Lesson video

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I'm Mrs. Crompton.

Welcome to today's English lesson.

Our focus today is strengthening our reading skills.

We'll be looking at a new unseen fiction text.

Our short story this week will be by Patrick O'Brian and it is called "Samphire." You'll need a pen and paper.

Take a moment to make sure you've cleared any distractions away and have everything you need to hand.

So our short story "Samphire" by Patrick O'Brian is set by the sea, and in particular, we have a setting of a cliff face and also a reference to samphire that runs throughout the plot lines.

I just wanted to show you a picture of samphire, which is a succulent salt tolerant plant that grows near water.

So we can see a little bit of the background here.

I'm not going to say too much more about this right now, but I wanted you to have the visual before we get into the short story itself, let's make a start.

So this is a really familiar screen to you now I hope, and we're going to keep going with our reading routine, and it's not the only way of reading a text obviously it's very much designed for this particular situation while we are approaching an unseen extract.

And what we're going to do as usual is number one, break the extract down into our four sections; first, next, then, and finally, and I've done that for you.

The next thing we're going to do is to use the prompt questions to start thinking about what we're reading.

You might have other thoughts, that is brilliant.

It's not that this is the only thing that you're allowed to think, but I think there are useful hooks for you to look at.

Anything else, please write it down too.

We are trying to get the best possible responses and you are now becoming more and more confident in your reading.

The second point then is prompt questions provided to help you activate the ideas we've been looking at.

What I'd like you to do with your responses is to record them on lined paper, and again, as we are now in week four, these responses might not just be bullet points anymore.

Try and write down full sentences.

Try thinking about how you're going to sequence your ideas and try and capture them on paper.

Whilst that's going on, pause the screen.

When you've done that, resume the video and I will be waiting for you and we will be looking at the work together and I will give you a suggestion and you can then make different points on your work.

You can use different coloured pen, pencil, self-assess, check your progress.

I'll then be giving you another opportunity to pause and refine the writing that you've done, because it's really important for all of us to have that opportunity to edit what we've been doing to be able to go over it, to think about how we might want to alter our ideas when we shared ideas with others.

And today I'm going to be there as your sharing partner with a few ideas at the end of each pause point.

So reminder then.

Read the passage, answer the questions following the prompts, pause the screen, have a look at what you've written, resume, I'll give you some suggestions.

You can then pause again and review your work.

We'll have a look at the first screen together in terms of question.

What does the writer want us to know at the beginning of the short story? What is the focus on character, setting, action? Those are some common things that we usually have at the beginning of a text.

Is there a sense of equilibrium or disequilibrium? So those are two things that I would like you to think about.

Soon as you've finished, soon as you've got your answers down, resume the video and I will be there waiting for you.

Welcome back, let's see how we've done.

So, here's a response to have a little look at.

There are a few ideas in here that might help to support what you've already got.

So the extract's from the beginning of a short story, what does the writer want us to know? So the extract opens with a focus on the setting; it appears inhospitable.

We've got quite a nice overview statement there just about that initial impact of the sheer sheer cliffs, because it was very dramatic.

The opening words of sheer emphasise the precarious nature of the location, and this is followed up by the onomatopoeic descriptions of the thunder of the water and the tearing sea.

A sense of disequilibrium is established.

So we've got two key points that the setting is precarious and that we've got a sense of disequilibrium.

And we've got the evidence sandwiched in between about how we've come to that opinion with the onomatopoeia, the use of the word sheer.

Okay, it doesn't stop there though.

We are then introduced to two anonymous characters.

"they were two," the use of pronouns establishes them as a pair, but then we move on to focus on the man.

It's quite a nice detail, quite a precise comment.

This idea of "they were two" is really specific, isn't it? That they want us to see this as a couple, but then very quickly O'Brian separates them and the focus goes onto the man.

He is presented as the "man was crouched, "leaning over as far as he dared." This is an interesting image as it presents him as challenging the power of nature by positioning himself on the very edge.

