A Celebration of Sequencing: Revising the EDUQAS Poetry Anthology with Year 11

In our CPD groups this term we have been looking at sequencing (across lessons, as opposed to within), using some of the ideas and resources in the Great Teaching Toolkit from Evidence Based Education.

The task for the review session was to identify a challenging outcome that we were working towards with a group of pupils, and to spend time thinking about how we would sequence the learning of this (breaking it down into small, achievable chunks, sequenced to promote progress).

Below is my offering:

Challenging learning outcome: Poetry comparison (GCSE Literature exam)

Initially I started planning this for my Year 10 class, but realised along the way that it’s much more appropriate for my Year 11s as a revision unit (my 10s are still getting their heads around the key knowledge and would be completely overwhelmed). This led to me building in lots of links with other areas of the course, with the intention of creating plenty of opportunities for interleaved retrieval and writing practice in exam conditions.

The KNOWLEDGE they need (numbers indicate optimum order for teaching this):

  • What comparison is! (i.e. making connections) 1
  • Connectives for comparison (likewise, in contrast, etc.) 2
  • What the examiners are looking for (sustained comparison, focus on the theme, balance between the two poems, comparison of the poem’s context; comparison of the poems’ content, language, imagery and structure – and their effects; use of terminology, personal response) 5 (or not at all – introduce each one separately when teaching skills)
  • All about poem 1: context, content, language, imagery and structure and the effects created by these – 1 2 3
  • All about poem 2: context, content, language, imagery and structure and the effects created by these – 2 3 4

The SKILLS they need (numbers indicate optimum order for teaching; italics indicate links with other areas of the course – the intention is to build in plenty of opportunities for interleaved retrieval):

  • How to spot connections between the two poems (A.K.A. planning!) 1
  • How to begin 11 – Link with one other set text for Literature (i.e. Romeo and Juliet)
  • How to write an excellent paragraph:
  • How to sustain the comparison; 10 – Link with English Literature C2 SC
  • How to focus on the theme; 9 – Link with one other set text for Literature (i.e. AIC)
  • How to write about context and its effects; 2 – Link with English Language C2 SA
  • How to write about content and its effects; 3 – Link with English Language C2 SA
  • How to write about language and its effects; 4 5 6 – Link with English Language C2 SA
  • How to write about imagery and its effects; 5 6 7 – Link with English Literature C2 SC
  • How to write about structure and its effects; 6 7 8 – Link with English Language C2 SA
  • How to use terminology well; 4
  • How to use quotations well 5 – Link with all other set texts for Literature
  • How to end 12 – Link with English Literature C2 SC and one other set text

Rather than waiting all the way until the end of the unit to give them a go at a practice comparison question, I have built these in via homework tasks, so that the final outcome doesn’t seem like a huge mountain they have to begin climbing at the end, but a huge mountain that they have been climbing all the way through and now just need to have some ‘fun’ (!) at the summit. Hopefully, it will also provide them with a substantial body of written work that, when reviewing, allows them to see the progress they have made.

The fruits of my labours are the scheme of work below (I’ve left my original sequencing in so you can see how it changed). Please feel free to adapt for your own classes if this is a useful resource:

Black Lives Matter



In the last few weeks, all I have been feeling is pain and anger. When the news of Armaud Arbaury came to forefront of the media, a 25-year-old black man shot in the stomach for jogging in his own neighbourhood, I could not bring myself to watch the whole video which went viral. A week later I open my phone to see another murder of a black man on the ground, lifeless with a knee on his neck of a white police officer for nine minutes despite his cries of “I CAN’T BREATHE”, to the point that he cried for his dead mother. I cannot unsee this image, I cannot unsee that could have been my husband, me, my brothers, my mother, my friends, my neighbours.

The sudden shock that some people are showing amazes me, this has been going on for years, decades, centuries, what does it have to…

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Jane Eyre and Helen Burns: Two Representations of Celebrity

Excellent reading for tomorrow’s lesson, Year 11!

Victorian Women Writers & Celebrity

[Alexis Gaither]

When Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre under her pseudonym “Currer Bell” in 1847, the story of the principled yet solitary orphan became an instant success (i). Brontë faced the criticisms and assessments that occur with such a success, just as Jane’s character is confronted with similar threats to her reputation throughout the novel. While the superiors of Jane’s childhood and the elite of her adulthood challenge her on many fundamental levels, Jane has a habit of remaining steadfast.

An illustration of Jane Eyre being admonished by Mr. Brocklehurst. An illustration of Jane Eyre being admonished by Mr. Brocklehurst.

