4 week project – lesson1

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I have time: precious, beautiful, sparkly time with my year 10s.  Below is the first installment of what we have been up to.

Lesson 1: Best laid plans of … 

My great plans of starting this unit with a kick ass short story were scuppered by a trip and a rounders tournament.  With around half of my usual 32 students out, I couldn’t risk setting the scene with some many absences, so a quickly shuffled pre-opening lesson resulted in my posing this question:


Now my class is bright, very bright.  But they are also teacher pleasers, which is just fine – as they have learnt that vital skill of getting to the root of what a teacher wants and then doing that.  Except in this case, they had no frame of reference.  So – what did I get?

Overwhelming comments like “Good writing – spelling, vocabulary, punctuation” and “grammar”.  Now, don’t be too judgmental.  We have just come out of three months on the OCR Imaginative Writing unit. So we are somewhat “good writing’d” out.

Now – it would have been really easy for me to say “BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT LITERATURE IS ABOUT!” steaming with righteous indignation that the cannon has been reduced to a VCOP checklist.

But where would be learning in that?  Rather then – I gave students some more freedom (eek – yes – controversial) and asked if we were exploring the ideas below, what sort of things would you see?

  • Self
  • Individuality
  • Community
  • Relationships
  • Male identity
  • Female identity

The result was this: not un-thoughtful, but by no means a sophisticated analysis of the ideas. But then, they had nothing to anlayse – so what next?

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Without a great deal of further ado, I showed students this rather odd, silent-ish film – Copyshop.  Asking students, as we watched, to consider one idea and write notes on how that concept was presented in the short film.

If you don’t know the film (and it is worth a watch) it is fairly abstract.  Therefore we spent some considerable time after watching it, working what was going on and if we could really pin it down or whether the meaning was ambiguous.

One interesting discussion stemmed from the question: What literally happens to the man in the Copyshop?

The answer, of course, is that he gets cloned.

My next question was: If cloning is the event that happens in the film, what is the idea behind that? What idea does the cloning of this man reveal?

One student has recently come into her element and after some thought her contribution was “that we are all the same”.   This then segued onto a discussion about government and power, the internal self and the external self.  Students wanted to discuss why the ‘male’ was chosen to be cloned or a not a female? And then comments on the male persona chosen and gender stereotyping and the oddness of replacing the solitary female, with that same male.  We looked at what it means to be part of a community, and yet always isolated.  We realised that all of us are lonely even when we are in a room of people. Fascinating and wholesome stuff.

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Now we were ready to read some kick ass literature.

Lesson 2 – 4 to follow.

Get in contact via twitter if you would like access to any of these lessons and resouces.

Thanks for reading.



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