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6 — Using a hybrid text format to imagine ancient Rome

This sequence is the third and final in a short series exploring how authors have imagined and represented the world of ancient Rome through a range of different factual texts. The DK Eyewitness Guide to Ancient Rome, studied first, used a conventional factual information text format, with photographs of artefacts, captions and background detail written in a formal, informational style. A Visitor’s Guide to Ancient Rome, studied in the previous sequence, is a hybrid between an informational and a persuasive text, presented in the format of a travel guide. The Roman News, studied in this sequence, moves further away from both of these formats into a hybrid text. This type of text brings together a variety of text forms and purposes.

The Roman News contains a complex mixture of information texts, persuasive texts, literary recounts and procedural texts, all of which feature strong evaluative language. Students will examine the use of these formats, carry out a comparison with the two previous texts and have the opportunity to produce their own short piece of similarly styled writing. At the end of this sequence students should be given the opportunity to reflect on the sequences in their journals.

Introduction: How else could a factual text be presented?

Cover image of 'The Roman News', featuring pictures and headlines, among others 'Caesar Stabbed!'

Above: Cover of The Roman News by Andrew Langley and Philip de Souza, Candlewick Press, reproduced with permission of Walker Books, text © Andrew Langley 1996 View larger (.jpg 1.4 MB)


Show the students the two texts studied in the previous sequences. Although they are both factual information texts, each has adopted a very different format and text style.

Ask the students to suggest other inventive ways they could present information about ancient Rome. Record their ideas (these will be referred to for Assessment task 2: Part 1). Did anyone suggest a newspaper?

Tell the students that one text, The Roman News, has compiled and presented information about ancient Rome in the form of a collection of newspaper articles.

Using the Analysis of a section from The Roman News worksheet, students browse modern newspapers and write down the sections they can see, the text formats that appear and the purposes for writing. ACELA1531ACELY1721

Activity 1: Which text formats has one author chosen to present factual information?

Divide the students into small groups and allocate each group a section of The Roman News to study:

The News Sporting News Trading News Political Life Army Life City Life
Country Life Women’s Pages Fashion Pages Food Pages Children’s Page  

Note that all pages of The Roman News include options to view a larger, print-quality version, and to read a text-only version of the page.

Model how to complete the Article analysis from The Roman News worksheet, which scaffolds an analysis of the content, format and features of their allocated section. The students complete this worksheet in their groups, then report back to the class. Ask the students if they were surprised at the range of formats and features. Do they think a newspaper is a versatile format with which to present information? Why, or why not? ACELY1721ACELT1803ACDSEH039

Activity 2: Why would you use evaluative language in a factual text?

Choose one news article that recounts a major event from ancient Rome. Remind the students of their study of evaluative language from the last sequence. Introduce (or revise) the concepts of strength and force in evaluative language. Students then carry out the activities in the Intensifier worksheet. Either in groups or individually, carefully read the article and provide examples of evaluative language that demonstrate strength and force. Why do the students think the author chose to use such strong evaluative language? What effect does it have on the reader? ACELA1536ACDSEH039

Activity 3: How could you present factual information in an innovative way?

Create a list with the students of events and/or topics about ancient Rome they have studied in their history lessons. They can choose one event and write their own newspaper article based on it. The article should recount the event but also include strong and forceful evaluative language so it reads in a sensationalist style. Model some ideas by sensationalising a statement using strong evaluative language. Engage in a discussion with the students about the degree to which sensationalising is appropriate, focusing on the fact that sometimes ‘going over the top’ makes the reader question the credibility of the argument, as in the example below:

‘The fire burned for two days and many buildings were damaged’ would become
‘The raging inferno ravaged the beautiful city, destroying much of it beyond repair’.


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.