Analytical writing and Mount Everest

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will analyse a piece of creative writing, describing the use of language to create atmosphere. They will also develop their own use of descriptive and atmospheric language.

Learning outcomes
  • Predict the feelings and attitudes within a text
  • Describe our thoughts and impressions of Base Camp
  • Analyse the features of a piece of writing
  • Distinguish the tone and atmosphere in a piece of writing
  • Select precise evidence to show understanding

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition Mount Everest.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the video content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (15 mins)
    Students answer the following questions: Why do people climb mountains? What equipment do you need to do it? How difficult is it to climb a mountain? What risks are involved?
    Students use the Student Sheet, found in the Lesson resources to complete a ‘mountain climbing checklist’ identifying what they currently think or know about climbing large mountains. Students share their work with the class, so additional notes can be added to the checklist.
  2. Expedition (15 mins)
    Students complete the expedition, during which ask the following questions: What features stand out? What (if anything) is surprising to you? What words or phrases can you create to describe what you see? How might you feel? Can you think of both positive and negative emotions?
    Students record and process what they learn from the expedition by being called upon to verbalise their thoughts with the class and answer the questions above.
    Students write down their thoughts, completing the sentences: ‘Standing at the Base Camp of Mount Everest, I can see…’, ‘Standing at the Base Camp of Mount Everest, I’m surprised by…’, ‘Standing at the Base Camp of Mount Everest, I feel…’.
  3. Activity one (15 mins)
    Ask Students to read the ‘Belittled by Base Camp’ extract on the Student Sheet. This may also be read by the teacher, with the students returning to view the expedition.
    Lead a discussion using the following questions: Why has the writer chosen the features they have described? What does it make you think of or feel? Is the extract what you expected or not? Why? How would you describe the atmosphere? How would you describe the tone of the writing? Lead a discussion asking: How has the extract compared to their own initial impressions? How does the writer feel about being at Base Camp? How do they know?
    Students analyse and annotate the extract, commenting on the language used and any features they spot, making sure to explain why they are effective. Analysis could range from comments on individual words or features to implicit and explicit meanings and comments on structure (depending on the ability of the class).
  4. Activity two (15 mins)
    Students complete a piece of extended analysis in which they consider how the author presents their experience of Base Camp and how do they know?
    A range of language and structural features should be identified, as well as ‘word level’ analysis. Responses might refer to: the threatening demeanour of the surroundings; how the mountain is like a bully or predator; how the author seems weak and powerless in the situation; the author’s feelings of vulnerability; the author’s nervousness shown through his use of questions.
  5. Extension
    Students read famous nonfiction texts about climbing, e.g. Touching the Void.
    Students write prose, similar to the extract, however with a different tone or atmosphere, i.e. being excited about being at Base Camp, feeling peaceful, etc.
    Students imagine the next part of the journey.
    Students record a video diary; in which they recreate the ideas from the extract in a monologue.
    Students visit a climbing centre or outdoor park to try mountain climbing.