A fantastically unusual detective story written from the perspective of a 15-year-old autistic boy, who is obsessed with maths, science and Sherlock Holmes but finds it hard to understand other people. When he discovers a dead dog on a neighbour’s lawn he decides to solve the mystery; as in all good detective stories, however, the more he unearths, the deeper the mystery gets.
Reading Project (RP), Reading a Book
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"
First term, 10th grade, lower secondary school
This is an obligatory task but there will be no test after our reading project. I am interested in your own personal experience of what was read, for example, if you think it was an interested reading, I am interested in knowing why or why not.
The aims of this Reading Project (RP) are to cover 3 main areas in learning the English language. We will 1) discuss/debate in class (oral communication, being able to listen, speak and interact, using the English language clearly and use the correct intonation), 2) you will answer questions related to our main book (written communication, being able to express ideas and opinions in well structured and coherent texts), and 3) literature.
Enable you to:
Identify and use different situations and learning strategies to expand your English-language skills
Describe your own work in learning English
Identify some linguistic similarities and differences between English and your native language
Use digital resources and other aids in your own language learning
Choose the fiction text ("The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon" and create your own set of tasks (2-3) aimed at your present or future students.
I asked our school librarian to buy the book, which they have done, and I have made it available for the students on It's learning. They can read it in PDF format or if they prefer they can listen to it as audiobook, narrated by Jeff Woodman.
Year/level of students
I have twenty one 10th-grade students, in lower secondary school (ungdomsskole)
I call my learners "students", not "pupils" out of etymological reasons. I call all learners of all ages "students". The word "student" was defined in its first sense in the Oxford English Dictionary as "a person who is engaged in or addicted to study".
Christopher Boone, the main character of the "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time", is obsessed with details, he is what we would call "a real student", a researcher, a young boy who is looking for the truth.
Number of lessons required to carry out the tasks.
4 weeks of lessons required to carry out the tasks. The students will use 1-2 week(s) of reading or/and listening to the book at home. After 2 weeks period-time, they will get the tasks we are going to work with in class.
Reading Project: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"
Table of Contents
1. Reading Schedule (Monday Oct., 6th/week 41, begin to read or/and listen to the book/homework)
2. Part 1: (week 41) Curious Incident/Autism/disability or difference, pre-reading
3. Part 2: (week 42) (Monday Oct., 13th/week 42, cont. read or/and listen to the book/homework) Chapter Questions in class
4. Part 3: (week 43) (Monday Oct., 20th/week 43, Tasks / (3) groups / work in class with the given tasks
5. Part 4: (week 44) (beginning on Monday Oct., 27th) Presentation in (3) groups
1. Reading Schedule * While this Reading Project requires a substantial time-commitment to nightly reading, other homework for this class will be very light this month. It is important you remember that READING means having the ability to understand the text, explore, discuss or create meaning, and reflect on a given text; not skimming the book.
Mention briefly what you assume to be done in class already, before carrying out your suggested tasks.
Before we carry out our tasks, we will discuss briefly what a novel is (go through a novel's characteristics). The very first day, in class, before they begin to read or listen to the book, I will ask the students if they have read the book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time". If there is a student or students that have already read it, I will ask them to just sit and wait for the second part of my questions. The rest of the students will be presented with the title of the novel and will be asked what they think the book is about, who they think the protagonist is, its author, the major themes of the book. Then, if there is a student or students that have already read it, I will ask them if they can answer my previous questions about the book. All students will be presented with a keyword for our reading project: "true".
Monday, Oct., 6th
Reading Project HANDED OUT
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in Class Assignment
Part 1 – Curious Incident/Autism/disability or difference, pre-reading
• We read an article/articles about Autism spectrum disorder and discuss in class whether introverted, socially awkward, autistic persons should be treated by society as sick people or just as different people, and why. We discuss also in class whether you recognize yourselves in the main character (Christopher Boone), and in which characteristics.
On the week about Chapter Questions, you will get a list of questions related to each chapter of the book. You will get at least two questions about each chapter. Your assignment is to provide complete answers to the all questions. Remember that simple, one-word answers are insufficient; most questions require 2 to 4 sentences at minimum in order to be answered completely and in depth. Do not forget that a good answer is the one which is not adressed to me as your teacher, but rather adressed to an unknown reader of your task. You should always inform your reader what you are writing about. Make sure you answer all aspects of each question. your answers should reflect your knowledge/understanding (complete, thorough, detailed answers to all questions) and ability to communicate (effective grammar, language, and conventions of the English language).
Monday, Oct., 13th
Reading Project: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time": Chapter Questions
I won't list all the questions I have prepared for my students, due to space.
Describe the HOW of various tasks.
Monday, Oct., 20th (week 43, Tasks / (3) groups / work in class with the given tasks
Each group (7 students in each group) will work this week with the following tasks each:
The reading project presentation can be given by students in any creative form, such as:
-Writing (creative, narrative, research, poems, etc.)
