The Memory Cage
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The Memory Cage By Ruth Eastham
LOs • Begin to think about the themes in the novel. • Relate the themes to yourselves and your own experiences.
Starter Read the Prologue • What does this say about our reasons for writing? • What do you think the narrator means by saying, “Before then I didn’t exist.”? • Write down your earliest memory. • Extension: how does your earliest memory differ from the one in the prologue? • Try and use connectives in your paragraph, for example: The narrator says that he can’t remember a time before he was seven, however, my earliest memory was when I was...
“Every family has its secrets... Ours more than most.” • This is the quote on the front cover; what is its purpose? What does it make you think? • What is a narrative hook?
Look at the front cover. What predictions can we make about the book?
Extension: what do you think is the relevance of the poppies at the bottom of the cover? What do they suggest or symbolise?
Making Predictions... • Using your ideas from the front cover and the prologue, write a paragraph explaining what you think the book will be about.
• You could start off like this: • The picture on the front of the book shows an old man and a boy. The walking stick and hat suggest that the man is old. The boy is holding on to him and might be helping him along. This makes me think that the book could be about...
Homework • Homework: Bring in a photograph of yourself as a baby or toddler. • Due: Next Monday
Lesson 2 LOs Introduce the main characters in the novel Introduce the main themes
Memories • Discuss: What kinds of things do you try to put out of your mind? • Why do we do this? • Extension: Write down whether you think trying to forget things is a good idea or not. • Read chapter 1 (to page 21). • In books: write down the key characters in the chapter. • Extension: write down what you know about the characters so far. Use quotes where you can.
I try to forget about: • Anything bad happening to my children or my M&D because it would be so awful. • If anything happened to them, I know I would feel devastated. • I think it is a useful thing to do because otherwise it would be difficult to cope if your were thinking about something bad all the time, however, it can be really useful to talk about stuff or situations sometimes.
Discuss: • What is Alex worrying about on page 14? • What evidence is there that Alex thinks that he doesn’t fit into this family? • What do you think about Grandad being put into a home?
Characters • • • • • • • • • •
Alex – the narrator Lia Barker – his friend Leonard – Alex’s older brother William – his grandad Victoria – elder sister, 17 Sophie – his little sister Hilary – his mum Richard – his dad Martin Dawes – Victoria’s ‘boyfriend’ Moggy, the dead cat
Collecting your ideas • Discuss your ideas about the question below and then write a short paragraph to summarise your answer: Do you think this family are happy? Use evidence (quotes) from the book to support your ideas.
The start of the book... The end of chapter 1... • What important things happen at the start of a book?
• How does the writer end the chapter so that we want to read on?
Lesson 3 Chapter 2 Grandad makes me promise Chapter 3 The Forbidden Word
Promises, Promises • Have you ever made a promise that you wanted to keep but couldn’t? Talk about this and then get ready to share some ideas with everybody. • What promise do you think Grandad wants Alex to make? • Extension: do you think Alex will be able to keep his promise? What clues are there?
As we read… • Take a double page and write the title: Hidden Memories. • Use one page for Alex and one page for Grandad. • Write down a list of all the memories that they have that emerge as we read the book. • Be ready to share your ideas before we move on.
Guess Who • Why have we brought in photos of ourselves as young children? • Discuss ideas of memories, evidence. • Link to novel: why doesn’t Alex have any photos? Why might he not want to remember his past? • Watch ppt of pictures
Discuss the answers to these questions: 1. Who were Alex’s Bosnian family? 2. Why do you think that Alex reacted the way he did to the “man with the stupid tie”? 3. How are Alex and Grandad similar in the way that they deal with events from their pasts? 4. How does the writer make the figure in the photograph sound menacing? Pick out some key words. 5. “The paper quivered, dripping water on to the bench like spots of blood.” (page 20) How does this simile affect the mood here? 6. What information has Lia got for Alex? 7. Why do you think Alex doesn’t want to talk about it? 8. Give two reasons why Leonard seems to hate Alex. • Extension: write down what words are ‘forbidden’ in chapter 3 and explain why this might be.
Alex and Leonard What does the writer make us feel about: Alex
How does she do so
How does she do so?
Lesson 5 Chapter 4 Mind Games The church lawns. 10.25am. Using mind over matter.
What are mind games? • Discuss title of chapter. • What could the title mean in relation to Alex and his grandad?
Read chapter 4 (page 29-43)
• Extension: If you have read ahead and got to the end of the chapter: • Go back and read the descriptions of Aunt Mildred on pages 31 and 32. • Draw a picture of how you imagine her and label it with quotes form the book. • Think of five words to describe her and put these in bubbles around her picture.
Setting • The writer is very good at setting the scene. • Look back to pages 7-9. How does the writer make the breakfast scene very busy? • Write down at least three examples of all the different noises that can be heard. • Now look back at the description of the fete on pages 33-34. Pick out three pieces of description that make the scene very busy. Write them down and explain what effect they have on you while you are reading. • Extension: Why does the author use “sharks” in the simile about memories near the top of page 34?
