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Using Cuisenaire Rods in the EFL Classroom

Using Cuisenaire Rods in the EFL Classroom

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Published by johndevans
Notes from December 2008's workshop on how to use Cuisenaire Rods in the classroom.
Notes from December 2008's workshop on how to use Cuisenaire Rods in the classroom.

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Published by: johndevans on Feb 22, 2010
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02/28/2011

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1066 – THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS
Theme
: History 
Language
Narrative TensesVocabulary for historical events
Level
: Elementary and above (adjustlanguage to level
Time
: 45 minutes – longer if using extensions
Materials
: 2 sets of Cuisenaire Rods'Norman Conquest' Worksheet
Organisation
: Horse-shoe – no desks. 
Procedure
1.Set the chairs up in a horse-shoe. Do not have students sitting behind their desks. You WILLkill the lesson. It is important that they can see the rods and that they are close to the action.If you don't believe me, try it!2.Tell the class that the lesson is about an important event in British history and elicitsuggestions from the class. If anyone offers 1066 and the Battle of Hastings, invite them totell the class what they know of it. If no-one knows tell them! It is a good idea to warn theclass that there will be a lot of listening, to you, but there will be opportunities for the tospeak. However, if they have any questions, just ask. If they don't understand anything, ask.If you are speaking too quickly, tell you to slow down, or vice-versa. But, most importantly,sit back, get comfortable, relax, and just enjoy the ride!3.Lay out a rough outline of the south and east of England (from Plymouth to Scotland) usingthe orange rods on the floor and elicit suggestions from class as to what it might be.4.Lay out rough outline of northern Europe using the black rods (Normandy to Norway) andelicit.5.Hold up a red rod and tell the class that this is YOU (the students). Tell the class: your nameis Harold Godwin. You are a very rich, powerful man. You own a lot of the south of England(gesture). You have a large moustache. You are the Earl of Wessex. You want to be King.6.Ask the students to point to London. Place a green rod (Edward the Confessor – King oEngland) with a small white rod (his crown) in London and lay it flat – not standing. Elicitfrom the class who this is. Ask them if he is standing (no) and why (ill / dying). Explain tothe class that the King is dying but he doesn't want you to be king. He wants this man – holdup a yellow rod – to be king. Place the yellow rod in Normandy. Tell the class that his nameis William and he is the Duke of Normandy. If the class ask you why, explain that at thistime the French, Normans at least, had considerable influence in the English court (rather like America today) and that William was very close to the Pope. He even wore a hair of St.Paul around his neck, a present from the Pope. Ask the class how they (Harold) feel aboutthis (annoyed / jealous / threatened / worried / angry). Explain that history is history and it'snever this simple. Hold up a brown rod. Tell the class that his name is Harald Hardrada. Heis the King of Norway and he also wants to be King of England. (If they ask why - he only
 
had a vague claim to the throne through his nephew – but Harold Godwinson's andWilliam's were also vague).7.January 5
th
1066 – Edward is very ill. You (Harold) rushes to London. Before Edward dies,you persuade him to make you king (we don't know how). He dies later in the day and youare crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey on January 6
th
. You are now Harold II.Ask the class how they feel (ecstatic / over the moon etc..) How do William and Harald feelabout this? (annoyed / jealous / William probably feels betrayed). Ask them what they think will happen next – invade / attack. Ask them who they think will invade first – don't acceptor refuse any suggestions.8.Move Harald Hardrada to the north of England and tell them that he invades first with thehelp of – hold up a dark green rod – this man. Tell the class that he is your brother, Tostig.(If they ask – Tostig was the Earl of Northumberland and was extremely unpopular due to being a southerner and rather fond of taxes. There was a rebellion, Tostig's supporters werekilled and he was outlawed. The leaders of the rebellion went to London to meet withEdward the Confessor. Harold was sent to negotiate with them. Tostig accused Harold of instigating the rebellion. Harold, eyes on the throne, rid himself of his troublesome brother.)9.Ask the class – What are you going to do? They'll probably say fight Harald Hardrada and if they do, ask them what to do about William. Answer – hold up a white rod - move the whiterod across the Channel and ask “Who is he?' Answer - a spy ( a little James Bond mimehelps here. Tell the class that they send a spy to France to keep an eye on William. Tell theclass that you'll return to the spy in a minute. For now, back to more pressing matters – Hardrada in the north. Hardrada and Tostig destroy York. Move Harold to London. Tell themthat they stop in London and gather support. Then March north. You meet Tostig andHadrada south of York. The Battle of Stamford bridge ensues. The date – September 25
th
1066. It is a surprise attack. Hadrada's army are enjoying the sun, eating and relaxing after destroying York. It's an easy win. (Harold Godwinson's army are heavily armed andHadrada's lightly armed and are waiting for re-inforcements but they come to late). Your  brother, Tostig, and Harald Hardrada are both killed (this marks the end of the Vikings).10.Go back to the spy. Tell the class that William discovers the spy. “What do you think William does with the spy?” They'll probably say kill him. Wrong! He takes the spy on aholiday. He takes him around his beautiful country. What a very, very, very nice man. Aren'tthe French so nice? He shows him – lay down three or four long blue rods - “What arethese?” Answer – his army (about 7,500 men). “What does he do next?” Answer – sends thespy back to England (move spy to England) “Why?” So he can tell you (Harold). Move spynorth.11.Have a quick re-cap of the events. Blah, blah, blah. For continuity's sake make the lastquestion “What was the name of the battle here – point to Stamford bridge. Who won? Thenexplain that as the battle ended you heard that William had invaded on the south coast of England. Point to Pevensey Bay (Note – most historians now dispute Pevensey Bay asWilliam's landing point as it was mostly marsh land and unsuitable for an invasion force toland on. It's worth mentioning how close it is to Eastbourne. Then, you march south toLondon. 5 days. Re-fill the ranks. Then march south to meet William. Another 5 days. Clear away the rods.12.Lay out a line of orange rods. Put Harold behind them. Tell them that this is their army. Youarrive first. You take up position on the ridge (explanation will help here) of Senlac Hill (Itwas originally known in English as
Santlache
("Sandy Stream"), which
the
 Normans  punned into
Sanguelac
("Blood Lake") which was then shortened to Senlac: thus SenlacHill is the commonly held name for the high ground defended by the English army. SenlacHill was c. 275 feet above sea level, before the top of the ridge was leveled off to createBattle Abbey
)
about 6 miles / 10 km north of Hastings. It's worth pointing out that theBattle of Hastings never happened in Hastings. It happened in Battle. But, it wasn't calledBattle then. It's called Battle after the Battle. (just watch their faces – you'll tell if they've got
 
