This is an effective way of encouraging close examination of image sources, or close reading of text extracts.


Provide one student (the ‘talker’) with a source, then another student or small group of students with a series of questions to ask about it (the ‘listeners’). The talker is not allowed to show the source to the rest of the group, but must instead simply answer the questions they are asked. When the interrogation is finished, the source should be returned to the teacher. Another member of the group then takes over as the ‘talker’ by collecting a fresh source from the teacher and the process is repeated.

Example: What did Medieval people think Hell was like?

This activity forms part of my studies of “Was the Medieval Church loved or feared?“. Prior to the lesson, print off a series of medieval depictions of hell. I converted some of those that I found into this short movie using

Divide the class when they arrive into groups. One person from each group should take one of the images from the teacher and take it back to their group. By looking closely at the image themselves, but without showing it to their teammates, they answer a series of questions about it (“What can you see in hell? What can you hear? What can you smell? What do you feel?”). It helps to use the ClassTools multi-timer to limit the amount of time on each of these questions and to install a sense of urgency into the process. When the available time is up, the ‘talker’ returns their picture to the teacher, and another member of the team picks up a fresh picture and the process is repeated for as long as you wish.

As a homework exercise, students use their notes to produce a blood-curdling medieval sermon about the horrors that await sinners in hell.

Taking it further: Jigsaw Groups

After completing the feedback approach outlined above, move to a Jigsaw Group activity. In other words, give each student in each group a number (e.g. 1 – 5). Then instruct all students with the same number to sit at the same table. In this way every group now consists of students who have each used completely different sources of information to their classmates. Give the members of each group a couple of minutes to exchange their findings for each of the key questions and develop their notes with fresh ideas. In this way, everybody in the class will have the opportunity to exchange their ideas with everybody else, either directly in their original groups or by proxy in the jigsaw groups.