#SpeedPD: Teaching a Tricky Text

Difficult text

It’s the thing we all dread as English teachers: doing that difficult poem or play or novel with a class. The one we don’t like, but have to teach anyway because it’s on the GCSE English Literature syllabus. So, what can we do to make it more bearable for ourselves? Try these top five tips:

  • Make a list of five good things about the text. They might not be groundbreaking – it could even be ‘it’s short’! But force yourself to focus on the positives.
  • Use someone else’s resources. Ask a colleague, or get onto the Twinkl site to see if they have some worksheets or even a whole SoW. We’re updating our secondary English resources daily and many GCSE English Literature and Key Stage 3 texts are now covered.
  • Think about different ways you could approach this text. Could you deliver it as a drama-based unit? Perhaps try some cross-curricular links to liven it up a little? Frankenstein, for example, can work well if you have a friendly Science teacher willing to add some practical colour!
  • Which bits do you need to focus on? Yes, ideally students should read the whole text, but what are the key passages? Can you align these with the specific exam AOs?
  • Set yourself a time limit – and stick to it! Remember, you can always revisit the text later in revision sessions. But if you have said you will be done by Christmas, make sure that you are. Sometimes, it’s easier to approach these things in bitesize chunks!

Above all, remember that you are a subject specialist but not a saint. It’s OK not to like everything on the GCSE exam syllabus. You’ve got this.

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