‘A boy is slowly spinning through space’
Reading aloud and establishing a literal understanding of the text.
Lesson length: 1 session
Lesson from A Story Like the Wind series
Required reading: Pages 6-14
- Literary features: Oxymoron
- Literary features: Patterned language
- Book Talk
- Discussion and Dialogue
- Comprehension: Questioning
Pupils will benefit from being read the opening of A Story like the Wind without the distraction of the text and images. Indeed the first illustration might inhibit the building of the story schema. However, it will add to the depth of understanding if viewed, on the second or third reading.
The story is lyrical and rhythmic. An expressive, experienced reader, will provide a model that helps children absorb this patterned language and at the same time draws out the salient meaning.
This lesson is particularly important for children who need experience of attuning the ear to reading, which aids fluency
- A teacher’s copy of A Story Like the Wind.
- An expressive reading with thoughtful pauses will help communicate meaning. Take time to prepare and annotate the text in advance.
Read from, ‘A boy is slowly spinning through space…’ to ‘My name is Rami and I am still alive’.
Ideally, read uninterrupted the first time without stopping to ask questions. There may be unfamiliar vocabulary, and the idea of a boy spinning through space is abstract and might initially be difficult for the pupils to grasp. However, reading to the stopping point will give them more scope to build their understanding of the story schema.
After the first reading, ask a question to assess the pupils’ literal understanding. It will be more useful if the initial question is a broad one:
- What do you know about Rami?
Now distribute the text-only (without the illustration of the boy spinning in space). Read a second time.
Working in pairs or small groups, distribute some questions for the children to consider.
- Who do you think Rami is?
- Where has he come from?
- Where is he going?
- What do you think is in the long slim case that he holds against his chest?
Gather the class and share ideas. Deepen the discussion by drawing attention to some of the language and illustration choices.
- Rami is described as having ‘long coltish legs’ what does this tell us about him?
- How can a boyish face be ‘a thousand years old.’? Introduce the term oxymoron: words or group of words that appear to contradict each other such as ‘falsely true’ ‘love-hate relationship’ ‘deafening silence’. How does the use of an oxymoron affect the reader? How would it be different if Gill Lewis had just written, ‘His face looked a thousand years old.’?
- Why do you think Gill Lewis has chosen almost to repeat the last sentence? Is the addition of the word ‘left’ significant?
- Has anything about this story so far shocked or surprised you?
- Was there any part of the story that you found strange, puzzling or confusing?
Record the children’s thoughts to refer to in subsequent lessons.
coltish, safe harbour, death rattle, rising wind, rising sea, oxymoron