Lesson 21 of 23
Duration:
One 50-minute class period

What Lessons Can We Learn?

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 can J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls teach us about the impact of our individual and collective decisions and actions on others? 
  • How can we apply these lessons to our school community and our own lives?

Learning Objectives

  • Students will participate in a people’s assembly to discuss the essential question of the unit.
  • Students will identify the main lessons that they have learnt from reading An Inspector Calls.

Overview

In the previous lesson, students explored the character of Eva Smith, considering the absence of her voice in the play and Priestley’s portrayal of her character through the words and actions of others. Such exploration enabled the students to consider the symbolic significance of Eva Smith and to think explicitly about the power of having a voice in society. 

In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to each find their own voice and share their ideas in a structured discussion format known as a people’s assembly. In groups of six to eight, they will address the essential question of the unit – What can J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls teach us about the impact of our individual and collective decisions and actions on others? – sharing their ideas and listening to the ideas of their peers. After having all shared their thoughts, they will then decide on two key ideas that they would like to share with the rest of the class. A people’s assembly is a powerful process as it gives those participating the control, the responsibility and the opportunity to be active, respectful listeners. It can be a transformative experience: the prioritisation of active listening and inclusivity means that it gives people the chance to be listened to in a way that may not be the norm. This short dialogic process can help students gain confidence in themselves and can assist with community building: it encourages students to value everyone’s contributions and to work together to collectively decide on what they will share with others.

This lesson is not only vital for students to process the message of the play, it is also incredibly useful for helping them engage with the play and connect with it on a personal level. As the research shows, personal engagement is a means of facilitating the retention of information, which is important given the fact that students will need to write about this text in a future exam setting. Moreover, having a discussion that concerns what the play can teach us about our individual and collective actions and decisions on others will help students identify the themes that exist within the play, whilst encouraging them to be conscientious individuals who are aware of their interconnectedness with other human beings. 

Alignment with the GCSE Specification

  • Critical Thinking (Lit-AO1–3/Lang-AO1–4)
  • Evaluation Skills (Lit-AO4/Lang-AO4)
  • Evidence-Based Reasoning (Lit-AO1–3, Lang-AO1–4)
  • Knowledge of Content (Lit-AO1/AO3)
  • Spoken Language Skills (Lang-AO8, Lang-AO9)

In the People’s Assembly activity, students engage their critical thinking skills, alongside their evaluation skills, to assess the essential question and discuss what lessons we can learn from An Inspector Calls. The process of discussion encourages students to employ evidence-based reasoning as they must refer to the content of the text, whilst developing their spoken language 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. Preparing for the People's Assembly

    Before teaching this lesson, it is important to read the People’s Assembly strategy to understand how the process works and how it will be used in the classroom.

  2. 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.

What Lessons Can We Learn?

PowerPoint
What Lessons Can We Learn?

This PowerPoint for Lesson 21 of the Teaching Inspector Calls unit comes complete with student-facing slides and teaching notes, and is ready to use in the classroom.

