Language and Literature Unit: Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence

For the last two years my team and I have been developing a Middle Years Programme (MYP) unit of inquiry in Language & Literature based on the novel and film “Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence” by Doris Pilkington and directed by Phillip Noyce.

I was introduced to this inquiry unit by my colleague Andy Peartree ( who had historically taught this unit to Year 6’s in previous years. Paul Huebl and myself enjoyed team teaching this unit in 2013, but this year I have been teaching the subject to all students across the year level on my own.

I have adapted the unit and made some changes and thought it was worth sharing with others. I have attached the following documents:

1. The MYP Unit Planner: Language & Literature T2 RPF 2014

2. The Task (Comparative Essay) and Assessment Rubric: Rabbit Proof Fence Rubric 2014

3. The Novel & Film Study documents:Rabbit Proof Fence Novel & Film Study 2014

4. Essay Planning Document: Individual RPF Essay plan

5. Rabbit Proof Fence Display Posters: Rabbit Proof Fence signs

Within this unit we have been exploring the MYP Statement of Inquiry: Films and novels convey the same message to an audience.

We have been comparing different texts to see if the same messages can be conveyed. I have used the film and novel, “Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence” and the picture book, “The Rabbits” by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, to see if the theme and messages about the Stolen Generations were conveyed similarly and which medium was the most powerful.

We have had some pretty amazing and powerful reactions from students, especially after watching the film and looking at the following clip to anaylse the director’s work about the abduction scene:

My students are now in the process of analysing the film, doing guided reading sessions and making text connections with “The Rabbits” by John Marsden and Shaun Tan.

RPF photo copy

The final assessment and response to this unit will be a written piece (comparative essay) responding to the following questions:

Did the novel or film communicate the story “The Rabbit Proof Fence” better? Why?


         Compare the ways the film and the novel explore your chosen theme.


Explain why you think that one communicated the theme better than the other.

This is the first essay my Year 6 students have written so quite a bit of scaffolding has been required. I’m looking forward to reading their completed responses and final reflections about the inquiry statement after this assignment.

Week 6 Staff Meeting: Using data in a holistic way to track and analyse progress.

Staff meeting today focussed on reading, analysing and interpreting the data from our year level, specifically focussing on Year 6 Reading Comprehension Strategies.

We compared TORCH results with one of our own school diagnostic assessments. There were some interesting discrepancies and we discussed comparing NAPLAN results with these to provide further clarity.

I sent out a request on Twitter to see if like-minded professionals could recommend a better diagnostic tool for us in Year 6. If you could suggest some please comment below.

I will speak with my colleagues, Paul Huebl and Andy Peartree to break this down further and create our year level SMART Goal in relation to how we are going to improve targeted student’s reading comprehension strategies and build on their skills.

At the end of this weeks staff meeting we looked at a process of self-reflection shared with me by Mary Hudson via Janet Farrall

The process is called NESW Reflections:

N is Need to Know

E is what am I Excited about?

S is Suggestions for the future

W is what is Worrisome?

Here is a photo of my NESW from our staff meeting today:


This is an ongoing process and hopefully we can make a difference by taking the data we have collected to make informed decisions about our teaching practices to improve student skills and understanding.

Alignment with AITSL Standards: 1.5, 3.2, 3.6, 5.4, 5.5

Staff Professional Learning Plan: The Process in 2014

This year our school has developed a new Staff Professional Learning Programme to aid professional refection and refinement within our own areas of work. This process will allowed us to self-assess and monitor our professional needs. It will also assist us with the process of meeting AITSL Standards.

The Process of Evaluation & Goal Setting is as follows:

The whole evaluation process breaks down into seven identifiable stages.

1. Meeting 1: Introduction to the process. Teacher self-reflection and assessment of Teacher Professional Standards. The teacher reflects on their practice and completes the self-assessment tool and domains.

2. Preparation for Lesson Observation/s: 
The teacher meets with the member of the Leadership Team acting as supervisor to negotiate a lesson observation. Lessons will be filmed.

3. Student surveys: The teacher organises with their supervisor a time for the supervisor to administer the  student surveys with their class. Student surveys and lesson observations provide valuable feedback on teaching practices and areas that the teacher wishes to focus upon.

4. Review of Data & goal setting: The teacher collates and reviews the Self-Assessment of Teacher Professional Standards, Student Surveys, and Observation Notes and builds their journal/portfolio in order to begin generating SMART GOALS using a set template.

