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CONTENTS 3

The Art of Teaching English Mary Gilbride

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Ten Years On:The Leaving Certificate English Syllabus Kevin Mc Dermott

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All for Debating Frank Bredin

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Introducing Poetry Maureen Curran

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Introducing Shakespeare Paul Murray

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Making the Most of Your Website Julian Girdham

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Grammar Grief Jim McDonagh & Jeff Wilkinson

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Teaching English Magazine Crossword

The English Support Service under the Second Level Support Service is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan, 2007-2013

Cover image: Thos. Gainsborough, Cottage Girl with Dog and Pitcher. 1785. National Gallery of Ireland.

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THE ART OF TEACHING ENGLISH The first conference of the new Irish National Organisation for Teachers of English www.inote.ie took place in Loughrea in February 2009. The theme of the conference was the art of teaching English. The opening address was given by Mary Gilbride, Senior Inspector for English with the Department of Education and Science. The Teaching English magazine is grateful to the DES for permission to reproduce Marys address.

an opportunity to reflect. It is also why English teachers in subject departments need to come together and ask themselves what are their aims apart, of course, from the obvious aim of helping our students to get through their examinations. I think that when these aims include instilling a love of and interest in English in our students then we are somewhere towards achieving the art of teaching English.

The Art of Teaching English It is not too often that we get a chance to reflect on why teaching English or, indeed, teaching any subject is an art. It is an art because anybody can study all the best theories and methods of teaching  the science of teaching  but not everybody can relate to different personalities, keep students engaged and build relationships  the art of teaching. And, in my mind, teaching English is definitely more of an art than teaching any other subject, as English involves dealing with emotions, fostering students creativity and, in addition, it entails subjectivity.

Good teaching is not something that happens overnight  it takes years of practice and trial and error. A text that works well with one class might not be so well received by another. We also need to talk to other teachers about our teaching and that is a brave thing to do. In his book The Courage to Teach, Parker J Palmer notes how teaching is, perhaps, the most privatised of all the public professions:

I often think when conducting subject inspection that good teaching is not rocket science and there is no one formula for being a good teacher  it cannot simply be reduced to technique. We have a saying in the inspectorate  Good teaching is good teaching  you know it when its there, you know it when you see it. Certainly, having a love and interest in the subject of English, enjoying the act of being in the classroom and actually liking young people goes a long way to fulfilling the requirements. After that the techniques of teaching are important  and I would like to pay tribute at this stage to Kevin Mc Dermott, Pauline Kelly, Della Meade, Alec MacAlister and their former colleagues in the English Support Service as they have helped to inject new life into teaching English. In addition, I would like to welcome the establishment of the Irish National Organisation for Teachers of English  INOTE  a very useful forum for sharing ideas and good practice and for extending the talents of English teachers. Im not sure if, when I was a teacher of English, I stopped and thought  Why am I doing this? What do I want to achieve for my students? Schools are so busy that we sometimes forget to reflect on what it is we want to achieve. And that is why this conference is important as it gives us

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Lawyers argue cases in front of other lawyers, where gaps in their skill and knowledge are clear for all to see. Surgeons operate under the gaze of specialists who notice if a hand trembles, making malpractice less likely. But teachers can lose sponges or amputate the wrong limb with no witness except the victims. For this reason, the value of a conference like this cannot be overestimated. This is where shared practice and professional dialogue lies. There is so much scope in teaching English  the possibilities are endless and that is the beauty of the Junior and Leaving Certificate English syllabuses and the opportunities presented in designing a Transition Year English or Leaving Certificate Applied English and Communication programme  there is so much to choose from. I have to say that I have seen some junior cycle English programmes of work, in particular, reduced to the bare minimum and teachers following the textbook so much as to make English a relentless diet of tedium and dullness. I have seen the life wrung out of Mid Term Break and The Lake Isle of Innisfree where students can identify metaphor, alliteration and the like but cant explore meaning. Im not sure if any of you read the interview with the young director of the Second Age production of King Lear who is also a director of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre


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Company. In the interview he relates how he got a D in English in the Leaving Certificate and hated the subject at school because there was no spark of creativity ignited  Shakespeares plays were taught as translations as opposed to living texts.

of a days work. It is invisible and remains so for maybe twenty years. Of course we do see the short-term results of good teaching in our students examination results and it is time to break the myth that what I am saying about good teaching and the art of English teaching is at odds with examination preparation  all one has to do is to read the chief examiners reports on English to see that there is total agreement here. Tobias Wolff captured it in Old School  a novel on the Leaving Certificate syllabus from time to time. Let me quote what the narrator in this wonderful book said about English teachers: How did they command such deference English teachers? Compared to the men who taught physics or biology, what did they really know of the world? It seemed to me and not only to me that they knew exactly what was most worth knowing. Unlike our maths and science teachers, who modestly stuck to their subjects, they tended to be polymaths‌ They would never leave a poem or a novel strewn about in pieces like some butchered form reeking of formaldehyde. Theyd stitch it back together again with history and psychology, philosophy, religion, and even, on occasion, science‌ They made you feel that what mattered to a writer had consequence for you, too.

And I have seen the opposite many times  the students really engaging with the texts, exploring their own feelings, writing a postcard from the Isle of Innisfree, describing their experience of living there. When done properly, teaching English is a joy and a privilege to witness. I think that good English teachers bring the subject to life for their students and one of the best compliments I can give in an English subject inspection report is to state that When teachers were enthusiastic about their subject matter the students responded with equal enthusiasm. These English lessons are interactive and dynamic. The subject matter is put in context for the students and yet they are introduced to a world larger than their experiences that expands their personal boundaries. I have seen classrooms turned into the Globe Theatre where all students are participants in the Shakespearean drama; I have seen a simple question asking for the students personal responses open up a whole world of ideas among students of all levels of ability. Who was it said that Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts? This is true of English above any other subject. There is no doubt in my mind that the best teachers teach from the heart and not from the book. They are not only teaching a course, they are teaching students to respond critically, to respond personally, to react, to create links  they are trying to nurture an interest. It is not always easy to make students realise the importance of this as students care about the short term outcomes in the real world as opposed to the gift of understanding and insight. Jacques Barzun, the cultural historian and teacher, said, In teaching you cannot see the fruit

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You might remember that the narrator in the novel talks about the classs analysis of Faulkners short story Barn Burning where the students have sensed a fault in the character of the father. Wolff says Left alone youd probably close the book and move to other thoughts. But instead you are taken in hand by a tall, brooding man‌ who involves you and a roomful of other boys in the consideration of what it means to be a son. That is the art of teaching English  the art of assisting discovery. In this way the teacher does not produce knowledge or stuff ideas into an empty, passive mind  like the little pitchers waiting to be filled with facts in Dickenss Hard Times. It is the learner, not the teacher, who is the active producer of knowledge and ideas. I know that not all teachers have the opportunity to teach in the type of school where Wolffs narrator was a student and where all students were vying with each other to be the brightest and the best. Seamus Heaney talks in Stepping Stones about his experience of teaching in a school of great disadvantage. He says Hard to have a Stephen Dedalus or a Paul Morel without some emotional and spiritual help in the home and outside it and he is right. It is easier to practise the art of teaching when the students have practised the art of reading literature. My greatest admiration is for those English teachers who can open the minds of students who might have never read a book for pleasure before, or might not live in a home where there are any books, and ignite in them a spark of interest and a desire to know more. I have seen it so often  where teachers do not accommodate these students but rather they challenge and extend them and deepen their knowledge and open their minds to more. In the book I referred to earlier The Courage to Teach, Palmer makes an analogy between teachers complaining about poor students in their classrooms to doctors in a hospital asking not to be sent any more sick people but to be sent healthy patients so that they could look like good doctors. Palmer states, rather harshly, that Our assumptions that students are brain dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains. He says when we teach by dripping information into their passive forms, students who arrive into the classroom alive and well become passive consumers of knowledge and are dead on departure. There is a lot of talk now about active methodologies and learning to learn and there is no doubt in my mind that the best way of

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teaching English is to actively involve the students in the lesson. When students are passive recipients of education, there is a real danger that they will carry their passivity into the workplace and that is not the type of student or worker that this society needs. Now more than ever we have to teach students the skills to negotiate texts the higher order skills so that students in a world of uncertain employment opportunities can demonstrate that they can apply a range of skills. If we separate teaching from learning we have teachers who talk but do not listen and students who listen but do not talk. But, being able to actively involve students in learning involves building a relationship of trust between the teacher and the students. In teaching English, teachers have to give of themselves and put themselves and their opinions on the line so to speak. The good English teacher shows the student how to discern, evaluate, judge, and recognize the truth. He/she does not impose a fixed content of ideas and beliefs that the student must learn by rote. He/she encourages rather than suppresses a critical and intelligent response. One of my favourite quotes on teaching is from William Arthur Ward who stated The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. I would like to leave you with an extract from the short story The Windows of Wonder by Bryan MacMahon. If you remember the children in the valley where the substitute teacher was teaching were a queer clannish crowd and they would eat you with their big brown eyes. The new teacher tried all kinds of techniques to gain the childrens attention and co-operation and then she realised that they had never heard of any of the Irish legends. She says to the children: Your minds are like rooms that are dark or brown. But somewhere in the rooms, if only you can pull aside the heavy curtains, you will find windows  these are the windows of wonder. Through these you can see the yellow sunlight or the silver stars or the manycoloured wheels of a rainbow‌ The windows I speak of are the legends of our people. Each little legend is a window of wonder. Each time you hear a story, or ponder upon a story or dream yourself into a story or break or remake a story, you are opening a window of wonder. And I think that each time an English teacher opens a window of wonder in the mind of their students they have succeeded in the art of teaching English.


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Ten Years On: The Leaving Certificate English Syllabus Kevin Mc Dermott , national co-ordinator of the English Support Service reflects on the Leaving Certificate English syllabus, ten years after its introduction in 1999.

Every person lives in the midst of language. The Leaving Certificate English Syllabus The limits of my language mean the limits of my world. Ludwig Wittgenstein When the late Gus Martin edited the Soundings poetry anthology and the Exploring English set of books, he laid out a map for secondary school English that was followed for more than a quarter of a century. Everyone educated during the era of Exploring English has a favourite poem or short story. For me its O Connors Guests of the Nation and D. H. Lawrences The Snake.

