Lesson video

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Our focus today is to start our study of unseen non-fiction texts.

You will need a pen and paper, take a moment to make sure you've cleared any distractions away and have everything you need to hand.

Now, the first thing I would like you to do is to write at the top of your piece of paper, the title of the text we are working with this week, and that is Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which is an autobiography autobiography by Aron Ralston.


Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Fantastic.

So, as we move into looking at non-fiction material, as opposed to the fiction on scene work, we have previously been doing, there are some skills that we're going to be primarily focusing upon.

These are here for you to have a look at right now, please don't worry about writing these down, you're going to see them very, very often.

So, the skills that we will be looking at are, summarising the main events in the text, thinking about the thoughts and feelings presented, thinking about the writer's perspective, writers methods, and also the big picture ideas that are being offered, okay? So, those five areas are things that you are going to see me referring to throughout our learning in the next few weeks.

Now, moving back to our text, let's start building some of the background around the passage that we're going to encounter.

So, the first thing I would like you to do is to take a little look at this picture of Blue John Canyon in Utah.

And I'm going to give you one minute just to jot down what thoughts and feelings you have when you look at this image.

So, what would you think if you were in this location, how would you feel about being in this setting? Okay, so one minute, just to jot down your thoughts and feelings about this location.

And just finishing off your word phrase that you're writing.

Thank you.

Okay, let's find out a little bit about our main figure.

I don't want to call him a protagonist because he's a real person, but let's find out a little bit about Aron Ralston.

And when I read through this, I will read through this with you.

I want you to think about your first impressions about what kind of person Aron Ralston is.

And I would recommend that you try and jot down maybe some adjectives to try and sum up his character, kay? So Ralston was raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana, but moved to this parents to Denver, Colorado when he was 11.

But the lure of the great outdoors was too strong and he eventually left his job and moved to Aspen in the Colorado Rockies.

There, he would hike ski and cycle.

He also set out to become the first person to climb all 55 of the state's mountains, over 14,000 feet, alone in winter.

Perhaps with that information on board, how would you sum up his character? What adjectives would you use to describe him and just add those to your current notes.

Okay, so Aron Ralston is going to experience an event in the text that we are about to read.

I'm not going to tell you exactly just yet.

You will find out very quickly.

However, let's start building up to this event.

So, on Saturday, April the 26th, 2003, without telling anyone his plans, Aron Ralston packed his hiking boots, a hydration system, his backpack, climbing equipment, and a pocket sized utility tool, put his mountain bike in the back of his truck and drove almost five hours to a remote part of Utah.

Just have a little consideration of a useful bits of information on this screen.

And this is Aron Ralston's comment on being in this location.

"I was accustomed to being in far far riskier environments, "so I thought going into that Canyon was a walk in the park.

"There were no avalanches.

"It was a beautiful day and I was essentially just walking." Okay, so what can you add at this stage to your comments about Ralston and Ralston's character? The pause point here for you? Are we have happy? Okay.

Let's find out what happens.

So Ralston, remember he's gone driven for five hours, gone to a really remote location in his truck.

Then he switched onto bikes and now he's about to leave his bike behind.

So, it's becoming more and more remote.

So Ralston left his bike behind and started to move on foot to an even more remote location, dubbed by the locals as "The end of the world." Here, he decided to go Canyon climbing.

And you can see a little image of somebody doing just that on the right hand side.

Halfway up a rock face, disaster struck.

He slipped and fell, trapping his arm under a boulder.

And the prompt question here is what do you think about Ralston's decision making? So, you've got some information about his character.

What do we make of his actions and his decision making at this point? Okay.

Opportunity now for you to pause the video and just to have a look back over the notes that you have got so far, and what I would like you to do is to read through what you have written, and in this instance, I want one sentence, what are your first impressions of Aron Ralston? Okay, so if you start your sentence off Aron Ralston appears to be what type of person.

Or, my first impressions of our Ralston are.

