Background: WestConnex overview
M4-M5 Link Concept Design
To bring Sydney together, WestConnex tears suburbs apart
The development and construction of WestConnex has impacted and changed places. Large sections in the vicinity of Parramatta Rd in Ashfield and Concord and the western part of the suburb of Haberfield have been demolished to make way for the road development. You can read more about this here - West Connex's collision course into communities or in my previous posts.
Impact at St Peters, Alexandria and Newtown
Stage 2 of the WestConnex project involves the construction of a tunnel between St Peters and Kingsgrove. The King Street Gateway and the Campbell Road Green link are changing the nature of St Peters, Alexandria and Newtown. View the St Peters Overview.
Changes to St Peters can be seen in the link below.
Sydney's WestConnex changes the face of St Peters - in pictures
Information about the construction at St Peters can be found in the following article:
WestConnex inflicts non-stop construction on St Peters for the next 3 weekends.
The M4-M5 link tunnels will run underneath Newtown. Many Newtown business owners have begun protesting the development, worried that congestion and bottlenecks will negatively impact retail businesses, or alternatively that clearways along King St will kill business. The Newtown WestConnex Action Group has been formed. In Alexandria a new bridge is being constructed over the canal to allow movement of traffic from the St Peters interchange.
Six tunnels will be built under Andre's house in Lorde St Newtown.
"Write an email": Sydney residents get no more answers as WestConnex hits Alexandria.
Official: WestConnex allowed to flout environmental laws.
Please see my other WestConnex posts:
WestConnex - Protest Movements and Impacts
WestConnex update - Haberfield and Ashfield
WestConnext - Sydney, sustainability and transport
Stage 1 of the WestConnex project involves the widening of the M4, a connection between Parramatta Road and the City West Link and new connections at Concord Road. A tunnel will run from the end of the current M4 to the City West Link,
M4 East concept design
WestConnex Stage 1
WestConnex interactive map
A section of Ashfield along Parramatta Road was acquired and demolished for WestConnex. The exit to the M4 tunnel will be opposite Bunnings Warehouse near the crossroads of Frederick St/ City West Link and Parramatta Road.
WestConnex plan jeered by Ashfield residents
Save Ashfield Park Rally
Some of the issues raised in relation to WestConnex in Haberfield include home acquisitions, destruction of heritage architecture, noise and vibrations for homes adjacent to construction sites, changes to traffic flows and the impact of all of these factors on the nature of the suburb.
Haberfield homes acquired for building of WestConnex
Three month closure of Ramsay Street Haberfield
Talking WestConnex and Mike Baird ignoring compulsory aquisition reforms
WestConnex private contractors sell items from heritage homes ahead of demolition
WestConnex unused land should be handed back say inner west residents.
Residents in Haberfield and Beverley Hills claim WestConnex work is cracking walls of houses near motorway construction sites.
What we are facing is the destruction of Haberfield
tI have recently been running a few sessions with high schools to help with programming for the new NSW Geography syllabus incorporating the Australian Curriculum. As the year is coming to a close, and I am running out of time, I thought I would just make this available in case people want to share it or go through it with their faculties. This might be a useful resource to use for one of the last Staff Development Days or your first day back (take note Social Science/HSIE Head Teachers).
If you are at a Department of Education school you can find this course on MyPL by searching for its title: Introduction to the 7-10 Geography syllabus: - Session 1 - the basic framework.
Download the file to use with your staff (edit/change whatever you like).
Why teach Geography?
Given the number of teachers who teach Geography in 7-10, that aren't specifically trained in it (or perhaps interested in it), I think it is worth starting any discussion with "Why teach Geography?". Ask teachers to consider the importance of examining and promoting this subject to the individual, the community and the world. If you can encourage the staff that aren't all that engaged in Geography to develop an interest in it, then they will be much more successful in teaching the subject and engaging their students.
