Sky: Focus Area 5
- Sky by Ondine Sherman
- Focus Area 5 – Interview with the Author
- Glossary (selected words appear in bold)
- To what extent does the novel explore the concept of social justice activism?
- How you can make a difference in the world through small acts?
Suggested Learning Activities
Read – The Author’s Thoughts
- Read the interview with the author, Ondine Sherman, about her motivations and reasons for writing the novel.
- Students to identify what they think the key argument (or point) the author is making in regards to the use of fiction texts to present factual information.
- Focus a class discussion on the following questions (and Sherman’s responses to these) which foreground later discussions and activities.
- Why does Sky find public activism to be such an effective method of expression?
- Explain how Sky might be used as an example of a citizen of democracy registering disagreement, seeking support, and making changes.
- In what ways do you think Sky had an impact on the world around her? How might this encourage other young people to believe in themselves?
In groups, students discuss their responses to the following:
- Why is it beneficial to have opposing views and conflict in the text?
- Can you find examples of dialogue from the novel in which the reader is privy to the differing opinions of key characters?
- Are there other examples where students have encountered a fiction text that has been used to explore reality or to promote a particular perspective?
- How have the characters in Sky been used to create conflict?
- Do you think fiction is more or less persuasive than non-fiction? Explain your thoughts.
Making a Difference
1. Students to make a list of all of the examples where characters are attempting to make a difference or standing up for what they believe in.
These should include, but are not limited to;
- Sky’s adoption of Bella (pp. 47-49)
- Lucy’s father, Mark, and his bird sanctuary (pp. 124-129)
- Oliver’s possum and bird boxes (pp. 82)
- Miss Higgins’ Landcare group (pp. 78-81)
- Sky’s rescue and care of Chirp (pp. 107-110)
- Sky’s presentation at the town hall (pp. 201-206)
- Greg’s decision to turn half his farm free-range (pp. 220)
2. Students choose ONE of the acts above to develop a piece of analytical writing which addresses the following question: Small acts have the power to enact change.
Point – Link to the question and make a statement in response to it – use the key words from the question.
Example – Give an example (quotation) to support the point.
Explanation – Explain how the example reflects the point and provide some analysis, where possible, of the language or literary devices used by the writer.
Link up – Link back to the point/question
Sky’s presentation at the town hall is a small yet courageous act. It has the potential to enact change in her community by informing the townspeople of the conditions at the chicken farm in the hopes that this may lead to some changes in mindset and improvements for the lives of animals.
Social Justice Activism
As a work of fiction, Sky must present its characters as ‘mouthpieces’ for various positions around the various issues raised in the novel. The text enters into ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments, through the behaviour and conversation of its characters.
In the novel, we discover that Sky’s mother, Eleanor, was involved in anti-whaling and anti-logging protests and Melody is also involved in social justice activism. When presented with the opportunity to protest animal maltreatment, Sky takes up the opportunity naturally. It is part of her family history.
Sky provides opportunities to learn about historical and recent protest and social justice activism.
- What is social justice activism?
- Can you think of some examples of activism throughout history?
- Has there been any current rallies, protests or social justice activist movements that you are familiar with?
Research and Oral presentation
- Students research, in detail, one public protest or instance of activism – historical or recent, linking this to the key concept: Perspective.
- Students will then present their presentation to the class. 3 minutes.
This could be modified to use as a formal assessment task – with students completing the research part of the task at home, given time in class to write their speech, and then performed by the students in class and marked by the teacher. If a more literary approach is required to meet state curriculum requirements, teachers could opt to change the focus of the oral presentation to a theme/key concern within the novel.
There are many to choose from, including:
- Anti-war protests – worldwide;
- Greyhound racing protests – NSW, Australia;
- Protests on climate change – Australia/worldwide;
- Protests to stop/ban live export – South Australia;
- Protests against contemporary Australian refugee policy;
- American civil rights protests – USA;
- The women’s suffrage protests – various;
- Marriage equality – Australia/worldwide;
- Vegan protests – Victoria, Australia;
- Gender Equality – worldwide;
- Bronx Zoo Protest to free Happy, the elephant – NYC, USA.
- Duck hunting protests – Victoria, Australia.
The list is endless, which should mean a great array of student presentations.
Students to consider the following when preparing and researching:
The facts on the day:
- What were/are the protesters opposing?
- What were/are their reasons for opposition?
- What year was it?
- Who was/is in government?
- How did the authorities/community respond to the protest?
- What form did the protest take?
- How many people were present?
- Who spoke?
- Was it a peaceful protest, or was violence involved?
- Was there a police presence and how did they behave?
The protest over time:
- Was the protest effective?
- In what ways was it effective? In what ways was it non-effective?
- Did results take time? How much time?
- Are people still protesting the same behaviours years later? Why do you think this might be?
- Consider the varying perspectives involved – try to look at the issue objectively.
- Come back to the novel’s epigraph and aim to make a link in your presentation to the sentiment behind Goodall’s quote.
‘You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make’. Jane Goodall.
Students share their oral presentations with the class.
Students should focus on developing their oratory skills during this task.
What have you learnt?
Just as a reader is impacted by the narrative, the characters themselves learn and change due to the events that unfold.
Students to read the following quotations and identify:
- Which character/s does this involve?
- What have they learnt? Or how have they changed?
- What action/s prompted the change or acted as a catalyst for a new perspective?
- “You can keep educating people about being compassionate, and about chickens’ personalities and the things you’ve learnt about the industries. I’ve learnt a lot from you already…I think I’m going to phase it out of my diet completely. Chicken, I mean. You can be a voice for them.”
- “Stevenson’s Family Farm will transition to a new business model, capitalising on the growing market of consumers looking for welfare-friendly meat.”
- “I’m just grateful Marissa has been open-minded and seen inside the shed for herself”. Jules was right; deep down Marissa can be kind.”
- “Daddy didn’t understand; he’s all obsessed with numbers, processes and ticking boxes. But now he does.”
Students to complete the following reflection questions:
- What are some of the most interesting discoveries you made whilst reading and studying this novel?
- For you, what was the most important thing you have learnt? Why?
- How will you use what you have learnt moving forward in your life?
- If you were to describe what you have learnt using just ONE word, what would it be?
6. TAKING IT FURTHER
We hope that you have enjoyed using our teacher and student resources for this Sky Series APE.
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