it).13.In front of, and parallel to the orange rods, lay out a line of long blue rods – two rows deep,three columns. This is William's army. Put William behind them. Ask the class who has the better position – answer – Harold because he is on the top of the hill. Say to the class -However, William had something you don't (mime / elicit) archers, and (mime / elicit)cavalry. You had (mime/elicit) infantry with shields, swords and spears but no archers or cavalry.14.The battle started at nine o'clock on the morning of October 14
th
1066. It started withWilliam instructing his archers to fire at Harold's army (shoot some white rods at the orangeline). But, it had little effect. He then charged up the hill but Harold's army threw downrocks and spears. No success. Then a group of French had had enough and broke off – moveone blue rod away. Harold's soldiers see this and rush down the 'hill' to attack them – moveone orange rod down the 'hill'. But, William sees this and sends some of his soldiers to assist – move another blue rod over and make it sandwhich / surround the orange rod. Elicit fromthe class what's happening. The orange rod is killed – put it back in the box. William repeatsthis feigned withdrawl several times – repeat this using the rods and each time have anorange rod 'massacred'. However, the battle is still at a stalemate. Harold at the top andWilliam at the bottom. Then, towards the end of the day, William has an idea. He tells hisarchers to fire straight up instead of straight at Harold's army (mime helps) the archers fireoff their arrows - demonstrate with a white rod. Harold looks up and an arrow strikes him inthe eye – demonstrate with the rods and mime. Harold is killed. The students are now dead.Ask them – what happens next? Answer – Harold's army lose heart at the death of their kingand flee – they are chased and killed by the Normans – demonstrate. William is victorious.(for your information – the fighting didn't stop there – it continued for a further two weeksor so, but it is generally considered that October 14
th
was the day that William won). He isnow known as William the Conqueror.15.William waits in Hastings for the English Earls and Dukes to come and surrender to him(demonstrate if you so wish)16. Christmas Day 1066 – William is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. Put alittle white crown on his head.17.The Dark ages end and we are now in the Middle ages.18.Drink some water!19.Write the names of the four key players – Harold Godwinson, Harald Hardrada, William andEdward the Confessor – on the white board. Hand out the Worksheet 'The Norman Conquest'. Invite the students, alone or in pairs, to write the names in the correct spaces for questionsa,b,c,d. Whole class feedback.20.Ask the students to insert the correct names in the spaces for the following questions e,f,g,h,ietc. Whole class feedback.Rationale and NotesI hope, and I am confident that, you and your students will enjoy this lesson. It is rich invocabulary and there is plenty of scope for further practice and consolidation of narrative tenses:Past Simple, Past Continuous and Past Perfect.It works on many different levels. The rods certainly help to paint a picture of the story. However,it is important to remember that it is the teacher, you, that tells the story, and you have to bring iitto life. The rods can'r do all the work. Mimes and a little humour help too. The personalisationhelps too, try not to refer to Harold as Harold, instead use 'you'. Again, it brings it to life andinvolves the students in the lesson. To further involve the students, you can invite and direct themto move the people and things around.For the quieter students, and those used to a transmission method of teaching, it can be comfortingfor the teacher to be at the front of the class 'teaching'. More extroverted students still have the

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