The Spirit of Anzac is a touring exhibition featuring genuine artefacts and stories. To promote the tour the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Government have sent out packages to schools of about 10 Google Cardboard head sets in boxes. You can download the Spirit of Anzac 360 Explorer App from the App Store or Google Play.
The actual headset is already made when it arrives and is packaged within a cover to protect the set. It is quite robust (a little more sturdy than the Google Cardboard sets I have purchased from Ebay before and discusses in previous posts). The lenses are quite large, which will enhance the viewer experience, and some additional velcro and padding should also add to the experience.
The App provides an interactive tour of the displays at the Spirit of Anzac exhibition. Students can focus on a particular image and information pops up to explain the display. This isn't as immersive as some other Google Cardboard apps that I have reviewed, but given that it is being sent to schools for free and that the app is free it would be a useful and interesting way to engage students with the displays prior to a visit.
The exhibition is showing at:
Explore The Spirit of Anzac - What to Expect
Access the Spirit of Anzac Google Cardboard User Guide
Some other options of Google Cardboard/Virtual Reality apps that you might like to look at are:
War of Words VR
This VR experience uses the Seigfried Sassoon poem "The Kiss" as the basis of the experience. It is an animated experience created by BBC Arts. It promotes the feature-length documentary War of Words - Soldier-poets of the Somme.
Trench Experience enables the user to experience an authentic trench from world War I. This is like a virtual museum.
Diggers Trench VR
This VR experience is only available with Oculus Rift - not Google Cardboard. However, I imagine that as Google Cardboard begins to be used more that this will be the type of experiences that we can expect more of. This is more story based. As a new recruit you experience life in the tranches and are able to influence some of the events that unfold in the story.
For Stage 4 History, you may like to refer to a resource I created a few years ago (as mentioned in a previous post). Click here to examine the Syllabus Bite on Ancient India.
As you progress through the topic you might like to use the glossary file below to help students develop knowledge of key terms. There is also a glossary quiz file, but you may like to break this up into a couple of smaller quizzes depending on the ability of your students.
Students must explore the beliefs, values and practices of ancient India. The handout below introduces a few key terms, provides a brief summary of beliefs, values and practices and outlines a short group work task.
The activity below allows students to examine the physical features of ancient India including mountain ranges, plains, deserts, wetlands, rivers and highlands. Students are required to complete a mapping activitiy to show the spatial distribution of these features.
A person of significance must be examined. Below is a short introduction to Ashoka including a few relevant key terms and a short cloze passage. For more detail on Ashoka examine my previous post Teaching Ashoka.
Does this place look like your neighbourhood or community?
Do any of these houses look like your house?
Do any of these backyards look like your backyard?
Does this look like a nice place to live? Why or why not?
The story begins with a pregnant woman and her husband moving into a home, and traces the steps of Tracy, their daughter's, life. The window frame and the wall around it provide clues to show that time is passing - a card celebrating the birth of a new baby, a mug with "I am 4" on it, a note about her 10th birthday, and on it goes. The documenting of time passing provides a opportunity to begin to explore the historical concept of change and continuity and develop skills in sequencing events. This would need to be accompanied with explicit teaching of days of the week and months, and also holidays, events celebrated by students and their families.
Students are provided with images representing Tracy's age and are asked to cut them out and glue them in the correct sequence.
Students bring in photos of their childhood with the ages written on them and sequence them to create a timeline.
The teacher uses photos of the class or school throughout the year to create a timeline as a wall display.
See this pinterest post: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/205547170466044607/
The geographical concept of place is explored in terms of their unique characteristics, the value we place on places, and human influences. We see the way Tracy and her family interact and influence their own backyard, and we get an idea about how they value their place by the activities and experiences they have there. We see how the community begins to value place as the neighbourhood changes into a thriving place for people to relax, interact and work.
Students identify their favourite places around the school and at home. Why do they like these places the most?
How do different places make you feel? Are some places safe places?
The geographical concept of change is an obvious theme throughout this book. The backyard develops from an empty, barren space into a shady, green oasis. We see the neighbourhood develop from a run down, graffitied area into a green, friendly community. The smash repairs develop into a local park, the demolition of a large building opens up the view of a lake and parkland, old buildings are renovated and new buildings are constructed. We have glimpses of the development of the city, but much of this is hidden by the greening, leafy community.
Students take photographs of a change occurring in their school or local environment (excursion) and label them. This could be repeated several times so that there is a visual record of the change.
Student examine historical photos of their suburb and compare them with contemporary photos.
A study of the illustrations provides an opportunity to introduce the geographical concept of scale. There is enough visual interest and complexity to simply concentrate on the changes that occur within the family backyard. This could then be extended to looking at what can be seen on the street corner opposite and the main street. This enables discussion about a community, suburb or local scale. In the background of the illustration you can see the city skyline, this could be used to introduce the scale of the town or large city.
Students are given a template with different sized circles. They use the template to draw images of their house, their street, their community, their city, their country and the world (starting from smallest to biggest).
This could then be repeated with images of themselves, their immediate family and their extended family.
See this pinterest post: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/451274825131466444/
While the story only examines a timespan of approximately 25 years, it does provide a chance to begin to explore the historical concept of changes and continuities in family life and the local community over time. The story comes full circle when the main character gets married and has her own child. We can begin to introduce the historical concept of empathetic understanding by asking why the yard of the family home looked so different when they first moved in to how it looked at the end of the story. Why did Tracy's parents live differently at that time in history to the way they live now?
Students bring in artefacts, or treasured family objects (perhaps a photograph if it is really treasured) and recount family stories. They ask other students questions about their objects.
