Now that exams are fast approaching, taking a structured approach to revision can be very beneficial:
…Followed by, a great revision activity I’ve used recently: directed questioning. Students have the poem in front of them (preferably a blank copy this close to the exam). They are then asked a series of questions that directs them through the poem. To reach the next direction, they must identify the line that contains the information described. Here are a set for Extract from a Prelude. They should be armed with a highlighter.
Which word or phrase…?
1. Describes a traditionally romantic time of day?
2. Describes the boat’s ‘home’?
3. Paints the speaker as secretive in his actions?
4. Creates a vivid image of the rippling water?
5. Describes where the speaker fixes his view?
6. Reveals the speaker to be completely alone and isolated?
7. Uses a simile to describe the boat moving through the water?
8. Reflects a dramatic change in tone to paint the scene as powerful and fearful?
9. Tells you that the speaker is frightened and overwhelmed?
10. Reveals the speaker’s mood on returning home?
11. Suggests that the speaker has been effected by the experience?
12. Paints an image of how the speaker views the mountains that surrounded him?
Having revised the poem, we looked at an example comparative paragraph from the beginning of an answer:
Both Wordsworth and Owen use imagery to reflect nature as a powerful force that can challenge people both physically and emotionally. At the beginning of ‘The Prelude’, Wordsworth presents the reader with the romantic image of a “summer evening”; he uses words like “little” to describe his boat and a “rocky cove” as its home which conveys a calmative and peaceful mood. Here, nature asserts its power from its beauty and from its ability to draw the speaker out into the open and away from the shore. In dramatic contrast, Owen attacks the reader with the “merciless iced east winds” and describes how they “knive” the soldiers. In suggesting the winds are “merciless”, Owen personifies it, which echoes the relentless power to inflict harm and suffering it has; unlike the human enemy, it cannot be destroyed. Owen also appears to make reference to the “merciless” ways that soldiers were treated by those in charge – it was not only the battles against men that contributed to the horrors of World War I, but the power of nature’s brutal force as well.
Students may then have a go at writing the next paragraph in the answer. They can make reference to the lines they highlighted in the earlier directed questioning activity. Identifying the AOs/skills in their responses can also be helpful.