Monday, April 23, 2007

ANZAC Day mini study

ANZAC Day. Painting by Australian Artist Ken Done.

This school week, broken by ANZAC day, is an ideal moment to for the students in your class to think about what ANZAC Day means to them and to us all as a country.

By using the two days before, and the days following, a small, but focused, in depth mini study could be completed.

ANZAC day is a vital part of our New Zealand heritage and it would be interesting to see what ideas your students have picked up through their life experiences and in turn how much , you as teacher, can help them gain a deeper understanding.

The best thing for you as teacher to focus the study will be to find and research the ANZAC kit in the school and any associated school journal or newspaper articles. Sharing with fellow teachers is a good idea to develop ideas.

To introduce the study one idea might be to give your students a 'test' to see what their 'prior ideas' about ANZAC are. Select a few issues for them to respond to such as: What does ANZAC mean? Where is Gallipoli? Who were our soldier's fighting there? Why do we wear red poppies? You may find other equally interesting issues to gain their prior idea with.

The data collected could be used to graph ( for maths) the classes understanding of ANZAC and the test repeated at the end of the study to see how their ideas have changed.

To continue the study it would be useful to ask the class what questions they have about ANZAC Day. Once again questions might be answered by class members if that think they have some idea to share - their answers will provide further evidence of their prior understandings. Select out a few key questions for the class to research or break the class into small groups to research questions. For any questions selected there needs to be resource material available.

The scope of the study will focus not only on the siege at Gallipoli and the Western Front but could represent all the wars NZ as been involved in as well as philosophical discussions on war. This will depend on the age of the students.

For those teachers who make use of the ideas of multiple intelligences, or integrated studies, it is worth while developing questions, or tasks, that make use of the various ways of experiencing or expressing the study. There could be data ( maths) about casualties to be discovered; in the language area students could write descriptions using their research about the either Gallipoli or the Western Front, or write letters home to their parents telling how bad the situation is; for art they could recreate scenes, research uniforms, and paint images of war; for music there are war songs to discovered and learn; for drama scenes could recreated. At the very least they could draw red poppies and white crosses and make a small display for the wall with a few important comments or poems about war. Some students may have access to great grandparents who they might be able to interview about World War Two.

After ANZAC day itself students may have further ideas to discuss. Many class members may have been to an ANZAC ceremony.

Following ANZAC Day research, art and language tasks will need to be completed and displayed.

A repeat of the first 'prior knowledge' test will show students how much they have learned.

ANZAC Day is a good example of an 'emergent' curriculum or what was once called a 'teachable moment.

Too good not to make use of.


tim said...


Last year I finished an ANZAC unit with something I called a "Trench Day".

We had been studying a series of resources on Gallipoli, diary entries and the like - and I was trying to get the students to imagine what it might have been like.

Trench Day involved the class tipping all the desks on the side - making a makeshift arrangement of "trenches" - with lots of paper to cover and create foxholes.

I had arrived a bit earlier and cranked the heaters up - and had also made a soundscape with some opensource audio clips, edited with Audacity. This ran for about 15 minutes on a loop - and had mosquitos, rain, wind - gun shots, people shouting, rifle cracks.

Students were arranged in 'squads' and we worked the entire day in these trenches, including eating lunch and morning tea in crowded conditions. I gave out some ANZAC biscuits for good measure. The day was mainly literacy work - diary writing and such, difficult to do group maths work.

I emphasised that this was nothing like what the actual conditions were like - and I definitely struggled with some of the management, as I couldn't make any eye contact with them. :-) The students respected the nature of the day and listened and participated well.

It was a terrific day - the students still talk about it - and I hope that maybe, apart from the fun, it will cause students to remember and consider the day in the years to come.

I think the only disappointment for some students was that they were convinced they were going to dig up the classroom floor!

I still have the audio files, if anyone would like to do anything similar.



Bruce said...

What all people - and kids in particular- are interested in are what Tom Peters calls 'wow experiences'. Experiences that involve all the senses and the imagination - if this happens they want more, or in your case, will remember the experience forever.

Thanks for sharing your ideas.