Free Revision Apps

I have come across these revision apps via Twitter. They are free!  There are available for Apple and Android operating systems. Best way to find – search ‘Revise Of Mice and Men’ and ‘Revise Conflict Poetry’ or take a look at their website - Revision Apps. There are loads of other revision/study guide apps out there too, although not all free. Take a look!

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Poetry Q and A

Before the Easter break you each asked a question about the Poetry exam. I have collated your questions and below are answers to your queries. This is worth a read as I have included quotes from last year’s examiners’ report – this essentially tells you what the examiners like and don’t like! Read it!

How much should I write? 

If we take a look at the break down of the exam, you will need to write more for Section A than you would for Section B. There are more marks available for Section A (Conflict question) so spend 45 minutes on this section. In terms of how much you should write, this is hard to quantify – I would suggest to aim for 3 sides for Section A and at least 1.5 for Section B. However you must ensure you hit the assessment objectives: AO1 – interpretations/quotes, AO2 – language, structure and form and for Section A only, AO3 – comparison.

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However you must ensure you hit the assessment objectives: AO1 – interpretations/quotes, AO2 – language, structure and form and for Section A only, AO3 – comparison. In this exam the marks are weighted as follows:

AO1 (quotes and interpretations) – 15%

AO2 (language, structure and/or form)- 10%

AO3 (comparison) – 10%

How should I structure my essay?

You should always try to include some sort of introduction and conclusion (see below Q and A). Then each paragraph of the main body of your essay should offer your own interpretations and ideas. Remember you should also  focus on AO2 – language, structure and form. You may wish to approach this – one paragraph on language, one on structure, one or form or you may wish to embed this throughout your essay. If you struggle to focus on language ensure you are zooming in to key words from the poem and linking them to the question. Remember for Section A you need to compare – you need to do this throughout so ask yourself does each paragraph talk about both poems.

How to write an introduction and conclusion?

You could use the inverted pyramid approach for your introduction and then work on the opposite for your conclusion:


Your introduction and conclusion should always focus on the question – so why not highlight the key words in the question at the start. For Section A ensure you state which 2 poems you will write about and make some reference to the question. So if the question is about ‘effects of conflict’, you could start with: ‘The effects of conflict are explored across the cluster however I will particularly focus on Bayonet Charge and Poppies. Hughes’ poem is set in World War 1 in contrast we can assume Weir’s poem is set after the conflict, showing a mother looking back on her son’s life.’  To conclude ensure you summarise the main points of each paragraph such as: ‘Both poems consider the effect of conflict through the use of individual experiences; Poppies gives a first person account whereas Bayonet Charge a third person account with both using pronouns throughout the poems. Both poets explore the effects of conflict through the use of irregular structures and use of enjambment. Both poets also use imagery – Weir domestic and textile imagery to link with the mother character who is detached from the conflict whereas Hughes uses violent imagery to show the first hand experience of a solider in conflict.’

How do I shorten quotes to ensure they make sense? 

You are using your quote to support your interpretation, therefore your quote needs to be carefully chosen. If you struggle to include quotes there is nothing wrong with introducing your quote using: this can be seen in the quote…, this is demonstrated in the line… or as seen in the opening line… You can them zoom in on key words from your quote such as: ‘The writers use of the word …. suggests ….’ If you feel confident embedding quotes in to you essay, as below, then do otherwise use the approach you feel most confident with.

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How do I ensure I answer the question? 

At the start of the exam read the question. For Section A you will need to pick a question from a choice of two – this may be determined by the named poem or perhaps the focus of the question. Read both questions a couple of times, pick one and underline/highlight the key words in the question -these are the words you need to focus on throughout your essay. You may wish to write down similar words around the question to avoid repetition. Kept the question open in front of you throughout the exam. Ensure each paragraph uses either the words from the question or similar words. Same for Section B – pick the key words (remember these will often give aware the focus of the poem) and make reference to them throughout. If you really struggle to focus on the question, you could top and tail each paragraph – start and finish it with reference to the question.

How do I identify comparisons?

The examiners’ report on the June 2013 exam states:

‘Some candidates are increasingly able to form, sustain and develop a strong thread of comparison. However, this remains a key feature of underperformance. There are two ways in which candidates can be inhibited from performing well with AO3: where they have attempted to deal with the poems independently and then ‘stick them together’ at the end, and where they have attempted to root their comparison in AO2. The best comparisons derive from taking an idea, or theme, or topic, and discussing how both poems deal with it.

So the examiner is saying focus on ideas, themes or topics that both poems have in common. To help you revise you could create venn diagrams for the poems and clearly focus on the ideas, themes or topics in the poems using key quotes to show similarities and/or differences.

What is rhythm? What is metre?

