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Beckett act without words


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  • 1. Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) Act Without Words (1957) Non-verbal communication in literature and in everyday life
  • 2. Abstract During this Teaching Unit students will be encouraged to think about the importance of non-verbal communication in our lives starting from the analysis of a play written by one of the most influential representatives of The Theatre of the Absurd, a literary trend of the second half of the 20th century focusing on degradation and destruction of language deprived of its communicative function.
  • 3. Target and Timing • Target: 5th grade students of an upper secondary school specialising in foreign languages (Liceo linguistico) • Cefr Level: B2 and above • Expected Timing: 3 or 4 class periods
  • 4. Specific Learning Objectives Students will be able to: • use strategies before, during, and after reading to aid in the construction and enhancement of meaning • respond in discussions and writing about works of fiction and/or non fiction using personal and interpretative stances • identify the key concepts in extended speech and interpret written texts on a wide range of topics • illustrate topics related to different areas of interest explaining their point of view backing up their argument describing pros and cons
  • 5. Cross-curricular Objectives • enhance personal communicative skills also by means of computers and all available technologies • improve cultural awareness and expression • increase self-awareness and the ability to be actively involved in the learning process (learning to learn)
  • 6. Instructional Objectives • identify the writing conventions of drama as a genre, with particular reference to the Theatre of the Absurd • evaluate the relevance of the title to the situation in the play • explain how the play represents the absurdity of human existence and the lack of communication between individuals in Modern society • describe how non-verbal communication can affect our everyday life
  • 7. Procedure Steps in developing the lessons WARM UP ACTIVITIES: 1. Internet Scavenger Hunt: - Ss are asked to research on the net to find out more information about the author (Group-work). By the end of the inquiry Ss are supposed to create a Power Point presentation or a Digital Mind Map/Organization Chart to illustrate their findings to the whole class. - After the research stage T may propose to Ss gathered in 2 or 3 teams to play a quiz like Trivial Pursuit dividing the questions by topics/categories assigning a reward for each right answer.
  • 8. Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) Interesting facts about his life Most remarkable works Best known for Organization Chart Template
  • 9. Warm up / Pre-reading activities 2. Anticipating the play: Ss are asked to make predictions about the play starting from its title: T write on the board discussion points and divide students into small groups to discuss these points for a few minutes e.g. What do you think is the focus of this play? Do you think the title is connected with the content of the play? Can you guess who is the protagonist? What is the setting? Ss are asked to discuss these points at first in groups and then with the whole class with a spokesman for each group
  • 10. Main Focus Working on Drama: • Ss are asked to watch a YouTube video reproducing a performance of Act Without Words • Whole Class Discussion: • After having watched the video and having read some passages taken from the play Ss are asked to talk about their personal response to the play and to discuss how the author represents time, place and characters. Suggested questions: Where does the action take place? Describle the main and only character of the play / Make a list of the objects lowered on the stage / What does whistles signal? • T might ask Ss to fill in the blanks of a short cloze text about the main features of the play This play is about ______________________ (a person) who tries to ________________ and/but after ___________________ ends up ________________ because_______________ _______________ _________________. Suggested solution: This play is about a lonely man who tries to find some comfort but after failing repeatedly ends up completely alone because life is cruel.
  • 11. Follow-up Activity • Creative Writing: • Since Act Without Words is a mime Ss divided into small groups are asked to write a script for this play including dialogue and adding characters to the cast. In order to accomplish this task Ss should also produce a storyboard of some scenes including cartoon bubbles and headings. By the completion of the project each group is supposed to illustrate it to the whole class.
  • 12. Further Activities • Ss are asked to consider the importance of non-verbal communication relating it to their everyday behaviour, evaluating how cultural differences in appropriate body language can cause discomfort or misunderstandings and linking it to the learning of a foreign language. • To accomplish this task Ss working with a partner are asked to read an article about this topic and answer to a reading comprehension questionnaire including also multiple choice questions.
  • 13. Reading Comprehension Excerpt from the article Ss are supposed to read: BODY LANGUAGE When we communicate with others, we express our thoughts and feelings not only through the words we choose, but also through our tone of voice, facial expression and body language. In fact, many communications experts believe that far more information is communicated non-verbally (without words) than verbally (with words). "Body language" is an important part of non-verbal communication. ...To learn another language is more than just learning words and grammar, it involves learning about another culture, too. We learn much of our own culture's body language before we learn to speak, from the time we are children, usually without even being aware of it. And that body language varies from culture to culture, so it's something to which second language learners should pay attention. ...Sometimes, cultural differences in appropriate body language can cause discomfort or misunderstandings too...
  • 14. Questionnaire ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: 1. How do we express our feelings and thoughts when we communicate with others? 2. Why should we pay attention to body language? 3. What aspects of our everyday physical behaviour does body language include? 4. Most people will understand cultural mistakes with body language, so: a. We don't need to pay much attention to a new culture's body language. b. We should be extremely careful about our use of body language in a new culture. c. We should learn about a new culture's body language but not worry too much about making mistakes. 5. How can television or video help us understand more about body language? 6. Explain why cultural differences in appropriate body language can cause discomfort giving examples. 7. Do speakers of the same language use the same body language? 8. Is it worth learning cultural or regional attitudes? 9. All native English speakers use the same body language : a. Yes b. Doesn't say c. No 10. Which one of the following is not an example of body language? a. The way we stand b. The words we use c. The way we use our hands
  • 15. Homework • Students are asked to write a short report, based on a layout, about what emerged from the class discussion and their personal opinions about the themes proposed. • Guidelines: - clarify the terms of reference - plan the work - collect information - organise and structure information - write the first draft - check and write the final copy
  • 16. Expansions • Writing a play review: Ss working in small groups are asked to take the role of critics and review Beckett's play, if possible using a multimedia file. • Interdisciplinary project: Since the play was originally written in French being translated into English by Beckett himself, collaborating with the French teacher, I might propose Ss a comparative literature project working on Beckett's works but also on plays of the French Absurdist playwright Eugène Ionesco aimed at producing a digital file containing hyperlinks.
  • 17. Methods • Inductive and Deductive methods (meaningful and mechanical practice) • Communicative approach (exposing learners to the target language as much as possible through the use of 'realia') • Student-centered approach (active and cooperative learning activities): - learning together - student team learning - group investigation - project work - active reading and writing - whole class discussion - educational games
  • 18. ADAPTATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS (SEN) Teaching strategies used with students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) or students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): - Combine communicative and learner-centered approaches - Make activities concise and short and modify assignments if necessary (considering the student learning style) - Plan to repeat instructions or add information in both written and verbal formats - Adjust work time (taking into account that frequent breaks are required) - Provide disabled students with frequent progress checks - Encourage cooperative learning activities getting the student involved in activities with other students - Limit the amount of homework - Provide opportunities for the student to self-select some activities to be pursued independently
  • 19. Materials and Resources Printed resources: Textbooks Literary anthologies Commentaries and articles Worksheets Concept/mind maps (either printed or in digital format) Realia Multimedia-laboratory resources: Educational software (cd-roms, Virtual Learning Environments,etc) Interactive Multimedia Whiteboard (IWB) Computer with Internet Access Language lab Audio/visual resources Lessons in Power Point
  • 20. Assessment • Formative assessment (assessing the mastery of skills through oral and written language production tests) • Summative assessment evaluating the development of learners (proficiency using specified procedures and/or conducting investigation, mastery of content knowledge, reasoning proficiency, ability to create adequate products) • Self-assessment activities (content-based and language-based feedback on classroom activities)