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 ...

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  ...

…And One Last Go at Syntax

Here's an interesting set of recommendations about improving your writing through 'conscious syntax' that gets to the issue through a pair of basic sentences.  I like it and maybe you will, too: 10 Varieties of Syntax to Improve Your Writing It is this rich variety of word and phrase order and variation in punctuation that makes prose — fiction or nonfiction — readable. As you review your writing, make sure that you vary sentence structure among these and other constructions to create ...

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 ...

Thinking about Metaphor for a Category 3 Extended Essay

It's a 'literary device,' right?  A comparison without using 'as' or 'like?'  That's what you've learned about metaphor as you have moved up from middle school reading and it's very likely you can spot them, count them and talk about them when the occasion (an essay? a commentary?) demands. But actually there are whole books written about metaphor as an important element of all human thought, used not just in literature but in many academic disciplines, in many facets of daily ...

Making the grade – revising English A and Language B subjects

The first exams on the new English A courses were the IB’s May 2013 exams. Data from that exam session showed that schools had been changing the English A subjects they had chosen for their students. There had been a slight drift from the old “A1 HL” to A: Language & literature HL, but a massive swing from “A1 SL” to A: Language and literature SL. Nevertheless, the grades achieved for English A variants were still disappointing. While 33 Language A subjects achieved average points scores ...