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Blog 3: Geography and Sustainability

Sustainability and protecting our environment are essential for creating a future for our children, but we must also equip future generations with the skills to continue this. Sustainability relates directly to the way we live, and how our society is organised to meet the materialistic, social and emotional needs of a growing population (Noble, 2015).  It relies on active participation of all citizens throughout the world, and can only occur when citizens are equipped with geographical knowledge about each societys’ place on a global scale (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2014).  Combining geographic knowledge and sustainability education creates a sense of global socioecological responsibility that allows students to see the broader global impact of sustainability practices (Whitehead, 2007). Geography provides students with the required world knowledge to become active and informed citizens prepared for the challenges of a sustainable future (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2015a).

Inquiry based learning in Geography provides an opportunity for students to construct their own knowledge about the world around them.  Geographic inquiry aims to channel a student’s natural inquisitiveness about the world in order to construct a deeper understanding of the connections between people and places; this creates opportunities to explore the world from various perspectives while considering what actions are required to create their desired futures (Taylor, Fahey, Kriewaldt, & Boon, 2012). Active participation in community groups develops a sense of civic mindedness that help students achieve these outcomes.

Scenario:

After a recent unit on the water cycle, grade one students are concerned about the increasing amount of litter polluting the school grounds and the neighbouring park and river.

 

 

The students have asked for permission to clean up the park during their lunch break, providing the springboard for an active unit on sustainability and caring for the environment.  The following video will introduce the topic of sustainability to the class:

 

 (MocomiKids, 2013)

 

This unit aims to address key learning outcomes in the Australian Curriculum for Humanities and Social Sciences: Geography (ACARA, 2015b). The specific content descriptors for inquiry and skills, and knowledge and understanding that will be addressed in the below task are shown in the following image:

 

Year 1 content descriptor 2(ACARA, 2015b)

 

Task:

Students brainstorm ideas for a plan they can implement to clean up the local area. To guide thinking and help generate ideas, students answer questions such as: Whose responsibility is it to maintain this area?  What can we do to fix the problem?  Will we need anyone to help us? If so, who and in what way? How will we get others to help us? Is this type of pollution preventable? How can we look after this location in future?  How does this pollution impact on our environment?

With teacher assistance, students create an ongoing community group to clean up the park.  Students will write letters to the council and local community groups such as Landcare requesting assistance and advice. The Sustainability Education Officer from the local council will talk to the students about pollution and what students can do to reduce this in their community. Students will create a flyer advertising the first clean up event for the school newsletter, and a pictorial map of the river system showing the effects of pollution. Completion of this map, participation in the learning and involvement in the community group form the basis of assessment for this unit.

 

 

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015a, December 14). The Australian Curriculum: Humanities amd social sciences F-6/7 (Version 8.1), Year 1, overview. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/download/f10

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015b, December 14). The Australian Curriculum: Humanities amd social sciences F-6/7 (Version 8.1), Year 1, all curriculum elements, all curriculum dimensions. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/download/f10

Gilbert, R., & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching humanities and social sciences: History, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Cengage Learning Australia.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University. (2016). Energy-sustainability21056 [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.kpu.ca/sustainability

MocomiKids. (2013, May 8). What is sustainability? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTamnlXbgqc

Noble, K. (2015). Education for sustainability in primary school humanities and social sciences education. In N. Taylor, F. Quinn, & C. Eames (Eds.), Educating for sustainability in primary schools: Teaching for the future (pp. 135-175). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Taylor, T., Fahey, C., Kriewaldt, J., & Boon, D. (2012). Place and time: Explorations in teaching geography and history. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Whitehead, M. (2007). Spaces of sustainability: Geographical perspectives on the sustainable society. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

 

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Blog 2: History and Civics and Citizenship Education

In order to create a sustainable future, we must first look to the past.  It is through investigation, inquiry and research into the past of our ancestors, that we are able to learn from our predecessor’s mistakes and achievements, and use this knowledge to make informed decisions for the future (Taylor, Fahey, Kriewaldt, & Boon, 2012). When history education is integrated with civics and citizenship education, opportunities are created for students to understand the motives, values and attitudes behind historical events, providing a unique perspective in which to appreciate, understand and empathise with the circumstances that led to past actions (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2014).  History education needs to intrigue and engage students and should include elements of exciting visuals, problem solving, and hands-on investigation and play; this type of pedagogy helps students to make connections and develop empathy for the people and pasts they are investigating (Brett, 2014). Activities that allow students to experience the lives of past people and generations, and that immerse them in historical events, create rich and authentic learning opportunities that engage and excite.

The following task has been designed for a Grade 5 class, and aims to develop the key learning outcomes in the Australian Curriculum for Humanities and Social Sciences: History (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2015). The specific content descriptors for both inquiry and skills, and knowledge and understanding that will be addressed in the below task are shown in the following image:

 

Content Descriptors

(ACARA, 2015)

Task:

Coal Creek in Victoria’s south east, is home to a small piece of pioneering history that provides an engaging opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the colonial era while exploring the relationship between people, resources and the environment. In an effort to explore the significance of how our history has shaped our past, present and future, students will explore and discover what life was like for the early settlers in the 1800’s and what school life was like for young children in this era (Coal Creek Community Park & Museum, 2012).  Students will experience a typical 1901 classroom lesson, using nibbed pens and ink for writing while learning about relevant 1901 topics such as Federation and the National Flag. Students will explore the village and compare what life was like for the early settlers in comparison with what life is like today, with a specific focus on sustainability.

