Wednesday, 23 May 2012

1. Introduction & Research

Lesson One
Introduction and & Research on The Boy in The Striped Pajamas

Quote: "The house in Berlin had stood on a quiet street and alongside it were a handful of other big houses like his own... and when you walked towards the centre of town there were always people strolling along and stopping to chat... There were shops with bright store fronts, and fruit and vegetable stalls with big trays piled high" The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

{Teacher introduces the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as a story set in World War II where a young boy is the son of a German official who unknowingly begins a friendship with an imprisoned Jewish boy to dire consequences.} (5 mins)

Activity: Students brainstorm what they know of World War II - which countries were involved and on which sides, where the action was, what happened to the Jewish population, how it all ended. Students post their findings on this blog to look back on at the end of the lesson sequence. (15 mins)
{Teacher discusses researching on the internet and the ways in which students should control and optimize their searching. Discussion includes selection search engines, understanding the commercial aspect of the internet and how that affects information, optimizing searches with 'and' and use of inverted commas, reliability of sites such as Wikipedia, cross-referencing etc.} (10 mins)

Activity: Students search the internet using the search engine and phrase selection of their choice to find the causes of World War II. Students are to find three different websites and consider the different representations of this information. They then pair up and share their findings and thoughts, and post their combined opinions and findings on this blog. {Think, Pair, Share} (10 mins)

Activity: As a class, students read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas from Page 1 through Page 14 finishing with "'Some people make all the decisions for us'". A few student volunteers take turns reading aloud for the class. The students then go around the room and make one comment each on what they have learnt about the location, situation or themes of the novel. Teacher scribes answers and posts on this blog. {Round Table} (20 mins)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

2. Importance of Novel

Lesson Two
The Importance of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Quote: "'The thing about exploring is that you have to know whether the thing you've found is worth finding. Some things are just sitting there, minding their own business, waiting to be discovered. Like America. And other things are probably better off left alone. Like a dead mouse at the back of a cupboard.'
'I think I belong to the first category,' said Shmuel.
'Yes,' replied Bruno. 'I think you do. Can I ask you something?' he added after a moment.
'Yes,' said Shmuel.
Bruno thought about it. He wanted to phrase the question just right.
'Why are there so many people on that side of the fence?' he asked. 'And what are you all doing there?'" The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Page 114-115.

Activity: Class reads page 116-133 of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas together with a few volunteers reading passages. (15 mins)

Once finished, each student jots down 3 dot points on the three things they found most important or memorable from the passage. In small groups, students compare their thoughts on important issues and jointly build a ladder diagram (similar to the example on 'Cooperative Learning' below) to rank the important information, and upload these images to this blog. (15 mins)

Activity: Students now read and view the following reviews of the novel. Students then use their preferred search engine and find other reviews that highlight what they think is important about the novel, and embed/share the links of any reviews they find in this blog. (20 mins)

Review 1

Review 2

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Failed Holocaust Fable

Click to read:,8599,1857440,00.html#ixzz1vlA920Dw

{Teacher will have spoken individually with students during this lesson about what they are finding important about the novel and the story it tells. Now the teacher asks a few questions for the students to think about the ways in which the novel reveals its meaning, including:
  • Why do you think the story is told from the perspective of a child?
  • How might it be different if Bruno and Shmuel were adults?
  • Why do you think Hitler is referred to as The Fury?
  • How does the story show different perspectives on the war and Bruno's father's role in the war?
  • Do you think the novel has an opinion on the war? How does it show its opinion? Why do you think so?
Teacher explains the students are to think about these questions individually for the next lesson} (10 mins)

Monday, 21 May 2012

3. Character & Perspective

Lesson 3
Character & Perspective in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

{Teacher revises over the past two lessons, reminding students of their study of the background of the war and the importance of the novel. Teacher writes the questions from last lesson on the board that the students were to think about:
  • Why do you think the story is told from the perspective of a child?
  • How might it be different if Bruno and Shmuel were adults?
  • Why do you think Hitler is referred to as The Fury?
  • How does the story show different perspectives on the war and Bruno's father's role in the war?
  • Do you think the novel has an opinion on the war? How does it show its opinion? Why do you think so?
The teacher explains these are overarching questions that the class will discuss later, and that students should bear them in mind as they read today.} (10 mins)

