Some wise advice about commentary?

At least from my point of view, what Robert Scholes had to say about close reading contains some good reminders. I think we all recognize the New Critical roots of the these IB assessments, both oral and written. And though I suspect not too many of us deliver ‘the’ reading of texts, the temptation does exist and we can actualize that in various ways. I especially like his reminder about ‘codification.’** Scholes speaks of the kind of textual study ...

More (Yes) on Writing Commentaries

One of the best guides to commentary I have ever seen was produced by Theo Dombroski, then of the UWC Pearson College. I am going to provide you with three of his good hints about commentary with the hope they will give you some help when you face this exercise. These points may be ones you have overlooked or not seen from this particular angle. ‘There is no such thing as a formula for a good commentary.’ This is such good advice ...

Better and Better Essays #3

From a practicing journalist, one who has been through the IB Literature course (with an IB outcome of 7), three final hints to improve your essays. If you put into practice not only these, but the suggestions in the two previous ‘Better and Better Essays,’ you are likely to really raise your game as you face the whirlwind of essays demanded of you at the end of the IB May or November sessions. Hint #1: How to edit more ...

Literature and Film

Currently, 'Literature and Film' is one of the most popular 'suggested options' under Part 4: Options (a bit confusing, to say the least, though it all shakes out as 'Free Choice', really). There are a lot of great ideas coming from creative classrooms and here are a few from workshop participants which you might not have considered. Madame Bovary is not an easy text for many of today's students, but using film can function as a complement to reading the novel.   ...

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, ...

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 ...

A Theme? A Motif? Which Is It?!

One of the cranky little issues that often (almost always) arises when you are trying to write about the leading ideas or stylistic choices in a piece of literature—as you often must in your courses that involve this kind of art—is when to use the term 'theme' and when to use 'motif.'  And it's no wonder. However, if you decide to settle this in your own head once and for all, and search out definitions either digitally or in print, ...

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 ...