Geography in Primary - impacts on your teaching in high school
For the first time, students will be studying Geography in primary school as a stand alone subject. Most Year 7 units that are currently taught begin with "What is Geography", "What is a Geography tool/skill?", "What are the features of maps", etc. Once the new syllabus is fully implemented, students will have already covered this introductory information in primary school. So this is the first thing that will need to go. In primary school the students will have already been introduced to geographical concepts, tools, and the geographical inquiry process. Keep in mind, this may not be the case for 2017 for all students, but from 2018, you should expect that students have this prior knowledge. Obviously, do some pretesting to get an idea of the depth of students' knowledge.
Components of the syllabus
Continuums of learning
This syllabus introduces a series of continuums of learning for students. There are three continuums: Geographical concepts, Inquiry skills and Geographical tools. These provide you with a snapshot of the learning the takes place in each stage from Early Stage 1 to Stage 5.
In the previous syllabus students followed a Research Action Plan. This has been simplified in the new syllabus to a Geographical Inquiry. Students undertake a Geographical Inquiry from Early Stage 1 up to Stage 5, but as students move through the stages the process becomes more complex. However, regardless of the complexity, there are three main stages to a Geographical Inquiry - Acquiring geographical information, processing geographical information and communicating geographical information.
Geographical Tools include five main categories - Maps, Fieldwork, Graphs and Statistics, Spatial Technologies and Visual Representations. In the previous syllabus, these were generally what we referred to as skills. There has been some shifting of skills/tools from the previous syllabus and the addition of some new tools. The biggest difference is in Stage 5, where in Spatial Technologies students will be expected to be proficient in virtual maps, satellite maps, global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing data and augmented reality. If this is something which staff find a little daunting, keep in mind that you could delay implementing a couple of these items until 2018, Year 10 to allow a little bit of extra time for upskilling. This way you would still be covering them for the students in Stage 5. Once teaching feeling comfortable with their own skills levels and knowledge, you might then look at shifting it earlier in the stage.
One of a major differences bewteen the new NSW syllabus and the Australian Curriculum is the integration of outcomes, which in NSW we are used to. Outcomes decribe the essential learning. You MUST cover outcomes. These must be the starting points for designing your lessons, excursions, project based learning, problem based learning, assessments and reports. There should really be a huge arrow pointing at the outcomes for each topic saying "Start here!!".
Key Inquiry Questions
The new NSW syllabus has included key inquiry questions which drive student learning. This inquiry strand runs parallel to the development of content knowledge. Students will use their inquiry skills (see the continuum discussed above) and geographical tools to undertake geographical inquiries. This is an opportunity for students to explore problematic knowledge, and to develop critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, personal and social capability (some of the Learning Across the Curriculum areas),
The stage statements provide a description of what we want student to have acheived by the end of the stage. Stage statements can be used as a reference point for student acheivement. They may also be useful in making judgements about individual students in terms of decisions related to Learing and Support, Life Skills or opportunities for acceleration. If the student is performing well above or below the stage statement this will indicate that adjustments, modifications or a different course is required.
The content is the detailed information to be covered in each topic. Each of the dot points is compulsory, while the dash points are suggested ways that you may choose to approach the dot point (not mandatory). You may come up with other ways to approach the dot point if you choose.
A specific Geography Life Skills course has been provided which could run parallel to a mainstream class. Topics, outcomes and content are similar. This will make it easier to implement if you have one Life Skills students in a mainstream class, as you will be able to use some of the basic information prepared for your mainstream class and heavily modify it, rather than create resources on a completely different topic as was the case with the provious Life Skills course.
Icons and symbols
The content has a series of codes and symbols throughout. The Australian Curriculum Codes are indicated after the dot points (e.g. ACHGK048). Generally teachers don't really need to worry about these, as the NSW syllabus is the absolute authority. However, if you are looking for resources shared from around Australia, it may be useful to know the Australian Curriculum code. Icons and abbreviations are also used to indicate appropriate content where tools and Learning Across the Curriculum can be covered.
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.
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
BOSTES (formerly the Board of Studies) has recently released the new NSW Geography syllabus for review. This syllabus, unique to NSW, incorporates the Australian Curriculum for Geography already being implemented in other states in Australia.
