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 ...

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 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  ...

Two Sites You Might Usefully Explore

Workshops are a two-way street, as we know.  From time to time I pick up very good hints from participants.  I also have used one of these sites when I want to give students a better sense of the writers they are studying.  Neither may be new to you, but perhaps not. The first of these could be a boon to anyone teaching drama in a part of the syllabus, particularly Part 3, the study of genres.  Many of us have ...

Are Memes Relevant to Studying Printed or Digital Texts?

The larger version of this question is really, 'do we need to have a good working knowledge of what memes are in order to usefully expand a sense of our audience, our IB students?  Does such knowledge have some relevance to such new textualities as fan fiction and texts published online using various composition strategies?' It's interesting that, in the last revision of the Language A courses,  various forms of digital texts were suggested as one of the options schools might ...

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

This wonderful title comes from a book about translation recommended a while back by a colleague. It’s a stimulating set of short essays by David Bellos, a distinguished translator, written in a style that makes many of the facets of translation easily accessible—which is why I like using some of the essays, or parts of them, with students. As we study works in translation, it seems a significant omission if we do not take a little time to address the ...

Combining the creative with the critical

Often, IB teachers of the Group A Language and Lit courses regret that there is not much opportunity to do more creative work with their classes. But short exercises can be incorporated into our classes and many of us do that.  Here is one exercise which has not only produced some very lively original pieces with my students, but also raised their consciousness and refined their sense of how prose is constructed and how different effects are created. Obviously there ...

‘The problems of the second act’

In a very interesting little book by David Mamet called '3 Uses of the Knife: On the nature and purpose of drama' there is a section called 'The problems of the second act.'  I can't reproduce the whole section here, but I'm going to select a few quotations in the hopes you might find the ideas useful when you are studying plays with your IB students.  What Mamet is proposing is that there is energy from the playwright that can ...

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 ...

Summer Investigations (2) Works on the PLT: The Thief and the Dogs

As we try to balance shorter and longer works in our hopes that students will fully read and engage with the texts in the syllabus, I think we are all inclined to look for works that work;  for works that are reasonably riveting for all of our students and that expand our sense of the complex world we live in, that foster some growth in both understanding and reading skills. People often find that Crime and Punishment, a work of considerable ...