Locomotion By Jacqueline Woodson

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1 New Windmills 2004 Resource sheets Locomotion By Jacqueline Woodson Activities Alan Pearce, 2004 The following pages consist of teacher s notes and classroom support sheets for Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. These pages can be downloaded and printed out as required. This material may be freely copied for institutional use. However, this material is copyright and under no circumstances can copies be offered for sale. The publishers gratefully acknowledge permission to reproduce copyright material.

2 Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson Synopsis Locomotion is a novel told in 60 poems. The poems tell the life of Lonnie Motion, an eleven-year-old boy. He was born prematurely and was lucky to survive. At the age of seven his parents died in a house fire, leaving Lonnie and his younger sister, Lili. The authorities split the siblings up and placed them in different care situations. Lonnie hated the group home that he was sent to, but he was rescued from there by Miss Edna. This foster mother provides Lonnie with the love he needs and her grown-up son provides Lonnie with an elder brother. At the same time his teacher, Ms Marcus, encourages him to write poetry. The support Lonnie receives from these people, and his own determination to survive, provide the novel with an uplifting tone. Prior learning This novel provides an ideal opportunity to study the nature of poetry, within the context of students own experiences. The novel includes free verse, haikus, a sonnet, and considers rap as poetry. It would be helpful if the students had some understanding of these and other forms of poetry before they started to read the novel. Study areas Many students will be able to relate to the confusions Lonnie and his classmates face while growing up. The novel also encourages readers to consider the nature of love within the family setting. In the novel, it is announced that Ms Marcus is Teacher of the Year, which provides an opportunity to consider what qualities make a good teacher. Author s craft: The various forms of poetry used to explore emotions and to tell a narrative could be explored. (Author s craft: Yr7 R12; Yr8 R10; Yr9 R9) Persuasive writing: Write a letter to persuade people that Ms Marcus deserves to be Teacher of the Year. (Persuasive writing: Yr7 Wr15; Yr8 Wr13; Yr9 Wr13) Personal writing: Write a story about your own childhood, in prose or poetry. (Personal writing: Yr7 Wr19; Yr8 Wr16; Yr9 Wr13) Group discussion/presentation: Which chapter of the novel is the most interesting poem? (Group discussion: Yr7 S&L12; Yr8 S&L10; Yr9 S&L10) Collaborative drama: Create the dialogue for scenes in the play that we know happened, but are only told through Lonnie s eyes: Lonnie s first meeting with Miss Edna a scene involving Lonnie and Rodney, Miss Edna s son the day Eric returned to school. (Collaborative drama: Yr7 S&L16; Yr8 S&L16; Yr9 S&L14) 2 Teacher s Notes

3 Personal view: What are the strengths and weaknesses of a novel written in poetry? (Personal view: Yr7 Wr19; Yr8 Wr16; Yr9 Wr13) Discursive writing: What qualities make a good teacher? (Discursive writing: Yr7 Wr15; Yr8 Wr14; Yr9 Wr13) Teacher guidance Resource Sheet 1 This resource sheet helps the students to analyse the structure of a sonnet. They are asked to recognise the number of lines in the sonnet, the number of syllables in each line, and the rhyme scheme. The students are then encouraged to write a sonnet about an actual event in their own lives. Literacy Framework Objectives Year 7: R14 Appreciate writers language choice; R19 Explore how form contributes to meaning; Wr8 Experiment with language. Year 8: Wd11 Appreciate figurative language; R13 Read a substantial text; R14 Recognise conventions of literary forms; Wr6 Experiment with figurative language; Wr9 Experiment with different forms of poetry. Year 9: R6 Comment on authorial perspective; Wr8 Use different poetic forms. Guided Reading Opportunities This task asks the students to analyse the structure of a sonnet. Most students will be able to follow the requirements of the task, but others will have difficulties. Take a group of students and work through the counting of syllables, and the identification of a rhyme scheme. (Note that the number of syllables per line is not entirely consistent.) You could ask the guided group to report back to the rest of the class to ensure that the whole class have the correct structure. Resource Sheet 2 This resource sheet asks the students to write a biography of Lonnie s first seven years. Relevant page references are given to help the students collect the necessary information. Literacy Framework Objectives Year 7: R2 Use appropriate reading strategies; R6 Adopt active reading strategies; R8 Infer and deduce meaning; R19 Explore how form contributes to meaning; Wr10 Organise texts appropriately; Wr11 Select and organise information. Year 8: R4 Review active reading strategies; R7 Identify implied and explicit meaning; Wr10 Organise and present information; Wr12 Use formal language. Year 9: R1 Review and extend reading strategies; R3 Improve note-taking; R6 Comment on authorial perspective; Wr1 Write for specific audience and purpose. 3 Teacher s Notes

