One of the Literature pieces that we know we are going to be working through is An Inspector Calls. And even though I am only planning on starting it after Christmas I am already collecting resources so I am going to start sharing photos and thoughts on the resources that we have and then we actually use them I will write update posts.
We got the Oxford Literature Companion and the Oxford Workbook for An Inspector Calls. Now I must admit I knew I wanted to try both of these because my daughter used an Oxford Literature Companion when she read Pride and Prejudice and she really enjoyed having it. She liked the way it helped to break the story done, how it spoke on themes, characters and context so I was hoping that their version of An Inspector Calls would be the same (and I must admit I think it is going to be just as useful). Then I also wanted to try Oxford’s Workbook based on the fact that my daughter used their Workbook for Macbeth and again she really liked that workbook an the way it was structured. In this post I am going to focus on the Literature Companion and next week I will write a post about the Workbook.
I like these Oxford Literature Companions purely because I think they help the kids (and me) gain a much deeper understanding of the text. They do include sample questions and answers, but for me this is about – did we grasp the detail, did we pick up on the fact that the characters did or said x, did we link something that a character said to the social context of the time. And I view the activities that they include throughout the book as a way of getting us to think about certain themes, events or characters. I also really like the fact that they include photographs of the play being performed, I think this is brilliant for visual learners as it helps them to picture the events or characters being discussed. So for us this is something that we will use as we go through the play. This is not about practicing questions, this is about having a deep understanding and I think once you have a deep understanding then you can focus on the questions.
What is included in the Oxford Literature Companion?
It may seem like a small book and you may think, is only 95 pages long is it enough? They really have included everything in this little book.
The first section Plot and Structure takes you through the play episode by episode. It looks at what happens and highlights significance points and explains links. When we used our Pride and Prejudice companion we would often discuss the activities together and when we did we often had those “Oh I get it now” moments, because discussing it with someone else, having to back up why you gave a certain answer really does force you to think it all the way through and it makes you consider the alternatives. Once you get through the Plot section you move onto the structure and I must admit I am thrilled this is included because I felt like I needed some guidance on what we needed to focus on in terms of structure and these 6 pages of structure really helped me getting my thinking in order so I know my daughter is going to find them really valuable.
Context. This is an important section as it gives that depth and meaning to both the events and characters in the play. If you don’t understand the social context you will never truly appreciate the play and what the playwriter was trying to do with his words. I thought this was concise, well worded but also enough detail. An excellent section to read and then re-read.
Then the Characters, this is what I was expecting – a great summary on the characters with some good insights and activities that help to stretch your understanding.
The language section is another section that I really needed and I already know my daughter is going to find this invaluable. For me, the language and structure pages are the ones that I am going to consider gold, just because I find discussing the events, characters and themes more natural than I find discussing language and structure. I knew I needed a bit of a starting point to help me with the language and structure and this has given me that springboard.
Themes. As expected – well worded and explained with some great activities, a few comments did make me think, which I liked.
The Performance. I actually did not know I needed this but these pages are brilliant and really got me thinking about how important the staging and and directing is. Actually vital for this play.
Finally the Skills and Practice section at the end is your “how to answer exam questions” section. There are tips, a few exam type questions with sample answers. This is always going to be very useful and I really appreciate the inclusion of sample answers.
I have mentioned that there are activities scattered throughout the book (they have included a lot) and I said that these activities help to get a deeper understanding of the play. There are also boxes called Upgrade scattered throughout the book, these Upgrade boxes are tips/ advise on answering exam questions and even though I don’t look at this book as a practice exam questions book I have to say that the Upgrade blocks give good advise. I have been really impressed with them.
Okay so that is a brief idea of what is included in the Oxford Literature Companion. As a home educating mom I think this is going to be incredibly useful and I am confident that my daughter is going to find it as well-worded and interesting as she found her Pride and Prejudice Companion.
You can get your Oxford Literature Companion directly from the Oxford University Press site – An Inspector Calls Literature Companion and you can get it from Amazon – Literature Companion for An Inspector Calls. I have not spotted it at our local book stores.
Admin – Oxford University Press kindly sent us a number of books for us to use and potentially write reviews on. I did mention that I was interested in this particular book because both my daughter and I had really enjoyed the Pride and Prejudice version. All opinions expressed are mine. This is NOT a paid for post.
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