Mysterious Mona Lisa

article by Mina , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to use interaction skills so that I can participate in an improvised speaking activity in a manner appropriate for the audience and purpose.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify important and interesting details in a text. I can then turn these details into a series of gameshow style questions.
  • I can explain what several interaction skills mean (paraphrasing, questioning, non-verbal clues and vocal effects).
  • I can describe the stylistic features of a gameshow and apply my understanding in an improvised speaking activity.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how genres are defined by distinctive features can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Style.

More information on the commonly understood arrangement of text types can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention.

Before reading the text, distinguish for students important facts and interesting details.

  1. Important details: when the reader can focus on the most important details to develop an overall understanding of the text and the ability to decode deeper meanings.
  2. Interesting details: things that are good to know, but are just extra pieces of information. They are not needed to understand the text.

Fluent readers should be able to sift through interesting details to find the important information. This is essential for a high level of comprehension of the text.

Read the text with the class. Ask students to consider whether the information they uncover is important or interesting. Then conduct one of the following activities so that students can practice differentiating between important and interesting information:

  1. Students are provided with two highlighters. As they read, they highlight important details in one colour and interesting details in another. They compare their answers with their peers before compiling the information in a digital T-Chart using Google Jamboard.
  2. Conduct a Think Aloud using sentence strips. Prepare a number of statements from the article. As you encounter these statements in your reading, model your process in determining whether the statement is important or interesting (show students how you think by doing it aloud).
  3. If you have a digital subscription, students can complete a sorting activity as an interactive task.

Explain to students that they will create a series of gameshow style questions based on the information in the article. There will be two rounds of the gameshow: important details about the Mona Lisa and interesting details about the Mona Lisa.

Provide students with time to work in pairs or groups of three to construct questions. Questions could take a variety of formats such as, multiple choice, short answer, Fact or Fib or Find the Fib.

Explain that students will present these questions in the format of a gameshow. Brainstorm a list of gameshows that students are familiar with (Family Feud, Millionaire Hotseat, The Chase). As students to think about what is similar in the styles of all these shows. Answers many include:

  • A really enthusiastic host
  • Jokes between the host and the contestants
  • Brief personal information shared by the contestants (where they live, their job)
  • The host using long pauses while delivering the question
  • The contestant thinking aloud about the answer and possibly paraphrasing or clarifying the question
  • The host using non-verbal cues and body language to provide hints to the contestant
  • The host using pauses, tone, volume and pace to create suspense waiting for the answer
  • Over the top celebrations when a contestant wins
  • Kindness when a contestant loses.

You may wish to watch an example of a gameshow and unpack elements listed above to provide concrete examples of the key interaction skills (questioning, paraphrasing, verbal and non-verbal cues, pace, pause and volume). A suggested resource is a YouTube clip is Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (timestamp: 2:20 – 8:52).

Finally, set your classroom up like a gameshow. Assign roles and conduct a quiz on the article using the stylistic conventions of a gameshow.