TEACH READ I NG & WR I T I NG been researched on location at Hadrian’sWall and that an archaeologist had provided expert consultancy. Being able to find this information and know what it means is where reading like a historian begins. Certainty and speculation History is toldwith varying degrees of certainty.Words commonly found inhistorical texts such as ‘possibly’, ‘perhaps’, ‘most likely’, ‘are known to’, ‘claimed’, ‘first recorded’ and ‘some experts think’, were explicitly taught. The children learnt what theymeant in relation to historical knowledge andwere encouraged to look out for themwhen reading. Comparing sources Classrooms oftenhave several books on the same subject for children to readwhen they are studying a historical topic, and it’s not unusual for these books to be compared. Froma historical point of view, we found it interesting to compare and contrast history bookswritten beginning to think about the concept of subjectivity. How does the writer know? Further questions to ask during reading were formulated by the teacher-researchers. ‘How does the writer know that?’ encouraged the children to probemore deeply than being asked to identify facts and opinions. Posing the question in this way helped them to interrogate the facts, rather than simply locate them. For example, a class of Y3 children readingMickManning and Brita Granstrom’s Roman Fort were fascinated with the details of the Roman ablutions. An illustration of three Romans chatting on the communal toilet was labelled ‘Sponges on sticks to wipe your bum. You wash your sponge stick and put it back for someone else to use!’. They were fascinated to know if this could be true. Books for this age rarely have sources included in the text. Detailed referencing would weigh the writing down. But a quick check on the copyright page revealed that the book has “It mademe think how a small change to a question makes the historical learning more powerful” | 55 5 HISTORICAL GEMS Explore these brilliant books with your class... l Stonehenge by MickManning and Brita Granstrom – a picture information book about this important prehistoric monument. l Absolutely Everything! by Christopher Lloyd – discover how history, nature and science connect in this fast-paced history of the world. l The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan – an exploration of the forces that have driven the rise and falls of empires. l The History of Inventions by Catherine Barr – bitesize text and bright illustrations that introduce 15 of the world’s most incredible inventions. l The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander – a poem focusing on black history, including both everyday people and great artists, athletes and activists. Nikki Gamble is director of Just Imagine, Centre for Excellence in Reading, Writing and Oracy. Take One Book is a resource that provides detailed plans to develop deeper reading with great literature. in different periods to showhow perspectives change over time. To do this, we bought some second-handLadybird books to comparewithmore up-to-date sources. One class studying exploration anddiscovery found a comparison of the 1957 Ladybird book aboutWalter Raleighwith the 1980 edition of the same book particularly revealing. There was a big shift in the perspective onRaleigh’s colonisation in the Americas. In the earlier edition, the invader’s point of view is shown and in the later, the point of view is alongside the native invaders, watching as strangers land on their beach. Vocabulary for history The national curriculum requires that pupils in KS2 “gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms such as empire, civilisation and peasantry”. These are words which recur when reading history. We identified historical vocabulary that we were going to introduce, focusing on concepts rather than names. So ‘monarchy’ was chosen rather than King Aethelred. Once these words had been introduced, they were put in the ‘history treasure chest’ and new words were accumulated across the year. Periodically, words were used to play a Pictionary-style game. The children demonstrated their understanding of the concept by drawing it. The following discussion reinforced the concepts so that learning was revisited and deepened. These changes were in many ways small adaptations of existing practice. This made it easy to implement. However, as Lucy pointed out at the end of the project, “It made me think how a small change to a question makes the historical learning more powerful, but at the same time we are still developing the comprehension needed for teaching English.” @nikkigamble