D. H. Lawrence

Many of the stories and poems have stood the test of time, but the Ireland of 1969 was a different country from the one we have now and neither Gus nor anyone else could have predicted the extent of the changes that Irish society would undergo as it approached the 21st century. Do you remember 1969? The Celtic Tiger had not come and gone; there was no M50; no MP3s; no mobile phones; no internet. In 1969 Jacks army was two decades into the future; emigrants were leaving the country in droves; Europe was

another continent and we were still waiting and hoping that the Swinging 60s might arrive. In 1969 the Catholic Church was the most powerful force in Irish education. There were few coeducational schools and as many students sat the group certificate examination as sat the leaving certificate. In 1969 university education was not open to every student, though the passing of Donagh O Malleys Free Education Act 1967 placed education at the heart of the nations economic and social development. It was a long journey from there to here, a journey through the bleak 1980s and the Troubles in the North; a journey into Europe and the Free Market and accelerated economic and cultural change. Some things, of course, have stayed the same: Kilkenny won the 1969 All Ireland Hurling final, while Kerry won the football championship. As a school subject, English reflects the society and the culture of its time and is a product of that culture. When the syllabus committee of the NCCA began to revise the English, Leaving Certificate syllabus for the first time since 1969, the country was on the threshold of a new millennium and a revolution had taken place in communications and the production and distribution of information. The committee set about its task in the midst of what the policy makers called the Knowledge Society. The new syllabus was designed to help students make sense of the brash, fast-changing, media and information-saturated world, in which we now live and to develop the skills in language and thinking that will allow them to negotiate the rapidly changing post-modern world. Thus, one of the key concepts of the syllabus is Critical Literacy. The English course encourages students to develop a healthy scepticism towards the texts and messages that bombard them from every angle. It is not enough for students to read and understand texts how well the new syllabus anticipated the language of the Bebo generation they need to discriminate and make judgements. Our students have to develop the skills and confidence to read between the lines. They need to recognise when they are being sold a pup. Reading, in the English syllabus, is not a passive activity. On the contrary, students are encouraged to read in a questioning and critical way, in a way that goes back to the tradition of

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Socrates and his distrust of the Sophists. Reading, as conceived in the English syllabus, is a form of empowerment. Of course English is not only about reading and comprehending, it is also about writing and composing. The syllabus places an emphasis on the texts that students compose. Students have to learn to write in different genres. We want our students to think about what happens when they use words. After all, words dont just say something, they do things, they make things happen. The words we choose and the way in which we order and shape them help us to achieve our purpose. Think of Barack Obama. How carefully he chooses his words; how artfully he constructs his speeches. How he alters the nuance of each speech depending on the context and the audience. Hes working hard to convince different sections of the American public that he can be a successful president. His words are intended to capture hearts and minds. Students can learn from Barack Obama, just as they can learn from a feature article in a newspaper, or an auctioneers blurb, or the script of a television drama. English teachers are encouraged to offer students examples of different genres of writing, so that students might develop their skills in the language of information, argument and persuasion, as well as the language of narrative. We want our students to be sensitive to the contexts in which words are used and to be sensitive to the audience whom their words address. As English teachers, we want our students to develop a thoughtful awareness of language. This awareness includes paying attention to the basic requirements of spelling and grammar. Spelling and grammar are like good manners. However, like good manners, spelling and grammar are insufficient in themselves and have no virtue if they are divorced from content and style. More than any other time in history, its hard to overstate the importance of language in our lives. The opening paragraph of the English syllabus speaks of initiating students into enriching experiences with language so that they become more adept and powerful users of it and more critically aware of its power and significance in their lives. Without language there is no thinking; without language we cannot form an identity. Language enables us to grow as individuals and as citizens. Language is personal but it is also what binds us as a community and as

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a civic society. We cannot articulate the kind of society we want to create, if we do not have a language to express it. Little wonder then that language is the basic pillar on which the English syllabus is constructed. Interestingly, the word language, as it used in the syllabus, encompasses all visual forms of communication and media, film and theatre form an integral part of the subject. Students studying English in 2009 have access to a really exciting range of literature, one that is intended to raise their awareness of the value and pleasure of reading. The range of texts also seeks to reflect the democratic ambition we have as a nation to create a society that is inclusive, equal and multicultural. The list of texts is not dominated by dead white males, as it was in the past. Of course Shakespeare is there, and will be there, and so are the great nineteenth century novelists but the lists are more contemporary, more Irish, more feminist, more European, more multicultural, more appealing to the age of our students than anything that has preceded the current syllabus. And the students have really responded to the work of writers like Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, Brian Moore, Mark Haddon, Hugo Hamilton, to name a few. Leaving

Hugo Hamilton


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Certificate English provides teachers and students with an opportunity to read and compare a number of texts, one of which can be a film. The study of film drama for a multi-media age succeeds in doing for students what the study of Patrick Kavanagh did for the young

John Steinbeck

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney, allowing them to dwell without anxiety in the cultural landmarks of their lives. The lists of texts nearly forty in all always includes a selection of new titles. Apart from keeping the lists fresh and contemporary, and making sure there is something for everyone, reading a text that is prescribed for the first time allows students to give their honest, personal response. In nurturing the response of students, teachers help students gain access to their own intelligent insight and understanding. Classroom discussion is the means by which students develop confidence in their capacity to say interesting and satisfying things about books, plays, film and poetry. One of the dangers of the growing consumerist approach to education is that we will have a generation of discerning customers but passive students. And passivity and the English syllabus do not mix. Students read literature to appreciate and respond but also to learn how to write. Compared to the syllabus of 1969, there is now a closer connection between the concepts of comprehending and composing. Language and literature are no longer treated as separate areas of study where never the twain shall meet. Its always worth reading a text that we admire with a writers eye. And come the leaving certificate examination, every student is a writer.

So, when the day of reckoning arrives in June, whats the secret to success? In one word, Id say trust. For paper two, students need to trust their own responses to the texts they have read. The English syllabus recognises the centrality of readers in the act of reading. Take, for example, the idea of General Vision and Viewpoint in a novel, play or film. We are not talking here about the authors intention. No author can dictate how readers will interpret and respond to a work. The general vision and viewpoint of any work is the one that emerges for the reader in the course of the reading. I read Of Mice and Men and Im thrown into despair by the impossibility of human happiness. You read it and see a vision of love and nobility. Often the best reading of a text is one that goes against a prevailing orthodoxy, one that forces us to look at a text with fresh eyes. For paper one, students need to write with conviction and with a sense of what their words are doing and intended to do. Above all, students need to bring some sense of the wonder and excitement of English into their exam. After all, English is the subject which gives us access to some of the most important aspects of our culture and identity. And like the big soft buffetings that come at the car sideways, in Heaneys poem, Postscript, English has the power to catch the heart off guard and blow it open. Long after the Leaving Certificate examination in English has been forgotten those texts which we have memorised, which we have taken to heart, will, in the words of George Steiner, ripen and deploy within us.

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ALL FOR DEBATING youngest of three who all attended so I had a fair handle on who was who. KMcD What are the pleasures of being an English teacher? FB I enjoy the new LC poetry course, and the Comparative Section always throws up surprising connections. In the Junior Cycle I enjoy the whole process of developing students writing skills, from the short story to speech. K M c D When and how did your interest in debating begin? FB I started UCC at a time when the Philosophical Society was full of characters. Saturday night debates were always full. I was on good terms with the Philosophs leading lights when the Student Worlds was hosted in Cork in 1996. They needed extra adjudicators. So, despite having avoided Debating at school, I got involved, and subsequently hooked. F r a n k B r e d i n teaches in Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin 16. Here the talks to Kevin Mc Dermott of the Teaching English magazine about his love of debating. KMcD Tell me a little about yourself - where you grew up, where you went to school. FB I grew up in Passage West on Cork Harbour. I went to the local Primary School, and started at the local Sisters of Mercy Secondary before that was amalgamated into St Peters Community School. KMcD Did you enjoy English in school? FB I always enjoyed the creative-writing aspect. I also found Shakespeare very interesting, though Im only fully appreciating his command of language now. Its strange the way teaching a text fixes things in the brain. KMcD What teachers do you remember from your schooldays? FB I remember them all, but this may be due to the fact that when I started my secondary schooling I was in a school of only 150 students and less than fifteen teachers. I was also the

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KMcD What do you see as the importance of debating for the students? FB Debating is a very good way of establishing structure in all English work, and can crystallize the concepts of introduction and conclusion for students. It broadens student perspectives, promotes incisive and discriminating analysis. For the LC course, it allows students to workshop Persuasive and Argumentative Language modes. As an extra-curricular activity, it can help students meet new people and establish an identity for themselves, as well as boosting their critical thinking. KMcD What advice would you give to a teacher trying out debating for the first time? F B Some students may be aware of methodologies such as the walking debate from CSPE or Junior Cycle English. If youre new to Debating yourself, emphasise that there is a trial element to what theyre doing, and that their feedback has value in refining it for future years. Allow students a degree of involvement in planning whats to happen. Acknowledge honesty of effort and willingness to give it a shot. Always buy yourself time to consider what youve seen before announcing a result!


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DEBATING IN THE CLASSROOM: GETTING THE WHOLE CLASS-GROUP INVOLVED F r a n k B r e d i n of Wesley College Dublin offers a guide to debating for any teacher who feels like dipping his or her toe in the water for the first time. INTRODUCTION I am interested in whole class participation in debate, yet at the same time retaining the formality of a Debating arena. What follows is based on Parliamentary style Debate and uses the Point of Information Mechanism POIM to provide students with the opportunity to remain engaged when not presenting their own material, reducing passivity in response to others speeches. The following presumes little to no experience of debating on the students or teachers behalf. PLANNING A LEAGUE Select teams. As class sizes differ, modify according to your circumstances. Three or Four rounds, six or eight teams  three/four teams on either side of the topic/motion. The next step is to give to the teams both the topics and the dates of the League in advance. Once the teams are decided, the motions topics and the order of speaking should be drawn for all topics. The Debate will alternate between speakers for the P r o p o s i t i o n Prop and Opposition Opp with the Prop opening the motion. Students should make sure that they have all details of the League, plus whether they are Prop or Opp recorded. The key to overcoming reluctance to speak is to give the students the power to choose which team member speaks on each topic, and the power to decide if they speak in an earlier or later round. The team provides a social dimension which can reduce feelings of isolation or nerves in the preparation of the Debate. PRESUMING A GROUP OF APPROXIMATELY 30/32 STUDENTS Each team four members will see their members make one speech. Where you have a team of three, either their best speaker can speak twice, or they may nominate two speakers to deliver the remaining speech see FAQ. Each Debate will have four teams on each side Prop

and Opp. Speeches, allowing for a 40 minute class, will be two and a half minutes. 150 seconds. This takes twenty minutes of overall speaking. You can also allow teams a minute after every speech to update their speakers material. The first and last thirty seconds of the speeches should be P r o t e c t e d undisturbed which allows speakers the time at podium to outline their main points at the start and at the end to restate their key points without fear of interruption. The middle 90 seconds are open to POI. If you have six teams instead of eight per round, then adjust length to suit. POINTS OF INFORMATION POI Every speaker has to take at least one point in their middle open ninety seconds. A POI comes from the opposing side. It should be 10 seconds or one sentence long. It should challenge the ideas proposed, and if possible derail them. The person offering rises and says On that Point, and then waits to see if they are accepted or dismissed. At podium, the speaker does not have to take the first point of information offered. They can choose to take a point that is offered at a place in their speech that suits them or from an individual they presume they can best in terms of responding to the objection offered. When offered a point, the Speaker has three options  i Yes ii No, thank you iii In a moment. If Y e s, the person offering the point has their ten seconds/one sentence to object, but they are not allowed to start a dialogue or raise a repeated objection. If N o, the person offering must sit. If I n a m o m e n t the speaker at podium has fifteen seconds to finish their point before returning to the pointer for their contribution. No other person should offer a P O I while an individual remains waiting to give a m o m e n t e d POI. Good speakers will never say m Yes as that means they are conceding the floor automatically at the Pointers behest. They will No or Moment the pointer. Good manners on POIs require the following. • Teams should leave 15/20 seconds between the offering of points so a speaker at podium can develop their ideas. Interrupting too frequently will lose marks. • No conversation is to be entered into with the

