Building field knowledge

  • Aboriginal people have a strong connection to their family, both immediate and extended. Invite a local Aboriginal community elder to the school to share stories about the importance of family to Aboriginal people. Allow the students to talk about their own extended family – who are they? What do they do together? Do they have a special meeting place (such as grandparent’s home)? Create a class mind map to document students’ experiences and knowledge of extended families.
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (ACHHK097)   (ACHHK116)   (EN3-8D)   (HT3-1)
  • Discuss the theme of fear and feeling afraid. Ask questions, such as: What are you afraid of? Is there a particular place that frightens you? What do you do when you feel frightened? What might make you feel secure? Provide students with a large sheet of paper and markers. Students should divide their paper into two sections titled When I was small and Now. Ask students to consider how fear changes as they grow up and allow them to work in small groups to record their fears. Using a ‘think/pair/share’ strategy, encourage students to think about and share fears they may have had when they were small compared to those they have now and also to consider fears in the night as well as in the daytime.
    (ACELY1699)   (ACELY1709)   (EN3-3A)
  • An important part of Aboriginal people’s identity is their spirituality. This is closely linked to creation/dreaming stories. There are good and bad spirits. Watch the short dreaming story Dust Echoes – The Mimis developed for children by the ABC. How might this story portray strength of family and belonging? Explore the Australian Museum – Spirituality website and give students time to read about the links to Aboriginal culture and history. Build understanding about spirits by watching part of the Sydney Olympics 2000 Opening Ceremony – Awakenings. Have students note three salient points during or after viewing and conduct a whole class discussion about how the scene made them feel and what interested them or attracted their attention?
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)
  • In the story there is a focus on family conflict and unsettled home life. Ask the students to reflect on times when they are in conflict with their family and friends and how this is usually temporary. If teachers feel comfortable, and know their students well, they might like to open the discussion as to why alcoholism and drug use, along with low education rates, is so prevalent in Aboriginal communities and families. Research shows that the education level achieved is a predictor in substance abuse amongst Aboriginal people. Teacher note: Some students might find this discussion distressing and confronting, so caution needs to be used in broaching this topic.
    (ACELY1699)   (ACELY1709)   (EN3-7C)
  • Read about then discuss the inter-generational effects of the Stolen Generation at ReconciliACTION network and the Australian Human Rights Commission ‘Bringing Them Home Report’ along with teacher notes. You can also read Aboriginal people’s personal stories in the Bringing Them Home Report. Explore with the students how being taken from their family and not being able to learn has a life-long, wide-reaching effect for many Aboriginal people and why education and ‘closing the gap’ are very important, present day, components of a young Aboriginal person’s life.
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (ACHHK097)   (ACHHK114)   (EN3-8D)   (HT3-2)

 

Exploring the context of the text

  • Aboriginal people have lived in Australia since as far back as approximately 60,000 years ago. Aboriginal people have the longest continuous cultural history and connection of any Indigenous group of people who inhabit the Earth. Initially there were about 600 different Aboriginal nations and these were based on language groups. Look at the Aboriginal Australia map with students and see if you can pinpoint where you are now. Explain that each language was linked to an area of Australia and had a spiritual significance. Language helped Aboriginal people maintain their connection to the land. Many ancient Aboriginal languages have now been lost.
    (ACELA1500)   (ACELA1515)   (ACHHK094)   (ACHHK116)   (ACHGS034)   (EN3-1A)   (HT3-4)
  • The book refers to some Aboriginal words. In fact ‘Girragundji’ is the Kunggandji word for a green tree frog. Explore other Aboriginal words in the text. Brainstorm with students any local Aboriginal language words that have been preserved in your community. Note: This unit writer’s language group is Dhurga. See some of the words that are culturally relevant to her.
    (ACELA1501)   (ACELA1515)   (EN3-1A)
  • Watch Behind The News – Indigenous Languages. Brainstorm with students how these languages could be revitalised or saved? Students could take on roles, e.g. local mayor, member of local land council, Aboriginal resident and respond to questions from the class about ways in which the local Aboriginal language could be preserved as a Q and A forum. As a class, students write a letter addressed to their local state or federal member outlining reasons why the local language should be preserved and promoted.
    (ACELY1796)   (ACELY1709)   (ACELA1500)   (ACELA1515)    (EN3-1A)
  • Many Aboriginal people now live in cities and towns and are integrated into all the things we all do. Research the local Aboriginal people. Explore how they lived historically and traditionally and how they live now. Read some of the information presented by the NSW Government Environment and Heritage website – Aboriginal people and cultural life. Compile a list of what is the same and what is different regarding then and now and also consider their present lives and what is the same and what is different. Use images and/or words to create and guide discussion.
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1614)   (ACHHK094)   (ACHHK114)   (EN3-7C)   (HT3-3)
  • Ask students to think about why friends are important and along with family help to shape the people we grow up to be. Use a think-pair-share template to document student discussions and understanding.
    (ACELY1699)   (ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)

 

Rich assessment tasks (formative and summative)

Formative

  • In small groups students will research one of the following: local Aboriginal history/language/culture/traditions. They will develop a PowerPoint to accompany an oral presentation. Students should reflect on the register of their language as they move from informal discussions to a more formal presentation mode. The PowerPoint should include both text and images and be a maximum of 10 slides.
    (ACELY1700)   (ACELY1710)   (ACHHS102)   (ACHHS121)

Summative

  • After being introduced to some of the rich culture, history and resilience of Aboriginal people the students research and develop an Aboriginal people (history and culture) digital timeline using Tiki-Toki which is a web-based program/tool (sign up for free account).
    (ACELY1704)   (ACELY1714)   (ACHHS098)   (ACHHS117)

Achievement Standards

Year 5 

  • Students create a variety of sequenced texts for different purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, taking into account other perspectives.

