I recently received a copy of Australian Curriculum Geography - A diverse and connected world. This is a new resources from RIC Publications for teaching the Australian Curriculum for Year 6 students. The resource is designed for students and teachers around Australia, and addresses the Australian Curriculum (not the new NSW syllabus or any other variation).
The resource is more in the style of an activity book rather than a text book. The front section contains photocopiable black and white masters including a world map, a map of Asia, a map of Australia and South-East Asia and a map specifically of Bali. It also provides scaffolds for researching environmental changes, researching places and an interview recording sheet.
The Geographical skills class record is a great addition to the resource. It is actually for teachers rather than students, and it allows teachers to record student progress in achieving skills. It also includes a grid which maps out how the book addresses skills, inquiry questions, general capabilities and cross curriculum priorities, so that teachers can teach without having to specifically worry about how or whether they have addressed these.
The activities comprehensively cover each of the curriculum dot points and elaborations. It generally uses the specific examples in the curriculum rather than reinterpreting the elaborations. The resource provides comprehensive activities, additional links to websites and videos. It provides a list of relevant vocabulary words for each section as well as a column on some pages specifying how the activities relate to the Australian Curriculum including the elaborations, key inquiry questions, geographical inquiry and skills and geographical concepts. While the book is in black and white most pages are laid out in a way to reduce large chunks of text. Many of the pages contain clear maps, tables, graphs
and drawings to make the pages look engaging.
There are multiple choice quiz questions at the back of the book which relate to each the the Australian Curriculum elaborations. Answers to both the multiple choice and the written responses throughout the book are included.
English Skills Practice Trial Booklets
I also received copies of the English Skills Practice Trial booklets. for Years 1, 3 and 5. Given that Literacy is one of the General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum these type of activity books can be useful for integrating literacy into teaching Geography and other HSIE subjects. They can give teachers a few different approaches for integrating literacy into our teaching.
Let me preface this post with a confession that I love Lego. I don't mean in that whimsical way we recall childhood toys, I mean I really think it is fantastic. I have indoctrinated all the kids in my family and my neighbours' kids. Like many people, I have used lego in my Geography lessons before, particularly in topics that involve urban planning, housing density or designing a practical solution to an environmental problem. The students love learning through play, and it is a great way to encourage creativity, particularly for boys who may not like expressing their creativity in some of the more common ways. However, collecting a stash of lego big enough for a whole class can be a challenge. In the past I have had groups of students bring in some of their own, asked for donations from students and parents or looked for cheap bulk lots on eBay.
8 Geography - Plastics in our Oceans
There have been two news articles circulating in the past few weeks which make great material for lessons in Geography. Firstly, there has been an article circulating about lego pieces washing up onshore in Cornwall following a freak wave which dislodged cargo containers including one containing nautical themed lego. The incident is great for Geography lessons across a number of years and topics. It could enable discussions on ocean currents, the time it takes for plastic to breakdown, corporate responsibility, global commons, and plastics in our oceans.
See Why lego keeps washing up on British beach
The Plastinography site explores how plastics enter the oceans, where plastics come from, impacts of plastics in the oceans, ocean currents and movements of plastics globally. The interactive website contains informative pop-ups, links to youtube clips and environmental messages. The site was created by Dr Erik van Sebille, Jennifer Halstead and Chloe Vandervord at UNSW Australia. This is linked to Adrift, a website that allows users to examine how debris travels across oceans by way of ocean currents.
Another interesting perspective on this issue is to look at the role that social media has played in recording information about pieces washed ashore. There is both a Facebook page devoted specifically to the collection of the Lego pieces, while a local Cornwall group has a Twitter and Instagram hashtag #2minutebeachclean to post images of all rubbish collected from shorelines. This would be a great way to tie the two main topics in Yr 8 Geography together: the process of globalisation and forms of communication with some of the topics like global commons and waste management.
8 Geography - Shell and Lego
The other news article that has been circulating in the last few weeks has been Greenpeace's campaign to encourage Lego to break its contract with Shell. Lego and Shell have had a long association. I remember as a child inheriting my older brothers' Lego which contained some Shell-themed pieces. More recently, Lego has distributed Shell-branded toys through Shell's petrol stations in a number of countries. Meanwhile Shell has been receiving bad press regarding attempts to drill for oil in the Arctic. Greenpeace claims that the partnership is an attempt to create positive publicity for Shell, brainwash children and create brand loyalty.
See Greenpeace urges Lego to end Shell partnership
Classroom discussions could include issues such as corporate responsibility as it extends to associated companies, the role of the fossil fuel industry in global warming, benefits of global warming for the fossil fuel industry, the role of NGOs.
See Good news for the Arctic - Shell Scraps Drilling for 2014
Again, the role of social media has been really interesting in this issue. The tweet below (reproduced with permission) is just one example of thousands that have been circulated on twitter using the hashtag #blockshell. There are many interesting activities students could do - examine different perspectives, examine profile information about people posting, research NGOs posting, or map where the tweets are originating.
Lego as a Business Studies case study
Lego is also a great case study for Business Studies. Below is the Lego Megafactories episode which looks at the manufacturing process for creating lego pieces. There are also a range of resources available related to marketing and innovation. The Lego Case Study website contains information on the Operations, Marketing and Finance topics. The issues described above would also be great discussion starters for looking at corporate responsibility.
Examine the Lego Case Study website.
Innovation a turnaround at Lego
Lego profits soar as it targets girls
View the Trinity Grammar Lego resources for Marketing.
Move over Barbie: the cool kids are playing with Lego palaeontologists (thanks to @Geogdon for this one)
On the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the event that sparked World War I, a new video game Valiant Hearts: The Great War was released. The game is based on World War I and players can play as one of four characters: Karl, a deported German separated from his family; Anna, a Belgian student and battlefield nurse; Emile, who has been drafted into the French army and sent on a suicidal mission; and Freddie, an American motivated by personal vengeance.
The game has been designed in the style of a graphic novel, and the design was intended to emotionally engage players in the personal stories of the characters. It uses real letters throughout as narrative for the game. It teaches players about facts of World War I and contains a detailed encyclopaedia that players can access throughout gameplay. While the game involves the player in the action of WWI, it does not involve the usual shoot and kill action, but rather involves more puzzle solving and storytelling.
For a closer look you can view the walkthrough from Giant Bomb below.
There have also been some other great links to resources circulated lately. You might like to check out:
Every day of WWI in a 6 minute time lapse film
37 days: Countdown to World War I
European Film Gateway 1914
Revealed: The first Australian to die in World War I
Interactive WWI timeline
History Channel - World War I videos
PBS - The Great War Lesson Plans
You might also like to look at this very comprehensive list of resources:
World War One: Some Centennial Links, Readings, Contexts
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.
Student resource sites: