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Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)


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Lesson plan (students age 18 ca.)

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Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

  1. 1. 1 The Adventure of the Speckled Band By Arthur Conan Doyle An investigative journey Class profile Target class: 5th year of a Liceo linguistico Class composition: 24 Italian students (one SEN and another disabled) Level: B2 of the CEFR Time of school year: second term Length of the teaching unit: 2 lessons Length of lessons: 4 hours Teaching tools: IWB, textbook, worksheets, pictures, Internet resources Pre-requisites: Students have a general knowledge of the historical, social and cultural context of the Victorian Age. In particular they have understood the concept of ―Victorian compromise‖; the dynamics linked to the process of industrialization; its social consequences, such as the spread of urban slums and workhouses. They are able to put these important changes in a cause/effect connection with the Utilitarian philosophy and the main social reforms made in those years. The students are able to create links between different forms of artistic expression, such as for example cinema and literature. General aims: developing skills in coping with different or opposite opinions; respecting different points of view; redesigning their own ideas through discussions; contextualizing the author in a particular historical period; listening and watching critically, interpreting and evaluating. Learning objectives: Students will acquire a good knowledge of A. C. Doyle through his major literary achievement, Sherlock Holmes; Ss will understand that Sherlock Holmes’ adventures have been read by millions of people and continue to remain popular, thus realizing its strong impact on the public; Ss will learn the main features of the literary genre of the detective story; Ss will revise the main aspects of the Victorian age Methods and strategies: Communicative approach; Inductive method; ESA technique; Classroom interaction (Work in pairs and in groups) & Cooperative Learning as Follow Up 1st Lesson (2 hours) 1st Step: Warm up (pre-watching activity, brainstorming, class discussion) Look at these images, Can you guess what or who they refer to?
  2. 2. 2 They refer to one of the most famous detectives in the world What can you tell about Sherlock Holmes? Have you ever read one of his adventures or watched them in a movie? What do you think about him and his stories? 2nd Step: Watching activity Now we are going to watch a short part (7 min.) of a movie which relates one of his adventures. Pay attention to as many elements as you can and take notes ed&v=FbGQSFbwB9o 3rd Step: Post-watching activity (pair work) Answer the following questions in pair (choose from the words suggested and/or add your own words when possible; sometimes more than one answer is possible) 1) What is the atmosphere of the scene? Gloomy funny tense mysterious cool frightening … 2) In which part of the day does it take place? Early in the morning Late in the afternoon During the night 3) Where is it set? In a cottage In a castle In the town In the countryside 4) Are there any animals on the screen? If yes, what kind of animals are there? What do you think about their presence on the scene-setting? Is it: Normal Unusual Funny Original … ?
  3. 3. 3 4th Step: Reading and while-reading activity (individually) The short video we have seen is from ―The Adventure of the Speckled Band‖ (1984), dramatized by Jeremy Paul for the Granada UK Channel under the direction of John Bruce, after the short story by A. Conan Doyle bearing the same title. Now read the passage of the handout individually and underline the passages where you can find evidence of the elements we have pointed out in the previous activity. Remember to focus your attention on: - The atmosphere - The time and place setting - Presence of animals 5th Step: Post-reading activity Now focus on the characters and on the development of narration 1) Holmes and Watson are waiting in the dark room for something to happen, which is their attitude? 2) Do the two characters show the same understanding of what is going on? If no, which of the two characters appears to be more in command of the situation? Why? Give evidence for your answer 3) What insight are you given of the two characters? Focus self-reliance, reactions to frightening and dangerous situations, capacity of reasoning etc. 4) Who does the narrator’s voice belong to? 5) Here is a schema of the parts constituting a detective story: a. Initial situation b. Setting of the problem c. Investigation d. Formulation of hypothesis e. Final solution Which part have you just analyzed? 6th Step: Homework assignment (creative writing) Transform yourself into the author and invent a beginning for this short story
  4. 4. 4 2nd lesson 1st Step: Warm up (brainstorming, short class discussion) On the basis of what you know about the Victorian context and of the aspects emerged and analyzed in the last lesson, in which way does Sherlock Holmes reflects the values of its age? 2nd Step: Contextualization The teacher shows some slides to help students focus on the main characteristics of Doyle’s detective story, the Victorian context and their relationship and makes some quick reference to the author Sherlock Holmes and the detective story Victorian background - Holmes is a middle class man and embodies almost all the values of the middle class - We know that he is not rich: Watson and Holmes are introduced to one another because Holmes needs a flatmate to help him afford his rent. But neither is he poor, ―working-class,‖. Holmes maintains a lifestyle that includes dining out, violin concerts, holidays in the countryside, and other such luxuries. - Class-belonging was an important aspect of identity in Victorian London, if not the most important aspect. People seemed to define themselves almost exclusively by occupation and status. - Holmes shows conformism and attention to public respectability - The Victorian compromise: a society characterized by the co- existence of poverty and prosperity, progress and social reforms, a definite distinction between public and private sphere - Holmes has a rationalistic, deductive approach to life, using the tools of scientific inquiry as aids in his career - The works of Charles Darwin’s "On The Origin of Species" had been published in 1859, the year Arthur Conan Doyle was born and they challenged the religious understanding of the origins of humanity. Many Victorians found themselves challenging established
  5. 5. 5 religion in favor of a more scientific, rationalistic, empirical approach to the world. - The presence of crime (usually murder) in his adventures - He always wins in his struggle against crime, balance is always reestablished in his stories - Moral message - People were worried of the increased rage of criminality due to social problems (inequality, miserable work and life conditions etc.) - order and hierarchy must be always respected Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Born 1859 in Scotland  Studied Medicine and became a doctor in 1885  Began writing in 1887, A Study in Scarlet– 1st Sherlock Holmes story  Wrote dozens of Sherlock Holmes stories for the Strand magazine  Killed off Sherlock Holmes in 1893 because he was tired of writing that kind of fiction  Brought Holmes back ten years later due to fan outrage  Knighted in 1902 by Edward VII 3rd Step: preparation for the students’ expansion activity (the whole class together with the teacher) The teacher and the students prepare a glossary and a chart as prompts for the students’ activity Glossary  Clue — anything that serves to guide or direct in the solution of a problem, mystery, etc  Red Herring — something that diverts attention from the actual facts of a case; a misleading clue  Motive — reasons to commit the crime  Means — resources to commit the crime  Opportunity — chances to commit the crime
  6. 6. 6 Chart SUSPECT: Person suspected of committing the crime MOTIVE: Reason to commit the Crime MEANS: Resources to commit the Crime OPPORTUNITY: Chance to commit the crime 4th Step: Homework (group work) Students are divided into three groups. Each group will prepare a Power Point presentation on a famous past or present detective of their choice with the help of the materials prepared in class.