Why do Mummies Get Such a Bad Wrap?

article by Angela Toniolo , photos by Alamy

Learning intention

I am learning to plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content so that I can represent different representations clearly.

Success criteria

  • I can analyse a text to see how a topic might be represented in different ways.
  • I can research another topic that might be represented in multiple ways.
  • I can analyse a text to identify its structure.
  • I can compose a presentation.
  • I can represent the topic in more than one way in my presentation.

Essential knowledge

Watch Representation from The School Magazine. Discuss the ideas presented in the video. Ensure students note that the way authors and illustrators represent their topics is influenced by their experiences, beliefs, cultural backgrounds. Emphasise that it is also influenced by the audience for whom they’re making the text.

Prior to reading the article, complete a mind-map, noting everything students know about the topic of mummies. Note: ensure students are aware you are discussing the ancient Egyptian mummies as opposed to mothers. Jot students’ ideas on the board or use programs such as Canva. Place students with a partner and instruct them to compose their own mind-maps.

Discuss responses. Sort the ideas into those that are positive and those that are negative, for example, the idea that mummies are scary would be negative, while the idea that they are interesting or historical would be positive.

Read the article, Why do Mummies Get Such a Bad Wrap? Refer students back to the opening paragraph:

Mummies often appear in horror movies as creepy creatures, chasing after terrified teenagers or tomb raiders.

Discuss the following:

  • What does this reveal about how mummies are often represented in texts? (As something to be feared)
  • How does the author of the article represent mummies differently? (They represent them as treasures from the past that can teach us about the ‘lifestyles, traditional and cultures of ancient civilisations’)
  • What vocabulary does the author use to represent mummies positively? (Emotive vocabulary and subjective descriptions such as, fascinating, shed light on, privilege, famous, wealth of treasures, popular, best-preserved, enlisted help, perfectly preserved condition, invincible, intelligence)

Refer back to the mind-maps students have created. Discuss which of the students' ideas agree with the representation of mummies as something to be feared and which agree with how the author of Why do Mummies Get Such a Bad Wrap? has represented of them. Discuss how representing mummies in a way that might be unexpected generates interest and engages readers.

Ensure students are familiar with the term archetype in relation to character and that they know it means a typical type of character that readers are familiar with. Discuss archetypes of characters that often appear in texts such as, the tortured villain, an evil witch or a kind Fairy Godmother.

Tell students that they will be representing one of these archetypes, witches, in a way that may be surprising or unexpected to readers. Inform students that first you will be planning their ideas collaboratively. Discuss common representations of witches and note these on the board, for example:

  • Scary
  • Evil
  • Have a pet cat
  • They put spells on people.

Ensure students are familiar with the term witchcraft (the magic practiced by witches). View the webpage Witchcraft from Kids Britannica. Discuss the following questions:

  • In what ways did people use to believe witchcraft might help them? (To heal people who were sick, to bring wealth and to help crops to grow)
  • How and when did representations of witchcraft become more negative? (From the 1300s to the 1700s people carried out witch hunts when witches were believed to be linked to the devil)
  • In which parts of the world do some people still believe in witchcraft? (The Mapuche people of Chile, the Navajo of the southwestern United States, and the Zande of central Africa)

Note: Teachers should be mindful of the cultural backgrounds of the students in their class when discussing this question

Inform students that they will be using this information in their presentations. Tell students that they will need to demonstrate two opposing representations of witches:

  • How they are commonly represented in modern culture as evil
  • The way they were viewed in the past, as being able to help heal the sick and bring about wealth.

Refer back to the article, Why do Mummies Get Such a Bad Wrap? and discuss its structure, ensuring students note the following:

  • It includes a heading and subheadings
  • Some of the sub-headings are structured as questions, for example: ‘What is a mummy?’
  • Ideas are grouped according to topic
  • Photos are included with captions
  • A box features interesting facts about mummies.

Inform students that they should include similar elements in their presentations.

Display the following criteria and instruct students to use this when creating their presentations:

  • Includes two opposing representations of witches
  • Information is grouped by similar ideas and organised under headings
  • Images may be included
  • Interesting facts might be added.

Allow students access to digital technology for creating their presentations. Students may use programs such as Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint. Instruct students to use image searches to collect photos to include in their presentations. Place students in groups and instruct them to create their presentations.

Assessment for/as learning:

Provide students with the following peer-assessment questions for them to note observations on while the other groups perform:

  • Which of the criteria has been addressed well?
  • Which area/s could be improved?
  • How did the group engage you in the topic?
  • Could you clearly identify the different representations of witches?

Once students have presented, instruct their peers to share comments on what worked well and what might be improved, using the peer-assessment questions to guide their feedback.

See Effective Feedback from the NSW Department of Education for more information on the types of feedback.