Okay, so pause the video, complete that refined sentence, and then restart once you've done.

Welcome back.

So a really familiar screen, and what we're going to do is to apply many of the same reading strategies, just with a few adjustments in terms of focus, now that we are moving on to non-fiction texts.

So, on this occasion, I have split the extract into three sections.

You will see prompt questions.

Some of them will be the same as with a fiction text.

We'll be looking at language, we'll be looking at different elements in terms of writers method, however, they will be additional prompts, just supporters in understanding things like the thoughts and feelings and the perspective of the writer.

I would like you as usual to record your responses on lined paper, and as we've been moving through the weeks, we have been making those recordings more developed in terms of you attempting to write fuller sentences, really tackling all of the different aspects that the question might offer to give as full a response as possible.

Then there will be the pause point and then finally an opportunity for us to review it together, and you can have a look too make adjustments to get that response to be even sharper, okay? So, reminder of what we're going to do, you're going to read the passage, you're going to answer the question, I.

e the prompts along the bottom of the screen, pause to do so, when you're happy with your response, and remember those challenges that I'm giving to you now, about being as thorough as possible, then resumed the video and we will discuss it together and you'll get an opportunity to further self assess, amend and check your progress.

Fantastic, now, before I hand over control of the learning to you, we'll just talk through the task and I'll show you the first screen so that you are familiar with what you're doing and absolutely in control.

So, for this first extract, I would like you to track the events and to be able to know exactly what's happening.

Secondly, I want you to continue to consider how you feel about Ralston and obviously the evidence that is making you feel that way.

All right, so we're tracking events, what's happening, and also thinking about how I feel about Ralston.

This is, as I've said, an autobiography.

So Ralston writes about this incident when he is obviously safe.

So we know that he's going to get out of this.

That's always good news.

So, he writes about this incident retrospectively in his autobiography and he recalls the accident, which left him trapped for six days.

Now there's an additional piece of information about the context that I haven't shared with you til this point.

So I just wanted to foreground that for you at this stage, that he has been trapped for six days.

On the screen, you can see that some words and phrases are picked out in different colours.

The orange, I think are interesting details that will help you answer the question, the pink are perhaps more challenging ideas that might start hinting towards maybe some big picture thinking on your part, okay? So, just a little bit of a key to what you can see on the screen, and then you've got the question running along the bottom.

What happens and how do you feel about Ralston? Okay, so control is now over to you, work through the screens, take your time, jot down your thoughts, give us full a response as you possibly can, and then we will review together and it's over to you.

Welcome back.

So, let's have a look at some of the things that you might have got.

If you have got some of these ideas, make sure that you give yourself a tic you know, make sure that you're congratulating yourself for that and make sure that you're also thinking about things that you could do to tweak.

And I will give you the usual pause point at the end of this, review so that you can make those adjustments.

Okay but I really want you to concentrate on all of the things that you are getting now, all of the detail that you are able to glean, all by yourself without me helping you at all, because we're quite a way into our learning now, and that progress is really starting to show.

So, it's day six and Ralston appreciates that he is lucky to still be alive.

"I should have died days ago." His behaviour is interesting as he starts by saying, "I'm no longer living, no longer surviving.

"I'm just waiting." which seems to sound like he's giving up a little bit, doesn't it? "I'm just waiting.

." For what? You would presume just to die, but then adrenaline channels into anger.

And he starts to try and dig his arm out from under the boulder with a rock hammer.

And we have got this moment of change in perspective for our Aron Ralston.

Now, let's have a look at some of the other details that are particularly interesting, I did pick out for you.

"Only in action does my life approximate "anything more than existence." That's quite an interesting phrase.

And if you did tackle this well done, it's one of those phrases that does hint at his character a little bit, doesn't it? He needs to be active.

This man, think about where he is, think about what he's done to even be in this situation he's a man of action.

He couldn't stay in his location that you went to with his parents.

He needed to be closer to the Rockies and he needed to be able to do the outdoor pursuits that he's now involved in.