This dedication to integrity in the face of public adversity could not have developed in Jane without the guidance of Helen Burns. Helen transforms Jane’s ability to accept misfortune and handle degradation in the public eye. Jane’s arrival at Lowood is under the pretense of a dysfunctional relationship with her guardian, which is only fueled by the strict procedures of her…

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Component 1 Sample Paper

Dear Year 11,

Here is my attempt at the sample paper you had a go at this morning:

Sample Paper Component 1

A1 Read lines 1-7. List five things you learn about Justo in these lines.

  • He has a reputation in Guernica and the surrounding area;
  • People say he is a ‘defender of causes’ – an activist;
  • People say he is a ‘wit’ – a witty or humorous person;
  • He enjoys / relishes having a reputation – he is ‘eager to create his own mythology’;
  • He is known for his strength and performs well at the ‘strength events’;
  • He once carried an ox into town and threw it in the river.


A2 Read lines 8-34. How does the writer show you Justo’s physical strength and power in these lines? (5 marks)

You must refer to the language used in the text to support your answer, using relevant subject terminology.

The writer uses verbs and adverbs to indicate Justo’s physical strength, for example, he ‘tore’ into the pine log, which makes it seem as if breaking a log in half is akin to ripping a piece of paper, it’s that easy for him. It also implies that he has the strength of an animal ‘tearing’ into its prey. During the ‘farmer’s walk’ event he ‘grasped’ the weights, which makes him seem steady and assured, and ‘marched without a struggle’, which emphasises his ease further. The way the writer stresses how easy he appears to find the task: his back is ‘rigid’ rather than being pulled into the ‘dangerous curve’ of ‘most competitors’. The writer compares Justo to the others – he ‘split the log well before any others’ and then marches ‘past the marks where others had fallen’. Other competitors are described as ‘little ones’ and ‘the boy’, which contrasts with Justo’s greatness, and his charismatic interaction with ‘the boy’, coupled with his ‘false drama’ for the audience, suggests that, far from finding the competition difficult, he is relishing the opportunity to show off. Finally, the writer structures this section to show Justo’s physical power: first we are given the impression that he will struggle: ‘his face straining as if he’d never get [the weights] off the ground’ and then we realise that he is only acting. This structure makes his strength appear even more impressive – superhuman, almost.

A3 Read lines 35 to 64. How does the writer show that Maria is interested in Justo in these lines? You should write about:

  • What Maria does to attract his attention;
  • The writer’s use of language to show her interest in Justo
  • The effects on the reader (10 marks)


You must refer to the text to support your answer, using relevant subject terminology.

The writer uses a wry, ironic tone of voice to describe Maria’s contriving to be in the vicinity of Justo: ‘It so happened…’, ‘And who could have imagined that…’ and ‘it was natural that…’ The implication is that none of her actions were coincidental; they were all premeditated in the hope of attracting Justo’s attention, highlighting her interest in Justo. The verb ‘unleashed her most feminine laugh’ make it clear that Maria is exaggerating her actions in order to attract Justo’s attention. This quotation also suggests that she is using her femininity to entice him. The writer uses superlatives: ‘most feminine laugh’ and ‘broadest smile’ to show how she accentuates normal behaviour in the hope of attracting his attention. She repeatedly contrives to be in Justo’s path, not only at the beginning of this section, where she ‘discover[s] the need to visit friends near the finish line’, then when she arranges to present the prize to the winner and finally when she ‘skirted the gathering so that he would have to pass her again’. The repetition serves to emphasis her determination to gain his attention. Structurally, her behaviour becomes less and less subtle; by line 49 she asks him outright if he would like to dance with her and flirtatiously appeals to his pride: ‘if you’re not too worn out from all the chopping and lifting’. This is a subtle way of challenging him; Maria knows that an appeal to Justo’s ego is the most effective way of getting him interested in her. When she defends him to her sisters: ‘He has character’, the writer makes it seem that her interest in Justo is not simply physical but that that she is attracted to his personality, adding depth to the ‘silence’ that characterises her as they walk home from the strength event.

A4 Read lines 65-87. What impressions do you get of Justo in these lines? (10 marks)

You must refer to the text to support your answer, using relevant subject terminology.

Justo’s behaviour with Maria’s family give the impression that he is a warm, friendly and confident person. The way he is described makes it seem that he is ‘part of the family’ from the start. He gives her mother a ‘vigorous handshake’ and ‘patted the father on his shoulder’. In this, the writer contrasts him with other suitors, who are perhaps more formal in their behaviour, bringing ‘flowers or sweets’. Justo’s failure to do so could make him seem rude, but rather, he just appears down to earth and relaxed. The fact that he wears his work clothes emphasises this. He uses his strength to help around the house, suggesting that he is keen to serve others and perhaps not as proud as we might have thought. I also get the impression that he treats women as equals: it is Maria’s mother’s hand he shakes ‘vigorously’, not her father’s, and he expects Maria to help him with the woodcutting, repairs, etc. When he proposes to Maria he does so in such a way as to emphasise his sense of humour, digressing from the course of the ‘farmer’s walk’ and holding both weights in one hand in order to retrieve the ring. This might make him seem arrogant or proud, but the way the text is structured (this episode immediately follows his helping with the household chores) ensures that we interpret his behaviour as good-natured and playful, rather than egotistical.

