Lesson on 'Seven Types of Shadow' by U A Fanthorpe
This lesson uses an extract from the first section of a long poem in which ghosts assembled at a committee meeting discuss their public image. Pupils are encouraged to consider the way ghosts are portrayed in literature and film and to create their own ghosts who might be more seen as more acceptable by the disgruntled ghostly speaker in the opening of the poem. Pupils will also formally present their ideas for 'the ghosts' makeover' to the ghostly committee. This lesson idea is suitable for Yr 8 mixed ability class.
By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:
- explored the conventions of the ghostly stereotype as portrayed in written and visual forms;
- listened closely to the opening of the poem and developed an understanding of the situation U.A. Fanthorpe has created;
- collaborated with other members of their small group to discuss their interpretations and ideas;
- organised and presented their proposal to the rest of the class both in writing and orally.
- Poetry Archive recording of U A Fanthorpe reading 'Seven Types of Shadow'. This lesson uses the first five stanzas only ('I have an item... All of it!')
- screen or whiteboard linked to computer
- short extracts from prose descriptions of ghosts and film portrayals (see suggestions below), film stills and drawings
Teaching sequence of activities
View and read a selection of visual images and texts that portray ghosts, eg
- short descriptions of ghosts from: J.K Rowling's Harry Potter novels; A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; The Woman in Black by Susan Hill; The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively;
- ghosts in film such as The Others; the opening of Monsters Inc; Ghostbusters.
What can pupils say about how these ghosts are portrayed? What features do they have in common?
Pupils should listen carefully to the recording of the first five stanzas of 'Seven Types of Shadow' several times.
What can they find out about:
- who the speaker is?
- where they are speaking?
- whom they are speaking to? (focus on the lexis: 'item', 'Chair', 'Any Other Business', 'We ghosts', 'agenda')
- what the speaker is unhappy about?
- how they describe their fellow ghosts?
What links can pupils make between the poem they have just heard and the images they discussed at the beginning of the lesson?
What are the ghostly stereotypes presented in the poem?
The ghost says that 'something unconventional's needed' and later on in the poem goes on to speak about 'ghosts the living would prefer, /Ghosts who'd improve our ratings'.
In pairs or small groups, pupils should imagine they are a 'makeover' team who are going to create a new look for ghosts to improve their ratings. They should share ideas about how a ghost could break out of the ghostly stereotype.
Their 'makeover' plans should include a labelled diagram, detailed description and suggestions of a famous person who might be a good ghost (how they would haunt and where) and ideas on other ways for ghosts to improve their ratings.
Presentation of ideas to a ghost committee (ghosts and makeover team should be in role if possible). Selection of the winning proposal or a shortlist of the best three ideas.
- Pupils could be asked to produce a Powerpoint presentation of their ideas with references to background reading about ghosts, inclusion of sound effects and supporting images.
- Pupils could listen to the whole poem and try to identify the references to a number of famous people in the poem.
- The third section of the poem (from 'This is a country of ghosts... the ghosts of things') could provide a starting point for exploration of the ghostly history of the local area.
Pupils could be given a sorting exercise to identify words and phrases from the poem such as 'bloody shrouds', 'the temperature drops', 'ooos and aaas' which describe conventional ghosts. This would lead to designing a labelled diagram of a stereotypical ghostly scene.
Other poems by U A Fanthorpe
'The Listeners' by Walter de la Mare
'Who's in the Next Room?' by Thomas Hardy
'Little Ghost' by Carol Ann Duffy