The General Who Won the Battle with Drums

article by Lauri Kubuitsile , illustrated by Peter Sheehan

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to discuss my experience of reading a text so that I can develop skills in expressing my point of view.

Success Criteria:

  • I can make connections between a text and other texts that I have read and viewed.
  • I can see how the experiences described in texts compare and contrast to my own life experiences.
  • I can explain the term historical context and identify aspects of historical context in a text.


Essential Knowledge:

More information about the relationship between texts and contexts can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Context.

Guiding Question:

How are different views of the world shown to the audience through different texts?

Conduct a reading activity to foster comprehension of the article through oral retelling. Divide the class into two groups: the retellers and the listeners. First, all students read the text. Next, the retellers work in groups to reread the article and remind each other of the points to focus on in a retelling. The listeners also work in a group to decide on the most important points that should be included in a retelling. Pair students up, with a reteller summarizing the most important parts of the article and the listener listening for key information. (Please note that this is a modified version of ‘Partner Retell’ from Linda Hoyt’s book ‘Revisit, Reflect, Retell’).

After completing the comprehension activity, and remaining in the same pairs, ask students to discuss the following prompts:

  • Was the article easy, or hard to summarise? Explain your answer.
  • Did you find anything surprising, or shocking in the article?
  • As you were reading the article, were you reminded of any other stories that you have heard before?

Students may wish to record their answers on an interactive whiteboard, such as Google Jamboard, and then discuss as a whole class.

Create a list of stories that students connect with the life of General Liang Hongyu. These may include other famous female warriors throughout history such as Mulan (China), Boudicca (Britain), Joan d’Arc (France), Malalai (Afghanistan). Ask groups to conduct research on one of the female warriors and collect five to ten pieces of information about them.

Introduce students to the concept of historical context: what life was like for people who lived at a certain time. It might include considerations of the social structure, politics, economics and cultural factors. It also includes geography, such as where in the world events took place. Outline aspects of the students’ historical context: Australia in 2023, with access to technology, a belief in equal rights and a very low threat of war towards Australia.

Provide students with a Venn Diagram. Students then compare their historical context with the context of General Liang Hongyu, in 12th century China. To increase the difficulty of this task, you can provide students with a triple Venn Diagram and ask them to compare their own context with both General Liang Hongyu’s and their second female warrior.

Finally, return to the two prompt questions:

  • Was the article easy, or hard to summarise? Explain your answer.
  • Did you find anything surprising, or shocking in the article?

Explain that it can often be hard to summarise all the details of a text set in a very different context to our own. This is because the details are so different to our own life, including names and sequences of events. Students may also have found many details surprising or shocking because of the differences in historical context.