Thanks to the energy and inventiveness of two teachers at Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada,  I’m happy to share this post and later, a second, with those of you who might be looking for some productive strategies to address the important matters of context and culture. As you will know, the success of the Reflective Statement (and its 3 marks) depends on students providing for their peers a substantial immersion in contextual and cultural matters related to each text in Part 1. Those 3 marks can make a significant difference in the outcome of the Written Assignment.  In spite of a lot of progress in schools getting the RS done correctly, examiners continue, regretfully, to have to assign the mark of 0 or 1 to a number of these. Since evidence of a development of understanding of context and culture must be seen in the RS, much depends on engaged participation in appropriately constructed Interactive Orals.

Below you will find a Powerpoint that shows one of the strategies that Arlene Lee and Wendy Boissonault have used with their students and with a text that you might want to consider exploring for your present syllabus or in the future for the revision of the course. We see very few works from China in the current choices for Part 1 or Part 4.  Red Sorghum, a novel by Mo Yan, is a first person narrative of events happening to the Shandong family during the Second Sino-Japanese War. There is also a film of the novel directed by Zhang Yimou.

Below are Arlene’s comments on taking the approach you will see in this Powerpoint:

‘The great thing about this approach was that it only took one 80-minute class period. All the work was done at home and the sharing only took one period so we could move on to text exploration.  Formerly the presentations took over a week to complete so as to insure that each student took a significant role.

Our students LOVED the Interactive Stations. Having to wrap their heads around creating a station that a group of 6 students could engage with at the same time, without someone being there to facilitate, was an interesting challenge.’

Apples users: Red Sorghum Context Stations(1) 

Windows users: Red Sorghum Context Stations