Primary Primary History Primary Literacy

I Was There: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

25 years ago this November, one of the most despised symbols of communism and the divide between east and west; the Berlin Wall, came down. It was a momentous occasion and finally signalled the end of the Soviet era in Eastern Europe. Millions of people witnessed the occasion, either on television or by being there in person.   This activity considers the format and language of reports and allows the pupils to practise writing them using an event that is familiar to them. Suitable for: Year 4 to Year 6 Learning Focus:

  • Identify the type of language used in report writing including the most commonly used verbs and verb forms.
  • Be able to collect appropriate information for an event they were a    witness to and use it effectively in writing a report

Activity 1: Download Eyewitness Activity Worksheet There are many videos on YouTube which will give an introduction to the events that precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the best is the first part of the documentary ‘The Fall of the Wall’ which can be found at Use the video to give the pupils an introduction to the event then tell them that many people who were there on the day wrote about their experience. Such writing is called an ‘eyewitness account’. Give them a copy of the eyewitness account of Andreas Ramos, who travelled to Berlin to be part of history as it was being made. Read it through with the pupils then ask them the following questions…

  • What form of verb is used throughout the report and why that might be?
  • Which person is it written in? Does this change at all through the report.
  • Which do they think is the best, first person or third?

Now ask them to highlight all the simple sentences in the account e.g. Everything was out of control. Police on horses watched. There was nothing they could do. The crowd had swollen. What effect does the use of simple sentences have on the impact of the eyewitness account? Look at some of the extended or complex sentences. e.g. A woman handed her camera to someone who was standing atop rubble so that he could take her picture. Where in the account do these appear (in the middle). Why do you think there is more description towards the middle of the account and then it returns to short sentences at the end? What effect does this have on the reader?   Activity 2: Download Eyewitness Report Planning Worksheet It’s the pupil’s turn now to write an eyewitness account. Almost every day something happens in or around school to which pupils are eyewitnesses. It could be someone scoring a goal in break time football, a fantastic piece of work acknowledged by the class, a memorable assembly performance or a visitor coming to school. If dramatic events are a little thin on the ground, you could always stage one. Set up the arrival of a strange delivery, find something unusual (maybe left behind by aliens) or fake the escape of a school pet by moving it to the staffroom temporarily. Now get the pupils to write their own eyewitness account of what they saw or what happened and what people did. Use the accompanying grid to help them get ideas for their account. Once they have enough, ask them to write the eyewitness report following the rules they discussed in the first activity.

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1 Comment

  • This is great stuff for both learners and teachers. Keep up the good work. I shall be a constant visitor here as well as share with colleagues.

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