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"The Battle of Maldon": The Reading Experience

Reading longer poetry is sometimes difficult for students, so I guided English IV through the following process to create success in understanding "The Battle of Maldon":

1. Acted out the scene with the Vikings crossing the river to face off against the Saxons.

Photo by Gilbert Griffin

2. Brokedown the spear fight scenes into individual actions and created a presentation of tableaux showing each part.

Once students experienced the most exciting parts of the story, I assigned them a pre-reading task.

  1. They were to skim the poem and choose a monologue.

  2. Last names of A-N choose from the first half of the poem.

  3. Last names of M-Z choose from the second half.

4. They read through the chosen monologue three times by themselves.

5. After reading, they wrote a brief summary of the content.

After becoming familiar with the content and style, we finished the reading by doing the following:

  1. Those who were willing to read chose a monologue they felt comfortable with.

  2. I read the narration part; students read the monologues.

  3. We discussed the main points, the point of view of the author, the important cultural norms the characters expressed, and how the author created interest to a reader/listener from that time period.

How have you taught older, longer pieces of poetry? Share your ideas in the comments!

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