Activity: In small groups, the students read two passages - pages 14-23, and pages 42-48 - and take notes on what they learn about each character, including details such as:
  • What do you learn about each character? Characteristics, likes/dislikes, etc.
  • What is each character's attitude or opinion of each character to moving to Auschwitz and the war?
  •  What does this opinion reveal about the person's character? Are they flexible or stubborn? Wanting to please or upset with the situation?
Students are to compile a group list of characteristics and answers to the questions. (30 mins)

Activity: The class watches the following YouTube videos on the actors from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas film to learn about actors and characters (10 mins):

{The teacher will collect the group list of characteristics and highlight some of the best answers on the whiteboard along with information from the video.}

Activity: Students are instructed to write a character profile on one character from the novel bearing in mind what they have read and learnt about the characters today. (10 mins)

{The teacher hands out a hard copy of Assessment 1 and shows students where to find a digital copy on this blog. The teacher explains this assessment is to be done as homework and ready to hand in at the next class.}

Sunday, 20 May 2012

4. Themes

Lesson 4
Themes of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

{Teacher refreshes students on the definition of a theme.}

A theme: is an central idea or message that a text conveys to a reader. Themes can be about society or life, both as it relates to the story of the text or the ideas can be timeless and true in many situations.

Activity: As a class, students brainstorm what they think could be some of the themes of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The teacher writes these ideas on the board on a mind map which is scanned and posted onto this blog. Then each student has a turn in commenting on what they think the novel is saying about each of these themes and how the novel presents these themes. (20 mins)

Activity: Teacher shows the above video, stopping after each new image is shown with the description, and asking students what they have seen. eg. fences, running, etc. Students list what they see and then connect these images and words to possible themes to build on their knowledge. The video is shown twice. (20 mins)

Activity: Students write a list of their choice of the five most important themes, what the author is trying to say about the themes, and the things from the novel that show that these are important. Eg. repeated use of the fence, friendship between different boys etc. Students are to consider how the John Mayer song is used in this video, and what it means that 70 years after the war, a song like this is still relevant to the war and to life today. Students are to post their answers on this blog. (20 mins)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

5. War Propaganda

Lesson 5
War Propaganda

Quote "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep telling it, and eventually they will believe it" Adolf Hitler.

{Class arrives to this quote on the whiteboard and the teacher introduces the topic of propaganda, how it is relevant and prevalent in WWII and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The teacher writes the definition and features of propaganda on the whiteboard.}

Propaganda: is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, that is used to promote or publicize a particular political cause of point of view. Propaganda is often used as a political strategy by leaders to stay in power, or to convince their people or country to do what the politicians want them to. It is a form of manipulation.

Features of Propaganda:
•Distorting facts; changing the truth
•Pointing out an ENEMY
•Emotive language
•Stereotyping or generalising, especially groups of people
•Using symbols, slogans, repetition and clich├ęs
•Avoiding the details of an argument
•Asking help from authorities
•A ‘call to action’ or appeal to the public for support/action
•A (too) simple solution to a problem

Activity: Class watches the following You Tube videos as examples of propaganda. The first as an example of Amercian propaganda, and the second as an example of German anti-Jewish propaganda. Students are advised to consider what they see in terms of symbols, characters, misrepresentations, opinions, etc. Class then discusses what the students have noticed. (25 mins)

Activity: Class then views the following propaganda posters and comments on the symbols, characters, colours, images, and how all these things contribute to a propaganda message. Students are to consider how effective these are in presenting their message. Students are to note the relevance of the two latter images as Australian propaganda. (20 mins)

Activity: Class then views the following propaganda speech excerpt from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and comments on the ways in which language creates similar symbols and imagery to the visual texts, and how this type of propaganda message is revealed, and how effective it is. Students are to note how propaganda is prevalent on both sides of the war. (15 mins)

Quote: “Here in London, which Herr Hitler says he will reduce to ashes, and which his aeroplanes are now bombarding, our people are bearing up unflinchingly. Our Air Force has more than held its own. We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes. But, of course, this for us is only the beginning. Now in 1940, in spite of occasional losses, we have, as ever, command of the seas. In 1941 we shall have command of the air. Remember what that means. Herr Hitler with his tanks and other mechanical weapons, and also by Fifth Column intrigue with traitors, has managed to subjugate for the time being most of the finest races in Europe… I tell you truly what you must believe when I say this evil man, this monstrous abortion of hatred and defeat, is resolved on nothing less than the complete wiping out of the French nation… All Europe, if he has his way, will be reduced to one uniform Boche-land, to be exploited, pillaged and bullied by Nazi gangsters Winston Churchill