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speaker at podium. The POI should be brief repeated only if the speaker at podium asks to hear it again. • A speaker offered a point must acknowledge it and indicate their response as soon as possible; do not leave a pointer standing waiting for acknowledgement. • Points are only to be offered during the open section of the speech. • Do not offer to speakers from other teams on your own side of the Debate.

SETTING THE MOTIONS As your class may have a mix of genders, interests and backgrounds, keep a variety of topics in your selection: Go for a motion relevant to their age-group, a larger social or political motion with national implications a motion that may be about the international community.

Points are a lottery. Your opponent may say something devastating in their point which you cant respond to. Or, your opponent may say something which you have already anticipated and you can dismantle them. You never know which way an exchange may go. Always respond with something, even if you just repeat a core point of your argument as if that covers it. Dont say Thats a very good point; I cant disagree with that.

There is no obligation for all Debates to be deathly serious; choosing a motion which appeals to the witty, imaginative or eccentric student is acceptable. Avoid i motions that are negatively phrased; Having a will not means your Prop are for being against something ii Open Motions, which are so general as to be interpreted in multiple ways e.g. This House would Free the Beast are impossible to anticipate properly. If students are more experienced they can attempt these.

TEAM ORGANISATION In any round each team is divided into two; i the speaker who will be at podium ii the remainder who promote the teams views through the P O I M . Forbid the speaker at podium from offering points in the Debate; the team must contribute as a unit to do well. All team members should know the case they wish to put forward, and be aware of the cases that will be made against them.

Give the students relevant articles from newspapers to develop the topic. Provide balance for both sides. If necessary, supplement these ideas with a bullet-point summary of the issue. These articles can be developed through class and home-works. I whiteboard the main issues for the first debate; that debates success or failure tells me whether I continue doing this or whether the teams are sufficiently at ease to prepare their own ideas.

Every team gets to choose which member speaks on which topic. For this reason, students need to know whether they are for or against a topic in advance so they can prepare. The whole team is to be involved in going over the material for each debate. It is acceptable for students to prepare a weaker team-mates speech, but they should be aware that the speaker will be required to answer points on the material through the P O I M and has to understand the case as well as deliver the speech.

CLASSROOM LAYOUT Get students sitting in their team groups even in preparation stages. Have a fixed layout for the class during a debate, with fixed positions for all of the teams done by speaking order First Prop front left, First Opp - front right etc.... Let the class know this layout so that when they come on the day of the Debate they know where to sit. Have the speaker sit in the same position in the desk; that way you and the students can tell at a glance who the speaker is in this round and that it is the other team members who offer points.

A team that speaks early in a round can use the POIM to remind others of their core points while trying to challenge their opponents. A team speaking later can use the POIM to get their ideas into the Debate early and move the debate into areas which suit them. Either way, any team can benefit if they use the POIM skilfully. This also keeps student focus when other speakers are at podium.

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THE STUDENTS GUIDE TO GETTING IT RIGHT ON THE DAY The Speech My speech will be _______________ in length. The protected time is the first and last ____ seconds. My speech should have three main points. I


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should introduce them in brief protected time at the beginning of a speech, develop them and take a challenge point where I feel comfortable open time and then review my points with emphasis on how they help my team and side win the debate protected time at the end. The first team to bring an idea up get the credit for it, so if Im speaking later on in a Debate I should aim to have an angle thats new. The later I am in the Debate the less written material I should have prepared and memorised in advance nice!; however, I now have to take written notes on what everyone is saying and incorporate that into my review of the issue hmm‌ I will take a challenge point where it suits me. This is generally as I am concluding any of my three points. When offered a point I will say No or In a moment. I shouldnt take successive points as that stops me from developing my contributions to the debate. If multiple people offer points at once, I can choose who to accept from; the others must sit. I will always contradict what a pointer is saying to me. Once I know what objection they are making I can respond. I should not allow anyone a mini-speech disguised as a point; although they will be punished, I will be losing valuable time to put my case forward. Being offered points is a good sign. The more points Im offered, the better Im doing. If Im not offered any points it is because I have said nothing relevant to the debate. THE DEFINITION OF THE MOTION AND FLOW OF THE DEBATE The first Prop team get to define what the debate is to be about, and provide a system tthe model with which the change will be introduced. They cover why, what and how. All other prop teams have to support the Model how even if their reasons for supporting the motion are different. First Prop gain rewards for defining the motion in a way that all teams can interact with it as fully as possible. The Opposition get to challenge the Proposition on the three aspects why, what and how. All of these are legitimate targets. Middle order teams increasingly have to refer to what is actually being said as opposed to what was expected to be said. Last Prop and Last Opp are to give their reasons for or against the motion, but also to survey the ideas brought up by both sides note that in 150

seconds you may not have time to get through all the above so choose wisely what you undertake to do. You should avoid bringing up completely new material in a last speech; use the POIM to get the debate onto your territory even before you begin your own speech. THE TEACHERS GUIDE TO JUDGING WHAT HAPPENS An individual speaker Has a speaker used their time as fully as possible? Have they taken points? Have they fulfilled the role expected for their team? Have they used rhetoric, humour or other available device to make an engaging and convincing case? Good signs Keeps up with and interacts with the Debate as it develops. Is aware of the points they wish to make and is not over-dependent on their written notes. Is able to segue back to their speech from dealing with a POIM smoothly. Understands that their presentation has a beginning, middle and end. Knows not just what has been said in the debate but also who said it. Bad signs Use/Overuse of statistics or examples. Principle is the most valuable tool they can use. Mentioning the Nazis. The Nazis are only relevant if German society in the 1930/40s is specifically named in the motion to start with. Attacking an individual, rather than the ideas that individual is using in their argument. Repeats variations on the same point endlessly. TEAMS First Prop Was the definition of the Debate relevant? Did it allow for others to engage? Was their a Model system of how this would be done? Will they keep active and challenge subsequent opposing arguments through POIM? First Opp Have they got good grounds for opposing the motion? Have they challenged the model that has been introduced or have they ignored it? Will they keep active? Have they examined the wording of the motion carefully to allow them to issue the strongest possible challenge?

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FAQ Can two students make a speech if one of them is absolutely struck with stage-fright? Yes. One outlines the main points of the speech; the other handles the POIs offered. However, as there are two people sharing the burden, the speech is extended to three minutes, and two POIs must be taken. NB; the second person should be the friend, and they get to decide whether a point is taken or not and responds accordingly. The stage-struck candidate must then complete their task dealing with POIs when their friends turn to make their speech comes. For this reason, only extend this to combinations where the second person has not yet spoken. Will students still attempt to dodge this exercise? Absolutely. It is worth noting that such actions will be letting team-mates down and deliberately so. Warn students of this in advance so as to establish that everyone knows what is expected. How do I know if the debate was any good? If students stay at podium for their required time, using that time well, and interact with what has gone on around them, then that is a huge positive. Exchanges at POIs should be relevant, briskly offered and briskly dealt with. If all teams make an attempt at fulfilling the obligations they are under then you have seen a good attempt at a debate and should congratulate your class accordingly. Marking schemes? You could give points only for the best three teams. Or you could mark the top three positively and the bottom two negatively. Or you could borrow from Eurovision. Whatever works best. It can be difficult to give an instant result to a debate. Take written notes on what is said and whether someone was engaged in the material or not. Give the result the next day. Can I reward individuals as well as teams? Yes. You could have best speech, best POI, best dealing with a POI, best observation. I have a proportion of Foreign Language students in my class. How can they participate? Give a sheet with all the key terms that are expected to crop up in advance to these students. Key verbs Abolish, exclude, penalise can also be included. The students can then translate these

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into their own languages to help their own thoughts before trying to construct an argument in English. The Internet and Satellite television may mean that these students will have access to own-language discussions of these issues. I have an odd number of students in my class. What do I do with the remnants? As above, some students could be allowed speak in pairs see first FAQ in an extended speech. Or, a student can speak twice. It all depends on what you and the class themselves see as an appropriate solution to the problem. Having the class involved in trouble-shooting and problemsolving an issue like this will increase their sense of ownership and involvement in the league and help remove barriers to resistance and unwillingness. Nobodys offered a good speaker any POIs. If its not the speakers fault, then dont penalise them. In the first speeches in first rounds before people are completely familiar with whats going on this can happen. However, if the Good Speaker has pitched their arguments in terms so obscure that the Supreme Court may be needed to decipher them, then do penalise. You have to be able to convince people, not confuse them. I have an experienced Debater in my class and everyones afraid of them. Offer joint first places in any debate if the winning team has that Debater as a member. Also, double points can be awarded to any students brave enough to take a POI from that experienced speaker in their speech. Dont ignore the issue, but dont penalise your Debater for being interested either. How do I take notes on a POI exchange? I use a series of arrows. Note the initials of the person offering. If they are refused, mark an x; if accepted, a tick. Using up to represent excellent, and down to represent dismal, I then mark an arrow for both of the following: The quality of point given How the point was dealt with Your notes will hopefully then represent a record of the points a speaker took, and what then transpired in the encounter. It is possible that a brilliant point can be given, and a brilliant answer received, in which case credit both individuals.


