Teaching Primary History: Roman Britain for Key Stage 2
The following Key Stage 2 history lessons have all been judged to be outstanding according to OFSTED criteria. There is a wide variety of teaching and learning activities as well as a rich array of teaching resources including PowerPoint® presentations. New lessons will be regularly added to meet the demands of the changing primary curriculum.
SEPTEMBER 2011 Teaching Roman Britain at KS2 or the Roman Empire at KS3 then this new Free app is a must see below
The introduction below to teaching Roman Britain from 2011 was re-written to ensure that it matched precisely the requirements of the proposed primary curriculum. Although the current government has abandoned the planned changes of the Rose Review and is probably going to back a narrower content-led curriculum favoured by Gove, the advice you will find here still holds good.
Teaching Roman Britain at Key Stage 2
As you know, the emphasis in this unit is on the nature of the Romans' settlement and their legacy. The lessons on the causes of the Roman invasion provide plenty of scope for hot seating, decision-making and conscience alley, leading to some polished explanatory writing. Work on Boudicca, on the other hand, whilst also looking at cause and consequence through a living graph lesson, offers excellent opportunities for comparing contrasting interpretations of this fascinating character. Why is she shown so differently in books today? Work on the legacy of the invaders justifies its existence, especially at a time when the government is so keen on establishing a notion of Britishness. The under the cloth lesson is a superb hands-on way of making the legacy come alive - far better than short clips from The Life of Brian.
Resourcing your Roman topic
For a range of interesting web-based material, including a video exploration of the opening of a Roman tomb go to the 24 Hour Museum site and see what's on offer.
Streetmuseum: Londinium, is a new mobile app from the Museum of London and the TV channel History and offers an original and exciting medium for exploring the city's history.
Opening with an illustrative timeline of London's Roman heritage, the app then offers a map of the city, peppered with pins that highlight different historical aspects of life under Roman rule. The purple pins mark sites where archaeological discoveries were made. The fun bit is where you use your finger to 'dig' the dirt or blow on the microphone to unearth bits of pottery and other relics). The red pins mark audio and video material, drawn from History's large archive: for example, click on the amphitheatre to watch a video showing gladiators locked in combat.
One of the more interesting things is the historical map that is included with the app. Move the slider along and the contours of Londinium, from the old walled part of the city and its various gates to long-lost geological features such as the River Fleet, are overlaid on the contemporary map, along with information about their use.
Streetmuseum: Londinium is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and is free.
This introduction has been written with the new 2011 curriculum in mind but remember that the bill to implement this was rejected by the House of Commons in April 2010.
The Romans are one of the few groups of people from the past who feature, by name in the new Orders. If you look at M12 (Years 3 and 4 to you and me), you will see the reference there to pupils knowing about: “The movement and settlement of people in different periods of British history, and the impact these have had”. The footnote then gives an example i.e. “the impact and settlement of the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans”.
You could also look at the Romans as a separate society later in Year 5 and 6. In my experience, though, most schools will look to teach this topic about Year 4. That is what I have taken as the target audience.
So if we have a context that is approved by the National Curriculum, what about the skills that this unit can develop? This is where I have created very specific lessons to match the most important history skills.
Lesson 1: Why on earth would the Romans leave hot sunny Italy to settle in this cold country on the edge of their empire?
This study of causes uses a range of drama techniques including conscience alley and hot-seating. Pupils use a range of sources which they compare and cross-reference to come up with their own viewpoint. They then compare that with a short TV excerpt and evaluate the programme in the light of what they have already found out for themselves.
Examples of pupils assessed work along with teachers’ commentary is available on the judging pupils work section of the assessment part of the site. This should help you gain a very clear understanding of the quality of explanatory answers to expect from Y3/4 pupils on this topic.
Lessons 2/3 What image do we have of Boudicca today?/ Boudicca’s rebellion
This focuses on Boudicca and her revolt. Here the focus is less on cause and consequence and more on people having different viewpoints. Pupils draw Boudicca from a Roman description and then compare their drawings with those in modern textbooks. How do they differ? And why? An outstanding lesson shows you how to make this work successfully. A short diagnostic assessment is available as a free sample. Pupils then study the events of her rebellion, creating a human living graph (see the outstanding lessons for pictures showing pupils in the playground creating their graph)
Lesson 4: Should the Celts take on the Romans?
Resistance to the Romans forms the basis of this lesson which revolves around a highly motivating reconstruction relay drawing task which all pupils love and which genuinely fosters successful collaborative working across the ability range.
Lesson 5: What have the Roman ever done for us? TO FOLLOW Using under the cloth technique
One of the most important sections of this topic is the one to do with the legacy of the Romans which is covered in this lesson. Using a richly illustrated PowerPoint presentation which includes short video clips, pupils have to recall as many ways in which the Romans influence our lives today. They then move to a circle of tables covered with a cloth, below which are over 30 images mostly with Roman connections. Working in pairs, with an option of ‘phoning a friend’ pupils remove one of the pictures and then have to explain to the rest of the class what it has to do with the Romans. Some are oblique, some are red herrings. If they can’t explain it, even with help, then the rest of the class takes on the challenge. They love it. So will you. All the hard work has been done, in terms of the PowerPoint, the film, and the selection of the 30 or so images. Enjoy!
Lesson 6: Is this a Roman villa?
Pupils work as archaeologists to piece together various images (or artefacts if you can lay your hands on them), of items that would have been part of a Roman villa. They are far from obvious though, so pupils have to use their creative imaginations. The part/whole relationship is a fundamental aspect of pupils’ thinking skills so this lesson makes a massive contribution. Pupils predict what they might find, analyse and evaluate what they have, identify what is missing and then construct a picture of their own villa shading in the bits they have evidence for and the bits for which they had to use creative imagination.
If you would like to see any examples of draft activities for the above lessons then please email us and we can send you a few samples.