SHANNON teachers Laura O’Brien and David O’Halloran have collaborated on a new school book.
It is called Junior Cycle Success for English and is part of a series of Junior Cycle revision books produced by Examcraft.
David teaches at St Patrick’s Comprehensive, while Laura teaches at St Caimin’s and describing the new publication, she said, “It covers all the usual topics, going through sample questions from the paper. It gives two answers, a middle of the road answer and a full marks answer and it shows why one answer got five out of ten and the other one got ten out of ten.”
She says it is one of the few books in the area that is fully up to date.
“It’s one of the only things out at the moment that’s for the new Junior cycle, most of the revision books that are out are for the old Junior Cert.”
The two worked together at St Caimin’s some time ago, and when David was approached to write such a book he brought Laura on board.
“Dan Sheedy is the connection (with Examcraft), he worked with David before, he approached David to see if he’d like to do the English revision book, David suggested me as we were friendly, and that’s how it came about.”
Although they are friends, they had to be frank while working on the book.
“We divided up the topics and went off and did our sample answers, then we put them through the filter of each other. That can be interesting, we’re friends, but we were critiquing each other’s work, and you have to accept that.
“Then it goes through another filter with Exam Craft. I’d say it started in October of 2021, so it was a year and a bit in the works.”
She feels two heads were better than one when it came to writing a book of this kind. “Definitely. Even at the proofing stage it’s very hard to see your own mistakes and also you can play to each other’s strengths. We complemented each other well, and it certainly was quicker.”
A lot of work went into the book, but she says it was worth it.
“It was hard work, but I’m very proud of the finished product. There were a lot of hours of blood, sweat and tears. You do learn about making answers that will be universally accessible, not just for my students in Caimin’s.
“I’ve learned a lot from writing it. Dealing with my own students, I know that they know what I mean. But students in Wicklow wouldn’t know what I’m on about if I referenced something I talked about in class. It has to be universal.”
Laura also feels the work has made her a better teacher.
“I think so. You get a really good knowledge of the marking scheme, what makes a really good answer, the detail needed, the trends on the exam paper, the types of questions that come up and the curve balls that can be thrown. You develop a really good awareness of those things.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.