At Secondary Level:
A thematic approach can be used successfully at secondary level. It is not purile, but, done in a more teenage style, is good practice, backed by sound academic educational philosophy. I believe that anyone who questions this has not read any recent educational research texts…in fact, they probably have never ever read such things! Let’s embarrass them by asking them shall we? Their ill informed opinions make me see red! I have used a thematic approach repeatedly with teenagers across the secondary age range and so have many well experience, well qualified, too-numerous-to-mention colleagues.
Case Study 3
“A Cow Called Boy” by C Everard Palmer
for upper primary/lower secondary pupils.
To use a set book in a thematic approach style for a group of secondary aged pupils who have reading difficulties,
To accelerate their literacy skills by using a method of teaching (thematic approach) that allows one developing skill to build on another.
Why “A Cow Called Boy”?
“A Cow Called Boy” has a low reading age score, although this score is higher than the score of most of the pupils concerned.
The book also has “street cred” as it is used as a first year literature texts in other secondary schools on the island.
The book is only a hundred pages long, so has a short story line, no complicated sub plots and a low cost outlay and, because it is already in use, secondhand copies are sometimes available here.
The classroom needs:
Wall space available for big display of the story and for children’s work related to the story.
Backing paper, fabric, cardboard or similar.
Picture library of magazine cut outs, cards etc to use in workcard making.
Paper, crayons, coloured pencils scissors, glue, and box of junk (cartons, matchboxes, coloured paper, fabric scraps) for model making.
Table set aside for work cards and related display e.g. model, 3D map of the setting, model of a cow. etc.
Ideas for cross curricula activities within the theme
Plans to cover variety of genres in written work tasks like:
Sets of cloze procedure cards and question cards with wide range of readability to be suitable for all reading ages within the class.
Imaginative writing: Imagine your pet followed you to school. Write about your day.
Reported writing: You are a journalist on the local paper. Write a report about the new four legged pupil in school in your town.
Descriptive writing: Describe how Josh felt when his mother showed him the For Sale sign
Letter writing: Write a letter of complaint to…..
Write a letter congratulating…..
Write Mr Redmond’s note to Josh’s mother
How to writing: How to look after a young calf.
How to get from Josh’s house to his school.
Poster writing: Design a poster to hold up in the village square.
Character Study:Choose, from the list one of the characters in the story and describe what he or she is like.
The adult townsfolk:
Mr Tom Kelly, Bertha Mahon, Mr Benjamin Watson (Store keeper), Mrs Theresa Watson, Baby Willie Watson, Mr Tobias (Storekeeper),Mrs Bernard, Baby Mark Bernard, Mr. Ridley, Gig Pearson, Merlin Bricknell, District Constable Ainsly,Jane Killy, Percy Raglan,Craig Miller
Mr Redmond, Principal, Mrs Anthony, Mrs Evadne Redmond Grade 2,
Senior Pupils: Pearlita
Josh’s Grade: Joshua Mahon, Karen Lawson, Brad Matthews, Tobias, Tony Killy, Vera, Roger, Susan, Rodney Craig, Leland Court,
Grade 2: Maria Bernard,
Others: Martin Duncan, Dolly Thompson, Susan
Cross Curricular Studies.
Plan of Josh’s Mum’s garden.
Growing seeds. School vegetable garden.
Fauna:Cows, bulls, calves, bullkins, heifers, oxen, cattle, john-to-whits, nightingales yellow tales, snappers
Flora Khuskhus grass, guinea grass
Animal tracks and traces
Making butter. You can do this in a week. Start on Monday.Keep putting cream of milk in a screw top jar for 5 days adding some salt at the same time.On Friday play some jaunty music and shake your jar to the rhythm. Lumps of butter will appear the size dependent on the amount of cream your milk had. Spread on bread for an end of week treat.
Plan a celebration meal for Boy’s return
Maps of the town.
Maps of the countryside showing Josh’s route to school.
Map of Jamaica showing Kendal.
Arithmetic to do with credit.
Follow up reference to taxes, (page94). Money for cow.
Caribbean folk songs, (Chap.8).
Relationships. Co operation. Bullying.
Two character chatting on the square.
Miming: Josh taking Boy to school.
Josh’s talk to the class with Boy.
Drawings of the town and/or characters
Model of a cow.
3D map of the area.
Model of the shop.
Model of Josh’s house and yard.