So, he is literally a live action hero figure he wants to be out doing, "so only in action does my life approximate "anything more than existence." If he can't do things, if he can't be physically active, he feels like he's not really living.

So, that's the first comment that I think its just starting to dig a little bit under the surface of Ralston's character with more depth and more subtlety.

Second comment that you might have tackled and well done again, if you did tackle this, is this idea of retribution, and the idea of gaining some sort of revenge or vengeance for an action against you.

And he wants "Retribution "for what this wretched piece of geology has done "to my hand." Because I've just described him as an all action hero figure, our hero is making nature is anime.

Nature has puts him in this position.

It's not as far as he's concerned, his own stupidity of being there perhaps, however it's nature that has placed him in this position and he is going to take it on.

And that links in with this idea of being active in the situation.

So, if you picked out a man versus nature conflict there, that's fantastic.

"The rage blooms purple in my mind, animalistic fury." And if you did anything with this language, it would be quite interesting here to see what you have come up with.

This idea of rage and fury seems quite out of control, doesn't it? Animalistic, this isn't him in charge of his response and the fact that it blooms it's going bigger and bigger.

And I would be quite interested here to see how you've taken this, has Ralston lost control, or is this a reaction that's reasonable in the situation? And then just a noticing point here, and it's always useful to do this, isn't it? To think back to the beginning, we've gone quite a way now where this animalistic fury, as opposed to the character who was just waiting at the beginning, and this fury is it going to get out of control or is it something that he's going to be able to channel and use in a positive way to get out of the situation? That's why we're left at this point in the passage.


Opportunity now for you to pause the video, go back over the notes that you have made, refine, tweak, rewrite sentences if you wish, as soon as you are happy, then resume the video.

Right, for our next part of the extract then we've just left it at a point where Aron is describing himself as being in this animalistic fury.

What we now want to do is to see what's going to happen next and how are those emotions actually developing? And this time again, I want you to really zoom in on the language use.

I've picked out some interesting language choices, and again, we've got a key of different colours, orange so that you can keep tracking the actual "what" of the text, and then also things in purple that might be interesting for you to comment on in terms of a language feature, and you can see that that progresses as we go through.

Okay, so orange for the events, just to help you track, purple to help you consider the language features, the prompts of that at the bottom of the screen and you know what to do.

So, I will see you very shortly.

So, how has it developed? So, we left him in the moment of fury, and then let's see what happens in this section.

And I've written this up in a more detailed response, so I will read through, and if you want to just trap through with me, and that would be fantastic, I will pause every now and again, to just point out a few details to you, the tone initially changes.

I wanted to record that sort of switch, 'cause I do think there is a switch in tone, the feeling it's almost like you sense that he changes gear a little bit.

So the tone initially changes from anger to a more reflective mood.

Ralston surveys the impact of his actions, the "mess" he has created, and then the passage zooms in to focus more specifically on his physical condition.

So, I've got this idea of the passage so becoming tighter in focus and the zoom in on the physicality of his condition.

And I think it's also a zoom in mentally on his part.

And that seems to switch the way that he's thinking.

Ralston shows his clear awareness of the reality of his situation.

He knows that his arm will need to be amputated.

That's quite an interesting comment, that even in the middle of the incident he's actually come to terms with that as a particular detail.

So, he knows it's going to need to be amputated.

The only thing that he hadn't previously considered is that it might not be in the hospital.

He presents this information in a matter of fact way, which is almost objective in tone.

And what I'm trying to suggest here is that it's almost like he's having an out of body experience, like he's stepping back from the situation and surveying it in quite a thoughtful way as an outsider, which possibly could happen.

If you're in a really tense moment, shock panic kind of might disappear at certain points and you just go into quite a focus driven mood.

Now this is an interesting part, and I thought it was worth commenting on because we do need to consider perspective.

So, this might be because of the autobiographical nature of the text.

