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Working with Whole Texts: Prose and Drama

Beth Kemp | Monday June 20, 2011

Categories: Drama, Hot Entries, Prose, Teaching Ideas & Skills Development

All Literature and combined Language and Literature specifications require students to work with full-length texts for exam units – both open- and closed-book – and/or for coursework.  Students may be required to undertake extract analysis demonstrating knowledge of a whole work; they may need to produce ‘overview’ essays on a theme, concept or character, or they may need to seek connections between the known text and an unseen piece.

The challenges of working with longer texts in class start with the issue of reading.  Clearly, it is inappropriate to read a novel aloud in class, while reading a play may be more logically permissible.  Students at this level may reasonably be expected to read their set texts outside the classroom, but of course, many seem to think it is acceptable not to do this.  There are activities here to support sustained reading and to check students’ progress in reading longer texts, as well as ways to break up and add some variety into class reading of plays.  There are also tasks to support the in-class exploration of extracts, as well as discussions about texts as a whole, and revision activities suitable for open-book and closed-book exam tasks.

Ideas in the section on practising comparison may be helpful for specifications requiring comparative work, whether between set texts or using unseen extracts with set texts.  The sections on literary extract analysis, developing analytical writing and using exemplar essays will also contain activities that will support teaching based on longer texts.

Getting Through the Text: Supporting Initial Reading

Checking reading of set chapters/sections

Resources required:

  • Mini whiteboards or alternative
  • Brief questions on the reading

There are several ways of achieving this.  Clearly, it is very helpful to be able to ‘show up’ those who haven’t done the reading, and to make it their responsibility.  Equally, this needs to be done in a way which doesn’t add...


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