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Ten year old Eoghan Clonan wants a dog – but not your average mutt. He’s looking for a very special pet, one with superpowers… Eoghan has a rare neuro-muscular condition called Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease which means he is a wheelchair user and has difficulty using his hands, amongst other things. After a two-year wait, Eoghan has been approved for his very own Superdog (Duke) who will be able to do lots of things for Eoghan – from turning on the washing machine to picking things up and opening and closing doors. This highly-trained dog will also be Eoghan’s new best friend. How will the pair bond and will Eoghan be able to get Duke to respond to his commands?
This documentary not only explores the theme of Independence, it encourages students to think about the challenges that other children their age have and to also consider not only the differences but the things they have in common with Eoghan.
The thematic unit of work uses the documentary as a primary text, as is recommended in the English Specification.
- In studying the documentary, students engage with all four LITERACY skills, i.e. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.
- The oral and written assignments support development of JUNIOR CYCLE KEY SKILLS as well as a selection of LEARNING OUTCOMES from the ENGLISH SPECIFICATION.
- In a carefully staged, AFL process, the unit begins with pre-listening, challenging students to tap into their prior knowledge, their thoughts and feelings about the context in the text.
- The documentary, for classroom purposes has been divided into short, relevant clips and the associated activities/ worksheets will develop a variety of comprehension skills, e.g. anticipation; active-listening; discussion; post-listening and reflective/ creative activities.
- Methodologies used in the teaching and learning resources encourage the student to become a critical, autonomous, self-directed and reflective learner. This is facilitated through AFL tasks which include peer and self-reflection sheets.
- By the end of this unit of work, students will be ready to complete a summative assessment task, suitable for the Oral Communication Task. An outline of the CBA can be found in the specification for Junior Cycle English (October 2015) which is available on the JCT website http://www.juniorcycle.ie/curriculum/subjects/english/english
Throughout the unit of work, students will be guided through activities which include:
- A walking or seated debate about the central theme (independence)
- A fact questionnaire which prompts active listening
- A compare and contrast exercise using a graphic organiser (venn diagram)
- A writing task when students will imagine the inner monologue of one of the main characters, Duke.
- A comprehension task exploring the vocabulary used in the documentary
- Activities leading up to a radio review including a model review and peer assessment sheet
- Storytelling unit including a character profile worksheet, comic strip planner and more…
The unit builds up to the final, summative task; a script-writing activity exploring the central theme of Independence.
The summative task is preceded by scaffolding activities, followed by AfL materials including self and peers assessment activities.
Documentary description from the documentary makers:
Eoghan has a rare neuro-muscular condition called Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease which means he is a wheelchair user and has difficulty using his hands, amongst other things.
After a two-year wait, Eoghan has been approved for his very own Superdog and it’s time for the Clonans to bring Duke home.
Duke will be able to do lots of things for Eoghan – from turning on the washing machine to picking things up and opening and closing doors. There's huge anticipation about his arrival. More than that, this highly-trained dog will be Eoghan’s new best friend.
Eoghan and his dad, Irish Times security correspondent and former soldier, Tom Clonan, are on the road to pick up Duke from Jennifer Dowler, co-founder of Irish Dogs for the Disabled and its chief dog trainer in Blarney in Cork.
Socks and teddy bears will be stolen, chocolate pancakes will be eaten, faces will be licked and someone will end up chasing a dog up the road in just their underpants.
Will Duke be sad leaving his doggie brothers and sisters? How will Eoghan and Duke bond? And how will the Clonan family feel when their very own Superdog comes home? Follow Eoghan and Duke’s Journey as two wheels meet four paws.
Produced by Aoife Stokes.
Production Supervision by Ciaran Cassidy.
First broadcast December 8th 2012.
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