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Drawing it Out: Generating and maintaining student creative writing Maureen Curran shares some of her ideas on generating student writing. Maureen teaches in Loreto Milford in Donegal. Her students have won many prizes in national poetry competitions.

Examples Pink is circus candy floss It tastes of bubblegum And strawberry lip-gloss Its a playboys favourite colour

INTRODUCTION

Yellow Is the musty smell of old paper Is bananas in pyjamas It zings like bitter lemon It spills like melting butter It is cheerful as A New York taxi

The aim of these notes is to offer some ideas on providing a focus for creative writing. Students respond well to prompts and specific tasks and, as a teacher, these help you to feel a little more in control of what can be, and sometimes has to be, a vague and mysterious process. I look at three aspects of writing and how you might deal with these across 1st year, 2nd/3rd year, and TY/4th year: imagery and to an extent, sound effects; structure; and voice. . Maintaining a student writing group has been an incredibly rewarding part of my work for the past three years and I include a history of the Poetry Factory and the practical approaches I have taken to generate and raise the profile of creative writing in school. The work illustrating the examples is by students written in class and in The Poetry Factory. Most are not first drafts. The prompts referred to in the exercises are all included at the end of the article. IMAGERY AND SOUND Exercise 1 Working with the senses Quickly check that the class is familiar with the five senses sight, sound, smell, taste, touch Choose a colour and in groups or pairs ask them to write down the sound, taste, smell of the colour and what it looks like and feels like. Make it clear that you dont have to be right to write so a colour might taste like a cloud or a dream. Set 5 minutes for this task. Get the groups to read back their work. Ask the others which ones stayed with them and worked- these will most likely be alliterative, rhyming, sibilant or express something the listener has felt too. You could take a moment to explain the effects of alliteration, why D is heavy, why S is quiet etc‌

Green is The wind whistling through the grass The crunch of a granny smith The air bursting out of a 7Up bottle It is the monster on your shoulder It is prickly holly It is precious as Emeralds Creamy mint ice cream Or lettuce and cut herbs  if youre that way inclined N. Angela Colour Pink is the smell of the Sunday roast cooking Copper clinks like the price of a pint Green crunches like apples Black tastes bitter like coffee White feels like emptiness Yellow is warm like a blanket of primroses Gold glitters like Hollywood Purple smells like the heather on Gannia Silver sounds like cymbals clashing Grey smells like smoke Black is the long road home Gold is a flickering candle Silver is a dew laden cobweb Blue is a howling siren The Poetry Factory

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Exercise 2 Give each group or pair one of the following: two squares of chocolate, a sugar cube, coffee granules, pasta shells, breadcrumbs etc‌ Ask them to write a description of their item using all the senses. Tell them to pick it up, break it drop it crush it etc‌ Ask them to add on what it reminded them of. What did they think it was doing before they picked it up?

Theyre the twinkles of every souls eye The wings of faeries playing hide and seek behind the clouds They are stones kicked on black tarmac Sprinkling of icing sugar on dark chocolate brownies Silver thumbtacks holding up the sky N. Angela

Exercise 3 Put a handful of shells or pebbles on each desk. Get each student to pick up just one that they think is nice or interesting. Describe it using the senses. Example: It looks like a lemon It feels like dead skin Its the colour of whitewashed pebble-dash It sounds like cheese on the grater It is wet summers days on the beach Exercise 4 Working with metaphors and similes Prompt: What is the Sun? by Wes Magee Pass out a copy of the poem and read it aloud. Ask for responses and hopefully they will spot the use of colour. Discuss the poems mood and how the images chosen by the poet supported the mood. Brainstorm What is the Moon? What are the Stars? What are the clouds? What are the raindrops? Examples The moon is a ghostly face peeping through the clouds Its a spotlight shining on heavens floor Its a silver coin flipped high at a busker Its a ball of cheese that rolled off the giants table Its a cats eye glowing in the dark A white balloon I couldnt hold on to A beer bottle top in an oily puddle A scoop of ice-cream dropped on a black marble floor What are the stars? The stars are glitter on a magicians coat They are a firework display visible all over the world

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STRUCTURE Exercise 1 Haiku Pass out and read some haiku and get the class to count out the syllables per line. Note how efficient the use of language is - tell the students that a haiku travels light. Ask the class in pairs or individually to write haiku verses for What is the Moon? etc from the exercise above. Exercise 2 Haiku Ask each student to pick a moment they have witnessed today as they went through the school and capture the moment in a haiku. They re trying to capture the essence of the moment not a description of it so show dont tell. Example Glass of orange juice A taste as smooth as velvet Golden as the sun


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Exercise 3 Kennings These two phrase descriptions make a great basis for list poems. Read some examples like the following: Examples Anger Body-shaker Bone-breaker Teeth-grinder Fist-clencher Pillow-banger Room-wrecker Feeling-hurter Ranting-rager Try a variety of animals, pets, homework, friends, TV, sports etc ‌ Remind the class of the usefulness of alliteration and assonance Voice Exercise 1: When I look in the Mirror The object here is to get the students to think about themselves as a subject and hopefully incorporate the use of the senses and metaphor that theyve been exercising with. Encourage them to see past their own face to family features theyve inherited, perhaps future versions of themselves ‌ Examples from The Poetry Factory Oscar: When I look in the mirror I see my fathers hair, stubborn and thick as a mat

novel with a different cultural context to us. The character Widge in Gary Blackwoods The Shakespeare Stealer or Wil from Goodnight Mr. Tom work well. Get the class to brainstorm the situations the persona found himself in, the soundtrack that might have been played for these situations, the colours that would have suited his mood, the tastes he knew, surfaces he touched, smells he experienced. Example My place was among the bullies in the schoolroom In grey threadbare clothes It was the place of air raid sirens It tasted of blood and of dust It felt like the sting of a leather belt Until I met Mr Tom Now my place is a room in the eaves It is thick-ribbed corduroy It is a place of organ music and country accents It smells of oil paint It tastes of warm tea and hope Exercise 3 Persona poems, prompt: Paper Dreams by Bobbi Katz Set groups to work on Toy box Dreams, Pencil Dreams, Paint Dreams, Needle and thread Dreams, etc. Begin with writing a description of it using the senses then really think about the character of the subject. Its important not to just write a description as the real purpose here is to show not tell.

Vivienne: When I look in the mirror I see my aunties nose, long like a sleeve with a button on the end Deborah: When I look in the mirror I see my Daddys ears, so pointy I wonder were my early ancestors elves Sinead: When I look in the mirror I see the stature of my fathers family, Tall like the rainforest but awkward as silence Catherine: When I look in the mirror I see my fathers dimpled chin, A finger print in marla or clay Exercise 2 What is my place? This can be applied directly to the student themselves but emphasises persona and voice if you choose a character from a poem, story or

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IMAGERY The object of these exercises is to demonstrate how imagery supports theme and character. Exercise 1 Prompt City Jungle by Pie Corbett A quick examination of this poem shows how the poet used the senses to bring the scene to life. The poem also builds on work we did last year on personification. Ask if the poet makes the city seem a welcoming or unwelcoming place, note that the choice of imagery was the deciding factor. Write about The Blackboard Jungle Exercise 2 Prompt Uncle extract by Dylan Thomas Let the students read this extract and see how the animal imagery captures the sense of the uncles character and his relationship with his wife. Note the hyperbole. Write a short story or poem set in your sister or brothers room in which you show with imagery rather than tell what he/she is like and what your relationship with him/her is like. Example: Rooms My older sisters bedroom faces mine on the landing. The rooms contrast with each other in every way. Hers an explosive mess Of crumpled clothes, mascara wands, Strewn posters of pop stars and forgotten photos Of how we used to be‌ That familiar sweet scent of her Calvin Klein Lingering in the thick air And lingering on my heavy heart.Mine a spacious, spotless room All my possessions neatly lined on my dresser All my clothes neatly hung in the closet Precious photos, Diamonds of time carefully pasted into scrap books, They represented what was mine. Both rooms so different, but each A true reflection of the holders way of life. Memories are preserved between the four yellow walls. They glitter in the summer sun that streams in Through the crack in the drapes. Memories of how we used to sit

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And talk out those long nights in hushed whispers Till three in the morning. Memories of how Id sneakily slip in and cautiously tiptoe Over a disarray of mismatches shoes, and favourite books Music sheets, our songs from The Kooks. And now I stand in her empty room, Dreams we dreamt and stories we wrote Reflecting on her tarnished mirror. She came and she packed all her stuff away Leaving it more like my room every day. Gone now are the crumpled clothes, mascara wands Posters of much adored bands, Mismatched shoes and favourite books. Gone now is the music we heard from The Kooks But the familiar scent of Calvin Kleins still there It mingles with the loneliness hanging in the air. Sinead Carr E x e r c i s e 3 Prompt Handbag by Ruth Fainlight Read the poem and see how the poet appeals to the readers senses to evoke the person who owned the handbag and even the era. Ask each student to think of an object that characterises a person they know. Build on last years work with the senses. Describe it using the five senses and use specific detail to give the description more intimacy. So name brands and places and bands etc‌ Example Nuneaton I remember cobbled streets like overgrown pebbles beneath my feet, The smell of green and clear of the flowers that slowly disappeared to a friend, a lover, a mother or a bedside


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the taste of town cuisine that was far from lean fish and chips dressed in the best of the weeks news and pigeons searched for scraps and released gentle coos On market days the town bustled with sound One, two, three for a pound The yellow stone fountain flowed and flowered out While George Eliot sat in monochrome Book in hand, a ghost from home Catherine Buck Exercise 4 Prompt Warning by Jenny Joseph Read the poem and ask why she chose purple. Build on last years work on colour. What attitude does purple have? What colour might a person wear if they were frustrated, misunderstood, stereotyped, in their brother or sisters shadow? What would they do to protest or proclaim? STRUCTURE

Example I am the sound of old library books shutting I am struggle to draw breath with laughter I am Body Shop strawberry moisturiser I am sun cream soaking into fragile skin I am the early sun rising above the back yard I am a soft dressing gown on bare skin And damp grass on my feet I am bagels and soft cream cheese I am friends gathering for a night in Ruby Malone Exercise 2 Prompt: Buttons This is similar to the descriptive work last year on shells. Pass a box of buttons the noisier the better around the tables and let the students get their hands on the buttons. Ask each one to select the button that they find interesting. Describe it using the five senses. Begin the lines with I am rather than It is. Using the button as narrator, write its story. Where did it come from? What are its dreams? What crises has it had? What are its songs? What is it waiting for? etc‌

