Docstoc

Dear Greenpeace – Teaching Notes

Document Sample
Dear Greenpeace – Teaching Notes Powered By Docstoc
					Smokescreen Bernard Ashley Teachers’ Notes
Curriculum Context: This book is recommended for some upper KS2 children, perhaps when preparing for transition into Year 7, or during KS3. Fundamentally, suitability depends on the maturity of the children concerned in terms of their readiness for the subject matter of the book. There are many underlying themes for discussion allowing opportunities for dialogic talk to explore ideas, issues and responses. The stories within a story structure allows children to explore how points of view have been presented and use skills of inference and deduction to create meaning from the various intriguing plot threads. The strong characterisations also offer many opportunities for exploring motives and choices through Drama, and a study of language variations according to situation and audience would uncover interesting authorial choices. This book is probably most suited for Guided Reading. Synopsis: After having lost her mother in a tragic drowning accident, Ellie and her father take over running a pub beside the canal on the north side of London. Not only does Ellie have to face her phobia, but all is not as it first appears and she quickly realises that Ivy Watson’s weekly performances in the pub are an elaborate cover for illegal activities. Initially, Ellie suspects the smuggling of illegal cigarettes. However, the reader is aware of a parallel world belonging to a Chinese girl, Song, and questions begin to emerge as to the content of the heavy speakers that are brought into the pub on Friday nights. As the two girls’ worlds are gradually brought together, Ellie discovers not only the truth behind the Watsons’ activities, but also her strength in facing her fears.

Possible Themes and Issues raised by readers:  People trafficking  Conditions in China  Loss of a parent  Bullying  Phobias  Overcoming fears  Nature of friendships  Intercultural friendships Structure:  All told in the 3rd person by an omniscient narrator but characters are focalised through three alternating narratives: Ellie’s story; Song’s Story and Zlatko Matesa’s story.  The book starts with Zlatko’s narrative which is characterised by its distance; the reader does not get to know him through his thoughts and feelings, but rather his movements and dialogue. He initially appears far removed from the rest of the story that continues in the same chapter.  This is in contrast to the narratives of the two main protagonists, Ellie and Song, with whom the reader is led to empathise and sympathise through strong character focalisation.  Ellie’s and Song’s narratives are differentiated by the use of different fonts: Song’s story is italicised therefore indicating its status as secondary to Ellie’s.  The narratives of the two girls are different in style as Ellie’s is characterised by much dialogue as well as including her thoughts and feelings. Song’s, however,

  

is more descriptive about her journey with some insights into her thoughts and feelings. Questions are raised immediately as to the relationship between the three characters and it is not until over half way when Zlatko meets one of the Watson’s drivers that the first link is made and the stories begin to merge. All clues are pulled together in the penultimate chapter where it becomes clear that all the threads are interwoven. However, questions are left unanswered including, ”what happens to Song?”

Topics for discussion:  Before reading Smokescreen find out what pupils already know about illegal immigration. An interesting site to look at: http://www.unicef.org.uk/campaigns/campaign_sub_pages.asp?page=3&nodeid= campaign_subpage3 alongside the pupils to discover more about UNICEF’s campaigns against smuggling and trafficking of children.  Before reading, explore the phrase ‘Smoke Screen’. Find out whether the pupils know what a ‘smoke screen’ is and suggest various contexts for its use. After reading the book, discuss the figurative use of the phrase in the context of the book.  After reading Smokescreen with a group, invite pupils to share their first responses to the story including their likes, dislikes, puzzles and patterns
(Chambers, A (1993) Tell Me: Children Reading and Talk Stroud: Thimble Press)

     

  



Which character do you find the most interesting? What do you know about that character and how do you know it? Discuss the similarities and differences between Ellie and Song. What made Song keen to leave China? o What impression did she have of the outside world before setting off? o Why did she think this? Did Song’s journey and her arrival in England work out the way she expected? o What might have happened to her if Ellie and Flo hadn’t foiled the Watson’s plan? Consider possible explanations for what might have happened to Song after her escape. Investigate people trafficking and smuggling o Find out about immigration laws o Why don’t governments just allow anyone to stay? o What is asylum seeking? How has Ellie responded to the death of her mother? o How do we know this? What kind of relationship does Ellie have with her father? o What does Song think about hers? Talk about phobias: o What are they? o Do pupils have any phobias? o Where do you think they come from? o Where does Ellie’s fear of water come from? Bullying: discuss the nature of the different forms of intimidation experienced by Ellie, Song and Ellie’s dad and relate these to the pupils’ own experiences.

Creative Projects:  Map out Song’s journey on a world map and then add annotations relating to her emotional journey and her changing ideas as to her fate.  Investigate maps of London and China and compare the environments of the two girls:  Investigate rural China and the communist regime

 







 Compare: education; everyday life; life chances etc. How do the three narratives come together and when? o Story maps could be created using a number of formats to allow for a visual record of the three threads and the points at which links are made. Characterisation: - draw a character map, or spider diagram, with Ellie at the centre and the following characters leading out from her: Dad, Flo, Flo’s mother, Rude-Boy, Jaz and the policeman. Then notes can be added describing: Ellie’s relationship to each; her feelings towards them; examples of interactions that occur and any quotations that are significant in their dialogue. Circle-time: - Using a community of enquiry approach, the pupils could be invited to offer a topic for discussion relating to themes within the book. Examples include: fear; loss; mistrust of adults; friendships; intercultural relationships; bullying; the role of the police. Drama: 1. Use the conscience alley strategy (children in two lines facing each other, each side taking opposing views. One child becomes the character making the decision and walks between the two lines whilst the children each whisper comments from their sides’ perspective until at the end of the line, the character has to weigh up the advice and make a decision) to explore difficult decisions, e.g.:  Ellie – Should she allow her feelings about the relationship between her dad and Mrs Moses to affect her friendship with Flo?  Ellie’s Dad – should he have withdrawn his planning application after having been intimidated?  Ellie – Should she tell the police about the girl that she rescued from the river (Song)? 2. Pupils could be asked to take on the role of various peripheral characters and be put on the ‘hotseat’ to question their version of events and their perspectives. For example, Flo could be hotseated to investigate her viewpoint, or Ivy Watson could be asked about her role in the smuggling. This could then lead to diary writing where the pupils are asked to write in role. 3. TV interviews after the capture of the Watsons. This could then lead to the writing of newspaper reports. 4. The criminal trial could be imagined and worked through. Investigate the use of language in the stories of the two different girls. Guide the pupils towards discovering:  Ellie’s story – dialogue (colloquialisms and dialects); characterisation through dialogue  Song’s story – description; little dialogue; Standard English

Taking it further:  Explore and compare other books with a similar structure of parallel narratives, e.g. Stone Cold (Robert Swindells); Slake’s Limbo (Felice Holman); Worm in the Blood (Thomas Bloor).  Carry out further investigations into Human Rights legislation and organisations that work to prevent the smuggling/trafficking of people, e.g. Amnesty International and UNICEF.  Read and talk about other books by Bernard Ashley and look for common elements. Contributor: Dani Compton Consultant: Nikki Gamble


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Tags: Dear-, Green
Stats:
views:958
posted:11/27/2009
language:English
pages:3
Description: Dear-Greenpeace-–-Teaching-Notes