Connecting to prior knowledge
Before beginning, teachers may like to read Magabala Books’ introduction to teaching Indigenous content, which provides background information about using First Nations texts in the classroom.
Remembering Lionsville recounts stories from a family spanning decades and incorporating major events such as World Wars, the Depression and gold mining. The text reflects the author’s respect for her ancestors and extended family, and for the values and stories she has learned from them.
To maximise engagement from the beginning of the unit, you will want students to be engaged in critical and creative thinking and to develop a deep sense of curiosity towards the text.
Begin by looking at the cover, asking students to consider what the book might be about. Ask:
- What might Lionsville be?
- Who might be remembering?
Tell the students that this book may refer to items with which they are unfamiliar. Organise the students to undertake an online search using ‘all results’ and ‘images’, and then discuss these selected artefacts:
- pit saw/cedar boards
- quartz/horse and bullock
- cast iron stove
- Fowlers Vacola jars
- telegraph communication
Developing an understanding of these topics will assist with connecting to the author’s memories.
To explore these topics, engage the class in the jigsaw collaborative learning process. In groups, students research one of the above topics to become ‘an expert’ on it. Once each member of the group is confident that they understand their topic, they will form a group with five other students who have researched a different topic. Each student discusses their area of expertise, thus enriching the knowledge base of all the children.
Following this process, students use their newfound knowledge to make connections and develop curiosity about the book through ‘I wonder’ questions:
- I wonder how these topics/artefacts connect?
- I wonder in which period the story could be set?
- I wonder where it could be set?
- I wonder what type of text it could be (fiction/non-fiction/historical recount)?
Display the front cover again and read the title and author. Remind students that they may be familiar with other texts and art by Bronwyn Bancroft. If so, recall and discuss these books and (if possible) place them in the class library for the duration of the unit.
Now turn to the back cover and read the blurb. Read the last quote: ‘Renowned artist Bronwyn Bancroft’s Remembering Lionsville brings to vivid life her family’s oral history and her own childhood memories.’ Having seen the text and recalled who the author is, invite the students to revise their predictions about the story, adding to, changing and justifying their new position.
Read the text aloud for enjoyment, pausing briefly on each page so students can view the artwork.
Return to the discussion about Bronwyn Bancroft.
Re-read the final quote from the blurb. Discuss the statement. Guide the discussion to make sure students understand the term ‘oral history’.
- Can anyone work out who Bronwyn Bancroft is in the story?
- Why might she have written the book?
- Does one of her memories stand out to you? Why?
- Who is the audience she wanted to reach?
Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’
Read the text a second time, taking time to stop and discuss each page, using the illustrations to deepen comprehension. Identify major historical events: migration of people from England in the mid 1800’s, gold mining, World Wars, the Depression. Ask the students what they already know about these events. Prompt them to build on their knowledge with what they feel is relevant and with enough detail to ensure comprehension of the text. Keep prompting students to think about the context of these events.
After each page is reviewed, ask one or two students to fill in a class retrieval chart. Make the distinction between a personal memory and describing factual information about the family. Use this chart to create a timeline of the events.
|Historical event||Information about the family||Memory||Time period (present, past or specific time)||Character and relationship to the author|
|The telegraph, then telephone and later mail truck.||There was a post office on the verandah.||Annie Alice (and later Aunty Dulcie) ran the post office.||The telegraph was used in the 1840s.||Annie Alice was the author’s grandmother|
Uncle Pat features as a person with a strong and important connection to Bronwyn Bancroft. Track the parts in the text where he is mentioned and explore his role in the family. Look up the newspaper article where his life is celebrated and remembered by locals. Match the events in the book to this detailed newspaper recount. It concludes by calling him a ‘Lionsville legend’. Refer to the information about his life to discuss this phrase.
At this stage, you may wish to show students the video of Bronwyn Bancroft being interviewed about her book at the Children’s Book Festival 2013. Alternatively, you may like to break the video into segments and watch each segment at the relevant point in this unit. Her personal insights into the writing of the book add invaluable richness to students’ understanding of the text.
Suggest to the students that everyone has a story of their own, and every place holds memories. Tell the students that Bronwyn Bancroft has chosen to tell a story that is precious and deeply personal. She tells the reader that she has been preparing to tell this story her whole life. It a personal account of her own family.
To reinforce the concept of memory and storytelling, invite students to think about their 3–4 years of schooling. Invite them to recall one memory that holds a special meaning from their time at school.
Ask each student to prepare an oral retelling of their memory, using a scaffold of guiding questions to support their thinking:
- What was the event?
- Who was involved?
- When did it take place?
- Where did it take place?