By doing so, the writer initiates an idea that he is the protagonist and hero of the text.

So the response, if we just have a look at that last part, we've got this zoomed-in comment on the pronouns and how that creates initially a sense of togetherness, but then very immediately a sense of separation.

So that actually what we are left with is this idea of the separate nature of this couple.

And then this point that develops over the two slides.

This is an interesting image as it presents him as challenging the power of nature.

So we've got a little bit of that conflict.

The four conflicts come in through there that this man is doing something that most of us really wouldn't do.

We wouldn't be crouching down and leaning as far as we dared and that idea of him daring that's picked up in the comment of him being initiated as this protagonist figure for us.

And we can see the response I'm picking and really zooming-in on specific words and phrases to develop an answer.

Okay, you now have opportunity and I'm going to give you control at this point, just to play around with this and see what you want to do, reread your answer, see what you would like to add in light of what has just been discussed.

And you may wish to even go back a little bit, go back over a specific slide, pick a few details out, but an opportunity now to refine your response.

As soon as you're happy, we'll move on.

Right, so we're onto the next part, aren't we? How does the extract develop? And in this instance, your prompts are around characterization.

So we think about the characterization and we're thinking about what we're learning about the couple.

We've already commented that they were introduced as together, but then separated quite rapidly.

Let's see what happens now.

What types of verbs are used to describe the woman and what types of verb are used to describe the man.

And we've looked at the way that this happens in terms of presenting passive and active roles and some sort of gendered stereotypes that are associated with that idea and how writers can subvert as well as conform to those ideas, depending on the nature of the narrative.

So we're going to look at the verb usage here.

And then I'd like you to make that summary comment of what you're actually learning about the couple.

So those are the prompts for you to be thinking about as usual, working through the slides, pausing as required, writing down answer, and then joining me in a moment to check through what we could have found.

Welcome back again, so next, how does the extract develop? Think about the characterization, what do we learn about the couple? The writer uses a series of verbs that suggest the woman's anxiety and lack of control.

Her physical space is compromised as she "knelt" and "crawled" to try and find safety.

She "clung insanely to the thin grass" emphasises how weak she is.

She is desperate to overcome the fear that is described as "assaulting her mind." I think there's quite a nice range of evidence there.

We've got the "knelt" and "crawled" and this idea of her physical space being really quite small and she hasn't got anywhere to be and that must be how somebody would feel if they were really, really scared of heights.

And they were put in a position where they had to deal with this situation.

The reference to her clinging to really thin grass really emphasises that desperation, doesn't it? And it's described as "assaulting her mind." A really nice combination I think of evidence.

Selections are quite brief.

We've talked previously about sort of embedding that evidence and making sure that you're picking out details that both support and develop your line of discussion.

Moving on, in contrast, and that's quite a nice starting point to show that juxtaposition between these two characters, because the question asks, what do we learn about the couple? And now we're learning about the man.

In contrast, the same situation and conditions that are petrifying the woman are delighting the man.

"He laughed, excited by the wind." This builds on the earlier image of him moving close to the edge of the cliff.

The reaction of the couples to their environment and situation reveals the lack of harmony in their relationship.

So we've gone from the woman contrasting to the man and then drawing out that comment and thinking about what it tells us of the couple themselves.

This is underlined when he touches her on the arm and she "writhed away." The verb "writhe" is usually associated with squirming movement that comes of being in an extremely uncomfortable situation.

The woman feels like this when her husband tries to comfort her.

So we do have that moment at the end, where the husband seems to respond to the wife.

Clearly she's not happy, but her reaction is really quite telling and that verb writhe is so powerful in communicating so much just with one selection.

Again, opportunity now for you to take control.

Reread your answer, refine, revise, and then we'll have a look at the next section.

So pause the video, refine your response.

Soon as you are happy, we'll have a look at the next question.

Then what do we learn? How is the action developed? A couple of things to think about.

Let's think about the narrative perspective.

So who's telling the story? Who is actually in control of the narrative? The person who gets to speak has a position of power, don't they? So let's think about what's going on there.

