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 (http://anderspearz.edublogs.org/) 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.

https://twitter.com/jadevidovich/status/473720157982822400

I will speak with my colleagues, Paul Huebl http://paulhuebl.com/ and Andy Peartree http://anderspearz.edublogs.org/ 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 https://twitter.com/JanetFarrall

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:

photo

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

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,

Absolutely.

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.

Regards

Jade

Parent Email 2:

Hi Jade,

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

I.e.

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?

Etc.

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.

Regards

Jade

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.