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The 87th Academy Awards

The Academy Awards

According to its website, the Academy is “dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.The 87th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday February 22nd 2015 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which has a capacity of 3,300 seats on Oscar Night. The Academy Awards are also known as the Oscars.

 

The Statuette

Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, an Oscar is given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in movie making. (The Academy adopted the nickname ‘Oscar’ in 1939, but no one is quite sure where its name originated – there are a few different theories!)

Although it weighs 8½ lbs, measures 13½ inches high, and has a diameter of 5¼ inches, the Oscar statuette stands tall as the motion picture industry’s greatest honour.

Award for Best Original Screenplay presented to Herman J. Mankiewicz in 1941 for writing Citizen Kane. Image from natedsanders.com.

Award for Best Original Screenplay presented to Herman J. Mankiewicz in 1941 for writing Citizen Kane. Image from natedsanders.com.

MGM art director Cedric Gibbons designed the statuette: a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword. It was modelled after director and actor Emilio Fernandez, who posted nude for the design. George Stanley then sculpted Gibbons’ design.

The five spokes of the film reel represent the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. The original statuettes were gold-plated solid bronze, but in today’s Oscar the bronze has been replaced by gold-plated britannia metal. R.S. Owens and Company manufactures the statuettes in Chicago, who spend 3-4 weeks creating 50 statuettes in preparation for the awards ceremony.

Image: Mashable.com

Image: Mashable.com

 

What is the voting process?

The Race

The ‘race’ to be nominated consists of attempts by studios, independent distributors and publicists to make sure that each of the nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy sees their film. It means special screenings for Academy members, free admission to commercial runs of a film, and the mailing of DVDs.

The Academy aggressively monitors Award campaigning and has issued regulations that limit company mailings to those items that actually assist members in their efforts to assess the artistic and technical merits of a film. This year, an Original Song nomination for ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ was rescinded when the Academy discovered that the composer emailed 70 members of the Music Branch of the Academy to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period – during which information about the composer and lyricist is to remain anonymous. The composer, Bruce Broughton, breached of the Academy’s promotional regulations, the goal of which is to ensure that “the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner.” It was the fifth time an Oscar nomination has been rescinded.

Nominations Process

The awards are voted on by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nomination ballots are mailed to the Academy’s active members in late December. Members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominated film editors, and so on. However, within the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

The members fill out the ballot in preferential order (though they are not required to list more than one), and are sent back online (or by mail if requested) to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international accounting firm, in January. The votes are then counted by hand to prepare a list of nominees. Regular awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective film achievements in up to 25 categories, usually with 5 nominees in each category (up to 10 in the Best Picture category). The nominees are announced each January at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, located at the Academy’s Headquarters in Beverly Hills. This year, directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and actor Chris Pine announced the nominations on Thursday, 15th January 2015.

Final Balloting Process

Final ballots are delivered to voting members in late-January and are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers the Tuesday prior to Oscar Sunday for final tabulation.

The Academy’s entire active membership is eligible to select Oscar winners in all categories, although in five – Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, and Foreign Language Film – members can vote only after attesting they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.

For all the other awards the winner is the person or film with the most votes, but the winner for Best Picture is the first film to get over 50% of the votes. Like in the system that is used in the nominations, voters rank their choices in preferential order and the films are then eliminated in the same manner that is used for the nominations.  Each movie gets its own pile — the film that appears most frequently as a first-place choice will have the largest stack, the movie with the next-most first-place votes will have the second-largest, and so forth. Then each stack is counted.

If one nominee garners more than 50% of the first place votes, it will win Best Picture. If, as is more likely, no nominee reaches this threshold, the tabulators go to the smallest stack remaining, eliminate that movie, remove that stack and go down those ballots to voters’ next-highest choice (of a movie that’s still in the running, of course) and redistribute the ballots across the piles once again. This process of elimination and reapportion continues until one film reaches at least 50% + one vote.

After final ballots are tabulated, only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results until the famous envelopes are opened on stage during the Academy Awards presentation. If a wrong name were to be called, it would be immediately corrected by one of the partners, who would go to the microphone and announce the actual winner.

 

Who can win an Oscar?

