The Earth’s environment sustains all life… Resourcing Year 4 Geography

There are a wide variety of excellent, age appropriate texts that can enhance the way teachers explore the Year 4 Geography curriculum with their students. Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker tells the story of a young boy who visits a tropical rainforest. He pretends it is a long time ago and that extinct and rare animals live in the forest, and aboriginal children play there. But he wonders how much longer the rainforest will remain. This text is perfect to use in the classroom for discussing Australian conservation and environment issues. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss tells the story of how all water is connected; every raindrop, lake, underground river and glacier is part of a single global well. It describes that how we treat the water in the well will affect every species on the planet, now and for years to come. One Well shows how every one of us has the power to conserve and protect our global well. The Lorax by Dr Seuss can be used in a variety of ways, as it warns against mindless progress and the danger it poses to the earth’s natural beauty. There are many more Non-Fiction and Fiction texts available on the topic of sustainability and I recommend taking a look at your school and local library to see what they have on offer.

GeogSpace is an an initiative of the Australian Geography Teachers Association and supported by the resources of Education Services Australia. This website provides the resource Investigate places in which we live which details 3 x 30 minute lessons for Year 4 Geography. Step by step teaching approaches are given, explaining how students can be taught to use Google Earth to locate, observe and describe familiar features of the place in which students live and in turn draw maps or construct models representative of the place in which they live. This resource also provides Field and photo sketching, detailing activities that be used in teaching Year 4 Geography. Step by step teaching approaches are given, explaining how students can be taught to distinguish between natural, managed and constructed elements of environments and places, develop skills in recording and communicating information using field and photo sketches and apply inquiry questions to places observed either in the field or in photographs and pictures. Jeannie Baker’s picture book Window is suggested as a great way to explore constructed and managed environments with students. This resource also provides two exemplars: Habitats for animals – an inquiry and The GeoSix and the swamp monster story. Another part of the website worth taking a look at are the teacher Support units that give information and resources in eight areas of geographical education: Thinking geographically, Why teach geography?, Professional practice, Fieldwork, ICTs in geography, Assessment in geography, Language of geography and Geographical inquiry.

coolaustralia.org is a not for profit organisation that provides, curriculum linked resources with a vision of educating young Australians for a sustainable future. These resources give students an understanding of the natural world, how it supports human existence and their responsibility to ensure it is valued properly. The website contains specialised Year 4 Geography units and activities.

My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins is a classic Australian picture book and can be used in many different ways to compliment the teaching of Year 4 Geography. The book is a time machine, taking the reader into the past. It tells the story of a piece of land in Sydney from 1788 to 1988 through the stories of the children who have lived there. It addresses the themes of family, settlers, multiculturalism, and the traditional owners of the land. Each child’s story covers a decade in time and features maps that the successive generations of children have ‘drawn’ which demonstrate the things that have changed and things that have remained the same. My Place has also been made into a series that is available on DVD. Furthermore, an extensive selection of My Place Geography resources can be found on this website which include: teaching activities and clips, My Place Maps and a photo gallery.

Two teacher resource texts that contain an excellent variety of lesson ideas and blackline masters based around Year 4 Geography are The Australian Geography Series’ Year 4: The Environment Sustains Life and Australian Curriculum Geography’s The Earth’s environment sustains all life. Teaching Primary Geography for Australian Schools Early Years – Year 6 is another fantastic resource that helps inform the teaching of Geography in the primary years. If you do not currently have these texts in your school library I suggest requesting them or buying them to add to your personal professional library.

This unit addresses the Australian Curriculum Year 4 Geography in the Australian Curriculum (v 8.1):

Concepts for developing understanding

The content in the geography sub-strand provides opportunities to develop students’ understanding of place, space, environment, interconnection and sustainability. The content focuses on understandings about sustainability – the ongoing capacity of the environment to sustain human life and wellbeing. Students explore the features and functions of environments that support humans and other living things (environment, interconnection). They examine the use and management of resources and waste, and views about how to achieve sustainability (environment, interconnection, sustainability), including the custodial responsibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to their Country/Place (interconnection, sustainability). Students’ mental map of the world expands to South America and Africa and their main countries and characteristics (space, place, environment).

Inquiry Questions

  • How does the environment support the lives of people and other living things?
  • How do different views about the environment influence approaches to sustainability?
  • How can people use environments more sustainably?