-Visual art (paintings, drawings, etc.)
-Multimedia (videos, photographs, etc.)
-Performance (acting, singing, dancing, etc.)
The only condition is that your presentation must have English audio and all groups' participants must use their own voice.
TASK #1 (first group)
A) How does Christopher Boone in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' justify his investigation into how Wellington died, even though his father had told him to stay out of other people's business?
B) Why does Christopher Boone in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' likes detective stories? What appeals to Christopher about detective stories? Explain.
Sherlock Holmes (/ˈʃɜrlɒk ˈhoʊmz/) is a fictional detective created by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A London-based "consulting detective" whose abilities border on the fantastic. Sherlock Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases.
C) Why do you think that Christopher Boone in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' is a fan of Sherlock Holmes?
D) Christopher Boone in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' does not like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Explain why not?
Comment on the WHY of the suggested tasks.
Purpose of task A), B) and C) is to show students that curiosity or wish to investigate/research guides you to learn more.
Purpose of task D) is to show students that the author of Sherlock Holmes is not curious.
TASK #2 (second group)
How can you all refute my following statement?
"Is Christopher an autistic teenager?" "Asperger syndrome or Asperger disorder is not mentioned in the book. Suffers Christopher really of Asperger disorder?" "Is not this some other form of slight learning difficulty or disability?" I have met people who live in those conditions (Autism, Aspergers), and it is a real struggle all the time. Then these people pop up in literature and/or movies and they're sort of brilliant, and they on some levels almost offer false hope for the people who are going through the reality of it". Debate whether it is Asperger syndrome or just another form of learning difficulty.
According to your conclusion of the previous debate, provide a police profile of Christopher Boone in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time'.
C) It is often believed that people with Asperger syndrome are completely different to other people. Yet, can you see any personality traits that you have in common with Christopher Boone?
D) Writers use too many adverbs, too many adjectives when they write their books, why do you think that one of the most used words in the book 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' is the coordinating conjunction "and"?
Comment on the WHY of the suggested tasks.
Purpose of task A), B) and C) is that students find out that we treat people different when we label them. If we conclude that Christopher only is different than us, then we can come closer to him, and treat him more as the human being he is.
Purpose of task D) is that students can conclude that is possible to describe the world around us in a simple way.
TASK #3 (third group)
A) Do you think that the author of the book did a lot of research about Asperger syndrome? Debate Mr Haddon's quote: "'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' is not a novel about disability, but a novel about difference", Mark Haddon (Interview video online).
B) [Statament] The cover of the book now is boring, [refute] but recognizable. Why do you think the cover was designed that way. Redesign the book cover for a new release of the novel [Give solid arguments why you want to redesign the book cover in order to convince me as an editor].
C) Christopher Boone says on page 40 of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time': "[...] sometimes people want to be stupid and they do not want to know the truth". Do you agree? Why or why not? Explain.
D) Christopher Boone quotes in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time': "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary". pags, 40,41 -- William of Ockham (Occam's razor [Law]) -- (in Norwegian: "flere ting enn nødvendig bør ikke brukes".) Explain this quote with your own simplified English so other people about your age or younger can understand it.
Comment on the WHY of the suggested tasks.
Purpose of task A) is to find out if students agree whether the book is about disability of just difference.
Purpose of task B) is that students can give good arguments why we should redesign the book cover according to its content.
Purpose of task C) is to get students into a debate about what "to be stupid" means.
Purpose of task D) is that students can connect task C with task D, whether they see any correlation there or not.
Reflect on how interesting these tasks would be and on their ability to motivate young learners.
Our reading project should be attractive because there will be no stress when it comes to a final-project test as they are not getting grades (it is to say, explicit evaluation) at the end of their work, even though I evaluate my students on every task they carry out (my implicit evaluation). In second place, the book is about a teenager, just like them and furthermore, it is about 'being a detective', and the reading process is not only self-reading but they can choose to listen to the audiobook which can be more pleasent for some students who does not like or have difficulties in reading.
At the end of our reading project, we will watch an interview with Mark Haddon, the author of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time'.
What is Asperger Syndrome?
Collie, J. and S. Slater (1987) Literature in the language classroom. Cambridge University Press.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", 1892
Haddon, Mark, 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time', 2003, DOUBLEDAY, Random House, Inc
Haddon, Mark, Interview video watched on Oct., 1st, 2014
Iversen, Anniken Telnes (2013) Reading Novels and Short Stories. Anna Birketveit and Gweno Williams (eds.) Literature for the English classroom : theory into practice. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget
LK06, Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, English Subject Curriculum The Norwegian LK06, in English; The Norwegian LK06, in Norwegian
NTNU, ENG6024, Compendium, 2014
Sherlock Holmes / Wikipedia, read on Sept. 2014. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org
Savvidou, Christine (2004) An Integrated Approach to Teaching Literature in the EFL Classroom. The Internet TESL Journal. Retrieved from http://iteslj.org
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