I shall now be discussing a recently designed ILA that is considered to be best practice. This unit has been achieved through careful planning and inclusion of the theories and concepts I have been studying this semester. The ILA is called Aboriginal History and Immigration and is designed for year 6 students. The creation of this unit has been achieved through collaboration with my colleagues at my school, and will be taught during first semester, 2016. The unit will span a total of 10 weeks and will answer the following key inquiry questions:

  • How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?
  • How did significant events throughout history impact on Indigenous Australians?
  • Who were the people who influenced changes in Indigenous rights? Why were they influential?
  • Who were the people who came to Australia? Why did they come?
  • What contribution have significant individuals and groups made to the development of Australian society?

These key inquiry questions form the basis for the design of the unit, however they are not the only questions to be answered. It is our hope that throughout the unit, students will experience numerous opportunities to explore and evaluate history, as well as opportunities to express themselves.

Firstly, a quick look at how this unit will address important areas of the Australian Curriculum – specifically the Essential Learnings:

A snapshot taken directly from the unit plan, complete with links to the Australian Curriculum Essential Learnings: English, Mathematics, Science.
A snapshot taken directly from the unit plan, complete with links to the Australian Curriculum Essential Learnings: English, Mathematics, Science.

Listed below is the progression of the unit in terms of weeks, not lesson plans. This is due to the fact that if this is to be a true ILA then flexibility in lesson planning should be encouraged. Some classes will need to spend more time on some topics than others.


Week 1:
Tuning in tasks – an opportunity to introduce and discuss content; focus on statement to be used throughout entire unit, specifically the Aboriginal history theme.
Teacher directed information hunt – provide students with a list of topics relevant to unit, in pairs they need to research and record notes surrounding topics
Video – end week by viewing a video on Aboriginal Civil Rights Movement

Week 2:
‘The Freedom Ride’ (1965) – video on Discovering Democracy; class discussion and class brainstorming
Scenario response turned into a play – Scenario: “our class has been banned from using the local swimming pool because we are ‘different’ from other people. We can’t change this situation; the pool manager says the decision is final.”
Reflection – spend a lesson reflecting on scenario and feelings towards the issue

Week 3:
‘The Wave Hill Walk Off’ (1965-1967) – in small groups, students to investigate and define the issues. Regroup as a class and discuss, define issues more clearly.
Read petition to Lord Casey – discuss and then students write their own petition.
Listen to Gough Whitlam/Vincent Lingari speeches – students discuss in small groups the ramifications, future concerns, issues, and write some inquiry questions.

Week 4:
Researching – students to research 2 Indigenous persons who contributed to Indigenous rights, create profiles for these persons in whatever forms students prefer (discuss with teacher first)
Assessment item 1 – students to create a timeline and display it in anyway

Week 5:
Tuning in – revisit statement used in first round of tuning in lessons, introduce new direction for remaining weeks; focus now on migration.
Guided Inquiry – teacher to lead discussion surrounding migration to Australia, class to create inquiry questions, students will then research and answer class inquiry questions and create new inquiry questions once research is completed
Push/Pull Theory – briefly touch on this theory, have students create their own examples.

Week 6 and 7:
Investigation – students will begin to investigate the reasons for immigration, particularly to Australia; headings for investigation include: Cuts to skilled workers, European migrant contributions, Asian and African migrant contributions
Assessment item 2 – students to create interview questions and conduct interview with a migrant at some point over the 2 weeks.

Week 8 and 9:
Comparing stories – students will investigate and compare 2 different migration stories; can be from given examples or own choice. Students will display their findings in whatever way they deem appropriate
Assessment item 3 – students present their findings to the class

Week 10:
Reflection – reintroduce tuning in statement, reflect on change of perception, compare notes from previous discussions
Questioning – what other questions do we now have? Did we answer all our others?


Guided Inquiry:
The lesson plan and assessment items for this unit will enable students to move from Guided Inquiry (GI) to student directed inquiry. Kuhlthau’s GI is designed to complement 21st century learning, and provides a progression of skill development through careful planning to create “engaging experiences [which] make inquiry meaningful, interesting and relevant” (Kuhlthau, 2012, p.14). The initial weeks are planned so as to assist students in grasping the concept of inquiry, thus there is a significant amount of scaffolding and structuring. This support is slowly removed throughout the continuing weeks, however it is possible to continue to provide it for students that require differentiated learning experiences.

Initial lessons will be treated as “tuning in” lessons, thus providing teachers with an opportunity to introduce the curriculum content. This tuning in allows students to explore any prior knowledge and ideas surrounding the topic. It also gives teachers an opportunity to pose initial inquiry questions, and begin a questioning culture for the unit. In terms of this unit, the overarching statement that shall be continuously referred to is:

“Unless you are an Indigenous Australian, you are either an immigrant, or the descendant of an immigrant.”

Students will be asked to create mind maps on their devices in order to establish an understanding of the students’ prior knowledge regarding this topic, and to encourage questions and discussion. Each time this statement is referred to throughout the unit, students will continue to check their notes, as well as adding to them as they go. The value in this is that students can map and track their learning and understanding visually (Harper, 2012. p.49) throughout the unit.

Questioning Frameworks:
In terms of continuing with a questioning culture, or framework in the unit, students will be expected to raise questions prior to researching, as well as reevaluating their questions both during and after their research. The unit will start out with the “big questions” and will move into questions that are more history related, known as “disciplinary questions.” It is also really important that students are able to create and answer “critical questions.” We hope to achieve this by teaching students to evaluate the reliability and validity of the sources that they use when conducting their research.

Blooms Taxonomy:
In order to achieve the higher order thinking skill outlined in the revised Blooms Taxonomy, the unit will encourage students to:

  • Build on what they already know and understand
  • Apply their knowledge when creating timelines and profiles
  • Analyse the information they have to then produce questions that are significant and relevant and assist them to write their interview questions
  • Evaluate the two different migration stories to discover similarities or differences
  • Create an informative yet imaginative representation of the two migration stories

It is our hope that by following the above mentioned steps, each student should have achieved higher order thinking, and should be able to participate effectively in an end of unit reflection.

GeSTE Windows:
For the unit to achieve a progression from the Generic GeSTE Window, into the Transformative and Expressive GeSTE Windows, it is necessary to ensure that students are given ample opportunities to express themselves and their opinions surrounding any topic that is covered within the unit. For example, the ability for students to discuss and reflect on the reasons for migration to Australia, including reasons relevant to today, allows students to explore their feelings toward this contemporary issue, as well as how their own lives have been effected by migration.


My colleagues and I hope that this unit will provide students with an opportunity to further explore their learning in a self-directed manner. By moving from Guided Inquiry into student-directed inquiry, we hope to give the students the knowledge and skills they need to successfully navigate the assessment items and create authentic learning experiences. We are excited to see how students respond to the opportunities to exercise their creativity and reflect upon their learning.


Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport,CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Harper, J., O’Brien, K. (2012). Student-Driven Learning: Small, Medium, and Big Steps to Engage and Empower Students. Markham, Canada: Pembroke Publishers Limited.

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