1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities, 1.6. Strategies to support full participation of students with disability, 2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area, 2.5 Literacy and numeracy strategies, 3.2 Plan, structure and sequence learning programs, 3.4 Select and use resources, Book Review

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

As a kid, I have devoured the Harry Potter books. Not only have I read them all in English, but also in my mother tongue, Dutch. Ever since my year 5 teacher read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to us, I was a fan. I can see myself using the Harry Potter books in my classroom for many reasons and in different year groups. 

The good thing about the Harry Potter books is that there are so many additional resources you can draw from. You can access the Pottermore-website for background information or watch the movies and even play the various games. All these different resources should help teachers to engage the students.

For an assignment at the University of Western Australia, I created three sequential lesson plans for the first book. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone deals with a lot of different characters. By using SAAO (Speech, Appearance, Actions and Others (what do others say about the character)), students can analyse the characters.There are other acronyms used for character-analysis such as S.T.E.A.L. (speech, thoughts and feelings, effects on others, actions, looks) or S.A.T.A.O. (speech, appearance, thoughts and feelings, actions, others). These guidelines can easily be scaffolded so that character analysis in year seven is easy to approach.

In the first lesson, I focused mainly on the appearance of characters. I created a resource in which students compare the description of the characters to the actors in the film. In the second lesson, the focus starts at the appearance and then moves to speech, others and actions. In our final class, students need to choose a character of their own choice for a final analysis. Harry Potter (1) - Miss Bos.jpg

As I stated before, Harry Potter is great due to the additional resources. Students with low literacy will be able to listen to the audiobook while reading along and watch the movie to keep up with the story in case they are falling behind. For their own character analysis, students can use the Pottermore website for extra background information on the characters. It is not the most user-friendly website, but once you understand how to use it, the options for characters are endless. As a teacher, you use these resources in the classroom. Instead of having your students read the book in class, you can listen to the audiobook or watch a scene from the movie.

The last reason to use the first book of the series is idealistic. Just like my year 5 teacher inspired me to read the books, I hope some of my students will be thrilled to read the other 6 books after going through the first one.

Even though you could use any of the Harry Potter books, I do feel that book 1 and 2 would be the best books to use in class. The movies directed by Chris Columbus do follow the books very closely and are a good support to the books, whereas the following movies stand more on their own. Additionally, books 3 – 7 are more complicated to read and students in year 7 would be less likely to relate to the characters due to the age gap. However, some books can be used in higher year groups.

© Kirsten Bos, Miss Bos, 2017


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