There s a Boy in the Girls Bathroom by Louis Sachar

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1 There s a Boy in the Girls Bathroom by Louis Sachar This unit lasts three weeks This book has as its main character Bradley Chalkers, a bad boy who is always in trouble. In this story, we are allowed to see into Bradley s head and heart, which offers children ways to discuss issues of friendship, bullying and the links between self-esteem, behaviour and learning. Many children can relate to these questions and will welcome the chance to talk about them through their discussions of the novel. The character of Bradley strongly engages children, and even reluctant readers and writers are drawn to enjoy the novel through activities such as writing in role. Writing an ongoing diary for Bradley, ing and letter writing form the main writing outcomes for this unit. The novel s setting is a school in the US so there are opportunities to talk about similarities and differences between Bradley s school and schools in the UK. The pace of the novel, its humour, twists and turns support children who are gaining confidence as readers, helping them to empathise with characters and to infer feelings, thoughts and motivations over the course of the narrative. Phase 1 (3 4 days) Phase 1 of the unit (Sessions 1 4) focuses on detailed discussions about the main character of the novel, Bradley Chalkers, and includes keeping notes in class and individual reading journals. There is hotseating of the character Bradley, beginning of diary written in role as Bradley, and also some discussion of the setting and language of the text, which is set in a school in the US. Phase 2 (5 6 days) Phase 2 of the unit (Sessions 5 10) follows the development of Bradley s character against the unfolding themes and issues in the novel, which include friendships, bullying, the differences between inside and outside feelings, and the possibilities for change. Writing s, lists, drama and role-play form the main activities of this section. Phase 3 (4 days) Phase 3 of the unit (Sessions 11 15) involves script writing and performing, writing in role and report writing as the novel reaches its conclusion. Reading aloud continues during and between sessions. Sessions are for guidance only and the length of these will depend on the way they are interpreted and developed by the teacher, together with the amount of time allowed for drama, discussion and writing. Guided reading Although the unit is designed for use with the whole class, teachers could also select aspects of it to use with guided reading groups. Alternatively, class sessions could be followed up during guided reading sessions with a closer look at particular sections of the text looking, for example, at the language or what has been revealed about plot or character. The grouping for guided reading needs to be linked to assessment and children s curricular targets, to ensure maximum impact on children s reading. All children will benefit from regular opportunities for small-group reading, discussion and writing with a teacher or teaching assistant.

2 Guided writing As the focus of these units is explicitly to support the development of reading, specific links to guided writing are not exemplified in these notes. It is important that guided writing sessions are planned during this sequence and draw on the reading children are undertaking in order to develop their writing skills. Related core learning objectives The overarching core learning outcomes for the key stage are indicated in italics. Relevant objectives from Years 5 and 6 are indicated under the strands. Speaking Explore, develop and sustain ideas through talk Y5 Present a spoken argument, sequencing points logically, defending views with evidence and making use of persuasive language Drama Use dramatic techniques, including work in role to explore ideas and texts Create, share and evaluate ideas and understanding through drama Y5 Reflect on how working in role helps to explore complex issues Y5 Perform a scripted scene making use of dramatic conventions Y6 Improvise using a range of drama strategies and conventions to explore themes such as hopes, fears and desires Understanding and interpreting texts Retrieve, select and describe information, events and ideas Deduce, infer and interpret information, events and ideas Y5 Make notes on and use ideas from across a text to explain events or ideas Y5 Infer writers perspectives from what is written and from what is implied Y6 Understand underlying themes, causes and points of view Engaging with and responding to texts Respond imaginatively using different strategies to engage with texts Evaluate writers purposes and viewpoints and the overall effect of the text on the reader Y5 Compare the usefulness of techniques such as visualisation, prediction and empathy in exploring the meaning of texts Y6 Sustain engagement with longer texts, using different techniques to make the text come alive Y6 Compare how writers from different times and places present experiences and use language Creating and shaping texts Use and adapt a range of forms suited to different purposes and readers Y6 Select words and language drawing on their knowledge of literary features and formal and informal writing

3 Reading aloud and rereading Reading journals Debate Hotseating For information on drama approaches, see resources Readers theatre Writing in role Drawing and annotating For a description of teaching approaches, see resources. Resources A copy of the book A class reading journal Individual reading journals Individual class-made books for Bradley s diary Flip chart or Interactive whiteboard (IWB) Other books by Louis Sachar An author display about Louis Sachar Cross-curricular links and themes Group discussion sessions can focus on some of the dilemmas facing Bradley. There are also opportunities for children to consider in terms of themselves, as well as Bradley, their worth as individuals by identifying positive things about themselves and their achievements, seeing their mistakes, making amends and setting personal goals (PSHE National Curriculum Key Stage 2). The teaching sequence Phase 1 Session 1 To be able to gather information and deduce information about characters To be able to gather information about a setting To be able to discuss how the author uses language for particular effect Reading aloud and rereading Making notes Using shared and modelled reading techniques read Chapter 1 to the class. This is a powerful chapter that can promote a great deal of discussion and prediction about the themes of the novel.