Rhythm refers to the pattern of sound made by varying stressed and unstressed syllable. The metre is simply the arrangement of syllables creating rhythm through repeated patterns. So this involve stressed (/) and unstressed (x) syllables -  remember the word present. If you stress the first part you get present (gift), stress the second part you get present (stand up in front of people and talk). English poetry has five different recognised patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables – one of which being iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter uses 10 syllables to a line, every-other syllable stressed(x/x/x/x/x/) thus creating the sound of a heartbeat. For more information take a look at this website - Metre

What is structure and form?

This can be tricky to define but generally:

Form - based on number of lines, rhyme scheme, rhythm/metre. It could be that the poem is a recognised form e.g. elegy, sonnet, ballad. 

Structure – based on how its structured. How is it split? How many stanzas? Also how it develops, for example, the first three stanzas might be calm and the last three might become violent. Think about the order too – is it chronological or random?

You do not need to explicitly mention the form of the poem or the structure of the poem e.g. The form of the poem is…. You could simply say – the poem;s line lengths are irregular. This is interesting to note, from the examiners’ report from last June:

‘AO2 assesses understanding of how language or structure or form links to meaning – not all three, and not if there isn’t anything to say about one particular element.  The questions are constructed to enable candidates to do this: ‘the methods poets use to present ideas about’ is a principle of question construction. The most interesting method, usually, is the language. Examiners are looking for the extent to which candidates can talk about what they think the poem is about, and some of the ways the poet might have presented their ideas to the reader. As ever, candidates who respond with their own ideas tend to produce some surprising, individual and thought-provoking responses…The most interesting method, usually, is the language. Examiners are looking for the extent to which candidates can talk about what they think the poem is about, and some of the ways the poet might have presented their ideas to the reader. As ever, candidates who respond with their own ideas tend to produce some surprising, individual and thought-provoking responses.’ 

What’s a narrative? 

The definition of a narrative is: a spoken or written account of connected events; a story. Therefore some poems may have a narrative – a story, others may not. The Charge of the Light Brigade and Come on, Come Back are strong examples of poems with a story-like quality.

How can I quickly analyse a poem?

I can recommend approaches but to hit those top makes you need to react to the poem and offer your own view. The examiner is looking for your ability react to a poem in front of you – this is different from Section A where you could have essentially ‘learnt’ the poems. The examiners’ report from June last year said:

‘A shared view across the examining team was once again that where candidates are thinking independently, such as with their response to the unseen, they often demonstrate a higher level of skill than in their response to Section A. If candidates are encouraged to think for themselves, rather than merely reciting what they have been taught in lessons, they are then enabled by the task in the exam to demonstrate a higher level of skill.’

Quick approaches to Section B:

  1. Read the poem at least three or four times.
  2. Read the title. What is the significance? Does it tell you anything?
  3. Highlight key language choices that link to the question.
  4. If nothing jumps out to you focus on the first and last lines.
  5. Is there an extended metaphor occurring throughout the poem?
  6. Is there any recurring image?

Those of you who wrote that you were struggling with specific poems I suggest you look at the blog posts on these poems.

Hope this helps.

Miss O

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Of Mice and Men – The Ending

It could be said that Steinbeck has written a tragic novel. He loosely follows, the traditions of Greek tragedy, where all the action takes place within 24hours – here it is stretched to nearly 48. Similarly, all the action occurs in one place, the ranch. Finally, the tragedy should unfold in five parts. Yet here we are at Chapter 6. This invites us to view the first five chapters as the tragedy, but to view the sixth as something else. Each character has now met with tragedy, and like tragic heroes, each have their fatal flaw. However, the fact that Chapter 6 exists, points to a departure from tragedy. 


The chapter opens with a “deep green pool”,  an image of spring, growth and rebirth. Similarly, “the hilltops were rosy in the sun”. It could be suggested that his offers us a setting for hope rather than despair. If death is coming, it is welcomed in, or as “a pleasant shade”. This is the same Eden-like setting the novel began with. Steinbeck introduces a “water snake”, a reminder of the serpent of Eden, which tempted man to understand the knowledge of good and evil.It is swiftly, killed as a heron “plucked it out by the head … while its tail waved frantically.” The “wind sounded” and then “the wind died”, again reminding us of imminent death. But does this, and the frantic end of the snake invite us to see death as natural and not as a tragedy? Does this give the reader a sense of hope – the power of friendship or is it truly a tragedy as the dream is never realised?

