Fiction

English Year 6 Autumn Significant Authors

Northern Lights

Immerse the class in Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Revise clauses and explore subjunctive form. Write an untold tale inspired by this significant author.

Start with the core unit to introduce key texts. Then select from comprehension, SPAG and composition units.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Introduction to the world of Northern Lights
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Texts
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Optional texts
Northern Lights Audiobook – Unabridged, narrated by Philip Pullman

Resource Presentation: Images of Oxford (see resources)
Explore and discuss images of Oxford which relate to Lyra’s Oxford to consider how authors use real settings to inspire invented ones.

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Discuss what children think of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman so far. Put it into context as part of a bestselling trilogy and that Pullman is a significant author. Today children will consider why the book is sometimes called a ‘page-turner’.
Activity
Children read and discuss the opening pages of Northern Lights, prompted by a discussion prompt. They think about different aspects of the opening that compel the reader to read on.

Day 2 Teaching
Discuss the idea that the settings of Northern Lights are based on real places but that there are differences that tell the reader that this is not our world. Explore images of real and fictional Oxford and the way that Pullman creates settings.
Activity
In pairs, children read the opening of chapter 3, and consider the contrasting images of Lyra’s Oxford and the way that Pullman has described them. They use questions provided to structure their analysis.

Day 3 Teaching
List the main characters met so far and consider the idea that rounded characters are multifaceted: they can be both good and bad. Discuss the way that Pullman presents characters through action, description and speech.
Activity
Children choose Lyra, Lord Asriel or Mrs Coulter. Reading extracts provided, they collect evidence revealing negative and positive traits. They use this evidence to construct arguments supported by the text, arguing that a character is good or bad.

Day 4 Teaching
Discuss how Pullman took elements of Oxford to inspire Lyra’s Oxford but was selective and used imagination to develop his settings into something different. Model how to do this with a familiar place, being descriptive and imaginative.
Activity
After discussion and thinking time, children create a setting description in a paragraph or two, focusing on using words for impact.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Revise single and multi-clause sentences
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Optional texts
Northern Lights Audiobook – Unabridged, narrated by Philip Pullman

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Clauses and Conjunctions

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read the last three pages of chapter 5 of Northern Lights. Share the Grammar Presentation: Clauses and Conjunctions (slides 1-6). Discuss the impact of single and multi-clause sentences. Introduce today’s activity
Activity
Children work through sections A-D of Conjunctions and Clauses in pairs, discussing and exploring the structure of the clauses and use of conjunctions.

Day 2 Teaching
Review the Grammar Presentation (slides 1-6) and then discuss slides 7-10, exploring how colons and semi-colons can link clauses. Display a poster of subordinating conjunctions and model describing a daemon using multi-clause sentences for detail.
Activity
Children write descriptively about their daemon and where, when and why they change using multi-clause sentences to build description. Provide those needing support with the Sentence Starters resource.

Day 3 Teaching
Revise slides from the Grammar Presentation as needed and then display and discuss slide 11. Discuss the use of conjunctions and subordinate clauses to build tension, for impact and to create flowing prose. Introduce today’s task.
Activity
Distribute From Lyra’s Point of View. Children discuss this synopsis and adapt for a new point of view. They then rewrite the story using single and multi-clause sentences for impact.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Clauses and Conjunctions Presentation
Revise how sentences can be made up of one clause or more and how these can be joined by co-ordinating and subordinating conjunctions, and colons and semi-colons. Consider the impact of difference sentence types when writing fiction.

Comprehension
Unit 3 Comprehension: Text analysis and comparing versions
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Texts
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (2007 Film) (This has a PG rating so preview before sharing.)

Optional texts
Northern Lights Audiobook – Unabridged, narrated by Philip Pullman
Northern Lights - (Graphic Novel) by Philip Pullman

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Recap Northern Lights so far and then reread the opening three pages of chapter 10. Discuss the significance of the witch having no daemon and what we learn about Lyra. The class will read the next part of this chapter, answering questions.
Activity
Children read and answer questions using the provided text and questions. An easier version is provided with less reading required and the questions interspersed with the reading text. Questions focus on plot, language use and character.

