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11 — Exploring historical narrative in multimodal texts

Two girls in period costume (1808), one in fine clothes with a parasol, the other as a maid

Above: Still image of Alice and Sarah from the series My Place, Episode 21 (1808: Sarah). Stills from the My Place for Teachers website reproduced with permission of the Australian Children's Television Foundation © Chapman Pictures Pty Ltd

In this sequence the students will continue to build on their knowledge of the features of multimodal texts and examine elements in historical narrative video. These activities use resources from the website My Place for Teachers, which is the companion site for the My Place series, based on the book by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins.

My Place was the 1988 Children’s Book Council of Australia Children’s Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers. A twentieth anniversary edition was released in 2008. The My Place TV series extended the original story, but retained many of the key elements. Read about the journey from book to screen on the My Place for Teachers companion site, which contains many teaching resources such as short clips and images. My Place has aired on ABC Schools TV and can be purchased from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

Activity 1: Texts that have been made into films

As an introduction to this sequence, read the text My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins with the students. This text could be used outside of this unit for a number of other activities in the classroom, including, but not limited to, visual literacy.

Lead a brief discussion about texts that have been made into films. Draw examples from the students’ knowledge. You may wish to show part of an episode from the My Place TV series (check the rating first).

Take the opportunity to recap with the students the different sources that they have been investigating to learn about history during this unit of work. Lead a brief discussion about how the authors or creators of a text can tell their story in many different ways. Discuss hybrid texts such as infotainment, where there can be a mixing of elements of various genres. ACELY1690ACHASSI074

Activity 2: Examining still images from My Place

In this activity the students examine still images from the historical film narrative My Place, and identify which elements of the different semiotic (design) systems have been used to create meaning for the viewer.

Photograph of a boy in a straw hat

Above: Still image of Sam from the series My Place, Episode 22 (1798: Sam). Stills from the My Place for Teachers website reproduced with permission of the Australian Children's Television Foundation © Chapman Pictures Pty Ltd

Display the images of Sam and jointly complete the Semiotic systems worksheet for this character with the students. ACELA1496ACELY1692

The students can be split into small groups, or work individually to examine the image of either Sarah washing clothes in the creek or Alice and Sarah (above), again using a Semiotic systems worksheet to help frame their discussions or thinking.

Have the students discuss the elements they have identified, the salient feature(s) of each image and what the photographer has done to emphasise this (for example, placement, lighting and colour). Images could be displayed on the interactive whiteboard, with a range of annotation tools and labels for students to drag and drop to label features of the text.

Activity 3: Examining video clips from My Place

The students will view short video clips from the My Place TV series and use their knowledge of multimodal texts to identify the different design elements that the director has used to create meaning. You may wish to first view the clips as a whole class to model and jointly complete the Semiotic systems worksheet, allocate different clips to small groups or it could be an individual task. If the unit has been completed in sequence order, the students will have had a number of opportunities to identify the design features used within a range of texts and may be able to complete this task independently using the worksheet to help organise their thinking. ACELY1692ACELA1496

The students can be split into small groups to view and discuss the video clips Farm Lad and A Female Gaol. The Semiotic systems worksheet may help frame their discussions. Use Some questions to explore and points for discussion to engage the class in further discussion.

Additional optional activity

A transcript of Farm Lad is provided should you wish to explore its language features and how this develops the characters in more detail.