Sunday, 6 September 2015

All Those Extra Bits Like Thinking Skills. And Ancient India. And Weebly.

I've mentioned, I think, that we're learning about Ancient India at the moment. It's one of our Ancient World depth studies as outlined in the Australian Curriculum.  We're taking the opportunity to look at a range of ideas including 'who writes history' and whether or not we can trust what we read/view. I appreciate that our team decided to leave this study until the second half of the year because it has given my kiddos more than twenty experiences of Way Back Wednesday (WBW) to develop strong historical thinking and questioning skills.  You know - those extra little bits that are rather hard to explicitly teach but REALLY need to be taught.

Of course, as many of you will know,  my units of learning never stick to one content area and so we're looking at Art, Civics & Citizenship, Geography, Maths and, of course, Literacy as well as History.
I created this meme at
If I'm completely honest, until this year I knew next to nothing about Ancient India. I've been learning alongside the kiddos and have, on more than one occasion, said "I have no idea, but I'm sure you'll be able to teach me!" before offering whatever help is needed to get started.  The idea that they can teach me has been quite a powerful thought for many of my kiddos. For much of our school curriculum it's quite clear (and appropriate) that I know more than them, so it can sometimes frustrate a couple of them when I redirect their questions. "Why do you ask me to figure it out for myself you could just tell me how to do it?"  When they can see and believe that I'm just as new to this as they are they're SO much more motivated to do it themselves. (This raises some interesting questions for me about how we can achieve this in everyday learning when it's quite clear that in my role as teacher I DO know the material.)

Slightly off topic... Sorry.

I've taken the opportunity to get the kids involved in helping me build a website about Ancient India as well.  We're using the Weebly platform which makes it super easy.  At this stage we've only created landing pages and resource collection pages. We've also embedded our brainstorming pad lets.  We'd love for you to have a look (here) and send through your feedback.
If you've never used,  I suggest you have a look because in the time it would take me to explain how easy it is you will be able to create your own website.  True story. Check it out. (And no, I'm not getting any kickbacks - it would be lovely if I did because I send a lot of people there!) I've already raved about but seriously... Go look at that one too.
See! I can do it! (Or rather that linked website can!)
This is a screen grab from our Weebly site.
This is a fantastic opportunity for me to really push the  importance of crediting any images we use.  (Another one of those extra bits that need  to be learnt.) I'm not always the best at this myself so I'm hoping that the process will help me develop some better habits.  Creative Commons Australia website has a great guide, and here is a nifty little attribution builder.

It's a bit unit of learning with lots of extra bits on the side. I'm a little overwhelmed trying to keep it all coherent for the kiddos. Their mid unit reflections seem strong so I think they're doing well, but with 25 different inquiry questions and just as many varied 'learning products' I'm scared I've missed something/one.  Watch this space to see how I/they/we go. (And by this space I really mean the weebly website (here)).

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 1 Know the students and how they learn
Standard 2 Know the content and how to teach it
Standard 3 Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
Standard 4 Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments

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