Lesson 12 of 23
Duration:
Two 50-minute class periods

Act One Review

From the Unit:

Essential Questions

What can J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls teach us about the impact of our individual and collective decisions and actions on others?

Guiding Questions

  • What lessons can we learn from Act One of An Inspector Calls that we can take into our own lives?
  • How can adopting a character’s perspective help us better understand and empathise with the characters and others in our community?

Learning Objectives

  • Students will review the first Act of the play, identifying lessons that we can learn from Act One and sharing their ideas in a fishbowl discussion. 
  • Students will adopt the perspective of a character and complete a creative piece of writing.

Overview

In previous lessons, students explored the characters of Mr Birling and Sheila, considering the impact that their identities had on their choices and actions, and the role that power played in their interactions with others. This exploration built the foundation for students to examine the complex interplay between individuals, society and power – the ways in which who we are is both influenced by and influences our choices, whilst the impact that our choices have is linked to the amount of power we possess. Students also finished reading the first Act of the play, analysing the role Sheila and Mr Birling played in Eva Smith’s death, and began to develop the necessary analytical writing skills to craft clear, well-developed essays.  

In this lesson, students will consider the lessons that we can learn from the first Act of the play, selecting evidence from the play to support their claims and discussing their ideas with their classmates. Such consideration will not only enable students to explore the play’s content in further depth and to examine the author’s craft, it will also encourage them to reflect on the play’s relevance to their own lives and to think about what lessons they can learn from the characters. 

Students will then have the opportunity to adopt the perspectives of different characters in both drama tasks and written tasks. Such perspective-adopting exercises not only help students to familiarise themselves with the content of the play, but also help to boost student empathy as they put themselves in another’s shoes, as it were. This process can also assist students in making reflections on their own lives and their own behaviour, and in building links between the learning in the classroom and the world beyond school.

The activities in this lesson refer to pages 1–26 of the Heinemann edition of An Inspector Calls.

Alignment with the GCSE Specification

  • Creative Writing (Lang-AO5, Lang-AO6)
  • Critical Reading (Lit-AO1/AO3, Lang-AO1/AO4)
  • Evidence-Based Reasoning (Lit-AO1–3/Lang-AO1–4)
  • Knowledge of Content (Lit-AO1/AO3)
  • Spoken Language Skills (Lang-AO8, Lang-AO9)
  • Writing for Impact (form, audience, purpose) (Lang-AO5)

Students discuss the content of the first Act of the play, considering what lessons can be learnt and using evidence-based reasoning to justify their claims. This boosts their knowledge of the content of the play and their ability to interpret and evaluate the text critically. Students then develop their spoken language skills through the fishbowl and hot-seating activities. The hot-seating exercise, the rapid-fire writing task, and the creative writing task, require students to adopt the perspective of a character and then write for impact, selecting a form, audience and purpose. This helps students personally engage with the text and supports the development of their creative writing skills. Additionally, the use of discussion and writing throughout gives students the opportunity to verbalise their thoughts and practise turning them into coherent sentences, which will help them across their English GCSEs.

Learn more about this unit’s Alignment with GCSE Specification.

Notes to Teacher

  1. Fishbowl Discussion

    In a Fishbowl discussion, students seated inside the ‘fishbowl’ actively participate in a discussion by asking questions and sharing their opinions, while students standing outside listen carefully to the ideas presented. Students take turns in these roles, so that they practise being both contributors and listeners in a group discussion. This strategy is especially useful when you want to make sure all students participate in a discussion, when you want to help students reflect on what a good discussion looks like, and when you need a structure for discussing controversial or difficult topics. If your students are not used to participating in larger discussions, it can be useful to have an object that the speaker holds and to pass this around to avoid students interrupting each other.