{For homework, students are instructed to search the internet for other propaganda on WWII or any other topic of their choice. Students are to upload, embed or copy/paste this propaganda onto this blog and write a short 5 lines description of where it came from, what they believe it is saying, and how it presents its message.}

Friday, 18 May 2012

6. Visual Representation

Lesson 6
Visual Representation

Activity: Teacher opens this page and shows the following visual images to the class. Students work to identify each one, not only what they see but what type of visual representation each is and how you can tell, eg. Van Gogh's starry starry night is a painting, the facebook symbol is an icon to access facebook etc. (15 mins)

{Teacher explains what a visual representation is and how it is relevant to English and to the study of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.}

A visual representation: is a text that conveys meaning through visual means. This can include posters, symbols, signs, maps, videos, films, advertisements etc. Visual texts can be evaluated for the personal, expressive, critical and aesthetic value.

{Teacher hands out an information sheets on the features of visual representations and how they work to create meaning. Below is a digital copy of this information.}

Features of Visual Representations:

Blur - can suggest motion

Colour - can suggests mood or emphasis.

Red: active, passion, masculine, emotion, danger
Orange: excitement, desire
Yellow: warm, cheerful, enlightenment, light hearted
Blue: cool, calm, wisdom
Pink: emotion, feminine, sensuous, romantic
Green: knowledge, hope, promise, envy
Black: evil, mysterious, powerful, fear
White: purity, innocence, timeless, mystical
Purple: passionate, royal, caring, smoldering
Grey: neutral, uncommitted, noninvolvement
Sepia: the past, old

Demand and offers - suggests how the viewer should look at the image. A demand is where a character in the image is looking straight at the viewer demanding their attention. Conversely an offer is where the character is looking away, allowing the viewer to look elsewhere first.

Lines -
Horizontal/Vertical line: suggests stability
Diagonal/Dotted/Broken lines: suggests instability or motion

Mist - can suggest memory, the past, dreams, can give prominence to a figure

Point of view - suggests the emphasis of what to look at, if it's taken from a characters point of view it shows the plot from their figurative point of view

Reading path - suggests direction of how the viewer is supposed to look at by guiding the viewer's eyes around the composition of the image

Salience - the elements that attract attention from the viewer such as being at the front (foreground) or background, size, colour etc

Symbols - suggest an idea within the image, such as a dove for peace or rose for love

Vector - lines (actual lines or abstract lines created by the image) which direct the viewers eye across an image, such as the arms or legs of a person, or a shape.

Activity: Students view the below WWII film poster and apply the features to the poster to understand its possible meaning. Students mind map their ideas, scan and upload them to this blog. (15 mins)

Activity: Students are instructed now to think about a pivotal moment in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas such as the moment when Bruno climbs under the fence and enters Auschwitz or when Bruno's father realises that his son has entered Auschwitz. Students are to use the rest of the lesson to create a visual representation of this moment. Students may draw a picture, create a collage from magazine cuttings, or any other visual means they can think of. Students then scan and upload their images to this blog. (30 mins).

Thursday, 17 May 2012

7. Medium

Lesson 7
Medium: Novel v Film

Activity: Students spend most of this class viewing several film clips of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and consider the use of film techniques (technique definitions given on hard copy handout and listed below as a digital copy). Teacher explains the film techniques to ensure students understand how they work. (45 mins)

Film Techniques:

Camera Shots

A camera shot is the amount of space that is seen in one shot or frame. Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of a film's setting, characters and themes. As a result, camera shots are very important in shaping meaning in a film. Reviewing the examples on the right hand side of this page should make the different camera shots clearer.
An extreme long shot (animation on right) contains a large amount of landscape. It is often used at the beginning of a scene or a film to establish general location(setting). This is also known as an establishing shot.
long shot (animation on right) contains landscape but gives the viewer a more specific idea of setting. A long shot may show the viewers the building where the action will take place.
full shot (animation on right) contains a complete view of the characters. From this shot, viewers can take in the costumes of characters and may also help to demonstrate the relationships between characters. For more information on costumes and acting refer to Chapter 4.
mid shot (animation on right) contains the characters or a character from the waist up. From this shot, viewers can see the characters' faces more clearly as well as their interaction with other characters. This is also known as a social shot
close-up (animation on right) contains just one character's face. This enables viewers to understand the actor's emotions and also allows them to feel empathy for the character. This is also known as a personal shot.
An extreme close-up (animation on right) contains one part of a character's faceor other object. This technique is quite common in horror films, particularly the example above. This type of shot creates an intense mood and provides interaction between the audience and the viewer.
When analysing a film you should always think about the different camera shots and why they are being used. The next time that you are at the cinema or watching television see what camera shots are being used.

