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Year 9 Homework and Exam Preparation

'It started on a warm summer's evening in ancient Greece circa 434 BC'


Meet Socrates - the man who taught Plato and Xenophon and was mentioned in plays by Aristophanes and works by Aristotle. He was a thinker and not a writer so remains an enigma. What we do know about him was that he enjoyed thinking about thinking and how we could challenge ourselves to think better and he was sentenced to death by drinking a fatal concoction having been convicted of corrupting the minds of Athenians.

His final words during his trial were:  

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows."

What does this have to do with your exam and revision?

Socrates challenged students to think in deeper ways. I've asked you to look at various methods of electronic communication as part of your revision. Now for you to move from Uni-structural (Level 3) thought to Extended Abstract (Level 7+) thought (see the diagram and remember Thursday's lessons) you need to question yourself so that you can develop deeper thinking and please Socrates!

I've asked you to look at the electronic communication your partake in during this week and consider how and why the person is using language in this way. Here are a series of questions (Socrates created these and loved using them with the young people he came into contact with) to help you extend your thinking.

So first of all:

Consider whether the language used is formal or informal then go through the series of questions to help you think in a deeper way.

1) Why is the person using the language they are using? (Think Context, Audience, Platform, Person)

2) Is this always the case? (Do they always communicate this way? Does a young person always use slang? Is an older person always formal? etc etc)

3) What is your evidence for this? (What has helped you answer the previous questions? Are there certain words that stand out and back up your ideas? Can you link this to a wider point or wider evidence relating to communication?)

4) Is there another way of looking at this? (What are the counter-arguments to your point? Could someone else look at this and see it in a different way?)

5) What are the consequences of this? (Do you think the reception of the communication is as the person writing intended it? What effect does it have on the audience?)

6) Why was it important to consider all of the above? (Has our deeper thinking brought out information that wouldn't necessarily be apparent in our first answer to the question? Is there anything particularly interesting that has come out because of your questioning?)

If you are effectively answering each of these questions then you are achieving Extended Abstract thought!

Choose a piece of communication you've received recently (Twitter, Facebook, Kik, Text, Instant Messenger, WhatsApp etc) and have a go - post your answers below and I can rate your thinking!

Good luck

Final Of Mice and Men Preparation

Quick post before the weekend to allow you all to practice over the weekend.

First of all Layers of Meaning

Top Band work will peel back the layers of meaning that made Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize winning Novelist (Grapes of Wrath) and to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Firstly identify the surface level understanding of the characters and relationships from your quotation. This is our initial impression. Then peel back the first layer and see if that impression is fair. Once you've evaluated whether the first impression is fair consider if there is yet another way of looking at the quotation. You may want to reference the interactions with other characters here. Consider Steinbeck's craft. What devices are within your quotation and how do they influence the reader and zoom out to look at what wider point you think Steinbeck is trying to make.

To Sum Up:

Peel back the layer.
Alternate Interpretations

That makes a handy acronym!

When evaluating and zooming out to look at the intentions of the Author consider these things.

What is Steinbeck telling us about society through the microcosm of the ranch?
Why do we find it difficult to sympathise with Curley's Wife? Should we?
How do women fit in to Steinbeck's microcosm and can that be related to society as a whole?

One of the most interesting lines in the text for me is Slim stating 'Maybe everybody in the whole damn world's scared of each other.' Does this have any significance to Steinbeck's message?

Structuring your argument.

Let's look at the Mulvihill Model of structuring an argument. You have an introduction and conclusion that sandwich a range of developed paragraphs that look like this.

Each rectangular box represents a point you are going to make, which is developed with the use of quotations, peeling back layers and evaluations. These join and develop to give an overall answer to the question. The circles coming from the rectangles represent some of your alternate interpretations. They might not link and build your argument but they show sophistication of thought. You can use this model to create a very simple plan for a range of characters or questions.

Finally using more formal language in your assignments. If you look at the difference between 'I feel Slim is a character with greater foresight than the others' and 'Slim is a character with greater foresight than the others' you here the confidence exude from the second example whereas the first is uncertain. That is the name of Band 4 - Confident and Assured so try to write the majority of your essay in the third person. You can use first person to give personal perspective especially in your conclusion and some of your own original thought but overall, your essay should be 80% third person. below are the handy phrases that elevate the style of your writing. These are collated from a range of teachers to supplement the ones we already use.

Talking about writer's craft:

The author’s use of language / words / tone of voice is significant.
Imagery is significant in this section.
The imagery of ....  is especially significant in this section.
The author uses setting to convey ...
The characterisation of ... is developed in this section.
Structurally, this section is significant.


The author seems to be exploring the them / idea of ...
From one perspective we could say ...  From another we might consider...
Developing the interpretation further, we could argue that...
This links with.....
This idea is repeated when......