  2. Hot Seating
    • A great way to encourage students to better understand a character is to give them the opportunity to act as if they are that character, responding to questions and imagining what they might say or feel about certain ideas and situations. It is a great way to boost empathy in the classroom as students practise adopting viewpoints different from their own. 
    • To hot seat in the classroom, invite one student up to the front of the class and begin to ask them a series of questions to which they must respond in character. These questions can be connected to the plot of the play, to the character’s interests, and to anything that is of value in understanding the character better. Allow students to be creative in their questioning and in their responses, as this can help them to develop both their creativity and their evidence-based reasoning. For example, asking a character what their favourite meal is, though not relevant to the plot, allows students to find clues from what they know about the character, to be imaginative and to consider something symbolic.
    • When you hot seat in the classroom, we recommend that you start by reminding students of the classroom contract and that the expectations regarding respectful interaction still apply. It is also important to stress to students that it is okay to imagine and invent information, as long as it fits with the personality of the character and the context in which they exist.
  3. Classroom-ready PowerPoint Slides

    Each lesson in this unit includes a PowerPoint of student-facing slides. The PowerPoints are intended to be used alongside, and not instead of, the lesson plans because the latter include important rationales and context that teachers should familiarise themselves with before teaching the lesson. The PowerPoints include basic content and student-facing prompts from the lesson plans but are minimally designed because we expect teachers to adapt them to fit the needs of their students and class.

Act One Review

PowerPoint
Act One Review

This PowerPoint for Lesson 12 of the Teaching Inspector Calls unit comes complete with student-facing slides and teaching notes, and is ready to use in the classroom.

Materials

Activities

Part I

  1. Reflect on the Lessons from Act One
    • Explain to students that today they will be reflecting on Act One of the play, focusing their reflections on the lessons that we can learn from the characters – their interactions, choices, and decisions. 
    • Ask students to choose one of the following five options to explore in their journals:  
      • What does Act One of An Inspector Calls teach us about:
        • Identity?
        • Choices?
        • Power?
        • Relationships?
        • Social Responsibility?
    • Have students share their ideas with a partner, in small groups, or you can ask for students to volunteer to share with the class.
  2. Collect Evidence to Support a Claim
    • Explain to the students that for this next activity they will be collecting evidence that they can use to support a claim about the lessons that we can learn from Act One of the play. They will be using this evidence to support their claims in a structured discussion activity, known as Fishbowl, later in the lesson. 
    • Divide students into small groups of three or four and ask them to complete the sentence starter: Act One of An Inspector Calls teaches us. . . on the top of a piece of A3 paper. Let them know that their ideas can be based on what they wrote down in the journal activity or it can contain something completely new. 
    • Then, give the groups 10–15 minutes to find at least three pieces of evidence to support their claim from Act One. They will need to skim-read the play by dividing it up between them (there are twenty-six pages, so groups of three could review nine pages each and groups of four could review seven pages each).
    • Once groups have selected their three pieces of evidence, they must briefly sketch out how and why their selected evidence supports their claim on their A3 paper.
  3. Share Ideas in a Fishbowl Discussion
    • Next, give students the opportunity to share their ideas with the class using the Fishbowl teaching strategy. Let them know that they will be discussing the question: What lessons can we learn from Act One of An Inspector Calls
    • Ensure that one student from each group is represented in the fishbowl circle, and that the remaining students are sitting around them, listening to the discussion. Explain that those students who are listening will be joining the discussion, so it is important that they listen carefully so they don’t repeat what has already been said. You can have them change over after a set amount of time, or students can ‘tap out’ someone in the circle to take their place.
    • If your students in the ‘fishbowl’ need structured guidance to help them get started, you might invite the students to first take it in turns to share their group’s claim and research.
    • Then, after all the students have shared their claims, invite students to ask each other questions. 
    • To debrief the activity, as a class, brainstorm all of the different claims made about the lessons that can be learnt from Act One of An Inspector Calls on the board.
  4. Reflect on Lessons Learnt
    • Finally, ask students to respond to the following prompt in their journals, reflecting on what they covered in the class, what they learnt from their peers and their own ideas: The most valuable lesson in Act One of An Inspector Calls is ________ because. . . 
    • Invite the class to share their ideas in a wraparound.

