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Chat Show Clips

Many people have asked for links to the clips we've looked at in class:

Here is a list of clips:

Graham Norton Jimmy Carr - Accents

Graham Norton Salma Hayek

Graham Norton Will Smith

Jonathan Ross Jay Z

Jonathan Ross Will Smith

Jonathan Ross Usain Bolt

Jonathan Ross Stephen Fry

David Letterman Boris Johnson

Jimmy Fallon Zach Galifinakis

Some others you may wish to view:

Jonathan Ross Lady Gaga

Graham Norton Gerard Butler

Remember the devices you can look for:

Overt Covert Prestige Language

Grice's Maxims

Spontaneous Features

Paralinguistic / Prosodic Features

Language Devices
 

Writing about Spoken Language

A number of people have asked me how you have to write about the Spoken Language Study. Again it is a case of analysis and evaluation but instead of zooming in or out of written work you are zooming in and out of the spoken word.

Analysing spoken language is similar to analysing a novel as you are still looking for devices / techniques but and you are evaluating its success against its purpose. See this post for more details: Spoken Language Study

We've agreed that a chat show should:

Give information to the wider audience and entertain them.
Give celebrities the opportunity to sell themselves / a product.

and that a chat show host:

Should create an identity for his / her show through their use of language etc.

If we look at this clip and then the following answer.

Graham Norton clearly has some planned questions he wishes to ask Salma Hayek to gain some new information for his wider audience. Without hesitating, he asks Hayek about her body image. This was clearly expected as she replied with 'we're talking about my breasts now' indicating that she knew this was coming and was prepared to talk about this. This is brand new information to the audience (who may tune in for celebrity gossip) to show that he is a skilled interviewer and to boost his audience. Her answer becomes more spontaneous as Jimmy Carr questions her and we can see from her hesitations and giggles, she is unsure about how to deal with this. Although this makes it clear she is insecure about talking about this subject, it is interesting information for the viewers. Graham Norton has prioritised his wider audience at the expense of his guest's comfort to keep viewers entertained and informed. During this, Norton flouts the relevance maxim my moving quickly to a segment on an Internet video. This may be to stop the guest feeling uncomfortable therefore restricting the information that the audience can gain. This is clearly pre-planned segment but it is obvious it hasn't been shared with the guests because Hayek is confused where the interview is now going and false starts in her answer. By flouting the maxim Norton sticks to his plan but loses the chance to gain more information on the topic in favour of humour but in doing so creates a section of interview that seems awkward to the viewer but they do get both entertainment and new information from the show.

As you read this look at the sections in green, red and blue.

The green sections you are showing evidence that you are aware of the show's purpose, format, audience or devices. 

The red sections you are zooming in on the effect of the language being used by the chat show host / guest.

The blue section you are evaluating how successfully the host has used language to create an effective interview.

So the methodology for writing about the way language is used in a chat show is:

Look for the features / devices that are used to appeal to the audience(s), that are appropriate to the format or  match the purpose of the show.

Analyse why the chat show host has used language in this way.

Evaluate whether the interview was successful / unsuccessful because of this.

Have a go at write a section one of the clips below.

Michael Parkinson - Rod Hull and Emu

Carol Vorderman - Piers Morgan Life Stories

Tom Cruise on Oprah
 

Spoken Language Study - What we've covered

I know a lot of the preparation for the Spoken Language study has been disrupted by the mock exam fortnight. So here is a re-cap of what we've covered so far:

Assessment Objectives in a Nutshell:

1) You need to analyse / evaluate the use of Spoken Language.
2) You need to be aware of / analyse / evaluate attitudes to Spoken Language.
3) You need to be aware of the way you use language and why.

Focus - Chat Shows

Throughout the unit we have covered  the following topics:

1) The difference between accent and dialect and attitudes towards these.
2) Slang and Overt / Covert Prestige Language.
3) Grice's Maxims
4) Turn-Taking and Back Channeling Behaviour
5) Features of Spontaneous Speech.

Looking at the first two points - this video illustrates them perfectly.

Kevin and Perry

Here we have examples of Accent and Overt / Covert Prestige language.

Covert Prestige language is where you modify your language to associate yourself with an exclusive / secretive group. In the clip we see that Perry has been to Manchester to see Oasis and he has modified his language to associate himself with the band and their followers. He has also changed his accent to make himself sound like he is from Manchester.

You also have Kevin using a different type of Covert Prestige language in the beginning where he speaks in a way that identifies himself with teenage culture. As the sketch progresses, he tries to align himself with Perry by modifying his language to associate himself with Perry, but the humour is created as he ends up speaking like a Yorkshireman.

When Kevin's Mum appears Perry modifies his language to use Overt Prestige language to appear polite. Over Prestige language is the widely used dominant way of speaking and he associates himself with the idea of education / manners / good up bringing by using this.

If we apply this to our focus of Chat Shows, often the chat show hosts will modify their language to suit their guest as we will see with an example below. This could be to make the guest feel more comfortable or for a humorous effect.

So what is the point of a Chat show?

Purpose: To entertain and to Inform (For celebrities appearing on the show it is often to persuade the wider audience to take an interest in them / a product)

Audience: For the Chat Show Host it is a case of balancing two audience - The Guest and the Viewers.

Demograhics - Often Female in an age bracket of Twenties plus (some can be more specific depending on the show)

Format: Guests come on and they are interviewed.