 Introducing Quotations

We can see this in the quotation ...
We hear the character described as ...
The word ... demonstrates this.
Arguably, the most significant words are ...  and ...
The image of the ... is crucial to our understanding.

Writer's Intentions

The author seems to be suggesting ...
The author is, perhaps, exploring  the idea of ...
The author is explaining, illustrating, uncovering, hiding, illuminating, developing,


The words suggest / imply / convey ...
This word / phrase / image / character makes me think of ... because...
This conveys feelings of ... because....
The word / image contains several ideas.  For example...

Plenty of practice this weekend and have a go at paragraphs if you wish and I can feedback.


Year 11 Example Paragraphs

In lesson today we looked at evidence of two pieces of writing and graded them against the mark scheme. I am not saying whether I agree with your marks or not but below is what you agreed as a class.

Band 4 -

Our initial impressions of the relationship between Curley's Wife and the ranch workers are one of danger and fear. Steinbeck crafts this through the use of symbolism of the colour red which is always attached to Curley's Wife and the ranch workers calling her 'jailbait'. This introduces us to the relationship between the men and Curley's wife but we see that it is more complex. Although red can symbolise danger, it also can symbolise love and passion and may indicate that Curley's Wife isn't dangerous but is only looking for attention or love. The men fear Curley's Wife as Steinbeck highlights their opinion through the use of negative imagery such as 'jailbait', 'rat-trap' and 'tart'. These words suggest danger or negativity towards her which may be because they see her as Curley's property because they don't give her a name and fear being sacked within the historical context of the great depression and the physical retribution Curley may deliver as highlighted at the end of Chapter 3 in the fight with Lennie.

Band 3 - 

I think that the relationship between Curley’s Wife and the ranch workers is bad because they quote things like ‘jailbait’ which I thinks means that they think she could be trouble. Steinbeck writes this because it gives us the idea that they don’t like her and shows that she is going to be trouble which she is when she talks to Lennie. The relationship might not always be bad though because sometimes Slim is nice about her despite the fact that she wears red which could symbolise danger. The men are scared of Curley’s Wife because she is the property of Curley and he can get them sacked or will beat them up like he does with Lennie at the end of Chapter 3. This is why they use negative imagery towards her like ‘jailbait’, ‘rat-trap’ and ‘tart’ highlighting their opinion because of the bad things that they say about them.

We looked at zooming in and engaging with language and structure of a quotation which was the skill of analysis e.g.

The men see Curley's wife as a threat but there is also something intriguing about her which is particularly obvious in them calling her 'jailbait'. The particular juxtaposition between 'Jail' highlighting the danger in her with the temptation of 'bait' highlights both their fascination and fear of her.

Remember that analysis only gets you so far and to really target the top level answers you have to evaluate which we termed as zooming out to show how the skill of the writer in their use of language from the particular quotation we've chosen fits in to the wider jigsaw of the text e.g.

The men see Curley's wife as a threat but there is also something intriguing about her which is particularly obvious in them calling her 'jailbait'. The particular juxtaposition between 'Jail' highlighting the danger in her with the temptation of 'bait' highlights both their fascination and fear of her. Steinbeck skilfully weaves this idea throughout the men's encounters with Curley's Wife highlighting how she and her relationship with Curley is often discussed as a topic of some gossip yet when confronted by her such as in Chapter 4 they show fear and are rarely able to sustain any real power over her. This relationship of both wary interest and fear eventually leads to her death at the hands of Lennie.

As you can see, this develops the idea of writing a lot about a little however it also allows the examiner to see that you are able to place each quotation within the wider context of the novel.

If you haven't had a go at improving either of the answers with more analytical and evaluative detail then please do below

I've also had a range of questions surrounding introductions. These are where you are able to show the examiner you are aware of the text as a whole and not just the narrow area of the question you are working towards.

Broad openings will often include:

Contextual Detail - The Great Depression, The American Dream
Thematic Detail - Dreams, Loneliness, The Place of Women
Awareness of key character's importance throughout the text.  
The craft of the writer - Steinbeck's Imagery, The Form of his Novella, Semantic Field, Foreshadowing, Symbolism etc.

Please complete the survey here



Of Mice and Men - Year 11

As I hit the umpteenth time of teaching this text, I can honestly say I have had an outstanding week with the preparation that you guys have done.

You've shown that you have come a hell of a long way since the beginning of Year 10 and I'm greatly looking forward to marking the work you have done on the text.

Attached below are the key areas you've looked at so far with the multimedia we've used. The level of work done is a credit to you all.

Remember when you think about the structure of what you write and the language you use you are looking to peel back the layers of the text looking at surface meaning and then challenging to create the complexity of work that you need to produce.

The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle this week is writing about your ideas in the appropriate form and language. If we can get this then there are going to be some brilliant results.

Here are the images from the work. Well done - be proud!

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