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How do I revise for English?

Workshop 3 revision materclasses

Paul Whitehouse

on 7 April 2014

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Transcript of How do I revise for English?

How do I revise for English?
Objectives and Outcomes:

Quick review of effective revision strategies for English

Preparing texts and rehearsing essays

Assessment Objectives and exam stress
Common English Revision Problems
It's so boring! I can't concentrate.
I've read the book(s) again, but now what?
My notes don't make any sense.
What does 'wider reading' mean?
I can't remember critical terms?
What does 'compare' actually mean?
Do I need to memorise lots of quotations?
How can I prepare a clean copy of the text?
I get stressed in the exam and can't think.
Effective Self-Management
1) Organise all your notes. Type up. Do something creative.
2) Identify gaps and missing information. Ask friends for copies of their notes. Ask teachers for any handouts that you've missed.
4) Organise your notes by exam and by question. Use separate binders and dividers to keep things together.
5) Make yourself an exam schedule so that you know which exams come first. Set a timer App. Use a calendar App.
6) Re-read set texts. Ask critical questions, keep lists of key scenes / images / themes and short quotations.
7) Tidy your room and remove any distractions.
8) Get into a healthy eating and sleeping routine.
What's wrong with this picture?
Keep a structured working day
Don't leave everything to last minute.
Little and often.
9:00-5:00 & rewards
20 minute "chunks" most effective for information retention and concentration.
Are you a visual / auditory / kineaesthetic / social learner?
Be an active learner. Reading notes is not enough!
Mind Mapping
The human brain learns through repetition.

Repeating tasks strengthens neural pathways.

"Chunking" information and organising it visually helps to build strong association.
"Chunking" Review -- Test -- Develop
Example: A2 Love Through The Ages

Review: Major themes from 'Romeo and Juliet' (15 minutes)

Test: "Talk Aloud" 3 minute self-test (5 minutes)

Develop: Connect key scenes to major themes (20 minutes)
30 Minute Chunks
(Re)-reading Strategies:
Whole Text
Read entire text through slowly.
Write 100 word summaries of each chapter / poem / act/scene.
Produce a plot timeline to help visualise sequence and narrative structure.
Begin mind-mapping key themes, ideas, motifs, writer's craft and context.
Read like a writer.
Use critical terms in complete sentences to help you remember correct usage.
Manage your expectations.
Read -- Review -- take notes -- Move on
Produce detailed characters lists with 1-2 key (short) quotes.
V. important to understand major themes and key events / scenes.
Film adaptations always vary and are not true to the text. Not a substitute to reading.
Exams reward "whole text coherence" so make sure you understand how the plot develops.
Rehearse close readings and practice paragraphs for key scenes to develop recall and critical insight. Produce one-page mind maps forkey scenes for quick revision.
Read as many poems as you can that link to your course. Wider reading helps to develop insight and knowledge.

Annotate at whole text / sentence / and word level.

Always pay close attention to poetic devise and their EFFECT.

Explain writer's techniques in terms of what they achieve. Don't just trainspot.

Conduct multiple close readings and identify major themes, points of comparison and key images and devices. Read secondary criticism to gain additional insight.
Pay close attention to stage direction and what can be inferred.

Think about structure e.g. foreshadowing, revelation, climax, denouement, and closure.

Aim to watch a performance and take notes on how the director adapted the play text.

Always comment on the effect of the performance on the audience. Link context of social, cultural and historical significance.

Conduct multiple close readings, summarise key scenes and collect short quotes from key scenes.
What does "compare" mean?
The study of literature is often a comparative skill (examining 2 or more texts in relation to each other).

Avoid 50:50 responses. Aim to compare as you go.

When comparing texts you look for points of significant similarity and points of significant difference. Always use the exam question to guide your response.

When reading unseen texts in exams always highlight points of comparison to help with planning your response.
Short Quotes
Integrate short quotes into complete sentences rather than tagging them onto the end of sentences.

e.g. Throughout the scene Tony Stark repeatedly refers to himself as 'Iron Man' suggesting a deep seated anxiety and insecurity about his masculinity.

Here the nightmarish, 'cold glaucoma' vision of a post-apocalyptic world forces a contrast with the idyllic image of the old world.

Integrating short quotations helps to sustain a flowing argument.

If you get stuck, you can paraphrase and synthesis key points in your own words. The key is to always refer back to the primary text when you are constructing an argument.
Organise Quotes
Don't go mad. A handful of short, memorable key quotes is sufficient.

Organise quotes by theme and key scene.

Test yourself regularly and keep using them in revision writing so they became automatic.
Working in small groups compile a list of your biggest revision worries.

Activity time: 3 minutes!
Try it!
What are your worst revision habits?

In groups compile a list of your worst revision habits. Be specific and don't be embarrassed!

Common examples:

I'm always looking for excuses not to work.

I work well for an hour, and then I start messing around on the Internet.
Procrastination is the most common reason students fail to revise properly. Work avoidance is often linked to anxiety and the fear of failure.

Adaptive Organisation = identify your weaknesses

No Internet before 12am. 1 hour for Email.
Tidy your work space & organise your materials.
Switch off your phone during set times.
Make a to-do list.
Make plans in advance and give yourself rewards.
What you are avoiding? Adopt a 'just get on with it!' attitude.
Set realistic goals over long periods of time.
Writing about Structure
Students frequently lose marks because they neglect to comment on structure.
Structure relates to how text and ideas are sequenced and organised FOR EFFECT.
What happens at the START of every episode of Columbo? Why is this structurally important?
Structure, the basics:
Another way to describe structure is: organisation for effect.