Looking at these clips we can see evidence of Overt / Covert Prestige Language

Jonathan Ross with Jay Z

Jonathan Ross with Stephen Fry

With Jay Z, Jonathan Ross uses Covert Prestige language in such an awkward way it creates humour, whereas he uses Overt Prestige language for Stephen Fry again meeting the entertainment purpose of the show.

Grice's Maxims are the rules which govern polite conversation. We would expect these to be followed on a chat show but they can be FLOUTED for a specific effect or VIOLATED unintentionally.

The Maxims are:

Quantity: Give the right amount of information.
·Make your contribution as informative as is appropriate
·Do not make your contribution more informative than is appropriate.

Quality: Try to make your contribution one that is true.
·Do not say what you believe to be false
·Do not say that for which you lack  adequate evidence

Relevance: Be relevant.

Manner: Be clear.
·Avoid obscurity of expression
·Avoid ambiguity
·Be brief (avoid unnecessary wordiness)
·Be orderly

With Stephen Fry - Jonathan Ross flouts the Manner Maxim in an attempt to show his intelligence but self-consciously aware that this is humorous for the audience.

Jay-Z on the other hand flouts the Quantity Maxim, which makes the interview awkward but also serves to create an enigma around his persona developing the impression that he is mysterious and therefore deserves more attention.

Graham Norton Show is a perfect example of the importance of Back-Channeling and Turn-Taking behaviour. His show is unusual because all the guests are sat on the sofa at the same time and the interview doesn't necessarily focus specifically on one star. It is important for Norton to use turn-taking cues to manage the guests need to speak and promote themselves but also to back-channel to show interest in the guests ideas.

For the guests they have to be aware that they are on camera at all times and need to seem interested in what the others are saying to avoid appearing sulky or aloof.

Turn-Taking Cues:


  • Completed grammatical structure. 'I have had a very tiring day'.
  • A rising intonation at the end of the sentence. (brought in from Australian 'soaps').
  • Asking a question. 'How are you?'
  • Naming another person.
  • Seizing a turn by interrupting an unfinished sentence.(marked in transcripts by '......')
  • When one speaker overlaps the other and one stops speaking.(marked in transcripts with '/')
Back Channeling:


Continuers: Hand the floor back to the speaker. 'mmm', 'uh-huh'

Acknowledgers: Express agreement/understanding 'mm'. 'yeah'

Assessors: Express appreciation. 'wonderful', 'how awful'

Newsmarkers: Mark the speaker's turn as news. 'really!' , 'Is it?'

Questioners:  Ask for further details. 'and then?'

Collaborators: Finish another person's utterance.

Non-Verbal: Laughter, sighs, frowns' etc.

Graham Norton - Will Smith, Bradley Cooper, Jaden Smith, Heather Graham

Finally - though chat shows are heavily researched and questions carefully planned and evaluated, they need to have an air of spontaneity to them to have a natural feel and to put the audience / guests at ease.

In this Letterman clip a spontaneous question about Boris Johnson's hair creates humour and in this clip from Graham Norton an unexpected question for Salma Hayek becomes initially awkward as Hayek displays elements of spontaneous speech which indicate she feels slightly uncomfortable.

Boris Johnson on Letterman

Salma Hayek on Graham Norton Show

Overall - your job is to look at how the host and guests manage the chat show experience and analyse the effect they are trying to have in their use of language. As a higher level candidate you will also cover what the audience are likely to think about this and how successful you think the Chat Show host has been in creating an effective interview.

This isn't just about finding the techniques it is about being able to analyse their effect and evaluate success.

Good luck planning and keep watching Chat Shows to build your data from.




 

Question 1 Exemplar

This question seems the easiest on paper but the subtleties of achieving Band 3 and Band 4 answers aren't always as obvious from the wording of the question as is required in the mark scheme.

The common mistake is:

Writing only what you find out from the article.

This question requires the skill of inference. Inference means you need to read between the lines of the articles e.g.

An article about safety at the seaside for inner city children - Inference: children from inner city areas are becoming more involved in rescues at the seaside.

Look at Source 1 (Your exam source would be shorter than this)

The question would be - What do you understand about teenager's use of social media from the article?

The obvious thing to do here would be to dive straight in and find things you find out about how Teenager's are using Social Medial. You might list things like:

1) Not using Facebook as much
2) Using WhatsApp
3) Using Snapchat
4) Creating Digital Stickers instead of using words.

But the subtleties of achieving Band 3 and Band 4 answers need some inference -some focus on the issues that are driving teenager's use of social media.

1) Not using Facebook as much because now relatives / older users can see their content.
2) Using WhatsApp to regain privacy that they have lost from Facebook.
3) Using Snapchat as it doesn't store embarrassing content for fun.
4) Creating Digital Stickers for identities as more of their life takes place online.

You then need to write this up using quotations to support your answer.

The articles shows that teenagers are now not using Facebook as much reporting on the 'decrease in daily users, specifically among teens' reported by the company. This seems to be down to the idea that 'dad's' and 'uncles' are using Facebook more therefore teenagers are losing the privacy to post about their 'pub antics'. The fact that the older generation can monitor their lives has driven them to carry out their 'private chatting' on platforms such as WhatsApp which allows you to talk and allow people you actually know to access the content you want them to rather than 'passively stalking people you barely know'.

