The Arthurs Creek Primary School is a small 123 year old school in a rural area 40 kms North of Melbourne. It is divided into two classes:
Each year the staff audit their programs against the Curriculum Standards Framework to check for balance, gaps and overlap. In late 1998 this audit revealed a lack of civics education in both classes. Therefore they spent much of the Christmas holidays working out ways to strengthen civics education, and found the DD kit to contain almost everything they needed.
Teachers were especially impressed by the fact that the kit lends itself to applications across many Key Learning Areas, especially
The video clips, CDs and clear posters also attracted teachers and were eventually used extensively throughout the implementation. The black masters were easy to use, varied and encouraged participation and student involvement at each stage.
Therefore the staff decided to develop a unit at levels 3 & 4 called Discovering Democracy, which was delivered during term 1 1999. Because it covered such a breadth of outcomes, 6 8 hours of class time was given over to DD each week.
The Discovering Democracy kit was examined and the key focus questions and topics weighed against the needs and abilities of the students. As a result the following content areas were mapped against CSF levels 3 & 4:
|Parliament vs Monarchy||Stories of the people and rulers|
|1||Absolute power||Who rules?|
|2||What is a parliament||Should one person rule?|
|3||Divine right/citizens rights||Should the people rule?|
|4||Power from monarch to the people||Who rules in Australia|
|5||British influence on democracy||How should a nation be rules|
|The People Make a Nation||We Remember|
|6||States and Territories||Australian symbols|
|7||Federation||Democratic nation symbols|
|8||People make a nation||Commemorating significant lives and events|
|9||Federal government||Changing symbols|
|10||Bringing it all together||Relevant symbols today|
Assessment was based upon
The unit was completed at the end of term one. It was judged to be an outstanding success. Students became engaged in group, technology and workbook activities. They found many aspects of the work challenging but rewarding. The class become interested in the idea that Australia was not always a country and their motivation grew from there. The principal reports that the use of the kit opened it (civics and citizenship) up to them in a way that they can understand
Teachers also found it the materials easy to use, acting in part as professional development in terms of pedagogy and content. The activities were varied and allowed teachers to retain a focus on the development of
Teachers report that students were absorbed totally in the design of a new parliament house, as well as the roll plays associated with various leadership styles. The latter was of great benefit in helping students evaluate the merits of Democracy compared to other kinds of government.
As a result of the term of work, students have internalised many of the concepts and principals of democratic and political life. They are taking an on going interest in State and Federal political activities, showing a mature understanding of issues and their context.
Teachers note that parents have noticed the change in their childrens outlook. Students are taking an added interest in the television news and newspaper reports. They are more active in family discussions that impinge upon civics and citizenship activity, and are eagerly anticipating a state or federal election.
Edithvale was especially early in its uptake of the Discovering Democracy kit. There was a presentation made to all staff shortly after the release of the materials in November 1998. The presentation led onto planning for a special activities day on Australia Day 1999, and a reorganisation of thematic work on the study of Government scheduled for grade six term 1 1999.
Staff were encouraged to use some ideas from the unit Australian Symbols. The day was aimed at producing symbols such as a coat of arms, which were then to be displayed around the school. 8 of the 19 grades participated in the event, which produced a variety of visible statements about Australian cultural values.
During the fist term in 1999 two grade six teachers implemented the unit on government based, in part, upon the The People Make a Nation from the DD unit ##. The unit was to run all term, integrated with English, totalling four hours per week, as well as some excursions to
The teachers retained the structure and organisation that they had used in the past, slotting in activities where appropriate. The focus was upon Australian Federation and the centenary celebrations in 2001. Students examined the advantages and disadvantages of Federation. They were particularly attracted to activities such as decide for yourself and the materials presented in the video.
The new components grade six unit was received well by teachers and students. Teachers found that they were starting to extend the ways they taught in this area in new and innovative ways. Students have taken a more active interest in the traditional mock election and the Student Representative Council. The unit seemed to happen more at the level of the students and the methodology suited the teachers who were at once freed up from some preparation and enthused by the positive student response.
Term II has seen obvious results as students study under the earn and learn program. Students are also researching What makes a good citizen, finding it easier to access and understand information from the media in general, newspapers in particular.
Teachers are already discussing the upcoming Republic Referendum, and the students are more interested in the government and activities of other countries. The year 3 teachers are currently reviewing their civics program with a view to integrating Discovering Democracy materials next year.