Sound should make sense: better poetry commentaries

Sound should make sense: just as the poet uses sound to enrich the meaning as well as the emotional and pleasurable aspects of poems, so should you try to write sensibly about the linking of sound to meaning in your commentaries.  What does the poet gain by manipulating the sound possibilities of language? One of the challenges candidates face when so writing about poetry is how they can usefully address the sound effects that are both present in and intended by ...

Raising questions about commentary and close reading

The following excerpt would make a great discussion for your department, I suspect.  And if you have access to the PMLA issue of May 2015,  I think you would find much interest in David Steiner (Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy) and his take on the Common Core's approach to reading. Scholes-Menand  

The Curatorial Rationale: avoid ARTSPEAK!

Write in plain English (or Spanish or French) - And avoid ARTSPEAK (“Meaningless convoluted twaddle”). Some people say that art should speak for itself and that writing about art is pointless. In fact in the Theory of Knowledge guide Arts section there is the question, “Is there any point in discussing the arts - should we not simply experience them?” Other questions in the same section are: “How can the subjective viewpoint of an individual contribute to knowledge in the arts?” “On what basis ...

Paper One: 3 HOT tips

Tip #1: Watch out for the over use and the vague use of the words 'theme' and 'symbolize.' Students tend to use the first, not to indicate recurrent ideas that occur in the literary work, but for content, what the work is about.  Content: World War 1 traumas.  Theme: failure of characters to face reality.  'Symbolize' is loosely used by students to represent, to suggest, to be equivalent to, or for just about anything.  The term comes from 'symbol' so it ...

Paper 1: a little refreshment in teaching commentary

At this point in the year, everyone needs a little refreshment in their teaching.  What follows are some ideas for approaching the Paper 1 commentary.  Some will be familiar (but maybe forgotten?) and some may be new.  We all know we need differentiation in our classes and maybe some of these will advance that goal. 1. The double entry approach. Using a vertical divide on a single sheet, have students enter items, (phrases, words, images, rhymes and the like) on one ...

The commentary, copying, teaching…and the influence of Mr Warhol

The May 2014 Visual Arts subject report is available on the OCC. It contains a wealth of useful information. I’ve selected four bits that it may be useful to highlight. Rembrandt , via Wikimedia CommonsEverything in the report reflects my own experiences as an examiner in the last examination session. This Blog post is primarily about the visual arts course that will be finishing next year rather than the course that has just started. 1,000-word commentary. The 1,000-word written commentary is an alternative ...

Poetry made dynamic!

One way to get to grips with a poem is to devise different forms of delivery.  The quickest and easiest is simply to speak it or hear it out loud.  One poet described poetry  as "Speech framed for the contemplation of the mind by way of hearing...." However, combining poems with images, either still or moving or animated can really make a poem dynamic in a particular way.  Take a look at some of the videos created by students at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere/uwm/ Why not give ...

Commentary: still puzzling?

There are certainly a lot of different approaches to producing a commentary on an unseen poem or passage in Paper 1.  The same framework doesn't necessarily work for everyone;all of you are individuals with different histories, skills, kinds of intelligence. What follows is yet another guide to help you on your way, thanks to Hayat Shehab from an IB school in Beirut. One of the great strengths of participating in the IB program is the way you get to see how people around the globe ...