Teenagers are also using Snapchat to send pictures without leaving a 'digital footprint' allowing them to send 'inane' photographs knowing that they won't be stored. This again gives the teenager more control over who sees their content the issue that is moving them away from Facebook. Digital stickers are also becoming a 'decent moneyspinner' and are being used to create digital emotions especially helping 'couples get over fights'.

The key issue with all this is that teenagers seek greater privacy in their use of social media, something which other platforms are able to give more than Facebook can.

Look how the quotations here are embedded so they don't interrupt the flow of the answer. The quotations are also not analysed, they are used as support from the text.

Essentially you are writing about what you understand of the issues or ideas contained within the text whilst using quotations to show where you made your inferences from.

Technique:

  1. Write down 3-4 issues / ideas the article discusses.
  2. Match your ideas to quotations from the text.
  3. Write in flowing prose embedding your quotations so as not to interrupt your focus on the ideas / issues.
 

Writing MOT

Theory and Reflection


You will soon be receiving a writing MOT from me.

This is not just based on your Controlled Assessment results but also on the work you are able to carry out spontaneously in class.

I'm really pleased with the results of your Controlled Assessments but now we need to focus on replicating these great results in your exam writing.

The exam is a separate beast. You don't know what you are going to be asked to write about, you don't have a note sheet to help you plan and you are writing in a more pressured environment against the clock.

Before we move on to the next steps, we need to reflect on how we got to your excellent Controlled Assessment results.

I knew the end point of the task (though I wasn't allowed to fully share it with you until closer to the assessment).

I set a number of lessons which enabled you to do two things:

1) Look at examples of expert writing and work out why they were considered 'expert'.

2) Practise writing in a number of distorted situations moving towards the real assessment.

As I've said in class, your revision starts now. We've covered all the writing and reading skills you need to develop: you need to practise using these skills in exam conditions. Like everything in life, you will get better with practice and the more you practice the better you will get.

I will be basing my projected grades on how much I feel you have been practising and are prepared to practise.

I wrote a blog posting in March last year after the previous Year 11 got their examination results - this talked about 'Visible Revision'. You can read it here. The short principle of 'Visible Revision' is that if you keep your revision between yourself and your bedroom walls, how do you know what you are doing is right? Make your revision visible to your teacher and you get consistent feedback and can know what you are doing is right.

In class this was straightforward - we were all working on the same topic, you showed me your work and I gave you feedback. In revision the onus is on you. You work on your strengths and weaknesses and present them to me.

Case Study


Before you say 'Sir  - this sounds like an awful lot of work without immediate rewards', I present to you two case studies:

Student A -

Finished Year 10 with a Literature B grade and a Year 10 mock of a C grade.
Carried out weekly visible revision from November and gained an A* grade by the end of Year 11. 2 to 3 grades improvement.

Student B -

Was strong at varying her five key areas of writing but her ability to use appropriate written expression meant that she was consistently getting D grades in her writing. She read two articles from the list of writers below and wrote one article a week on a topic of her choice trying to mimic the writer's styles. In 6 weeks her writing had progressed from a D grade to a B grade. 2 Grades improvement in 6 weeks.

Writers:

Caitlin Moran
Grace Dent
Charlie Brooker
Stewart Lee
Sophie Heawood
Cal Flynn
David Mitchell

The importance here is the pathos. Try to move seamlessly between serious and humorous points.

The Writing MOT

You will receive a feedback sheet with skills that are key for your writing graded to give you a complete picture of your strengths and weaknesses.

Theses are your five key areas to vary:

Vocabulary
Devices
Sentence Structures
Punctuation
Paragraph

Plus:

Spelling
Expression

You will be graded A*, A , B, C, Below C for each of these skills.

You will be also rated on a scale showing your ability to use English flexibly. This will fall on a scale of:

Only being able to write using informal everyday language.

Some of your work being informal everyday with parts of it also showing expert academic use of language but not always in the correct context.

Having a mastery of expert academic language and informal everyday language and always using it in the correct context.

I will give you a target and then in a separate box you need to write down what you are going to do to actually work on this target.

We will then review this as the term goes on.

Now if you are serious about your revision you should rate yourself objectively and work out what you think you need to work on.

If you set yourself a target I will tell you what you need to do to meet it. Then we can see if it matches my impression of your writing next week.

Post your own rating in the comments box.
 

TV Advert Writing



Have a look at the example in red below. We've been working on creating variety in our writing through our handy (you see what I did there?) diagram:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5yb0U9nhlH0/Ui4yNGnKYKI/AAAAAAAAAXk/81BKdI916wE/s1600/Variety.jpg 
In class we've worked on our vocabulary looking at:

Positive / Negative Vocabulary and how to create oxymoron.
Increasing our range of sophisticated vocabulary.

We've developed devices to add satire, irony and sarcasm to our writing:

Stating the Obvious
Descriptive Imagery
Making Comparissons
Hyperbole
Misdirection
Rhetorical Questions

With our sentence structures we've tried to use our skills creatively:

Varying Length
Complex Sentences with pivot in attitude.
Complex Sentences with embedded sarcastic clauses
Compound descriptive sentences leading to short high impact sentences with opinions

Our punctuation has become useful to achieve not just accuracy but effect:

Parenthetic commas, brackets and dashes
The Semi-Colon for extending imagery
The liberal use of exclamation marks.

Finally paragraphing draws our whole text together with:

Variety in length
Effective use of discourse markers.

So my challenge to you Year 11 is:

Read below and leave a comment:

What went well?

