NI KK I GAMBLE When building depth into your curriculum, English and history can be combinedwith great results... 54 | KNOW? H owdoweknow thatWalterTull didn’t like it in the children’shome wherehewas sent to live?The story sayshedidn’t like it. But how dowe know ?” Ravi and the rest of hisY4 class are reading anaccount of the lifeofWalterTull, ablack manofAfro-Caribbeandescent living inLondonat the endof the 19thcentury, andhe’s challenging the text. It’s afictionalised scrapbookwritten in thefirst personas ifWalterhas assembled it –completewithwhat look like facsimile artefacts. In fact, MichaelaMorgan, awhite21st century female author, haswritten the text andmanyof the artefacts havebeencreatedbyadesigner. Thebookwon theBluePeter ‘BestBookWithFacts’ award. “That’s anexcellent question, Ravi. Doweknow?Whowrote thebook?Does it tell us how the writer knows?Or doyou think she isfilling insomeknowledge gaps withher imagination?Let’s see if there’s some evidence to support these two theories.” Ravi’s teacher, Lucy, is taking part ina two-year class-based projectwithsixother teachers to lookatways to teachreading inhistory. The research group Theprojectwas set upbyJust Imaginewitha groupof teachers to investigate someof the approaches beingdeveloped for our reading resource, TakeOne Book. Oneof the teacher- researchers, Sam, was teaching a lessonabout theRomans in Britain. Shehadpresented some backgroundorally, supportedwith a short filmclip. Using retrieval skills, the childrenhadhelpedher to list themain facts theyhad just learnt, whichwere thenwrittenon theboard. Theywereusing these towrite afirst-personaccount. Other thanwatching a short film, noadditional readinghad takenplace. We talkedabout this later in the staffroomover a cupof tea. Was it a typical history lesson? Samadmitted that itwas. She explained the teachingwas supportedby reading a classnovel, Across theWall byTeresaBreslin, which includeda lot of historical details. Before studying the topic, the childrenvisiteda local archaeological site andwere given a talkbyoneof the curators. The question that interestedmewas howmuchreadingdid theydo for the subject?This seemed relevant as thedisciplineof history involves a lot of reading and interpretation of sources. Couldmore reading be incorporated in lessons? This questionwas posed for the teacher researchgroup to consider. Daniel, aY5 teacher, reflected that his class didquite a lot of reading, with the emphasis on informationand researchskills. They were skilledat skimming and scanning, using structural guiders and retrieving information fromtext. Usually they used this research toproduce their ownwriting.However, he felt that therewas scope to lookmore specificallyat the reading skills of being a ‘historian’. Though they were approaching the How do we project fromindividual contexts, the teachers felt therewas some roomfor development - and these are someof the approaches they tried in their classrooms: Who wrote it? First, we agreed on a key question to ask before reading any new text, whether it was an information book, a novel, a website, or a guide book. Several supplementary questionswere then devised: • What knowledge does the writer have of the subject? • Why did theywrite this text? • Whenwas it written? These questions, asked before reading, prompted the children to consider that writers have varying degrees of interest in the subjects they arewriting about; awriter’smotive could influence theway that theywrite. Being aware of this is the first step towards criticality.WhenRavi asked howwe knowwhatWalter Tull felt, hewas displaying an awareness that thewritermight bemaking assumptions. That doesn’tmean that it is untrue, but it’s not an indisputable fact. AY6 class reading one of WilfredOwen’s poems discussed the same questions, and this led themto debatewhether first-hand knowledgemeans that your view ismore valid than the viewof a researcher using primary sources. “Not always,” Jasmine argued. “Sometimes itmeans you are too close and your feelings get in theway.” This group of pupilswere “