- How did it make you feel?
- Why was this important?
- Why have you remembered it?
- Is there a connection between the event and your culture?
Model recounting a memory you have from school and demonstrate clear and coherent communication, using your voice in an engaging manner to focus on pace, pitch and volume. Ask the class to reflect on your performance using a jointly constructed success criteria for effective public speaking/storytelling.
Introduce the concepts of ethos, pathos and logos and have a discussion about feelings and the emotion that stories stir. Illustrate this by returning to the book and identifying any examples of different emotions throughout the text.
Next, invite individual students to tell their stories. Remind students of the class norms around active listening. At the end of the session invite students to share one aspect of active listening they did well that showed they followed the class norms.
Memories are shared for posterity in different ways. Bronwyn Bancroft recorded the memories of her family by writing them down and creating the book Remembering Lionsville. She did this using her own memories and those of the elders in her family, which were retained and passed on through oral storytelling. Oral storytelling is very important in many cultures, including those of our First Nations peoples.
Invite the school principal to talk to the class about how a school records and celebrates events and people in its history. Discuss why it is important to do this. Walk around the school and find each landmark that holds a memory. This may include plaques on trees to commemorate children or families, dux boards, sporting house trophies, significant anniversaries marked by artwork, photographs and so on. If your school is new, the principal can discuss their ideas for establishing ways of remembering special events and people.
Using Tour Creator, students create a virtual tour of the school showing the location of items/artefacts that hold the school memories. A short explanation of each item or artefact should be written into the tour by the students. Invite a Traditional Custodian of the land to begin the tour with a Welcome to Country. To arrange this, contact your nearest Regional Network office. Publish the virtual tour on the school website as a way of sharing and keeping the memories alive.
Remind students that an artefact is typically an item of historical or cultural significance. Other more ordinary items can also trigger memories; they do not have to be of historical or cultural significance.
Rich assessment task
Much of this unit requires students to orally recount stories and personal memories, so it is important that you develop a culture of respectful and collaborative interaction between all members of the class. Talk to students about respectful and active listening, taking turns and eye contact.
Show the class pictures of people participating in storytelling or public speaking, from the perspective of the audience. Discuss what they see. Construct a Y-chart showing what active listening:
- looks like
- feels like
- sounds like
Have students demonstrate what it looks like and take photos. Add these photos to the Y-chart. Use this Y-chart as a springboard to construct group norms for being an active listener in storytelling sessions. Create a sense of importance and occasion, and ask each student to show their commitment by signing a pledge to enact the norms of active listening. Display the Y-chart, class photos and signed pledge to refer to throughout the unit.
Ask the Year 6 teachers to organise some of their students to give presentations to the Year 3 classes. The class teacher can also demonstrate telling a story, omitting some of the features of a good presentation. Discuss what might be improved. Record the feedback and then follow this with a second retelling acting on the feedback. Discuss why the second delivery was better. Based on these discussions and examples, jointly develop success criteria for effective storytelling. Record the criteria and display for easy reference for the duration of the unit.
Responding to the text
Invite students to participate in a drama activity that will allow them to tune in to the power of emotion that comes from recalling personal stories. The activity is based on a thought tunnel, but you will be making it an experience tunnel.
- Model the process of using one of the stories recounted in the text and breaking it down into separate clauses showing actions; for example, jumping in the creek, looking at the night sky, listening to the frogs ribbit, playing in the cubby. Then using the sentence stem ‘You are…’ add the action; for example, ‘You are counting the three hills to get to your Pa’s house. You are hearing the birds sing.’ Discuss how the language changes to become present tense, and how it is now written in second person. Each student then chooses one of the events and repeats this process.
- Set the scene for the drama experience – turn off the lights and play background music of bush sounds and birdsong in Australia to reflect Uncle Pat’s comment that ‘each bird has its own song’ and that it ‘sounds like a bush orchestra’.
- Invite students to create a tunnel by forming two lines facing each other. One student is chosen to ‘be’ Bronwyn Bancroft. With his or her head bowed, and not making eye contact with the students forming the tunnel, the student slowly walks through the middle of the tunnel. The students on either side refer to the sentence they wrote and call out the memories from her times visiting Lionsville. If appropriate, the teacher speaks to the line recalling her grandfather passing away. Repeat this activity as many times as necessary.
- Maintain the experience of being in the shoes of the author, and ask each student to choose two words to describe the feelings they have towards Lionsville and the people and events recounted. Display each of the words and discuss why they made those choices.
- After listening to everyone’s ideas, the teacher leads a process to find connections between ideas. Next, group the words according to similar feelings. Model a structure, using correct vocabulary, to create sentences that express an opinion about how the author might feel about the memories she has recounted. Justify this opinion from the text. For example, ‘The author feels pride in her family because they worked hard to buy the land they now live on.’