The draft new syllabus can be found at the BOSTES website along with documents outlining the features of the documents for different groups (Primary, K-10, Life Skills). The draft document does not include a Senior Geography syllabus draft at this stage.
The consultation session will only run until August 29, 2014, so it is a fairly brief period.
There are a number of opportunities for people to become involved:
Individual responses to BOSTES
There is an online survey which can be filled in, which is fairly comprehensive but contains closed questions. The survey covers topics such as views on the rationale, aims, topics, whether current resources can be used, whether it caters for a full range of students, etc. You can also make more detailed written submissions which can be emailed directly to the Senior Project Officer, Geography, Brooke Prideaux (email available at the BOSTES page linked above).
A number of sessions have been organised by BOSTES during the consultation period. These are to be held at Liverpool, Pennant Hills, Gymea and Ashfield as well as regional sessions at Moruya, Coffs Harbour, Orange and Griffith. Each of these sessions require registration very soon. Check the above-linked BOSTES page for details and links to registration. This is being organised by Eventbrite, but I'm sure that Brooke would the any questions.
For teachers in NSW Public Schools, the DEC Learning and Leadership Directorate are holding consultation sessions to put together a submission on behalf of the DEC. This will be done using Adobe Connect, and registration should be completed through the DEC's Professional Learning database and management system MyPL. The title is "Secondary consultation on the draft Geography K-10 Syllabus" (Course Code: NR06641). This is to take place on Monday 28 July 3.30pm – 4:30 pm. Alana Ellis, the Relieving HSIE Advisor 7-12 is the contact person, and can be contacted through her DEC email.
Professional Associations and informal groups:
Interestingly, the NSWGTA Annual Conference falls mid way through the consultation period. I suspect that while there doesn't appear to be a consultation session on the agenda (the agenda was released before the draft syllabus) that there may be some slight rearranging of the program to allow time for it.
Online groups, such as Geography Teachers Online Australia (Facebook group) are already abuzz with discussions regarding various parts of the new syllabus. This is a great way to hear a few different perspectives and get involved in the debate.
Don't forget that sometimes the best discussions can happen face to face in your own faculty. Consider what the difficulties are of the current syllabus for your students. Will the new syllabus solve these problems? Are there new issues? How will your students cope with the content? Will they find it interesting? What resources do you currently use that will fit in with new syllabus? What are the areas that are going to need a lot of work?
What we already know:
- Australia already has an agreed Australian Curriculum for Geography. The writing of the curriculum was completed in 2012, involved consultation between states, with professional associations and teachers, and was signed off by federal and state education ministers. There have been no discussions or public announcements about a review of this curriculum at this stage, despite reviews currently taking place of other subjects.
- All states/territories but NSW began implementation of the Australian Curriculum for Geography in 2013. Like the Phase 1 subjects (English, Maths, Science, History), BOSTES decided that the structure of the Australian Curriculum was not suitable for NSW teachers, and that it would need to be rewritten to more closely resemble the current/previous syllabi.
- BOSTES appointed a Project Manager to oversee the writing of the Geography syllabus for NSW as of January 2014. The former BOS had a procedure for writing new syllabi which involved hiring a team of writers, consulting with stakeholders, reviewing and refining. We can assume that a similar process was followed and that this has taken place between January and July to allow for the new document to be released.
- While we are in a consultation period, we can assume that some sections of the syllabus are "locked in" while other parts are open to discussion. These have been labelled in the draft document.
Please make sure you take the opportunity to have your say while we have the chance.
Lindsay Swan from the Board of Studies was a speaker at the recent NSW GTA Conference. He was there to speak about the implementation plans for the "new NSW Geography syllabus incorporating the Australian Curriculum". What a mouthful!
The following details were confirmed:
- Mandatory hours for Geography will remain the same as they are now - 100hrs in Stage 4 and 100hrs Stage 5.
- Elective Geography will exist but will be changed (not sure of any other details here).
- Planning is underway to begin the process of writing the new NSW syllabus.
- It is likely that a team of syllabus writers will be established to write the documents for all upcoming HSIE subjects.
- Writing and consultation is likely to take place in 2014.