Important: These camera shots are used in all forms of visual texts including postcards, posters and print advertisements. 

Camera angles

It is important that you do not confuse camera angles and camera shots. Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of setting, themes and characters. Camera angles are used to position the viewer so that they can understand the relationships between the characters. These are very important for shaping meaning in film as well as in other visual texts.
The following examples will help you to understand the differences between the different camera angles
bird's eye angle (animation on right) is an angle that looks directly down upon a scene. This angle is often used as an establishing angle, along with an extreme long shot, to establish setting.
high angle (animation on right) is a camera angle that looks down upon a subject. A character shot with a high angle will look vulnerable or small. These angles are often used to demonstrate to the audience a perspective of a particular character. The example above demonstrates to us the perspective or point of view of a vampire. As a viewer we can understand that the vampire feels powerful.
An eye-level angle (animation on right) puts the audience on an equal footing with the character/s. This is the most commonly used angle in most films as it allows the viewers to feel comfortable with the characters.
low angle (animation on right) is a camera angle that looks up at a character. This is the opposite of a high angle and makes a character look more powerful. This can make the audience feel vulnerable and small by looking up at the character. This can help the responder feel empathy if they are viewing the frame from another character's point of view.
As with camera shots, you will be able to see many examples of camera angles in any film or visual text that you view. The next time that you watch television or see a film, take note of the camera angles and think of how they affect your perception (idea) of different characters.
Another camera angle that you might come across is a Dutch angle.
Dutch angle (animation on right) is used to demonstrate the confusion of a character. The example above should disorientate you.

Camera movement

Composers of films also use camera movement to shape meaning. The following are some examples of common camera movements and how they can be used to shape meaning in films.
crane shot (animation on right) is often used by composers of films to signify the end of a film or scene. The effect is achieved by the camera being put on a crane that can move upwards
tracking shot and a dolly shot (animation on right) have the same effect. A tracking shot moves on tracks and a dolly shot is mounted on a trolley to achieve the effect in the example above. This camera movement is used in a number of ways but is most commonly used to explore a room such as a restaurant. By using a tracking shot or a dolly shot the composer of a film gives the viewer a detailed tour of a situation. It can also be used to follow a character.
Panning (animation on right) is used to give the viewer a panoramic view of a set or setting. This can be used to establish a scene


An Evangelion shot (animation on right) is derived from the popular anime series 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'. This camera movement begins as an extreme close-up and zooms out abruptly, creating a blurring effect to emphasise the speed and size of the object


Lighting is a very important aspect for shaping meaning in films. What kind of atmosphere is created in a room lit by candles? Have you ever heard of mood lighting? A room that is brightly lit by neon lights might seem to be sterile or a shadowy room might be eerie or scary. The lighting technicians in a film crew have the task of creating lighting to suit the mood and atmosphere of each scene in a film.
Consider the animations Lighting example one, Lighting example two, Lighting example three and think about what type of atmosphere is created in each.
For each example, do you think the lighting suits the characters in the frames? For instance, in Example Three the two people are very happy and the scene is lit brightly. What would be the effect on the atmosphere if the lighting were dark and shadowy, similar to Example Two?
Remember that lighting is used in still image visual texts as well as in films.


Cinematography is the combination of the techniques described in this chapter. This includes camera shots, camera angles, camera movement and lighting. Use the term cinematography to group all of these together, for example, 'The cinematography in that film was exceptional.'

Mise en Scene

Mise en scene refers to all the objects and characters in a particular frame. More specifically, it refers to the composition of the frame. When you use the term mise en scene, you are discussing where the composer or director has placed all the elements of the scene within the frame.


Activity: Students brainstorm the differences they understand through the use of film. Students are encouraged by the teacher to consider what is the same or different, how the tone is represented, what is gained or lost by the use of film, whether the film/novel appeals to certain audiences more than the other, and having viewed both texts how meaning is created or deepened. (15 mins).