Content Descriptors

The main characteristics of the continents of Africa and South America and the location of their major countries in relation to Australia (ACHASSK087)

The custodial responsibility Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have for Country/Place, and how this influences views about sustainability (ACHASSK089)

The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)

The importance of environments, including natural vegetation, to animals and people (ACHASSK088)

General Capabilities

  • Numeracy
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • Ethical Understanding
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A diverse and connected world… Resourcing Year 6 Geography

My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins is a classic Australian picture book and can be used in many different ways to compliment the teaching of Year 6 Geography. The book is a time machine, taking the reader into the past. It tells the story of a piece of land in Sydney from 1788 to 1988 through the stories of the children who have lived there. It addresses the themes of family, settlers, multiculturalism, and the traditional owners of the land. Each child’s story covers a decade in time and features maps that the successive generations of children have ‘drawn’ which demonstrate the things that have changed and things that have remained the same. My Place has also been made into a series that is available on DVD. Furthermore, an extensive selection of My Place Geography resources can be found on this website which include: teaching activities and clips, My Place Maps and a photo gallery.

GeogSpace is an an initiative of the Australian Geography Teachers Association and supported by the resources of Education Services Australia. This website provides the resource Citizenship in action which explores how to help develop geographical inquiry skills in students through them: identifying the ways in which people shape the characteristics of places and the spaces within them, working collaboratively with others to negotiate an agreed position on a proposed development, applying learning to propose individual or group action in response to a geographical issue, identifying possible actions that could be taken to influence decision-making processes and debating which one would be the most effective, influencing others on possible actions and ways to reach consensus about a geographical issue and presenting information and ideas in oral and written form. Furthermore, Contemporary geographical skills and the media provides details of learning experiences that teach Year 6 Geography students to: investigate a selected contemporary geographical issue or event using the media, develop an understanding of peoples’ connection with places throughout the world, collect geographical information from a variety of sources and present research findings using an oral presentation supported by a PowerPoint presentation. This resource also provides two exemplars: Using Geography thought-provokers and Using your computer to discover an unequal world. Another part of the website worth taking a look at are the teacher Support units that give information and resources in eight areas of geographical education: Thinking geographically, Why teach geography?, Professional practice, Fieldwork, ICTs in geography, Assessment in geography, Language of geography and Geographical inquiry.

The Care Global Poverty Teacher’s Toolkit is a digital resource that teachers can use with their students when exploring global inequality. The resource is divided into a variety of sections: global poverty, action, women’s empowerment, education, health, water and hygiene, food and nutrition, climate change and responding to emergencies. World Vision’s Upper Primary Geography School Resources section also contains a wide variety of resources which can be refined depending on what is being studied in class at that point in time.

coolaustralia.org is a not for profit organisation that provides, curriculum linked resources with a vision of educating young Australians for a sustainable future. These resources give students an understanding of the natural world, how it supports human existence and their responsibility to ensure it is valued properly. The website contains specialised Year 6 Geography units and activities. The Student Toolbox contains video clips, documentaries, images, articles, stories and news sorted into year levels for each major topic explored on the website and is fantastic for students conducting research and undertaking projects.

Two teacher resource texts that contain an excellent variety of lesson ideas and blackline masters based around Year 6 Geography are The Australian Geography Series’ Year 6: A Diverse and Connected World and Australian Curriculum Geography’s A Diverse and Connected World. Teaching Primary Geography for Australian Schools Early Years – Year 6 is another fantastic resource that helps inform the teaching of Geography in the primary years. If you do not currently have these texts in your school library I suggest requesting them or buying them to add to your personal professional library. 

These resources are useful when teaching Year 6 Geography in the Australian Curriculum (v 8.1):

Concepts for developing understanding

The content in the geography sub-strand provides opportunities to develop students’ understanding of place, space, environment, interconnection and change. Students explore the diverse environments, peoples and cultures within the Asia region and at a global level (space, place, environment) and expand their mental map of the world. Students examine Australia’s various connections with other countries and places throughout the world, how these are changing, and the effects of these interconnections (interconnections, change).

Inquiry Questions

  • How do places, people and cultures differ across the world?
  • What are Australia’s global connections between people and places?

