Thursday, April 19, 2018

What do you really think?

You think what?

"A curriculum is not value-free, as values and attitudes cannot be divorced from content."

The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Geography January 2011

HASS subjects and their teaching is not value free. It is almost impossible not to be political in some way when discussing HASS topics.

As Robert Butler was quoted as saying in the Economist in 2010:

“It is getting harder and harder in conversation to raise one or other of the most basic subjects in geography—agriculture, glaciation, rivers and population—without a flicker of panic crossing the other person’s face. You are no longer talking about a neutral subject.”

HASS has the potential to be relevant, dynamic and challenging for students in the classroom through providing the opportunity to develop a political frame around what is taught. How can we teach about water, population, migration and climate change for example without challenging students to place the discussion in a political context – that is, what do you believe is right and what are the values and ethical beliefs that guide ones opinion on an issue. 

Here are two excellent classroom polling tools to have a look at and use in our tutorial

* Straw Poll 

  • Straw Poll is a great resource to find out in an anonymous way what the class thinks about the issues profiled in the 'What are your politics ' questionnaire we answered this week. 
  • Firstly here is some information on how to use Straw Poll
  • Click on the URL's below and select your response. 
Q1. Gun ownership

Q2. Abortion on demand

Q3. Capital punishment

Q4. Corporal punishment

Q5. Australian Republic

Q6. Removal of the Union Jack from the Australian flag

Q7. Privatisation of public facilities

Q8. School uniform

Q9. Immigration

Q10. Unemployed and community service

Q11. Coupons and benefit payments

Q12. Compulsory service for 19 Year olds

Q13.  Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.

Q14. Removal of King Edward V11 statue

Q15.  Moving Australia Day

* Poll everywhere

Is a digital tool that is a wonderful way to get students involved (all students, not just the vocal and uninhibited) in discussion of a contestable nature is Poll Everywhere. The brilliant aspect of this program is that it is easy to use, is anonymous and inclusive of all, can be used and developed in real time in the classroom and provides instant feedback (graphs, word walls etc). The program gives all students a voice so that they can express their opinion without ridicule or embarrassment. The resulting graphs and graphics provide data for class research and discussion and can be archived for comparison over time presentations. As a tool it is a great interactive way to involve the geography class in some high order thinking and discussion. 
The brief video on the Poll Everywhere Home page gives an introduction to this free digital tool which can be used not only in the HaSS classroom but also with teachers in their professional learning in HaSS.Poll Everywhere is a great way to get discussion started in any gathering.  It is certainly worth the 30 minutes to get acquainted with the tool and make the learning more interactive for participants and create some inclusive and comprehensive data for contestable discussions.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

HaSS SA Presentation: Beyond Mel Gibson...

The 24 February HaSS SA Conference presentation called 
'Beyond Mel Gibson at Gallipoli!'

 The PowerPoint of the HaSS SA workshop presentation.
The workshop explored the potential to teach war and commemoration through historical conceptual thinking using research skills to develop authentic learning in the classroom. Learning about Australia’s involvement in the Great War, World War 2, Korean War and Vietnam War should be more than learning about chronology, battles and statistics. The Australian Curriculum: History provides the opportunity to connect students to the stories and events through conceptual thinking. At the same time the use of research skills to ‘find’ stories is a way to personalise the learning for students. During the workshop the Virtual War Memorial and the Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize will be profiled as examples of unique initiatives for students to participate in high quality historical research and to personally engage in learning about war beyond just learning ‘about’ the conflict involved.

Some ideas to get started with researching

* Naturally, visit the RSL Virtual War Memorial site at 
* Ask your family about an older family member or family friend who served or was involved in the conflict.
* Does your school have an Honour Board or Memorial Wall commemorating ex-students? 
* The first step for individuals who died during wartime will probably be to look them up on the Australian War Memorial website where you will find lots of other useful links.  Start by going to ‘Research a person’ at and entering either a name or service number. 
 * Research in your local library or local history museum for any local history accounts of an individual from your area participating in your selected conflict. 
* Visit the War Memorials in your local area to identify the names of locals who participated in your selected conflict. The RSL website links at may help you with this task. 
* Contact your local Returned & Services League (RSL) ( to discuss the Premier’s ANZAC Spirit School Prize task and whether they can help your research.  The RSL is involved in the competition and have communicated details of the competition and study tour to all their branches.  Such personal contact could be invaluable in developing responses. 
* Visit the National Archives of Australia website at for detailed war records of individuals.
* Visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at for details  on overseas war cemeteries and graves.

The Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize blog
While you are on this blog (, take some time to read some amazing journal entries from the 2016 students who toured Vietnam and some background information on the Vietnam War provided to the students prior to departing.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Panalatinga Shared Staff Conference: HaSS Workshop

PowerPoint from the 2 June workshop

Some useful HaSS links

AC History Units
DECD Learning Resources for Australian Curriculum 
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Geography Teachers Association of South Australia
History Teachers Association of South Australia
History Teachers Association of Australia
Legal Education Teachers Association SA (LETASA)
Business Educators Australia

Email contact:

* The Australian Curriculum Portal

A selection of HASS resources and links

 Being a Citizen: a resource for Civics and Citizenship programming

 South Australian Parliament teaching resources

The role of juries eBook (DECD Outreach Education)

Suffragettes site (DECD Outreach Education)

Discovering Democracy resources 

* Parliamentary Education Office resources

* A primary school resource from Parafield Gardens Primary School for Civics and Citizenship

A primary school resource from Parafield Gardens Primary School for Economics and Business

* DECD Australian Curriculum: HASS resources 

The DECD "Making the Australian Curriculum work for us' resource has been designed  to support the teaching and learning of the Australian Curriculum: HASS.

