My passion for film can not be understated, yet I know that to simply show one to my students at any time of the year, just because I like it, MUST also have a purpose other than "filling in time" to get through several lessons. This, unfortunately, an attitude, adopted by too many ELT educators I have observed in every school I have worked since moving to foreign shores. Their reasons for doing so is not down to them being lazy or unprepared, but I believe they trying to keep their restless students pasified after many grueling exams and FOUR tiring semesters. However, I believe those teachers I am alluding to, are missing a great opportunity to squeeze even more out of the modules and thematic units they have been teaching, without their students even realizing that they are "learning" something else, so no negative reactions.
Our final unit is based on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, with a strong focus on world history, and in particular the atrocities seen at Auschwitz.
The World History Post is here ⇰
The World History Post is here ⇰
We did take our students down a truly rocky emotional road with the novel, support materials and facts from history. But we believe it has become the most successful unit in our literary-analysis section of our syllabus. So, as a treat, we felt that it would be fitting for the students to watch the movie based on the book, since although it clung pretty closely to the original prose, there were significant directorial choices that were worth identifying, exploring, presenting and discussing in class via group work.
Our students have become dab-hands at presentations over the year, as we have taught them the 'rights and wrongs' of slide construction, organization and the necessary visual pointers to engage audiences. So, we had high hopes for this activity. It was to be thought-provoking, informative and totally collaborative. We weren't disappointed, and here are the steps of the process:
BACKGROUND TO THIS ACTIVITY
Read the book with SSR and Close Reading Worksheets
Engage and Participate in the World History Power Point Presentations
Watch the movie
STEP FOUR (TODAY's ACTIVITY BEGINS HERE)
Use Triptico to choose your groups of THREE. Three is the perfect size as you will assign a task for each student to do:
1- Film scene snipper
2- EDCANVAS maker
3- Introductory & Reflective paragraph writer
1-2-3- Collaborative discussion all the way through with compare/contrast paragraphs
While students are discussing their choices of scenes they wish to compare/contrast and present transfer the film via Flashdisk to the students netbooks or laptops. If your students are not in a 1:1 program, you can use your own lap top and once students have chosen the scenes, you can work with students '1' to snip their scenes while their peers do the writing.
The building of the Edcanvas and their paragraphs, alongside their discussions is what makes this activity rewarding for both students and teachers. We all get to share in the students observations of both book and film, their collaborative writing skills, and perhaps, which was the case for my colleague and I, surprises of what they had seen and managed to compare. It proved to us how perspective plays such a huge part in this wonderful teaching/learning paradigm. Three out of the six groups chose the contrast of how Bruno, the young German protagonist, has his head shaved for an infestation of lice, but that doesn't happen in the book. We all agreed once they had presented that this was a real oversight by the film director, since in John Boyne's original text this seemed more realistic with the inevitable transfer of lice between the imprisoned Jewish boy and his new German friend.
Below are some examples from one of the Student-group's Edcanvas. I must add that we gave no assistance in editing or proof-reading, so for first drafts in terms of comparative paragraphs, they have done a grand job.
EDCANVAS # ONE
EDCANVAS # TWO
EDCANVAS # THREE
EDCANVAS # FOUR
It was really enjoyable to see the students working furiously and enthusiastically after having so many lessons on the subject matter. It made it clear to us that if you structure more activities of a different nature, even on the same subject, students will rise to the challenge and become engaged. In addition, they leave the unit now having learned and used the necessary grammatical linkers to show how the text and movie contrasted. Plus, of course, they honed their skills of ICT, Presentation-organization, Peer-collaboration, Target Language-discussion, Persuasion-techniques and Presenting to a size able peer audience.
We expected all of the students to say during their presentations that they has enjoyed the film over the book, but surprisingly there were two groups who preferred the extra details seen in the book. Although the film did take preference over the written word by most of the students, it was refreshing to learn that reading isn't 'dead' in the eyes, at least, in some of our young teenagers.
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