It is imperative that students understand their heritage, culture and personal values of their family. Each family has a different and unique story to tell and students will have the opportunity to explore the notion of genealogy and family history.
This Scoop It site contains annotations of useful digital resources for both teachers and students with related activity ideas aimed to supplement the HSIE Early Stage 1 subject matter of 'People in their families, past and present' under the 'Change and Continuity' strand. Indicators are fulfilled through the outcome 'CCES1 - Describes events or retells stories that demonstrate their own heritage and the heritage of others'.
Many of the resources and activity ideas outlined throughout this Scoop It site can coincidentally be perceived as sequential to one another and could therefore also double up as a small unit of work. These activities were all developed around the inquiry question: How are all families similar and/or different?
Sparklebox is a website full of teacher resources supplementing all subjects in the primary curriculum. In the HSIE aspect of the website, teachers can click on the topic of ‘family’ to receive access to many resources related to family history and suited for Early Stage 1 students. Such resources include activity ideas, word mats, family tree templates and flash card activities. Many of these resources are vibrant in colours and are suitable for display and use around the ES1 classroom.
Building on from the introductory video about family history, teachers can print out family tree templates from this website and give each student one to complete in class. Although the family tree templates only go as far as grandparents, they provide a reasonable introduction to Early Stage 1 students to the notion of designing their own family tree. However, prior to this activity, the teacher may ask students to find out the names of their parents and grandparents as part of their homework task. During the lesson, the teacher will facilitate and guide students through the process of completing their own family tree before being given the opportunity to draw the appropriate family members and decorate their template. This activity can be utilised as an informal assessment to find out the students' understanding of genealogy and the links between family members. Through this activity, students are fulfilling the CCES1 indicator ‘links people to their own life, past and present' as well as the Visual Arts outcome VAES1.1 (Board of Studies NSW, 2006) in Creative Arts.
A “Families Past and Present” banner from the website could also be downloaded and displayed on a section of a wall in the classroom. The teacher may then display the students' completed family trees underneath the banner. It is believed that displaying children's work in the classroom is important as it is not only a form of documenting children's learning and development, but also the students' processes of making and displaying their work is an 'enjoyable and important social experience' (Boone, 2008, p. 29).
The Roots of My Family Tree by Niki Alling. Multicultural children's picture book. Family tree, generations, Fun, colorful, educational. biracial, multiracial, multicultural, picture book,interracial, kids, children, family
Jennifer Tieu's insight:
The Roots of my Family Tree is a children’s picture book by Niki Alling that provides students with a global perspective of family heritage. The main character of the story takes the students on a journey through the rich history of her family tree and the many nationalities and cultures in which her family tree branches out to. Through engagement with the story and illustrations, the picture book effectively communicates to students to be proud of their own cultural backgrounds as all families are diverse in history and culture.
This resource can be effectively used to introduce the idea of global perspectives. and can be read to the class. This fulfils the English outcome ENe-4A for reading and listening (Board of Studies NSW, 2012). As students have already produced their own family trees from previous learning experiences, students may be asked to reflect on their experiences of designing their own family tree through the story they have just read. This may be achieved through discussion in small groups about their own family trees and the various cultures their families are from. As understanding diversity 'involves recognising both difference and similarity within and among cultures (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2011, p. 290), students are to orally report back to the class about any similarities and differences their family trees might have had compared to other students in their group in terms of cultural backgrounds and heritage.
With the help of the teacher and after establishing the diverse cultures in which students are from, the class may design a world map upon where each student places a marker with their names on the countries where they or their family have come from. Should students be as culturally diverse as the main character in Niki Alling's story, students have the opportunity to select more than one country on the map. This activity would encapsulate a visual representation of the cultural diversity of the students and can be displayed in the classroom. Both activities mentioned reflect the HSIE CCES1 indicator ‘recall aspects of their family heritage, including countries their family came from’.
A simple explanation of family history work and everything you need to know to get started learning about your ancestors.
Jennifer Tieu's insight:
This is a brief, animated video that explains the notion of genealogy in simple, spoken language. It is a suitable video for use in introducing Early Stage 1 students to the ‘Families Past and Present’ unit of work as it exemplifies that every family history is unique and has a story to tell. The video also suggests methods in researching family history, which includes oral histories from relatives in order ‘to get a personal glimpse of our ancestors’, as well as various online research tools. It is engaging as it delivers concise, relevant information to students about the benefits of researching their family histories. Furthermore, it addresses the viewer directly on a personal level and frequently refers to the viewers with personal pronouns such as “you”, “our” and “we”. For example, “you’ll get a sense of purpose and belonging” and “each of us belongs to a family”.
The prior knowledge of students is activated through the beginning of the video, where the narrator states that “we all have families”, before linking this to new information presented throughout the video. This makes it easier for Early Stage 1 students to follow the notion of family history. At the conclusion of the video, the narrator reinforces the fact that learning where students come from will enable them to discover more about who they are and therefore will further establish a sense of purpose and belonging with their heritage, culture and the wider world.