What could make this even better? 

Can you remember that feeling of deep-seated panic when your phone goes off in the cinema? The embarrassment of lifting the phone out of your pocket to turn it off only to be illuminated in the pallid green glow of shame and have your face melted by the glares of one hundred and fifty angry Monster’s Inc fans (including the creepy middle aged man who doesn’t seem to have brought children or a date). It’s hideous. It only has to happen once for you to never want to own a phone again. 

Here is the effective deterrent.  Absorbing the ire of a multitude of strangers clearly outweighs the crime of not turning your mobile off (off not silent) and when the punishment is more severe than the crime, people tend to grow a moral compass. This is what has happened since a Finnish designer at Nokia liberated Alexander Graham Bell’s mouthpiece from the hall table and one unfortunate consumer couldn’t find the off button in a screening of Jurassic Park.

Orange has a solution to this problem. To save us from the embarrassment they make us sit through five minutes of excruciating audio-visual hell.

Cue cringe-worthy puns, poorly thought out dialogue and the most heinous crime of all: the solution to a problem that does not exist. 

The premise: ‘Don’t let phones ruin your movie’.

Let’s examine that statement. The phone has never ruined a film. One blast of Mozart’s 9th blared through the tinny speakers in digital polyphonic beauty doesn’t distract me. I enjoy watching a person squirm because all eyes are on them. The pain on their face is delightful. In fact, I’m pretty sure the latest Bourne film would be very short without a mobile phone. All witnesses would be dead and Jason Bourne would not have to constantly evade the CIA because he would be untraceable. Generally, movies are built around communication between sets of characters that 90% of the time takes place on a mobile phone. Phones make movies.

The marketing meeting must have been brilliant for this advert:

‘Hey – this product we sell, it ruins things – why don’t we point it out?’

But behind this there’s a subversive attempt to sell us a lifestyle ingrained deep within the advert, which is fantastically clever. It builds a picture of the chief executive as a bumbling fool and the everyman ‘underling’ trying in vain to turn the situation around. The sinister twist is we find ourselves identifying more with the boss than with the everyman. The advert manipulates us into doubting our own intelligence, our own inbuilt nature not to make a scene and our own natural morality in avoiding punishment. The doubt sees our hand slowly creep towards our trousers like a toddler desperate for a wee.

Bang. Then the advert really hits us; they present the most common mobile phone ring tone out of sync with the advert sending hearts leaping through mouths and hands shooting into pockets causing hours’ worth of psychotherapy sessions because you can ‘feel the eyes on you’.

Exploiting humanities’ guilt complex is what I loathe. I loathe it far more than the poorly constructed advert, dialogue, shots, puns and message. I almost loathe it more than the feeling of being caught with your phone on.

This advert is a fantastic piece of work, if you display a deranged obsession with sadism. I can remember the deep-seated panic of when my phone went off at the cinema and now I’m reminded of it every time I blow my life savings on a film. 

Orange – a phone didn’t ruin my movie: your advert ruined my life.
 

Year 11 Homework Part 2

As I know you will all be short of something to do with the school closing today, here is an update of your next three weeks homework.

You are going to be writing newspaper columns. To improve your understanding of the form, you need to bring in an article you have read each single lesson with 100 words of your own writing based on the same topic.

You should be trying to achieve the same style and effect that the columnist has achieved without copying their work.

There is a real difference between newspaper columns and newspaper reports. A column is usually written by the same person and is opinion based on a topic of the writer's choice (usually something in the news).

Features of a column are usually:

1st Person
Strong Opinions / Often Bias
Anecdotes
Sarcasm / Irony
Often humorous and less formal in tone.

To help you with this, I need you to read at least one column per week (more if you really want to hone your skills) and then try to write your own comment piece based on the topic in your article. In lesson we will then compare your writing with the writing of the pro.

Below are a list of columnists you may wish to check out and the publications they often write for.

Caitlin Moran - @caitlinmoran The Times

Grace Dent - @Gracedent The Independent / Evening Standard / The Guardian

Eva Wiseman - @Evawiseman The Guardian

Sophie Heawood - @heawood The Guardian / The Independent / Vice

Charlie Brooker - @charltonbrooker The Guardian

Stewart Lee - @stewlee The Independent / The Guardian / The New Statesman

David Mitchell - @RealDmitchell The Guardian

Here is a link from Grace Dent you may like.

Be opinionated, witty and wise.

Happy writing.

Mr Milne
 
 

Year 10 Exam Technique - The first practice question

Let me say first of all how proud I am in the mature way that you tackled a new assessment format. It bodes well for the year and though I know some of you were disheartened with your result, don't be! The ideas you expressed were of an excellent standard and with a few tweaks to the structures you use to express yourself, you will see your marks rocket.



Here is a quick summary of the key points of the lesson:

The Opening:

A lot of your success depends on the strength of your opening argument. You need to have a strong argument that you can 'hang' (use) a RANGE of quotations to support. This argument needs to answer the question and then allow you to use your RANGE of quotations to develop your analysis from.

E.G.

How does the writer present adult decisions in the short story 'When the Wasps Drowned'?

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'.

Here there is a concise sentence with a clear argument (growing up is difficult) that I can then use a range of quotations to support:

'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my own ear'
'When I closed my eyes, I could see Therese's dream, the arm growing through the soil'
'My fingers, fiddling unconsciously, played with the ring for a moment'
'In that heat, everything seemed an effort'
'I hungry for conversation'
'For the first few moments, I stood mouth agape... not wanting to go anywhere near Therese or all those wasps'
'Mum was out at work all day. She left us to our own devices'


So my opening allows me to develop my analysis further.

