Monday, 26 May 2014

College Press: Summer Edition

It seems hard to believe but the end of the school year is upon us again. As ever, the College Press is here to give their own unique summary and celebration of the year gone by. Thanks to Mr Doyle and his team for their continued hard work on a College publication that continually looks to develop and bring us the scoop on the best and brightest goings on around the College. We'd also like to wish all our pupils the best of luck with upcoming exams and safe adventures over the summer months.

Friday, 16 May 2014

5th Year Video Inspired by John Montague

Mr Doyle's 5th year English Class recently studied three poems by the Irish/American poet John Montague.  During this study the class were inspired by a student made video of  'The Cage' from YouTube and decided to make their own.  This video is their interpretation of John Montague’s 'Like Dolmens Round my Childhood...'. It was made using a Microsoft Surface tablet and Windows Movie Maker.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Macbeth Characters - PosterMyWall Revision

With the Leaving Cert English exam now in touching distance, hopefully many pupils are making their final preparations for the exam.Macbeth was the Shakespearean choice for Single text at Higher Level and it promises to be as popular a choice as ever with pupils this year. With that in mind, over the coming week I will be posting a series of revision posters on Macbeth's central characters. Each poster will be covering the key quotes, moments and themes related to that character. I have no doubt that you studied Macbeth in a very in-depth manner with your teacher but it is, sadly, simply impossible to show everything you know about the play on the day. Just because you remember three quotes from Macduff does not mean they need to be shoe horned into the question. Know your characters. Know their major moments, motivations, themes they represent and major quotes. Then you can stay flexible to whatever question you get asked on the day and really specifically answer what you were asked. NO SUMMARIES! Finally, I would suggest that you have a list of words and phrases you would associate with each character. Having the correct adjective or verb to describe a particular moment is not going to suddenly jump into your head during the exam. Again don't shoe horn the use of these words into your essay. Use these words as needed. Make sure you are comfortable and clear with using these phrases. Practice the use of such phrases in essay work with your teacher.

I hope that these broad outlines of the central characters can help point you in the right revision direction.

Macbeth Characters - The Witches

Macbeth Characters - Lady Macbeth

Blank Template for class activity - Click here

Macbeth Characters - Macbeth

Macbeth Characters - Banquo

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Author Visit - Natasha Mac a' Bháird

Missing Ellen

The other day, our class had a visit from Natasha Mac a'Bháird, the author of her wonderful new book, "Missing Ellen" in the school library as it was world book day.

Her book is about a strong friendship between two girls, Ellen and Maggie who have been bestfriends for as long as they can remember – sharing clothes, passions and secrets. When Ellen goes missing, Maggie feels completely alone. Maggie needs her bestfriend now more than ever, but where is Ellen? Looking back over the upheaval that led to Ellen’s disappearance, Maggie tries to make sense of her friend’s actions.

Natasha read a few extracts from her book to us during her visit. Although she only read a few  pages of the book, I immediately connected with the characters and found them very interesting. The plot of the story is very mysterious and makes you want to keep reading on. It is definitely a book that I would like to read and will enjoy.
During her visit, Natasha also explained to us how she started off writing this book and I was surprised to find out that "Missing Ellen" started off in a number of small hand written notebooks that she also showed us. She then explained to us how the editors changed a number of things in her book including her title which originally was called "Dear Ellen". I really enjoyed looking at all the possible covers for Missing Ellen as each one was completely different to another and it was interesting to see how a cover can attract different readers and make you want to read it or not. The class thought that some of the covers made the book seem like a horror story and I agree and I think that Natasha chose the best cover for her book.
Natasha was very inspirational and it was great to be introduced to a book that I would like reading and I really enjoyed her visit!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Fifth Year Debate: 'The Best Poem by Sylvia Plath we studied...'

Coming to the end of a studied poet always brings the inevitable review of themes, techniques and essay points. In the last year or two I've really tried to help pupils appreciate how imaginative and creative a process writing poetry really is. Completing a poet and simply trying to disseminate their work into a bunch of bullet points, whilst maybe partly necessary for exams, just seems a little vacuous, when juxtaposed with the creative brilliance they have just studied.  With that in mind, I set my fifth year class a slightly more engaging way to revise the work of Sylvia Plath:

Step1 ) My pupils sit at group tables so I created an internal debate at each table. Each pupil had to pick a poem by Plath that they felt was 'The best poem I studied by Sylvia Plath'.
Step 2) Each pupil at the table was given half a class to research their poem and create points to support their argument.
Step 3) Each pupil was given part of the second half of class to speak and argue for their poem at their table.
Step 4) The table would then have to decide which poem they were going to put forward into the full class debate.
Step 5) Each table was then given a second class to create a group collection of points in support of their poem.
Step 6) A third and final class was spent recording each speech.

The recording class had so much engagement. There was a real sense of competition and some 'heated discussions' took place 'off camera'. It was great to see pupils show both a knowledge and understanding of their own poem but also by actively listening, and arguing, to other groups they demonstrated a critical appreciation of all the poems we studied by Plath. A collection of the recordings can be found below, which investigate everything from what Caesar and Plath had in common to the quality of Cathal's (a classmate) beard!