Exercise 1 Couplets Write couplets based on each of the five senses when doing the Blackboard Jungle poem above Exercise 2 Sonnet After doing a sonnet as a poem for the exam try to get the class applying the structure to a poem on their place. Build on last years work on place. Describe the town or town land in the octet and reflect on its history, myths, symbols, nature, and the writers relationship with it in the sestet. VOICE Exercise 1 What I love Read the following sentence starters and allow time for the students to write responses. I love the sound of‌ I love the smell of‌ I love to see‌ I love the touch of‌ I love the taste of‌ My favourite place is‌ when‌ I believe in‌. I love‌ I love‌ When the answers are written get everyone to read back their answers, replacing the sentence starters with I am

Exercise3 Pleased to meet you Put the class into four groups and give each group one of the following sentence starters: I hope‌, I wish‌, I pray‌, I am‌ Example Let me introduce myself I am ... a rainbow in a world of grey clouds a butterfly fluttering through a bouquet of roses I am the fizziest drink in the fridge a shimmering grain of sand on Portsalon beach a dazzling diamond on a bed of rocks a big fish in a small pond

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the stripy shell on the white shore I am part of Gods creation forever flying free the brightest light on the Christmas tree I am grand the busiest bee in the hive the brightest star in the velvet sky in a world of my own making

The retreating tide reveals footsteps on Tra´ Mo´r along with freshly slimed rocks and crabs galore. Waves of blooming heather crash over Kinnelargy, Dooey begins to slowly relax while the threatening surge of the ocean slips into the past. The dunes of Downings celebrate, For they have won the battleWinter has been defeated And seeds of joy are sown In the fields of Dundoan Stacey McNutt

I hope… to live to tick off my to do list to live my life in HD colour my life is forever summer to live a wild life to live a rock and roll life to live an eccentric life I wish…

By now the students will have a clear idea of what prompts are and will amaze you with what they can come up with.

I could sit upon a cloud and look down on the world decomposing I wonder … If you are as interesting 2nd year English

Example

Exercise 2 Prompt: Echoes by Michael Longley While its included here under imagery this exercise is also concerned with editing and structure. Get the class to look outside through the window and restrict what they can write about to what they can see from their seat. Write descriptions of the view, the sky, and the light. Listen to what sounds there are. Again restrict them to what is actually happening at the moment. Pass a sheet around and get all the responses recorded. Type these up and in the next class pass around the collated work. Get each pair to decide on a sequence. Prepare for a lengthy debate. Discuss why they grouped the lines that way. It will probably be by subject but hopefully they will be tuned in to assonance and alliteration and line length too.

Downings in Spring

Example

The army of yachts returns to Mulroy, hulls freshly painted, a new generation at the helm. Lambs bleat and stagger on unaccustomed feet, while Gania Mo´r heaves a sigh of relief. Harsh winds in the past, new beginning at last. Dust particles somersault and daringly dance dodging the yearly attack of the dusters in the thatch. Yellow drops of sunshine show their wicked side, slyly hiding thorns, yet pleasing to the eye. Meevagh awakens in the early morning sun, dewdrops dive to the murky depths of Pollgorm. The regiment of yellow oil-skins return s from a hard days battle to see Mc Veagh with the catch of the day.

Room 109 - Tuesday in February

IMAGERY Exercise 1 A sense of place This builds on first year exercise on voice and 2nd and 3rd year sonnet. Write a verse describing your town/town land, in a particular season, using the senses. Write three more verses for the other seasons. You may find you have loads after thinking about one season.

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Tick-tock, the theme song for the day the lights are on but the teachers are putting the students to sleep. This late there are still voices and a door slams down the hall. Im suspended: not finished not really applied. The window is a gateway to freedom graphite grey February tones a wet, tinfoil roof ridged like metallic Mc Coys crisps. Interacting like interlocking spurs mechanical surface, ski slopes, a Bond moviescape.


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I half expect a secret hatch to be revealed from behind a zinc panel. Nearly. The raindrops trickle down the roof in welts. Lines appear like waves coming in to break on the shore. The sky is a withered grey sock that has been worn too many times. No movements, no sound A still life, untitled.

trod upon softly by noiseless creatures. Beams of light that pierce the canopy fall triumphantly on a carpet of bluebells swaying in the breeze. I feel welcome but wary, here in natures sanctuary, knowing I cant stay long. I must return to my own world and leave this place once more alone. Oscar Nunan

The sun jailed behind the evening clouds as though time has stopped to take a breath. The strip of clouds make shapes of sword fights and untold tales. Two birds dance, zip, twirl in the air and vanish across the open space, unlike us, stuck. We are overlooking a battlefield about to be invaded. The light in the classroom across goes out and buses rumble like students bellies. Classwork interrupted, we dash to the buses- a prison break. Transition Year composite piece

Exercise 3 Under the microscope Explore a few poems to see what makes them tick. What is the tension holding this poem up, allowing it to stand on its own two feet, lifting it off the page? Is there mysteriousness in it? Is it universal? Is the solitariness of the narrator important? Ive found Ted Hughes Horses and Eavan Bolands This Moment worth looking at here. Other prompts like atmospheric photos and images or music might encourage good responses. Example Spring in Ballyare Woods The wood is quiet far away from the world. Peace inhabits every tree and rock and plant, it is natures stronghold, Delicate and untouched rows of hazelnut stand as silent sentinels guarding this sacred place. Hidden tracks and pathways, unexplored blend in perfectly,

Exercise 4 Prompt: extract from The Visible World by Mark Slouka. Read the extract and look at how he suggested the personalities of his parents. Consider your parents or two friends at the same task for example drinking tea, listening to music or doing homework. Write a paragraph or poem about them. Devise a short story around these two characters. STRUCTURE Exercise 1 Prompt: Found poem Paper Trail Read the poem and ask the class to imagine a scenario where they might find a poem. Litter on the corridor after break, the debris at the bottom of a schoolbag, the stuff we carry in our pockets etc‌

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Example Checklist Watch, necklace, Vaseline I pod, coat, scarf, lunch. Breakfast! Check pocket, forgot? Catherine Buck Exercise 2 Prompt: Shape poem Amelia Cramped by Monica Kulling or A Kick in the Head by Joan Bransfield Graham When the class has a piece written is there an obvious shape that might add to the impact of the poem on the page? We were working on Cyber-bullying as a theme and this is what Jenny wrote:

Im from _______ place of birth and family ancestry, _______ two food items representing your family. From the _______ specific family story about a specific person and detail, the _______ another detail, and the _______ another detail about another family member. I am from _______ location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth. Exercise 2 Prompts: postcards or calendars featuring paintings. Pass around a selection of postcards featuring paintings. Get the students to pick up the one they were drawn to and write in the persona of the subject. Alternatively write to the subject. Example

Silently waiting in the back of the mind waiting for the moment, waiting for the twisted mind to sharpen the edges to turn each blunt little word into a sharp, pointed, barbed weapon. Each aimed at the one target attacking it from the inside out. Breaking her. Just waiting for that click, click, click..‌and then the sen .

Mark Chagalls Over Vitebsk What have you done? Was it so awful you loom uncomfortably large in your own eyes? What is it youre leaving behind? Thats a hard cold sky, marble. Not a night to be without, better you were to turn back. Yet, youre probably through the worst of itthe stealth, the dull dread of discovery. Another few yards and youll have left this place and its snowy shadows in the past.

VOICE Exercise 1 Prompt: Where Im from by George Ella Lyon Use the following template to generate a poem modeled on Lyons poem. I am from _______ specific ordinary item, from _______ product name and _______. I am from the _______ home description... adjective, adjective, sensory detail. I am from the _______ plant, flower, natural item, the _______ plant, flower, natural detail I am from _______ family tradition and _______ family trait, from _______ name of family member and _______ another family name and _______ family name. I am from the _______ description of family tendency and _______ another one. From _______ something you were told as a child and _______ another. I am from representation of religion, or lack of it. Further description.

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What have you brought in your duffel bag? What is it you cant leave behind? Its a cold hard sky, marble. Not a night to be without, better you were empty handed. Yet, youre holding on to the iridescent blue of the roof tiles,


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the surprising green of the church yard hedge. Vitebsk is tucked in amongst the pages of your diary inside your breast pocket. A child who cant sleep will swear he saw Santa Claus on the edge of town, over Vitebsk. Leaning a little on a walking stick, he has to admit, but with a brimming sack of toys, nonetheless. Against a hard cold, marble sky. Not a night to be without, better there were jingle bells. Yet, hell swear he saw you.

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7 Exercise 3 Prompt: This is just to say by W i l l i a m C a r l o s W i l l i a ms Ask the writers to consider how genuine the speakers remorse is. Give them a post it each on which to compose their own just to say. Where would they stick the post it? Example

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a Who and folds over the page, the next person writes a What and folds over the page, the others add on When, Where, and Why. Look at the page and compose a news story with the details. Show dont tell. Write a sentence or paragraph summing up the nature of various abstract nouns like love, injustice, isolation, fear, victory etc… Development potential for a short story. Read a news paper article/ watch a clip from the news and respond in a poem. Listen to a song and compose a few more verses. Blowing in the Wind suits an environmental theme. Compose the reply to some famous love poems. Respond to Beyonces If I were a Boy Brainstorm a theme like blowing in the wind or journey,

Example Fishwives Tales

Just a little note…. Just a little note to say I have taken the coins that were in the jar. You were probably saving them for a rainy day. I am sorry but I bought that bracelet that we saw, And everyone admired it. Sinead Carr

Did you hear about the Bakers daughter? Throw to the gutter a slap as a fish hits the table, chop off the head and watch the eyes go misty let spangled innards spew to the floor. Is it true about the Bakers daughter? Throw to the skinner a slap as the fish hits the table, and he who peels with slimy distaste can sense the grimace in shards of silver.

Exercise 4 Prompt: extract from A Simple Act of Violence by R J Ellroy Consider the personality of the woods. Remember the exercise in 2nd/3rd year on the buttons. In groups write about the personality of other sets of material: fabrics, stone, bottles, coins etc… This exercise also lends itself to development into a short story. Narrate a story from the perspective of a child exploring a grandparents collection or begin a memoir. Miscellaneous Ideas/Icebreakers 1 Open a book at random, select a line and write in a mad outpouring stream of consciousness for two minutes. 2 Each student contributes a word. Write a paragraph containing all the words. 3 Arrange groups of five. The first person writes

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Such a story about the Bakers daughter! Throw to the boner a slap as the fish hits the table, press and prise the backbone apart as it joins a pile of marrow, graves unseen. Tell me more about the Bakers daughter. Throw to the cutter a slap as the fish hits the table, slice goes the silver as the blade rips flooded flesh. Let red stain the floor, chunks of meat thrown to a bucket The fish is whole no more. Rebekah Mooney 10 Sum a person up by their sayings Example Lines from Life She sat, round as a stone and content. Each night, she stared through me at starless black, nostalgic and misty-eyed from a mile of lines locked inside.

she was gone. But a ghost if left behind in her splintered chair to remind me of the lines from life that were there.

