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This spiral-bound book is an accompaniment to the AQA Specification A GCSE English/English Literature Students' Book by Geoff Barton, which I have already reviewed separately. As with that particular book, I will again emphasise that this is only suitable for those sitting for GCSE English with the AQA examination board, and that it follows the syllabus for Specification A only.
The two-page introduction begins with a section on 'How to use this Teacher's Book' that explains how this book can be of value whether the Students' Book is being used a a complete course or as a 'resource to be dipped into'. The section 'Hints on delivering the specification' presents a sample scheme of work that focuses on the novel 'Of Mice and Men' and suggests the main theme for each of four lessons a week over a five-week period, ending with sample exam questions in the sixth week. 'Stretching the most able' explains briefly how teachers can guide higher-ability students towards reaching the highest grades, whilst 'Supporting the least able' shows how lower-ability students can focus on the main issues in texts and develop the skills needed to attain a grade C.
The book is divided into seven units that mirror those of the Students' Book. Each of these units begins with a page of introductory notes that set out the assessment criteria that will be tested in the section of the exam corresponding to that particular unit, with specific details on the achievements required for a grade C and a grade A. Answers to all the activities set out in the Students' Book then follow, and information on the objectives that the tasks focus on is given for each activity. The unit ends with several pages of photocopy masters that offer additional activities to those of the Students' Book. I will give details of these, as they are unique to the Teacher's Book.
Unit 1 Non-fiction Photocopy masters are provided for brainstorming an idea about a book, a song and an object. An illustration of each is given, the teddy bear for the object not perhaps being an appropriate choice for this age group. There are three boxes each for the book, the song and the object, and each box asks for an idea and then a further explanation of it. In the following sheet, students choose either the book, the song or the object and plan a class talk on it, noting an introduction; their emotions or memories connected with it; similes, metaphors or symbolism; and then points for their conclusion.
Unit 2 Media Texts Worksheets are provided for planning a website page, a magazine page, or a newspaper page. A further sheet is entitled 'A* Masterclass - Tabloids and Broadsheets'. It details the conventions and features of both tabloid and broadsheet newspapers and then gives an activity: 'Write two short articles on a mountain incident, one in the style of each type of newspaper.' There follows a planning sheet with sections for headline key words, topic sentences, other details, statements (from eye-witnesses), a connective wordbank and a dramatic wordbank.
Unit 3 Post-1914 prose: Lord of the Flies The worksheets in this unit require students to retell the story in cartoon form; record information about a character; interview (hot-seat) the character Jack; plan an essay and finally plan a leaflet or poster on 'How to survive and live on a desert island'.
Unit 4 Post-1914 prose: Of Mice and Men Photocopy masters focus on examining the time sequence in the novel, imagining George's life without Lennie, interviewing Lennie, and creating a spider-diagram about Curley's wife. John Steinbeck's use of language is then under consideration; students find examples of colloquial language, different lengths of sentences, the use of adjectives, adverbs, similes and metaphors, and then consider how these features can help in studying the novel's characters and themes. The unit ends with a general plan for structuring an essay (showing how to give a point of analysis, quote evidence and then state why this is important or relevant).
Unit 5 Post-1914 prose: The Catcher in the Rye To further their understanding of the novel, students are required through the worksheets to record research into the early 1950s; use a map to trace Holden's movements and create a time-line; record discussions on the characters; record casting details on characters for a film version; create a spider diagram about Holden's attitude to innocence and then plan an essay.
(I should point out that students only study one of the novels featured in Units 3, 4 and 5.)
Unit 6 Writing to argue, persuade, and advise Photocopy masters are provided for writing about a leaflet, designing a leaflet about why you should eat more healthily, and writing a persuasive letter. This last one clearly shows how to structure the letter, beginning with a hard-hitting statement, developing a point, showing an understanding of the other side of the argument, defending your view, and summing up using an emotive statement or rhetorical question.
Unit 7 Writing to inform, explain, and describe The worksheets here focus on writing a biography, as well as structuring an information text, an explanatory text and a descriptive text. The sheet for the biography is rather sparse, but the other three offer a lot more guidance. For each of the three, there is a list of issues to consider, such as whether the language should be formal or informal, and whether the structure should be chronological or thematic. For the descriptive text, space is given to note down ideas for words appealing to senses, colourful adverbs, abstract nouns, similes, and so on.
Glossaries The glossary of exam terms for the various types of writing - imagine, inform, describe, persuade and explain - is identical to the one in the Students' Book and explains what the examiner wants the student to do in each case.
Finally, the photocopy masters in the Glossary provide a nine-page section that tests knowledge of the terms used in English and English Literature. Students are not questioned directly on the terms given here in the exam, but a knowledge of them obviously enhances an appreciation and understanding of language and literature. A student who can show in a literature essay that they realise what effect the use of metaphor or alliteration have can be confident of impressing.
Whilst this book is aimed at schoolteachers using the Students' Book in class, it could prove an invaluable resource to tutors or parents of home-schooled children who are using the Students' Book either as a complete course or to provide supplementary work. Having a set of answers to the activities in the Students' Book is obviously useful, but the photocopy masters that are unique to the Teacher's Book extend the activities for each unit in an engaging way. Any parent who wishes to encourage their son or daughter to achieve the highest grade or to assist a less able child to improve their understanding could find the Students' Book accompanied by this Teacher's Book to be the ideal resource.
Any book that contains photocopy masters is bound to be more expensive than an ordinary book. For a private individual, £21 may seem like a high price, but for a private tutor or a family in which more than one child will be able to benefit from the book, the cost seems more reasonable. If it results in a student achieving a higher grade, it seems very worthwhile.
AQA GCSE English/English Literature Teacher's Book by Geoff Barton and Joanna Crewe Oxford University Press, 2002 Spiral Bound, 128 pages ISBN 0198318944 Price £21.00 (Amazon Marketplace from £15.99 at the time of writing, June 2008)
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