Difficult and challenging reading: Genre, text and multi-modal sources

Primary History article

By Jon Nichol, published 7th December 2010

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

What impact did the Saxon invaders have? Our Year 4 class were puzzling over the picture of the Roman town forum at the height of the Roman Empire, one A3 picture per pair of pupils.

  • To understand the picture, they had to ‘read' it. We treated the picture as a text, with the pupils breaking into it from a number of perspectives. Our first entry point was concrete nouns - we started with the simple stratagem of playing I-Spy with the whole class and listing the nouns on the board before collectively building up our understanding of the picture.
  • Next we introduced a 6th century Anglo-Saxon poem about a destroyed Roman town. We played them a tape recording of the poem - they listened with their eyes shut and then had to think of a single word to describe  the poem's impact upon them. We used these words to create a concept web on the board. Then we gave the class the text: they first had to find and highlight all adjectives, as with the picture, cross-cutting the text from multiple perspectives...
  • The understanding pupils developed from working on the poem enabled them to annotate their picture of the Roman forum to show the impact that Anglo-Saxon invasion might have had on Roman society. For the ‘case' of this teaching, see pages...

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