4 Talk with the class about their initial impressions of Bradley as a character. What do we think we know about Bradley so far? Write this question in the class journal or on a flip chart or IWB, and record some of the children s comments next to it. Ask the children if they have noticed whether there are any parts of the first chapter that describe Bradley most graphically note these in the class reading journal, flip chart or IWB. Continue with a more general shared reading discussion session about the story and their reaction to it. Use open questions such as: What kind of story do you think this is going to be? What do you think will happen? Does the story remind you of other books you ve read or films or TV programmes you ve seen? Ask the children to work with a talk partner and think about what they know about Jeff so far. Give each pair a copy of the first chapter to help them and ask them to use their reading journals to record their thoughts, which can then be shared in a whole-class discussion. Points can be recorded in the class reading journal for later reference. Go on to discuss the setting of the book with the class. Ask children questions such as: Where is the book set and how do we know that? Children may point out that the book is set in the US and may highlight such words as closet, recess, dollar or refer to mentions of The White House. In the class reading journal, begin as a class to compile a glossary of American words and their meanings, to be added to as the novel progresses. Read Chapters 2 4 (in read aloud time) before the next session. Session 2 To be able to deduce information about a character from the text To be able to write in role as a character Rereading Reading aloud Making notes Referring back to sections of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, ask the children to discuss the question, What more do we know about Bradley? The children can discuss this with a partner and record their thoughts in their reading journal. These can be reported back in a whole-class discussion where some of the points are recorded in the class reading journal, during shared and modelled writing. Bradley s diary Tell the children that they are going to begin writing a diary in role as Bradley. Using a class-made book or small exercise book, tell them that they can decorate their diary as Bradley would. It will be helpful to remind the children about the features of diary writing style, for example the use of I, and also to think about the way that Bradley, in particular, might write his diary. Model this process in shared writing and support the children s writing in guided writing sessions. It may also be helpful to refer to some of the US words that the class have collected, to help them with the diary. Ask the children to write the first diary entry to record events such as Jeff s arrival and getting the results of the test. It may be helpful to model in shared writing how the diary might begin, using suggestions from a brief class discussion. Continue to note in the class reading journal examples of US English such as wait up.

5 Read Chapters 5 9 in read aloud time before the next session, Session 3 To enter into the feelings of a character through drama and to consider how this helps in understanding a character s inner feelings and motivations To write in role as a character Hotseating Making notes Read aloud some of the diary entries that children have written. Reread (in shared reading) Chapter 9 where Bradley meets Carla. Ask the children what they think Carla s first impressions of Bradley might be. Ask them to use their reading journals to jot down some of the notes that Carla may have made about Bradley in her role as counsellor, after her first meeting with him. (Alternatively see resources for a notebook writing sheet.) Children should be encouraged to see Bradley from Carla s point of view after this one meeting. Hotseating Carry out a hotseating activity. Ask the children to think of questions they might have for Bradley about his life at home, in school, his meeting with Carla. Ask them to think of the questions from the point of view of Carla, Jeff or one of the other children in his class. Ask one child in role as Bradley to sit in the hotseat. The teacher can initially play the role of Bradley if the class is inexperienced in this approach, and later ask for volunteers to take over. Bradley s diary Ask the children to write a second entry in Bradley s diary about the important meeting with Carla and his feelings about that, and support groups through guided writing. It may help to read aloud two or three of the most successful first diary entries written by children, and to discuss with the class what they think makes them successful. Reflection At the end of the session, ask the children to describe and discuss the ways in which the hotseating activity helped them to understand Bradley s thoughts and feelings. Read Chapters in read aloud time before the next session. Session 4 To discuss meanings, making detailed reference to the text To discuss turning points in the text To analyse character in different ways, referring to the text Making notes Spend some time talking about Bradley s confused feelings about Jeff and Carla, and discuss how he feels about himself.

