:

Evelyn O'Connor always writes in a lively, direct and helpful way - and she was the 2012 Teacher of the Year to boot, so this is a site well worth your attention.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Sylvia Plath: a life reviewed

For those studying Sylvia Plath for their Leaving Cert, Guardian Shorts have recently published a handy and inexpensive e-book called Sylvia Plath: a life reviewed. This is a collection of articles and reviews from the Guardian and the Observer over the last 50 years, and is a good introduction to 'the idea of Sylvia' and 'the reviews, discussions and arguments that have dogged the Sylvia Plath legacy for the last 50 years'.