“Stay” by Shakespears Sister and how I’m using it in my teaching

I was a big fan of Shakespears Sister back in 1992.

I loved their first album, Sacred Heart, and I remember that I eagerly anticipated their second, Hormonally Yours.

Now here we are thirty years later in 2022 (how on earth did that happen?) and this video for Stay is back in my life.

Why, I hear you ask?

Well, let me explain.

In my job at a college of further education (FE) I help students who are retaking GCSE English Language exams.

I spend a lot of my time trying to find new and engaging ways to review the same old topics with my students.

For example, reviewing language features such as metaphors and similes, and then analysing them within the context of specific pieces of writing.

One aspect that they often struggle with is the concept of analysing the structure of a piece of writing.

Y’know, how the writer has put the text together; how they start the piece, what changes in the middle, and how it ends. This can include things like flashbacks, zooming in and out, chronological narratives, shifts in focus and shifts in mood or atmosphere.

These can be tricky concepts for some students to grasp.

So, I have been creating a resource which uses the video for Stay as an opportunity to revise these same structural features that they need to be able to analyse in their exams.

In other words, Stay provides a more visual way to help students grasp the concept of structure, and fresh way of analysing those features.

How have I done this?

First, I chopped up the video into three chunks using hashcut, as follows.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Then I made a worksheet with prompting questions to help students analyse what was going on in the story in the three parts of the Stay video.

For Part One:

What’s happening in this story?

Who are the characters?

What’s their relationship?

What are they doing?

Where are they?

What’s the mood or atmosphere?

How do we know what’s happening in the story?

What does the camera focus on?

What do you think is going to happen next?

For Part Two:

What’s happening now?

What has the camera focussed on?

Who is the new character?

What is she doing?

How do we know who she is?

How has the mood or atmosphere changed?

What clues are there?

What’s happening to the original two characters?

What’s going to happen next?

For Part Three:

What new information do we have now?

What’s happening in this part of the story?

What are the three characters doing?

How has the mood or atmosphere changed?

What is the focus of this part of the story?

What’s changed since the beginning of the story?

How does the story end?

The final part of the worksheet asks the students to identify the structural techniques they saw being used in the story; to think about how they were used, and the impact they had.

I’ve also collated all this on a Padlet:

Made with Padlet
Made with Padlet

My students were all born this side of the year 2000, so it is highly likely that they will be unfamiliar with this video until I show it to them; the lesson would lose it’s impact if they were watching something that they already know.

Hopefully the dramatic nature of this video will help them grasp the concept of how stories are structured, how the mood and focus shifts, and they will see how they can apply the same analytical skills to written texts, which will help them prepare for the GCSE resit exams.

Also, I’m hoping they’ll kinda react like this guy!

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