Sick...sick...sick • How does the repetition of the word “sick” on page 43 make it more effective? • Think about what Alex is sick of and why that might be.
Visualisation • On Monday we gathered some language clues about how Alex felt at the fête. Today we are going to work in groups to put that description into a moving image that we make ourselves. • In groups of up to 10, you will create a piece of drama that shows Alex’s experiences and also the flashbacks that he might have. • You will need to have people as stall holders, Alex, his grandad, and people to form a river around him. You might also want someone to be Nicu and his birth mum and dad. • I also want you to think about how you could use drama techniques to make the piece really effective: freeze frames, slow motion, thought tracking, movement, facial expression etc. • You have this lesson only to create and show your piece of moving image. • Remember, you should include some of the dialogue from the book itself, as well as adding your own where appropriate.
Chapter 5 Lest I forget What does this remind you of?
Read chapter 5 together • As we read, I will start off, then we will go around the class reading one paragraph each. • Think about how you know when a new paragraph starts.
What other hidden memories are there? • Look again at pages 34 and 46 and add ideas to the hidden memories chart.
By the end of the chapter...
• What has been decided about Grandad? • Make a chart in your books or on sugar paper like this:
Reasons why Grandad should go to The Sunflower Care Home
Reasons why Grandad should NOT go to the care home
• Working in small groups, fill in reasons for each side of the argument. • Prepare a short persuasive speech in your group to present your point of view.
Persuasive Techniques • Think back to writing your pirate job adverts. What persuasive techniques can you remember?
• Now try and use them in your persuasive speech.
What do you think? • Write a short paragraph to explain your point of view on whether Grandad should go into The Sunflower Care Home. • Try and give reasons for your point of view.
• Homework: see book. Due Fri 23/3/12 • Extension: What clues have been dropped into this chapter that might have an impact on the story later? Make a list in your book called: Narrative Hooks.
Chapter 6 White Feather
White Feather • What did white feathers symbolise in WW1?
Read chapter 6 together • As we read, I will start off, then we will go around the class reading one paragraph each.
Hidden memories • Add the flashback at the bottom of page 69 to your hidden memory list.
Looking at language 1) Read the description in the middle of page 65. Make a quick sketch of the image it creates. 2) Which words create a foreboding (menacing, threatening) atmosphere? 3) Write a PEE paragraph to explain your ideas.
Example paragraph • The colour of the sea is described as “bluegrey”. This starts to create a dark feeling, as though the light is being sucked out of the atmosphere into the sea. The idea of darkness makes the atmosphere seem menacing and using the sea contributes to this because the sea is an unstoppable and unpredictable force. • Extension: How does the author link memories to the action of the sea (pages 65,66,67)
Chapter 7 Freda and Tommie In the Den. Losing track of time.
What’s a scrapbook? • Who has kept a scrapbook? • What kinds of things do you include? • Why do we make scrapbooks?
Homework • In preparation for making your own memory scrapbook: • Make a list of the key events in your life so far. You could start off with being born and then bring it up to the present day. You should have a minimum of 7. • For each event, write a list of bullet points about what the event was and why it’s important to you. • It would be lovely if there were photographs to go with these important events but I’ll be telling you about this later.
Reading today • Together we’ll read chapter 7: I’ll begin then we’ll take it in turns to read a paragraph each. • Extension: if you read ahead and finish the chapter before the rest of the class, write a diary entry by Alex, recalling Grandad’s reaction to the photographs.
Quick things to think about and do: 1. From what we already know, why would Alex want to hide his Bosnian photos (bottom of page 76)? 2. Look at the top of page 78. ‘That is, until Mum gave me that album.’ Why has the writer put this line by itself? 3. Look at the top of page 82. Add the flashback there to the hidden memory list. 4. Can you add anything to Grandad’s hidden memory list?
Looking at Language • Look at this quote form page 82: • “My past, waiting in the shadows like an enemy. Waiting to jump out on me. Ambush me.” • What does this suggest about how Alex feels about his past? Use words from the quote to help you to explain your ideas.
Using words from the quote: • “My past, waiting in the shadows like an enemy. Waiting to jump out on me. Ambush me.” Alex seems to be frightened of his past. There are several clues in the book about this, such as keeping all his photographs of his life in Bosnia locked up under his bed. Another clue here is when he talks about the past being his enemy. This suggests that he has to fight against remembering his past. The word “ambush” suggest that memories of his past lie in wait to attack him when he doesn’t expect it. But why doesn’t he want to remember? Extension: • In your own words, explain why Alex doesn’t want to remember. • Can you remember another simile which was used to describe Alex’s memories?
Sharing Ideas • Let’s listen to your ideas about how the writer has used language: