Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Tiredness of Spotting Techniques

Happy Mock Exam Season!

I have had the pleasure of marking 120 question 2s on GCSE Language Paper 1 and it has given me some interesting things to think about. One thing, in particular, I find interesting is how students ‘contextualise’ or ‘explore’ a writer’s choice. A large swathe of students struggle with this aspect. For them, they are reliant on spotting rather than discussing. These students will spot the word and then spot the effect it creates and then stop there. That’s it. Then, move on to spotting something else. That pattern is repeated again and again in question 2 and question 3 for a lot of students. 
It seems that we are obsessed with repeating the process of spotting things in English. What do you notice about Dickens’ use of words? What do you notice about the opening? We obsess about spotting things. It is everywhere. In an attempt to address this, I have been getting students to do something more with each point

I gave students this sheet as a discussion tool after we had read the ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’ exam paper.   

First, I got them to match some things up. Something from each column. It involved colouring in. Then, I got them to explore how they link together. How does this word link to this effect?  

Even some of weakest students were able to make connections between different aspects. Then, we added another question in the discussion. Why?

Why use that word to link to that effect?
Why use that word to convey that idea?
Why create this mood in relation to this idea?

The ‘but why?’ is something students forget. This generated some detailed exploration of ideas. We weren’t stuck on that spotting element because we were exploring. They made some good paragraphs as a result of the discussion. 

Then, as a further point, I asked students to tell me what was missing from the sheet. What would I need to add to it if I was to remake it again? 

I love reusing a resource as many times as I can. So, I used this resource with both Year 10 and Year 11, but then I used again for structure. As a class, we covered up the spot it section and created our own things to spot about the structure.  

Thanks for reading,



  1. Short but sweet - another post that certainly had me smiling in recognition!

  2. Thank you so much for this nice information. Hope so many people will get aware of this and useful as well. And please keep update like this.

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