Text to self connections
Refer to the retrieval chart created in the Literature section. Ask students to review all the events. Next, ask what connections they can make between events in the author’s life and events in their own life. Students sit in inside/outside circles and share their connections. If required, the teacher could model how to express their memory clearly and concisely using a sentence stem such as, ‘I remember when I…’
Exploring plot, character, setting and theme
An optional activity is to read Playground, compiled by Nadia Wheatley, to extend students’ knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connections and experiences with the land, their community and their past. This will support the learning and deepen the understandings of the text features in this section.
The importance of the setting is highlighted by the fact that the setting is in the title.
Invite students to look closely at the front cover. Ask: what can you learn about the setting from the illustrations?
Conduct a picture walk through the text.
- How is the setting represented through the illustrations?
- Is it consistent on each page?
- What important features are highlighted by the author?
Use Google Earth to look at the area where Lionsville is situated. Compare what you have learnt about the area from the book to the Google Earth representation. Further exploration in this area could be aligned to learning outcomes in Geography.
Read the quote from the fifth double layout:
Lionsville is a special place. There’s so much history here. Uncle Pat calls this his secret place. It was always surrounded by rivers and mountains and no one knew it was there. The rivers and mountains were natural boundaries until white people came to the area. Being in my father’s mother’s land reminds me of how the old people lived. And when I walk around I imagine walking in their footsteps.
Study this page’s visual layout. Allow time for close observation of the illustrations. Guide the students’ attention towards the mountains.
Do they notice the way the author has connected the land with people? The outline of the inner core of the mountain is the profile of a person. Link this illustration to the above quote by discussing the important connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the land.
Note that Indigenous knowledge encompasses knowing, being and doing. Ancestral beings and the creation of people from the land is what links Indigenous people to Australia. Connect this with why the setting in this story is so important to the author.
Bronwyn Bancroft states on the final page of the text: ‘take pride in your family’s struggles and victories.’ The statement is an insight into her writing of Remembering Lionsville.
All the characters in Remembering Lionsville are the author’s relatives. Our knowledge of them is based on the way she crafts them from her point of view. Their resilience is evident and celebrated in the text. Can we infer that she is proud of them from the little information she gives us?
Explore how Bronwyn Bancroft creates a picture of the characters by completing the table below during a reading of the text. Discuss how you get a sense of the pride the author has in her family members.
|Name||Action||Words to describe their action|
|Pa||created a fantastic garden||fantastic|
|Auntie Dulcie||bottled fruits and vegetables||bottled everything in season|
Read the page where the author talks about her grandfather dying. What does she mean when she says: ‘He was the cement that kept everything together’? Discuss this sentence, referring to the information gathered in the table above.
Engage the class in a discussion about their own families. In what ways can the students describe their family members and things they have done, without actually stating that they were proud of particular family members?
The theme represents the overarching idea of the story. Pose the question to the students: why might someone want to write a personal narrative?
List possible reasons and link these to the idea of a theme. On the final page, Bronwyn Bancroft tells us of her motivation to write this book. She wants to share the stories of the older people in her family because she cherishes them and their link to the past, and she wants this to continue. She also wanted to: ‘create a greater understanding of Black and White relations in this country and an understanding of how hard it was for people to live in the bush’. Discuss these statements to gauge students’ understandings of these points.
Read Sam’s Bush Journey, written by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft, to further develop understanding of the theme of learning from and passing on stories and knowledge through the generations.
Study the last three double layouts (both the written text and the illustrations). Discuss Uncle Pat’s relationship with the author and the importance he has in her life. To deepen this understanding, read the second-last page about the dream without showing the illustrations. Participate in the thinking routine: find, capture, explain, wonder. Read the dream sequence several times, allowing students time to visualise and draw their representation of the dream. Using this as a basis, discuss how these pages (particularly the dream), connect to the theme of the text and the author’s reasons for writing the text.
Rich assessment task
Students identify what they think are the most important aspects of the text in terms of the setting, characters, theme and events.
The task is for the students to represent these points in the form of a collage. The collage can include images and words, and can be three dimensional with objects or fabrics to represent the night sky, animals, mountains, water, Pa’s house, people and so on.
Ask students to write an artist’s statement justifying each inclusion, and present this to the class.
