One of the challenges teachers face is how to bring more Aboriginal content into their classrooms. Alison Greenland, owner of Leap into Literacy talks about how she brings Aboriginal perspectives into her lessons, using Aboriginal stories to complement the topics here students are exploring.
The AR digraph and Stories in the Stars
In this blog we will focus on our week three class for some of our younger students in years K-1. The focus sound that the children worked on in the class was the /ar/ sound.
To begin the lesson, the students suggested words that have the /ar/ sound in them. They were encouraged to think of examples of the three different ways the sound can be pronounced such as “bark, collar or war”. The three different sounds (“ar”, “er” or “or”) that come from the digraph /ar/ were listed on the whiteboard and in the children’s notebooks. Examples of words with the focus sound were given and the students were tasked with putting them into the correct column. The students then wrote a sentence or two using one or two of the words. A fun game was played and a video presented to help consolidate these concepts.
How to Catch a Star
Next, the students were asked if they had read or heard of the book How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers. Discussions were had about what sound is at the end of the word ‘star’ and how they thought it would be spelled. The children had great fun sharing what they knew about stars before listening to the story.
How to catch a star is an inspirational story of a boy who just loves stars. The boy decides to catch a star of his very own and a beautiful journey unfolds. At the end of the story, the students discussed why the boy couldn’t catch the star in the water as it was merely a reflection. They also pondered the type of star that actually washed up for him (the starfish). The teacher questioned the students on what they would do if they actually caught a star and they noted a few ideas down.
Now it was time for the students to write their own short story or a sentence depending on age level. The children brainstormed as a class ways that they could catch a star of their own. They were given a head start for their story with the opening line, “One day, I tried to catch a stay by…”
Stories in the Stars In keeping with the stargazing theme, the next part of the lesson introduced students to the Aboriginal stories in the stars. The constellations in the night sky are of great significance to Indigenous Australians. The night sky could serve many purposes, some more practical like seasonal changes and some more spiritual in nature. The class discussed how these stories were told by generations of Indigenous Australians and that each constellation has a story behind it. Examples were discussed including the story of Bunya the Possum from the Boorung People in Victoria. Bunya is the possum that can be seen in the constellation otherwise known as the Southern Cross. The tip of the Southern Cross is the nose of the possum and its tail hangs down to the left. The tree that he sits completes the other elements of the constellation. The story explains that Bunya ran away from Tchingal, the evil emu, and hid in a tree for so long that he turned into a possum. Bunya is a story of the Boorung People from Victoria.
After exploring these Aboriginal perspectives on the stars, the students were then invited to design their own “constellation story”. They were asked to draw a creature on their paper and then draw a few stars inside it to make the creature in the night sky. Students were encouraged to write a sentence or a short story about their chosen star constellation and why it came to be. You can see below the wonderfully creative examples of their constellation stories.
The Leap into Literacy Great Book Swap supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation
The Great Book Swap is a fantastic way to celebrate reading in our local community, and raise much-needed funds for remote Indigenous communities. The idea is to swap a favourite book in exchange for another, for a gold coin donation. Last year, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation raised over $190,000 from the Great Book Swap and this year their goal is to raise $300,000 to gift 30,000 new books to remote communities who have few to none. After all, how can you learn to read without books ? Help Leap into Literacy help them by making a donation to our Great Book Swap page and sharing it with your friends! And come along on September the 5th to our Great Book Swap event at our Drummoyne and Balmain locations!
DONATE TO THE GREAT BOOK SWAP
Want to know more about Leap into Literacy?
Leap into Literacy provides small tutoring classes with a focus on reading comprehension and writing. Using techniques that allow students to become creative in the learning process, sessions are fun and achieve maximum results. Classes are held in our Drummoyne and Balmain centres, Chatswood and other Inner West locations. Classes are available for children in Years K-6 and we now offer preschool classes for children aged 3-5.
We offer a FREE TRIAL CLASS so contact us to find out how Leap into Literacy can help your child.
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Last week I was excited to share my views on Aboriginal education in a piece for the Guardian. If you missed the piece, you can view it here.
It is always a little scary to put yourself out there but I am really glad I did. The response has been amazing! I have been contacted by teachers seeking more information about how they can include more perspectives in the classroom; parents wanting their child to have access to more Aboriginal education; and people from Aboriginal and non Aboriginal backgrounds sharing their support and views on this important issue.
Thank you to everyone who has sent messages of support or shared their story with me over the last week. It is always great to hear how other people think about Aboriginal education and their experiences with Aboriginal content.
The feedback has been really positive, affirming my decision to four years ago to start Wingaru and focus on supporting schools to not only include more Aboriginal perspectives in the classroom but to change the way that we think about Aboriginal content.
The message that came through loud and clear is that there are many Australian’s seeking more Aboriginal education in their lives but are unsure how to go about it. I think part of the solution is looking for opportunities to add perspectives to units already being completed in the classroom. For example, my sons class is currently looking at toys and exploring how they have changed over time, this is a perfect opportunity to include traditional Aboriginal toys. My niece is learning about farming, it would be great to see her teacher include pre 1770 farming approaches.
The inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives is a positive no matter how you look at it. It contributes to the development of understanding and a shared knowledge amongst Australian’s about our country as well as enhances the learning experience for students - considering approaches of other cultures is not only interesting, it gives kids an opportunity to consider the world from an alternative view and critically reflect on the world they live in.
As with all change, breaking down the barriers for changing Aboriginal education will take time but it’s a change that I can already see happening.
Wingaru Education believes that all children should have access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture.