Activities & Projects

Shoes in the News

Recommended by Cirriculum Services Canada

Level: Grade 7–9

Preparation: Print photo of Nizam of Hyderabad's shoes, and news reports and Worksheet 1: The Stolen Slippers if students do not have computer access.

Duration: 120 minutes (240 minutes if alternate dramatization activity is chosen)

Materials: None

  • demonstrate understanding that different media texts reflect different points of view
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation and treatment of issues in newspaper stories
  • produce media text in the form of a newspaper article or
  • through dramatization, demonstrate an understanding of appropriate speaking behaviour, and communicate in a clear, coherent manner

Begin: Print or project the page with the Nizam of Hyderabad's 'bejeweled mojari'.

Read the text together and discuss with the class why these shoes became an important museum artifact. Have the students ever seen anything like them? Why would a wealthy ruler wear shoes like these? (They are rare, in excellent condition, we know who owned and wore them, and they are made from expensive materials – gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds.)

Sikandar Jah was the third of seven Nizams, or princes, who ruled Hyderabad before the region became amalgamated into India. The Nizams were fabulously wealthy rulers, due to the fact that the region boasted numerous diamond mines. Indeed, until the 1860's, it was the world's only supplier of gem–quality diamonds, which had been mined there since the 4th century BCE.

The Nizams lived lavishly and spent fortunes on jewels. These mojari (footwear with an elaborately curled toe) with jewels around the throat (the part of the shoe that encircles the ankle) are testament to the fact that the Nizam was bedecked in finery literally from head to toe.

In January 2006, these shoes were stolen from the Bata Shoe Museum.

Learn: Divide the class into groups. Ask each group to study a different article about the theft. (Click here for the articles.) Ask them to fill out Worksheet 1: The Stolen Slippers. Each group will then present their findings to the class.

On a white or blackboard, summarize the findings of each group on a chart. Make several columns corresponding with those on the worksheet (date, source, fact summary, etc.). Have a discussion with the class to compare the different stories. How are they the same? How are they different? Are there any variations in the reported facts? Why do some reports appear to stick to the facts while others 'editorialize'? Compare the use of language in the articles. Some of the reports treat the story in a humourous way and adopt a mocking tone with numerous puns and word plays on the shoe theme. Why did the writers choose this approach? How does the intended audience influence the way the story is written? How are the various people in the story portrayed? Would the Bata Shoe Museum be happy with the coverage? Why or why not?

Help the students to evaluate the relative effectiveness of each article. Do any of the articles make them want to know more about the story? Do the articles make them curious about the Bata Shoe Museum? About museum security? About detective work? Why did these newspapers/websites/bloggers, and many other news outlets, chose to cover this story?

Apply: Give students the opportunity to peruse the Chronicles of Riches exhibition and choose a different pair of shoes from it. Then ask them to make up a story about them that is newsworthy. (For example, they could be stolen too, or discovered to be fake, or be the subject of a repatriation claim. Or they could have belonged to someone famous, and be recently acquired by the Museum.) Ask students to write their own news article reporting the event. Encourage them to consider their treatment of the facts, their intended audience, bias, and language and to create an enticing headline.

Alternatively, divide the class into small groups. Ask them to make up a story as above, and to write and present a short dramatization of the event. Once they have agreed on a shoe from the web exhibition, each group should brainstorm ideas for the story. Encourage them to consider their treatment of the facts, their intended audience, bias, and language and to create an enticing name for their play.

When the group has settled on a plot, they will need to flesh out the characters, and write the narrative for the scenario. Encourage them to create a role for each student in the group to play. In addition to the characters enacting the story, they may want to think about including a narrator. They may also want to consider using a limited number of props to help tell the story. Certainly, they should project or print the pair of shoes in question. Depending on how much time you have, and how elaborate you would like the final presentations to be, they could also consider music, lighting and other special effects. Be sure to allow some time for rehearsal. When ready, each group will present their dramatization to the class.

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