- Modification and approvals are likely to happen in 2014-5.
- The new syllabus will contain outcomes and objectives.
- The content elaborations as developed by ACARA will not be included.
- Stage statements will be developed which will be linked to the Achievement Standards developed by ACARA.
- The syllabus will continue to be based on stages not on years.
- “Learning across the Curriculum” will be integrated throughout the syllabus so that teachers will not have to teach these as separate skills.
- The Australian Curriculum content descriptions will be found in the new syllabus documents.
- The Research Action Plan will be retained.
- There will be no “learn tos” or “learn abouts”.
- There will be internal choice/options.
- The syllabus will not be published in a hard copy. You will only be able to access the syllabus online as an e-syllabus.
- Schools must continue teaching the current NSW syllabus or risk issues with registration
- Teachers will have approximately 12 months of familiarization once the documents have been released.
- A possible implementation timeline is:
o 7 and 9 in 2016 or 2017
o 8 and 10 2017 and 2018
- The BOS program builder is available to assist in program writing (but won’t be needed by Geography teachers for quite a while yet).
The following were not confirmed:
- Will there be an allocated budget to fund the writing of the new NSW syllabus for the Senior Geography course?
- Will any of the writers for the Geography syllabus have Geography training or expertise?
From here on in I'm giving my own opinions and interpretation of the state of play. There are a number of issues that I think are important to be explored: NSW's delayed implementation compared to the rest of the country and compared to History, and the rewriting (or not?) of Senior Geography.
The insistence of the Board of Studies to rewrite the Australian Curriculum for all of the subjects puts NSW behind the other states and territories. The benefit of this is that for the Phase 1 subjects (English, Science, History and Maths) NSW staff are in familiarisation mode while the other states are scrambling to write new content. When our Phase 1 teachers begin implementation next year for Years 7 and 9 there will already be a heap of resources available that have been developed by teachers from other states. The issue with this is that many of the online repositories of resources that have been developed (like ABC Splash, Scootle, etc) are linked specifically to the Australian Curriculum. NSW staff will need to find the resources and examine them through the lens of the new NSW syllabuses to see if they're relevant. Some may say this is not a big issue, but to me it is just another layer of conceptual matter to deal with on a day-to-day basis that the other states aren't worrying about. It is highly likely that NSW teachers will find great resources that are just not quite right because of the NSW re-write. This will continue to happen in NSW when we finally get round to implementing Geography.
I'm still not really clear on why NSW is rewriting the Australian Curriculum. Wouldn't it be great to be part of a national initiative where we are all sharing resources and discussing pedagogy together? Instead, in NSW we are saying, "Well, I like this bit, but we can do so much better here...", or, "I don't like this bit, let's do it this way...". Isn't the whole point of having a national curriculum that we work together and do the same thing? I really think I'm missing something and to me it all feels a little elitist. I understand that teachers in NSW are used to doing things in a certain way (particularly the emphasis on outcomes), but I'd like to think that we're all smart enough and adaptable enough to teach and interpret whatever we're given. I also feel like we're really letting down the team. We should be pumping out resources for the other states to use. Given that there are other states who have not taught Geography as a separate subject before, NSW should be leading the charge and offering up everything we have.
A constant discussion on online Geography groups, at events and in staff rooms is how we can boost Senior Geography numbers. People are constantly coming up with amazing ideas to engage students and try to encourage a greater take up in senior school. For me I think one of the biggest issues is the constant comparison to History (sorry historians, no offence). The implementation of Geography looks like it will be at least 2 years behind History. Clearly this goes back to the original federal decision to have History in Phase 1 and Geography in Phase 2, but the ACARA draft for Geography has been out for ages. Is it really not possible to speed the whole re-writing process up a bit? Geography clearly has an image problem. She is like the ugly step-sister to History. A delay in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum does nothing to improve matters. Neither does a lack of commitment to re-write the Senior Geography syllabus.
