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4 — Life in ancient Rome in conventional information texts

Night lit image of the Pantheon in Rome

Above: The Pantheon in Rome, photo by yeowatzup CC-BY-2.0

This sequence is the first in a three-sequence series which examines how authors of factual texts have imagined and represented ancient Rome. This sequence forms a context for the following two sequences by establishing how a conventional information text presents the world of ancient Rome.

In the following learning sequences students will use the text DK Eyewitness Guide to Ancient Rome as a basis for comparison and contrast with less conventional information texts. This sequence also introduces students to the use and function of images in texts, which will be a recurring theme throughout the unit.

Introduction: How is a conventional information text organised?

Ask the students what features they would expect to see in an information text. List these on the board. Briefly view the text with the class so they can see its structure and organisation. What features did they see that matched their list? Were any features unexpected? Why? Elicit the fact the text is organised by topic area, with corresponding images and text, and that each double page spread is organised in a similar layout. ACELA1531

Activity 1: What is the function of 'layout' in a conventional information text?

Look at a double page spread from the DK Eyewitness Guide to Ancient Rome in detail. As a whole class, create a list of its structural features, such as the main title, text, images and comments or quotes. On a blank sheet, ask the students to sketch the layout of the text, using the jointly created features list to prompt them. Ask them why they think the author chose this predictable layout. How does this layout help the reader navigate the text? What is successful about this layout and why? What could be improved? How? ACELA1531

Activity 2: What is the relationship between text and image in a conventional information text?

Show the students the images on the first double page spread (see Resources). On a slip of paper, the students suggest a main title heading for the page. Read a selection of suggestions aloud. Are there any similar themes? What clues on the page led students to suggest these titles? Why is it challenging to only be able to read the images?

Show the students a second double page spread. Ask them to explain how the sub-headings and captions add meaning to the images. Offer students the opportunity to revise their title prediction. Ask them what information led them to change their title prediction. Reveal the original double page spread in the book. Read the main text then ask the students what function this text serves. How does it enhance the meaning of the images and captions? What function does it serve in relation to the title? ACELA1531,   ACELY1724ACDSEH039

Activity 3: How do images enhance meaning in a conventional information text?

Ask the students what are the main types of images seen in this text (photographs of artefacts). What function do photographs serve in an information text?

Students independently read the double page spread prepared for this activity (see Resources). Briefly revise the concept of a technical vocabulary with the students, then ask them to highlight examples of technical vocabulary on their copy. ACELA1537

What do they notice about the relationship between technical vocabulary and the images? (In many cases images are accompanied by, and also help to explain, specific technical vocabulary.) How do the images elaborate on the technical vocabulary? ACELY1724,   ACDSEH039

Student reflective journal

Students should spend 5–10 minutes responding to the reflection questions for this sequence, either in written form or orally, and then assess their responses against the success criteria using the rubric provided.