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My Polish Teacher's Tie
Transcript of My Polish Teacher's Tie
by Helen Dunmore
When reading a story, we have to think about the following:
Objectives: to develop understanding of the way writers present:
issues, ideas and themes
Task: design a tie for two other characters in the story. Be prepared to explain the reasons for your designs.
What do we learn about Carla and the way she sees herself in the opening paragraph?
What do the words ‘They’ (line 13), ‘knot’ (line 25) and ‘stitched’ (line 31) suggest when used to describe Carla’s perception of the teachers?
What is the reader meant to think when Carla tells Jade that Steve’s first correspondence is ‘Just a letter’ (line 48)?
What impression of Carla does the reader get when she states ‘I used to write a bit every day then make myself wait until the middle of the week to send it’ (lines 63/64)?
What does Carla mean when she states ‘what was worse was that he was going to meet me. Or not me, exactly, but the person he’d been writing to, who didn’t really exist’ (lines 95-97)?
Find three quotations which encourage us to respond positively to Carla, explaining how and why.
Starter: create three questions where Steve/Stefan Jeziorny is the answer.
Examine the description of Steve/Stefan.
What does Carla mean by 'It was a terribly hopeful tie'?
What does his tie suggest about him?
Carla describes Steve as having a face which is 'too open, much too alive. What does she mean by this?
What does 'I saw it all swim in his eyes. Surprise. Uncertainty.' suggest about Steve's character?
Considering your answers to these questions, what qualities does Steve possess that Carla does not?
Carla tells us about her job at the school. We find out that she is half Polish, but doesn’t remember any of the language as her father stopped her speaking it when she was six.
During the morning meeting the Head asks if anyone is interested in having a Polish penfriend. He hopes there will eventually be a teacher exchange.
Carla and Stefan begin writing to one another. Carla doesn’t tell him what her job is but writes about not remembering any Polish and he writes a poem about it. The Head announces Stefan’s visit.
Carla worries about how Stefan will react when he finds out she is not a teacher. She overhears Valerie Kenward being rude about him then sees him for the first time. She understands that he feels out of place.
Carla introduces herself to Stefan and sees that he doesn’t care about her job. He takes her hand and sings a Polish song from her childhood and she remembers the words for the first time.
Reading task: annotate the methods, meanings and effects in the story.
Understanding a five-part structure: using the handouts on your desk, work with your shoulder partner to match the structural devices with the correct definitions.
exposition (introduces the setting and main characters)
inciting incident (This is the catalyst for the conflict)
rising action (A series of events or circumstances that keep the reader interested, perhaps by adding suspense)
climax (the main character comes face-to-face with the conflict and may be successful or be defeated)
denouement (the fallout; this part of the story wraps up any loose ends).
Question: what is the most basic structure that you think a story might take?
Types of three-part structure:
beginning, middle and ending
'something going on; something going wrong; sort it out' (used at KS1)
equilibrium/disequilibrium/new equilibrium (Tzvetan Todorov).
Extended Writing Task
Answer the following question using detailed PEACE paragraphs.
Compare the presentation of Carla and Stefan. In your answer you should:
write about what the reader is supposed to think about them
write about the ways the writer presents the characters.