5. Meeting 2:  The Action Plan
Review and Goal Setting: Teacher and supervisor meet to discuss the teacher’s action plan and SMART goals.  
The teacher and supervisor meet to review collated data and documentation. Goals are to be written in reference to the focus area within the AITSL professional standards and as SMART goals.

6. Meeting 3: Goal setting sign off: Teacher, Principal and supervisor meet to agree on collated data and SMART goals. This should occur within two weeks of meeting one.

7. Goal review meetings: 
Teacher and supervisor meet three times over the next 12 months to review and monitor progress of SMART goals.

I have been working through each of these steps and am currently up to Stage 5.

I am going to create a blog post about each step of this process to provide evidence of my journey and professional learning.

This is one way of formally documenting my progress to provide evidence for my school’s leadership team. I will also find this process useful to keep track of my goals and tick some of the AITSL Standard boxes.

Wish me luck!

Catering for Differentiation: Not just a saying, evidence of action.

Catering for Differentiation

Earlier this week a parent emailed me about their child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan). The parent questioned what I was doing to cater for their child’s learning needs and asked if I was actioning the plan. I wrote the IEP with assistance from our Learning Support Team and the school counsellor, I have actioned the plan to support the learning and behaviour management of my student.

This email allowed me to reflect on my practice and provide evidence of catering for differentiation within my response to the parent email. I think that as educators, we often differentiate without realising that we are doing it. It comes naturally; we alter our plans and teaching methodologies to suit individuals. These are my modified emails/ responses to outline how I catered for one of my students.

Email Conversations:

Parent Email 1:

Hi Jade,

The current unit of inquiry requires an investigation of Maori and Australian experience with settlers. Could you please email me the process steps you have provided to (student name) to undertake this work (as per the IEP)?

Regards, Parent

My 1st Response:

Hi Parent,


1. We began this assignment on Monday and the first step was to brainstorm prior knowledge about the Maori people and Aboriginal Australians. To cater for Student’s needs in this particular task I allowed (name) to work with a partner, other students chose to work in small groups, which I know doesn’t always suit (name’s) learning style/ needs. They created Venn diagrams comparing what they already knew about the two cultures.  We also wrote down some questions we had about these cultures ready for our next lesson to direct our lines of inquiry.

2. Today we will begin to inquire into Maori & Aboriginal Australian history. I have pre-selected some video links for (name) (and others) to view along with some printed texts, this will ensure time is not wasted searching online and students will mainly focus on the questions they developed on Monday. We will share the inquiry process in groups or partners. In (name’s) case I will encourage them to continue the investigation with a friend and ‘check in’ on their progress at intervals throughout the lesson.

3. On Thursday we will continue the inquiry process. Again I will provide texts and some sites for (name) to read/search. The main focus here will be looking at the impact British Settlers had on both Maori & Aboriginal cultures and how they differed.

Class discussions will also take place to share learning and understandings; I have created guiding questions & prompts to make sure everyone is on the right track. Notes will be taken independently on their understandings from discussions.

4. On Friday, students will individually reflect on their findings and answer this question on their blog:

How was the collision of cultures in New Zealand different from Australia?

 This will involve comparing and contrasting how the Aboriginal and Maori peoples reacted and dealt with the arrival of British settlers.

It is important that in your response to the above questions you discuss both the differences themselves as well as the reasons for them.

 Your blog post will need to include a bibliography of websites and texts used.

This is an in class investigation, not a homework task. All students will be given this week to complete the task.

As always I will be supporting (name) with redirection, tuning in tasks and providing relevant texts for their use. The benefit of working with a partner will allow them to use texts selected by a peer too. (Name) has appeared to be quite interested and engaged in this topic based on reactions from Monday.

I hope this has been suffice, it is actually refreshing to write down this process for you as I usually do it naturally without communicating it. This is something I must remember to blog about as part of my personal professional reflection on my practice, of course omitting student and parent names.

Thanks Parent.

If you have anymore questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Hope to hear back from you soon.



Parent Email 2:

Hi Jade,

Thanks, but I meant the list of steps on ‘how to do this assignment’ for my child.


