Archive | August, 2013

Perk up – before computers there was paper!

30 Aug

I had plans to get my year 10 students to create a Fakebook page for Charlie Perkins (leader of the Freedom Ride).  However, my students will not have computer access on the day I introduce Charlie to  them.  My solution?  A paper version of a Facebook profile!

It is not nearly as cool as doing it online, but still a potentially interesting activity.

It is working!

30 Aug

I blogged the other day about my grand plan to introduce blogging in my year eleven class.  I was super excited about it, but also a bit worried that students would not engage.  They are engaging!  Not all of them… but those that are have really interesting things to say.  I am also loving that many of my quieter students – those uncomfortable with participating in class discussion – are expressing clear and considered viewpoints in the comments section of our blog.   While I am not ready to call this a success (one third of students participating does not justify this), I am feeling cautiously optimistic.

Comical explanation

28 Aug

Earlier today I told my year eleven class that we would be blogging.  It met with a more enthusiastic reception than I had expected!

They will have to complete their first blog related task for homework tomorrow.  Accordingly, I had to post the task today.  As part of the task explanation, I created a short comic strip using this nifty tool from Make Beliefs Comix.  I used the comic strip to illustrate that people’s perspectives shape how they characterise others.  While it is super annoying that one cannot save creations to PDF, taking a screen shot worked just fine!

The comic strip, which is intended to visually represent the notion that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, is below:

Comic strip - one man's terrorist,,,

Blogging to build literacy

27 Aug

I am currently on practicum at a school which has, as part of its management plan for the year, a big literacy drive.  The emphasis is on improving students’ reading and writing skills.  For my year 8 History class, we are addressing literacy through focused reading activities and short writing tasks.  Today, for example, we looked at a poem as one of our historical sources.

Addressing literacy in year 11, however, had me stumped.  Not least of all because the unit of work which I will be teaching is the final unit for the academic year and has no formal assessment.  My solution is to create a class blog.  This blog will include a range of resources to supplement classroom learning.  It will also provide a forum for students to reflect on their learning and ask questions.  In order to encourage student participation, I have designed the blog such that content is public, but student comments are on password protected pages.  My hope is that I can sell this idea to students by explaining that it is a quicker and more immediate method of engagement than essay writing.

If it is well received by year 11, I will implement a similar system for my year 10 class.  In fact, I have started collating materials already!  My hope is that the blog will provide a range of additional access points for students of varied needs and interest.


Tweeting for Freedom

25 Aug

Young people tweet, Facebook and Instagram constantly.  In fact, they chronicle their lives online.

One way to get students to understand the sequence of events of the Freedom Rides is to encourage them to tweet at significant points.  For example:

TWEET - CharlieP boarding the bus

TWEET - CharlieP in Walgett

These tweets were created on  I have blogged about the possible uses of this application on a previous occasion.  I really like that the template encourages historical accuracy.  Such accuracy allows students to use these tweets as a timeline creation tool.

Land Rights

24 Aug

I blogged yesterday about the song ‘This land is mine’, and my plans to use it as part of a lesson that encourages students to consider the Aboriginal connection to land (here).

Once a basic understanding of this connection is achieved, I would explain some of the context of the struggle for land rights.  Included in this would be a discussion of the 1988 promise made by Hawke to enter into  Treaty with Aboriginal people.  That promise was broken.  I will show students the lyrics to the Yothu Yindi song ‘Treaty‘ and play them the clip (perhaps the one from the Sydney Olympics).  That song was intended as a political statement.  I will use that as a segue into discussing the other ways in which the struggle for land rights was progressed.


A lesson in visual puns

23 Aug

A lesson in visual puns

I am seriously contemplating using this as the lesson opener/wake up activity in a year 10 History class. Maybe it will be sufficiently weird to catch their attention.

(1) Roll, (2) Recap, (3) Introducing our brief case study

Women in the middle ages

23 Aug

Year 8 will soon be learning about the roles played by different groups of people in the middle ages.  Our first case study will be women.

My plan is to begin the lesson with a general discussion about what the kids want to be when they grow up.  Hopefully I will get a range of interesting responses.  I will then use this as a segue into explaining that in the middle ages not all career paths were open to everyone.  This was especially true for women  – society had rules about the roles that could be performed by women.

As a number of students in my class have low literacy skills,, this brief introduction will be followed by some textbook reading and pointed questions.  While there will be class discussion, students will be given time and assistance to write the responses in their books.  This way, they get to practice their reading, writing and speaking skills.

Some of the language in the text is quite difficult, so we will probably also have to do some kind of vocabulary activity so that students understand what they are reading.

Once we have finished the content, I will play a game called ‘Is a woman in the middle ages allowed to do this job?’  I will project images of women in different roles (doctors, lawyers, architects, mothers etc).  If students think a medieval woman would be allowed to do a particular job, then they vote with a big thumbs up.  If they think that she would not be allowed, the need to create a X using their arms.   We will then discuss whether or not a woman in the middle ages would be allowed to do that job.  A short version of the game can be found here: SLIDES – medieval women game 

This land is mine

23 Aug

I am teaching year 10 History students about Aboriginal land rights in just over a week.  I want to begin by getting students to understand that the way Aboriginal people think about land is a bit different to the way Europeans think about land.

I think I am going to begin by giving them the following extract from a song featured in One Night the Moon (see here for script):

This land is mine
All the way to the old fence line
Every break of day
I’m working hard just to make it pay

This land is mine
Yeah I signed on the dotted line
Camp fires on the creek bank
Bank breathing down my neck

They won’t take it away
They won’t take it away
They won’t take it away from me

We will then have a class discussion about the relationship to land suggested by the song.  Hopefully students will recognise that the fences delineate the boundaries of land, that land is owned, paid and signed for.  I will get students to note these responses in a table on their handout.

Next, I will give the students this section of the song:

This land is me
Rock, water, animal, tree
They are my song
My being’s here where I belong

This land owns me
From generations past to infinity
We’re all but woman and man
You only fear what you don’t understand

Again, I will ask questions that stimulate discussion about the relationship between the persona and the land.

This will be followed by a discussion about the differences between the two perspectives.

I will then ask the students to reflect on which section they think is representative of the Aboriginal perspective, and which is representative of the European perspective.  Students will be given 5 minutes to draft their response and provide reasons.  A short amount of time will be devoted to sharing those responses.

Maybe next I could get the students to think about whether, based on their knowledge thus far, they think there is likely to be a conflict between the two view points.  These song extracts can be read as a dialogue wherein each person puts forward their view.  Ask students about the likely tone of the conversation.  Perhaps two students can be selected to act out that conversation.

Another way of representing these divergent viewpoints is through the film clip.  There, the men walk in different directions thus visually representing their divergent viewpoints.

The above would be used as a segue into explaining the Aboriginal fight for recognition of land rights.

Capturing castles

21 Aug

I have my first class with year 8 History students next week.  They are currently studying medieval Europe, and the next lesson will be on attacking and defending castles.

I have observed a number of classes already at the school, and the common approach of the teachers is to teach using Powerpoints rich in images and Youtube clips.  The plan for the first lesson is to conform to the format that the students know.  Once I know them better, I may deviate from that format.

At the moment I am leaning towards using a Horrible Histories clip to explain to students the difficulties and dangers of attacking a heavily fortified castle.   In order to encourage active listening, I will likely get students to list the dangers associated with ‘Plan A’ in the clip.  One of those dangers is the arrows shot from the castle.  In order to get students to understand what a bow and arrow is, I think I might offer one or two students the opportunity to teach the rest of the class to be archers.  In essence, this will involve them getting up and trying to hit the target in this quick game.

I will likely spend the rest of my (k)night scouring the web to see what else I can find!