Examining text structure and organisation
Discuss the features of a personal narrative:
- It recounts a series of events, or one main event in a person’s life
- It is usually told in first person
- The author has a message to share that is illustrated in their life, and this becomes the theme
Read I Remember by Joanne Crawford (illustrated by Kerry Anne Jordinson) and Colourful Memories by Catherine Bauer (illustrated by Kathleen O’Hagan). How do these personal narratives compare to Remembering Lionsville? What are the similarities and differences?
Bronwyn Bancroft has combined the oral storytelling tradition with the written word and art. The text reads as a conversation between the author and the audience, enhanced by the artwork.
Study the first four double layouts. Three techniques are used to engage the audience in the conversation.
Read the first double layout and highlight the first words of each sentence.
This is our…
How do these sentence starters make you feel that you are a part of the story?
Students should discuss that they are being invited on a tour of the place; the words used make the reader feel like the author is talking to them and inviting them to participate in her personal world.
- To whom do the words ‘our’ and ‘we’ refer?
- What is the effect of using pronouns before the names of people are introduced?
- How does this make you feel as the author includes the reader in her memories?
Use this structure to construct a similar text:
This is our classroom.
These are the pencils we use to write fabulous stories.
Here’s where I sit.
Read the second double layout and identify where the author speaks directly to the reader.
Come on, let’s go round the back to the creek. The catfish make their nests on a clean bed of sand, flicking it with their tails.
- How does this draw you into her personal world?
- Pronouns are used for multiple purposes in this layout. Identify all the pronouns and their points of reference.
- Where else in the text does the author do this?
Add a similar sentence to the text constructed above.
This is our classroom.
These are the pencils we use to write fabulous stories.
Here’s where I sit.
Come on, let’s go visit the playground. The birds have made their nest in the swing.
List the names the author uses to talk about her family. After introducing the relationship she has with them, Bancroft uses their names and their familiar title: Pa, Uncle, Auntie. Discuss different titles she could have used to talk about these people. Note the familiarity and inclusion the audience feels with these people due to the author’s choice of title.
The illustrations in Remembering Lionsville contain significant detail that supports and enhances the telling of the author’s stories.
Enlarge the first double layout and focus on the illustrations surrounding the text and in the borders. Conduct the thinking routine looking: ten times two.
Students choose another layout that appeals to them. Working in small groups, they conduct their own looking: ten times two procedure, making a list of what they see. Children share their findings with a gallery walk.
Study or revise visual literacy techniques. As a class, create a descriptive table of relevant terms such as salience, colour, vector and framing, for students to refer to when analysing images.
As a class, return to the first double layout using the grammar of visual literacy. Ask:
- What impact does each technique have?
- How does using each technique support the written text?
Students return to the layout they studied in a small group. With their new knowledge of visual literacy, they will add to their initial list of observations. Additions are shown by using a different coloured pen. Again, share with the class through the process of a gallery walk.
- Compare layouts, looking for techniques that have been repeated.
- Compare the use of colour in each layout. Why has the author/illustrator used cool and warm tones on different layouts?
- Reflect on the new learning, and how knowing about visual literacy techniques increases what the students see and understand.
Listen to Bronwyn Bancroft’s interview from the Children’s Book Festival 2013, about how she created the motifs around the borders of each page (from 5:25–6:14). Do a picture walk through the text and identify the images in the borders. Ask:
- How does this reflect the text on the page?
- What is the impact of this technique?
Some of the layouts are a combination of drawings and photos. Ask:
- What photos have been used and why?
- What is the impact of this technique?
Examining grammar and vocabulary
Developing a conceptual and orthographic understanding
Discuss the title Remembering Lionsville. With just two words the author has been able to represent the heart of the story.
- Why might the author have chosen the word ‘remembering’?
- Replace the word ‘remembering’ with other words and phrases with similar meanings, such as Memories of Lionsville or Stories from Lionsville or I Remember Lionsville. What is the effect of the word choice on the purpose and tone of the story?
Re-visit the concept of memories. Share and record the students’ ideas about memories and their importance to people’s lives. Guide the discussion towards the concept of the way community is built and strengthened through shared memories.
- What types of things do communities remember?
- How are these memories represented in our community, both locally and nationally?
Guide discussion to the memory of major events such as the World Wars, and connect to the layout where the author remembers her relative’s involvement in the two World Wars. What story does the text and the photos tell us about their involvement?
In discussions, expand the students’ exposure to tier two words, such as commemorate, memorabilia and reminisce. These discussions will build a context in which to expand the students’ vocabulary in a connected and meaningful way, as well as to develop a deeper understanding of the text.
As a class, create a word web of all the words connected to remembering. Observe the large number of words and ask the students if they can see categories in which they could be sorted. Students sort the words into a table. As this is an open sort, students will sort words using a variety of criteria. Use the ensuing discussion to expand on the meaning and structure of the words and to further develop the concept of memory. Discuss the contexts in which we use these words. For example, some words relate to physical representations of memory – memo, memorabilia, memoir – while other words are used when talking about memories in formal occasions, such as commemorate.
