Lessons - MissWoodEnglish

S4 Personal / Reflective
It’s all about ME!
5 adjectives which describe me best
5 adjectives others would use to describe
3 of my strengths
3 of my weaknesses
3 major experiences that have shaped me
Which of these experiences reveals
something essential about me?
What is that something?
Details and descriptions
Because your memories are important to you,
when you bring them to mind they will be full of
tiny details, things you noticed at the time.
Many of these details might not be very important
in themselves, but they become important because
they bring that memory to life.
The most forbidden of places was my father’s bedside drawer. I
had never been told not to go there; I just knew it was out of
bounds. A secret place. An ivory coloured drawer set in a glossy
black table, gold handle, its perfect patina interrupted only by a
ring burned in the top by a hot mug. My mother’s, on the other
hand, was an open book. A jumble of tissues and hairpins,
powder compacts and sweets. Home to one of the many Ventolin
inhalers tucked discreetly around the house.
His drawer was neat, and smelled of the cortisone cream he
smoothed into his hands in the autumn when each year a weird
rash would flare up. There were several opened tubes of Setlers.
There were several menus of dinners he had been to, often with
the signatures of those who had attended inside.
Setlers were as much a part of my dad’s DNA as his pipe and his
Daily Telegraph. The chalky white tablets went everywhere with
him; half and quarter packets were in every jacket pocket,
including the one in his suede waistcoat, and in the glove box of
the car. Ten times a day he would rub his sternum and tear
another strip of wrapper off his indigestion pills.
This short passage is stuffed with
tiny details.
We know exactly what each of Nigel
Slater’s parents kept in their bedside
drawers, and what one of the table
tops looked like.
We know all about his father’s
addiction to indigestion tablets.
TASK - Now try this…
Read the following extract from Chris Stewart’s book
The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society.
As you read it, highlight the small details which make it
seem vivid and convincing.
Annotate where you come across any use of:
Visual Imagery
Sound Imagery
Long sentences, short sentences, lists etc…
Exciting verbs, adjectives
Use of the 5 senses
At the beginning of the year, my daughter Chloe and I
decided that we had to get fit, and that the best way to
do this would be to create a running track in the riverbed.
We go there every evening now and our pounding feet
have marked out a fairly clear circuit.
The grass is long and makes a pleasant thripping noise as
you race along, and in spring the ground is sprinkled with
dandelions and daisies which grow so dense that, through
half-shut eyes, you might be running though a field of
cream. The track, however, remains just a bit too rustic
for a good sprint. You have to be careful to hop over the
thistles, skip to avoid an ankle-cracker of a stone, and cut
close to the broom bush on the third turn while ducking
to avoid a poke in the eye. The second turn is between
the third and fourth euphorbia bushes and the start and
finish is at the tamarisk tree where we hang our
sweaters. The going is soft sandy turf.
As we returned from our run the other night Chloe called
me excitedly to the gate. I turned back and looked
where she was pointing. There, battling its way across
the track was a dung beetle.
This particular beetle had lost its jet—black shine under
a thick covering of dust. It was steering a ball of dung
with its back legs, while it scrabbled for purchase with
its horny front legs. Progress was unthinkably difficult as
the ground was rough, and of course it was quite unable
to see where it was going, head down, facing away from
the desired direction of travel. The ball kept going out of
control and rolling over the poor creature, yet without so
much as a moment to dust itself down, the beetle picked
itself up and patiently resumed rolling on its intended
Choose one of your major experiences
from the beginning of the lesson.
Write a list of words/ phrases you could
use in your writing of the event to help
make THE SETTING descriptive.
Bring in an object which brings back memories
Foreign coin
Old toy
Old item of clothing
Show and tell
Show each other your memory joggers
and describe the memories they recall.
In a grid make notes of what you
remember thinking about:
Who, what, why, where and when
Laurie Lee extract
Read pages 91 and 92 of the Higher language
Read back through the passage noting all the
similarities and differences between Granny
Trill and Granny Wallon.
Answer questions (a) and (d)
Think about a time during your
childhood that is vivid – you could use
your memory jogger to help you.
Try to remember a time before you were
ten years old. Questions are going to be
asked of you: write whatever comes into
you head.