The awards honour achievements in cinema from the previous year (2014), from on-screen actors to everyone behind-the-scenes.  These are the categories:

Best Picture

Actor in a Leading Role

Actress in a Leading Role

Actor in a Supporting Role

Actress in a Supporting Role

Animated Feature Film

Cinematography

Costume Design

Directing

Documentary Feature

Documentary Short Subject

Film Editing

Foreign Language Film

Makeup and Hairstyling

Music (Original Score)

Music (Original Song)

Production Design

Short Film (Animated)

Short Film (Live Action)

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing

Visual Effects

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Writing (Original Screenplay)

 

The Red Carpet

One of the most anticipated and exciting parts of the show is watching the stars arrive at the ceremony and walk down the Red Carpet. People watching at home want to see which stars are attending the event, what they’re wearing, and who they’re with. Most men attending the Oscars wear a tuxedo, and women wear extravagant, elegant dresses. The Red Carpet at the Dolby Theatre is 500 feet long, and is flanked by 700 fan bleacher seats which are allocated through an online global lottery. There are several TV shows and live online reports that show you what’s happening on the red carpet. Check out the printable ‘Red Carpet Bingo’ at the end of this post!

Sometimes you will also see or hear the expression ‘Oscar buzz.’ Here, buzz means ‘what people are talking about.’ Oscar buzz simply means ‘what people are saying about the Oscars’ – who will win, what film will win, etc. On Twitter, #Oscars is used.

 

The Academy Awards Ceremony

Far from the eagerly anticipated and globally televised event it is today, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place out of the public eye during an Academy banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Two hundred seventy people attended the May 16, 1929 dinner in the hotel’s Blossom Room; guest tickets cost $5. The first recipient of the statuette was Emil Jannings, who was named Best Actor for his performance in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. However, there was little suspense when the awards were presented that night, as the recipients had already been announced three months earlier.

That all changed the following year, however, when the Academy kept the results secret until the ceremony but gave a list in advance to newspapers for publication at 11 pm on the night of the Awards. This policy continued until 1940 when, much to the Academy’s surprise, the Los Angeles Times broke the embargo and published the names of the winners in its evening edition – which was readily available to guests arriving for the ceremony. That prompted the Academy in 1941 to adopt the sealed-envelope system still in use today. Since 2011, Marc Friedland has designed the envelopes and announcement cards bearing the names of each Oscar recipient.

The making of the envelope

 

The host of this year’s show is Neil Patrick Harris.

 

Each award is handed out by a presenter. The presenter is usually another actor. They announce the category and usually say, “And the nominees are…” The presenter will then read the names of the nominees from the Teleprompter.

There is also an In Memoriam segment which honours those who died during the previous year. A committee made up from the Academy weigh in a lot of factors when deciding on who features in the tribute – in particular, their contribution to and achievements in the film industry. The list is passed on to the producers who then commission the commemorative reel. Last year the tribute was presented by Glenn Close, followed by a performance by Bette Midler.

 

Once the presenter has finished announcing the nominees, he/she then says, “And the Oscar goes to…” or “And the Academy Award goes to…” and opens the envelope to read the name of the winner. The envelope is sealed so that no one knows the winner until that moment! (Only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results beforehand.) The winner then comes to the stage to accept his/her award and make a short acceptance speech.

The final award of the night is always Best Picture.

 

For the full list of this year’s nominations: 

http://oscar.go.com/nominees

 

For the full list of this year’s presenters: 

http://oscar.go.com/photos/presenters-87th-oscars-2015/

 

Want to play Red Carpet Bingo?

http://marcfriedlandinc.com/TheOscarsRedCarpetBingo.pdf

 

Want to predict the winners?

Click here for your online ballot! (Here for printable ballot.)

 

Tie-In Lessons:

Film Poster Analysis, Film Revision: Key Words

 

Sources used in composing this guide: oscars.org, oscar.go.com, englishteachermelanie.com, latimes.com, ew.com.

Images: natedsanders.com, Mashable.com.

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Report Writing

This is a small project I did with first year students which revised and assessed some aspects of the Functional Writing and Media Studies aspects of the course.

The PDF (which retains the original format) of the text below can be accessed here. The report format below is only one of several which can be used.

