Aranda Primary School

The School

Aranda Primary School is an ACT government school with an enrolment of 410 students from kindergarten to Year 6. It is located in the southern end of the Belconnen group of suburbs and is five minutes drive from the Australian National University.

Aranda is considered to be a 'bush suburb' as it backs on to Black Mountain; this offers many nature trails and walks in a relatively undisturbed bush setting. Aranda is named for the Aboriginal group in central Australia, and all street names are Aboriginal in origin.

Aranda Primary School has a diverse enrolment, with a mix of children from different cultural and religious backgrounds, including one Indigenous student.

Contact details

Aranda Primary School
Banambila Street
Aranda ACT 2614

Tel: (02) 6205 5977

Fax: (02) 6205 5989


Program overview and objectives

The Year 6 unit 'Through Their Eyes' is a ten-week integrated unit of work that focuses on the lives of two Aboriginal people – Albert Namatjira and Sally Morgan – to examine and illustrate social and political change over the last 100 years. The initial program ran for two lessons a week, of one to one and a half hours per lesson.

The unit includes:

  • examination of the life and work of Albert Namatjira and Sally Morgan;
  • examination of the social and political climate during the lives of these people, highlighting the significant challenges they faced;
  • examination of issues such as the Freedom Rides, the Stolen Generations, the rights associated with citizenship, the implications of the 1967 referendum and racial intolerance;
  • reflection on the role, rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens;
  • links to the curriculum areas of SOSE, English, Visual Arts and Health.

Some material was adapted from Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units: 'People Power', specifically the material on the Freedom Rides, as well as additional resources.

Teacher Plan for "Through Their Eyes"

The students

The unit was developed for two Year 6 classes, one of which was a composite 5/6. The composite class comprised twenty Year 6 students and eight Year 5 students. The other Year 6 class comprised thirty students. The decision was made to restrict this unit of work to the Year 6 students because of the complex issues involved and the desire to keep the eight Year 5 students in step with the curriculum of the other two Year 5 classes.

Student literacy levels varied. Several students required Learner Assistance and others were part of enrichment programs. One hearing-impaired student with a learning disability was assisted by an Itinerant Teacher for the Hearing-Impaired and by a Special Teacher's Assistant two half-days a week.

The students came from a variety of social, cultural and religious backgrounds.

Learning needs

This unit of work addresses a number of learning needs:

  • creating a meaningful link between the Arts and other key learning areas;
  • addressing real-life current issues and how they are connected to part of our past as they relate to Aboriginal people;
  • consolidation of information literacy skills introduced in Term 1;
  • integration of ICT into the everyday working of the classroom;
  • addressing the school-wide focus on critical thinking skills.

Learning outcomes

ACT Curriculum Frameworks

Studies of Society and Environment

Time, Continuity and Change
3.1b Interprets accounts and artefacts of people in their times.
4.1a Describes significant events and ways of life in some periods of Australia's history.
4.1b Describes the achievements of selected people and groups.
4.2 Constructs a sequence of some major periods and events.
4.3 Portrays an event or occasion from a particular perspective.

Investigation, Communication and Participation
4.17 Translates information from one form to another.
4.18 Designs suitable strategies for tasks to assist decision making for particular purposes.


Reading and Viewing
4.5 Justifies own interpretation of ideas, information and events in texts containing some unfamiliar concepts and topics and which introduce relatively complex linguistic structures and features.

4.9 Uses writing to develop familiar ideas, events and information.

Speaking and Listening
4.1 Interacts confidently with others in a variety of situations to develop and present familiar ideas, events and information.

Visual Arts

Arts Criticism and Aesthetics
3.23 Responds to key features of visual arts works.

Past and Present Contexts
3.24 Discusses visual arts works from several cultures.
4.24 Identifies distinguishing features of visual arts works that locate them in a particular time, place or culture.

Health and Physical Education

Human Relations
3.15 Explains how different ways of describing people influence how people value and treat themselves and others.
4.15 Analyses the ways in which people define their own and other people's identities.

Program outline

This unit of work has been set up with the Webquest format as a model, but with a variety of online and offline tasks being undertaken by the students.

Students worked on their tasks twice a week for one to one and a half hours each session for the duration of the term with the loss of one week while the students were at camp.