All right, so I'll just run those two sentences on together 'cause I had a little digression in the middle of it, okay? So, Ralston presents the information in a matter of fact way, which is almost objective in tone.

This might be because of the autobiographic graphical nature of the text as Ralston is looking back on the moment he is viewing the events with distance.

Yeah, so you can see that can't you? We said, and we know he survives, because he's written a book about it, and maybe the distance is created because of that fact, however, and you can see here that I'm using quite tentative language and thinking about different possibilities.

So, it could be that, however, I think it's more this, however, it could also be a reality of how he was responding in the moment as that is evidence in the language used that Ralston is starting to consider the arm as his antagonist.

A decomposing appendage that he is losing a sense of connection to and wants to be rid of.

So, I wanted to really push my big picture interpretation, sort of my deeper thinking here and that idea of man battling this object, this idea of him being a heroic figure is in there at the moment, and what I've put here is that he's actually starting to see his arm as not belonging to him, it's the enemy now, it's a decomposing appendage.

And by treating it as such, he can then deal with the situation.

This feeling of disconnection foreshadows future events.

So, we're also getting little bits of information dripped through to us that are hinting at what Ralston might be about to do.

I don't know if you're there yet, and by describing his flesh as peeling back like a skin of boiled milk, Ralston both starts to separate himself from his body and generates a very domestic situation in the reader's mind, which is in contrast to the setting and situation.

Now, you can see my analysis is really close at this point and really quite dense.

We are moving from one idea to another.

So, I'm starting to weave different parts of my analysis together by moving from this idea of the arm as now becoming the enemy, and then the descriptive detail being a way of, number one, separating himself from the situation.

And then also having an effect on me as a reader, by talking about it like skin or milk.

It's not something that's a threatening image.

It's an image from my kitchen.

So, he's creating calm that you wouldn't expect in this particular situation.

So, we might have thought, from the fury of the previous part of the extract that we'd see that escalating instead we're almost getting the opposite of that.

Its suddenly becoming really quite precise, clinical, and every day as though, well, this is what you do when you trap your arm in a boulder, okay? So, unthreatening description is reinforced by the image he creates when he takes his knife to his thumb and describes how he punctures the epidermis as if it is dipping into a stick of room temperature butter.

The image of butter is again, incongruous.

It doesn't match.

And that Ralston's perspective is starting to become a little bit warped.

And warped as in this is an atypical response.

We wouldn't think this would happen.

The use of the medical language such as "epidermis," and "putrefaction" further adds to this distancing effect, but this time by clinically analysing his physical condition.

So, not only does he make it every day, he then uses this different technique of being quite medical and labelling things in a very technical way, and that too makes that distance really clear.

The final short declarative sentences, "I don't want it, it's not part of me" finalise the feeling of disconnect and disequilibrium in Ralston's mind.

So, even though I've said that he is disconnecting himself in quite a clinical way, you can see that there's a disruption there, isn't there? It's not a typical response.

And therefore that is an incongruity in terms of what we're reading and what we would expect.

Now we've got to the point where you can pause and track Now we've got to the point where you can pause, and track through and refine.

But what I'm actually going to do is to take this back to the beginning and handover control of this part of the screen, so that you can look at some of the detail because I really did try and drill down in my analysis, and I think this is what we're going to be doing now.

So I'm going to hand over control to you and I will be So, I'm going to hand over control to you and I will be waiting for you when you're happy to continue.

Okay, over to you.

Fantastic, okay.

Let's have a look at the final part of our extract today.

So, in this section, I would you to just look at how the extract is going to conclude, so I want to track the events of what's happening and how the extract concludes.

And then I want you to think about how you feel about Ralston's actions.

Okay? So, those are the two reading areas that we're focusing upon.

And again, we have got things picked out for you.

As we look through, there are three different colours going on here.

Some of it is language.

That's quite interesting, that's in pink.

We have got some bigger picture ideas, perhaps in purple.