Key Rule
 
Your opening sentence should:

1) Answer the How part of a question.
2) Be succinct and clear.
3) Contain an view that you have a range of quotations to support.



Analysis

A D grade or below answer will be able to do the following:

Set out an argument, support it with a quotation and paraphrase:

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. 

To target the A*-C grades, you need to Zoom in and focus on the key words of a quotation. In doing so you need to look at implied, symbolic  or hidden meaning (connotations). How perceptive your analysis is will separate you from a C or a B.

E.G.

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. The use of 'Mum' suggest the protection she seeks from the adult world as she realises she wasn't mature enough to cope with the decision she made. 

Here, they have chosen Mum as a word to focus on and look at the connotations of Mum linking it to the question. This develops more marks.

 
Key Rule
 
Your analysis should:

1) Focus on a key word or phrase in your quotation (if you can't see which word / phrase to use you probably haven't chosen an appropriate quotation).
2) Focus on implied or symbolic meaning and connotations.
3) Link to the question.




A Grade

An A grade student will be able to see that there is more than one potential interpretation, so they will zoom in again. They will pick out either a deeper second interpretation of the key word they have picked out or zoom in to a different part of the quotation.

E.G. 

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. The use of 'Mum' suggest the protection she seeks from the adult world as she realises she wasn't mature enough to cope with the decision she made. She has also taken on the mother figure with her younger siblings for most of the story and so her focus on 'Mum' could also suggest she is still learning how to make adult decisions and is looking for guidance from her mother. 

Here, they have chosen to stick with the word 'Mum' and deepen their interpretation of the word. Note how this still links to the question and the opening sentence.


Key Rule
 
Your second analysis should:

1) Add depth to your original analysis by offering a further interpretation or analyse a second key word in your quotation.
2) Focus on implied or symbolic meaning and connotations.
3) Link to the question.



A* Grade

An A* grade student will be able to see that how the writer has constructed their text to reflect their views on the world and appreciate the effectiveness in how this is conveyed. This is the evaluative stage of the answer where they ZOOM OUT and link their analysis to what they think the writer is trying to convey (their key ideas or message). This should tie up your ideas and link to your argument as well.

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. The use of 'Mum' suggest the protection she seeks from the adult world as she realises she wasn't mature enough to cope with the decision she made. She has also taken on the mother figure with her younger siblings for most of the story and so her focus on 'Mum' could also suggest she is still learning how to make adult decisions and is looking for guidance from her mother. This is particularly effective in conveying that children often grow up too fast and aren't always equipped to deal with the difficulties of making adult decisions. This carries Wigfall's ideas that children will make mistakes as they experience greater responsibility in the adult world and often need guidance. 

Look at how the paragraph expands the focus of the answer to include what they feel the writer's ideas are but also link these ideas back to their overall argument. Dr Warren calls this tying a bow in the thread of your argument.

Key Rule
 
Your evaluation should:

1) Zoom out to focus on the writer's overall message.

2) Judge the effectiveness in the way it is conveyed (subtly, effectively, clearly etc.).
3) Link back to your opening argument and the question.


As I've said in lessons, we are all going to understand things at different times and at different paces, but you should now have a framework to follow and some errors to learn from.

As long as you learn from the errors, you will continue to improve.

Feel free to post any improved work for me to comment on below.






 
 

Year 11 Homework - Writing Assessments

Here are the key points to the on-going Year 11 Homework.

You are going to be asked to write two contrasting pieces: one fiction and one non-fiction as part of your on-going GCSE controlled assessments.

Your fiction piece is going to be a recreation from a poem of your choice (two poems also suggested below), which means you need to use the poem as inspiration.

This could be:

1) Use some lines of the poem to build a new story around.
2) Explore the theme of the poem in a story of your choice.
3) Evoke the atmosphere of the poem in your own writing.
4) Modernise the poem creating your own story.

Just let me say now - YOU ARE NOT WRITING YOUR OWN POEM.

The homework for this unit of work involves you writing 100 words per week based on a poem of your choice. This does not have to relate to your final piece, this does not have to be a complete story and this does not have to be perfect.

You may choose to write the opening or describe the setting, or write some sections of dialogue or describe a key event or write the ending. The key is that you write.

The homework is necessary because like everything, writing takes practice. Writers re-draft and re-draft down to the most minute word or sentence until they are happy.

You need to practice so you can develop your own style, the rhythm of writing and so you can make mistakes.

All through last year when we were studying literature, you were reading as a writer (you read looking specifically at the writer's craft). Now it is key that you write as a reader (everything you write should be deliberate in order to influence the reader).

Here is a key diagram to help you:



Every Wednesday, you are expected to bring in your writing to present to the class for suggestions and praise.

The poems covered in class are below but you can choose any poem you wish:


Spellbound

  by Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16632#sthash.TEtsRmRK.dpuf

The poem Spellbound by Emily Bronte
 
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Spellbound

  by Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16632#sthash.TEtsRmRK.dpuf

Spellbound

  by Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16632#sthash.TEtsRmRK.dpuf

Spellbound

  by Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16632#sthash.TEtsRmRK.dpuf

Eyes Look Into The Well

Eyes look into the well,
Tears run down from the eye;
The tower cracked and fell
From the quiet winter sky.