6 In shared reading, discuss, How do we know what Bradley is feeling? Ask the children to recall bits from the story that show us what Bradley feels, rereading parts of Chapter 11 aloud. Spend some time discussing these feelings and the children s responses to them. Then ask the children to work in pairs to analyse what they think they know about Bradley so far, using a grid with the headings: What Bradley looks like What Bradley does What Bradley says What other people say to or about him Read Chapters to the class before the next session. Phase 2 Session 5 To be able to explore themes and issues in a text, referring to the text To be able to write in role to a character in the text Shared and individual writing In shared reading, find out why Jeff didn t want to be Bradley s friend any more. What parts of the text tell us this? It may be helpful to reread parts of Chapters 17 and 18. Ask the class how they think Jeff is feeling. How do we know? How does Bradley feel now? This discussion will enable the class to explore some of the moral dimensions in the book: is Jeff right to treat Bradley in this way? s to Jeff Now ask the children to write a letter of advice to Jeff, about his friendship with Bradley. This could be done in both shared and guided writing by , using an address that has been set up for Jeff. (This could be done using a class address specifically set up for this activity.) If the teacher can reply to the s in role, this will provide a very effective way of stimulating children to respond. It will be helpful to begin the as a piece of shared writing and to discuss conventions of writing in this form, for example, beginning with Hi rather than Dear. If a live account is not possible, children can type up and print off their s in an message format, without sending it. See resources for blank sheet. Home learning Write a third entry for Bradley s diary about the events in the last few chapters for example his confused feelings about Carla, Jeff and his encounter with the group of girls. Session 6 To be able to deduce information about a character from the text

7 Writing In shared reading, read Chapters to the class. This is where Bradley writes the list of topics he would like to discuss with Carla. Ask the children to discuss in pairs what Bradley put in his list, then to compare their notes with another pair. Ask them to note what we learn about Bradley from some of the things he writes down. Pairs of children can then report back to the whole group. Writing a list like Bradley s Using their journals, suggest that the children make their own lists of what comes into their minds, like Bradley does. Read Chapters before the next session. Session 7 To be able to deduce information about the complexities of a character from the text To be able to present ideas to a group Drawing and annotating Presenting ideas to the group In these chapters, Bradley begins to see himself as a monster and we are given the idea of the outside and inside Bradley, the bad and the good. Suggest that children draw Bradley, and that they show his bad outside and his good inside by annotating the picture. Show the completed pictures to the class and compare them. Invite children to talk about their own pictures as they are shown. Session 8 Focus objective To be able to use drama to explore a character s feelings Role-play conscience alley Tell the class that you are going to explore together the struggle that is going on in Bradley s mind and how he is gradually changing. In shared writing, begin by making a list with the class, on a flip chart or IWB, of all the conflicts and struggles Bradley has had about with his behaviour and responses to people and situations so far.

8 Organise the children into groups of three, and invite them to put themselves in role (in a variation on conscience alley ) as Bradley with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other; the angel trying to convince Bradley to be good, and the devil doing the opposite. When the groups are ready, each performs for the rest of the class. Session 9 To write in role as a character To discuss a turning point in a novel Reading aloud Writing in role In shared reading, read Chapters 26 and 27 at the beginning of the session. After the reading, the children should go straight into writing their Bradley diaries. Spend some time afterwards sharing some of these entries, talking about how Bradley is beginning to change. What is making a difference for him? Issues such as self-esteem and its link to behaviour and achievement will arise, and this will be an important opportunity for the class to think about these questions. These issues may, of course, may be real ones for some children, which is one of the reasons this novel is so successful. Ask the children to work in pairs to pick out words and phrases that the author uses to show how Bradley is beginning to change, such as They traded lunches He thought it was delicious. (second page of Chapter 27). The children can make notes in their reading journals, then share the information with the whole class. This chapter marks a turning point in the novel in terms of Bradley s development. This activity could also take place in guided reading groups. Read Chapters before the next session. Session 10 To be able to use role-play to explore a key moment in the development of the plot To be able to record a scene using drawing and writing Role-play Storyboards Talk about the scene where Bradley is surrounded by the other boys in the playground, focusing on the part which begins Look he s reading until the end of the chapter. Ask the children to work in groups of five or six to practise role-playing the scene while the rest of the class watch. After the groups have practised, invite each to perform and ask the class to comment on the ways that each group were recreating this moment. Ask the children to record this scene in the form of a storyboard, beginning with Bradley sitting on the step reading. See resources for storyboard sheet.

9 Home learning Model and then ask the children to write an entry in Bradley s diary, recording the momentous turn of events in the school yard. Read Chapters in read aloud time before the next session. Phase 3 Sessions 11 and 12 To prepare a script from a section of texts To perform a scripted scene Scripting Performing part of a text During shared reading, read Chapter 38. Explain to the class that you are going to adapt this chapter into a play script and that they are going to work on the script in groups, rehearse it and perform it for the class. Scripting Use shared writing and place the text onto a IWB or OHT, so that the whole class can contribute to turning the section of the chapter into a script. Begin with the part where Carla says Bradley I have something to tell you up to I hate you he shouted, then ran out of her office. Begin to write up the script on a flip chart you will be able to use most of the author s words but will need to decide which bits the narrators will read, and what the characters will say. Once the children have begun to get the idea, they can work in threes or fours to write their own scripts, using A4 paper. Guided groups can be supported at the point of composition during this session. Performance You will need to give time for guided reading groups to rehearse their reading, and to discuss with each other how to express what Bradley and Carla are feeling. They may decide to change or add to their script slightly as a result of their rehearsal. When the readings have been rehearsed, ask each group to perform their reading to the rest of the class. It will be important to give feedback on their performance to each group. Home learning Write a diary entry in Bradley s journal about how Bradley is feeling about Carla leaving the school. Read to the end of the novel, Chapters 39 46, in separate read aloud time. Sessions 13 and 14: Writing in role To be able to write in role to another character in the story To discuss how a character has changed over the course of the novel

