Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Doing a film tex(and more)t with EAL

This year I'm teaching Year 8 EAL. Most of them are kids I taught last year, so I'm comfortable with them and they with me. Two of them are actually in my literacy class a second time, having moved up with me, so I teach them six periods a week,

We have sent off the students' first letters to their "Literacy Buddies", a program which enables EAL students to write to adults in a business of some kind - this year, it is the local council and people who work there. We have to wait for the replies till early June and next week we're having a guest from the Hundred Story House, who will do writing activities with them - they're really enjoying that!

But this week we had a breather, so we started our film text, which is Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. You might think that's a bit odd for a school film text, but really, there's a lot of meat in it for discussion. They did Raiders Of The Lost Ark with their other teacher last term, so apart from a new student, they are all familiar with the characters and background, which makes it easier.

Obviously, you're limited in how much you can do with a bunch of tweens(although we do have a fifteen year old international student in the group). But I did it last year with my Year 8 English class and they did very well. There are issues of family, of obsession with a personal "Holy Grail" as well as the real one, of faith - even that old duffer Marcus Brody says that at his age, one is willing to take some things on faith and is clearly a devout man. Every main character has a personal "Grail" or obsession. My English students last year got it very well - and they researched things mediaeval(they were doing mediaeval history anyway), the Crusades, religion, the legend of the Holy Grail, Nazi Germany, whatever, choosing one - and did a group presentation. I asked all of them to tell me what was their personal Holy Grail. And as we were doing the Hero's Journey to help with story writing, I did a session on how Last Crusade fitted in, which helped them understand and made their stories easier to write.

This class won't be asked for quite that much. Last term they did posters. This term we will also do a couple of character dolls to pin up and show they understand.

However, it was also interesting to see the students' reactions. One girl commented, just before Elsa Schneider betrays Indy and his father, "I don't think she's very nice, Miss." I paused the film and said, "This is interesting, so-and-so. What makes you say that?" She couldn't explain, only said, "The way she acts" but I think it was one of those times when you have reasons deep down but can't explain. That will come to her later. I continued the film and she was delighted to find she was right. However, when we got to the scene in Berlin, I paused it again and pointed out that, while she wasn't a nice person, Elsa didn't approve of the book burning. She didn't fight too hard when Indy took back the diary, either. There is at least one bit later in the film that shows she isn't quite as bad as she seems, but I left that for later. My student said, "Maybe she isn't that bad, Miss." I agreed - not very nice, but not quite as bad as you might think. So did the others.

And they picked up things last year's class didn't always, such as the meaning of "She talks in her sleep."

We will be continuing and finishing our viewing next week. Fingers crossed that it works out!


Sharon Marie Himsl said...

Hi Sue. Hope the new school year is going well. I like all of the Indiana Jones movies, this one in particular. The book burning scene is so well done. I wonder how your students would have reacted to the Book Thief. It's quite different.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Sharon! This is Australia, so our school year begins in late January and ends in late December. I don't think my students could handle The Book Thief. It's a wonderful story, both book and film, but a bit hard for the little ones. One student in an older class borrowed the book, though, and has just finished it.

Nas said...

Sounds like you knew what to do in your classroom.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Nas! Sometimes I think I'm just bluffing. I said as much to a much wiser teacher than myself and she said, "We all do!"

Welcome to my second blog! I do most of my posts on my book blog, The Great Raven, in case you feel like following the link.