The oral presentation and writing components are supported by lessons on report and expository writing in English sessions.

Each student was assigned a group (focus group) which looked at specific aspects of the question from the following perspectives:

  • The life and times of Albert Namatjira
  • Sally Morgan's story – My Place
  • The Freedom Rides
  • The Stolen Generations – The Burnt Stick by Anthony Hill
  • The art of Albert Namatjira and Sally Morgan.

Each group was required to present an oral report to the rest of the class, preparing an information sheet on their focus area for the other students. Question time for clarification of information was factored into each group's oral reporting time.

When every group had presented their findings the groups re-formed with one student from each initial group to bring together all the perspectives to answer the main question:

'How has life changed for the Aboriginal people over the last 100 years?'

Each student then answered the question as a written assignment.

The students were required to:

  • work both collaboratively and independently;
  • read, review and evaluate information;
  • research using a variety of sources and genres;
  • discuss and debate contemporary issues;
  • select information relevant to their focus topic;
  • cooperate, negotiate, share and delegate tasks;
  • develop their oral presentation skills;
  • develop their report and expository writing skills;
  • participate in their evaluation.

Student Task Sheet: the Life and Times of Albert Namatjira

Student Task Sheet: Sally Morgan

Student Task Sheet: The Freedom Rides

Student Task Sheet: The Stolen Generations

Student Task Sheet: The Artwork of Albert Namatjira and Sally Morgan

Curriculum resources

Discovering Democracy materials

Discovering Democracy Primary Video: 'The Freedom Rides'
Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units: 'People Power'

Other resources

Harvey B, Brigg-Pattison S et al. 2000, Terrific Topics: Integrated Units in Science and SOSE, Upper Primary Book 1, Blake Education, Glebe


Hill A 1994, The Burnt Stick, Puffin Books, Melbourne
Morgan S and Bancroft B 1997, In Your Dreams, Sandcastle Books, Fremantle
Morgan S 1987, My Place, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle
Morgan S 1990, My Place (Junior edition), Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle


Albert Namatjira
National Archives of Australia: Fact Sheet

Bendigo Senior Secondary College

Albert Namatjira: biography with examples of his paintings (link no longer available)

Albert Namatjira: Aranda Artist from Hermannsburg (link no longer available)

Aussie Tourist Maps: Alice Springs

Albert Namatjira: Aboriginal Artist

Australians: Albert Namatjira (link no longer available)

Albert Namatjira: links to artworks

Albert Namatjira: detailed biography

Albert Namatjira: artworks

Sally Morgan
Australians: Sally Morgan

Aboriginal Art Online: Sally Morgan

Aboriginal Art Online: Urban Artists

Artist Biography: Sally Morgan

Aboriginal Artprints: Sally Morgan art

Indigenous Australia

(great list of information on 'Where do I find…?')

Bringing Them Home: Community Guide

Children's Experiences

Bringing Them Home: Community Guide

The Effects

Rabbit-Proof Fence (link no longer available)

Assessment tasks

During the course of the research I maintained a watchful eye over each group, questioning and ensuring that all aspects of the task were being met.

In Week 5 I had meetings with each group to discuss the issues that were arising out of their research and to establish that they were ready to begin drafting their oral presentations and what form these presentations would take. Some were using an interview format, some were using a PowerPoint display to support their oral presentation, and some had created a poster to accompany their presentation.

Assessment tasks were as follows:

  • student self-evaluation of their individual role in group work undertaken;
  • teacher evaluation of the oral presentation and response to questions posed;
  • information sheets for other students;
  • written task: 'How has life changed for the Aboriginal people over the last 100 years?';
  • informal task where students had the opportunity to let me know all that they had learnt;
  • student evaluation of the unit of work for portfolios.

As this was such a large unit of work all of the above assessment items were included in the students' portfolios.

Assessment Sheet: Group Oral presentation

Assessment Sheet: Student Oral Presentation

Assessment Sheet: Student Written Knowledge


The students presented some very sophisticated orals, employing a variety of techniques to keep their work interesting and their audience engaged. These included the use of PowerPoint, posters and an interview scenario.