Part II

  1. Reflect on Character Influences
    • Explain to students that they will be exploring a character’s perspective, thinking about a character’s identity, position of power in society, and decision-making process before writing from the point of view of a character.
    • Project the following prompts and ask students to explore them in a journal reflection:
      • Which of the following factors influence the characters’ actions, choices, and behaviour in the play? Explain your view. 
        • Conformity 
        • Obedience
        • Societal expectations
    • Lead a class discussion to allow students to share their ideas with each other.
  2. Adopt Character Perspectives
    • Explain to students that they will now adopt the perspective of different characters in preparation for a creative writing task. 
    • First, ask the students to write at least one question that they would like to ask each character they have met thus far: Mr Birling, Mrs Birling, Sheila, Eric, Edna, Gerald, and the Inspector. These questions could connect to their actions in the first Act, their interests, their values, their relationship to one another, or their identities.
    • Next, have students select one character from the list to adopt the perspective of and lead them through a Rapid-Fire Writing task in which they imagine they are the character and are writing about their thoughts and feelings. For the students who need more support, give them the choice of writing a text or letter to a friend, or a diary entry, outlining what has happened in Act One and how they are feeling. They should write from the first-person perspective, using ‘I’.
    • Invite one student up to the front of the class to pretend to be their character (you may wish to give them their prop for this) to model hot seating to the class.
    • The rest of the class can ask questions to which the student must respond in character.
    • Divide students into pairs, and give each student five minutes to hot seat their character and then switch.
  3. Reflect on Adopting Perspectives
    • Ask students to choose three of the following questions for a journal reflection:
      • How did you find adopting a character’s perspective? What makes you say that?
      • Has your perspective on the character which you were writing about changed? If so, how?
      • What are the benefits of writing from another’s perspective?
      • Is there someone in your life who you would like to understand your perspective better? Explain your answer.
      • Is there someone in your life who you think it would be useful to adopt the perspective of? Explain your answer.
  4. Write from a Character's Perspective
    • Give students the Character Perspective Task Sheet handout and inform them that they can choose which task most appeals to them and which character perspective they would like to adopt. Give them a set amount of time to work independently in silence and circulate to see what they produce. As it will be difficult for them to finish the task in the time available, inform them that it can be finished for homework. 
    • If there is time, you could invite students to share their favourite lines to the class once the time is up.

Extensions

Reflect on the Character Prop

Give students the opportunity to consider the following questions regarding whether or not any of the characters should have their props changed after the first Act:

  • Should any of the characters have their prop changed? If so, who and why?
  • What would you change their prop to? Why?

Invite students to share their ideas in pairs or with the rest of the class.

Homework Suggestion

Have students complete or revise the Character Perspective Task Sheet activity for homework. If they didn’t have a chance to share their favourite lines during the class period, you might have them do so at the beginning of the next lesson. 

Once students hand back their work, it is important to review it and give them feedback if necessary to ensure that they do not develop inaccurate writing habits. You could consider using the Marking Criteria Codes teaching strategy to give in-depth feedback and to encourage student engagement with marking.

Unit

Introduction
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Get Prepared to Teach this Scheme of Work in Your Classroom

Prepare yourself to teach this unit by reading about our pedagogy, teaching strategies, and the unit's content.

Lesson 1 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Building a Classroom Community

Students work together to create a contract with the aim of developing a reflective classroom community, which is conducive to learning and sharing.

Lesson 2 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Exploring Where I'm From

Students prepare for reading the play by considering the relationship between the individual and society, and by reflecting on identity. After discussing a poem about identity, they write their own.

Lesson 3 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Exploring Social Inequality

Students explore social inequality in the UK, discussing how an individual’s background can impact their opportunities before examining graphs that display social inequality and employment trends.

Lesson 4 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Priestley's World and the World of the Play

Students learn about important events that occurred during Priestley’s lifetime, completing a human timeline to understand their chronology, and are introduced to the concepts of socialism and capitalism.

Lesson 5 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The Treatment of Edwardian Women

Students examine various resources, including excerpts from Emmeline Pankhurt’s ‘Freedom or Death’ speech, to gain an understanding of how women were treated and expected to behave in Edwardian society.

Lesson 6 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Entering the World of the Play

Students begin reading the play, having applied what they have learnt about Priestley and the relevant sociohistorical context to make predictions about its content.

