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SUBJECTS — Health (Disabilities (deafness) & Non-verbal Communication);
ELA (Characterization,Theme & Complication);
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Disabilities (deafness); Mother/Son; Parenting;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Caring.
Age: 12+; MPAA Rating -- PG-13 for language; Drama; 105 minutes; Color.
Frankie is nine years old and deaf; he lives in Scotland with his mother and grandmother. As the movie opens, the family has just moved again. Frankie doesn't know why his family moves so frequently, nor does the audience, but it is slowly revealed that they are fleeing from domestic violence. To protect her son from the brutal truth and to provide him with a semblance of a nurturing father, Frankie's mother claims that his father is absent because he works as a merchant seaman on a ship named the Accra. Frankie has kept up a lively correspondence with his dad. However, Frankie's mother has been intercepting the boy's letters and writing responses, always signing, "Love, Dad."
The deception threatens to unravel when the Accra actually docks at the seaport in the family's new home town. This is a delightful and warmhearted film that will touch both children and adults.
This movie will be helpful in Health and ELA classes. Students will gain a deeper understanding of how to interact with non-hearing members of society. They will benefit from seeing a mother take unusual steps to protect her child, despite the fact that some of her actions are misguided. In addition, children will see a boy adjust to a serious life-long injury and retain his emotional stability. The film can also be used as an opportunity to teach the importance of non-verbal communication, demonstrate several literary devices, including characterization, theme, and complication, and provide opportunities for students to practice the writing and speaking skills required by most ELA curriculum standards.
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Dear Frankie shows a boy dealing with a substantial impairment, deafness. He hardly talks, but signs and lip reads.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Dear Frankie.
QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION: Frankie's girlfriend tells him that the truth is tricky. In a conversation about whether or not Frankie's father will want to see him when the Accra comes into port, she says, "You want to know but you don't want to know." The girl then equates the truth about Frankie's dad with learning the truth about whether or not mermaids are real. How does this idea relate to the film as a whole?
Suggested Response: Frankie stands to be badly hurt if his father doesn't want to see him. The reference to the disappointment that the girl felt when she learned that mermaids weren't real implies that for young children belief may be more important than fact. And this is exactly Frankie's situation. One of the themes of the film is that his belief that he has a loving father is more important than the brutal truth. It allows him to develop into the wonderful child that he is and to find a friend in the stranger hired to pose as his father. Query students on whether, in their own lives, they have seen people who had questions about something but weren't at all sure they really wanted to know the truthful answer. Sometimes fear of the truth keeps individuals from pursuing it even when the truth is very important.
The Learning Guide to the film Dear Frankie contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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