I used ‘Holes’ by Louis Sacher (Paahde) with class 6 in the Finnish lessons. I originally planned it with the English teacher, but it hasn't been used in English yet. We posted our plans (see Plan for using 'Holes') and then revised them after reading Alexander's comments. Now I've done the following:


6 lessons   1. Warm-up  2. Introducing/explaining task   3,4,5 Doing the task  6. Presentations, reflection, evaluation.

Overall aims: Content: to make the pupils aware of the differences between different media (book and film), and to help them to understand how the plot of a book and film script can be put together in different ways and told in different ways and styles. Reading and writing practice.

Thinking aims: The overall thinking aim is to help them to see things from different points of view in different situations and for different purposes. In the process they will become familiar with the ENV model and perhaps the multiscreen model and will reflect on how to improve their own work.

In the autumn we read the book as a class (in Finnish) and then we watched the film (with Finnish subtitles).

WARM-UP: INTRODUCTION TO TOPIC / TASK   Aim: to make them think about the similarities and differences between the book and film and between the two media in general.

After watching the film the class listed the positive and negative aspects of the book, and then of the film and after that what was different in the book and film (See Holes: Opinions and Differences between book and film).  If we had had time we would perhaps have made these into an ‘ENV’ to make the differences and reasons for them clearer and to help us with the next task. The element would be clear: the differences. The values would be their suggestions which were based on details. By sorting these values we could come up with parameters, for example as below:-  

E                                                       N                                                   V   

                                            Characters’ appearance       Film: Stanley thinner,other characters different too

 Differences                            Length of Story                 Some scenes left out or shortened 

                                             Language                          They called things by different names.   

                                            Time                                  Film: not jumping back and forth.    

                                            Clarity of expression            Film: More straightforward.

It would be interesting to look at what difference these changes made? Why were they made? How important were they? Did they keep the story the same or did they change it? How do you keep to the story while making changes? What is vital to the story and what  can be left out? We could also have made an ENV of which things stayed the same. This would have plenty of scope, if there was time!

STEP 1: INCREASING ROOM FOR THINKING. THE CHALLENGE. Aim: to show them in practice what’s involved in making a film. To use this to help them see things from a new point of view, having to work with strict limitations and changes in terms of time, location and budget.

TASK: In groups of 4 to make a 10 minute film version of Holes. Within the group they had  to decide on roles:-  THE SCRIPTWRITER: plans the scenes and writes the script. THE CAMERMAN: plans the exact setting and background – how it will look.  THE PRODUCER: plans the finances. Where will they get costumes and  props?. They have an (imaginary) budget of 100 euros.  THE DIRECTOR: the chairman, decides who speaks, helps those having  difficulty and keeps control of the ‘big picture’.

The task was a competition, and there was a prize for the group who made the best script and overall plans, and had also worked best as a team. All the members of each group had to take part and help each other. If someone was not contributing, the others had to ask them questions and encourage them.

LIMITATIONS: Length of film: 10 minutes; Location: Eura; Time for making it: 4 lessons; Content: The film should be as close as possible to the original ‘Holes’ story. Final plans had to be presented to the teacher on an A3 paper.

STEP 2: BUILD THE STAIRS WITH THE LEARNERS When the learners were stuck as to how to start this I gave out the handouts. The handout tables, A and B, can be used for planning. In a way they were tools to help with planning and thinking. Handout A helped in planning any one scene( Holes: ENV of scene, handout A (in Finnish) and Holes: Handout B Overall Plan (in Finnish ), and B could  then be used to see the whole picture. A is basically an ENV of a scene, of how the point of the scene can be put across in a film, and they had to fill it in. It would  have been  good if they could have worked out the parameters themselves, but we only had 4 lessons to do this.

STEP 3: REFLECT ON HOW THE STAIRS HELPED When the pupils presented  their plans to the teacher and class, they all reflected on how well the plan had achieved the aims, keeping to the original story, but working within the limitations given, and they also discussed if, how and why the ‘tools’ (handouts) helped. Which presentation was best and why? How could the presentations be improved? Was there anything missing?  They also reflected on how well their team worked together. Some of their plans can be seen in the materials section with Handouts A and B (link above under Step 2).

When the learners listened to each other’s presentations they noticed immediately some things which were missing, or which wouldn’t work or were unrealistic and were able to explain why. I think this reflection is really the beginning of thinking but I’m not sure how to progress with it. Could it be a good idea to ask each learner to write down what they think they learned in doing this task?

LEARNER REACTIONS AND TEACHER REFLECTIONS A problem I had at the end was that it was a competition, and throughout this I had stressed good team working skills, as well as a good outcome. In the end, one group was easily the best at working as a team, while another, which didn’t seem to work so well, came up with easily the best plan. I haven’t yet decided what to do about my prize. Which group will I give it to? Maybe I should give clear points for different aspects of the task, including team working, and show them exactly how it went, and two of the groups might get a prize. Has anyone any ideas as to help me?

Maybe a competition isn’t the best way to motivate them, but it worked well here and almost all the pupils were enthusiastic throughout. They got down to work at once and really worked hard at solving the problems that  came up. They were very interested in working out how to best use their 100 euros! All the groups found it hard to fit their plans into the space on the handouts, but that was one of the limitations and it helped them to concentrate on the mainb things and not get bogged down by details.

Only two pupils seemed to find the task itself (understanding the overall aim, thinking of ideas) and teamwork very difficult and seemed to give up half way through. I’m not sure what the best way to deal with this problem is. Maybe I could have given them a slightly different, more manageable role within their teams? Should they just have dealt with one small aspect of the whole?  Most of the pupils were very disappointed that we didn’t have time to actually make the films, and of course this would have been great. To do this properly I would need a lot more time than I have.

We won’t have time to do more on this topic, but it would have been great to go on and see if they could improve using the tools by giving them more tasks, new challenges, which would force them to look at things from yet another point of view, for example,

 • make the film suitable for a younger audience

 • make a board game based on the plot and characters of the book.

 • adapt their plans and scripts to make them suitable for an English-speaking audience (in the English class).(In the English class excerpts from the book in English will be used as banks for work on grammar, vocabulary and culture (the next unit is on the USA)).

• make improving actual presentation skills as the focus of the next challenge, or improving scriptwriting skills in particular. These would need different ‘tools’ to help.

 All these possible new challenges would take us back to Step 1 of the Thinking Task Framework.

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