Think about this vivid time, write
Think about this vivid time,
write down:
Someone who meant a lot to you
Someone you admired
Your favourite teacher
Someone or something you were
scared of
Someone who was your friend
Someone who was you enemy
Something you remember wearing
A game or toy you remember
A place which meant a lot to you
An event that sticks in your mind
A visit you remember
A food you liked
A food you hated
A TV programme you watched
A song you remember
A smell you associate with that
A colour you associate with that
A sound you associate with that
Now take one of these memories
and expand it. For example, take
your favourite teacher.
Ask yourself the following questions.
Again, write down the first thing
that comes into your head.
Write down three ways that describe their
Write down three ways that describe their
Write down three ways that describe their
Write down three ways that describe their
Write down three ways that describe their
Write down three ways that describe their
Write down something they used to say
Write down three things you associate with
their classroom
Write down the most important thing they
taught you (reflection)
Write down three things to describe how
they made you feel (reflection)
Write down three reasons why they were
your favourite teacher (reflection)
Monday 10th
Go over homework
Practise planning
The reflective part of writing…
What the examiners (and Miss Wood) are looking for…
1. “Write about a favourite toy you remember from your
You must use a least five
of the sections you filled out for
Remember, you do not have to write something which is historically
accurate! You can embellish!
Toy – My Sylvanian family bus. It had a little picnic basket and benches you could
tuck away on the bus. Used to lay it out with all my other Sylvanian toys to make a
massive village.
Given by someone who meant a lot to me – my grandparents couldn’t get to the
island that Christmas.
Lived in a house where I was sometimes scared – was in the attic where I could hear
with wind howling at night and I was afraid of eyes watching me.
Present was given to me on a Christmas that sticks in my mind. Wasn’t my best
Christmas – grandparents couldn’t make it up North so only four of us –me,
brother, mum and dad. Dad read “A night before Christmas to me” which was my
favourite family tradition but I woke up in the middle of the night when a balloon
popped in my room (when I KNEW that Santa didn’t exist). Christmas day mum
and dad had steaming row over Balldersdash! Resulted in not really playing games
Favourite teacher, Mrs Mackay, asked us to bring in best Christmas toy.
At break time someone I was afraid of, Mhairi Finlayson, took my toy away from me
– I called her baby face Finlayson after a character in the Dandy and got I trouble.
Think I was being rather clever at the time!
Still have the bus – I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Have a large collection and
like the idea of handing it onto a child of my own. Sentimental reminders of
childhood in Harris – no computer games, just very imaginative.
On your own plan the following personal/reflective essays.
You must use a least
five of the sections you filled out in activity
Remember, you do not have to write something which is historically
accurate! You can embellish!
1.“Stage Fright”
Using this as a title, write about a personal experience.
2.. “A gamble that paid off?”
Write about a time you took a chance…..
The Reflective part of writing
Have a look at these two
examples of text.
I had arranged to meet my friends at ten
o'clock. I left the house at half nine and
walked to the bus stop. I had to wait twenty
minutes because the bus was late. Eventually I
got to town.
It was with excitement and some nervousness
I set off to meet my friends in town at the
agreed time. As luck would have it the bus was
late - this day of all days!
What is the difference?
The two texts are about the same
experience. Yet the second one has a
sense of reflection, thinking back
over the event. It is not just a list of I
did this, then this, then this
To think in depth about what the
experience meant to you.
“I realised that he wasn’t really trying to
annoy me – he was trying to attract my
To be aware of your own feelings/reactions
and understand why you have reacted,
behaved or felt that way.
“I know now that I was overreacting
because …”
Reflective Phrases
Looking back…
On reflection…
With hindsight..
In retrospect…
Nowadays I
If I could do this
I learned…
I realsie….
I could have…
I wish that….
Because of this I am….
Since this happened….
When I think back on
At the time I…but now….
Now that I’ve been through
This made me think
This experience shaped me
Re-writing an example essay
Together let’s look at an example essay.
We are going to break up and re-write it sentence by
sentence and put it back together.
SHOW don’t tell
Add descriptive detail –
Reflect where appropriate
What would be an effective title for this essay?
As I stood boarding the train I felt hot and dizzy because it was a cold winter day.
My mum took my hand and led me onto the train and to find our seats. We
were going to Glasgow for the day.
Our seats were opposite an automatic door and I sat at the window seat. There
were frosty leaves on the trees like a light dusting of icing sugar. There were
lots of birds dancing about on the leaves shaking some of their icing sugar
down to the ground to cover smaller plants.
The train stopped a lot to pick up passengers from places I didn’t know existed.
The door opposite me opened each time and I listened to the noises it made
every time it opened and closed.