The students in Early Stage 1 would potentially be asked to watch the video in the whole-class setting before sharing their thoughts and ideas about the video to someone sitting next to them. This will then progress to a class discussion. The teacher may record the students’ responses in the form of a mind map titled 'What is a Family?' on the IWB. As the class discussion progresses, the responses and ideas put forward by students will provide the teacher a snapshot of their prior knowledge and what they know about the concept of family heritage and histories. Furthermore, through brainstorming, students will not only learn the values of critical thinking, but would 'respect the viewpoints of others and the courage to put forward an unusual idea' (Dufficy, 2013, p. 40). Family-themed terms such as 'grandma', 'uncle' and 'cousin' should also be steadily introduced throughout the discussion when needed.
This activity supplements the CCES1 indicator 'identifies and refers to relatives and people in their neighbourhood relevant to their life and to their community' and assessing students through questioning would allow the teacher to modify or adapt future learning experiences related to the subject to suit the needs and knowledge of students.
Dufficy, P. (2013). Designing learning in diverse classrooms. Newtown, NSW: PETAA.
The SKWIRK interactive website offers interactive games and information aimed at teaching students HSIE outcomes in Early Stage 1 – Stage 1. It is an attractive, valuable resource for both students and teachers alike and contains games, activities and animated videos that are interactive and suited for whole-class lessons taught through the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). Furthermore, since the website is a great resource that summarises key concepts, it is ideal that students should also be given the opportunity to browse the site at their own pace during a computer lesson, especially towards the end of the unit when most aspects of the HSIE topic have been covered.
Like any valuable resource, the website links the students’ prior knowledge to new ideas and explanations. The ‘Families Past and Present’ aspect of the website contains the ‘Photos’ section that explains the role photos have in providing a story about an event from the past. The narrator introduces the video by linking the prior knowledge of students with the statement that “people have been taking photos for a long time”, before providing the fact (or new information) that “cameras were big and bulky in the past”. Similar to the introductory ‘Family History’ video, this video is engaging in the sense that it frequently refers to the viewers with personal pronouns as “you” and “us”, as if talking to the viewers directly. Furthermore, there is always an interactive game/activity at the end of each video, ideal in whole class settings to promote collaborative learning. Ultimately, the use of the IWB in a teacher's pedagogy is potentially a major factor 'that leads to attainment gains in literacy and numeracy' (Warwick and Kershner, 2008, p. 270).
In a whole-class setting and prior to watching the video about photos, Early Stage 1 students may be asked about reasons why people take pictures. They may be given the opportunity to share their ideas with someone next to them before voicing their opinions through a whole-class discussion. The teacher may then set a homework task where students are to ask their parents if they have any old family photos and, if so, the story behind it. If photos are unavailable, students also have the option to bring in an old toy or artefact from a family member. This activity allows students to experience the notion of oral history, which can also be consolidated through a video on the same website. With the permission of the parents, students should be encouraged to bring a photo, old toy or artefact to school and share the story behind the photo or object to the class in the form of a ‘show and tell’. This activity assists students to fulfil the indicator ‘recounts events and situations involving themselves and others’ and 'locates items relevant to their heritage to share with the class' for the outcome CCES1.
Warwick, P. & Kershner, R. (2008). Primary teachers' understanding of the interactive whiteboard as a tool for children's collaborative learning and knowledge-building. Learning, Media and Technology. 33 (4), 269-287
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a complex system of family relations, where each person knows their kin and their land.
Jennifer Tieu's insight:
It is always valuable for teachers to be able to gain insight from Indigenous individuals and involve them in the structuring of lessons and units of work relating to Aboriginal culture and heritage. However, while this may not always be possible, it is important that teachers have access to accurate information to support their teaching of the Indigenous perspective. Therefore, the Indigenous Family aspect of the Australian Museum website is a great teacher’s resource as it provides extensive information on Indigenous culture and also details a summary of Indigenous families and kinship systems. The website draws a link between family and culture, which have been previously explored through global perspectives.
The website connects the relationship between kinship and storytelling, highlighting the importance of passing down information through generations. This enables students to relate from the sharing of stories (oral history) from parents, grandparents and relatives, utilised through the previous 'show and tell' activity. Furthermore, it exemplifies that storytelling is not only a way of entertaining people, but also a way of teaching others about their heritage, spirituality and how to behave. In the Indigenous culture, storytelling is a form of passing down the Aboriginal heritage, likewise with the many stories the students have heard about their own family heritages.
The website also provides a description about the kinds of toys and games Indigenous children played with. This conveys the differing activities enjoyed by different families in various cultures and again, relates back to the 'show and tell' activity through the SKWIRK site. As a class activity idea, the teacher may opt to replicate various Indigenous games, which would also be integrated with KLAs in PDHPE through the outcome GSES1.8 (Board of Studies NSW, 2007).
To supplement the students’ learning experiences about Indigenous heritage as a whole, the teacher may organise an excursion to the Australian Museum’s Indigenous Australians Exhibition. As a form of assessment, students may provide a brief written recount with an accompanying drawn picture highlighting the main aspects learnt from the excursion with an emphasis of how stories from Indigenous families are similar to their own family story. This has a direct link to English through the writing outcome ENe-2A and reinforces the notion that despite cultural differences, the true value and meaning of family remains consistent. This supplements the HSIE CCES1 indicator ‘listens to and talks about stories of other families and their heritage, including countries of origin and Aboriginality’. Throughout learning activities involving Indigenous perspectives, it is imperative to remind students to be respectful of all events and the content involved.
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