Lesson 7 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Understanding Class

Students explore class, status, etiquette and hierarchy to deepen their knowledge of the social expectations and values which guide the world in which the characters live.

Lesson 8 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Developing Character Inferences

Students are introduced to the concept of inferencing; they draw inferences from the opening scene of the play, and consider what messages Priestley sends through the language, character and setting.

Lesson 9 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Understanding Mr Birling

Students study the character of Mr Birling, critically assessing Priestley’s presentation of him, before using the character to reflect on how identity can influence people's views and behaviour.

Lesson 10 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The Cost of Labour

Students explore the moral codes of the world of the play, before being introduced to the concept of a universe of obligation and participating in a debate on workers’ rights.

GCSE Supplement
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Persuasive Writing: A Letter to Parliament

Students write a persuasive letter to Parliament concerning the gig economy, having reviewed persuasive devices, generated claims and content, and read a model letter.

Lesson 11 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Understanding Sheila

Students use the character of Sheila to further understand the interplay between identity and choices, before going on to analyse Priestley’s presentation of Sheila in Act One.

Lesson 12 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Act One Review

Students consider the lessons we can learn from Act One of the play, before adopting the perspectives of characters in both drama tasks and written tasks.

Lesson 13 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Differing Perspectives and Conflict

Students begin Act Two of the play, reflecting on the differences in perception emerging between the characters and considering how conflict can arise from such differences.

Lesson 14 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Analysing Gerald’s Character

Students develop their understanding of the character Gerald, exploring the differences between his treatment of Eva/Daisy and Sheila, whilst reflecting on Edwardian gender expectations.

Lesson 15 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Understanding Mrs Birling

Students consider what factors impacted Mrs Birling’s treatment of Eva Smith, and create a universe of obligation graphic representation for her character.

GCSE Supplement
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Analytical Writing: A Character Paragraph

Students write an analytical paragraph on character having generated claims, selected evidence and read a model paragraph.

Lesson 16 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Eric's Decisions and Consent

Students consider the role power plays in the interactions between characters, focusing on the relationship between Eric and Eva, before discussing consent.

GCSE Supplement
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Persuasive Writing: A Speech about Consent

Students write a persuasive speech for sixth-form students on the importance of consent, having reviewed persuasive devices, generated claims and content, and read a model paragraph.

Lesson 17 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Inspecting Inspector Goole

Students create an identity chart for Inspector Goole, analyse his parting words, and look for clues to uncover who or what Inspector Goole is.

Lesson 18 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Social Systems and Individual Agency

Students identify the parts, people, and interactions of various social systems, thinking about what bearing they have on character choices and behaviour, before considering responses to injustice.

Lesson 19 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Putting the Characters on Trial

Students finish reading the play and participate in a court trial to decide which character is the most responsible for the death of Eva Smith.

Lesson 20 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Bearing Witness to Eva Smith

Students reflect on Priestley’s portrayal of Eva Smith and consider the symbolism of having a character who only appears in the narrative second-hand.

GCSE Supplement
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Analytical Writing: The GCSE Character Essay

Students write an essay on character having generated claims, selected and annotated evidence, and read a model essay.

Lesson 21 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

What Lessons Can We Learn?

Students address the essential question of the unit in a people's assembly, reflecting on the lessons that we can learn from An Inspector Calls.

GCSE Supplement
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Persuasive Writing: A Letter to a Newspaper for a Caring Community

Students write a persuasive letter to a local newspaper, which outlines the importance of considering the needs of others and suggests ways to create a more caring community.

Lesson 22 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Recurring Themes in the Play

Students prepare to write an essay on theme by identifying and analysing the themes explored in the play.

Lesson 23 of 23
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Theatre as a Call to Action

Students consider theatre as a call to action, discussing its power and limitations to spark real social change, before plotting their own play inspired by An Inspector Calls.

Requirements
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Alignment with Ofsted Requirements

Read about how this unit assists teachers and schools in fulfilling a range of statutory and non-statutory requirements as outlined in the 2019 Ofsted inspection handbook.

Requirements
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Alignment with the GCSE Specification

Read about how this unit is aligned with Ofqual’s subject aims and learning outcomes for both the English Literature and English Language GCSEs.

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