Content Descriptors

How do people’s connections to places affect their perception of them?The geographical diversity of the Asia region and the location of its major countries in relation to Australia (ACHASSK138)

The world’s cultural diversity, including that of its indigenous peoples (ACHASSK140)

The effects that people’s connections with, and proximity to, places throughout the world have on shaping their awareness and opinion of those places (ACHASSK142)

Australia’s connections with other countries and how these change people and places (ACHASSK141)

Differences in the economic, demographic and social characteristics of countries across the world (ACHASSK139)

General Capabilities

  • Numeracy
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Intercultural Understanding

First Contacts… Resourcing Year 4 History

One of the most beneficial professional development days I have attended was taking part in the program, The Big Picture – A Hidden History. Two facilitators led the teaching staff at my school through the Hidden Histories Project, which focuses on a series of posters that vividly depict the experiences of Aboriginal people within Australian History. The seven posters center around past government policies and practices that affected Aboriginal people and the impact these have had over time:

  1. Pre Contact – Pre 1700’s – Aboriginal Traditions and Lifestyles
  2. Contact – 1700’s – 1890’s – European Invasion and Settlement
  3. Contact – 1890’s – 1950’s – Protection and Segregation
  4. Post Contact – 1950’s – 1960’s – Assimilation
  5. Post Contact – 1960’s – 1972 – Integration
  6. Contemporary – 1972 – 2000 – Towards Self-Determination
  7. Contemporary – 2000 – The New Millennium

Aboriginalart

Aboriginal Art” by Alan Levine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The rich use of imagery in these posters provides students with the opportunity to infer meaning and creates stimulus for discussion about Aboriginal history. Teachers are able to design a variety of learning experiences that use this resource to promote inquiry learning, empowering students to take an active role in their education. As the posters require close and considered analysis, they are best used in small groups before being discussed with the whole class.

What makes this resource unique and extremely useful is how it suits the curriculum of many year levels in both primary and secondary school, in a variety of different subject areas. One example is in Year 4 History; the Pre Contact and Contact posters align with the content descriptors of the First Contacts unit. In this instance, a teacher can divide the class into small groups and use the posters in a round robin activity, with students identifying as many aspects of Aboriginal history as possible within the poster they have in front of them. To record their observations, groups can use a Web 2.0 brainstorming tool such as Popplet. It is important to tell students that there are no right or wrong answers in this activity and they are simply required to take note of what they see, making an educated guess at what the parts of the poster may mean. As a next step in exploring the content, the teacher could set students research tasks based on the aspects they identified in the posters.

What I find particularly special about this resource is its authenticity. The posters were created by Aboriginal artists and teach students about Aboriginal history using art that promotes discussion, which is a traditional method of communication in Aboriginal culture. The posters cannot be purchased individually but when a school completes the professional development they are given a hard and digital copy of them; the facilitators request that these images are only shared within the school. If you do not currently have access to this resource, I highly recommend contacting your principal who will be able to help make arrangements for your school to take part in the Hidden Histories Project in a future professional development.

This unit addresses the Year 4 History Content Descriptors…

The diversity of Australia’s first peoples and the long and continuous connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to Country/ Place (land, sea, waterways and skies) and the implications for their daily lives. (ACHHK077)

The nature of contact between Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples and others, for example, the Macassans and the Europeans, and the effects of these interactions on, for example families and the environment (ACHHK080)

…and General Capabilities…

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Intercultural understanding

…and Cross Curricular Priorities

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Sharing Stories… Resourcing Year 3 English… PART 2

Once students have been taught the basic structure of a narrative and have had some fun playing around with the WWWCRT acronym (explained in PART 1), it is then time to check their understanding. I do this by asking them to write WWWCRT down the side of their page and see if they can remember what the letters stand for. I then read out a short story or a picture book, and challenge the students to identify what the WWWCRT for the story is. Some fantastic texts to do this with are Stories For Eight Year Olds and Stories For Nine Year Olds, both by Linsay Knight. Although the short stories in these texts are much longer than what the students will be expected to write, they are age appropriate and the parts of the structure are easily identifiable. Picture books such as Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey, The Swap by Jan Ormerod and Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson would also suit this activity. Over a lesson or two, a selection of stories can be read to students while they complete the activity of identifying the parts of the WWWCRT structure. Go over the students’ answers at the end of each story to consolidate the learning and give struggling students an opportunity to identify the parts if they were unable to when working individually.

student ipad

student_ipad_school – 031” by Brad Flickinger is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The next activity can take place if you are lucky enough to have access to iPads that students can use one between two. If you have only one iPad, as long as you have the ability to project it onto a whiteboard, you could do this activity as a class through joint construction. The IT guru at my school told me about an App called My Story, which is $5.99 from the App Store (it is cheaper in bulk if you use the Volume Purchase Program – VPP). In essence, the App enables students to make their own picture books. The pairs (or class) must first come up with an original WWWCRT for a narrative. This would be a great time to introduce students to the idea of using stimulus by getting them to create an idea based on an old NAPLAN stimulus. Once all students have completed the planning stage, you can demonstrate how to use the My Story App by guiding the students through the process via an iPad projected onto a whiteboard. My basic requirements are that students create four pages: title page, orientation, complication, resolution. Students must do all of the text first and once given the OK from me they can go on to the pictures. If groups finish early, there is also a narration option that they can add as an extension activity. Another great feature of this App is that you can download the stories. When everyone has completed the task, I celebrate the students’ work by having a session in which all of the stories are played. After the students have viewed all of the stories we reflect on how each group used the stimulus differently.

