Poetry Assessment Objectives IGCSE

Upon reflecting on effective teaching practices, here are four activities that engage students in the four AOs for IGCSE Literature.

FOR AO4: Display of Questions

I believe these questions are good starters for the students to identify their perspective on a text. There are two possible deployment tactics I would first take. OUT OF CLASS TACTIC: Primarily, given that my students are fairly high level, I would give these questions as an out-of-class assignment. Students would be instructed to read the text and then write for 10 minutes in response to the questions. The students would then come to class with these questions answered and ready to discuss them with small or large groups. IN CLASS TACTIC: On the opposite end of ability, my second deployment method, would be to provide sentence frames, helping my one low student respond to the questions. For example, in the question, ‘what words do you find most vivid?’ I would provide a frame for the response, ‘I find the word____________ most vivid because it reminds me of _______.’ Or, ‘List five words that you find to be important for the poem’ followed by a numbered list with blanks to fill in.

FOR AO2: Deeper Meanings

USE OF BLOOM’S TAXONOMY: The suggested activity asks pupils to ‘ask probing questions’. But, it lacks specificity. To support this activity, I would use Bloom’s Taxonomy. We would first identify factual elements of the poem. E.g. there are four quatrains and an A-B-A-B rhyme scheme. I would move to analysis questions. For example ‘what is the narrative content of the first quatrain, the second, third and fourth?’. Moving from identification and analysis, I would then ask them to make connections between the facts of the poem and the identified elements. I would use questions such as, ‘what is the importance…’, ‘what is the significance….’, ‘tell me why…’ and ‘tell me how…’. By identifying the elements that need to be connected, I can guide the pupils to make those connections. Students may respond orally or in writing. They may do the work individually or in groups. It could even be done as a presentation or interview (imagine students ‘pretending’ to be an expert on the poem and then answering the interview questions I identified earlier).

FOR AO3: Connecting to the text

PERFORMANCE AND DIRECTION: This activity suggests partners work together to identify elements such as enjambment, rhyme, and meter. I have used excellent speaking aloud work to do this. One student acts as a director and the other the performer. The performer stops when the director tells them to stop (e.g. at the end of the line), tells them to walk and helps them identify how fast to walk – in identification of the meter, and provides a gesture or movement to be symbolic of the rhyming elements (this works too with alliteration and assonance). The students trade positions and use a new or the same text. If using the same text, the students try to make new choices or pick a different element of focus.

GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION: The second part of the activity suggests that pupils comment on and identify devices – such as imagery, sound, and rhetorical devices. This too can work with a performative activity, as suggested above, or it can be effective graphically. Using class posters that include common elements such as: 1) The device, 2) a modern-language definition of the device, 3) examples from poems (and citations of which poem). Then groups can present on one element and identify all the devices. This can also be an effective tool to review and revise before a mock exam.

FOR AO1: Extension activity, peer-review

This activity suggests that students can essentially annotate the work of a peer and identify required or beneficial elements in a practice response. I would add to this with a reflective piece before the activity. REFLECTIVE PEER-REVIEW: For this activity I would start with the class by giving them the rubric with each band. I  would ask them to identify possible examples of what they may see in an essay, meeting each band. They may identify signpost language (e.g. key words such as ‘one key quote is…’), they may identify structure such as (PEEL), they may identify countable elements (such as one quote for each section of the poem). We would then create a shared annotation key (building from the one identified in the SOW). Students would peer-review, annotate, then talk back to their peer on their perspective of the work.

Reflecting on IGCSE Scope and Sequence

My students have the IGCSE Literature coursework over two years. They meet for 3 hours per week in four class periods. This gives them about just over the recommended 130 hours of guided learning (168 hours of seat time over 28 weeks of school, less time for special events and school-wide testing).

Each novel we have studied this year was done over about five weeks: four weeks to discuss, analyze, and synthesize the plot, themes, characters, important quotes and other literary elements. The remaining week is used to revise and take a mock exam on the one novel. For drama, I tended to take seven weeks to unpack the text in a similar way. Regarding short stories and poems, this was generally done with a two class series to study and revise. Followed by a mini-mock exam each week on the texts that were studied up to that point.

The class has been directed to paper one and paper two. With a small class and inexperienced IGCSE teaching staff, internal examination was not selected. Supplementary materials have ebbed with student needs. My current class found use in watching the full stage version of “A Raisin in the Sun”, excerpts from “A Separate Peace” and excerpts from multiple move and stage versions of “Romeo and Juliet”. The class last year, did none of these elements. We have also borrowed this year from the IBDP program assessment of the IOC as another method for textual examination – giving students the opportunity to speak about their understanding, rather than just writing about it. Our text sequence is aligned with the IGCSE History course. For example, during the Key-Study of South Africa, we are reading “Cry, Beloved Country” and during one of the WWII units, we read “A Separate Peace”.

The Cambridge scheme of work has been effective for student and class reference. We use it often as a formative and informal progress check. We do not follow a text book. The order of texts is in alignment with the content in other courses.