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Posts Tagged ‘close reading’

Like a lot of things, ANZAC Day has taken on a different shape and form this year.

As Week 3 looms, you might be feeling a distinct lack of energy for planning this long weekend. Below are some ideas for remote teaching and learning about ANZAC Day – relevant, timely and ready to go.

My short film viewing lessons are for junior secondary/Year 11. The links at the end take you to sites with a compilation of ideas/resources which also feature ideas for younger learners.

The short film Falling Sparrows (directed by Murray Keane) is available on the NZ On Screen website. You might need to supply students with a resource around film terms first. They could make a Kahoot, Quizlet or cross word to share with you. Students then watch the film, answer the following focus questions, then discuss in a group meet. Open with the question from the film’s synopsis: What do you think about the statement that for the boys, “war’s a game and nobody dies”? That’s a week’s worth right there.

  1. What does the monument symbolise (represent, make you think of)?
  2. How does the director tie together the beginning and the end?
  3. What (or who) do the dead sparrows represent (think of the title)?
  4. What do you notice about the boys’ dialogue (What they say to each other and how they say it)?
  5. Give one example of diegetic sound (sound you’d hear if you were there)
  6. Give one example of non-diegetic sound (added in editing process)
  7. Name 2 film techniques used (e.g pan, slow motion, dissolve) and describe their effect.
  8. “Blue Dragon” has trouble telling the difference between reality and fantasy. How is this shown?
  9. How is humour used?
  10. How is tension created?
  11. What is important about the shot of the two sparrows flying in the sky after the accidents?
  12. How does the mood change at the end?
  13. What do you think the message (theme) is?

Tama Tü directed by Taika Waititi is another short film featured on NZ On Screen. Students can watch the film, answer the questions below and complete the reflective writing. This could be a springboard for creative or formal writing at Level 1 or the close viewing assessment. The film also has links to Maori Battalion.

  1. The crow is a tohu (sign). What does it represent?
  2. What is the name of the jerky camera movement used at the start? Why is it used?
  3. Name 2 things you hear or see that tell us this is a war zone.
  4. Name 2 different signals the men use to communicate to each other.
  5. The director says “even at war… boys will be boys”. How does he show us that?
  6. What is the significance of placing the manaia (a mythical creature that wards off danger) next to the toy soldier?

Journal writing: Imagine that you are a soldier in a ruined city in World War I. Describe what you can see, the thoughts running through your head and your feelings.

Other ANZAC sites for remote learning:

If you need resources around film terms for pre-teaching/revision, feel free to message me.

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From primary school years, children are taught the difference between nouns and verbs, then adjectives and adverbs, possibly prepositions and articles.

Why then at secondary school, do we find many students still confused over identifying parts of speech?

And does it matter?

It matters because as students progress through the NZC, our aim is that they will be able to provide insightful analysis on author’s purpose. This means they can independently analyse entire texts (or extracts) and figure out what they writer is trying to say and why. The how they do this then becomes important. Tone and style (more concepts for senior students) are inextricably linked to diction and language features.

In NCEA examinations one of three externally assessed standards for English is Unfamiliar Text. Many students avoid it due to lack of confidence in the simple act of identifying and then explaining the effect of diction, language features and structural devices.

I suspect that although students are “taught” various writing devices over the years, it is the application of that skill that is the real challenge.

And thinking beyond the lines is certainly challenging if students are not hooked in to reading by this stage.

For revision, I’m going to use a triple app combo (selling it!) to bolster confidence at close reading texts in my Year 9 students. Using Office Lens, OneNote and Flipgrid, I’ve developed a lesson that aims to revise parts of speech identification and then, consider the effect of the writer’s choices working initially collectively and then independently.

  1. Via my phone, use OfficeLens, take a pic of a passage from a novel we studied in class.
  2. Send it to their shared ClassNotebook.
  3. Students log in and silently read the passage
  4. Instruct students to use the highlighter to highlight nouns purple, verbs red, adjectives green and adverbs yellow.
  5. Then instruct students to open the same passage in Immersive Reader (under view in OneNote)
  6. Go to Grammar Options icon top right. Turn the various parts of speech on.
  7. Students can then compare their selections to the correct answer. The colours I selected are the same as those used in Immersive Reader to help visual learners.
  8. On the whiteboard, make a list of all the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in the passage.
  9. In pairs, ask students to discuss the connotations of adverbs and adjectives.
  10. As a class discuss the following: How did the character feel at this point? How did you know? What was the effect on you – did you feel sorry for him? Excited? Happy? What words made you feel like that?
  11. Give students a starter sentence and instruct them to write a passage in their writing journals explaining the writer’s purpose.
  12. For homework, share a flipgrid code featuring a topic asking them to give examples of parts of speech that created a sad mood in the same passage.
  13. Discuss in class the following day.

This task could then lead on to revision of the novel itself – in particular we could use it as a springboard to an essay on character. Working smarter is the key at this end of the year, right?

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