Materials

Teaching Strategies

Activities

Part I

  1. Consider the Essential Question
    • Inform students that they will be participating in an activity called a People’s Assembly to discuss the essential question: What can J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls teach us about the impact of our individual and collective decisions and actions on others?
    • To help students gather their thoughts, project the question and give students time to reflect on it individually in their journals. While it is important for students to write freely so they can explore the question in depth, encourage them to explore how the play helps them answer this question (without pausing to search for quotations).
  2. Discuss the Essential Question in a People's Assembly
    • Explain to students that they will now be participating in an activity known as a People’s Assembly, where they will have a structured discussion in groups. Explain to them that the assembly has three values at its core:1
      • Inclusivity: Everyone’s voice is valued and everyone has the right to be heard. No one person dominates the discussion. The loudest voice is not always right: a people’s assembly is about sharing ideas and learning from each other. Everyone feels respected, and able to participate safely without fear of judgement or ridicule.
      • Active Listening: Everyone genuinely listens to what others are saying, and participants are not thinking in advance about what they are going to say. 
      • Trust: Everyone has belief in the assembly process, in the hand signals, in the facilitation, the note-taking, and in the sharing of ideas. Participants acknowledge that the process won’t be perfect, but it will only work if everyone trusts in the process and works together.
    • Before beginning the people’s assembly, ask the students to think about something or someone they are grateful for (they do not need to share this, just to think about it). This encourages them to be aware of their interconnectedness with others and gets them into the same mental space. You may want to give them your own example, before you invite them to think of their own. 
    • Next, tell students that they will be discussing the question they reflected on in their journals: What can J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls teach us about the impact of our individual and collective decisions and actions on others? 
    • Divide the students into groups of six to eight, outlining the roles and naming one facilitator and one note-taker for each group (or students can self-select).
    • Explain the hand signals and write them on the board. Request that students use them to communicate respectfully, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to speak. 
      • Clarification: If they do not understand something a peer has said, they make a ‘C’ symbol with their hand, which means clarification.
      • Point: If they want to add to what someone has said or they don’t agree with what has been said, they point a finger upwards. This means they have a point to make.
      • Round Up: If they want to encourage the person speaking to finish what they are saying, they make a circle with their hands. This means ‘round up’. 
    • Explain that the clarification sign gets priority: if someone uses the sign then the facilitator should allow them to speak as soon as it is polite, so that their confusion can be addressed and they can properly participate. Point signs, however, do not interrupt proceedings: the facilitator can invite a person making a point sign to speak when the time is right. Finally, the facilitator should use the round up sign when it is appropriate, to ensure that everyone has a chance to share their views.
    • Project the essential question and give the students fifteen minutes to discuss it in their groups, projecting it on the board. Circulate to get a sense of their understanding of the question and the process and to support the facilitators as needed. 
    • After fifteen minutes, give the groups five minutes to decide on two key points from their discussion that their note-taker will share with the rest of the class once the time is up. 
    • When the time is up, invite each note-taker to the front of the classroom and ask them to share their group’s two key points.
  3. Debrief the People's Assembly
    • After each note-taker has shared their group’s two main points, facilitate a class discussion that draws from the following questions:
      • What new, different, or deeper understanding of the essential question – What can J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls teach us about the impact of our individual and collective decisions and actions on others? – do you have after participating in the people’s assembly?
      • What in your opinion are the most valuable lessons we can learn from An Inspector Calls
      • What was it like participating in a people’s assembly? 
      • How did using the hand signals feel?
      • How easy or difficult was it to be an active listener? 
      • How easy or difficult was it to trust in the process? 
      • What, if anything, made this process feel inclusive? What, if anything, made this process feel exclusive? What could you do or the group do to make the process more inclusive for everyone?
  4. Reflect on the Play's Modern Relevance
    • Ask students to reflect on the play and its connection to modern society and themselves in a journal response or for homework:
      • What in your opinion are the most valuable lessons we can learn from An Inspector Calls
      • How can we ensure that present-day and future ‘Eva Smiths’ are protected? 
      • How has reading the play challenged you to consider your role in creating a fair and just society?

Citations

Extensions

The 'Be Kinder' Challenge

  • To help students apply the lessons they have learnt from the play to their own school community, embark on a ‘Be Kinder’ challenge over the next few weeks. Start by asking students to respond to the following questions in their journals and debrief in pairs: 
    • Where do you see examples of students being kinder than expected at your school?
    • Where do you see examples of students not choosing kindness at your school?
  • Then, have students work in groups to brainstorm a list of ways that they can be kinder than expected at their school. Students should discuss how each idea could be difficult to practise as well as how each could positively impact individuals, groups, or the entire school community. To help students organise their ideas, create a handout like the one below, which also models a possible response.

 

Ways to be a little kinder than expected Challenges Impact
Sit with someone at lunch who is sitting alone.

My friends might tell me not to sit there or tease me if I do.

My friends might ask questions about what I am doing and make me feel uncomfortable.

The student who is alone has someone to talk to and feels less isolated. I meet someone new. The lunch hall is a nicer place to be because everyone has someone to talk to.

 

 

  • Generate one idea as a class, or use the model above. Ideas could include actions such as the following: invite someone to sit with me at lunch, sit down with someone who is alone at lunch, pick someone who is not a friend for my team or group, ‘like’ someone’s social media post, smile and say hi to someone I don’t know, offer words of support in the moment or in private to someone being teased, respond positively to someone’s idea in class, leave a positive note on someone’s locker, help someone if they drop something or trip and fall, and choose not to laugh if someone makes a mistake or falls. 
  • Challenge groups to come up with at least five new ideas for how they can be a little kinder at school. After they have completed their charts, groups can present their ideas to the class.
  • There are a number of ways that your students can use the information they gathered in their brainstorm. While they probably have their own ideas, here are some suggestions for a ‘Be Kinder’ challenge: 
    • Write each idea that students generated in the ‘Be Kinder’ brainstorm on an index card and put the index cards into a box. Decorate or invite students to decorate the box to help it stand out and to create buy-in from the class. Then, at the end of the first lesson of the week, ask a student to pick one of the index cards from the box and read it out loud to the class.
    • Write the ‘Be Kinder’ idea on the board and keep it there for the week.
    • Challenge each student to implement the idea at least once.
  • At the end of the week, budget time for personal reflections and discussion. Use the following routine for a journal response:
    • Outline what this week’s ‘Be Kinder’ challenge was.
    • If you implemented the idea, what did you do? How did you feel?
    • How did your actions impact another student, group of students, or the school community?
    • If you didn’t implement the idea, why not? What prevented you from doing so?
  • Debrief the journal responses in pairs or as a class. When your class runs out of index cards, either put them all back in the box and start again or repeat the ‘Be Kinder’ brainstorm to come up with a new set of ideas.

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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