Each night, upon that splintered chair rug on knees, vein snaked hands clasped, her fingers smooth and thick, like warm ice.

Sinead Carr

Her face mapped cracked days, Tears, smiles, stories and advice filled creases in her crinkled brow. Each moment in time etched her aging appearance with a line. Never walk in wet grass whatever is for you will not pass. Tales told that seemed to go on, tunes that hummed long after the song. The musky aroma of Cussons talc, smoke and the murky grey of history, lay heavy in the thick air.

The Poetry Factory The Poetry factory grew out of a Writer in Residence scheme. The scheme provided an opportunity for particularly interested students to work for a dedicated time at creative writing. After the residence ended the students asked if I was interested in continuing to work with them and we began to meet at lunchtime. We now meet fortnightly after school. The original members chose the name, The Poetry Factory. We won the Teaching English Poetry Competition and consequently had the opportunity to have two more writers in residence.

This woman was born, she lived, and in a breath....

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I began bringing along prompts to the meetings as much to give myself something to talk about as to provide something to write about. We begin reading anything one of us has written and give our responses. The writers tend to be encouraging and supportive to each other. It isnt a class but the writers involved would agree theyve learned more about reading poetry as a result of the group. They make very competent judgments about their own writing as well as about the prompts. I bring news of any competitions that are open to the attention of the group and let them know of any poetry events that are on in the Regional Cultural Centre. We have produced a pamphlet of work and held reading evenings for the last two years. We invite friends and family along. We have a profile in the school now and are asked to write poems to mark occasions like the official opening of our school and the fortieth anniversary of Loreto in Milford.

Acknowledgements I have worked with local writers and theyve been so incredibly encouraging. I have learned a lot about writing and teaching from Frank Galligan, Kate Newman, Kathryn Daly, Denise Blake and Monica Corish.

Recommended Reading Pat Boran The Portable Creative Writing Workshop New Island 2005. David Morely The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing Cambridge University Press 2008 Alexander Gordon-Smith Inspired Creative Writing. Paul B Janeczko A Kick In The Head- An Everyday Guide To Poetic Forms Candlewick Press Pat Schneider Writing Alone and with Others Oxford University Press Resources and Motivation Poetry Ireland Writers in Schools programme contact poetryireland.ie Local writers are willing to come in to schools and dont look for much money Competitions like the Teaching English magazine poetry competition are great motivators and provide a focus to aim towards Run themed competitions in your school Get involved with open night, school prayer services, prize giving, end of year events Publicize/publish student work on notice boards, school magazines, calendars, Have a poetry reading evening and produce a pamphlet

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INTRODUCING SHAKESPEARE Paul Murray is a young teacher who taught last year in St. Aloysius College, Athlone. Here he talks to the Teaching English magazine about the challenge of introducing a second-year class to Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice. In a survey of new teachers, teaching Shakespeare was identified as one of the most daunting aspects of teaching English. TEM Tell us about your approach to teaching drama in general before we get on to Shakespeare. PM My ideas for teaching drama are based on a few fundamental principles. I suppose the first, and most important, of these is that Shakespeare, Synge, OCasey and every other dramatist, wrote plays to be acted, rather than to be read by students sitting at desks, or read to them by their teacher while they listened passively. The second principle is that, as Ezra Pound put it, the medium of drama is not words, but persons moving about on a stage using words, though Pounds pronouncement needs to be qualified: in an obvious sense, words are the medium of drama, but in the fullest sense only when these words are spoken by actors to bring dramatic characters to life and to dramatise the interactions between them. The third principle that guides me is that neither you nor I you can teach a dramatic work as you would a novel. Drama is more than a school text. Its a work which only comes fully to life when it is acted out, whether on a great stage or in a classroom. T E M How do those principles play out in teaching drama in the classroom? PM The logic of putting these principles into practice is that successful drama lessons require the maximum possible participation by students in bringing the dramatic characters and the action of a play to life. Put simply, I get the students to perform chosen scenes in the classroom. Each time I do this, Im conscious of the extent to which acting is felt by the students to be an enjoyable, fulfilling, creative activity, which greatly enlarges their understanding of what is happening in a play. For me a drama lesson resembles an early rehearsal for a cooperative form of dramatic production, based on the collective interpretation of the group. I think

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the best results are achieved when students start acting the play, with the minimum of time being spent on casting and other preliminaries. TEM So tell us about introducing Shakespeare to your second-year group. PM I spent a double period introducing a Junior Cert class to The Merchant of Venice. We began with Act One, Scene Three where Shylock makes an appearance. I picked this scene because Shylock is at the heart of the dramatic conflict in the play: its only when hes on stage that the play comes vibrantly to life. Act One, Scene Three is also central to the action of the play, since this is where Antonio agrees to the merry bond proposed by Shylock, and thus creates the basis for the main plot. This scene is not as spectacularly dramatic as the trial scene, but it shows how even the less dramatic scenes in Shakespeare offer possibilities for class-room acting. I didnt ask the students to read through the scene seated in their desks in order to discover what it is about and I didnt use up time explaining what was going to happen; what the characters are like; or how the acting space should be set. Had I done that I would have missed an important learning opportunity: what will happen in the play, how the characters will


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Well, which has the effect of making Bassanio more and more impatient. So I intervened and asked the actors and the class to think about what Bassanio is asking Shylock to do, and to interpret Shylocks hesitant response Is it, for example, only a pretence? We then discussed the expressions and gestures that might suggest Shylocks hesitancy  a solemn face, a worried one, a frown? Then the discussion turned to the point at which we notice that Bassanios impatience has turned to anger. This brief intervention helped the actors and the class to grasp what is going on between the two men.

behave, and interact, are the very things the students find out for themselves in the course of their acting. TEM Did you work with the whole scene? No. The scene has 175 lines. I decided to cut out the thirty lines 67-97 in which Shylock and Antonio debate the scriptural warrant for charging interest. These lines are difficult and well outside the experience of Junior Certificate students. And they are not vital to the dramatic action. In fact, they slow things up. So we were left with a scene with two distinct sub-units, separated by the entry of Antonio at line 40. I encouraged the students to regard the acting out of this scene as a rehearsal. TEM Did you divide the class into small groups? No. I picked two potentially good actors for Bassanio and Skylock, on the basis that they had been persistently lively and forceful in their contributions to classroom discussions. They read the parts. However, the first few speeches were read without any grasp of the dramatic implications of Shylocks repeated interjection,

TEM And then you moved on to consider the next part of the scene, marked by the arrival of Antonio? P M Thats right. On Antonios entry Skylock launches into a twelve-line aside, full of vindictive hatred against Antonio. With the help of the class I asked the actors to decide, what Bassanio should be doing while Shylocks inner motives are being exposed to the audience, but not to them. The consensus was that they must be engaged in a whispered conversation, standing far enough from Skylock to make it appear that they do not hear what he is saying. Shylocks bitter speech about Antonio lines 101 124 had just been completed by the young actor playing Shylock when one of the students interrupted the proceedings to wonder why Shylock was now expressing his contempt for Antonio when only sixty lines back he took such trouble to conceal from both Bassanio and Antonio how much he hated them. Thats the kind of question that shows how well students can engage with the dramatic action. We put the question to the actors and to the rest of the class. The student playing Shylock suggested that, having just heard Antonio call him an evil soul and a hypocrite a goodly apple rotten at the heart, Shylock cannot control his anger, and allows it to express itself against his original intention to conceal it. Another class member then suggested that, if this was the case, Shylocks speech should not have been delivered in the same tone throughout. It should start relatively calmly, and gradually work up to anger at the words misbeliever, cut-throat dog. T E M In other words the students led the discussion of the play. PM Precisely. The discussion on the way in which Shylock should play the part led to another on the gestures and facial expressions appropriate to

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this part of the scene, as Shylocks mood changes, and we agreed that the acting should show the contrast between Antonios acceptance of Shylocks pretended good will This kindness will I show and Bassanios continuing suspicion I like not fair terms and a villains mind. At this stage, we had used up almost forty of our eighty minutes. We had a short discussion covering the acting of the scene we had witnessed. A number of students suggested that the acting could have shown greater feeling and several students volunteered to act the part. TEM At that point were the students enthused by the play? PM Well the majority certainly felt that what they had experienced was much better than having me read the whole scene aloud to them. A number believed that the attempt at acting had caused them to notice dramatic issues and qualities which a non-dramatic reading would have led them to ignore. TEM So what happened next? PM Everyone agreed that after a five-minute

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break it would be well worth our while to act the scene right through again, with the same students acting the parts in the light of what had been learned from the first reading. The standard of acting and speaking was much improved in this second reading. In the next English period, we gave the scene a third reading, this time with a different set of actors. I promised to involve all the students in acting out other key scenes later in the year. TEM What was the follow-up to these classes? PM I showed the class the scene from the BBC production of The Merchant of Venice and we observed how the actors spoke Shakespearian verse. And then we moved on to another key scene. Incidentally this approach not only helps the students to understand the play but it also prepares them to answer examination questions which deal with the production of a play.

If you would like to share your experience of teaching a particular aspect of English, please contact the Teaching English magazine. See contact details on back page.


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MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR WEBSITE Julian Girdham of St Columbas College offers some advice on making the most of your English Department website. An electronic version of this page with live links can be viewed at: http://export.writer.zoho.com/public/sccenglish/ blogpresentation. All these services are free, and require little technical expertise. Check out St Columbas English Departments website at http://sccenglish.ie to see the free services in action. BLOGGING There are many free services on the Web  summary on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog_hosting_service. The best-known are Blogger which we use, owned by Google and Wordpress. Both are easy to use. Also have a look at Edublogs, which is based on Wordpress and specially designed for educators. ONLINE WORD-PROCESSORS for linking to the blog We use and recommend Zoho as per this sheet, which has a very impressive online suite, including spreadsheet, show, wiki, polls and more. Google Applications, including Documents, dominate the market.

you can ignore the more elaborate features. Our presentation sheet is here. EMAIL NOTIFICATION We use FeedBurner now owned by Google. This allows readers to receive your posts by email reliable and spam-free service. Del.icio.us Tagging other pages/websites here. STATISTICS We use StatCounter, Sitemeter and Google Analytics. ANIMOTO This amazing service is free for videos up to 30 seconds: see an example of Dancing at Lughnasa production photos here. Lulu  this is the self-publishing company in America we used to create our book Going Places summer 2008. YOUTUBE The best known video clip service makes it very easy to embed one of their videos on your site. Issuu  another amazing free service  convert PDFs to flippable versions online  see an example with our Library magazine here. Dipity  construct your own time-line, with video, links and photos, and embed it on the site.