 

 

What are reports?

A report is a document which presents facts in a clear and logical way to offer the reader important information.

A report contains facts and information on a particular subject, and gives an account of some event or situation.

It draws conclusions and makes recommendations.

It is written objectively in a formal tone.

 

 

What are the main features of a report?

When you are writing a report, make sure you use the following headings.

  • TITLE: Give the report a title.
  • TERMS OF REFERENCE: Mention who requested the report and why.
  • INTRODUCTION: Introduce what the report is about and briefly outline the aims of the report.
  • PROCEDURE: How was the information gathered?
  • FINDINGS: Present your facts and findings.
  • CONCLUSION: The discoveries you made based on the findings of the report. Avoid giving your opinions on the event/situation/incident.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS: Suggest some steps to take in response to the findings and explain your recommendations (why am I recommending to do this?).
  • SIGNED: Include your name and the date on which the report was written.

 

 

Word Construction Activity

Use the letters below to make as many words as you can in 4 minutes. Words with less than three letters are not allowed. You can have a maximum of: three 3-lettered words and four 4-lettered words. No other restrictions.

REPORT WRITING

 

 

Sample Report

Pocket Money Survey

 

To: Board of Management, Hogwarts.

 

Terms of Reference

This report was commissioned by the Chairperson of the Board of Management to examine the spending habits of the school’s first year students.

 

Introduction

A survey was conducted to determine how the pocket money of first year students is spent. The average pocket money was given as €10.

 

Procedure

We surveyed 100 students asking them to fill in the questionnaire, which asked:

How much of your pocket money do you spend on the following areas?

  1. Food / Soft drinks
  2. Leisure goods/services
  3. Clothing
  4. Personal goods
  5. Transport

 

Findings

Males (%) Females (%)
Food / Soft drinks 39 24
Leisure goods/services 27 19
Clothing 10 24
Personal goods 14 23
Transport 10 10

 

  1. Food and drink accounts for the most pocket money: 39% of males and 24% of females.
  2. Leisure is the next priority for males, as they spend 27% of their money in this area.
  3. Females spend equal amounts on food and clothing (24%).
  4. Females spend more of their money on personal goods than makes (24% compared to 14%).
  5. Males spend equal amounts on clothing and transport (10%).
  6. Both males and females spend 10% of their money on transport.

 

Conclusions

  1. Transport is not a high priority for the students.
  2. Male students spend more than female students do on food and leisure.
  3. Female students give a higher priority to clothing and personal goods than their male counterparts.

 

Recommendations

  1. Students are spending too much money on food and soft drinks. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry should promote a healthy eating week. Student will be able to learn about their dietary needs from this.
  2. Too much pocket money is being spent on leisure. The school gym should be made available for students at certain times for them to use. They will then be less inclined to spend money unnecessarily.
  3. Students should consider walking more in order to save money they currently spend on transport. The money saved can be put to better use.

 

Signed

Salazar Slytherin.

25th March, 2014.

 

 

Using the sample report as a guideline,

circle the errors in the draft report below

and write why you circled each one.

report

 

To:       my school!!!

 

Introduction

It was open every school day for noms from 11am to 11:15am and again from 1pm to 2pm.

 

Terms of references

This report was commissioned by the chairperson of the Board of Management to examine the performance of the school shop.

 

Findings

  1. Costs for the year were €750. Sales were €1,000. Profit for year: €350. The profit was donated to the school library for the purchase of new books. They made a load of money from us.
  2. The class surveys I done indicates that the shop was popular with students.
  3. The following probs arose during the year:

(a)   There was an increase in litter near the cafeteria.

(b)   Some old people expressed concern at the sale of so-called ‘junk food’.

(c)    It was difficult to manage the long cues that frequently formed for food because we all want to go to there.

 

Recommendations

I would like to make the following recommendations:

(a) More litter bins should be provided.

(b) Teachers and some of the older students should help manage the queue.

 

Conclusion

The shop did grand this year. My recommendations would obviously make it even better.