A5 Evaluate the way Maria is presented in this passage. You should write about:

  • Your own thoughts and feelings about how Maria is presented in the passage as a whole;
  • How the writer has created these thoughts and feelings.

You must refer to the text to support your answer.

Maria is ‘twenty’ and ‘the eldest of six girls’. Her behaviour is sometimes typical of the eldest sibling: she is confident and straightforward; she enjoys being in charge. We see this in the way she attracts Justo’s attention by placing herself in his path and arranging to present the prize. Both of these actions are bold, and suggest that Maria is someone who knows how to get what she wants. She seems to have a certain amount of power in the town as she is able to ‘arrange’ to ‘present the prize’ and also seems to understand men well for someone of her age. On one hand, she appears to be a bold, outgoing character, not typically ‘feminine’ at all. For example she asks Justo to dance and puts on her work clothes to help around the house. However, her feminine side is emphasised too: she ‘unlease[s] her most feminine laugh’ and smiles to attract Justo’s attention. These things suggest that Maria knows how to use her femininity to get what she wants. We presume that she is beautiful as it is common for her to have suitors at the house: ‘Others interested in Maria…’ so she is certainly desired by men in the town. This is perhaps why Maria seems so knowledgeable about men: she is used to their attention and this has given her the confidence to be able to flirt with Justo in the way that she does. Finally, she appears level-headed. When she walks home in silence, we are told that she her father is unable to word due to injuring both legs in a fall at the farm. Perhaps this is part of her motive: she feels the responsibility of looking after the family and this may be part of her motive for marrying a strong man like Justo who is dependable, competent and able to perform the household tasks (such as ‘heavy lifting’ and woodchopping) that her father is unable to do. This makes Maria seem shrewd – she chooses a husband well – and also selfless – she does not merely think of herself when choosing a husband, but of her family as a whole. Overall, she is someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. If Justo is a strong man physically, Maria is a strong woman emotionally. They are a good match!


To what extent do you agree?

Dear Year 10,

Here is my answer to Q5 on the ‘Fun with a Stranger’ extract.

The writer encourages the reader to change their opinion of Miss Snell by the end of the story. To what extent do you agree?

The story is structured to change the reader’s mind about the character of Miss Snell. Firstly we hear about her before we see her as the class have been ‘warned about her’. This means that we, like the children, have certain expectations: she will be strict, draconian, old-fashioned, and not much fun.

Initially, the writer does nothing to challenge such views. Mrs Snell is described as ‘a woman with a man’s face’ which makes her seem harsh and aggressive (sorry, men) and as ‘strict’ and ‘humourless’. She gives ‘lectures’ and speaks in imperatives, making her appear ill-humoured and bossy. She even makes the ‘good girl’ burst into tears.

However, as the text progresses, we become aware of time passing: ‘Towards the end of autumn…’ and ‘Finally, it was the last week before the Christmas holiday’. Phrases such as this structure the text so as to indicate the changing of the seasons. As the seasons change, so do the children’s opinions of Miss Snell, and consequently, so do ours. Her ‘homely, shy smile’ hints at a warmth beneath the harsh exterior and when she tells them that she wants them to ‘have fun’ and has ‘made friends’ with them we feel that she is much more companionable than she appeared at first. We begin to change our minds. The loyalty displayed by the children makes it difficult to continue to dislike her: children, after all, are excellent judges of character. John Gerdhart’s defence of Miss Snell is particularly touching.

Finally then, as the text builds towards the end of the Christmas term, we are not sure whether or not Miss Snell will melt into a softer version of herself and allow the children a party. The writer hints that this is a day like any other, repeating the phrase ‘like any other morning’ and ‘like any other rainy day’. This, coupled with the setting of a grey, rainy day,  makes us feel that there will be nothing special about the last day of term and it is therefore a surprise not only to John Gerdhardt, but the reader too, when the door is ajar just enough to reveal the ‘neat little pile of red and white wrapped packages’ on Miss Snell’s desk. Pleasantly surprised, we notice that she has wrapped them in ‘white tissue paper’ which is delicate, and contrasts with her ‘man’s face’ at the beginning. She has thoughtfully wrapped and chosen them, with separate (if a little stereotyped!) presents for the girls and boys, and this might remind us of her treating them as individuals earlier on in the passage. There is no party, but she is clearly, as John thinks, ‘human after all’.

At the end of the passage we feel that our opinion of her has definitely changed. She is no longer the stereotype that we feared to meet at the beginning, but instead thoughtful and caring. Ultimately, she has become human.