Matilda and Holes in yr 6 English  (see , Books and Films, Matilda and Holes, for overall aims: making an extract from a book into a scene in a film. )

Content aim: Using a Roald Dahl poem to introduce the vocabulary and the topic and for being able to talk about books and films in English.

Thinking aim: Using sorting tasks with the aim of making pupils aware of some of the  similarities and differences between films and books.

Materials: The poem used was ‘TV’ from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl.

It rots the senses in the head!

It kills all action dead!

It clogs and clutters up the mind!

It makes a child so dull and blind!

He can no longer understand,

A fantasy, a fairyland!

His brain becomes as soft as cheese!

His powers of thinking rust and freeze!

He cannot think - he only sees!

STEP 1:  I think this isn’t really Step 1 as it’s actually using the poem as a springboard for introducing the topic of books and films and will lead to the larger challenge the learners will be presented with in the Finnish class. The content of Matilda deals with books vs tv and the class will be looking at Matilda in book and film format.

Introduction to the poem and vocabulary. I wrote some words on the board(the underlined ones):-

rot                  kill            clog        clutter           dull             rust            freeze

an apple      a person      a sink      a desk          a film           metal            food                        a tree         an animal      a pipe     a room        weather         a car           fingers                    

They knew most of the words – only clog and clutter were new. We listed under each word what things they could refer to (their suggestions) and they also suggested what all the words might have in common. They found this hard, but all agreed that the words referred to something negative, to do with dying or not working properly or being unhealthy. In a way this was like ENV but the element wasn’t clear.

‘Mini-Challenge’ We then read the poem, without its title, and the pupils had to suggest what it might be about. In a way this was a challenge as they just had no idea at all and as a ‘tool’ I asked them to look at the vocabulary  ‘list’ and suggestions we’d made already, and to see if they could think up more suggestions which might give them ideas. Of course it was hard for them to think that these words could be used figuratively, but gradually one or two began to get ideas. They suggested the title might be Drugs, Sleeplessness and someone suggested School. I didn’t particularly react to this, being too caught up in what I was planning to do, but now I think that it could have lead to a very fruitful discussion – why school? What about school is described in the poem? ‘His powers of thinking rust and freeze!’ Just what we’re trying to improve! In the end I told them it was TV and they were open-mouthed, ‘Why?’ As we discussed it I realised that this poem is a bit out of date. These pupils watch what they want on TV, no more, and almost certainly spend more time on computers, so it’s not relevant in the same way. What they do is to watch films a great deal and we talked about that, but they didn’t agree that it was bad for them in the way suggested in the poem. I now realise that this could also have lead to more ‘thinking’. Maybe they could have got one point for finding reasons why watching films is good for you, and two points for why it might be bad for you, and/or we could have had a mini debate. However, as usual there wasn’t time and I went on with what I’d planned, which was giving them a group of words to sort into two groups.

The group of words they had to sort were on a handout (see materials section: Books and films, sorting task).  They did this in pairs and had to spend time first looking up quite a lot of words. After that they found it hard to make two groups, but did come up with some interesting ones, like ‘Things which need electricity and things which don’t’!

Only two pairs decided on books and films. Their homework was then to make a third group out of the two they had already (my idea was that they would find words which can refer to both films and books) and to fill in a Films and books, questionnaire (see materials section) about reading books and about films, to personalise the theme and to find out their opinions on these.

This was all leading up to making an ENV about the differences between books and films / reading and watching, which would be made in the Finnish class. In a way we were making the tool before giving the actual challenge. 

I'll reflect on this lesson at the end of the Books and films, English, lesson 2 entry.




# Renata Jonina 2011-10-27 21:35
Thank you for sharing, Susan! Could you please also share the procedures of students doing sorting (words used in the handout)? When they tried to sort the words what sorting principle did they use? Did you help them if they were stuck? If yes, then how?
# Alexander Sokol 2011-12-11 16:42
I think in the way this lesson was structured, there was lots of room for deeper thinking aims. In fact, what the pupils were doing is reconstructing the element from the description via parameters and values. This is what we've got to do in the context of real-problem solving - we are looking for something (we don't know what it is) and construct its image step by step through parameters and values. Being able to do it requires quite a few skills and this lesson seems a good context for mastering them. In fact, having ENV based descriptions in an explicit way would have been helpful for evaluating the quality of ideas proposed by the learners (egif it's school, how many parameters and in which way does it satisfy, etc.).
What I am trying to say that we should be less modest in terms of both language and thinking aims. I feel that what we set as aims can sometimes be reached in a fairly simple way.
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