 

Signed:

Elizabeth Miervaldis Lemon 80>-<

 

 

Your Task

Prepare a report on one of the following:

1. Reading habits of your class.

2. Sports in which your year participates.

3. The type of films your year like to watch.

4. Genres of music your year listens to.

5. Family sizes of your year.

6. What changes your class would like to see in school.

7. A topic of your own choosing (to be agreed with teacher).

 

PART ONE

Write a letter explaining what you’d like to write a report on. Introduce yourself, explain why you chose this, how/when you will carry out the survey and who will be surveyed. (Draft, then finalised letter.)

30marks

PART TWO

Write your report using the ‘Pocket Money Survey’ as a model. (Outline, draft and finalised report.)

30marks

PART THREE

Write and design a newspaper article based on your report. Use two/three columns, and include a headline, by-line, and one small picture with a caption. (First: outline the article and draft the design.)

40marks

 

 

Related past exam questions:

 

JC English (Higher), Paper I, 2008:

You are a member of your school’s Student Council. As there are now students from a range of  different nationalities attending the school, your Principal has asked the Council to come up with some suggestions to help your school to develop as an intercultural community.

Write a report to be submitted by the Student Council to the Principal outlining your ideas.

 

JC English (Higher), Paper I, 2002:

The Transition Year Class in your school carried out a survey of how the students in third year spent an average of ten euro pocket money per week. Based on the figures supplied below, write a report on this survey for your school magazine.

Pocket Money Survey

Males Females
Food / Soft drinks 3.90 2.40
Leisure goods/services 2.70 1.90
Clothing 1.00 2.40
Personal goods 1.40 2.30
Transport 1.00 1.00

 

The 86th Academy Awards

The Academy Awards

According to its website, the Academy is “dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.The 86th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday March 2nd 2014 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which has a capacity of 3,300 seats on Oscar Night. The Academy Awards are also known as the Oscars.

 

The Statuette

Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, an Oscar is given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in movie making. (The Academy adopted the nickname ‘Oscar’ in 1939, but no one is quite sure where its name originated – there are a few different theories!)

Although it weighs 8½ lbs, measures 13½ inches high, and has a diameter of 5¼ inches, the Oscar statuette stands tall as the motion picture industry’s greatest honour.

Award for Best Original Screenplay presented to Herman J. Mankiewicz in 1941 for writing Citizen Kane. Image from natedsanders.com.

Award for Best Original Screenplay presented to Herman J. Mankiewicz in 1941 for writing Citizen Kane. Image from natedsanders.com.

MGM art director Cedric Gibbons designed the statuette: a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword. It was modelled after director and actor Emilio Fernandez, who posted nude for the design. George Stanley then sculpted Gibbons’ design.

The five spokes of the film reel represent the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. The original statuettes were gold-plated solid bronze, but in today’s Oscar the bronze has been replaced by gold-plated britannia metal. R.S. Owens and Company manufactures the statuettes in Chicago, who spend 3-4 weeks creating 50 statuettes in preparation for the awards ceremony.

Image: Mashable.com

Image: Mashable.com

 

What is the voting process?

The Race

The ‘race’ to be nominated consists of attempts by studios, independent distributors and publicists to make sure that each of the nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy sees their film. It means special screenings for Academy members, free admission to commercial runs of a film, and the mailing of DVDs.

The Academy aggressively monitors Award campaigning and has issued regulations that limit company mailings to those items that actually assist members in their efforts to assess the artistic and technical merits of a film. This year, an Original Song nomination for ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ was rescinded when the Academy discovered that the composer emailed 70 members of the Music Branch of the Academy to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period – during which information about the composer and lyricist is to remain anonymous. The composer, Bruce Broughton, breached of the Academy’s promotional regulations, the goal of which is to ensure that “the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner.” It was the fifth time an Oscar nomination has been rescinded.

Nominations Process

The awards are voted on by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nomination ballots are mailed to the Academy’s active members in late December. Members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominated film editors, and so on. However, within the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

The members fill out the ballot in preferential order (though they are not required to list more than one), and are sent back online (or by mail if requested) to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international accounting firm, in January. The votes are then counted by hand to prepare a list of nominees. Regular awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective film achievements in up to 25 categories, usually with 5 nominees in each category (up to 10 in the Best Picture category). The nominees are announced each January at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, located at the Academy’s Headquarters in Beverly Hills. This year, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and actor Chris Hemsworth announced the nominations on Thursday, 16th January 2014.

