Let's go fly a kite - upping the atmosphere

13th March 2015 at 00:00

I was keen to begin The Kite Runner with my A-level English class, but when I was confronted with a new group of silent college students who didn't know me or each other, I realised that some ice-breaking would be necessary before discussion could happen.

As the kite is so significant in this book, I decided to focus on that. I discovered that only three students had ever flown a kite, so I knew this was my way forward.

An internet search uncovered the amazing website of a Hawaiian couple who design kites. Although they sell their designs, their site also includes instructions for making a very basic kite, which was suitable for my lesson.

I made one at home first, running around the garden to make sure it flew. It certainly wasn't a glamorous creation; my children, mortified, offered me hard cash not to take it into college. But I was undeterred.

I began by showing my kite to the students, explaining that they were going to make one. Their horror at having to produce something so "uncool" united them immediately.

I handed out the instructions and the necessary materials, and the students worked in pairs. We completed the first stage together, but as their interest grew they started to work on their own.

Originally, I had intended to take the students outside to fly their completed kites, but heavy rain prevented this. So their homework was to meet up out of class and film themselves flying the kites. The clips would be shown in the next lesson.

Judging by the noise as they left the classroom, the ice had been well and truly broken.

We laughed during the next lesson as we watched clips of them flying their kites with varying degrees of success.

They were ready to read the book together.

Ruth Ferguson is an English teacher in the South East of England

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