This is the point when I start giving the students weekly 40 minute sessions in which they produce a narrative based on stimulus. I reinforce that the first five minutes is for completing a WWWCRT. I further scaffold the task for students who are struggling and for students who are excelling, introduce the concepts of: the complication reaching a climax and a twist at the end. Giving students an opportunity to share their work is essential, both with their peers and teacher. I have found that the more specific feedback you can give, the better. When these activities are taught in conjunction with focused grammar lessons, I believe students are given the confidence to be able to tackle the writing task. I would repeat a variation of these activities to Year 5, 7 & 9 students before their NAPLAN testing.

Contrary to popular belief, the lead up to NAPLAN doesn’t need to be a nightmare. Students really appreciate when teachers provide them with a creative and interactive approach to learning. I have found that a positive and energised classroom dynamic can be made by a teacher who crafts opportunities for enjoyment and celebration and who gives students the chance to be active participants in the learning process.

This unit addresses the Year 3 English Content Descriptors…

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features and selecting print,and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1682)

Use software including word processing programs with growing speed and efficiency to construct and edit texts featuring visual, print and audio elements (ACELY1685)

…and General Capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) capability

Sharing Stories… Resourcing Year 3 English… PART 1

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved telling and writing stories. When I began teaching English, it came as no surprise to me that narrative units and assessment were my absolute favourite to teach. It turned out that due to the (dreaded) NAPLAN test, my enthusiasm for teaching narratives was not wasted, in fact it was put to very good use. In my capacity as a teacher and teacher librarian, I have used many of the ideas in this series of posts from Year 3 right through to Year 12, obviously with adaptations made to cater for the age group of the students being taught. The examples given will focus on how I have taught Year 3 English with NAPLAN in mind.

I have often heard it said that teachers shouldn’t be teaching to the NAPLAN test and if they are following the curriculum properly then their students should be prepared to sit the test. I agree and disagree with this statement. You can 100% over-prepare students for NAPLAN, to the point that it is no longer productive and the students feel physically ill when they hear the word. I have seen this happen more often than not, with good, albeit misguided intentions on the teacher’s part. The reason I partially disagree with this statement is because Year 3 students require preparation to sit a test, in exam conditions often for the first time. Furthermore, in the case of the writing task, students have 40 minutes to plan and write a narrative (or persuasive piece); I think that many educated adults would struggle to complete this task to a high standard! It is my opinion that young students need to be explicitly taught the skill of being able to effectively plan and write a short story in a 40 minute time frame.

story

We All Have A Story To Tell” by Magenta Rose is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I always start a narrative unit by teaching students the acronym WWWCRT. I created this, because it sounds like a website and as such I have found it is quite easy for kids to learn. Firstly, I explain the meaning of the word orientation and then break it down into the WWW: Who (are the characters 2-3), Where (does the story happen – the setting) and What (is happening BEFORE something goes wrong). I then explain that any more than 3 characters gets confusing, only one setting is needed and what is happening needs to be in ordinary time, BEFORE there is a problem. I usually follow this up by telling the students a made up story that launches into the complication with far too many characters and settings. I make it so ridiculously complicated that it is absurd and ask the students for feedback on my story. This is so the students get the concept of keeping it simple. I go on to explain C is for Complication (what goes wrong), R is for Resolution (how is the problem solved) and T is for Title. I constantly reinforce the importance of keeping it simple; short stories are just that, short, and the more simple they are the better they are. I include Title and leave it to last as after students have written their plan they often have an idea for an appropriate title and it is an important narrative feature that is easily forgotten.

