Saturday 17 May 2008

“The Lombardy Grotto” as a basis for your courses

As I make my way from school to school reading from this book and talking to students and teachers about writing in general and this book is particular, it does occur to me that it could form the basis of a very good course. It would even be a course which could be quite crosscurricular.

One could, draw out the following points:

  1. Characters. I use Chapter 2 quite a lot. Here they meet Uncle Sparky for the first time and find out more about Jayne, the main character and her two brothers Toby and Michael. You could use this chapter to analyse how we know what they’re like, but also to look at how a writer creates character. Then students could write their own.
  2. Writing with the senses. Well, exactly how do you describe chocolate to someone who has not eaten it before? Chapter 5.
  3. For that matter, could we invent some food? There are plenty of new tastes in the Lombardy Grotto.
  4. How do you create a fantasy setting? This goes through the whole book. The river may be allowed to go backwards, but only if that is consistent with the world you create. Establishing the fantasy world requires as much research as writing an historic novel. It’s just that you search within your imagination. What fun one could have creating another world with a group of Y6 students.
  5. Making a computer game based on this story. Well, after all, that is what Uncle Sparky does in the end.
  6. Examining the story arc. What is it? Is it there? Could the youngsters create their own?
  7. And of course, that favourite question, “Where do you get your ideas form?” I’ve pretty well explained that to those schools I’ve visited. Maybe we could get the students to create their own story from the same stimuli. Or perhaps we could collect some random items to spark off a story.
If anyone out there is interested in developing this further, do contact me. I’d be happy to put together some work packages if there is enough interest.

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