Lesson Addition: Analyzing a “St. Lucy’s” Film Adaptation

I added this film analysis lesson to the end of Unit 1 in the first 9-12 ELA module from engageny. What I liked about this lesson is that it: 1) Got students moving around the classroom, 2) Asked students to form evidence-based opinions about themes and issues presented in a variety of texts, 3) Produced some really intelligent conversation.

Standards Addressed

  • Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work.
  • Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Materials

Process

  • Ask students to individually decide if the girls are St. Lucy’s are better off at the end of the story (should they be civilized? Have they benefited from St. Lucy’s?)
  • Model use of Evidence-Based Claim think sheet
  • Students find evidence supporting their ideas that the girls have/haven’t benefited from this civilizing process
  • Circulate around the room while students work to guide students as they work
  • Additional scaffolding: Ask students to share their “evidence” before they compose a claim.
  • Give “choose a side” directions: Tell students that in a minute, they will be asked to stand on the left side of the room if they believe the girls are better off by the end of the story and the right side of the room if they do not believe the girls have benefited from their time at St. Lucy’s. They will then form groups of 3-4 with students and share their evidence-based claims.
  • Tell students to choose a side and that they have two minutes to discuss their think sheets with their peers. Encourage students to add to their think sheets during their small-group discussion.
  • After 2 minutes have passed, call on small groups to share out one evidence-based claim.
  • Prep for film: Present the following focus questions — “How are the nuns portrayed?” “How are the girls portrayed?” “What aspects of the story are highlighted, minimized or changed in the film?”
  • Watch film
  • Students complete Evidence-Based Claim sheet in response to the following question: “Does this film suggest that the girls benefit from their time at St. Lucy’s?”
  • Small-group work: Students share their think sheets in small groups. Students add to their think sheets during discussion and then share out the strongest claim that their group has created.

Note: My students came up with the following ideas for the first EBC sheet (here are a few)

Why they’re not better off:

  • The girls become more selfish throughout the story: They refer to themselves as “I” instead of as “the pack.” At the end of the story, Claudette is more concerned with her enunciation than she is about Mirabella.
  • They lose touch with their origins. Claudette can’t find her way home; her mother recoils from her.
  • The girls aren’t happy. Early in the story, they want to run away and fantasize about getting expelled. Jeanette daydreams about her old wolf life.

Why they’re better off:

  • They’re learning how to walk, speak English, ride a bike. They need to be able to function in the human world (earlier, it was noted that the forest is disappearing and they don’t seem to have a lot of options)
  • They’re human, so they need to be able to interact with humans

A few things they noticed about the film

  • As one student said, the nuns are portrayed as demonic: They have long fingernails; they hit the girls; they yell and are mean. (“Nuns don’t look like that!” one student said)
  • The music echoes the emotions that the girls are feeling
  • The camera moves around in a disorienting way when the girls feel disoriented
  • Their makeup changes throughout the film from dark (wolf) to light (“human”)
  • The film suggests that St. Lucy’s is not good for the girls, the consensus seemed to be. However, the students noted, that’s because the film highlights the negative aspects of St. Lucy’s and asks us to feel sympathy for Mirabella.
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