Below is an example of how words could be sorted.
- Using a source such as Etymonline, look up the root element on which the words have been built. Look into the history and origin of the words and how this reveals the meaning. Explain how the words are related to a common root and thus are connected in meaning.
- Explore the words that appear not to share a common root: for example, amnesia. Research their history and draw connections between the other words.
- Highlight the base in each word and investigate how the words have been built with affixes. Make generalisations for adding prefixes and suffixes.
- Look at the word ‘memory’. Study the different sounds <y> makes. List words that include <y> and sort according to the different phonemes. Look for patterns to explain the different pronunciations. Challenge the students to think of words that have 2 separate <y> graphemes, where each one represents a different phoneme; for example, ‘yesterday’.
The Bundjalung people (also known as Bunjalung, Badjalang and Bandjalang) are Aboriginal Australians and the original custodians of the northern coastal area of New South Wales. Encourage students to contact their local council and invite a representative to share information about how the idea of memory is represented in language and visually.
Combining past and present tense reflects the nature of oral storytelling, where you dip in and out of telling a story from the past and combining it with information from the present.
Read the text from the second layout where the author introduces her grandmother. As a class, identify what events are past tense and what events are present tense. Ask: what effect does sliding between past and present tense have on the reader?
Highlight the words that indicate the tense. Use different colours for different tenses. Explore how past and present tense is made with suffixes and how some words are irregular verbs.
Have students work in small groups with copies of the text. Identify other double layouts where the author moves between tenses. Students work together to find and highlight the words which reflect past and present tense.
Create a chart of past tense irregular verbs. Begin with words that come from the text and add to it as students find words from their personal reading.
Rich assessment task
Students create a scene of their own house and garden or a place that has a strong childhood memory. They can combine a photo with their drawing and demonstrate their knowledge of visual literacy techniques to highlight the main feature(s) of the scene. Using a program such as Story Creator, which allows voice recordings over pictures, students make a recording of their memories. Their recount is to reflect the conversational style used in the text and will include the grammar of past and present tense. A multimodal text is then created by combining the image and the audio recount.
Read the text Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. Following the reading, focus the discussion on the idea that Wilfrid assisted people to remember their past by carefully choosing items relevant to each person. Discuss how Wilfrid decided on the items.
Discuss what an artefact is. While similar to the types of items Wilfrid used to jog the memories of his elderly friends, an artefact usually has historical or cultural interest. Connect this distinction to Remembering Lionsville.
How might these items (sometimes artefacts) help us recall events, people and feelings?
Re-visit the work from the Literature section, when students looked for artefacts that told the history of their school. Look at the range of artefacts found at school and the items Wilfrid chose. What can be classified as an artefact?
In Remembering Lionsville, Bronwyn Bancroft has selected an item to represent each part of her personal story. Sometimes these items are of cultural significance, but all are significant to the author. These are the hand drawn motifs on each border. In groups, invite students to identify these and to again discuss why the author chose each one, talking about the link to the text on the double page spread. Remind students that these items (sometimes artefacts) can be used to re-tell the stories.
Allocate a double page spread to each group. Provide time for the groups to revisit the text on the page, trying to imagine the author’s connection to the events of their pages. Next, invite students to represent the main message from their pages in a freeze frame or still image. As students create their freeze frame, photograph them. Later, each group can show the image (or recreate it) and talk about what they were representing and why.
Back in groups, students recall an event or place that has a special meaning in their lives. Reflecting on previous discussions about how various items reflect or prompt a memory, students might identify a special item that will help them retell their memory.
With the aid of the chosen item, students retell their memory. Cool and warm feedback may be offered based on the jointly-constructed success criteria from the beginning of the unit. It is important to ensure that the content of the memory is not commented on, as this is a reflection of each child’s personal experience. The feedback relates to the technique and inclusion of details that enables a clear and well-structured retelling.
Rich assessment task
As a culmination of studying Remembering Lionsville, students write and illustrate the memory that they orally retold in the previous activity. Students write their memory modelled on the text features discussed throughout the unit. Their text is then supported by the creation of an illustrated double layout.
Prompt students to apply visual literacy techniques. Ask them to include a border using the motif that represents their chosen item. Jointly construct success criteria.
When students complete their draft writing and illustration, use the success criteria to self- and peer-review their work. Modify as needed before publishing. On completion, the pages may be collated as a class book of memories and displayed or shared as an e-book on a class webpage.