While the geographical concept of sustainability is not expected to be addressed in Stage 1, this story has a clear message encouraging communities to bring back native plants and animals, and to better understand and care for places.
Communicates an understanding of change and continuity in family life using appropriate historical terms.
Identifies and describes significant people, events, places and sites in the local community over time.
How has family life changed or remained the same over time?
How can we show that the present is different from or similar to the past?
How do we describe the sequence of time?
It would also be quite easy to make links to the English, Maths and Art syllabuses.
Guest blogger: Bruce Barclay
The recently released stage six draft modern history syllabus fails to clearly articulate a vision for the study of modern history in a globalised world. In its previous incarnation, the stage six syllabus at least paid lip service to areas of modern history which were not European in nature, i.e. India as one option. This final draft does not reflect the four options which were tabled to teachers who took the time to provide feedback to BOSTES previously. Teachers of this subject have been ignored with the release of the final draft.
The National Study and Peace and Conflict topic areas have been left relatively unscathed. However the inclusion of Iran into the national study topic area replaces India which is a lost opportunity. Similarly, the Peace and Conflict topic retains the main options, with the inclusion of Conflict in the Gulf 1991-2011, which replaces the UN as Peacekeeper. Essentially these two areas of study have escaped political influence.
One of the real, if not the most problematic areas, is the core topic. Instead of utilising one of the options tabled at the consultation process, BOSTES has obviously bowed to political pressure and ignored the recommendations of the majority of teachers. World War One was a topic which although staid, at least had the advantage of being politically neutral and allowed teachers to engage in different national studies with no disadvantage to its students. For example a teacher of the USSR topic can build on students’ knowledge of the World War One topic. However as it stands, the core topic is Nazi Germany 1933-39 and teachers have to cover 9 detailed dot points taking up 60% of course time. To further compound the problem, teachers then need to teach another dictator, e.g. Pol Pot for 30% of the course. This begs the question: why is Nazi Germany deemed the most important topic for the core? Compounding the obvious bias, is that instead of removing Nazi Germany from the National Study it keeps Nazi Germany, but focuses on 1914-33. Clearly any teacher with half a brain will teach the German National Study first, then the Core/Nazi topic and if you haven’t got your fix of Nazi German history, you could finish with the European Conflict option for the Peace and Conflict topic. Already roughly 70% of the state teaches the Nazi option for the National Study so BOSTES wants the rest of the state to follow suit. As one person at the BOSTES consultation meeting at Hurstville remarked “That’s the end of the Soviet Union in every sense”. The USSR and for that matter the other options have been "relegated to the dustbin of history," to quote Goebbels, I mean Trotsky. It’s already working!
Unlike the Ancient History course, BOSTES have removed the Personality topic from Modern History and replaced it with Change in The Modern World. I actually thought there has been a lot of change in the modern world in the twentieth century - that is why students love studying Modern History. BOSTES wants teachers to not only teach a personality, e.g. Gorbachev but link it to a time frame of nearly 70 years - The Changing World Order 1945-2011. This option has 19 dot points to cover, plus an evaluation of Gorbachev during the Cold War period. Furthermore, as a hat tip to the old UN as Peacekeeper topic, teachers have to assess the role and impact of the UN as international peacekeeper in relation to one trouble spot in the world, e.g. Somalia. Evidently the old inconsistencies of comparability between the ancient and modern course remain but are amplified, further alienating modern history teachers. If I was a student and had equal interest in modern and ancient history I would choose ancient for ease of content and variety.
I hope that someone more technically adept than myself will be able to create a parody of the modern syllabus using snippets from The Downfall movie on youtube. I won’t even start on the exam specifications.
Following the responses from similar, previous posts for Geography and Legal Studies, I have created a revision schedule for students in the lead up to HSC Trials for Ancient History. You will obviously need to modify it based on your options, but you can at least use it as a scaffold.
Have a look at the previous posts regarding the study planner based on other subjects for more details.
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
Cold War history is predicated upon the difference between East and West. To that end the history focuses on Moscow and Washington. Rarely do historians focus upon the satellite countries of the Eastern Bloc and to a lesser extent the Western bloc. Czechoslovakia, now known as the Czech Republic, offers an interesting insight into the Cold War. In 1968, the Prague Spring occurred where the leaders of Czechoslovakia desired to have a say in the manner in which communism was to govern their country. Leonid Brezhnev the Premiere of the USSR brutally crushed the Prague Spring by invading the country with 500,000 troops and 4,500 tanks to crush any questioning of the manner in which Eastern Bloc countries were governed. This was referred to as the Brezhnev Doctrine by which the USSr was able to intervene in Eastern Bloc countries without ramifications from the USA and NATO.
Train stations and tunnels in Prague double as nuclear shelters. The stations and tunnels can be closed off with the use of lead doors to protect the population. The cavities for these blast doors are clearly visible to the trained eye at the base of the escalators at the entrance to each platform.
Near the Flora railway station is a large bunker which now houses the Nuclear Bunker Museum. The entrance to the bunker resembles a graffitied, walled basketball court. To the general public it is not immediately obvious or accessible. To gain access the bunker needs to be unlocked by a tour guide. The shelter was designed to protect approx 2,500 people. The blast door to the shelter is nearly 1 metre thick and leads to a double helix staircase - one side for entry and one side for exiting. The staircases go down 16 metres to the bunker proper.
Soviet ghosts: An empire in decay
With the election of a new Federal Government this weekend, comes some uncertainty for educators, particularly historians. There are a range of issues for schools such as sources of school funding, funding equity, technology integration and interference in curriculum. For the HSIE teacher perhaps the most important of these is that Tony Abbot has indicated that he intends to rewrite the Australian Curriculum for history.
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).