How are images/ideas/events organised to achieve effect?
Sentence level: does the position of a word achieve a specific effect?

Juxtaposition: when the proximity of two opposites emphasises their difference.

Foreshadowing, foregrounding, and flashback: does the text give us clues about what will happen later in the story, or use reflection / flashback to comment on what has already happened?
Look for patterns, contrast, and repetition.
Does the structure of the text reflect the content?
When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each precious breath. He pushed away the plastic tarpaulin and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looked toward the east for any light but there was none. In the dream from which he’d wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand. Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls. Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast. Deep stone flutes where the dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and days of it and the years without cease.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
Structure: Thinking About Beginnings
Activity: What key information does McCarthy give the reader at the start of his novel? What is being ESTABLISHED?
Exam Stress and Strategies for Success
Stress caused due to uncertainty and perceived lack of control.
Familiarise yourself with exam paper format and question style / layout.
Practice writing to time. Develop writing stamina.
Know your set texts and points of comparison.
Have a go-to sentence starter e.g. "Throughout the text ..."
Cramming can be a powerful tool, but manage your expectations.
Take regular exercise to increase production of endorphins.

Text type
Use mnemonics to help remember simple close reading strategies
Take time to "open" the question.

Identify key words and instructions.
Don't rush to start. Read closely and plan your response.

When planning, think in terms of points and paragraphs. Bullet first three points you will make.

Idealised romantic love in 'Lolita' - chapter 3
Compare with 'Coy Mistress'
Develop: Forbidden desire, argument, hyperbole.

'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always
count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the
seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this
tangle of thorns.
Question: How does the writer explore romantic love in this extract taken from the opening page of Nabokov's 1955 novel 'Lolita'?

In your answer you should consider:

The writer's use of language
Quick Plan Try it!
e.g. there's too much to remember!
Assessment Preparation
1) Effective organisation

2) Familiarity with key texts

3) Understanding the exam
Activity: Organise your 'revision worries' into these categories?
Do you see a pattern?

Be creative with your notes
Commonplace Books
PowerPoints / Prezi
Mind Maps and Posters
3 minute revision videos
"Work avoidance, exam stress, and ineffective revision typically fall into these three categories. Effective revision should focus on personal management, familiarity with key texts, and a thorough understanding of the criteria for success."
Pearson, 2012.

analysis of language, structure / ideas and issues.

Assessment Objectives 2 / 3
Assessment Objective 1
writing style, critical vocab, and argument.
Assessment Objective 4
understanding of contextual details/significance
AQA & Edexcel
Understanding the expectations of the exam
Assessment Objectives
Practice Paragraphs
Practice Paragraphs and easy PEEZE
Writing practice paragraphs rather can complete essays can help you revise key points while rehearsing your exam writing style.

A complete practice paragraph should:
1) introduce a point.
2) offer supportive evidence (short quote or descriptive ref to the text).
3) Explain the significance of your observation at whole text/sentence/ word level.
4) Link to larger ideas/issues
Practice Paragraph: Frost at Midnight by Coleridge

One of the most affecting aspects of Coleridge’s poem 'Frost at Midnight', composed February 1798, is the barren majesty of the setting: a father and an infant alone inside a rural cottage, with the dying glow of the fire and gentle breathing of the infant pervading the oppressive silence of the freezing winter night. The only visible movement is the ‘thin blue flame’ (12) flickering in the grate, accompanied by a ‘film’ (15) of soot, images which trigger memories of childhood and prompts the narrator to speculate upon the future of his infant son. It is a distinctly remote setting, with isolation and introspection emerging as prominent themes of the poem, and the conditions accommodating to ‘abstruser musings’ (6). As the ‘frost performs its secret ministry’ (1), there is a sense that time itself is being frozen, and that the poem should be read as a momentary fixation of the narrator’s thought, rather than a lineal digression upon a given subject. The word ‘ministry’ (1) also carries with it an implication of didacticism, with connotations of religious, or more accurately, of spiritual teachings, which Coleridge believed were inherent in nature. The sudden call of the owl serves to shatter this tranquillity, and invites the poet to begin his self-reflection. This also suggests a form of naturalistic muse, and whereas Homer would invoke a goddess for inspiration, Coleridge is content to listen to God’s power transmuted through nature. With the other ‘inmates’ (4) of the house asleep, the speaker informs the reader that he has been left to ‘that solitude which suits/ Abstruser musings’ (6), meaning that his mind is free to contemplate and dwell upon those thoughts that cloud the passive, contemplative mind, whilst throughout the ‘cradled infant slumbers peacefully’ (7), as yet unworried by such thoughts.

Essay Craft
Revision Strategies
Exam Stress
Common Mistakes in Exam Essays
Descriptive rather than analytical

Does not answer the question

Lack of analytical detail - little or no evidence

Evidence not explained/evaluated

Lack of focused (zoomed) analysis. We want quality not quantity.

How might we analyse the presence of a throne at the start of a scene as a structural technique?
Cause and effect: how one event or action influences another.
What major issues or problems solved or developed in the text? Think about how a text builds to and introduces problems.
Foreshadowing: what clues/information does the text provide relating to future events?

Dramatic irony: what information does the reader/audience have access to that allows for greater insight?

Reliable narrator: how much does the narrator guide events and/or influence the interpretation of events?
Get organised!
Review your texts & notes!
Rehearse the exam and understand what the examiners are looking for!
Work Avoidance
Activity: Identify PEEZE in this paragraph.
Contrast is a very common structural technique and can also be very formulaic. We can there connect structure to established conventions and popular forms.
Bullet point ideas you could cover in your answer.

Working as a group

try to recall as many ideas for improving revision as you can

3 minutes
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