We came to a place that was the middle of nowhere, when a voice from a speaker
said that we were to feel free to get up, out of the train and stretch our legs.
I didn’t know if I needed to stretch my legs but my mum wanted to. She got up
first and I followed. We didn’t have far to walk because the door opposite us
was open again. I felt a breeze. Mum made a joke of jumping off the train
onto the grey platform and I was going to follow because it seemed okay but
then came sound, of the train starting to move. I was confused. She put her
hands on the doors and tried to talk to me.
I started thinking about what would happen next. An older woman on
my right tried to calm me down and reassure me. There was also a
woman standing next to my mum trying to find someway to open
the doors. She looked like she was trying to reassure mum. I just
stared at my mum and although she was trying very hard to hide her
worry I could tell she was just as worried as me. I couldn’t move.
The sun was shining making me agitated.
Then the doors opened and my mum leapt onto the train. She hugged
me tighter than I can ever remember and I was happy. The woman
who was outside with my mum came onto the train and asked if I
was alright now but I just nodded because I was safe now and held
mum tight as if I was worried the whole incident might happen
When we got back to our seats I became very aware of how many people
were watching but I didn’t care. Mum and I talked about what could
have happened and joked a little bit about each others reaction but I
will never forget the day because, even though the train doors
opened, my mind had taken me to a place where my mum was lost, I
couldn’t find her and I was able to see what it would be like if the
train did move away from the platform to begin my journey alone.
Try to make the reader (the marker) share in the experience
or feeling you are trying to describe.
Write your essay with an overall emotion in mind happiness, excitement, fear, sorrow and plan language and
structure to match.
Don't weaken the impact of your writing by including
boring details. If it's not going to add to the feeling or
insight you want to create why put it in?
As with all types of writing the marker will look at overall
standard of language so don't forget the basics - spelling,
punctuation, sentences and varied paragraphs.
Marking Criteria
Grade 1 will be a well crafted, stylish
account and will deploy a range of skills to
express perceptiveness and self-awareness
and to achieve or create effects.
Grade 2 account will be soundly
constructed and show a measure of insight
and self-awareness expressed accurately.
Grade 2 may not be succinct but will be
Have a go at being a teacher..
Using the marking criteria:
Read over the essay once.
Re-read the essay.
Decide on a more fitting title.
Mark the piece, taking time to praise
where it is successful, but, more
importantly, highlighting mistakes and
suggesting improvements.
You should select any
experience which lets you go
beyond a simple retelling of
events and allows you to
reflect on what happened, to
show "self-awareness".
Possible Topics
Myself as others see me.
The strangest thing that has ever happened to me.
I wear what I like and I like what I wear – what does your
image mean to you?
My attitude to money and how it has changed.
An event/person which has most shaped who I am.
A time when I felt vulnerable.
The most important point I want to
make is….
The effect I want to have on the reader
I want the tone of my writing to be:
❏ serious ❏ humorous ❏ narrative ❏
descriptive ❏ expository ❏ other
TASK - Now try this…
Take a new sheet of paper, at least A4 size. At the top write
the task you have chosen.
Then divide the rest of the page into 4 squares with headings
as shown on the next page.
Your title goes here
The basic story
Thoughts and feelings
Details and description
Then use the four squares to plan what you want to put in to
your piece of work.
Key words, phrases or bullet points will do fine.
It’s probably easiest if you start with the top left box, where
you slot in the rough outline of the story that you’re telling.
Then go on and fill in the other boxes.
Successful Openings …
Begin with a dramatic or unusual first line;
Immediately grab the attention of the reader;
Set the tone of the piece of writing;
Begin at an interesting moment in your personal
Make the reader want to carry on reading!
1. Make your reader imagine
Imagine that you’re supposed to be enjoying a nice lunch with your
mum. You haven’t seen her for a while and she’s chattering away,
telling you the latest gossip from home. Meeting up with her is like
finally reaching a water-hole in the desert. You drink up the little
snippets about the neighbours’ dog Max, who barks all morning
and scares the little girl down the road. However, you can’t escape
the feeling that there’s something more going on behind her
animated tales. Her fingers are locked together tightly, as if she’s
holding herself together. She’s been in bits since he left, it really
hasn’t been very long and the initial wound is still raw. She looks
so small and vulnerable. Imagine that this fragile little woman
finally let it all out. Imagine that she told you the truth about what
That’s the situation I found myself in at the end of my first year
at university.