And then we have just got some general information to support you in tracking through the orange, okay? So, orange for the general tracking, purple for big picture, and then the pink for some interesting choices in vocabulary.

Don't want me to get confused as we're working through this.

Okay so back to the initial screen control is now over to you.


So, he makes his decision.

And he is going to decide to self-amputate.

So and we're going to leave at that point today, which is a little bit mean of me, but we will come back to find out more, and you know that you survives so that's okay because we've got the fact that he's written this autobiography.

So let's have a little look, now, I'm not going to tell you how you feel about it, because that is your personal response.

And it's really important that you give that and that you share your ideas because that's actually the most interesting part of interpretation, I'm sharing my thoughts and feelings about the text with you, but you might have a different opinion, and as long as you can support that it is as valid as mine.

So, what we need to do is just to have a look at a few of the details, and I've picked out some of the purple ones, those bigger picture thoughts, things that hinting at something a little bit deeper.

So, we've got this initial comment, losing every bit of composure that I've struggled so intensely to maintain.

Now, we just talked about the fact that he was incongrous in the previous part of the passage, and the reality of what he was doing.

and the reality of what he was doing.

And now maybe we get a little bit of an admission of that.

He has been intensely trying to maintain his composure.

So, we see him reach his limit and we receive an admission of how much he's been struggling to maintain control.

And I've just popped under there, a man versus self type conflict, and if you've got that in your initial notes, that's great, that's absolutely fantastic.

You're really starting to see the possibilities with the texts that we're looking at.

"An epiphany strikes me "with the magnificent glory of a Holy intervention." So, we have a climactic moment in that description, a moment where we know there's going to be an irrevocable change, he's going to make a decision now, which he's not going to be coming back from this is it.

And it's described as being delivered to him almost like a religious moment an epiphany.

However, it's like this moment of awe, and moment of inspiration, and we see Ralston note that down, that this was a massive turning point for him.

So, "An epiphany strikes me," and that hints at the climactic moment.

"I am overcome with the excitement "of having solved the riddle of my imprisonment." And here as I've had little bit with the epiphany comment previously, emerge in the quest.

That's going to show him the way forward.

And I think it's a little bit of a quest narrative because And I think it's a little bit of a quest narrative because he describes it like a riddle that needs to be solved.

And he has now worked out how to overcome his obstacle.

So it's presented here, if we think about it like a quest narrative, as being on a journey.

And it's interesting 'cause the journey isn't physical, he's not travelling anywhere, and he's trapped in this one location, but he has overcome his obstacle.

It has helped him come to his realisation and therefore he It has helped him come to his realisation and therefore he is being presented as heroic as he resolved to take the necessary action.

Okay, some interesting ideas there, Pause point for you again, What I will do is hand it back to you because I know with What I will do is hand it back to you because I know with some of these particularly challenging and they are challenging, let's not shy away from that, but we are so ready for this and this is why it's going to become more and more interesting as we work through different texts and passages.

As it's more challenging, you do need a little bit more thinking time.

So, I will hand over control to you, to pause over those screens and some of those ideas and connect them and add them to your own response.

So, control over to you.

Well done, so final action as we always do, when we come to a new text, we're just going to do a little bit of our reflection work.

And again, you have your choices.

You have got the stimulus of thinking about the four types of conflict, and you can see that that's transferred over from our study of the fiction text and we can use it in our non-fiction.

So you've got two questions.

How do you feel about Ralston at the end of the extract, and what have you learned about mankind and or human nature? Okay, you can do either the generating of the four types of conflict on the left hand side, or you can do it as more of a combined task by completing the one on the right hand side.

But final reflection is over to you.

How do you feel about Ralston at the end of the extract and what have you learned about mankind and human nature as a consequence? So, thank you for your focus today.

All that remains for me to say is, enjoy the rest of your learning today, bring your notes from today's session to our next one, because we're going to feed into the next part of the extract and find out what happens.

I will see you when we join tomorrow to go on with our learning.