More non-fiction high jinx

Morning all, happy Sunday or maybe you just need commiserations and a large glass of wine.  I’ll happily provide that as well – see you in the pub in a bit.

Lots of us are tackling the Language bit of the new GCSE full on this year. I have managed to avoid it for nearly a year. But we are back to school tomorrow and what is it they say procrastination is the thief of…

Anyho – these texts are for Edexcel Language Paper 2 exams. You will recognise some of the articles from old iGCSE text. But here they are with some lovely new questions.

The Edexcel spec does have a few variances from AQA – so by all means mock up your own questions for AQA.

We are using these with year 9.  Year 10 and Year 11 ones to follow in a separate post.

Body Image – Obama girls and body image

Gender – Emma W

Marathon de Sables texts

Patagonia

Primary Proms – two information texts

South Africa texts

Have a great week

Lou x

 

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A spoonful of sugar

Revision madness hits – again.  My view is that I’m lucky if the kids do any revision at all.  Therefore if I can make it as painless as possible I should.

I’m not being cynical. I am imagine revision is like marking. I think I am doing it – but actually I’m searching for shoes on Amazon.

Here are this week’s revision charts:

revision

Extended Reading paper:

12 Days of Revisions – Extended Reading (Word doc)

The fonts used are HelloHappyDays and HelloMummy – these are free to download.

revision 2

Directed Writing Paper (or any descriptive writing question)

12 Days of Revisions – Descriptive writing (Word doc)

Same fonts as above.

revision 3

12 Days of Revisions – Descriptive writing more (Word doc)

Same fonts as above.

Finally – here are the PDFs in case Word is a bust.

8 Days of Revisions – Descriptive writing more

12 Days of Revisions – Descriptive writing

12 Days of Revisions – Extended Reading

Do let me know if you adapt for any of the Literature texts!
As that’s next on the to-do list.

It was implied

pic

Are inferred meanings and implied meanings the same thing?

On face of it, these two definitions are pretty similar (or in fact, the same).  It’s the old “read between the lines” mantra we use so much in English.

imply

inferred

But perhaps they aren’t exactly the same.

An inferred meaning is a conjuncture or a theory – it could be that more than one idea is inferred.  We use deduction from the evidence available to draw a conclusion. We may disagree. We may be wrong. Or right.

One of the problems with inference in literature is that most of the writers we study are dead and so we can’t ask them if our deductions are accurate or not.

Take Curley’s Wife for example:

omam 1

Steinbeck describes her as ‘a girl’ – the different theories about what can inferred from this include her innocence and contrastingly her immaturity.  Our choice of which theory is correct is shaped by our own person bias.

Depending on our reading of the rest of the paragraph (or novel) we may create conclusions and stick with them.

We don’t know for a fact what John Steinbeck was implying. We can infer an idea. We cannot state a truth.

Implication seems a little more solid than inference.  Implication hints of facts and truths, of rights and wrongs.

Take Henry James’ novella, The Turn of the Screw. It often prompts much debate. Is the governess mad or are the ghosts real? If you’re looking for a text that is ripe for inference – look no further than this crooked tale.

Yet, when asked about the different theories, James himself only ever referred to the story as ‘a nice little potboiler’.  He never outright declared allegiance to either side, but the truth is implied by this statement – he needed to make money, and quickly after the disaster of Guy Domville, The Turn of the Screw served its purpose.  The implication being that James did not consciously take the time and thought needed to design a complex psychological tale.

That’s one of the reasons why I love him – his genius was as repressed as the rest of him.

Back to inference and implication – it’s not trick of fate that my example for implication was real-life.  Implication – being intrinsically linked to fact – is more likely to be needed with real-world texts.

As I tackle more and more non-fiction in my classroom, I find myself asking “what is the implication here?” not “what is inferred?”.

Yet I don’t, or least wasn’t, teaching it.

When reading and studying non-fiction texts we often read them at surface level for fact alone and skip forward to spotting rhetorical techniques.

Take this example from the CIE Paper 3 in June last year.

cie paper

The Directed Writing paper expects top band students to be able to tackle the facts of the article and its implied meanings.

The facts presented here are clear – extinction of some species is expected, and it can be avoided, in part, by protecting these species in zoos and safari parks.

What are the implied meanings here?

This is a little more tricky – the writer mentions sabre-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths which became extinct due to the Quaternary extinction event, not caused by humans. Actually I’m not sure that’s what happened to sabre-toothed tigers – but I’m in an exam hall and can hardly google it.

One implication could be that in the past animals have become extinct due to natural causes (survival of the fittest), whereas today, the increasing demands of the human population are causing early or unnecessary extinction events (survival of the fittest mark 2).

In addition to that, the comparison between the protection of species in zoos and visiting them in their natural habitats again seems open to us drawing some kind of conclusion.  Perhaps that the suggestion within the text seems to be wholly focussed on the human experience and does not value the needs to wild animals to live in the wild.

You can see how hard these conclusions are to draw. Particularly in one hour in an exam room and on a subject that you have little or no knowledge of.

So, how do we teach students to find the implied meanings in non-fictions texts?

There is no magic bullet, there doesn’t need to be. As soon as this became a conscious need – it shaped my questioning and the quality of tasks that I set.

Yet the outcomes were immense, a quality of understanding and interpretation of non-fiction that exceeded basic factual knowledge. A thoroughness of thought.

The pace of my lessons reduced though.  This is the kind of thinking that hurts the first few times. Hurts a lot. But that’s good.

Here are some of the ways we look for implied meanings in my classroom:

  1. You can’t fault a thirst for knowledge. Encourage a real passion for knowledge of the world we live in.
  2. Get doing it. Together first.  Exactly the same as inference in fiction – short extracts, modelled time and again.
  3. Set non-fiction texts as reading homeworks, looking for implied meaning.
    Again – initially with guided questions, then with no prompts at all.
  4. Watch the news, listen to the radio, speak to your friends – communication is full of implied meanings. Get finding them.

Ok, here’s your homework. Implied meanings?

texas

It turns out the sometimes semantics can make you a better teacher.

I will upload some of my starters after the weekend.

Thank you for reading.

Article of the Week #5 – Gender

Gender

Two articles prompted by the #HeForShe campaign for gender equality.

As ever with a set of questions and two transactional writing tasks.

PDF file is here: Gender – Emma W

Huge thanks to my very excellent colleague, Dr R, for providing sourcing these.

Thanks for reading,

Louisa

Article of the Week #3

Body image pic

 

Here is this week’s gathering of non-fiction articles and questions.

Body Image is the topic: with one article on criticism of the Obama girls’ fashion sense and the second extract an NHS fact sheet on body image.

As ever I have included new GCSE style short and long answer questions, a comparison question and two transactional writing tasks.

Download here: Body Image – Obama girls and body image

Have a great week.

Louisa

Article of the Week #1

matter of factI am growing more and more aware that my current repository of ‘go-to’ non-fiction is not good enough.  The selection is too narrow and too old.

Each week I am will upload a non-fiction article and accompanying questions for use in the classroom.

These articles will be aimed at Year 9 + students so will be suitable for GCSE preparation or using in new 2017 GCSE units of work.

If you spot any great non-fiction as you are reading – do tweet it to me!

Here’s the first one.

Article of the Week – January #1

Why it’s time to let it go – Guardian – 17/12/2014