1. Write a list of what you know about aboriginal Australians and settlers.

2. Write a list of what you know about Maori people and settlers.

3. Create a Venn diagram.

4. List questions you need answered.

Next lesson:

5. Search xxxx

6. View xxx and write down important points.

7. What key words or phrases would you use to search the Internet to answer your questions?


From the IEP I thought (name) was to have a ‘to do’ list. (Name) is a bright student who needs direction – They completed their homework last night then we spoke about the school-based work. The ‘to do’ list will guide and teach them how to do research.

It was the same problem last year as (name) didn’t understand how to do the research and work was left to the end.

Could you please help (name) with a list of steps to follow?

Thanks Parent.

My 2nd Response: Humanities Task Week 3

Hi Parent,

I have attached a checklist for the inquiry process we have been doing in class. It is a ‘to do list’ which will hopefully guide (name) through the process. I will keep on developing this process, I feel that some steps may need to be broken down even further, which I can do verbally if need be. These are my initial attempts and I will be speaking with the Deputy Principal about receiving extra support from the school as I am finding it challenging to dedicate more time on developing this by myself and would appreciate some guidance and feedback with this. I want to develop a template of ‘to do lists’ that I can update easily and regularly, just need time to get this done and I’m hoping that Learning Support can assist with this process.

Appreciate your support

Will chat with you soon.



Parent Email 3:

Hi Jade,

Thanks so much, this is what is needed. I am happy to help you develop these if the school is not so helpful.

Regards Parent

The parent was pleased with the checklist and process provided. This is an ongoing process to assist one student with his learning needs.

This is evidence of my communication method with parents and how I aim to collaboratively work with parents and other staff to assist and meet the needs of individual students.

So often teaching professionals use the term “catering for differentiation” but lack the understanding or evidence of how they actually do this. It is something that teachers do on a daily basis, sometimes without even realising it. I think it is important to reflect on moments like these to acknowledge how much teachers do for each individual child in their classroom. It is important to provide an education to our students, but it is more important to ensure that the education they are receiving is in fact suitable for their learning needs, styles and preferences. Are we catering for differentiation? Well in my case, I think so.

Words of Wisdom from My Students

My colleague Paul Huebl, stumbled across a brilliant teachable moment whilst demonstrating how to record audio tracks and insert them onto blogs. I thought it was a great idea and attempted the same task with my students too.

The task was for our students to provide words of wisdom to the Year 5’s in preparation for Year 6 in 2014. I asked my students to prepare a sentence about Year 6 and how to be successful within our year level. Students were encouraged to create their own phrases or find an inspiring line online.

This was out result:

Words of Wisdom

Here are the post it notes of their words of wisdom as a wall display in our classroom:


This is where I found my inspiration: Visit Paul Huebl’s blog for the full post:

Blog Post by Paul Huebl:

As part of teaching my students how to record and mix an audio file as a substitute for writing a blog post, I created this. Making it up as I was going along, I thought it would be a good idea to have each of my students come up with ‘words of wisdom’ that they want to share with next year’s Year 6′s. I thought it would be interesting for my current students to reflect on something that they see as important for ‘surviving’ Mr Huebl as a teacher. All the kids participated with good humour and this is our result.


Day 2 of the EdTechSA (formally known as CEGSA) Conference

Day 2 of the CEGSA Conference.       

Keynote Speaker Dr Alec Couros

These are the notes and links provided by Alec Couros today. Worth a visit:

These were my tweets during the keynote presentation:

I found Alec’s presentation refreshing and motivational. I am eager to attend his Spotlight session: Teaching and Learning in a Connected World (15th August 2013) & Masterclass: Developing Key Literacies in a Connected World (17th August 2013).

If you want to register for these visit these websites:

Workshop Notes: Session 1

The New Matrix for Education by Leo Marsden

You Tube:

These were my notes from this session with some of my own reflections:

Why aren’t we engaging/allowing student to utilise phones within the classroom?



Don’t limit students by telling them which tech to use.

BYOManageDevice: This gives teachers starting points to know what resources will be used.

BYOOD (Bring your own other device)

Internet monitoring not Internet filtering. Using Facebook with Yr 12 kids, is this okay? What is the difference between Edmodo and Facebook? Why are we saying no to Facebook? What are the rules of conduct using Facebook in education? (This point isn’t relevant in the primary school setting as students are too young to have accounts, however, lots of students have FB regardless)

Google Hangouts: look into this. Limited to 9 people chat, if you register as a school you can have 15 students.