Under a midnight stone
Love was buried by thieves;
The robbed heart begs for a bone,
The damned rustle like leaves.

Face down in the flooded brook
With nothing more to say.
Lies One the soldiers took,
And spoiled and threw away.
 
W.H Auden 

You must bring the homework in typed or written neatly on a piece of paper. I will not accept scrappy bits of paper done on the bus. 
 
The purpose of this homework is to practice writing. If it is done on the bus or at the last minute in school then you have not given the task enough thought and wasted the opportunity to truly improve your skills.
 
Happy Writing!
 
Mr Milne



 

10Q1 Thematic Study Homework

The Task

A key skill that is needed to produce high level work in GCSE is the ability to connect thematic concepts between seemingly disparate texts.

As part of developing these skills, you will choose a theme you wish to investigate through 5 types of text.

Literature - 1 text with a critical reputation.

Music - A selection of 3 songs.

Poetry - A selection of 3 poems.

Film - 1 film

Art - 2 Piece of art work.

You will complete a weekly journal which notes what you have studied and your findings.

The between the 14th and the 21st October you will be presenting your findings as part of your GCSE / IGCSE Speaking and Listening assessment.

Theme - Click the link for the official definition

But for our purposes a theme is: A topic or issue discussed within a text.


You have choice over your theme but there are a list of themes below. Remember some themes (such as love) can be quite broad so try to narrow your focus down to a specific element such as 'Influence of Love' or 'Absence of Love' etc.

Here are a list of themes you may wish to look at:

The Paradox of Life

Anti-Heroes

Inner Conflict

Religion

Corrupting Influence of Power

Love and its influence.

Dystopian Futures

The Role of Women

Revenge


Heroes

The Journal

The Journal must be kept and handed in on a weekly basis and can be submitted in the following forms:

1) As a printed document - not scrappy pieces of paper (this will not be accepted).

2) As a link to a blog (Please seek prior approval) tweeted to @MilEnglish or emailed from your school account (not personal account) to chris.milne@mca.attrust.org.uk - wordpress and blogger.com are very simple formats to use.

3) A comment on under this posting



The journal should consider the following questions (which can be used as headings):

1) How was your chosen theme presented?

(positively, negatively, in-depth, ironically, some aspects covered but not others)

2) What was similar or different to the presentation in your other texts?

3) How do the characters / artists react to the theme or events?



The presentation will be filmed as part of your on going English assessment and must be longer 4 to 5 minutes long or you may lose marks.

The presentation does not have to cover all your texts only the most interesting parts you found.

The presentation addresses the questions above making clear links to the similarities and differences of your texts.

You may use a cue card the size of a postcard and any props you wish to bring (artwork, music, books etc).



TEXTS








The choice of texts are entirely up to you.

Your choice of Literature must be approved by me and must have a critical reputation.

Critical Reputation - The text or author is award winning or nominated.
                                  The author makes up part of the Literary Canon.
                                  The text has been reviewed by another established writer.

Here is a suggested reading list but this is not exhaustive:

Life of Pi
Catch 22
Slaughterhouse 5
1984
Animal Farm
Skepticism Inc
Catcher in the Rye
Hamlet
Romeo and Juliet
Richard III
A Brave New World
The Taming of the Shrew
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Woman of No Importance
Enduring Love
The Big Sleep
The Great Gatsby
Brighton Rock
Romeo and Juliet


You can see the work that some other students have completed in a school in London here

You have a lot of freedom in your study - use this to look at things you are interested in and you will find it a lot more fun.

Good Luck

Mr Milne 
 

Back to School - Year 12 / 13 - Dreading it or Loving it?

When reading this post (mainly aimed at teachers but worth reading if you in a particularly reflective mood) written by a Head of English from another school, it quickly turned my thoughts to the experience of moving from Year 11 to 12 (or 12 to 13).

Sadly by about December / January, I begin to hear the rumbles of 'I hate 6th Form', 'What's the point?', 'I should have gone to college', which I really find quite sad. The general complaints I hear are:

1) There's too much work and your expected to do it on your own in your own time.
2) There are rules.
3) I'm failing so why bother trying?
4) It's not like Skins.
5) The subjects aren't what we expected them to be / needed them to be / glamorous enough.

These are from students who enjoyed the experience at GCSE enough to them want to explore more into the subject. So what went wrong and what advice would I give you to ensure you enjoy 6th Form.


 Point 1, 3 and 5 are all quite similar complaints and there is a reason that these complaints happen around December / January and that is because of exams.

You have to retain a huge amount of information to successfully tackle your AS or A2 examinations and you have to have deft skills to use that information. In English Literature alone you have two novels and two large collections of poems that you have to cover and then add on the rigours of your other subjects.

That is a lot of work.

It will impinge on your Twitter time, Facebook time, Breaking Bad time, your part-time job time and worst of all your party time. If you leave everything until the last minute, you'll miss all of this at once.

The key is to be organised. You will be getting an English Literature handbook and I am sure other departments will do the same. Do Not Bin These. These are vital to your survival; the English one has all your deadlines, your essay titles, the assessment objectives, the set texts, the requirements for laying out your essay. If you come to me with a question that is in the handbook, you'll be referred to it and I'll get quite grumpy if you do it over and over again.

