RESOURCE UNITS FOR PRIMARY TEACHERS OF STUDIES OF SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT

The Australian Federation of Societies for Studies of Society and Environment (AFSSSE) with support from the National Professional Development Program (Strategic Element) through the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA) has produced three imaginative exemplary units focused on the perspectives of futures and technology. The units will help teachers plan quality programs in the key learning area of Studies of Society and Environment.

The three units are:

  • Futures Studies - Band A by Angela Colliver and Mark Wildy (Cost: $12.50)
  • Futures Studies - Band B by Dr Richard Dunlop (Cost: $12.50)
  • Impact of Technology - Band B by Dr Richard Dunlop (Cost: $12.50)

The set of three publications can be purchased at a cost of $28.00

The publications can be purchased from:
AFSSSE
PO Box 1029
New Farm
Queensland  4005

Australia
Tel: Int +(0)7 3358 5880
Fax: Int +(0)7 3358 5881
Make cheques payable to 'AFSSSE'.

The following information is an excerpt from the publication 'Futures Studies - Band B'.

UNIT 4 - FUTURES STUDIES

Unit investigation: What are possible, probable and preferable futures for me?
Band B: Suggested time allocation: 15-20 hours
Aim: To engage in a process of investigation, communication and change primarily of student's own design.

Pursuing Personal or Group Investigations

Groups of students should select their own area of inquiry based on an interest which has emerged from earlier activities, for example:

The future of the family
Future schools
Future transportation
Future cities
Future leisure and sport
Future communication
Future citizens
Future air
Future energy
Future laws
Future Australia
Future world
Future technology
Future homeland
Future schooling
Future business
Future water
Future habitats

Activity 1 - Identifying the issue

Before settling on a broad topic, encourage students to:
develop a futures wheel and/or a concept may to unearth the types of topics they are likely to encounter;
determine what sources of information they have available to them and are realistically likely to needs;
express their ideas with the teacher in role as the 'Devil's advocate';
take different poles on as issue to expose a range of views and possible starting points
brainstorm.

Activity 2 - Exploring the issue

Encourage students to develop their ideas through, for example:
dramatising them with the assistance of puppets;
viewing excerpts from videos or other visual sources;
search the local papers and media for ideas;
sketching ideas;
using De Bono's six-hat thinking techniques to examine the issue from a range of perspectives;
begin a diary of some form - written, photographic, video, other;
complete a questionnaire to document the students' attitudes to the issue at this stage.

Activity 3 - Framing questions and actions

Encourage students to clarify the questions they are intending to investigate by, for example:
individual and group formulation of possible questions, tested against the reaction of other class members;
listing and categorising all types of information under two headings-human and non-human;
developing a table to outline the information which needs to be gathered, who is responsible, and where they will seek the information;
make up sub-questions which could be addressed and determine whether they are best addressed by individuals or groups;
think about how they will know when they have found the answer to the question/s;
develop a decision tree.

Activity 4 - Collecting information

Valuable information can be collected by a multiplicity of means, and students could be encouraged to, for example:
conduct interviews;
identify people who are known to be affected by the issue;
access databases;
listing all known information;
collect relevant cartoons;
conduct experiments;
develop contracts with group members;
take notes from written information;
engage in focused learning episodes conducted by the teacher or guest speakers;
summarise information presented on relevant television programs;
construct retrieval charts;
map the information;
join in field work;
measuring the surveying aspects of the problem;
contact mentors by Internet;
library research;
develop contacts within the school or broader community for relevant information;
write or fax letters;
use the phone book to contact relevant organisations.

Activity 5 - Interpreting the information

Encourage students to:
graph or tabulate the information;
consider the motives of the author/s of the information;
apply De Bono's six-hat thinking to determine the orientation of the statements;
check one person's interpretation against that of others;
search for inconsistencies;
check for relevance to the questions being investigated;
break the information down into smaller parts;
search for information which supports that found to dates;
search for information which presents contrasts to that found to date;
make judgements about how to deal with conflicting information;
engage in focused learning episodes teaching some skills of deconstructing texts;
consider the values of the author/s of the information;
re-arrange the information to try to detect new patterns.

Activity 6 - Making conclusions from the information

Once the information has been weighed up, students could be encouraged to:
write a generalisation or series of generalisations based upon the information that has been analysed;
discuss their conclusions with other members of the class and be questioned about them;
investigate the costs and benefits of various solutions proposed by others;
defend their conclusions by reference to the information they have analysed;
consider the consequences of acting in different ways on the same conclusions;
present the worst case scenarios and the best case scenarios in a persuasive genre.

Activity 7 - Acting on the information

The form of action should be related to the information which has been discovered in the course of the investigation. Some appropriate forms of action which could be taken will probably be obvious by this stage, but could include the following:
develop a plan of action using flow charts, consequence charts, timelines, or other visual tools;
display the plan and invite comments;
allocate roles and responsibilities;
communicating the conclusions of the project to other members of the class, other classes, community members, members of relevant organisations, politicians;
constructing models;
developing information brochures;
mounting a display in a prominent community setting;
seeking a donation from local businesses to take the project further;
writing a submission for funding to a local body;
raising money to plan native trees or re-establish colonies of a threatened species;
taking economic action by not purchasing certain goods or services;
writing letters to the editors of newspapers;
holding a public meeting;
landscaping;
developing an audio-tape;
choreographing a dance which makes a social comment;
curating an art exhibition based on a relevant theme.

Activity 8 - Reflecting on the outcomes

Encourage students to:
check to see if the original questions have been answered;
discuss what were the main opportunities and obstacles to obtaining information;
write an account of the project or recapitulate through the development of a flowchart, identifying the various strengths and weaknesses;
complete a diary of the project begun at an earlier stage - written, photographic, video, or other;
check the perceptions of other students about the value of the project;
Reflect on how the project has changed students' individual attitudes.

Activity 9 - Identifying emerging issues

Following a period of reflection, students could engage in group discussions about how to deal with unresolved questions, and initiate a further investigation.

 

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