This is where my pedagogical mantra, “Make it so fun, they forget they are learning”, comes into play. The next activity I have students complete involves each student starting with a single piece of lined paper. I always remind students that if they are inappropriate in the activity they will ruin it – this needs to be said! I tell them not to write their name on the top, but to write, ‘Who’. Next to this, each student is then instructed to write 2-3 characters names. Once they are finished I get them to fold the top of the paper over just enough to cover what they have written and then pass the sheet on to the next person. Without unfolding the paper to look at what the first person wrote, the next person has to write, ‘Where’, and then decide on a setting for the story, and fold the paper over just enough to cover it and pass it on. This continues with What, Complication, Resolution and Title. I then collect up the completely folded up pieces of paper and throughout the day unfold and read out the storylines. The results are always hilarious, because the storyline is written by six students who have no idea what the other students wrote. Every group of students I have done this with has absolutely loved it, plus you are drilling into them the WWWCRT planning format every time you read a story out. It is learning masked as fun – genius! PART 2 of this post provides specific examples of resources that can be used in the next stage of the unit.

This unit addresses the Australian Curriculum Year 3 English Content Descriptors…

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features and selecting print,and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1682)

Reread and edit texts for meaning, appropriate structure, grammatical choices and punctuation (ACELY1683)

and General Capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Critical and creative thinking

Fire and Flood… Resourcing Year 5 Geography

In the early 1900’s, Dorothea Mackellar wrote of, “Flood and fire and famine”, in her poem My Country. She began penning the poem when in London, homesick for Australia. “I love a sunburnt country”, the first line of the second stanza, is one of the most iconic lines of Australian poetry ever written. This poem would be a fantastic place to start when teaching Year 5 Geography students about the impact of bushfires and floods on communities. Reading and discussing My Country with the class contextualises the unit, framing how fires and floods have always had a large impact on the Australian way of life.

When exploring bushfires and floods in more detail, the picture books Fire and Flood by Jackie French are age appropriate texts well worth sharing with your class. Although picture books often have connotations of being for younger students, these particular texts are aimed at upper primary students and Jackie French’s words are further enhanced by Bruce Whatley’s vivid illustrations; it is the combination of both that truly does the content justice. Scholastic have also provided Teacher’s Notes for Fire by Jackie French and Teacher’s Notes for Flood by Jackie French which both contain a variety of ideas for activities that use these texts as stimulus.

P1020694

Brisbane Floods – Gailes Queensland” by Martin Howard is licensed under CC by 2.0

Over my time as a teacher in Brisbane schools, I have witnessed first hand the effects that floods can have on the local community. As such, one picture book that can have a particular impact in Queensland classrooms is, Mavis the Amazing Tugboat by Diane Lonergan which is set during the Brisbane floods in January 2011. It tells the true story of Captain Doug Hislop and his tugboat Mavis and how they saved Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge by manoeuvring a 300 tonne slab of concrete away from its pylons. This text can further enhance the Year 5 Geography content descriptor that calls for teachers to educate students about how people respond to flood.

In addition to picture books, two teacher resource texts with an excellent variety of lesson ideas and blackline masters based around Year 5 Geography are: The Australian Geography Series’, Year 5: Characteristics of Places and Australian Curriculum Geography’s, Year 5: Factors that shape the human and environmental characteristics of places. Both texts contain a chapter of resources that explore the bushfire and flood content descriptor.

Last but most certainly not least is the Australian Emergency Management Institute’s (AEMI) Disaster Resilience Education for Schools website which contains a wide variety of very useful resources for teachers and students. The Disaster Mapper section of the website provides an engaging, interactive tool that can be used with Geography students in a variety of ways. The resource plots disasters on a map of Australia, displaying details such as: type of disaster, date of disaster and number of people injured and hurt. The website also contains general information and activities about bushfires and floods. AEMI’s website is well worth exploring no matter how you plan to approach teaching this content descriptor. It can be used many ways, is interactive and all of the information is specific to the Australian context.

This unit addresses the Australian Curriculum Year 5 Geography Content Descriptors…

The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (ACHGK030)

…and General Capabilities

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Personal and social capability

All the world’s a stage… Resourcing Foundation / Prep – Year 2 Drama

I decided to try something different in Term 1 this year by using an idea from my background as a secondary Drama teacher in my Prep (Foundation) library lessons. The Australian Curriculum groups Foundation – Year 2 Drama content descriptors together; so while this particular unit was taught to Prep students, it could be easily modified to suit Year 1 and 2 classes.