Turning up on such a beautiful area to find such a brutal scene, the scene after George has murdered Lennie, Slim is the only man with any regard for the way George may be feeling. He sits next to him and says gently “Never you mind… a guy got to sometimes.” As they wander back to the ranch, George in shock and being led by Slim, Carlson remarks to their departing silhouettes: “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?”. In this environment, in which human life is utterly disposable, only Slim recognizes that the loss of such a beautiful and powerful friendship should be mourned.  Carlson and the other workers don’t have the understand, due to their environment, to develop their relationships in the way George and Lennie have so therefore cannot empathise. This is a further example of the loneliness Steinbeck portrays.

Remember to consider the importance of Lennie’s death mirroring Candy’s dog’s death – they are described in a similar way and both occur to end suffering. Yet there are key differences between the two deaths. How can these be linked to loneliness? Steinbeck offers no answer to loneliness with the cyclical structure. The structure of the novella mirrors the fate of the characters – their inability to escape. It could be said that Steinbeck set out to expose and chronicle the circumstances that cause human suffering and one of the main issues being loneliness. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Year 10 – we will look at Chapter 6 in tomorrow’s lesson. Please ensure you have read the chapter.

Miss O

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Another Unseen Poem for you to tackle

If you feel you need more practice on Section B of the Poetry exam, have a look at the following Unseen Poem from January 2013.


You are advised to spend 30 minutes on this section. Read the poem below and answer the question that follows:

A Marriage

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you. Your arms are tired, terribly tired, and, as the day goes on, it feels
as if either your arms or the ceiling
will soon collapse.

But then
something wonderful happens: Someone,
a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.

So you finally get
to take down your arms.
You feel the relief of respite,
the blood flowing back
to your fingers and arms.
And when your partner’s arms tire, you hold up your own
to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this for many years
without the house falling.

Michael Blumenthal 

What do you think are the feelings about marriage in this poem and how does the poet present these feelings to the reader? (18 marks)

Have a bash. Email to me if you want feedback.

Miss O


Recap on Unit 1 Section B – Of Mice and Men

Year 11 – here are the slides from the Tuesday’s lesson.

Ensure you keep reading all of the texts over the Easter break!

Miss O

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Approaching Of Mice and Men as a societal critique

English Teacher:

A great blog post offering some wonderful interpretations – definitely worth a look!

Miss O

Originally posted on English teaching resources:

I often pursue aspects of a novel with a question such as “why did the author write this text in this way at this time in their life or in the context of the worlds in which they live?” I am concerned that it is often hard for students to approach an essay about the significance of a certain character unless they can see how the character fits into the overall vision of the writer. Instead, they often resort to focusing on the action rather than looking at a wider perspective rooted in the intended function of the character and thus how they are presented by their words and deeds.

In OMAM this can be an issue. I want to take as a starting point the this novella houses a critique of American Society at the time of the Great Depression. If this is accepted, then I want to explore…

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Light and Dark in Of Mice and Men

A great collection of quotes here (taken from the wonderful Wildern English) to show Steinbeck’s use of light and dark in Of Mice and Men.  Consider where the quotes appear and what they could symbolise.

To help develop your understanding take a look at the following video too. Try to link Steinbeck’s use of light/dark to the era of the 1930s to also hit AO4.

Miss O


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Easter Essay Tasks

Please attempt at least 2 of the following questions. I suggest focus on the elements you feel least confident with. Feel free to email work through to me over Easter.

Unit 1 – Exploring Modern Texts

Tuesday 20 May – am

Section A: The Woman in Black – spend 45 minutes on one of the following:

a)      How is Hill’s use of the opening chapter Christmas Eve important to the ghost story genre?


b)      How does Hill present the character of Arthur in the chapter The Sound of the Pony and Trap?

Section B: Of Mice and Men – spend 45 minutes on the following:

Read the following passage and then answer Part (a) and Part (b).

He led the dog out into the darkness.
George followed to the door and shut the door and set the latch gently in itsplace. Candy lay rigidly on his bed staring at the ceiling.
 Slim said loudly, ‘One of my lead mules got a bad hoof. Got to get some tar onit.’ His voice trailed off. It was silent outside. Carlson’s footsteps died away. The silence came into the room. And the silence lasted.

George chuckled, ‘I bet Lennie’s right out there in the barn with his pup. He won’t want to come in here no more now he’s got a pup.’

Slim said, ‘Candy you can have any one of them pups you want.’

Candy did not answer. The silence fell on the room again. It came out of the night and invaded the room. George said, ‘Anybody like to play a little euchre?’

‘I’ll play out a few with you,’ said Whit.

They took places opposite each other at the table under the light, but George did not shuffle the cards. He rippled the edge of the deck nervously, and the little snapping noise drew the eyes of all the men in the room, so that he stopped doing it. The silence fell on the room again.

