An Introduction to “An Inspector Calls”

I started studying ‘An Inspector Calls’ with my year 10s yesterday and I always like to start a new topic with a lot of enquiry. So this is a short post about how I introduced them to the play.

To get the discussing and focused I start with a slide of images from google image of ‘AIC’ which consists of a range of different images of the harassers, set and text covers. I ask the class to form questions using questions stems, we then share those and discuss predictions.

Moving on from that, and I know some may find this odd and a bit too much of a giveaway, but I offer the class the situation we start the play with ‘a young woman has committed suicide and and these events led to her death’… They have then look at a short summary if the events that happen to Eva/Daisy and discuss who is to blame for this girl’s death. Again it sparks lots of discussion and lots of questions are asked.

It may sound mean but I deliberately choose for the lesson to be very ambiguous to start with so pupils are really hooked. And the questions they form are written in their books so they can be revisited and hopefully answered as we read and study the play.

After the ‘who’s to blame’ discussion we move onto the second objective: to begin to explore the social context and develop an understanding of the playwright. We discuss two key dates 1912 and 1945: what they know about those dates and what happened in history in between. I use prompt questions to get them considering the significance of the dates before telling them the play was set in 1912 and written in 1945. This prompts a discussion about key events in History and what society was like during those different time issues (I usually draw on the GCSE History students’ knowledge here to help lead the discussion).

The class then work in groups with some basic social context information sheets and make notes/an information poster about JB Priestley, politics at the time, social status and deliberate choices made by Priestley in the setting of his play based in what they’ve read and understood. This focuses the class to understand what was going on at the time the play was written; how JB Priestley brought his politic views into his work and how society was structured in 1912 and 1945.

To end the lesson and draw all of the phases together pupils see if any questions have been answered what predictions they have for the play and how their social context notes link to the ‘who’s to blame’ activity. This produced excellent predictions and links such as the girl’s status meant she had no options left after being treated so poorly by people of higher status.

They were so engaged all lesson and came into the classroom buzzing today and eager to start reading the play. I am so excited about taking them through the rest of the play and seeing how they continue to engage with the play.
If anyone would like a copy of my resources I would be happy to share.
Kathy 😃👍

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