I recently taught a great group of upper-intermediate Italian college students. They were from a humanities college, they requested lessons in history, psychology, sociology and so on. It was International Women’s Day the weekend before, so I thought it was fitting that we looked at one of the most famous, or infamous, women in British history –Boudica!
Something to mention from the outset – choose your class carefully if you want to teach Boudica. The story is not pleasant – the massacre of innocent people, Roman’s abusing Boudica’s daughters, etc. That said, there’s no reason why these topics can’t be discussed with a mature and sensible class. Worth a warning though.
Aims: practise reading for gist and detail
Learn and practise new vocabulary in the context of historical events
Students discuss the following
Who are the most famous women in your country’s history?
Do you know any famous women in British history?
Do you feel that women are sometimes ignored in history?
Creating the gist task:
Pre-teach the term ‘national treasure’
Show students a picture of Boudica from the internet, like this one from wikipedia.org:
Explain that this is a famous woman in British history. Have students guess the following:
Is she a national treasure, yes or no?
Who is she? What did she do? Why did she do it? When did she do it?
Feedback and board some general ideas if necessary
Give students the reading passage. Allow three minutes to read it.
Gist task: Were your predictions correct?
TRUE or FALSE: The information we have about Boudica’s life is reliable
TRUE or FALSE: The Iceni tribe lived like Romans
TRUE or FALSE: Boudica respected the Romans
TRUE or FALSE: The Romans respected Prasutagus’ wishes after he died
TRUE or FALSE: Boudica worked as a butcher
TRUE or FALSE: The author believes Boudica is a national treasure
TRUE or FALSE: Boudica is a good role model for women
(These questions are designed specifically to prompt discussion. Some statements do have clear answers. The statement ‘Boudicca worked as a butcher’ is FALSE – it is a trick as the text uses the word ‘Butchery’, it’s to check that the students understand the meaning of this).
Vocabulary focus: (see resources)
Follow-up questions: (see resources, to be cut up)
Extension: Students work in pairs. They make a list of the 6 most important women in world history. They rank the women in order of importance. Put two pairs together to share their ideas and collaborate to make a new list between them. Compare lists from different groups in class feedback. You may want to go over some basic phrases for expressing opinion, agreeing/disagreeing, etc for this task.