We discussed Blooms revised taxonomy: Creating being the focus and where we want our students to aim for on the pyramid.

blooms pyramid

Let students have choices in how they present and direct their inquiry. I feel that I do this already within the classroom. I would like to work on being even more flexible and allow extra time for passion-based projects such as Genius Hour.

If your students are engaged they will not misuse technology.

If you can Google the answer you are asking the wrong question?

Process for successful technology implementation:

Supply the equipment. Have the right equipment to suit the learner.

Support the usage of that technology.

Initiate the learning.

Thoughts: Where does this fear of tech come from? If you break it, you can get it fixed, if you don’t know how to use it you can ask for help or find the answers yourself, play with it, learn from it, be a lifelong learner.

Find technology mentors to help you climb the education matrix. This is where Digital Leaders can play a role within the school context. I also agreed with the notion that we should be learning from and with our students. We (teachers) are learners, this should be modelled to our students.

Session 2:

Educational Podcasting with Passion  

by the Ed Tech Crew: Darryl and Tony

At this point of the EdTechSA (CEGSA) conference we were experiencing technical difficulties and had a power blackout. We did not have access to our online resources and my laptop and phone battery were dead. I went back to basics and took some handwritten notes:


Here is a summary of my learning from this session:

Some people like to blog, these people are writers. Some people like to talk, these people are podcasters. Podcasts should be between 5-15 minutes long for beginners, but some podcasts can go for hours. If you are someone who has difficulty speaking publicly, have a script ready before you podcast.

If you are going to start your own educational podcast, keep these things in mind:

  • Do podcasts with a partner, keeps you motivated and lightens the workload.
  • Make connections with people
  • Use podcasts for professional development
  • To maintain a podcast keep it up to date and spend 2-3 hours working on it per week. Research time is not included in this process (keep that in mind).
  • You don’t need the most high tech tools, get a good mic for sound quality.
  • Here were some pics from the whiteboard. They explain the processes involved in podcasting:

IMG_1700 IMG_1701 IMG_1702

Podcasts are available for you and your students to access to assist in learning. A range of different podcast streams were recommended. I have also worked with students using Garageband and iMovie to create Podcasts. I do not have much knowledge about podcasting so this session was useful in learning about different podcasts available. The presenters also promised to email me with links (resources for podcasting) after the presentation. Here are just a few of their suggestions:

  • Skype
  • Call Recorder (on Mac only)
  • Skype in Education (look this up, you can do a conference call with up to 10 people for free)
  • Google +, Google Hangouts
  • YouTube has great editing features to edit movies
  • & podomatic (used for hosting and subscriptions)
  • kids generated podcasts
  • The Digital Human
  • TWIT (This Week in Tech)
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • Future Tense
  • 60 Second Science.

Last but not least…

Session 3

Technology Integration in the classroom: By Paul Huebl

Why do we need to integrate?

There are so many opportunities for us to be connected educators who can connect our students with the world.

Technologies allow students, teachers, parents, the community (everyone) to connect. Learning is a social function, you learn from being social.

How are we going to deliver the digital technologies curriculum? Teacher training will be required to support this process.

AITSL: Standards (2.6, 3.4 & 4.5) require that we teach using digital technologies as part of our teacher registration standards. This is motivation enough to get on board if you aren’t already.

How to integrate:

SAMR Model:

SAMR Model

If you are engaging with substation tasks too often think about level of engagement and how this benefits the learner.

TP(A)CK Model

T Technology

C Content Knowledge

P Pedagogical Knowledge

TPACK model

Rich engaging learning using the TPACK model.

How Paul Huebl Integrates:

How are you going to use tech in your teaching?

If you plan it well it will work well.

Improvisation: Google Doc

Lino, Pinboard

Experimentation: giving things a go.

Get involved in the learning experiences

 Sharing Session:

Virtual Excursion idea using iPads

Shadow theatre, School’s got Talent. Passion based learning. Slide share of Paul’s presentation.

I work with Paul and found his presentation engaging and informative. I particularly enjoyed learning about the TPACK and SMAR models to effectively integrate technology into learning. I think I am good at doing this but require more focus to recognise opportunities for integration. Developing my knowledge base on the different types of tech available and being creative with my implementation will assist me here.

What a day! I thoroughly enjoyed the CEGSA/ EdTechSA Conference. I am looking forward to future EdTechSA events and plan on attending committee meetings to see if I can volunteer or be of assistance at the next conference. I would love to discover an area where I may present at a conference in the future too.