The unit of work was completed by the two groups of Year 6 students in separate classrooms, but using the same timeline for completion of tasks.

Some important observations:

  • The knowledge, understandings and skills gained by the students exceeded my expectations. I believe that we often underestimate what students can achieve and could set our expectations a little higher a little more often.
  • The students were engaged for the duration of the unit and were involving a variety of other people in the formation of ideas and understandings.
  • It is important for the teacher to have a good working knowledge of the themes and issues, as well as the stories of the people involved in this study. As I was the one who had done the research I was considered the 'expert' by the teacher I was working with.
  • Although it seemed like the students had a lot of time to conduct their research, it was important as the issues and concepts are quite complex. I found that students were discussing these issues with their friends and their parents to better understand how it all fitted together.
  • The meeting with each group in Week 5 was more important than I had originally thought it would be. I was able to ensure that students were on the right track and had included the important facts and issues of their focus topic.
  • The question time part of the oral presentation also proved to be more important than I had originally thought it would be. It allowed me to delve deeper into their understandings and get a clearer picture of what the students knew.
  • The essay format, while being suitable to evaluate the capacity of the more able students to write in this form and include all the information, was not suitable for others who were preoccupied with getting the format right, leaving out important information or vice versa. I developed the 'Tell me what you know' format in response to this.

Key achievements

  • All students completed the requirements of the tasks to a standard as set out in the ACT outcomes statements at the beginning of this document, indicating orally or in the written form what they know and can do.
  • Students were engaged in the task from the outset, enthusiastically investigating issues that are topical and relevant to them.
  • Students were making connections between artwork and how they can depict social issues and attitudes.

Factors contributing to success

  • Students were carefully grouped so that there was a mixture of ability levels and genders ensuring the success of each group's oral presentation. These students were in these groups for the entire term for all subjects. It meant that windows of opportunity were used well for discussion, research and writing when other tasks in other key learning areas had been completed.
  • Students knew at all stages what was required of them in terms of participation and output, and what evaluation tasks they would be required to do. This empowered them to be in control of their own learning and its outcomes.
  • The division of tasks meant that each group was aware that the rest of the class were relying on them for the information they needed in order to successfully meet the needs of the next step. This high expectation was met.
  • The high level of engagement was due to the fact that there was a variety of ways that the students could access information, such as novels, Internet, video and library resources; and a variety of physical locations to access that information, such as computers (both at home and at school), classroom resources and library resources.

Obstacles to be overcome

  • Acquisition of the novels became a bit of a drama. I had been informed that there was a Junior edition of My Place which I ordered. The incorrect books arrived and when the correct ones eventually did arrive the Junior edition turned out to be only Sally's story. The students in this group overcame this problem by having some read sections of the original version while others read the Junior edition. They then discussed how they were going to use the separate stories and came up with the interview format for their presentation.
  • Despite an exhaustive local search I was unable to get large prints of Sally Morgan's and Albert Namatjira's works. We used a number of Sally Morgan's storybooks from the library to illustrate her style. The students had to rely on what they could find on the Internet for Albert Namatjira's works. Both artists' works were displayed for the class as a PowerPoint presentation that supported that group's oral – an acceptable alternative.
  • Some of the students had trouble with some of the links listed on their worksheets and needed to be shown how to 'peel back' a web address. I did not encounter any problems when I used them.
  • Students wrote their information sheets on the networked classroom computers, only to find some of their work had disappeared while we were at camp. This had to be redone, much to the frustration of those who had already finished. It was a good lesson in seeing a task through to its conclusion!
  • Some students were concerned that inequities in work done with other students would not be reflected in the evaluation and marks awarded accordingly. This was overcome during the questioning phase where it became clear who had good understandings of the content and issues.
  • During the course of the unit both my teaching partner and myself had student teachers, and both at different times. This created some timetabling challenges, but the student teachers saw this as an opportunity to observe an alternative teaching method.

Changes to future programs

  • Next time I would like to give the 'Tell me what you know' exercise to students as a pretest. This would enable students to see their how their knowledge and understandings develop over time.
  • I would possibly ask for some student input into the groups to give greater ownership to the group responsibility.
  • I would include more background information so that another teacher is clear about the facts and issues of the unit.


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