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Mapping Australian Poetry

7 Apr

I am in the process of putting together a unit of work that explores changes in the Australian voice over time.  This unit will require students to explore key examples of Australian poetry and to understand how these poems are shaped by social, political and cultural contexts.

I think it will be helpful for my students to have an understanding of Australian history (in broad and general terms).  As such, I want to show them this interactive timeline.  Hopefully students can use this as a reference point, along with specific information about the poets whose work we study, to develop their capacity to discuss the contextual frameworks that inspire and inform texts.

Music in the classroom

18 Sep

My interest in using music in the classroom stems from my tendency to create a ‘soundtrack’in my head  to whatever it is that I am studying.  Sometimes song selection is made based on word association; thus, ‘Ice, ice baby’ would work equally well for studying Antarctica in Geography as it would for revising the effects of various drugs for PDHPE.  Other times, the connection is a bit less tenuous.  A case in point is  the activity I have planned for my year 10 students tomorrow.

One of my year 10 classes is learning about human rights as a way of wrapping up their study of Changing Rights and Freedoms.  Our focus for tomorrow is on refugees.  One of the things we will be doing (alongside creating mind maps and posters) is listening to Corneille’s song ‘I’ll never call you home again‘.  After listening, students will note down what they think the song is about.  We will then discuss as a class.  After that discussion, I will give them some background information on Corneille and the Rwandan genocide (I am drawing the background on the Rwandan genocide from this source) – Corneille fled the Rwandan genocide.  I will then ask students to reflect on how that new information changes/enhances their understanding of the song.

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.

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

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.

First Australians

17 Aug

I am currently on the lookout for great resources that will assist year 10 students to understand the Australian Freedom Rides, the 1967 Referendum and the Mabo decision.  My aim is to create lessons that draw on a variety of different resources so that there is an accessible entry point for all students.

One resource that I think I will be drawing on is the SBS documentary First Australians. The documentary provides a fantastic overview of the Aboriginal experience from before colonisation to almost the present day.  As the documentary moves through time, the timeline that runs along the bottom of the screen is coloured in, allowing the viewer to easily situate him/herself.   While I strongly recommend watching the entire documentary, doing so may not be appropriate for all classes.  I doubt it will be for mine.  Instead, I plan to show the students the sections particular to our unit focus.  These extracts, represented as roads running off the main timeline, present short, simple, clear snippets of information.  Of particular benefit to History classes, these snippets include historical sources and often commentary by historians.

Given the length of these snippets, I am not sure that creating a worksheet is particularly appropriate.  Perhaps I will simply task each student with 2 or 3 pieces of information that they deem interesting and/or pertinent, using these as stimulus for a class discussion.

Making digital links

16 Aug

Today I discovered ThingLink.  In a nutshell, ThingLink allows you to pin digital hyperlinked buttons to an image  Thus, when you click the button  you are transported to an external source that offers new information.

I am currently playing around with Thinglink to create an interactive map of the route taken by the Australian Freedom Riders in 1965.  The plan is to populate a map with links to sound, visual and written sources thus providing a sampling of historical sources that allow students to better understand the aims, experiences and successes of the Freedom Riders.

I will also be colour coding the buttons: yellow for images, red for news clippings etc.  This way, students can explore based on the ways they learn best.  It will also provide me with a short hand for explaining the different types of sources that are represented on the interactive map.

If I end up using this when I teach year 10 History, I think I would create an accompanying worksheet that provides students with a series of facts to find or verify.  This way, I could frame it as a virtual scavenger hunt.  Perhaps students could even compete in teams with some prize offered for successful and meaningful completion.