4 Guided Reading Opportunities 1 This task asks the students to select relevant information from the page references provided below: Events Pages Memories of Lili 5 Memories of his mother 7 8 Memories of Lili 9 Memories of both parents How Lonnie got his name 21 A letter to Lonnie s father 24 His birth 70 His epitaph to his mother 80 The fire 82 However, you could set the additional reading task of reading beyond Lonnie s text to understand how he feels about things as at times the reader understands more than he does. Finally, ask students to re-order the information before they begin their piece of biographical writing. 2 Take a group of able readers and read pages 5 6 together. The pages tell of a day when Lonnie had Lili sitting on his knee. However, the account allows us to infer a great deal about his relationships with his sister and his mother. Work with the group, asking them questions that encourage them to infer meaning. For example, Lonnie recalls that when a pigeon pecked at the window, Lili screamed: Not a scared scream / just one of those laughing screams. What does this detail suggest about Lonnie s feelings for his sister? Does the scene have a metaphorical meaning, with Lonnie aware of his sister s vulnerability? Afterwards, ask the students to read page 24 and talk about Lonnie s relationship with his father. Also ask them to explain the metaphor: Underwater familiar like I dreamed it sort of. Resouce Sheet 3 This resource sheet asks the students to produce a newspaper article which celebrates Ms Marcus s Teacher of the Year award. Relevant page references are given to help the students collect the necessary information. However, all of the information is provided through the eyes of Lonnie, so let them know that they will need to make judgements about the factual worth of some of Lonnie s observations. At times, for example, the reader has a better understanding of events than Lonnie. Literacy Framework Objectives Year 7: R2 Use appropriate reading strategies; R6 Adopt active reading strategies; R8 Infer and deduce meaning; Wr10 Organise texts appropriately; Wr11 Select and organise information. Year 8: R4 Review active reading strategies; R7 Identify implied and explicit meaning; Wr5 Develop use of commentary; Wr10 Organise and present information. Year 9: R1 Review and extend reading strategies; R3 Improve note-taking; R6 Comment on authorial perspective; Wr5 Explore different structures; Wr7 Entertain in non-fiction; Wr11 Make use of descriptive writing. 4 Teacher s Notes

5 Guided Reading Opportunities This task asks students to write a newspaper article about Ms Marcus. To collect the necessary information, the students are provided with the following page references: Details Pages Ms Marcus discusses race with Lonnie A poetry lesson 22 3 Lonnie is angry with Ms Marcus 46 Angel s poetry 50 Ms Marcus encourages the class 54 5 Lonnie refuses to let Ms Marcus read his poetry 56 Teacher of the Year 75 Students will need to infer a great deal from the content of these pages. Take a group and read pages Lonnie does not think that Ms Marcus understands about the way his race affects his life. Ask the students whether they could interpret the incident in another way. For example, an alternative reading might be that Ms Marcus wanted to provide Lonnie with an opportunity to articulate his feelings. Afterwards, ask the group to read pages 54 5 and tell you what they learn about Ms Marcus. For example, we are told that Ms Marcus: looks a little bit sad. Why? 5 Teacher s Notes Harcourt Eduction Limited, 2004

