Writing Lesson Plan Using 127 Hours
SUBJECTS — English Language Arts;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Surviving;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Responsibility.
Age: 14+; MPAA Rating -- Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images (for disturbing content and some language); Drama; 2010, 94 minutes; Color.
Adapted from Aron Ralston's book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, this movie describes five days during which a giant boulder pinned Ralston's arm to the wall of a slot canyon. Trapped and with no hope of rescue, Ralston musters the courage to break the bones in his arm and then to sever what is left of his arm from his body.
The "TWM Writing Lesson Plan Using 127 Hours" employs an innovative student handout to describe some of the concepts in Ralston's book. The handout is to be read before students watch the movie — or, when there is no time to watch the movie, after being told the essentials of Ralstons story in a few short sentences. Each section of the handout introduces an idea that helps readers understand Ralston's harrowing decision to cut off his arm and give himself a chance to walk away from certain death.
Suggested assignments are designed to encourage students to write freely in response to the information given and to empathize with the attributes of character that served Ralston so well. Then, if students watch the film, they will be able to see how ideas they have considered and written about are described visually.
Subject: Writing Exercise.
Level: Grades 9 - 12.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will exercise their writing skills on an interesting subject. They will consider and discuss the values that enabled Ralston to survive his ordeal.
Rationale: By addressing ideas presented in the book before showing the movie, students will be led to examine how an individual can call upon his past in order to maintain composure in the face of doom. Each reference to one of Ralston's chapters described in the Student Handout provided with the Lesson Plan introduces an idea that helps readers understand the young man who gathers the courage to cut off his arm and walk away from certain death. Suggested assignments are designed to encourage students to write freely in response to the information given and to empathize with the attributes of character that served Ralston so well. Then, if students watch the film, they will be able to see how ideas they have considered and written about are described visually.
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127 Hours will inspire students to understand that just about any obstacle can be conquered by a resourceful and determined individual if his or her life is at stake. .
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for home schooling we have set out below a note to teachers that accompanies the Writing Lesson Plan for 127 Hours.
Note to teachers: Students love adventure stories, especially tales about young people and most especially when the stories are true. Still, students are often reluctant to read what many times can be a long build-up to the action they crave. Aron Ralston's book about five days trapped in the narrow confines of a slot canyon is ruminative and informative in its effort to explain how he managed to survive. Most young readers will want to skim the details about his outdoor adventures, the hikes, the climbs, and the description of terrain that is mostly unfamiliar and desolate. They will want to go quickly to the moment when Ralston falls and thus skip the reflection, fear and inspiration that finally leads him to cut off his arm and free himself mere hours from certain death.
In anticipation of such reluctant readers, this lesson plan uses valuable information that Ralston conveys in his book to inform a more thorough understanding of the film. Ralston's self-examination and the philosophical journey he experiences during his 127 hours of entrapment deepen the message conveyed in the movie and may provoke some students to read the book itself.
IF administrators or parents balk at screening the film at school, or if there is no available class time, take advantage of the fact that most kids will have seen the movie and that, for those who haven't, Ralston's story can be described very quickly. Thus, the description of the chapters and the assignments in the Student Handout will be of benefit in classes which do not watch the film.
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