Resources needed to teach this unit
- Basic craft supplies (scissors, glue, coloured pencils)
- White A4 and A3 paper
- Access to YouTube/Internet
- My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins
Connecting to prior knowledge
- Have students go to the library/use the internet to research about Australian History using the following questions as a guide. Students can present their findings in the form of a poster or dot point answers.
- Students would benefit from having an understanding of what history is and why it is important to know about the past. Have students complete the following sentence starters and use this as a basis for a classroom discussion.
Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’
- Take students to the part of your school that displays history or the story of how your school came to be. It might be a plaque or you might read to them from a student diary or a past yearbook. Have students think about why it is important to write down the past. How has the school changed over time? Ask the longest serving staff member to come into your class and share some stories about how ‘their place’ as a school has changed over time. Students may have members of their own family who are storytellers. Have students think about what stories are told in their family again and again. How many of these stories are linked to place and why is this significant?
- Put the word ‘place’ in the centre of a blank page, and have students think of as many synonyms and words associated with place as they can (brainstorm). Students can then share their words with the person next to them, adding words that were not on the original list from the individual. Then feedback these words as a wider group into a class discussion and brainstorm. Help students to see that when we talk about place, there are some different things we could be referring to. Is it just a purely physical location, or as My Place will show, is it more about our spirit and ability to belong?
Rich assessment task
Have students closely examine the front cover of My Place. Based on earlier activities and their prior knowledge, what might be the significance of the title? How do the title and the front cover image connect? What might the tear at the bottom of the cover symbolise, and what does it reveal hidden underneath? Are there any clear characters evident on the cover and who might they be? Have students take time to write a one paragraph prediction based on what they can see and think the story will be about. Students need to be able to justify their thinking by information on the cover.
Responding to the text
- Read My Place to students, just as it is presented (front to the back), students should not have a copy in front of them, but rather listen to the narrative. Have students share their initial reactions and thoughts. Then for a second reading, read My Place to the students so they can see your copy, but cover up the dates in the top left hand corner with your hand. This is to have students gain familiarity with the text. Once finished reading, again, have students share their reflections. How did seeing the visual change their reading experience? Read the text for a third and final time, starting from the back to the front this time and having students all say the year as they get to a particular decade. This will help students consider the role of time in the text and its significance in tracing the narrative over time and location.
- View the My Place TV Series trailer so that students can compare the picture book to a multi-media representation. Have students complete the table below (complete the left hand column before watching) and then the right column after watching the trailer. Have students discuss their expectations and reactions to this visual representation. How does it compare with the original text? What are the similarities and differences between the original text and this trailer? Is this how the characters were in the students imagination?
|Things that I expect of the trailer…||Things that I found interesting in the trailer…|
- By referring to the text, have all students physically re-enact the timeline (first two pages) in the classroom or some other suitable space. There are 20 characters in the text that are discussed (one child could each play one character). Coordinate the timeline to snake around the space just like it does in the first double page spread. Each student is to make a card of their character and what year they are. The teacher can then work through the timeline, which has been recreated with the students, having the students explain who they are and what is happening in their particular decade.
- My Place makes a poignant comment about the long-term impact that we have had on the natural environment around us. Have students interview someone (family, friend, teacher) about how a particular location might have impacted the natural area and how we live today. Have students compare their findings with those given via the children in My Place.
Exploring plot, character, setting and theme
- In pairs have students track the ideas (character, name, animal etc) in each decade via the table below. This will also enable them to draw connections with how the natural landscape has been altered over time.
|Year||Name||Age||Animal||Place of origin||Fig tree referred to?|
|e.g. 1988||Laura||10||Dog named Gully||Bourke||Yes|
Rich assessment task
- Students choose one of the twenty characters that we meet in My Place. The students are then to physically embody that character as best they can (consider how they would speak, their posture, their dress etc). Students will deliver an informal short speech to the class in which they can do a dramatic reading of their chosen character, with some selected quotes from their double page text. The focus for this assessment is on characterisation and speaking, and students should make all efforts to be as creative and engaging as possible.
Examining text structure and organisation
- My Place is not presented in (traditional) chronological order, rather it starts off from the present (or at least most recent 1988) and travels back into history (1788 and before). What impact does this non-linear narrative structure have on us as readers? Have students think of other texts (filmic or literary) that also employ non-linear narrative structure. Hold a class debate about which storytelling structure is more effective and why. Students must justify their answer with reference to My Place.
- Refer back to the timeline of the first double page spread. Using signs and symbols, have students construct a timeline of their own life, from their family’s arrival (as much as they know), to their own life today, noting any significant moments on the timeline.
Examining grammar and vocabulary
- The back cover states that “everyone is a part of History, and every place has a story as old as the earth.” Have students explain what this statement means. In what way do students see themselves as being part of history. What about their own place, how is their story as old as the earth? Why is it important that this story of our history be told?
- Have students read My Place and look for specific evidence of language and visual literacy symbols that relates to Australian identity and culture.
|Evidence of Australian culture/identity (language)||Evidence of Australian culture/identity (visual)|
Rich assessment task
- Have students focus in on how the visuals are used to tell the story in My Place. Students are to make brief notes on the change in clothing over time and how this is linked to characters and decades. How have the use of colours been used to communicate life and culture within the text? Are there any darker sections than others and why might this be the case? Students are to choose one specific character/double page spread and are to consider how meaning is made through the reading path, the plot and how the ‘my place’ location is presented at that particular section (i.e. with great growth and development or natural and untouched).
- Tell students they have been commissioned by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins to create an extra three pages of My Place. The original composers want a double page for 1998, 2008 and 2018. Students will either need to research what happened in these decades or make predictions if they choose the 2018 decade. Students need to consider how they will incorporate a reference to the fig tree that is reflective of their context, what clothing would be worn by their character, how the ‘my place’ map might have changed as well as family and animals mentioned. Some students can also be allocated/volunteer to update the timeline for these three decade additions on the first two pages. The double page spread can be done on A3 paper and can be completed in pairs or small groups. Final products should be presented back to the class.
- View some of the film stills from the My Place TV Series and discuss the representation of character and place. Have students create their own photos of a particular time period/decade, and re-write a description of an every day activity in that time period (i.e. building a bridge as a convict child).
- Have students create their own page with their ‘own place’. Have students consider who are the people that make up their family? How would they be described? What do they wear? Do they have any pets? Have students also draw a map of their place and surroundings, labelling it. Display these pages around the classroom.
Rich assessment task
Have students write a short story from the perspective of the fig tree in My Place. Have students create some evocative imagery using their five senses. What does the fig tree see, taste, hear, feel and smell? The teacher could model a simple scaffold with a basic opening, body and conclusion that takes place over a single day. Some stories could be read aloud and commented upon by the class.