10 Writing in role A letter to Carla Model writing a letter in a shared session and ask the children to write their own versions of the letter that Bradley wrote to Carla at the end of the novel, to include telling her about the party. If there is time, they might also want to write a reply from Carla, or a postcard from Ronnie to the other animals. Session 15 To be able to reflect on the novel as a whole, to discuss responses and themes To be able to write a summary of how a character has changed over the course of the novel Report writing End this unit of work with a discussion in a shared session about how Bradley had changed. Ask the children who or what had helped him to change giving their reasons. The children might suggest, for example, that Carla or Jeff had helped him to change; ask them to give their reasons. Use a spider diagram to begin to list the children s thoughts. They may think of some of the following points: Because of Carla she helped him to Because he started to do his homework Why I think Bradley changed Because his parents helped him... Because he became friends with people in his class Because he became friends with Jeff... Ask the children to write about what Bradley was like at the beginning of the novel, what he was like at the end, what had helped him to change and what they feel have been the important themes of the book. Support the children in guided writing. See resources for a planning framework. 10

11 Extension activities Ask the children to visit author Louis Sachar s website and write a letter to Louis Sachar. Encourage the children to read other books by the same author such as The Boy who Lost His Face and Holes. Opportunities for assessment in this unit There s a Boy in the Girls Bathroom is particularly strong in the area of character and plot. It supports children who are moving from Level 3 to Level 4 in empathising with characters and inferring feelings, thoughts, motivations and changes over the course of the narrative. In the unit of work, the children are asked on frequent occasions to search the text to locate evidence, to read the text closely for implicit meanings and to support their opinions by referring to the text. Some discussions take place in whole-class contexts; others take place in pairs and groups. Teachers or TAs can listen in and make discreet notes on the discussions. Children are also frequently asked to make notes in their reading journals these offer further opportunities for assessment. The book also offers many opportunities to explore the overarching themes and dilemmas through drama. These active opportunities offer all children ways to develop their understanding. Ongoing assessment opportunities Class and group discussions During the frequent opportunities for class discussions within the unit, the teacher could make brief notes after the session or a TA, if present, could make notes during a session. Teachers or TAs could set up guided reading or writing activities, using some of the activities in the unit, to make more closely focused assessments with particular children who are working towards Level 4. Notes can also be made, for example using the following framework, during group discussions and partner work. See resources for a framework that supports the monitoring of children who are moving from Level 3 to Level 4. Written work Children s understanding can also be noted from their ongoing written work: their writing in Bradley s diary might show understanding of Bradley s feelings at different points in the narrative and how he changes over the course of the novel reading journal entries might show children s understanding of the text and their ability to refer to the text. 11

12 Assessment opportunities With a particular focus on children moving from Level 3 to Level 4 To be able to search text closely and to refer to the text when explaining ideas To begin to make inferences (reading between the lines) and deductions (pulling evidence together) including empathising with characters and their feelings, thoughts, motivations and changes over the course of the narrative Phase 1 Session 4 At the end of Phase 1, Session 4 children are asked to assemble what they know about Bradley so far, using a framework. To discuss the author s use of language, e.g. to Phase 3 describe characters and settings Session 9 Children are asked to discuss and note down words and phrases that the author uses to show that Bradley is beginning to change. To talk about the author s purposes and viewpoints and the overall effect of the text on the reader, e.g. Phase 3 Session 15 overarching themes, events, characters and plot Children are asked to work on a summary of Bradley s structures changes during the novel, using a framework. Sources: NC level descriptions QCA s SATs analysis at the end of Key Stage 2, published in Implications for teaching and learning (QCA 2004, 2005, 2006), show key pointers in helping children to move from Level 3 to Level 4 in reading. National Curriculum Level descriptions Level 3 Pupils read a range of texts fluently and accurately. They read independently, using strategies appropriately to establish meaning. In responding to fiction and non-fiction, they show understanding of the main points and express preferences. They use their knowledge of the alphabet to locate books and find information. Level 4 In responding to a range of texts, pupils show understanding of significant ideas, themes, events and characters, beginning to use inference and deduction. They refer to the text when explaining their views. They locate and use ideas and information. 12

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