Teaching and Practising Big Ideas: Jekyll and Hyde

Students who get the highest grades at GCSE literature write essays that are focused on abstract and conceptual ideas. Teaching and practising analytical introductions is one way of ensuring that their writing is pitched at such a level. Teaching them an efficient process for answering an examination question is also crucial.

Here is a list of some of the big ideas that students can write about in response to Jekyll and Hyde:

Here is a downloadable word doc version

I usually use this at the end of a unit and from then onwards as a revision tool. Each of the bullet points is a potential paragraph or section of an essay. Here is a list of some useful approaches:

Building Understanding

  1. I annotate it under a visualiser, asking students to copy my annotations onto their copy or asking student to suggest annotations.

2. I ask them questions about the annotations using think-pair-share

3. I ask students to turn the annotations into extended writing, focussing on one row.

4. We discuss them. What does this mean? Which is the most important bullet point for answering the question words in the left hand column? Is there a big idea that is missing here? Do you disagree with any of these? If you were writing an essay using these bullet points, which order would you write the paragraphs in and why? (this gets students thinking about connections between big ideas)

5. Ask them to write an analytical introduction using the bullet points

Retrieval Practice: Strengthening Memories and Recall

  1. Ask students to annotate it themselves from memory
  2. Ask them to think of quotations that fit each bullet point
  3. Ask them to write an explanation of a bullet point or section
  4. Ask them to list the bullet points that fit specific question words
  5. Ask them to write an analytical introduction from memory
  6. Ask them which question words the bullet points match (can they remember the stuff in the left hand column)

All of the retrieval activities should be accompanied with instant corrective feedback so that students can plug the gaps in their knowledge; additionally, teachers can use information from these retrieval activities to ascertain which topics the class need additional help with.

Once we have finished the initial teaching unit for Jekyll, we can then keep returning to these big ideas, using the approaches above to ensure that students are able to recall and apply what they have learned.

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Short Stories 6

This is the sixth post in this series; you can find the others here: one, two, three, four, five

Here are some more short stories that I have enjoyed reading and teaching:

1. Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

In 1950’s Harlem, a man discovers that his younger brother has been arrested for selling Heroin. Upon his release from prison, the younger brother is taken in by the man to live with him. This powerful story explores brotherly love and how anger and a lack of opportunity can lead to darkness.

2. I Bought a Little City by Donald Barthelme

The narrator acts like a creator, detailing how he is remaking and rebuilding the landscape of Galveston. Can a utopian society be created? Can the people be placated and manipulated? This story explores the limitations of power and control.

3. The Bet by Anton Chekov

Which is worse: the death penalty or live imprisonment? A young man and a banker make a life changing bet in order to find out.

4. The Burrow by Franz Kafka

Written shortly before his death, The Burrow follows a fossorial mammal as it attempts to strengthen, refine and realise its subterranean realm. The animal is plagued by delusion, anxiety and the threat of invasion as it strives to create and justify its elaborate creation. Is it an exploration of his illness and hypochondria or an extended metaphor for the difficult relationship between writer and reader?

5.Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver

A story that is both short and shocking. A couple fight, arguing over their possessions.

6. Blood Child by Octavia Butler

An intelligent race of aliens dominates and exploits humans, using them as hosts for their eggs. This disturbing tale explores love, power and interdependence.

7. A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

Emily Grierson is an eccentric old woman who is the subject of gossip for the townspeople of Jefferson. As Southern society slowly creaks forwards and begins to change, she remains, symbolising tradition and the old social order.

8. There Was Once by Margaret Atwood

Two characters talk: one attempts to write a story and the other interrupts, questioning and criticising the choices made by the other. This story explores the process of writing and the often difficult relationship between writer and reader.

9. Signs and Symbols by Vladimir Nabokov

A married couple visit their son in a psychiatric ward. Their son suffers from ‘referential mania’, a delusion where he imagines that everything within existence is a shrouded reference to himself: he sees patterns, signs and self-referential symbolism in the most mundane of things. Is Nabokov satirising interpretation itself? Is analysis a futile pursuit or is it the very essence of existence?