PODCASTING We use Podbean to host our podcasts. And we have a channel on iTunes so that listeners can download these podcasts to their MP3 players search for SCC English in the iTunes Store.

Picasa  you can create slideshows and collages using this service owned by Google.

WIKI As with blogging, there are many options. Heres the Wikipedia list. We use Wikispaces they give free wikis with many features to schools and also for a staff wiki the impressive PBWiki. See also Zoho as above

Other widgets that we embed on our site  Library Thing, a kind of social network for readers.

CALENDAR We use Google Calendar, which can easily be embedded on your site, and handles different calendars department, personal etc. MINDMAPPING Freemind is excellent. While it may look overly sophisticated at first glance, its easy to use, and

Wordle  fun, simple, amazing, lots of uses on your blog and in class  our own Wordles are here.

Pageflakes is an aggregator of feeds from different sites, which you can make public. We have a photo album from Flickr. Map of school location: Google Maps. ClustrMaps displays where your visitors come from. Other: See also the Interview with Julian in Teaching English magazine Spring 2007 edition http://english.slss.ie/Magazine.html

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Grammar Grief: A Discussion of the Study of Language Jim McDonagh and Jeff Wilkinson Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University Grammar is a subject guaranteed to generate debate and, often, disagreement. This article is no exception. It was first published by NATE on their website http://www.ite.org.uk/. It was originally written with an audience of those involved in pre-service teacher education in the UK in mind. This accounts for the curricular and key stages references. The argument and ideas should, however, be of interest to teachers of English in Ireland. The Teaching English magazine is grateful to NATE for permission to reproduce Grammar Grief.

Grammarians are guilty of flogging the minds of English children with terms and notions that are essential to the understanding of Greek and Latin syntax, but have no bearing on English. Fowler, H.W. 1926 Dictionary of Modern English Usage OUR APPROACH TO TEACHING GRAMMAR Student teachers on primary routes, as well as secondary English specialists, are at different starting points in their understanding of the English language, and, from our experience of training them, are least confident in teaching grammar. On our courses we need to establish what student teachers need to know about grammar, as well as

what pupils need to know. Given the constraints of time, particularly on oneyear routes, our intention is to develop an understanding of the complexity of grammatical description, the interrelatedness of the terms included in glossaries that accompany curriculum requirements, and to challenge prejudiced notions about language variation and speakers of non-standard varieties. Of course, some student teachers, when told that they will be teaching verbs on their school placement, want simple, ready-made solutions and will latch on to the off-the-peg published materials and decontextualised exercises which are readily available. Unfortunately, they may well turn to textbooks where language terms and functions are explored in isolation from real texts. Not only is there a lack of context; there is also an over-reliance on simplistic, traditional definitions of terms e.g. a verb is a word that indicates an action or a happening. Inevitably, grammarians over the years have shown that language is usually much more complex e.g. verbs can essentially be seen as having three functions action/state/mental; and that different texts make use of different types e.g. adventure stories; descriptions of places /characters; and emotional romances. Many of these published materials in the English-speaking world still rely on traditional grammar definitions. Referring to a North American context, Hoffman comments that Very little pedagogical infrastructure exists for teaching modern grammars. However, a plethora of resources exist for traditional grammars Hoffman, 2003. In New South Wales, despite the adoption of a systemic functional grammar approach in schools identifying a focus of language in use, many teachers still hold traditional notions of grammar which affect the way they teach it to pupils Horan, 2002. Whilst encouraging student teachers to see that grammatical description is complex and traditional grammar definitions are sometimes inadequate, we need to be careful not to make the less confident even more insecure in their teaching of grammar. We are, after all, training teachers of English, not linguists.

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What is important for student teachers is the understanding that it is not how terms like verb may be defined, but what a verb does in a given text. One activity we have adopted from Bain and Bain 1996 demonstrates how a word such as shop needs to be seen in context to establish its grammatical function. Many traditional exercises ask pupils to pick out nouns or verbs from decontextualised lists. This activity encourages student teachers to see that words exist in relation to other words paradigmatically as choices and syntagmatically as positioning and can shift class. Of course, this approach goes against the tendency to see grammar terms in isolation or to teach items such as noun or adjective at different stages in the curriculum without considering continuity or progression. Covering grammatical terms should not take precedence over understanding how to use them. Meyer 2003 writes that, rather than definitions of terms, it is more useful to consider their characteristics. He employs the analogy of a chess game, and asks students to define a pawn. It is not what the pawn looks like that is important, but how it behaves in relation to other pieces in the system of chess. A pawn only has meaning within this system. Similarly, a noun only has meaning within the system of language. Meyer finds this analogy a useful entry point to discussing parts of speech. Of course, chess is a closed system and pawns can only act in given ways. An essential characteristic of any natural language is that, although systematic, it also demonstrates variation. Some student teachers have difficulties in recognising that grammatical rules are not immutable and that their own views of non-standard varieties may be prejudiced. We attempt to question these misconceptions through demonstrating the rule-governed nature of non-standard varieties and show how these are appropriate to particular contexts. Student teachers need to understand that when pupils make errors through their use of a non-standard variety, these errors may be systematic and rulebased. A deficit model of grammar teaching in the past has led to a concentration on identifying errors in pupils writing. For student teachers, new to the assessment of written work, it is easier to spot and name errors than it is to recognise well-developed and effective syntax. As Dunn and Lindblom point out, Effective writing is not effective due to an absence of error Dunn and Lindblom, 2003, p.44.

WHAT IS GRAMMAR? Grammar can be defined in a number of ways. Lay definitions include: notions of bad and good grammar, bound up with social attitudes and the relative status of different varieties of English; a view that grammar only involves written language; or that there is a fixed, immutable set of rules that should apply to all. Just as there are lay definitions, linguists differ over models of grammar in the literature on the subject. In some models, grammar encompasses all aspects of language including semantics and phonology. Other models focus solely on syntax and morphology, although inevitably, reference to semantics needs to be made as there are fuzzy boundaries between these areas Crystal, 2004. Linguists also differ in their use of terminology. Documents such as the National Literacy Strategy DfEE, 1998 include terms common to traditional grammar. These terms are more accessible to teachers and are expected to be introduced to pupils as they progress through school. A glossary of terms does not indicate a model of grammar, however, and there is no indication of how the different parts that teachers are expected to know relate to the whole. Our assumption when teaching awareness of grammar to student teachers is that the terms need to be seen as part of a whole, each part linked to other parts in a coherent way. Language is essentially used to create meaning, to exchange and convey information, to express opinions, feelings and attitudes. It is able to do this because it works according to a set of systems that are understood by people who speak and write the same language. There are other complementary

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systems that are less fixed and less well-defined that are also important for understanding the constructing and conveying of meaning; these operate at the level of the whole text, interacting with grammar at sentence level and choices at word level to create the impact of the text. Grammar is usually taken to mean how the units of language, such as sentences, are constructed; and is popularly seen from two contrasting perspectives: p r e s c r i p t i v e grammar and descriptive grammar. A prescriptive grammar is based on the notion that one type of language use is superior to another; it sets out rules of how language should be used and determines correct and incorrect use essentially out of any situational context. Its written-based rules are applied equally to both spoken and

and written perspectives and from various combinations of the two e.g. speech that has written characteristics a political debate; writing that has spoken characteristics a report in the popular press. Spoken and written variations are acknowledged. For example, sentences beginning with and and but are found in many texts advertisements and religious texts; sentences ending with prepositions and split infinitives are found in spoken texts both formal and informal and are increasingly being used in written texts as the language changes. Student teachers need to develop an awareness of this important debate. Essentially, the viewpoint you have of a language determines your approach to teaching it.Prescriptivism looks at concepts of correctness/incorrectness in language use. In contrast, descriptive approaches focus on notions of appropriateness: A better understanding can sharpen teachers appreciation of childrens achievements with language and help them to understand the nature of difficulties or partial successes. It can guide them in their interventions in childrens learning, in which delicate judgements about what to make explicit and what to leave implicit in childrens knowledge are so important Language in the National Curriculum, 1992, p.1.

written use. For example, it is incorrect to begin a sentence with and or but; to end a sentence with a preposition; or to split an infinitive. Such grammatical rules are based on how a language is written. It is to be noted that recent obsessions with language use still convey a populist notion of linguistic correctness and falling standards Truss, 2004; Humphrys, 2004. A descriptive grammar seeks to describe how any language is used as accurately and as comprehensively as possible. In this approach, the superior status of any language form is likely to be arbitrary and may be the result of social or historical change, rather than related to linguistic factors. Language is viewed from both spoken

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Despite many student teachers lack of confidence in teaching grammar, it should be recognised that they may well hold strong opinions on the subject, and conflict might well emerge in discussions; such alternative viewpoints should be allowed to co-exist and to be developed through textual investigations. Such investigations may raise some of the following points: • There are many reasons for errors in pupils writing; frequently, these are nothing to do with grammar Myhill, 2001 • Knowledge of grammar can help student teachers appreciate pupils strengths and problems • Texts that do not read well or where there is ambiguity may contain language features that do not relate to the grammar of the text e.g. sequencing and discourse structure may well be major factors


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• Spoken forms often persist in many different ways in pupils writing, often creating the impression of written grammatical errors. It is important to realise the range of features available in spoken/written/spoken-written texts • Grammar is concerned with the structure of sentences and clauses, but also accounts for inter-sentential relationships.