Day 2 Teaching
Discuss how many people have read the whole His Dark Materials trilogy. Read the opening of Northern Lights; discuss the techniques Pullman uses to build tension. Make a list. Children will be reading chapter 12 to explore tension building further.
Activity
In small groups, children read chapter 12. They highlight text which builds tension and annotate to explain what type of technique is being used.

Day 3 Teaching
Discuss the way that books can be adapted into film versions. Show the opening of The Golden Compass and discuss children’s opinions so far. Explain that children will watch another clip, based in Ch. 12. Display and discuss the Film Evaluation Grid.
Activity
Children watch the clip several times, discussing and noting their evaluations, lead by the grid. They decide in their groups if they would want to watch the rest of the film and whether it might be better/worse or just different to reading the novel.

Day 4 Teaching
Discuss how Pullman’s writing gives readers plenty to think about and discuss. He presents mysteries leaving the reader to work out more and creates complicated characters. Introduce Questions to Think About to prompt today’s discussions.
Activity
Children discuss the questions in their groups and then either record answers as notes to help them feed back, or write answers more formally in books.

SPAG
Unit 4 SPAG: Explore the subjunctive form
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Optional texts
Northern Lights Audiobook – Unabridged, narrated by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (2007 Film) (This has a PG rating so preview before sharing.)

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Subjunctive Form

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Recap the story so far. Agree that there are lots of things we might hypothesise or wish about in the story. Share slides 1-6 the Grammar Presentation: Subjunctive Form.
Activity
Children work through sections A-C of Subjunctive Form for Wishes and Hypotheticals in pairs, identifying, inserting and using the subjunctive form.

Day 2 Teaching
Review slides 1-2 of the Grammar Presentation and then read some excerpts of speech from Northern Lights, challenging children to identify the speakers by register. Review the rest of the presentation, discussing slides 7-10 to explore requests and demands.
Activity
Children work through sections A-C of Requests and Commands in pairs, identifying, inserting and using the subjunctive form.

Day 3 Teaching
Re-read chapter 9, where Lyra’s learning to use the alethiometer is described. Explore hypothetical and command sentences which could be built around the device. Introduce today’s activity: speculating about the symbols and writing rules.
Activity
After a short period of symbol drawing onto their alethiometer image, children write rules for using the alethiometer and speculative sentences about what they symbols might indicate using subjunctive form.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Subjunctive Form Presentation
Explore the very formal register which is created by the subjunctive form. Identify and use the form for hypotheticals and demands, understanding how to apply the sentence structure and select the correct verb forms.

Composition
Unit 5 Composition: Write an untold tale for Northern Lights
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Texts
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Optional texts
Northern Lights Audiobook – Unabridged, narrated by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (2007 Film) (This has a PG rating so preview before sharing.)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Discuss how in Northern Lights there are many untold stories. Explain that the children will be telling one of these. Discuss their ideas and list on a flipchart. Children talk in groups about the story they are most interested in telling.
Activity
Children plan an untold story set in the world of Northern Lights. They use a planning format they feel comfortable with and check their plan has a satisfying story structure which will draw a reader in.

Day 2 Teaching
Ask children to review their story plans. Remind them to use any display resources and the tips the class created on Day 1. Explain that this should be an independent extended writing session, but that support will be available if needed.
Activity
Children endeavour to write most of their stories today. They use their plans and any useful displayed materials, aiming to write an engaging narrative. Support children who need it but encourage them to write as independently as possible

Day 3 Teaching
Highlight what has been good about the writing so far and address any common issues. Agree and list an editing checklist for children to use, once they have finished, to improve their writing today.
Activity
Children complete their first drafts and then use the checklist to reread and make improvements. They next share their writing with a partner, taking turns to make improvement suggestions and helping with any writing questions.

Day 4 Teaching
Discuss Pullman’s books and how he is considered a significant author. Consider what the children know about him; list further questions for research. Revise how to research, make notes and then answer the question in a report paragraph.
Activity
Allocate research questions. Children use a range of sources to research the answers, presenting them as information paragraphs for a display about Philip Pullman as a significant author.