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The Ashton Family Space Log

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By Peter Riley

This space log – or family journal – is written by members of the same fictional family over several generations. They live and travel on the space ark featured in On-screen resource 2. The entries span over 200 years. The Perseus houses an ideal world where people farm, use craft skills, trade, take part in sports and live in small towns. Ordinary names have been used to link the present day to the future – but the children could have fun inventing futuristic ‘space’ names.

These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11 November 2008

ashton-family-image.jpg

Guided group reading

  • Discuss the title. What is a ‘log’? Which text type would a ‘log’ fit into?
  • Look at the text presentation. Without reading the text, ask the children to suggest why it is presented in chunks. What does each section represent? Is the log written at the same time by the same person? Look at the dates and explain that the entries span over 200 years.
  • Share read the text, taking one entry at a time. Ask the children questions to explore their understanding of the narrative.
  • Discuss the features of recount text. What do they notice about many of the verbs?
  • Look at and discuss the use of paragraphs.

Previous learning

Children will need to be familiar with the features of recount texts. A discussion of people’s ideas about the future may put the children into the right mindset to understand this text – even a discussion about ‘Dr Who’!

Key learning outcomes:

  • To perform a scripted scene;
  • To use evidence from a text to explain ideas;
  • To compare different narrative and information texts;
  • To use visualisation and empathy;
  • To use different narrative forms, maintaining viewpoints.

Responding

  • Ask the children to identify the family members who made entries in the family space log. Can they work out how they are all related?
  • Find subject-specific words and create a word bank to use in writing activities inspired by the text.
  • Look at the third entry. Why have brackets been used? Identify another place in the text where brackets could be used.
  • Look at the fourth entry, particularly at ‘we don’t gawp in front of TV screens and computers like people in the 21st century’. How does the wording of this phrase give us an insight into what Jason Ashton delta thinks of the 21st century?
  • Discuss what it would be like to live on a space ark. Would the children like it? What things would they miss from their present-day life? Ask them to give reasons for their opinions.
  • Complete the SAT-style activity sheet below.

Group and guided activities

  • Discuss how to write a playscript. Explain how a script can be annotated with notes to aid performance. Then, in groups, ask the children to choose a section of the space log and write a playscript version which they should annotate and perform.
  • Develop the entry made on 4th June 3100 by describing the hospital. Encourage the children to think of ways in which medicine will advance in the future. Encourage them to use their senses when writing descriptions.
  • Imagine what a school might be like on a space ark. Would the headteacher’s office be in the hub? In small groups, write entries for a space log describing experiences in a space ark school.

Author’s note

It is thought that, by the time real space arks are built, many people will have been living in the space environment for some time so taking the decision to spend your life on one may not be as difficult or as big as step as it would for Earthbound people today.

Speaking and listening

  • In groups, ask the children to choose one family member and get to know that person really well. Next, ask them to prepare a talk about ‘themselves’ in role. Make ‘Big Brother diary room’-style video footage of each character talking about themselves.

Plenary

  • Invite the children to perform their plays to the class. Ask the audience to consider which section of the space log was adapted and to discuss how closely the group followed the details of the text.
  • Watch and comment on the video/digital recordings of the diary entries.

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