I shall now be analyzing the unit of work according to the following theories and concepts. For the purpose of this analysis, I shall be focusing on using:
- Blooms Taxonomy
- GeSTE Windows
- Level of inquiry
Firstly, a quick reminder of the key inquiry questions that this unit is designed to answer:
- Why and how did Australia become a nation?
- How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?
- Who were the people who came to Australia? Why did they come?
- What contribution have significant individuals and groups made to the development of Australian society?
The unit progresses from teacher directed guided inquiry to student directed inquiry learning, resulting in 4 assessment items designed to demonstrate student understanding.
For clarity, I have included a quick timeline of the unit in lesson plan form:
Setting the Scene – Review Australia Day
Continuing on with Australia Day themes – includes a brief introduction to Reconciliation, respect, and understanding towards the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people.
Nationalities in Australia – focusing on reasons for migration
Looking at the original inhabitants of Australia
The impact of the Gold Rush on Australia
Introducing Federation – locating it on the timeline according to what they’ve already discussed
Positives and Negatives of Federation
Famous people in Australian history – specifically those in politics around Federation
Major events that occurred across the states during the time of Federation
The unit clearly works its way through the stages of Blooms Taxonomy. Each stage is listed below, with the list of activities or outcomes that relate to each section of Blooms Taxonomy. As the different stages of Blooms Taxonomy is covered throughout the 9 lessons, the above lesson plan should clarify the order in which activities and outcomes are achieved.
Remembering: Students work their way through a series of activities designed to have them reflect on Australia Day. They also discuss the type of sources used throughout activities. Students keep a word bank in their notebooks
Understanding: Students reflect on what it means to be an Australian citizen. They also analyse and discuss the National Anthem. Students write expositions justifying the importance of Australia Day and whether or not it should remain a public holiday. They will discuss the importance of Federation.
Applying: Students will begin to investigate the nationalities represented in their class. They will research the influence that different cultures have had on Australian culture. Students will investigate the reasons for Federation.
Analyzing: Students will investigate the reasons for migrating to Australia, including comparing and contrasting living conditions. They will research the meaning of privilege in both a personal and national level. Students will discuss the reasons for Federation, including those who were for and against it.
Evaluating: Students will begin to make connections between the original inhabitants of Australia and the Gold Rush. They will evaluate migration trends to Australia during this time, and its impact on Australian colonies and original inhabitants. Students will also evaluate the restrictions placed on people wanting to migrant to Australia and the impact this had on their lives. They will also evaluate whether Federation was deemed to be for the common good or not, including why they think unity was so important to Australians at that time.
Creating: Students will organize themselves into groups to create a poster that demonstrates their top 5 reasons as to whether Federation was a positive or negative thing. They will also create a PowerPoint individually to accompany the poster. Students will also create questions designed to interview migrants to Australia. They will write a narrative based on the responses to their interview questions.
As can be clearly seen, each phase and lesson of the unit progresses through Blooms Taxonomy. The students were regularly able to achieve higher levels of thinking through the consistent use of activities that encouraged application, analysis, evaluation and creation.
First, a quick explanation of GeSTE Windows. GeSTE refers to information literacy that can be divided into the following categories:
It is my opinion, that the majority unit is currently placed within the Generic Window. This is due to the fact that information is:
- External and objectified – students are not expected to create knowledge, but rather discover and take note of information.
- Used to evaluate, manage and organize – students are required to locate appropriate information and organize it into the required assessment format
- Learned by practicing search skills – students are given guidelines on how to locate information
- Taught by search strategies and citing and referencing – as well as being taught how to locate the information, students are taught how to cite and reference, thus teaching them how to begin to examine the validity of a source.
Although the unit teaches students valuable search and referencing skills, it does not encourage all students to delve deeper into their learning. The assessment task requiring students to interview a migrant and reproduce their story as a narrative does allow the students to delve briefly into the Expressive Window. However, the opportunity is brief and not always achievable to all students without significant scaffolding.
LEVELS OF INQUIRY
There are many different forms and levels of inquiry. In terms of this unit, it is clear that the level of inquiry used is guided inquiry, moving into student-directed inquiry.
The unit is initially set out with 4 key inquiry questions to be answered throughout the designed learning experiences and assessment tasks. These questions are answered through carefully structured lessons and discussions. The students are then required to pose their own inquiry questions regarding the lesson topics, and undertake research to answer these questions. This occurs regularly throughout the unit, thus giving students ample opportunity to practice their inquiry skills. By placing limitations on the topics the students are required to research, the students are able to develop their questioning skills.
It is my opinion that the progression of lessons throughout this unit is a little disjointed and confusing to navigate. I would alter the order to create a more chronological progression of information, thus providing students with an opportunity to continue to build on their knowledge, as opposed to introducing events and ideologies with each new era, in a confusing order.
In terms of moving from the Generic Window to the Transformative Window, I think that students should be encouraged to question and challenge the status quo. As a unit that touches on migration to Australia, I think the ability to discuss current events regarding migration was a missed opportunity. In terms of information used to empower people, I believe that an in depth investigation into how migrating to Australia can provide people with a sense of safety and privilege is something that students would greatly benefit from. Not only would they discover how migration can transform someone’s life, but it would also project them into the Expressive Window. By learning through this window they can express themselves and discover their own privilege, rights, and fortune, as well as feeling a sense of connection.