As you can see below the resource to date includes a creative animation, broadsheets on the curriculum, sound bites and 'talking heads'.

The Story of the learning areas animation. An excellent animation on 'What is Geography for'

The HaSS curriculum, year by year, all on one page in the Learning Area Explorer.

Achievement Standards Charts and activities (soon to be updated for HaSS F-7)

* The RSLSA Virtual War Memorial

A great resource for commemoration activities, historical research and work on Australian identity in the Civics and Citizenship curriculum.

Changing Worlds: The South Australian Story (DECD Outreach Education resource)

* South Australian Aboriginal Cultural Studies Curriculum
Click on ACS Aboriginal Cultural Studies course, log on as a Guest and then in the next screen,enter password in reverse as mentioned.

* DECD Outreach Education

Some other useful DECD Outreach Education resources for the teaching of HaSS

Muslim Cameleers website: (South Australian Museum)

Curator’s Table: German migrants experiences in Australia during World War I web based resource:

iPad inquiry trails to be undertaken on site at the South Australian Maritime Museum:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Resources to consider

 My Place storybook:  a great resource to teach about the importance of place to people.

This posting is just a random selection of resources that you may be interested in to explore as you try to develop engaging and creative teaching activities.

Internet resources 

* Australian history mysteries

Australian War Memorial

Classroom photographs over time - and many more photos

Kidsgeo games  The Oceana game

Bound for South Australia

This day in history and history orb

Instagram as a teaching tool

My Place in History

Ollie’s World

Geography Associations ‘Planet Sport

My place in history

Voice thread

YouTube clips - ‘Guess that Gadget’ series

Rouse Hill House – Historic Houses Trust NSW

National Museum Australia

Google Earth

Migration Museum of SA

Whyalla Maritime Museum

Australian folksongs

Language map

How well do you know your world?

Non-Internet resources

The Aboriginal flag.

'Letters from Felix': Annette Langdan.

Book resources

* "Are we there yet? "by Alison Lester and a YouTube to accompany the reading of the children's picture book , 'Are we there yet?' by Alison Lester (2004). Powerpoint on this by resource  is available if you click her 

My "Story book" collection

If the World were a Village by David Smith

*** You may also be interested in the corresponding blog from the 2012 class - some more great resources.***

*** The "Fun is OK" posting has plenty more great resources listed (and linked to). ***

The power of story telling

In her excellent article on storybooks in geography called Reading the world, Anne Dolan says:

"While the value of picture story books in language and literacy is widely accepted, picture story books also provide a powerful medium in the teaching of geography. They demonstrate meaningful concepts and represent the world a child is coming to know."

In this posting I have listed and linked to a range of such books and resources that may provide teaching materials for primary school teachers wanting to 'do geography' a little differently with a literacy bent. Whilst on about using literature for teaching geography I must again refer to the excellent Global Words resource from the Primary English Teachers Association Australia (PETAA) - developed in collaboration with World Vision. 

The 'Geography through Storybooks' resource
The following sites are useful to start searching for a picture story book/s to teach geography, whether about place, space, change, sustainability, interconnection, environment or scale.

Our Geography Through Story resources: Storybook collection 

* A bibliography of storybooks for geography

Books for junior geography

Popular geography children's book 

Children's books for the geography buff

Geography storybooks from other cultures

Storybooks on Pinterest

* Here also is a list of books (with links to purchasing details) suggested for the primary years of the Australian Curriculum: Geography (compiled by Sue Mann from the DECD Torrens Partnership)

Stella's star liner
Clementine's walk
Henry's map
Looking down
My place in space

Year 1
The great expedition
ABC book of seasons
Ernie dances to the Dideridoo

Year 2
Lately Lily- Adventures of a traveling girl
Ruffy and me
Remembering Lionsville

Year 3
Memorial Gary crew

Year 4
Here is the African Savannah
Up and down the Andes
We're roaming in the rainforest
Where the forest meets the sea

Year 5
Fire - Jackie French

Year 6
If the world were a village
Where children sleep

Year 7
Window on a changing World
One well (Citizen Kid Series)
A cool drink of water
My Place
Dr Seuss - where will you go? 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thinking about the reasons why

Related sites to Humsteach blog
Australian Curriculum Portal
DECD Learning Resources for Australian Curriculum
History AC Units

Let's talk theory for a while
As mentioned this week, it is important  in your rationale sections for your unit plan to refer to learning theories and HaSS Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) behind the activities and assessment that you design. Your text book by Gilbert Hoepper provides plenty of HaSS PCK specific references to consider. To help you in the task beyond the text book have a look at a site that provides useful information about learning theories at

To give you some guidance with the referencing consider the following:

Theories behind the AC Inquiry model 

In the Australian Curriculum you will see many learning theories in action via the inquiry model used in HaSS

Fundamental to the designing of your unit is the concept of contructivism. Constructivism is the learning design approach that proposes learners need to build their own understanding of new ideas.

 Blooms taxonomy
An important underpinning basis for the progression of learing and inquiry is Blooms taxomomy .

Some other learning theories to refer to when deveoping your planning rationales are ( I will leave it up to you to check out these):

·       Multiple Intelligences

·       Systems thinking