Recent Posts by Hannah Tyson

The Writer, or the Speaker, the Voice, the Persona?

Over the years, all of us have struggled with the vexed question of 'who is speaking' in a poem or in a first person narrative, or in an autobiographical essay.  And of course it troubles our students as they read literature, often especially with poetry.  You all have your own ways of negotiating this issue. One of the most effective anecdotes I have found is one I have had around for some years, since Robert Pack wrote it and the ...

Advice for Successful Individual Oral Commentaries

At some point, sooner or later, whether you are a HL or SL student, you'll see that IOC coming toward you.  You'll be thinking such things as 'how am I going to get through this?' or 'what can I do to prepare?'  Your teachers will have offered you a good many tips, some of which you took on board and others that have slipped away over time–or weren't actually heard.  Teachers have diverse opinions about how best to do this, ...

If You’re Teaching Writing about Africa. . .

. . .you might find this wry commentary by Binyavanga Wainaina interesting.  This piece was published in 2009 and maybe we–writers and readers–are well beyond this kind of thinking.  And maybe not. I have found the essay useful in class to remind all of us how easy it is to fall into facile stereotypical thinking about this culture, or for that matter, any culture. And for some of us it's summer and time for some material that is not read ...

A Wider World (Part 1)

Assuming that you're on this site because you're interested in the kind of reading and writing that your literature and language courses may or may not involve, these three (or maybe more) blog entries will be looking outside and inside of conventional 'English class' materials to provide new directions and unpack some older ones. Widening our sense of graphic novels  Take a look at these four graphic narratives. A Game for Swallows Born in the midst of the Lebanese war when the city ...

Good Ideas for Interactive Orals (Part 2)

Here's another approach shared by Wendy Boisonnault and Arlene Lee from Sir Winston Churchill in Calgary. If you haven't encountered Andree Chedid's From Sleep Unbound, you might want to consider it for your syllabus.  Here's a brief summary from  Ohio University Press: From Sleep Unbound portrays the life of Samya, an Egyptian woman who is taken at age 15 from her Catholic boarding school and forced into a loveless and humiliating marriage. Eventually sundered from every human attachment, Samya lapses into despair ...

Good Ideas for Interactive Orals in the Literature Course (Part 1)

Thanks to the energy and inventiveness of two teachers at Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada,  I'm happy to share this post and later, a second, with those of you who might be looking for some productive strategies to address the important matters of context and culture. As you will know, the success of the Reflective Statement (and its 3 marks) depends on students providing for their peers a substantial immersion in contextual and cultural matters related ...

Greek Terms (3)

This post adds two much larger terms to the series. There is no possibility that we can provide the range and depth the terms involve but may at least give you some brief references to two significant treatises by Aristotle.  And in the case of both, you will likely have some acquaintance with the particular elements below that fall under these terms, rhetoric and poetic. (A small hint: the stress in 'rhetoric' falls on the first syllable.) And most students ...

The Richness of IB Global Connections

It's useful for us to remember that the Language A courses are taught in a whole panoply of languages with different critical approaches. Very often, in workshops that include teachers of the Language A programs working in a variety of languages, good ideas emerge that can be used by everyone.  Here is one that might enliven or deepen your approach to close reading, from Nataliya Tsetkova: A proposal for work with close reading from Nataliya Tsetkova, teacher of the Russian A Literature ...

Coming to Terms with Greek Terms (2)

In this pair we are dealing with one term that you may encounter but are less likely to actually use in your own critical writing, and another that you might actually find usable.  Either way, your knowledge of these 'terms of art' can work to expand your sense of how to talk (or hear others talk) about the way literary works are constructed and operate. The first term is mimesis.  Both Plato and Aristotle employed this term, not in precisely the ...

Coming to Terms with Some Greek Terms (1)

Currently, there are some critical terms that many IB students are using in their essays. These terms are often used when writing about narratives such as novels and short stories, though they also occur in drama. Still, some of you might not be using these – although you are referring to the things they signify. It's possible that you might raise the quality of your discussion by using them – and using them accurately, which is not always the case in  ...