Summer Investigations(3) Works on the PLT: Cheese

For the last of these recommendations, a work composed in Dutch by a Flemish author, A.J de Ridder, writing under the pseudonym, Willem Elsschot.  To my knowledge, Cheese, has not appeared on any IB Language A: Literature syllabus, and I'd like to make the case that it might be very apt, particularly when people are looking for something to include that is not 'dark and depressing,' a request that often comes up in discussions and workshops. Originally published in 1933, this ...

Misfortunate misdirections: Literature in Translation

IB Examiners of components that involve works in translation become familiar with the most frequently included works.  And those works, among a few others, are Ibsen's A Doll's House, Camus' The Outsider, Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  What follows are some of the most common ways in which students head in less than productive directions as they choose to develop topics or responses involving these works. A Doll's House:  One of the most ...

Teaching ‘Broken April’ or ‘Leo Africanus?”

If by chance you are studying either of these texts--Broken April by Ismail Kadare or Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf--I've two suggestions of supplementary materials that can enhance both your work with students and also with their Interactive Orals. I know that Kadare's work is the more popular of the two, and I've had both the experience of including it in Part 1 with great success and of reading Written Assignments that handle it successfully, the latter as an examiner.  The ...

If you’re teaching any of the Greek plays…

...I want to recommend the work of Daniel Mendelsohn, which appears in many places if you Google his name + Greek plays.  His most recent offering in the New York Review of Books: 'How Greek Drama Saved the City' confirms my sense that I can learn a very great deal from him, a great deal that I can pass on to my students and colleagues.  His very readable discussion of how the plays we often teach from this era fit ...

Beyond ‘Persepolis’

Much good work is being done with Persepolis, both in Parts 1 and 4.  Do remind students, however, that including address of both the words and the images is expected in order to recognize the nature of the work. I would like to point out that there are two other works on the PLT that you might consider for Part 1.  The first is Marguerite Abouet's work, Aya, set in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.  This is also an autobiographical work and quite ...

Murakami: reading the texts, playing the game–which sends you back to the texts

There is no question that the stories of Haruki Murakami are provocative. They are also very popular with students who read them as Literature in Translation. It's hard to ignore the student appeal of short stories with titles like 'On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning' or 'The Elephant Vanishes' or 'UFO in Koshiro' or 'Super Frog Saves Tokyo.' In the two collections, After the Quake and The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami offers a wealth of material to feed the imagination, ...

Introductions and Conclusions (Part 2)

First, let's review some advice from Part 1 of Introductions and Conclusions: ***The most important factor is being aware that you are talking to someone who does not know you and does not know what you think about the material, whether it’s a work you have studied or one you are seeing for the first time. SO: INTRODUCTIONS MATTER! You need to let the reader know: what particular text(s) you intend to write about what your angle on them is, and even, possibly, how you ...

The Written Assignment, once more

From facilitating online workshops and moderating examiners for the Part 1 assessment, I frequently observe that there are still hurdles for both teachers and students and those who mark their work.  The IB assessment office is well aware of this, and in response has arranged a screencast to help examiners, particularly those who may not teach this course or this component.  While the primary target audience for the screencast is indeed examiners, the material is also now available to teachers ...

3 Easy Marks for Your Written Assignment

When you are  facing just what you can do to get those three marks for a good Reflective Statement for your Written Assignment, you best guide is the question that is asked in Criterion A. This is the central question the examiner will use to  mark this part of the submission. And that question is: "To what extent does the student show how their understanding of cultural and contextual elements was developed through the interactive oral?" So what you want to ...