What does the writer zoom-in on and what is the effect? And what do we find out about the couple through their characterization? So we're still carrying that thread through.

It's very much about the characters now, isn't it? We've moved away, the setting is there, but it's this dynamic that we now want to know more about.

So what narrative perspective? What we've been made to look at through the zooming in, on specific details and what are we starting to find out about this couple? That's where our interest is peaked.

That's what we want to know more about.

So what did we learn? How has the action developed? Let's have a look.

The narrative perspective initially focuses upon the male character's viewpoint detailing his external actions and speech.

"He followed her, you noted the flashy leaves, "didn't you, Molly?" We then seem to get a blurring of perspectives and then narrative zooms-in to possibly track Molly's recollections of her husband's words through her internal thoughts.

"He was pleased with her," it's an interesting point here.

The narrative does blur and deciding exactly who it belongs to becomes quite difficult.

And it's an interesting technique that O'Brian is deliberately using.

We're not just getting this from the perspective of one character or even a narrative voice.

The narrator seems to, in effect, increasingly start to sympathise with Molly and move away from just giving this external view.

Let's see how it moves on.

Alternatively, it could be the omniscient narrative voice leading our interpretation of the couple's dynamic and how we should feel about them.

And perhaps I'll just pause again there.

So we started off with an omniscient narrative voice.

An omniscient narrator is somebody who can see everything who can see things from different characters perspectives and gives an overview.

And initially we're getting an observation of the couple.

Then it looked like it was going to zoom in on the man, but actually it's still just describing what he's doing when we actually seem to get into some internal thoughts, it seems to be that the narrator is choosing to perhaps lead us through Molly's thoughts.

I'm not sure at this stage whether it's going to stay like that.

So within my response, I'm just keeping it quite open.

I feel like I'm being led a certain way, I'm not quite sure.

And this might be something that I want to myself refine as the answer goes on.

So I just wanted to show you how it's good to try and grapple with some of these ideas and to say, who's speaking to you, where is it coming from? What are we thinking about? So this is another angle that I want to bring into our analysis.

The use of punctuation is particularly interesting in suggesting his tone and her attitude towards him.

"She was coming along very well, "she remembered - didn't she? - How he had to persuade her." The use of dashes suggests the way in which he is firing comments after, and also the way in which these words appear disjointed in her head.

He continues to question Molly and we feel as though the narrator switched to track her thoughts and feelings when we get the details of his chin jutting out and him wagging his finger.

And it is very much, you can almost feel like the narrator is trying to objectively view things.

And he's telling us a little bit about how the man appears in his behaviour, but then the detail of the chin jutting out and him wagging his finger would be the sorts of things that Molly would remember and the things that she's really holding as this whole experience is happening.

Molly is made to feel like a child and her position is one of subservience.

"Lacey was her lord and master, wasn't he? "Love, honour, and obey?" So as an answer, that was quite complex in terms of trying to unpack the narrative voice.

I'm not definite, and I don't think I'm meant to be.

And I think it's really important that when we are looking at anything, we are comfortable in saying, I'm not quite sure, it appears to do this.

That ambiguity that's present in the text is something that you can comment on in your own response.

So I'll give you an opportunity again, to go through this process of refining your answer.

Maybe even rereading that little section and sort of getting some of those ideas straight in your mind, we're going to return to it.

So please don't worry about this, but I did want to point out that the narrative perspective shifts and moves around.

What I can be sure of is that we seem to be seeing Molly in a very sympathetic light and any thoughts I had of Lacey, the man, as this character who is potentially a hero, that's starting to disappear quite rapidly.

Soon as you're ready, we'll move on and we'll have a look at the next little bit.

See if that helps us any in clarifying what we're thinking.

Finally, what do we learn? How does the extract conclude? And here, I want you to think about who is leading the action? Is there anything that surprises you as a reader? And what do you predict might happen next? This isn't the end of the short story.

So I do want to tell you that before we begin to read, but I've split it and we're going to have half of it today, and we're going to have half of it in our next session.