Yesterday I attended the NSW Geography Teachers Association Annual Professional Development Day. The big focus of the day was on Australian Curriculum. We were lucky enough to have two speakers from ACARA Susan Caldis and Tracey McAskill. Susan has been a bit of a one-woman show over the past couple of years doing all the Geography teachers events and keeping everyone up to date. This blog post is a summary of the information from ACARA.
As we know, all states in Australia but NSW are using the curriculum documents as written by ACARA and have begun implementation already. ACARA is calling the next 18 months "implementation mode" for the rest of Australia in relation to geography.
Reviewing the curriculum
ACARA undertook a detailed consultation process in the development of the Geography curriculum. From within NSW, the BOS collected submissions, organisations within the DEC held video conferences, detailed submissions were written by DEC officers, HSIE and Social Science faculties and teachers made submissions, and online surveys were completed. Expert groups were gathered in each of the states and territories. Existing syllabus documents were examined and compared from around Australia. Similarities and differences were mapped. International geography experts have had a role in critiquing the curriculum including Professor Catling, Professor David Lambert and Dr Rita Gardner. After a series of reviews, the new Geography curriculum for Foundation (Kindergarten) to Year 10 has now been finalised. The Senior Geography curriculum has just been released but is not finalised.
It is anticipated that during the first phases of implementation an assessment and review of ACARA's curriculum will take place to determine successes and weaknesses and any further tweaks required.
Structure and rationale
In ACARA's Geography curriculum each year is organised under the following headings: a year level description, key inquiry questions, content descriptions and achievement standards. The Content for each year has 2 main strands: "enquiry and skills" and "knowledge and understanding". These strands help to organise the curriculum. In each 7-10 year group there are 2 units of work. In addition there are 7 key concepts that weave through the geography curriculum (place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change). View more detail about the seven concepts.
View the Australian Curriculum for Geography.
One of the big issues for discussion amongst teachers has been the balance between physical and human geography in the new curriculum. Many have stated that there is an over-emphasis on human geography. While the understanding of physical geography is implied, it does not appear to be explicitly taught in the secondary years (at least not much). The new curriculum does not have a division of human and physical geography topics. Rather the human and physical geography are intertwined throughout the topics. Units of work can be done in any order within a Year and content can be chunked or rearranged to enable teachers to ensure the best understanding of the topic. The elaborations in the curriculum are not mandatory, but rather just ideas about how to cover content. It may be the case that you cover more physical geography for the students to gain a more thorough understanding of the knowledge and understanding components.
The scale of case studies in the new curriculum ranges from personal to regional, national and global. Despite the Cross-curriculum priorities of Asia and Australia's Engagement with Asia it was emphasised that teachers need to balance the focus on Asia with coverage of the rest of the world. The development of students' knowledge of the world develops from K-10. The earlier years focus more on the local case studies, while in late primary school students begin to look at regional and global case studies as well, particularly in the southern hemisphere. Students continue to develop their global knowledge in year 7-10. Despite references in the curriculum to specific countries, teachers do not have to focus on these examples but can use their own.
View the development of geography from Foundation to 10.
View the Scope and Sequence.
The new curriculum tries to incorporate emerging trends and provides flexibility for fieldwork opportunities within each topic. It has a futures focus, and encourages students to consider their involvement in the world. How can I contribute? What are my responsibilities? What is my place in the world? How can I make the world a better place? There are many opportunities for enquiry-based learning and Problem Based Learning.
ACARA does not specify the hours of teaching for each subject, but rather this decision is made by the states and territories.
Work sample portfolios
Portfolios of student work have been made available on the Australian Curriculum website. They can be found at the beneath the Achievement Standards on the Australian Curriculum website. The samples can be used a toll for moderation to help teachers decide to what extent student have met the achievement standards. For those teachers undergoing the accreditation process they also serve as a model of how to annotate work.
Some time in the near future I will write about how all this will impact on NSW, but in short, there's certainly no rush for me to get something out there about it. It's a long way off for us. More to come later...
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.
7-10 Geography pages have been retired due to the introduction of the new syllabus. The above links relate to current NSW syllabuses. All Commerce and Legal Studies resources have been moved onto this main site (search Commerce or Legal Studies below).