Year 6

  • Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect.

Responding to the text

  • A large part of the book is about fear. The boy is fearful of a spirit. Ask students to discuss ‘fear’ and the notion that he is scared in the book. Ask them to consider what language choices made by the authors support the understanding that he is frightened? Students search for and decide as a group what particular words or phrases help to create the frightened mood or theme. Students use post-it notes to mark their choices and report back by reading aloud the book sections they have decided on. Construct a list of the noun groups, verb groups and adverbials as well as figurative language devices that convey the sense of fear. Students should be encouraged to draw on this list for their own writing activities.
    (ACELA1501)   (ACELA1518)   (EN3-7C)
  • Examine some acrostic poems that focus on Australia. Students can create an acrostic poem relating to the story with short statements for each letter in the word GIRRAGUNDJI. An alternative task could be to construct a non-rhyming, free verse poem describing the Girragundji in an imaginative way. For more information on writing non-rhyming, free verse poems see A literature companion for teachers by Lorraine McDonald (PETAA, 2012 p. 148).
    (ACELY1704)   (ACELY1714)   (EN3-2A)
  • Divide the class into small groups. Set each group a part of the story to focus on and use the online visual story creator Storybird (Web 2.0 tool) to create a new text based on their extract. They should, for example, provide further development of the plot, introduce another complication or expand on a character. Students share their texts with the class.
    (ACELY1707)   (ACELY1717)   (EN3-2A)
  • To introduce the students to the Hairyman read them one of the Hairyman Dreaming stories. Students can create their vision of the Hairyman using collage materials and other art mediums.
    (ACELA1500)   (ACELA1515)   (EN3-1A)
  • ‘Mum reckons something needs to be done about the Hairyman. She reckons we got to smoke the house to get rid of him’ (My Girragundji p. 54). Conduct a whole-class discussion – what does smoke refer to in this part of the text? Why is this cultural practice linked so strongly to Aboriginal elders? What other culturally significant events are highlighted or touched on in the book?
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)

 

Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

  • My Girragundji is told from the voice of the boy. Does the story give you an idea of what type of person he is? After reading the book what do you know about him? Students write a description of the boy, considering both his physical appearance and personality, using what they have learnt about him and his cultural background.
    (ACELY1701)   (ACELY1711)   (EN3-5B)
  • The story is in some parts sad and in other sections uplifting. Identify in small groups which parts might be classified as sad and which are uplifting. Document answers and share with class, providing evidence from the book to support their decisions.
    (ACELT1609)   (ACELT1615)   (EN3-7C)
  • The authors allude to a boy’s initiation by talking about the killing of a turtle. Why does the boy’s father encourage and expect him to do this and what does this signal in the boy’s cultural world? Ask students to consider any special ceremony or rite of passage their family or culture celebrates to mark a member reaching adulthood or another significant stage of life. As a class, research other special ceremonies Aboriginal people go through as they grow up.
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (ACHHK094)   (ACHHK116)   (EN3-8D)   (HT3-3)
  • Watch this short video about using technology to tell a story. Now see how some students have created a story about another frog – Tiddalik. In small groups use claymation to create one of the scenes for the setting of the story and make a short film using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. The class can then decide which part of the book the short film best matches.
    (ACELY1707)   (ACELY1717)   (EN3-2A)
  • In the story there are obvious changes in the boy’s outlook on life and in his immediate and present day feelings. Compare page 10 to page 40–42. What has changed in the boy? How has a frog made him change?
    (ACELY1698)   (ACELA1518)   (EN3-7C)
  • A strong theme in the story is that of spirituality. The boy believes that the frog has a spirit quality that he connects with. Consider relationships that humans have with animals and nature. What is special about these connections? Students can write a personal response about their special relationships with an animal, maybe their pet. They may choose to respond in prose or poetry.
    (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)
  • The boy’s name is never mentioned in the story. Consider why his name is never mentioned. How does this omission affect the story? Why might the authors have chosen to do this?
    (ACELT1795)   (ACELY1709)   (EN3-7C)

 

Rich assessment tasks (formative and summative)

Formative 

  • Students write a personal response to the question What is the most  powerful theme of the novel? Students experiencing difficulties with deciding what to write about could be prompted with ideas, such as bullying, family conflict, friendship, growing up, spirituality. They should support their response with evidence from the novel.
    (ACELT1610)   (ACELT1608)   (ACELT1613)   (ACELT1615)

Summative

  • Using the information students now have around field knowledge, the context of the text and after reading the story, they create a Glogster EDU digital poster (free teacher account allows access for up to fifty students) about My Girragundji to share with class on the IWB. The digital poster should include text, graphics, video, audio, images. These could be embedded into a class blog or each student’s glog could be added to a collaborative class presentation or a portfolio.