Readers’ Theatre was the form of Drama I used to introduce Prep classes to the joy of texts. In Readers’ Theatre, a narrator – in this case myself as the teacher librarian – reads a narrative and students take on the roles of the characters, performing the actions of their character as the story is read. This type of structured yet improvised performance is a fantastic place for students to start exploring Drama. My experience is that kids absolutely adore this unit; expect very eager little faces staring back at you when you ask for a volunteer to play a character:

Kindergarten

Kindergarten” by Navy Hale Keiki School is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It is very important to select the right books to use in Readers’ Theatre; the best kind are children’s picture books with a handful of easily recognisable characters. To begin with, I used books by Nick Bland such as The Bear Series and The Wrong Book, which are lots of fun. The Gruffalo Series by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler were the next set of books we explored. The descriptive language used in these books is perfect for helping budding actors get into character. Finally, in order to assess the students’ drama skills, I selected The Mr Men and Little Miss Series by Roger Hargreaves. This series of books is a perfect fit for Readers’ Theatre, as there are a large number of books in the series, with a mix of male and female characters that are heavily stereotyped and as such quite easy for young students to characterise.

During and after lessons, I took notes on the students based on the Foundation – Year 2 Drama Curriculum. I created a criteria sheet and allocated the students a level using the notes I had taken. This enabled me to team library lessons with the Drama curriculum and gave the teachers one less subject they needed to tackle in the classroom during Semester 1. However, this unit could easily be taught to students by the classroom teacher, instead of the teacher librarian.

When reflecting on the unit at the end of the term, I decided on one main thing that I would change for next time. The biggest difficulty I encountered was the size of the Mr Men and Little Miss books; they are quite small. Even though the students’ attention was mainly on their classmates’ improvisations, they were still interested in looking at the pictures in the book. I also felt that the images in the book would have helped the students with less dramatic flair come up with ideas for actions. I have since discovered the MR MEN LITTLE MISS OFFICIAL YouTube channel, which features seven minute long videos of the Mr Men and Little Miss stories. My plan for next time is to use the classroom at the back of the library, and clear the desks to the side of the room. Students will be able to sit on the floor with the actors in front of the Smart Board. Together as a class we can then watch a Mr Men or Little Miss video in short snippets and pause it to allow the actors to perform the part of the story they have just watched.

An example of a Mr Men YouTube video: Mr Happy

This unit addresses the Australian Curriculum Foundation – Year 2 Drama Content Descriptors…

  • Explore role and dramatic action in dramatic play, improvisation and process drama (ACADRM027)
  • Use voice, facial expression, movement and space to imagine and establish role and situation (ACADRM028)

…and General Capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Critical and creative thinking

Words, words, words…

An iconic Shakespearian quotation is spoken by the character of Hamlet in response to Polonious who asks what he is reading, to which Hamlet replies, ‘Words, words, words.’ Although Hamlet is in the midst of vengeance fueled madness, he still makes a point relevant to the many young people who fill our contemporary classrooms. Using texts within the Australian Curriculum that do not engage young learners become just that; meaningless words.

bored

Waiting for Time to Pass” by Richard Phillip Rucker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yet this needn’t be the case. The F–10 Curriculum and Senior Secondary Curriculum, set standards for learning area content, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities that are to be taught to students in Australian schools. It is; however, the role of the individual teacher to plan learning experiences for their students to achieve the aims of the curriculum.

While text books and class novels form traditional notions of what an educational text is, in our ever changing world it is remiss of us as teachers to neglect the many new and exciting forms of texts we can incorporate into classroom learning. Digital and multimedia texts provide an engaging format for our learners to not only read and analyse but furthermore, using Web 2.0 technology, create and share. Popular culture texts in their many shapes and forms provide learning opportunities and a learning environment that enable connected learning between students’ home and school experiences. Basically anything that can be viewed and read, can open up learning opportunities for students, when used as a part of a focused activity designed by an educator with the curriculum in mind. All of this does not mean that we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Traditional fiction and non-fiction print texts still have a vital place within the curriculum. However, I believe that gone are the days that a single text should be thought of as suffice resourcing for a unit of work.

As such, I have created this blog with teachers in mind. One aspect of my role as teacher librarian, is attending planning meetings and helping teachers resource their units. I do this once a term, so four times a year. Staffing changes often mean that these conversations happen from scratch every year, so it is my aim to archive a summary of resourcing ideas that can be referenced and built upon in the future. This blog is also designed so that teachers not only from my school, but in schools across Australia, can benefit from the variety of text suggestions given and tailor them to meet their individual needs. Each post will target a particular year level and learning area, relevant content descriptors, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities and will provide a cross section of suitable texts that can be used when planning and delivering the unit. I encourage educators who view these posts to add further ideas to the comment section, contributing other texts that you have used or that you believe would be suitable when exploring the unit. As educators, when we work together we are far greater than a sum or our parts.