So bear that in mind, so this isn't a natural ending, but I do want you to think about how this next part works.

And for the purposes of splitting an extract into four, which is what we would have to do if this was a timed condition with an extract, we're going to treat this as our finally, but please bear in mind it is not the end of the story.

And we will be finding out what happens.

Who's leading the action? What surprises you as a reader? What do you predict might happen next? And welcome back.

So surprise is, I think there was some surprises there.

Let's have a little look.

How does the extract conclude? It's the extract conclude not the whole story.

The reader is surprised to see Molly asking to go back to the cliff the following day.

However, we're not surprised to see the male character take control of events and dominate the following proceedings.

He is very pleased with her, we do not however, go straight back to the cliff, but hear about how the man conducts himself around the hotel and then in the tobacconist shop.

The setting now is very mundane, but his actions are consistent with the way he had behaved on the cliff.

So we're going to stop there for a second.

And what I was wanting to capture here is this idea that Molly definitely asking him to go back to the cliff is the last thing I would have imagined of somebody who was literally clinging on by her fingertips clearly was actually in physical pain about the thought of being on that cliff edge.

So for her to say, I'm going back, that's something that I'm interested in.

That's something I want to know about.

And it's certainly not something I was initially expecting.

He however, is not different and I think it's nice to point out what is consistent and what is different.

That's an interesting way of developing your analysis.

The other thing that's interesting is that they're not going straight back to the cliff.

This sort of detour via the hotel lobby and then going to the tobacconist shop, could even be bothering why, why, why? Why is this happening? Patrick O'Brian must have a purpose.

We've got to consider that there is a reason for this.

So the setting is now very mundane, but his actions are consistent with the way he had behaved on the cliff.

He is still domineering and we are shown Molly who initially was given some agency by saying, I want to go to the cliff, but so, is this a change in Molly? She goes back to how we imagined her before, disappearing into the background again.

"She stood near the door, not looking at anything." This further adds to a growing sense of an impending crisis.

That's the result, isn't it? All of these different facets brought together the changes, and then the man still carrying on as normal, something is going to happen, we can feel the rising action.

So an impending crisis.

There is an incongruity between what she's asked and what we know of her.

Lacey on the other hand, either doesn't seem to notice or care.

This also adds to the reader's growing lack of patience and sympathy towards him.

Have a little think about some of the ideas there.

Maybe you're not quite as irritated by him as I am, but I certainly was by this point and that's what I've tried to suggest in my final point there that I'm not really sure what's going on with Molly.

I'm intrigued by her behaviour, there's an incongruity.

She can't seem to go through with something.

She's asked to go somewhere that I wouldn't expect her to want to go.

But then I see her sort of shrinking back again, which is confusing me as a reader and Lacey is just more of the same and he doesn't seem to notice what's going on at all.

And I'm not warming to this character.

So I wanted to capture that in my response.

Okay, so that is again, the end of this particular extract, not the end of the short story.

So you've got to come back and find out what happens in our next lesson, got to find out what happens.

However, right now, what you do have is an opportunity to pause the video, have a little look over your answer, refine as necessary and then I will be waiting for you in a moment.

Welcome back, so in terms of our final thought, it's just bringing everything together.

And we've tried really hard within our answers to look at things on a literal level, but then just to take that step back and think about what our texts are telling us about mankind, human nature.

We have got the four types of conflict, which we've started to see, haven't we? They're not as split as they might appear, they are mingling, they are interweaving.

There are facets within them.

So we've got that as a stimulus for you to think about.

I've also popped up here, what are we thinking about the reason for it all being that's on a cliff? Have you got any comments about samphire? What might that samphire represent? So we have an opportunity now just to do a final part of our reading process, which is to extend our thinking and to think about what it tells us about human beings, about society in general, and about the way mankind operates, Pause, complete that task.

And then finally, to finish the learning for today, you have your recap quiz to complete.

All that remains for me to say is thank you for your focus and enjoy the rest of your learning today.