Teaching Silas Marner at KS3/ Y9

Teaching George Eliot at secondary school level can be quite a challenge. Working with our partners the George Eliot Fellowship and local English teachers in the Midlands we’ve co-designed 12 lessons on George Eliot’s Silas Marner aimed at Y9 (13yr olds).

Our focus – thanks to the input of beacon teacher Wendy Lennon – is an enquiry question: ‘What is Community?’ Project Teaching and Research Associate, Colette Ramuz (an experienced secondary school head of English) has led the development of resources. The pack has been designed to build KS3 students’ analysis skills, to foster communication skills and, more specifically, to help prepare your students for GCSE English Literature Papers 1 and Paper 2. There are cross-curricular links with Art, History, Geography, RE and PSHE. The lessons have been designed with depth and detail to challenge top sets but are readily adaptable with alternative tasks for lower sets.

   Individual lesson folders contains a 1 page outline Scheme of Work, a slide show for the class, and extracts from the text which form the focus of close work each session. Lesson 1 comes with a package of background notes on Eliot, her novella Silas Marner, and its contexts.

Thanks to the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, these resources are all free and open to reuse. We would also like to thank Simon Winterman, Allisha Miller, Wendy Lennon, Roberta Gillum, and the George Eliot Fellowship as well as Teacher Hub at the Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of London, for all their support.

We welcome feedback on these resources, how you plan to use them and what changes they make to how you approach teaching texts of this period. We will send a free copy of the DVD of the 1985 BBC adaptation starring Sir Ben Kingsley to the first 10 users who answer these four brief questions by email to colette.ramuz@rhul.ac.uk. We are also happy to share a single zip file for the scheme of work on request which we can’t do on WordPress – hence the multiple downloads!

  • How do you intend to use these resources?
  • Has this set of resources changed your thinking about approaching this text?
  • What might you do differently as a result of looking at these resources?
  • Will the approach taken in these resources change your teaching practice/planned teaching in any way?

Lesson 1: What is Community? Introducing George Eliot’s Silas Marner

Lesson 2: Silas’s Communities

Lesson 3: Money

Lesson 4: Family

Lesson 5: Objects

Lesson 6: Speech and Accent

Lesson 7: Gender

Lesson 8: Community and Change

Lesson 9: Loneliness and Secrets

Lesson 10: The Ending

Lesson 11: Courtroom Drama: Eppie’s Community

Lesson 12: Assessment

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