6 1 Writing a poem Introduction Locomotion has been written as a series of poems. The author has used a number of poetic forms. You are going to study a poetic form called the sonnet. You will see how a sonnet has a number of patterns. Afterwards, you will write your own sonnet. Your task is to write a sonnet that tells the true story of something interesting that has happened to you. Planning Look back at the sonnet on page 20 of Locomotion. Answer the questions about the patterns in the sonnet in the table below. Sonnet Poem Lines How many lines are there in this sonnet? Syllables How many syllables are there in each line? Rhyme Which lines rhyme with which lines? Task You now know what patterns there are in Lonnie s sonnet. Your task is to write your own sonnet about something funny or interesting that has happened to you. For example: an incident at school a family holiday sports day on a shopping trip last Christmas day. Remember: to use the correct number of lines to use the right number of syllables in each line which lines rhyme with which lines. 6 Student Sheet

7 2 Lonnie s life Introduction One of the themes of the novel is the difficulties that Lonnie has dealing with the trauma of his parents death. The memory of these deaths also makes it difficult for him to think back to the first seven years of his life. We get regular references to his parents and his early years, but these references are often brief. Also, we are not told about his past in a chronological order. Imagine that a book publisher would like to produce a biography of Lonnie Motion. They want to write this biography for a Year 8 audience. They have enough information about Lonnie s life from eight years. However, they have asked you to write the part of the biography that deals with his life from his birth until the end of his seventh year. Your task is to write up what we know about Lonnie s first seven years. You will need to write in the third person, in a formal style. You will also need to deal with events in chronological order. Planning The table on page 8 records moments in the novel where Lonnie recalls events in the first seven years of his life. Re-read the relevant pages. Then, in the final column of the table, make notes for your piece of biographical writing. Remember: You are writing a biography. This means that you are writing in the third person about Lonnie. You will need to write in the past tense. The events, as they appear in the table, are not in the correct order. You will need to re-order them before you start writing Lonnie s biography. Not all of the information on the pages listed in the table is relevant. You will need to select the relevant details. 7 Student Sheet

8 2 Lonnie s life Events Pages Your notes Memories of Lili 5 Memories of 7 8 his mother Memories of Lili 9 Memories of both parents How Lonnie 21 got his name A letter to 24 Lonnie s father His birth 70 His epitaph to 80 his mother The fire 82 8 Student Sheet Harcourt Eduction Limited, 2004

9 3 Teacher of the Year Introduction Ms Marcus is obviously an inspirational teacher. She definitely encourages a wide range of students to enjoy reading and writing poetry. However, there are also many moments in the novel when we see that Ms Marcus cares about the broader education of the students in her class. Her story is the sort of story that a local newspaper would like. Imagine that you are a journalist on Ms Marcus s local newspaper, and you have been asked to write a report about Teacher of the Year. Your task is to write a newspaper article about Ms Marcus s teaching. In your article you need to talk about all of the great things that she has done. You also need to interview her and some of the students. You might also think of other people to interview. Planning You are given a great deal of information about Ms Marcus. The table on page 10 lists some of the key moments in the novel that involve Ms Marcus. Re-read the pages listed and make notes for your article. Remember: Because this is an article to celebrate Ms Marcus s award, everything in the report will be positive. We get all of the information about Ms Marcus from Lonnie s point of view. Sometimes he does not understand something as well as the reader does. Remember to write your article in an appropriate style for a newspaper. If you are able to use a computer, you could include a photograph of someone who you think looks like Ms Marcus. The photograph could be taken from the Internet, or you could use a digital camera and take a photograph of someone you know. 9 Student Sheet

10 3 Teacher of the Year Details Pages Your notes Ms Marcus discusses race with Lonnie A poetry lesson 22 3 Lonnie is angry 46 with Ms Marcus Angel s poetry 50 Ms Marcus 54 5 encourages the class Lonnie refuses 56 to let Ms Marcus read his poetry Teacher of 75 the Year 10 Student Sheet Harcourt Eduction Limited, 2004

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