Peter Thomas’ work on teaching Shakespeare is widely used throughout schools across the world. With other members of NATE’s Learning and Assessment Committee, he has produced a suite of revision materials – focusing on Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar – designed to help teachers and their students concentrate on the areas that matter in preparation for the GCSE examinations. You can download a sample of the materials here, and an explanation of the rationale that underlies the work. Complete sets of materials are available free to members on the members’ area of the site. Additional materials will appear regularly on the members’ area.
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Nineteenth Century Revision Materials
The rationale behind this teaching and learning support material
1 C19th Novels and literature study
Novels by C19th writers are a major part of the English literary heritage. Although they tend to be longer and more literary in style than modern print and screen fiction, they were one of the main the popular entertainments of their time. The themes, characters and situations in them have lasted in book form, films, TV and stage adaptations and in graphic and manga forms.
The skill of these novelists was in keeping readers engaged over time by providing a variety of action, relationship, mood and appeal. Although language has changed, the core of these novels has not changed: it is the comedy and tragedy of human behaviour, human passion and human struggles in a range of vividly-portrayed social contexts. That keeps them relevant today.
2 C19th Novels and GCSE
Studying these works of fiction has to be within the framework of GCSE Literature AOs and the GCSE assessment framework. Knowledge, understanding and response will be directed by examination questions and mark schemes. Fortunately, these work within an understanding of the basics of all reading in Literature – the novels’ insights, their past and present relevance, their literary craft and their use of language.
3 Assessment for learning
Preparation for GCSE Literature requires familiarity with key literary reading skills. These are presented in these revision lessons as a progression through the core skills of select and retrieve to the more developed skill of explain, then to the more sophisticated skills of exploration, interpretation and analysis.
4 Inclusive learning
The activities are based on the principle that learning is most effective when developed through talk and collaboration rather than instruction. Lessons should be framed to include:
- all academic abilities
- all human faculties –not just literary and cerebral functions
- individual experience
- oracy, groupwork, performance as well as reading and writing
- different cultures
Each lesson focuses on a particular aspect of literary study as follows:
- Character and characterisation
- Ideas, feelings and attitudes
Obviously, the extracts chosen from the novels could all be used for any or all of the study focus features. Teachers will already have covered these focus elements and the whole text. The purpose of these revision lessons is to highlight the nature of each study focus and to give scope for developing it as a strength in students’ preparation for the exam.
This material has been produced by the NATE Learning and assessment committee, Summer 2017.