Final Balloting Process

Final ballots are delivered to voting members in late-January and are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers the Tuesday prior to Oscar Sunday for final tabulation.

The Academy’s entire active membership is eligible to select Oscar winners in all categories, although in five – Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, and Foreign Language Film – members can vote only after attesting they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.

For all the other awards the winner is the person or film with the most votes, but the winner for Best Picture is the first film to get over 50% of the votes. Like in the system that is used in the nominations, voters rank their choices in preferential order and the films are then eliminated in the same manner that is used for the nominations.  Each movie gets its own pile — the film that appears most frequently as a first-place choice will have the largest stack, the movie with the next-most first-place votes will have the second-largest, and so forth. Then each stack is counted.

If one nominee garners more than 50% of the first place votes, it will win Best Picture. If, as is more likely, no nominee reaches this threshold, the tabulators go to the smallest stack remaining, eliminate that movie, remove that stack and go down those ballots to voters’ next-highest choice (of a movie that’s still in the running, of course) and redistribute the ballots across the piles once again. This process of elimination and reapportion continues until one film reaches at least 50% + one vote.

After final ballots are tabulated, only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results until the famous envelopes are opened on stage during the Academy Awards presentation. If a wrong name were to be called, it would be immediately corrected by one of the partners, who would go to the microphone and announce the actual winner.

 

Who can win an Oscar?

The awards honour achievements in cinema from the previous year (2013), from on-screen actors to everyone behind-the-scenes.  These are the categories:

Best Picture

Actor in a Leading Role

Actress in a Leading Role

Actor in a Supporting Role

Actress in a Supporting Role

Animated Feature Film

Cinematography

Costume Design

Directing

Documentary Feature

Documentary Short Subject

Film Editing

Foreign Language Film

Makeup and Hairstyling

Music (Original Score)

Music (Original Song)

Production Design

Short Film (Animated)

Short Film (Live Action)

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing

Visual Effects

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Writing (Original Screenplay)

 

The Red Carpet

One of the most anticipated and exciting parts of the show is watching the stars arrive at the ceremony and walk down the Red Carpet. People watching at home want to see which stars are attending the event, what they’re wearing, and who they’re with. Most men attending the Oscars wear a tuxedo, and women wear extravagant, elegant dresses. The Red Carpet at the Dolby Theatre is 500 feet long, and is flanked by 700 fan bleacher seats which are allocated through an online global lottery. There are several TV shows and live online reports that show you what’s happening on the red carpet. Check out the printable ‘Red Carpet Bingo’ at the end of this post!

Sometimes you will also see or hear the expression ‘Oscar buzz.’ Here, buzz means ‘what people are talking about.’ Oscar buzz simply means ‘what people are saying about the Oscars’ – who will win, what film will win, etc. On Twitter, #Oscars is used.

 

The Academy Awards Ceremony

Far from the eagerly anticipated and globally televised event it is today, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place out of the public eye during an Academy banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Two hundred seventy people attended the May 16, 1929 dinner in the hotel’s Blossom Room; guest tickets cost $5. The first recipient of the statuette was Emil Jannings, who was named Best Actor for his performance in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. However, there was little suspense when the awards were presented that night, as the recipients had already been announced three months earlier.

That all changed the following year, however, when the Academy kept the results secret until the ceremony but gave a list in advance to newspapers for publication at 11 pm on the night of the Awards. This policy continued until 1940 when, much to the Academy’s surprise, the Los Angeles Times broke the embargo and published the names of the winners in its evening edition – which was readily available to guests arriving for the ceremony. That prompted the Academy in 1941 to adopt the sealed-envelope system still in use today. Since 2011, Marc Friedland has designed the envelopes and announcement cards bearing the names of each Oscar recipient.

The making of the envelope

 

The host of this year’s show is Ellen DeGeneres.

 

Each award is handed out by a presenter. The presenter is usually another actor. They announce the category and usually say, “And the nominees are…” The presenter will then read the names of the nominees from the Teleprompter.

