GCSE English Lit Shakespeare(79 Posts)
Just got back from Y11 parent's evening and would appreciate your experience of how Shakespare is taught.
DD is top set English in a private school in a class of 12. I queried that they haven't read the whole play (R and J) but as far as I could see fairly limited sections. The reply was that they only needed to read particular scenes that coincided with important themes.
I was shocked. I had discussed with a friend who is a teacher prior to going today and she felt it was not an appropriate approach for top set.
I would like to hear what your experience is.
They do need to read the play if they want the very highest grades. She should be able to read it herself if she's targeted 8's and 9's. There's loads on-line with Shakespeare too.
We read the whole play with all sets at our comp. Our progress 8 score is outstanding.
My ds did GCSE English last year - they didn't read whole texts and focused on key scenes. I think there is just too much to cover.
Dd has read the whole play. She's top set & predicted 7-9
DS2 is in Y11 at a partially selective state school. He is aiming for an 8, but would be content with a 7.
They have read the whole of Macbeth, annotated most of it, created quote banks, and participated in a drama workshop performing selected scenes.
I'm very impressed by the amount of work other students are doing!
ds did lots of work out of school - he acted in a production of Macbeth which really helped him to get to know the text, but English was always a struggle. He got a 6 at GCSE.
I would definitely encourage your DD to read and analyse the whole play - even if it means her doing extra work outside of class, though ideally the teacher shouldn't be treating their exam so casually! DS got a very tricky question for his R+J question last year - something about male aggression which I'm not sure would be considered a "main theme". Definitely don't let her walk in having only read parts of the play.
My DCs actually made us read their Shakespeare plays through as a family (even with props - a butter knife was wielded and a bizarre plastic skull from a past hallowe'en costume...). It was a nightmare but they got A*s/9s so I like to think it wasn't a complete waste...
DS is Year 12 so did GCSEs this year.
His class read the whole play intensively over two weeks or so at the start of Year 10. They may have had to do some of that reading as homework, I don't remember. I just remember they finished it quickly.
They also went to see the play and they watched extracts from other productions and versions of it. And of course they went over the themes, characters and devices
DS was top set English and the majority of pupils in his class got very high grades for English Lit so I guess it worked well for them (although for all I know other approaches would have achieved the same results).
The only thing I'd wonder about if they are just picking segments to examine is how these are identified and taught. Some of the extracts chosen by the examiners this year were a bit obscure or didn't relate to the most obvious themes / main characters. I don't know whether that means pupils absolutely have had to read the whole thing, but it might help them feel more confident if they do.
D did R and J and certainly read it all. She had a very tricky extract, from right at the start, Sampson and Gregory having an argument, it was hardly a main theme! she bemoaned it in the car that night, all the things she had learned she didn't use etc.
So yes, a good plan to be familiar with the whole text. DD got a 9 btw so it panned out Ok
Agree they do need to read the whole thing as you just don't know what's going to come up. Like clary my DD had the tricky extract at from the beginning of R&J. She then went onto build from that point about how tensions built up from that point and managed to get some of her quotes in from later in the book.
All my DC at a Comp read the whole play, and not all were top set.
It did shock me that all Comp pupils have to study Shakespeare’s but the girls at the highly selective private girls school down the road don’t as they do iGCSE.
I would be horrified if they only did extracts and as others have said the exam questions can be a bit obscure.
clary sounds like my DS did the same paper! It definitely wasn't a "main theme" and would be hard to do if that was the first time you'd seen that extract...
It's a normal GCSE.
Thank you so much for sharing all your experiences it's really helpful.
I teach in a school for students with SEMH needs. I would say we read roughly 60-70% of the play. We are studying R+J too. I don't think the students need to read every word of every scene in the original.
For (what I call) the "joining" scenes I tell the students what happened or we watch a stage clip.
They should be doing the whole play in order to be able to answer at the highest level. This is true of the older GCSEs as well although some schools did not do this when Shakespeare was coursework. If doing Macbeth I might only quickly read some of the scenes (the ones I have cut when directing) but we would have covered the entire play. There is enough time and I would certainly expect a private school to be covering the whole play.
We do whole text study of Shakespeare from Year 8 onwards at our school.
Since it is, therefore, the new GCSE, I would say your school is taking a big risk and there's no excuse in a private school with tiny classes really!
I teach in a normal comp with classes of 25. Even with my low ability group I don't dare leave out anything.. I have cut a couple of information scenes and the one where 'the lads' tease the nurse . I have done some scenes in lots of detail. I have been teaching it since September and am meant to be finished. I am on Act 3, scene 4 of Romeo and Juliet and a bit further in Macbeth with a higher ability all girls group because they do homework!
Still going. It takes time to do Shakespeare properly ...
DD1 did Macbeth last year - ordinary state comp, 26 to a class, not set. They absolutely did read the full text. They need to if they want top grades at GCSE! I just asked DD1 and she said things came up in the exam which required them to draw on recurrence of themes throughout the entire play and key scenes would not have covered it. She got 8 in both lang and lit.
Your school is taking a huge risk, OP. I would not be impressed.
I’m shocked that they wouldn’t read the full text for GCSE at top set - I did that for Romeo and Juliet for my Y9 SATS! (Many moons ago).
DD did Macbeth last year - got a 9 - as did most of her class.
SHE read the entire play - they did not go through it all in class though, they stuck to key themes - but they expected the kids to read around the rest of the text themselves and bring in examples of where any seemingly unrelated text fitted into whatever theme they were exploring that lesson...
I do the whole play with all my groups
My colleague who has a bottom set SEN / nurture group does key moments but this is for students with lots of intervention will get a 3/4 if they are lucky (and really shouldn't be beimg entered in my opinion because it is cruel. Much better to get them functional skills and get them ready for college)
I teach the whole text, regardless of ability. We tend to read as a class, then the next day, they spend the first part of the lesson independently analysing a key extract from what was read the day before - good practice for the exams. My set 4 (out of 5) know Much Ado really well.
DS (in a comp) read the whole play in class, in year 8. Seems v.weird not to - especially at GCSE.
As HOD for English at a, very successful, comp I would be outraged if any class had not read the whole play. For top sets it is madness. The AQA question for R and J last exam season showed just how critical that is.
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