When  you are given your handbook, sit down with it for half an hour, write your deadlines in your diary (you are given these as well) and start to map out when you are going to block in time to hit the deadlines.

The key to success is to get into the correct habits:

1) Do the work when you get it or as soon as you can - putting it off will cause you more stress.
2) Use your free periods to seek out your teacher if you are struggling - you are expected to work independently but that doesn't mean you are expected to suddenly become brilliant at everything straight away.
3) If something you do is difficult, it is more worthwhile than doing something very easy. Difficulty isn't bad - you get a better feeling from succeeding at things that are difficult and you develop into a stronger, more resilient and intelligent person by conquering something difficult. Fun isn't easy: boredom is easy.

For the last two years of your education you have been consistently pushed to C and above. The most shocking part about the moving from Year 11 to 6th form can be moving from seeing As on your assessments to seeing Es.

This is not failure.

There are big jumps between grades and skills / knowledge often take time to show through in grades. Improvement is what you are looking for in each assessed piece you do - that may be numerical in marks rather than alphabetical in grades.

Point 5 of the complaints is more of a life lesson than a school lesson. There is always something in every subject / job that you will not like - the key is to focus on the positives and not the negatives.

When I did my degree, I didn't particularly like photography or the Music programme MAX/MSP. As a teacher, I'm not overly fond of paperwork (see my desk). As an English teacher, I'm not a big fan of Romantic Poets (thanks Mr Gove for making them compulsory from 2015, I'll recross the border by then).

However, there was / is something that sparks my interest in my subject / job / degree each week. It made getting through the bits I didn't enjoy all the more satisfying by knowing as soon as I got them done, I could focus on the bits I love.

1) There will be something somebody says in at least one of your lessons each week that will interest you (it might not even be related to the subject) but find out more about it because finding you sparks of interest is the best thing about your education.

Finally points 2 and 4.

Skins is a T.V. drama. The characters don't have to get grades, go to university or get jobs. They have a job and it is pretending to be a teenager who doesn't care.

To be honest some episodes of Skins have been brilliantly written and every teenager in the world wants to be the one that doesn't care, doesn't do anything yet still seems to have impeccable clothing, hair, make-up and enough money to blow it all in a haze of booze and trashed houses.

6th Form is not Skins in the same way that Chemistry teachers don't make amphetamine in their spare time (who isn't enjoying Breaking Bad though?).

You are coming back to College, there are younger students all around you.

You can't wear exactly what you want all the time; you can't say what you want all the time and you have to turn up when your timetable says you have lessons or tutor time.

Sorry.

I'd love to tell you differently.

All the things you can't do above pretty much apply for the rest of your life. These aren't just exclusive College rules, they are more or less life rules.

Sorry.

Again.

So this was meant to be an up-lifting post about the enjoyment of coming back to school but I may even have managed to depress myself.

6th Form  should be about finding something you are passionate about be that subject, sport or career. It should be about loving learning. It should be about using the extra freedoms you have to find out more about yourself. To test yourself. To see how strong you are. To see what you are really capable of.

So in the spirit of positivity here are my top tips to avoid being THAT student:


Top Tips for Enjoying 6th Form

  1. Focus on the things that blow your mind not the ones that numb them
  2. Use the next two weeks to organise yourself. Don't get behind as it will all pile up.
  3. Don't through away your subject guides.
  4. Find something interesting that has come up in one of your classes each week and go away and find out more about it.
  5. Try to improve each week whether that is measured in grades, marks or self confidence.
  6. If you are struggling, speak to your teacher.
  7. Use your free lessons - it's better than missing a party.
  8. Get involved in as many things as you can - peer mentor, paired reader, Children in Need, Jordan Team.
  9. Read - whether it is something subject related or seminal late teen texts (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, High Fidelity, Catcher in the Rye).
  10. Relax - if your life gets too full of school you will resent it. Take some time off too.
 

Of Mice and Men Preparation

There is some confusion surrounding preparations for the Of Mice and Men assessment and this is a post to alleviate (note vocabulary) your sense of worry.

Lot's of you are stating that 'this is the hardest assessment you have done'. What you need to understand as it seems harder because I am stretching you to consistently improve. My job as a teacher is to keep honing and improving your existing skills, adding new ones and challenging you to use your skills in different contexts in different ways.

You are interested in using your skills and knowledge in assessments and exams and enjoy drilling them but that is only part of my job. My job is also to get you to be able to recognise the skills and knowledge you need to use when looking at a question and instinctively know how to tackle it. It may not seem it sometimes but it is not all about exams and assessments. The skills of analysing, evaluating, creating an effective argument and modifying your vocabulary depending on the context you are working in are key for the rest of your life whether you choose, College, A-Levels, University or straight into work.

That's the pre-amble over. Now for the bit you want. The explanation in relation to the assessment.

We have drilled the skills of Analysis and Evaluation looking at individual quotations and also evaluation writer's purpose and ideas. If you are uncertain about these skills then revisit this post that walks you through the ideas.

However, with an extended essay task like this we also need to draw out an argument that links all the analysis and evaluation of quotations that you do. You all did brilliantly well in the Shakespeare assessment at the analysis and evaluation of the quotations but this often read as separate paragraphs evaluating individual quotations without any real link to an argument - your answer to the question.

This is what I keep banging on about by linking your paragraphs to develop an argument.

