With a little over five weeks to go, my students reflected on how they feel about their language and literature exams. The results are:
|Reading Articles||Writing||OMAM||Short Stories||Comparing Poetry||Unseen Poetry||Comments|
|not to stagnate|
|2 or 3||5||3||5||4||5||Ready to get on with hard work|
|3||4||3||4||1/3 of way up|
|3||4||4||4||4||4||Could do more|
|3||3||3||3||4||3||Need to know more of what examiner wants|
|3||2||4||3||2||1||Needs help with poetry and writing tasks|
|3 or 4||2 or 3||3||4||4||3||half way up|
|3||3||4||2||3||2||Unsure of stories|
|3||2||4||4||5||4||Two tasks needs help|
Pleasing is the confidence with the short stories and OMAM answer. There are particularities to address in each of these questions, but nothing overarching.
There is a lack of confidence with the unseen poetry that belies my students’ grades and achievement approaching them so far. I think some regular unseen poetry practice will benefit the poetry comparison. In addition, some poetry comparison practice (and revision) is highly recommended.
At this stage, all has been covered a time ago. What we look to do now is to refine our writing, and make it succinct. For example, compare these two responses to analysing the quotation: ‘he flopped like a fish’ in response to a question about how animals are used thematically in OMAM.
When Lennie crushes Curley’s hand, Curley is in agony. We know this because the text says “he flopped like a fish.” This shows that Curley is in great pain, so much so that he is wriggling. Furthermore, he is wriggling like a fish which has been caught, which must be a painful experience. However, a fish does not have emotional awareness of pain (which is perhaps why fishing is not seen as a blood sport by some.) Therefore, perhaps Curley does not feel the emotional pain of being dominated by Lennie, but rather is just suffering physically.
In response to devastating pain of having his hand crushed by Lennie, Curley “flopped like a fish.” This metaphor (which also occurs later when Curley’s wife is killed) evokes the helplessness of Curley as he is unable to fight Lennie effectively. Instead of his angry, emotional attack on Lennie, Steinbeck presents Curley now as an entirely instinctual animal: one that is both ineffectual and utterly lacking in emotional capacity.
Take a few moments to read those two responses.
What you should notice is that the first is 97 words, while the second is 66 – about a third less words. However, it makes all the main points:
1) Having your hand crushed is painful.
2) Curley becomes helpless.
3) The metaphor presents Curley as an emotionless creature.
What response 2 does, though, is retain the structure of
|Stage/Type of analysis||
Key phrase (suggested)
|quote and explain||
Above is a table to be used for students to evaluate the succinctness of their answers. For me it is possible to attain high grades by using the above format. But it is a little rigid – particularly when, like in response 1 – the student is unable to truly establish a different point for the explore.