Using ICT in the English Classroom

Using ICT in the English Classroom

Literary Hermeneutical Hypertextuality! Two Student Slide Presentations

by Dr. D.S. Greenwood, Head of English, King Edward VIth Grammar School, Chelmsford

As far as the presentation of learning in the A-Level Literature classroom goes, there can be little dispute that slide presentation systems are among the most versatile and helpful ICT approaches yet designed. These can allow able students to present researched and edited materials quickly, colourfully and dynamically, with text and graphics generated by the programme concerned as well as copied and pasted, at will (and as appropriate), from the world wide web. Speaking, listening, reading-aloud, discussion and examination essay-writing skills can all be greatly sharpened and enhanced. The two presentations shown below are exceptionally good examples of the potential of slide presentations in the English classroom.

‘SamPhil’s’ slide presentation – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The 1817 edition of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner already presents
one of the best known and most controversial of all glosses to a literary text. The history of both the redrafting and the interpretation of The Rime is a fruitful and engaging area of study at both school and University level, particularly given the proliferation of readings of (and creative responses to) this very rich text. Even the band Iron Maiden set a very thoughtfully edited version (which draws as much from the gloss as from the text) to their inimitable heavy metal sound!

ICT can allow literature students to join this tradition dynamically and electronically, as they add their hypertextual ‘glosses’, not only to Coleridge’s oddly glossed text, but also in reaction to the glossings of previous interpreters, whether ‘feminist’, ‘neo-historicist’, ‘deconstructionist’, ‘Freudian’ or ‘Christian’, to name but a few.

For this acitvity, pairs of students were asked to explore and evaluate very different, varied readings of the poem, as a part of an A-Level scheme-of-work on the text which highlighted different interpretations. Students then presented their work to the class in the form of a ‘slide-show’, linked to below. One of the most memorable features of this particular show are the well-judged and atmospheric uses made of some of Gustave Dore’s darkly gothic 1870s illustrations to the poem. Sam and Phil have ensured that ICT has facilitated a memorable combination of academically analytical learning with powerful visual stimulus. Enjoy!

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Wilfred Owen’s ‘Exposure’ (by ‘Richard’ and ‘James’)

Owen’s ‘Exposure’ is about the frustration and pre-traumatic stress caused by just waiting for battle. Richard and James have not only electronically glossed Owen’s haunting poem with their own exam essay type comments concentrating on feelings, themes and language, but also with a very appropriate contemporary contextual painting and their own symbolic re-colourings of key lines.

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