A Classroom Exchange

The following is from a recent lesson.

Me: Okay, so question one was, ‘Why do writers use alliteration? Who can tell me? Actually no- I want you to chant this in unison. What’s the wrong answer to this question?


Me: Well done. So what’s the actual answer?

George: To draw attention to a particular word or phrase.

ME: Whose attention?

George: The reader’s.

Me: Okay. So, why do writers use alliteration?

George: To draw the reader’s attention to a particular word or phrase.

Me: Well done George. Christian, can you tell me a novel where we’ve seen a great example of alliteration?

Christian: To Kill a Mockingbird.

Me: Well done. And what was the example? Catherine?

Catherine: A  dog suffered on a hot summer’s day.

Me: Get rid of hot.

Catherine: A dog suffered on a summer’s day.

Me: Well done. Right, next question. And I’ll be impressed if you get this. What’s epistrophe?

David: When you repeat a sentence in a paragraph?

Me: Not quite David. Halfway there. Sort of. Chesney?

Chesney: Is it like anaphora but reversed?

Me: Okay, but what’s anaphora?

Chesney: Is it repetition of a phrase?

Me: How do you mean?

Chesney: I don’t know.

Me: Anaphora is a phrase that is repeated at the beginning of successive clauses, lines or paragraphs. So what’s epistrophe Chesney?

Chesney: Repeated phrases at the end of lines?

Me: Lines, clauses, or paragraphs. Do you all remember now?

(Audible murmur of excitement)

Me: Where have we seen epistrophe used to good effect?

Allegra: Julius Caesar.

Me: Yes, and what phrase is used this way?

Catherine: Brutus is a noble man?

Me: Close, but not quite. Anyone else?

Freya: Brutus is an honourable man?

George: Sir, isn’t that also irony?

Me: Yes it is! Wow, I forgot I’d taught you that! What’s irony?

George: When a writer says one thing, but means another. Does he use it to mug Brutus off?

(Class laughs)

Me: Ha! Yes he does! But what’s a better way of putting that? David?

David: He says it to make the audience realise how ridiculous the statement is?

Me: How do you mean?

David: Well, by constantly repeating it, it starts to sound silly. And the audience will maybe start to doubt it?

Me: I think that’s a good answer. Well done. Who remembers what ‘sibilance’ is?

Nile: Is it when people use alliteration?

Me: Ssssibilance Nile.

Nile: Oh! It’s when you get a repeated ‘s’ sound.

Me: Okay, and why do writers use it?

Nile: It can make people sound evily.

Me: What’s a better word than evily?

Nile: Evil.

Me: Thank you Nile. Right class. Tell me the wrong answer in unison please: What’s a rhetorical question?


Me: Ha! Brilliant.  Right answer please?

Lacey: A rhetorical question is a question designed to make the listener think, or to make a point.

Me: Brilliant. Moving on to what we covered last lesson. What’s ‘denotation’?

Alexia: Denotation is when something is shown to be what it actually is.

Me: And connotation?

Alexia: What it makes you think of?

Me: Can someone tighten that up for me please?

Julia: A connotation is something that is suggested by an image.

Me: Just an image?

Julia: Oh! And a word.

Year 7, ladies and gentlemen.

(Julius Caesar, epistrophe, irony, and rhetorical questions were studied 5 weeks prior to this conversation taking place. Sibilance was studied 2 months prior to this conversation taking place. Alliteration in To Kill a Mockingbird was studied 5 months prior to this conversation taking place.)


Author: PositivTeacha

Whole School Literacy Coordinator and Lead Practitioner

2 thoughts on “A Classroom Exchange”

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