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        6-8

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        How Different Authors Treat Similar Themes - Elephants of Africa

        Students take notes of the details of two different documentaries on similar themes. They use their notes to write a script and devise storyboards for their own documentary about elephants.

        Lesson Summary

        Overview

        Students watch two videos by two different authors on similar themes about elephants and their relationship with humans. Students take notes on the details of each documentary. Using their notes they write a script and devise storyboards for their own documentary about elephants. 

        Why is this an important concept?

        Authors bring certain perspectives to their writing that affects the text's content. Their personal perspectives may interpret and represent themes differently. Learners who are aware that authors' varying perspectives will treat similar themes differently will be able to comprehend texts more insightfully. 

        Grade Level:

        6-8

        Suggested Time

        (3-4) 60-minute periods

        Media Resources

        Materials

        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        Day 1

        1. Distribute the Elephants of Africa Notes handout organizer and the Elephants of Africa rubric. Explain to students that this activity is about how two authors present similar themes about the relationship between elephants and humans in two very different ways. Ask students to consider the impressions each author makes on the viewer based on the differing perspectives he offers about elephants.

        2. Provide students background information on the Sahel. See the following link: Nature andNational Geographic presents: Africa.

        3. Show the first segment, Squatters' Rights. Ask students to pay attention to the interactions between humans and elephants in this part of Africa and to take notes on the Elephants of Africa Notes handout as they watch the segment.

        4. Discuss the segment. Ask several students to share the notes they wrote. Provide feedback. Allow students to add to or revise their notes based on class discussion.

        5. Show the second segment, Studying Elephants. Once again, have students note the interactions between humans and elephants in this part of Africa as they watch.

        6. Discuss this segment.

        7. Note the differences between the contexts in the two segments: "Squatters' Rights" portrays wild elephants in close contact with farmers and their crops while "Studying Elephants" portrays wild elephants and how they interact among themselves while studied by a photographer in a protected animal reserve. Note the themes are similar. How is the context of each segment different? How do these differences shape the story being told about each group of elephants?

        8. Ask several students to share the notes they wrote. Provide feedback. Allow students to add to or revise their notes based on class discussion.

        9. Collect students' notes and review them before beginning the assessment activity.

        Day 2

        1. Return students' notes. Talk with students who need assistance with their notes.

        2. As a class, discuss the documentary script genre. Have students generate a list of characteristics of a documentary (i.e., that it is factual and tends to reveal the story behind the facts in an engaging way). Allow students to review the Squatters' Rights Transcript and the Studying Elephants Transcript as models of documentary scripts, explaining that they are going to write their own scripts for a documentary on the theme of the relationships between elephants and humans in Africa

        3. Distribute the Elephants of Africa Pre-writing Organizer handout and the Elephants of Africa Storyboard handout.Students, working in groups of three or four, will complete the organizer. Next, they will prepare story boards depicting each scene of the documentary as they imagine it. Finally, they will write their scripts. They should use details from their notes on the videos as needed. They can also refer to shots in either documentary as content for the script they are writing.

        4. Students complete script for homework.

        Day 3

        1. Distribute Elephants of Africa Peer Review handout handout. In a writing workshop format, students confer with their peers and complete the Peer Review handout. Meet with each group also to review their scripts and storyboards and give suggestions for improvement.

        2. Students make revisions to scripts and story boards.

        For students who need additional guidance:

        • Provide assistance with taking notes and writing the script.
        • Guide students to think visually to reflect ideas in their script as visuals for the storyboard.

        Part II: Assessment

        Day 4

        1. Students hand in notes, the Pre-writing Organizer, the completed Peer Review handout,  the first draft and final copy, and the story board for grading.

        2. Use the Elephants of Africa rubric to assess the documentary script and its components. 

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