Unanimous winner of the Grand Prix of the Film Craft category at 2017 Cannes Film Festival, The Blaze's "Territory" is a stunning cinematic display of a young Algerian man's emotional homecoming. Unraveling traditional narratives of masculinity with powerful postcolonial overtones, the music video "Territory" opens countless doors for pedagogical exposition. Although the accompanying vocals are sung in English, the francophone context in which the video is conceived and composed provides a rich foray into the contemporary French-electro music scene. The learning objective of the proposed activity is to engage students with a representation of an Algerian family on several multi-modal levels: visual and verbal, including writing and speaking. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to describe the family, including various members, adjectives and places of origin, in the target language.
The activity is comprised of two worksheets designed with a multiliteracies pedagogical approach. The first is a pre-reading exercise which includes an excerpt of an interview in French with the musicians of The Blaze. The text includes familiar novice-low level vocabulary, the family and places of origin for example, within an authentic context. Completed as homework, students will answer true and false comprehension questions based on the interview and bring their answers for discussion during the following class period.
The second worksheet begins with a partner warm-up that utilizes the pre-reading interview text. After a brief comparison with their partner(s), the instructor will review the correct responses to the questions while asking students to identify the key words that helped them determine their answers. Next, the two pre-reading questions on the second worksheet will ask students to make meaning of title and the first forty-five seconds of the video in English. A quick think/pair/share discussion structure will ensure that students have time to reflect and formulate their personal interpretations. In moving to the viewing portion of the activity, have the students read the instructions for the first exercise before invoking theatre-like conditions: ask students to put away computers, turn off all lights, lower blinds and adjust sound to appropriate levels. This will capture the students' imaginations while keeping them oriented towards the task at hand.
Once the song concludes, the viewing exercise scaffolds family member vocabulary with four screenshots taken from the video. The students will pair any French word that comes to mind with the corresponding image. Give students a moment to reflect on each image before opening the floor. Projecting the images on the screen will help facilitate discussion. Next, have students write four sentences using their chosen vocabulary word. You may have students share their sentences aloud or have them write on the board. Provide correction in either case. Moving into the post-viewing phase of the activity, students will discuss their interpretation of the video's representation of an Algerian family with their understanding of the traditional French family. This discussion directly references reading from the textbook Points de Départ, but can be modified to include a comparison with any other text about French and/or Francophone families or to discuss only the video.
Lastly, give the students 8-10 minutes to compose a message in the target language to an imaginary French e-penpal. The message will make reference to both the pre-reading interview and the interpretative work done as a group in the viewing exercises. If time runs shorts, have students begin their message in class and complete it for homework. If applicable, an online submission portal may prove useful for submission of their written work.
The activity will take an entire class period, about 50 minutes in total. If discussions prove particularly fruitful, it may be best to dedicate 10-minutes of the next class period to the writing activity.
"Territory" by The Blaze