Two seven-year olds have finished the first draft of a story about the adventures of a pig which escapes from a farmyard. They have been working directly on-screen and have now printed off this version. The teacher has asked them to re-read their text and change any part of the text that does not seem right. They start to read the text together. Karl stops at the following sentences: The pig ran across the yard. Suddenly she heard the noise. Thats not right, he says. Whats wrong with it? asks Michael. Karl answers, It should be Suddenly she heard a noise. Michael is still puzzled. Karl answers, Because if it was the noise the pig would have been expecting it. It is clear that Karl can discuss language use effectively without an explicit knowledge of the use of the definite and indefinite article. But would that explicit knowledge have helped Michael to appreciate the difference? And, more importantly, would an explicit knowledge have helped the teacher to create effective situations to explore this use further? Ultimately, discussion about the usefulness of subject knowledge revolves around two principles:

EXPLICIT AND IMPLICIT KNOWLEDGE OF GRAMMAR The following questions form a focus for our student teachers on language study in general, but on grammar more specifically: • Why do student teachers need a knowledge of terms to describe language? • Why do pupils need this knowledge? What terms do they need? • Is there any relationship between having such knowledge and developing effective language skills? Such questions form the basis for a discussion on the use of technical terms to promote effective language use:

1. The usefulness of explicit rather than implicit knowledge for developing a discussion of textual features: Like spelling, grammar is easier to teach because correction relies on implicit knowledge, whilst teaching demands explicit knowledge Myhill, 2000. 2. The value of having a language to talk about language: Strangely, we do not hesitate to teach literary criticism; we are prepared to offer pupils the metalinguistic tools of metaphor, simile, alliteration, and so on to help them engage critically with text. Yet we often ignore the linguistic features of texts which also contribute powerfully to their effect on readers Myhill, 2001. Someone who knows about the forms of the English language can reflect disinterestedly and illuminatingly on a range of questions, observations and problems which crop up in everyday language use DES, 1988, p.19. In order to consider this further, the following classroom observation might serve as a starting point for discussion:

Official government documents  most obviously the National Literacy Strategy  include lists of one sort or another of the technical terms teachers should know. A valuable exercise for student teachers is to ask them to compile a list of technical terms thought to be useful for teachers to explore texts with pupils; and one thought to be useful for pupils.

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This activity is in no way designed to produce a fixed, definitive list of terms; but observations on why some terms might be useful and why some might not should start to raise contexts for language study in both primary and secondary school situations. Discussion, therefore, might well focus on: • what terms student teachers might find it useful to know and why this might support teaching • what terms pupils might find useful to know to reflect on language use in context • what other terms might be used and why. SPOKEN AND WRITTEN LANGUAGE Even in comprehensive and oft-cited descriptive grammars such as Quirk et al 1985, there is an emphasis on written language and many of the examples provided are from written corpora or are based on the authors intuitions. In recent times, technological advances have allowed the gathering and analysis of a great quantity of spoken language data and it is through examination of spoken data in corpora such as COBUILD the Collins/ Birmingham Corpus of Discourse in English, CANCODE  the Cambridge and Nottingham Corpus of Discourse in English and the Brown Corpus of Standard American English, amongst others, that the grammar of spoken English can be studied. Through their investigations into a large corpus of spoken English, Carter and McCarthy 1995 claim that there are features of spoken language that are not recognised in descriptions based on written grammar. For our student teachers, an examination of the distinctive features of spoken language challenges their thinking about grammatical correctness, Standard English or the notion of what a sentence is. Corpus linguistics has meant that descriptions of grammar are now datadriven and allow us to see language in the cultural context in which it occurs. de Beaugrande 2001 sees a shift in thinking about language away from a static system of units such as morphemes, phrases, sentences, to recognising a more dynamic system of relations within a text. The notions of grammatical combinations and lexical combinations and the relationships between meaning and patterns of grammar have been researched through corpus studies and the pedagogical implications have found their way in to the teaching of English as a foreign language e.g. an increased focus on lexical approaches to

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teaching. They have still to be addressed in the teaching of English as a first language. Traditionally, the description of English grammar and its properties has focussed on written language. Correct grammar has thus, by definition, come to mean the grammar of the written language. Recent research into the spoken language Carter, 2004 has drawn our attention to the forms of language not so far described in grammars, for example: • It was good that book/It was a good film that one  in which a pronoun or a noun phrase is repeated as a co-reference • The women they all shouted/The man over there he said it was OK  in which a noun phrase is immediately followed by an emphasising pronoun • Theres a few problems are like to crop up  in which the main verb is repeated • That house on the corner, is that where you live?  in which an anticipatory phrase precedes the question. These examples illustrate the essentially interpersonal nature of the spoken language, with the structures often serving to clarify, contextualise or to establish shared knowledge and frames of reference in ways which are neither possible nor necessary in the written language. TAKING IT FURTHER: CLASSROOM IMPLICATIONS The National Curriculum for England DfEE, 1999 places the teaching of grammar at primary


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and secondary level in the following three contexts: • that pupils be given the opportunity to discuss and identify grammatical differences in texts both spoken and written • that pupils focus on the grammatical features of the English only when directly investigating the meaning of spoken and written texts • that any approach to describing grammar should be concerned with the ways in which words are combined into meaningful units; and make use of this knowledge in their writing. It has been emphasised throughout this discussion that the linguistic approach adopted to analyse a wide variety of texts both spoken and written should include the following: • language is seen as a means of conveying meaning • the concept of grammar is not viewed exclusively in a narrow sentence-bound way, but is also seen as operating across clauses and sentences • the situation, audience and purpose of a text determine the specific grammatical choices that are made to create distinctive meanings • all analyses work typically from larger to smaller units a top-down approach, initially engaging with the overall meaning of a text which can then be related to all aspects of discourse, sentence and word level features. It must be noted that such analyses can be used for two distinct, yet complementary, purposes:

• individual reading and student teacher discussion evaluating current practice as a means, for instance, of giving them a more precise method of making an informed evaluation of pupils use of language and its subsequent development • giving opportunities to create classroom materials and activities for pupils placing them in situations, for example, where they can make an informed understanding of their own, and others, language uses. CONCLUSIONS Descriptions of the grammar of the English language, and its teaching at primary and secondary levels, have had a long and complex history, both in changes to approach i.e. different kinds of grammar; and in terms of how it is taught and, in some instances, whether it should be taught at all. Our discussion has highlighted the following aspects: • Grammar, and its teaching, must be systematic and responsive to language change • Grammar should be seen within the context of conveying meaning, operating across discourse, sentence, word boundaries • Grammar is essentially approached through a top-down rather than bottom-up process • Grammar, linked to text notions of situation, audience and purpose, should be viewed in terms of continuity and progression, not as a coverage of technical terminology. The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority SCAA survey of teachers confidence, knowledge and practice in the teaching of grammar at Key Stages 2 and 3 QCA, 1998, p.7 showed that teachers were uncertain about: the meaning of the word grammar; the relationship between implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge; the terminology to use when teaching grammar; realistic expectations of pupils grammatical knowledge; planning for continuity and progression; and the relationship between grammar requirements, learning objectives and teaching activities. It would seem realistic to assume that student teachers have similar uncertainties.

REFERENCES Bain, E. and Bain, R. 1996 The Grammar Book Sheffield: NATE. de Beaugrande, R. 2001 Text Grammar

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Revisited, Logos and Languages  special issue, http://www.beaugrande.com/Revisited.htm accessed 19.11.07. Carter, R. 2004 Language and Creativity: the art of common talk London: Routledge. Carter, R. and McCarthy, M. 1995 Grammar and the spoken language, Applied Linguistics, 16 2 pp. 141-158. Crystal, D. 2004 Making Sense of Grammar Harrow: Pearson Education. DES Department of Education and Science 1988 Report of the committee of enquiry into the teaching of the English language The Kingman Report, London: HMSO. DfEE Department for Education and Employment 1999 English: The National Curriculum for England Norwich: HMSO. DfEE Department for Education and Employment 1998 The National Literacy Strategy: Framework for Teaching English at Stage 3 London: DfEE Key http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/secondary/ keystage3/respub/englishframework/forewor d/ accessed 19.11.07. Dunn, P.A. and Lindblom, K. 2003 Why revitalize grammar?, English Journal 92 3 pp. 43  50. Hoffman, M. J. 2003 Grammar for teachers: attitudes and aptitudes, Academic Exchange Quarterly 7 4http://www.rapidintellect. com/ AEQweb/dec2501.htm accessed 19.11.07. Horan, A. 2002 English grammar in schools  proceedings of the 2002 Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society, http://au.geocities.com/austlingsoc/proceedin gs/als2002/Horan.pdf accessed 19.11.07. Humphrys, J. 2004 Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language London: Hodder and Stoughton. Language in the National Curriculum the LINC project 1992 Materials for Professional Development unpublished. Meyer, J. 2003 Living with competing goals: state frameworks vs understanding of linguistics, English Journal, 92 3 pp. 38-42. Myhill, D.A. 2000 Misconceptions and difficulties in the acquisition of metalinguistic knowledge, Language and Education, 14 3 pp. 151-163. Myhill, D.A. 2001 Better Writers Westley: Courseware Publications. QCA Qualifications and Curriculum Authority 1998 The Grammar Papers London: QCA. Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. and Svartvik, J. 1985 A Comprehensive Grammar of the

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English Language London: Longman. Truss, L. 2004 Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero tolerance Approach to Punctuation. London: Profile Books. FURTHER READING Cameron, D. 2007 The Teachers Guide to Grammar Oxford: Oxford University Press. Crystal, D. 1989 Rediscover Grammar Harlow: Longman. Keith, G. 1997 Teach Yourself Grammar in The English and Media Magazine, 36 pp. 8- 12. Ross, A. 2006 Language Knowledge for Secondary Teachers London: David Fulton.

USEFUL WEBSITES A series of articles on the teaching of grammar can be found at: http://education.waikato.ac.nz/research/journal/ view.php?view=true&id=10&p=1. Debra Myhills Cybergrammar site: http://www.cybergrammar.co.uk/. Links with other areas of the ITE English website Language Study at Key Stages 2 and 3 http://www.ite.org.uk/ite_topics/language_study _key_stages_2_3/001.php Language Study Post-16: http://www.ite.org.uk/ite_topics/new_tutor_sup port/001.php


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Take some time out of your busy day to relax with a cup of tea and our crossword...

Solutions Across: 1 Vibe, 3 Aida, 6 At sea, 10 Grappelli, 11 Ex-pat, 12 Bittern, 13 Arivind, 14 Noir, 16 Renoir, 18 Tod, 21 Sue, 22 Beside, 23 Eyre, 25 Ad astra, 27 Adagios, 29 Shiva, 30 Intervals, 31 Pansy, 32 Marx, 33 Depp. Down: 1 Vagabonds, 2 Byatt, 4 Islanders, 5 Adiga, 6 Ateliers, 7 Sophistry, 8 Acted, 9 Ypres, 15 Iteration, 17 Old master, 19 Dresses up, 20 Obituary, 24 Faure, 25 Aesop, 26Axiom, 28 Inane.

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Teaching English Magazine  

Summer 2009 edition

Teaching English Magazine  

Summer 2009 edition

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