Achievement Standards

Year 5

  • Students use language features to show how ideas can be extended. They develop and explain a point of view about a text, selecting information, ideas and images from a range of resources.

Year 6

  • Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect. They demonstrate understanding of grammar, make considered choices from an expanding vocabulary, use accurate spelling and punctuation for clarity and make and explain editorial choices.

Examining text structure and organisation

  • My Girragundji is written in the form of Aboriginal story telling. This is a vital part of Aboriginal culture and keeping the stories alive. The story is told through the eyes of the young boy. In small groups students discuss how this could support a strong connection to children who read the book.
    (ACELA1502)   (ACELA1518)   (EN3-5B)
  • The font size is not uniform throughout the book. On some pages the text at the beginning of the sentence is larger. Why have the authors chosen to do this? The font colour is also not uniform and although the book is black and white there are some pages that have white text on a dark background and others that have the more traditional dark text on a white background. What effect do you think the authors are trying to create here?
    (ACELT1795)   (ACELA1518)   (EN3-5B)
  • The book is divided into episodes in the boy’s life represented as chapters. It is a narrative with an orientation, complication and resolution. See information on narratives. Students identify key incidents and turning points in the narrative and write a brief reflection on how these incidents contribute to the progression of the story and the development of the boy’s character.
    (ACELT1611)   (ACELT1617)   (EN3-3A)

Examining grammar and vocabulary

  • The use of Aboriginal English is a prominent feature in the story. It is common in Aboriginal English, and this is seen in the book, that words are abbreviated. Discuss with students why these abbreviated words might be used? What does this type of shortened word language add to the book? When considering how different generations of people talk who does it most remind you of? In a two column table identify the abbreviated words in one column and return them to their full version in the other. Read sections of the story aloud using the full version words. How does this change the sound and rhythm of the story?
    (ACELA1500)   (ACELA1515)   (EN3-1A)
  • Share the information on Aboriginal English sounds.
    (ACELA1500)   (ACELA1515)   (EN3-1A)
  • Have students create a list of Aboriginal English words they recall from the book. They should consult copies of the book for this. Use Wordle to gather all the words together. Examine the Wordle and identify which words are more prominent and discuss why. Did the students take similar meaning from the story?
    (ACELY1707)   (ACELY1714)   (EN3-2A)
  • The book contains examples of similes. A simile is a figurative language device which helps build description and can sometimes be identified by the use of words ‘as’ and ‘like’. In pairs, students compile a list of similes from the book. Pairs share their selections and discuss how this language device adds to the meanings in the text. Students then write their own similes to describe an aspect of their everyday life, e.g. spending times with family and friends, doing household chores, playing sport, etc.
    (ACELA1518)   (ACELT1611)   (ACELT1617)   (EN3-3A)

Examining visual and multimodal features

  • There are some black and white images which continue as a watermark underneath the text. As a class identify where these are in the book. Students consider how the watermarked features contribute to the narrative. In pairs, then in larger groups, students discuss why the authors chose to use watermarks rather than traditional illustrations. Demonstrate the feature of inserting a watermark in a document as part of Microsoft Word. Have students experiment with their own watermarks by selecting an image which has relevance to themselves.
    (ACELY1707)   (ACELY1717)   (EN3-2A)
  • The front cover of the book is the only part that has a touch of colour. Why do you think the author and illustrator chose to represent this story with a close up of the boy’s face?
    (ACELT1609)   (ACELT1617)   (EN3-7C)
  • The repeating image of the hand drawn frog accompanies sentences where the text begins larger than in other parts of the book. Have the author and illustrator used this strategy and placement to mark something in the text? Discuss what happens in the story each time the image and larger font appears.
    (ACELT1609)   (ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)

 

Rich assessment tasks (formative and summative)

Formative 

  • After considering the text structure and organisation of the novel, students will use an A3 sheet of paper divided into approximately 12 boxes  to create a storyboard of key incidents from the book. In small groups they compare and contrast their work with that of other students and write a paragraph describing the relevance of their choices for them.
    (ACELY1707)   (ACELY1717)   (EN3-2A)

Summative 

  • Having examined Aboriginal English and its differences to Standard Australian English, in small groups students to write a script for a section of the book using Aboriginal English. Students may select a section or the selections could be allocated by the teacher. Students should then rehearse and perform their script for the class.
    (ACELT1612)   (ACELT1618)   (ACELT1798)   (ACELT1800)   (EN3-2A)

Achievement Standards

Year 5

  • Students create a variety of sequenced texts for different purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, taking into account other perspectives. When writing, they demonstrate understanding of grammar, select specific vocabulary and use accurate spelling and punctuation, editing their work to provide structure and meaning.

Year 6

  • Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect. They demonstrate understanding of grammar, make considered choices from an expanding vocabulary, use accurate spelling and punctuation for clarity and make and explain editorial choices.