Part (a) In this passage, how does Steinbeck create tension? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.

and then Part (b)What does Steinbeck show the reader about friendships in Of Mice and Men and whatdoes this tell you about the society in which the novel is set

Unit 2 – Poetry Across Time

Thursday 22 May – pm

Section A: Conflict Poetry – spend 45 minutes on one of the following :

a)      Compare the way individual experiences are presented in Extract from Out of the Blue and one other poem from the Conflict cluster.


b)      How are the effects of conflict on the lives of people presented in Belfast Confetti and one other poem from the Conflict cluster?

 Section B:Unseen Poetry – spend 30 minutes on the following:

The Sea

The sea is a hungry dog.

Giant and grey.

He rolls on the beach all day.

With his clashing teeth and shaggy jaws

Hour upon hour he gnaws

The rumbling, tumbling stones,

And ‘Bones, bones, bones, bones!’

The giant sea-dog moans,

Licking his greasy paws.

And when the night wind roars

And the moon rocks in the stormy cloud,

He bounds to his feet and snuffs and sniffs,

Shaking his wet sides over the cliffs,

And howls and hollos* long and loud.

But on quiet days in May or June,

When even the grasses on the dune

Play no more their reedy tune,

With his head between his paws

He lies on the sandy shores,

So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores.

James Reeves

*’hollos’ : cries or calls used to attract attention or call encouragement

What picture of the sea do you think the poet creates in this poem? How does the poet create this picture by the ways he writes about the sea?

Have a good Easter guys!

Miss O


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Your possible exam questions

In today’s lesson we revised the chapters in The Woman in Black. Some of you have a great knowledge of the texts, some of you need to reread the text as soon as possible. You came up with some nice question ideas. I have listed them below.

Take a look, plan a response or even write a response – I will mark anything you hand in. Now is the time to step up!

  • How does Hill present Samuel Daily as the voice of reason?
  • How does Hill use the conspiracy of silence in Chapter 8 ‘Spider’?
  • How does Hill use Arthur to build tension?
  • How effective is Hill’s use of foreshadowing in The Woman in Black?
  • How does Hill present the character of Samuel Daily in Chapter 3 ‘The Journey North’?
  • How does Hill present the idea of fear in Chapter 9 ‘In the Nursery’?
  • How does Hill present the theme of darkness?
  • How does Hill present Eel Marsh House in Chapter 5 ‘Across the Causeway’?
  • How does Hill use the theme of fear in Chapter 4 ‘The Funeral of Mrs Drablow’?
  • How does Hill present isolation in Chapter 9 ‘In the Nursery’?
  • How does Hill present the character of Arthur as a narrator throughout The Woman in Black?
  • How does Hill present the Woman in Black’s feelings throughout the novel?
  • How does Hill present Spider in Chapters 9 and 10?
  • How does Hill use the setting of Eel Marsh House to enforce the ghost story genre?
  • How does Hill use weather to build tension in The Woman in Black?
  • How does Hill use silence in Chapter 1 ‘Christmas Eve’?

Miss O


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Model Introduction for The Woman in Black Essay

Year 11 – I have marked your essays on The Woman in Black and the ghost story genre. Solid effort, many of you listened to feedback and improved your grade. However I am still concerned that your introductions aren’t fully demonstrating your understanding of the genre. You should be able to quickly get an introduction written and simply tweak dependant upon the question – there are a number of key ideas you can always include in your introduction.

I suggest you consider following the ‘inverted pyramid’ approach. The diagram below is generic but demonstrates  the idea of starting broad and then becoming more specific.



So for The Woman in Black:

  • Start broad with your knowledge of the text and the genre (in this case the ghost story genre).
  • Now start to think about the question and how the key words link to the text/genre.
  • Then give specific examples of what you will discuss.

Below is a model introduction using this approach to answer the question - How does Hill use the conventions of the ghost story in the novel? 

In the novel The Woman in Black, Hill uses the conventions of the ghost story genre to create a tense and frightening story.  Although written in 1983, the novel is set at some point in the early 1900s, and could be considered a pastiche of the great ghost writer Charles Dickens’ style. Hill mimics his use of densely detailed text, a framed narrative set at Christmas plus lavish and evocative descriptions, evoking a powerful resemble to A Christmas Carol.  The ghost story, undoubtedly most popular during the Victorian Era, is based on the premise of the supernatural with other key themes including isolation, childhood and silence. It is through the use of the first person narration, foreshadowing, pathetic fallacy and macabre imagery that Hill develops these key themes whilst incorporating key conventions such as the transformation of the central protagonist, the haunted house and the revenge-seeking ghost.

Based on this introduction I would then provide a detailed paragraph on: first person narration, foreshadowing, pathetic fallacy and macabre imagery including some reference to the transformation of Arthur Kipps, Eel Marsh House and Jennet Humfrye.

We will discuss this introduction in today’s lesson.

Miss O


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