There is also an In Memoriam segment which honours those who died during the previous year. A committee made up from the Academy weigh in a lot of factors when deciding on who features in the tribute – in particular, their contribution to and achievements in the film industry. The list is passed on to the producers who then commission the commemorative reel. Last year the tribute was presented by George Clooney, followed by a performance by Barbara Streisand.

 

Once the presenter has finished announcing the nominees, he/she then says, “And the Oscar goes to…” or “And the Academy Award goes to…” and opens the envelope to read the name of the winner. The envelope is sealed so that no one knows the winner until that moment! (Only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results beforehand.) The winner then comes to the stage to accept his/her award and make a short acceptance speech. The final award of the night is always Best Picture.

 

For the full list of this year’s nominations: 

http://oscar.go.com/nominees

 

For the full list of this year’s presenters: 

http://oscar.go.com/blogs/oscar-news/140224-oscar-presenters-announced

 

Want to play Red Carpet Bingo?

http://marcfriedlandinc.com/TheOscarsRedCarpetBingo.pdf

 

Want to predict the winners?

Click here for your online ballot! (Here for printable ballot.)

 

Tie-In Lessons:

Film Poster Analysis, Film Revision: Key Words

 

Sources used in composing this guide: oscars.org, oscar.go.com, englishteachermelanie.com, latimes.com, ew.com.

Images: natedsanders.com, Mashable.com.

Film Poster Analysis

I think reading – or, to look at it another way, comprehending – visual texts is a fundamental aspect to students’ social literacy both in Junior and Senior Cycle.

However, from my experience there is a certain stipulation on visual texts as being more ‘suitable’ for Ordinary Level or ‘less able’ English students at both Junior and Senior Cycle: there is no option in Junior Cert Higher Level to study film while there is in Ordinary Level, and, similarly, there isn’t an option to study a film as a single text at Leaving Cert at either Higher or Ordinary level – only as a comparative text. Needless to say, I was delighted when I saw that films were part of the textual choice in the new English specification!

This is a lesson aimed at engaging students with analysis of visual texts – in this case, a batch of film posters I had printed on poster-quality A3 sheets. One could also further this lesson to make it based more on advertising in print, TV advertising, and so on.

Students were presented with their worksheet and were assigned to pairs.

They were given one of these A3 sheets (there were 2 film posters to a sheet) and discussed the poster and their answers before agreeing on what to write.

DSCN30581b

Intro to Speeches: Repetition

This introduction provided the class with an excellent understanding of repetition and it enabled students to comment on its usage in all texts (poems included!). It also proved to be a good foundation for students when they were drafting their own speeches and elevated them to a level where they were thinking critically about how emphasise their points and how their speech would best engage their audience.

Students were given a copy of the below extract and I asked students what they knew about Martin Luther King Jr. Most of the students had a lot of information about him, so they introduced him and gave us plenty of context for the speech – even more detailed then what I had planned to say!

Before I played the audio clip, I asked them to write an ‘R’ in the margins whenever they hear any words or phrases that are repeated. I used this to prompt students to think about the use of repetition in speeches:

Why someone would repeat something during a speech?

What effect does it have?

Once we discussed this, we listened to the speech a second time – this time we underlined whenever Martin Luther King directly addresses the audience – i.e. using words such as ‘you’, ‘our’ and ‘we’. As with repetition, we discussed how and why this featured in speech writing (help the speaker connect with the audience, keeps the audience engaged, etc.).

Extract from ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

Address to civil rights marchers by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama. Go back to South Carolina. Go back to Georgia. Go back to Louisiana. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 

The next lesson followed a similar format. I asked what the students know about Obama, we recapped on the uses of repetition and directly addressing the audience, and continued like the previous lesson from there.

In Obama’s speech, I paused it just before “And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen…” to assess students’ understanding of anecdotes as we had previously covered this (an explanation and examples of course, not just a one-sentence definition). The pause also offered them a breather!

Extract from Barack Obama’s victory (“Yes we can”) speech in Chicago on November 4th, 2008.

 If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the colour of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbour and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

 

Possible follow-up tasks might include:

asking students to pin-point themes or points which were discussed in each speech and then draw comparisons.

a break-down of how each speech progresses (i.e. the structure of the speech).