If I put these two paragraphs next to each other

'Steinbeck  uses George and Lennie to portray thoughts and opinions on companionship. For example, we see this in the first chapter within the line “because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.” With this, we can instantly see the two character’s dependence on each other; they feel as if they can’t look after themselves, so they look out for one another to ensure their safety. The words ‘look after’ can also indicate a sense of simplicity within their task, which can make us readers seem at ease with the fate of the two characters. However, we can also debate that this is used to imply a sense of weakness rather than a strong companionship. It can lead to the statement that there is no George without Lennie, and no Lennie without George. Conclusively, this can relate back to the writers overall message that friendship is a strong bond which should be treated with care. As these two characters come across lonely labourers, we are able to see the significance of friendship as it seems that everyone is in competition with the ones they’re close with, as if Steinbeck is trying to emphasise the idea that “maybe everybody in the whole world is scared of each other”. And so using this friendship can really highlight the contrast between companionship and independence as several characters look upon the two in somewhat jealousy. It could even imply that humans are weak and they always need someone to fall back upon as most of the characters are lonely ‘losers’ in the game that is life itself.'

Steinbeck gives the initial impression of life outside the ranch, being very peaceful and almost dreamlike. He gives this impression by using detailed descriptions of the view to help us see what George and Lennie see. He uses phrases such as, “golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains”. The imagery and absence of anything relating to man sets an idyllic atmosphere though the lack of human contact in the landscape may be hinting at the isolation and loneliness to come. Steinbeck seems to be taking the characters away from human contact to comment on how society breaks down when loneliness dominates people's psyche.

There isn't an explicit link or argument running through them  and they just become strong analysis of key areas of the text. You have a question to explore and development to highlight so you need to consistently link your ideas together into a fluent tackling of the task.

This is the simplest way I can put it (thanks Tom Mulvihill). The diagram represents the points you are going to make with the arrows representing the links to your argument. I would start with an overall statement you wish to make:


Steinbeck explores ... through the use of... to highlight...

E.g. Steinbeck explores the role of women through the use of structure and imagery surrounding Curley's Wife to highlight that despite having dreams and aspirations of the men they have even less power to achieve them.

This becomes your main idea that you wish to express. You introduce your topic (see here) then make your first point.

Steinbeck explores the role of women in Chapter 2






Develops in Chapter 3 with 'Old Susie'

 Shows abuse of power in C.W and Crooks

Develops similarities in Dreams in Chapter 5 and being unattainable just like the men.

Each arrow represents linking back to your original statement before you move on to your next analysis.

If we were to apply that to the original paragraphs:

'Steinbeck  uses George and Lennie to portray thoughts and opinions on companionship. For example, we see this in the first chapter within the line “because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.” With this, we can instantly see the two character’s dependence on each other; they feel as if they can’t look after themselves, so they look out for one another to ensure their safety. The words ‘look after’ can also indicate a sense of simplicity within their task, which can make us readers seem at ease with the fate of the two characters. However, we can also debate that this is used to imply a sense of weakness rather than a strong companionship. It can lead to the statement that there is no George without Lennie, and no Lennie without George. Conclusively, this can relate back to the writers overall message that friendship is a strong bond which should be treated with care. As these two characters come across lonely labourers, we are able to see the significance of friendship as it seems that everyone is in competition with the ones they’re close with, as if Steinbeck is trying to emphasise the idea that “maybe everybody in the whole world is scared of each other”. And so using this friendship can really highlight the contrast between companionship and independence as several characters look upon the two in somewhat jealousy. It could even imply that humans are weak and they always need someone to fall back upon as most of the characters are lonely ‘losers’ in the game that is life itself.'

This idea of the loneliness is further developed within the setting. Steinbeck gives the initial impression of life outside the ranch, being very peaceful and almost dreamlike. He gives this impression by using detailed descriptions of the view to help us see what George and Lennie see. He uses phrases such as, “golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains”. The imagery and absence of anything relating to man sets an idyllic atmosphere though the lack of human contact in the landscape may be hinting at the isolation and loneliness to come. Steinbeck seems to be taking the characters away from human contact to comment on how society breaks down when loneliness dominates people's psyche again exploring the weakness of humans and the need for companionship.'

We now have the a seamless argument that runs throughout reinforcing the points made previously and linking back to a key idea. 

This is what I mean by developing an argument. The only real change is rather than focusing on your analytical and evaluative skills, I am now confident you can do this naturally and want you to trust your natural skills and give extra focus to your argument.

The last focus is to make sure you modify your language. When you start writing, you need to throw out your everyday vocabulary and use your expert academic vocabulary. See here for further details.

So to summarise:

General Tips
  •  John Steinbeck in introduction and Steinbeck throughout the rest of the essay - not John!
  •  Write in the 3rd Person to highlight Academic Confidence
  •  Use Modal Verbs to indicate that your analysis is just a possible interpretation
  •  Use your expert academic vocabulary - No 'putting across' 'zooming in' or 'to the max'
Structural Tips

Introduction - Show a broad knowledge of the text and then narrow the focus to your key argument in the last sentence of your introduction.

Paragraphs - Point, Quotation, Explanation, Analysis, 2nd Interpretation, Evaluation - 

Links - Sandwich the skills you used with links back to your key argument at the beginning and end of each paragraph.

Conclusion - Sum up your argument in a few succinct sentences drawing on the points you've made in paragraphs. State overall what you think Author is exploring.

If you have any questions, post them in the comment box below and I'll get back to you over the weekend. 
 

 
 
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