2. Set the Scene
The ham sandwiches had just arrived and the
waitress was placing them on our table, when my
world changed forever. We thanked the girl and
watched as she zig-zagged through the bustling café.
Mum had been giving me a run down of the latest
gossip from back home. I’d been doing my best
‘wow, I’m-so- glad- you- told- me- about- the- oldlady- from- down- the- street- who- used- to- pat- meon- the- head- when- we- passed look. I’d simply
been trying to change to subject when I mentioned
that I’d seen dad the day before. I shouldn’t have
mentioned his name. I should’ve seen it coming. I
heard mum’s quick intake of breath and then was
caught by her doleful look.
3. Describe How You Felt
The punch to my gut seemed to come from nowhere
and caught me completely off guard. I stared at my
assailant; my mum’s face was frozen. I knew that I
should be saying something, thinking something, but
I was unable to produce any reaction to the news. A
thick blanket seemed to have wrapped itself around
me, it’s protective warmth was close against my
skin. My fingers clung to the edge of the table,
holding on for dear life. I gave up on searching for a
suitable, or even honest response to my mother’s
previous statement. Instead I observed the strange
thrum of blood through my temples and the trembling
that had begun in my fingertips.
4. Writing a Reflective Opening
A lot of people would probably say ‘success’ is
measured in pounds. Big houses, shiny cars, jumbosized TVs. Open any magazine and you will see it:
plastic celebrities showing off their latest bling and
living it up. For a while, I thought that achieving
something meant having lots to show for it. Then I
had an opportunity to do something which made
me realise ‘success’ is much harder to measure,
but means so much more.
In other words…
Refer to what you think ‘most’ people would
consider the meaning success/fear/failure etc.
Begin to introduce what it means to you.
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I
think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport. General
opinion makes out that we live in a world of hatred and
greed I don't see that. It seems to me that love is
everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or
newsworthy but it's always there. Fathers and sons,
mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends,
girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin
Towers, none of the phone calls from people on board
were messages of hate or revenge, they were all messages
of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll
find that love actually is all around.'
Checklist for the opening
Is it clear that this is personal?
Have you made it clear what idea/emotion is the
focus of your writing?
Is it clear what lesson you learned?
Make sure that you have used key words/phrases
e.g. happiest, most frightening etc OR
responsibility, pride, friendship, team work.
Reminder – Show not Tell
As I looked up at him, he seemed to grow taller. The shadow
he cast over me was cold and unwelcoming, made even worse
by his icy stare.
I was certain my head was about to explode. Looking at him,
I clenched my fist so tight that my nails were digging into my
palm. He looked so smug, that grin snaking its way across his
face. I wanted to wipe that grin off his face.
It seemed like time had stopped. I stood there, unable to
accept what had just happened. It was my name they called,
wasn’t it? Could this be real? As I put my hand to my face, I
was almost shocked by the size of my smile. Someone was
shaking my hand, and it took a moment for me to get a grip
and utter, ‘Thanks!’
Reading our own openings to an
TASK: ‘Myself
An entire dramatic company.’
The roles I play in life.
Cast List (note the aptness of the title)
OPENING: Shakespeare gives a man seven roles to play. But
he’s considerate; they come one by one, not all at once. They
each have their little space of time allotted to them. Me- my
roles contradict, my repertoire is vast. I can play them all at
once or one after another; I can give you whole speeches
extempore. ‘All the worlds’ a stage’; but the audience will
gladly ignore you if you don’t play your part. I won’t play to
an empty house, I won’t be on my own. I can play a clown,
a hero, a lover, a wise man, a fool. I can sing and jig, I can
sermonise and weep, I can tell funny stories and have you
laughing at me, with me, for me, against me. I know my part
so well that I believe it implicitly – a keen student of the
Method, I, I get inside the skin of every role……
ENDING: Am what’s my role just now? A combination of
them all? Or is the writer another of them, are these really
my thoughts here? I think they are, but I’m an imperfect
judge. They may be thoughts of a character I’ve created –
the best drama is the one we write for ourselves. My people
dance around my brain; when I’m writing They take turns
who shall guide the pen, who shall wave their hands in front
of my eyes.
There must come a time when I can play myself. It’s not
come for years; it may never come. And can I do it anyway?
I’ve been acting for ten or eleven years now. It becomes a
habit. When I take all my make-up off, drop my accent, stop
the character walk, what will be left? I’m frightened. I don’t
know what’s there.