Students investigate the practices and use of resources in the colonial era, answering inquiry questions such as: What was daily like life for the early settlers? Were these challenges the same for men, women and children? What challenges did they face in order to survive? Are these challenges still relevant today? How did colonial era practices affect the environment? Were these practices sustainable?  What were the main sources of energy? What types of technology were present in the colonial era? What can we learn from pioneering practices to improve sustainability today? How would your life be different if you lived in the colonial era?

Students work in small groups to compare the sustainability practices of each era, identifying similarities and evidence of how these practices have evolved. Students will create a role play that portrays various stakeholders from the colonial era to demonstrate the challenges of daily colonial life and how their practices could be considered environmentally sustainable.

 

 

References:

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015, December 14). The Australian Curriculum: Humanities and social sciences Version 8.1), Year 5, all curriculum elements, all curriculum dimensions. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/download/f10

Brett, P. (2014). “The sacred spark of wonder’: Local museums, Australian curriculum history, and pre-service primary teacher education: A Tasmanian case study. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(6), 16-29. doi: 10.14221/ajte.2014v39n6.8

Coal Creek Community Park & Museum. (2012). Coal Creek education programs. Retrieved from http://www.coalcreekvillage.com.au/education/how-to-book-excursion/

Gilbert, R., & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching humanities and social sciences: History, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Cengage Learning Australia.

Taylor, T., Fahey, C., Kriewaldt, J., & Boon, D. (2012). Place and time: Explorations in teaching geography and history. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia

Visit Victoria. (n.d.). VVLand__9284635_TVIC_coalrail [Image]. Retrieved April 19, 2016, from http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland/Things-to-do/History-and-heritage/Coal-Creek-Community-Park-and-Museum.aspx

 

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Blog 1: Civics and Citizenship – An Active Citizenship Project

Civics and citizenship education provides fundamental knowledge and understanding to children about how society functions, and their ongoing role in a democratic society; we must equip them with the skills and values required to actively participate in the democratic process, while becoming valued national and global citizens of the world (Reynolds, 2014).  Active citizenship however, is more than just a comprehensive knowledge of how society functions.

To truly be an active citizen, children must know how to use that knowledge to make a difference in our school, our communities, and in our world (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2014). Every child has the right to have their opinions heard and to have a say in the decisions adults make that directly affect them (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund [UNICEF], 2014). Children have the potential to create positive futures, however they must be given the opportunity to both witness and experience the beneficial actions that society values for accomplishing change (Lewis-Spector, 2016).  Active citizenship can only occur when students are provided with opportunities to take hands-on, participatory action to make things happen.

The following unit of work has been designed for Grade 3 students and aims to incorporate active citizenship while meeting the key learning outcomes in the Australian Curriculum for Humanities and Social Sciences: Civics and Citizenship (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2015).  In particular, the content descriptors for inquiry and skills, and knowledge and understanding that will be addressed in this unit of work are highlighted in the following image:

 

Content Descriptors

(ACARA, 2015)

Action Project:

The local council recently advised that plans to build two new sporting facilities in a nearby reserve will likely be cancelled due to funding issues. The proposed facilities included a new soccer club with clubroom facilities and a new junior football club.  There are currently no alternative sporting opportunities within the area, so for children to participate in these activities they have to travel to nearby suburbs, already overburdened with the demand for services. If this project is cancelled many of the Grade three students will not be able to participate in these popular sporting activities.

Students work in small groups of four to research this issue, with consideration given to how the council decides which services and facilities to provide for the community.  Questions to guide the students thinking include: What do these proposals mean for the residents of our council?  Which groups/citizens are affected by this change? Are there any environmental impacts as a result of this change? Are these new facilities and services required and what will be the ramifications if they are not provided? Will there be any negative consequences if the new facilities are provided? How do the current services provided in our community compare to the services provided in other councils?

Students will create a questionnaire to survey local family and friends about community interest in the proposed facilities, and then analyse the results to assess the impact it will have on the local community.  They will outline their own concerns about the proposed cancellation of these facilities, and create an argument they can present to the council on why they should still provide these services. Students to consider how they will achieve community support for their argument, and how they will make their voices heard by the local council.

 

 

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015, December 14). The Australian Curriculum: Humanities and social sciences (Version 8.1), Year 3, all curriculum elements, all curriculum dimensions. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/download/f10

Gilbert, R., & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching humanities and social sciences: History, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Cengage Learning Australia.

JCI Ireland. (2005). 20140831005144_4ways pic [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.jciireland.ie/programs/national-programs/active-citizens-week/

Lewis-Spector, J. (2016). Building strong futures: Literacy practices for developing engaged citizenship in the 21st century. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 39(1), 86-96. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=8&sid=273c4972-b39c-4791-bfa8-6c0ecf9d57c0%40sessionmgr106&hid=127

Reynolds, R. (2014). Teaching humanities and social sciences in the primary school (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. (2014). The convention on the rights of the child: Participation rights. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_30177.html

 

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