Ashoka appears in several of the HSIE syllabuses. There are ungoing debates about the place of India in History syllabuses. Discussions on the new draft Modern History syllabus have addressed the exclusion of some important topics and events related to modern India. This is despite the push with the 7-10 Australian Curriculum and new NSW syllabuses to include the Cross Curriculum Priority of Asia and Australia's Engagement with Asia. In terms of ancient India, Ashoka, an important personality in ancient India is actually included in three separate syllabuses: 7 History, Studies of Religion and Ancient History (new draft syllabuses). Most of the resources below have been designed for Studies of Religion, but you may like to modify them for a History class.
History - Stage 4 - The Ancient World - The Asian World Depth Study - India
The role of a significant individual in the ancient Asian world, for example ... Ashoka.
Studies of Religion - Stage 6 (HSC) - Buddhism
Significant People and Ideas
Ancient History (Draft syllabus) - Stage 6 (Prelim) - Investigating Ancient History - Case Studies
For Studies of Religion, students could complete a research activitiy in pairs or groups on Ashoka. Each pair or group investigates one of: his pilgrimages, his missionary activities, monuments and stupas built by Ashoka, and his life as a model Buddhist. Students can then present their findings to the class (try to make sure there aren't too many groups or this kind of activity can become a bit drawn out).
The file below is a (very long) cloze passage on Ashoka. I know some people have issues with cloze passages, but they are a good way to ensure students are actually reading the texts provided, it is a change from the usual reading and answering questions, it provides a summary they can later read through, and it builds some basic literacy skills. Also, my theory is, providing a bit of variety is a good thing. Obviously don't use cloze passgaes all the time, but one here and there just means they aren't doing the same type of activity over and over again.
The Ashoka cut and paste activity is a good activity to help students organise their learning about Ashoka's impact on Buddhism in a hands on way.
Essay scaffolds may be useful for training students to organise their writing into structured paragraphs. These may be useful for a first draft of an essay. Obviously they don't provide enough space for the students to write a complete essay, but they may need them to write the key points that they will then expand on.
Teach India Project
I attended the Department of Education’s STEM Showcase (see the tweet feed at #STEMShowcase). In case you’ve been living under a rock – STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. STEM is clearly a movement that is gaining momentum, and my question is where does geography fit into this? Or History? Or Commerce? I have been trying to think of a new acronym to get us in on this movement. If you have any ideas, please let me know. What occurred to me is how many of these STEM projects have very obvious crossovers with humanities subjects, particularly geography. This post will look at a few of the presentations that I saw today and some ideas of how humanities subjects could also be included.
Baulkham Hills High School – Weather TECH
Students created a STEM project involving the construction of a weather station. This involved a design process, coding of the equipment, manufacturing the equipment with a 3D printer, and collecting and analysing weather data.
In the Science faculty, this was undertaken as part of a student research project. In TAS, students developed skills in using CAD and CAM software and Arduino to design, code and create the equipment. In Maths, students' skills were developed in analysing and presenting the vast amount of weather data collected. Students (and teachers) successfully created a working model with equipment collecting weather data every second. The real world applications to agriculture were emphasised.
In the new NSW Geography syllabus the WeatherTECH project would fit easily within the Water In the World topic, particularly Water resources and the Water cycle. It also addresses fieldwork requirements – using weather instruments.
Examine the WeatherTECH project site.
Bellingen High School - Survive the Shake
The topic of this STEM project was earthquake proof buildings. Students designed, produced and evaluated a multi-storey building with a small fooprint, which was specified. Students were provided with a design process to follow which provided a scaffold to follow during project. Students were required to use cheap materials such as straws, toothpicks, marshmallows, etc to create a model of their buildings. Building designs were tested on an earthquake shake table created by the teachers.
In the Science faculty, the project tied into content related to earthquake size and magnitude, damage and destruction and prediction of quakes. In Maths it tied in with content related to geometry, 3D design shapes and budgets. The construction of the buildings and the design process involved the TAS faculty.
In the new NSW Geography syllabus the Survive the Shake project would fit into Landforms and Landscapes, particularly Geomorphic hazards. This could easily incorporate the inquiry based learning skills in the syllabus.
Examine the Survive the Shake project site.
Riverside Girls High – Post-Earth Survival
The girls at Riverside completed a STEM project examining the requirements to sustain life. Students explored the universe and designed a colony suitable for sustaining life on another planet. Students focused on: What do humans need to survive?
The project used a design process from the TAS faculty and this was used to determine project milestones. TAS introduced the students to the tools they would need to complete the project such as Sketch Up, 3D printing, etc.
Students brainstormed what it would be like if they were locked inside their house and had to stay there for 2-3 years. What would they need? What would they have to change? Students collected data on energy and water use in their own homes. From a Maths perspective students had to develop problem solving and reasoning skills, as well as data analysis. The project also incorporated the EcoMuve program from Harvard University. Assessment and presentation involved peer review and feedback.
In the new NSW syllabus the Post-Earth Survival project would fit into Place and Liveability, particularly Influences and perceptions. This could also incorporate the inquiry based learning skills in the syllabus.
Examine the Post-Earth Survival project site.
Promoting Geography and boosting numbers
A lot of time, effort and money is being spent on promoting STEM to our students. As Geography teachers, we are constantly looking for ways to promote our subject and boost senior numbers. There are plenty of ways to do this, but I think getting involved in STEM projects or at least other cross curriculum projects might be one idea that is worth a bit more consideration.
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.
The Department of Education and Communities has put together a number of online training courses to guide staff through the implementation of the New NSW Syllabus' incorporating the Australian Curriculum. There are a number of generic online modules that would be useful for all staff, regardless of faculty. There are also a number of online modules available specifically for staff from English, Maths, Science and History. These can be accessed through the staff portal. From the staff portal (staff.det.nsw.edu.au), click on Curriculum resources, click on AC - NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum, and then click on Professional Learning. The generic course are:
The learner and the new curriculum
Teaching and the new curriculum
For help accessing the courses, view the access guide.
The General Capabilities have been developed by ACARA and then incorporated into the new NSW syllabus documents. These are:
- Critical and creative thinking
- Ethical understanding
- Information and communication technology capability
- Intercultural understanding
- Personal and social capability
In developing your programs you should consider lesson ideas and activity that develop a range of these capabilities.
Want more information?
Project Based Learning and the Australian Curriculum "General Capabilities"
Australian Curriculum and the General Capabilities - the role of the Teacher Librarian
Cross curriculum priorities have been developed by ACARA and incorporated into the new NSW syllabus documents. These are:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
- Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia
Other learning across the curriculum
Other areas have been identified by the Board of Studies for attention in NSW. These are:
- Civic and Citizenship
- Difference and diversity
- Work and enterprise
Want more information?
Book lists for the Australian Curriculum Cross Curriculum Priorities.
Some important aspects of the new syllabuses include the provision of resources and more detailed guidance for teaching students with a variety of needs.
Planning for diversity
Student diversity and the Australian Curriculum
Meeting the needs of all students
Adjustments and the Australian Curriculum
Students with disabilities
Examples of adjustments for students with disabilities are currently being developed and should be available soon for examination.
Gifted and Talented
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.
Student resource sites: