Pinjarra – Battle or Massacre?

pinjarraThis post is a resource to supplement my presentation at the AISWA HASS Conference in Perth on October 6, 2017.

The Year 5 History curriculum offers many rich opportunities to look at our local people, events and stories. The Pinjarra Massacre is a good example, and useful when developing the historical skill of perspective.

Practical activities can help us develop an understanding of how language determines perspective and significance. Can we also deepen students’ critical literacy skills at the same time?

Why are our language choices in History so important? Habits and beliefs are established. The wrong thing is spoken or written, followed by an excuse:

  • “It’s just a joke.”
  • “It was just a push.”
  • “It’s just a game.”

If students can come to an understanding that an historical quote can promote a certain view of an event over other views, they are more likely to think about the possibility of representing other views in today’s world.

A blog post for students to access learning intentions, collaborative Google Docs and source materials was set up, here.

WORD CLINES are a useful starting point, enabling students to grasp how synonyms may be more powerful in context.

This document can get you started – have your students cut out the words and place them on a continuum line. clines for pinjarra massacre

This document can be used in a similar way, containing synonyms for ‘battle’.  clines for Pinjarra massacre 2

QUOTES FROM HISTORY quotes from history Pinjarra can be used in several different ways:

  1. Place quotes on a continuum of representing points of view.
  2. Create a ‘Chalk Talk’ poster for each quote for students to record what they notice and what they are thinking.
  3. Analyse the grammar of quotes, identifying powerful words within the quotes and classifying them as nouns, verbs, adverbs, modality words. What patterns can you notice? Modality is a useful grammar tool at this level. Check out this useful sheet on modality.

HEXAGONS: place these words in the middle of hexagons, and ask students to make connections with the words – depending on if considering the point of view of a white settler or Aboriginal person in the 1830s. Words to use: VIOLENCE   RIGHTS   DEAD   FARM   SURPRISE   RIVER   CAMP   HOME   GUN   LAND

DRAMA: In pairs, students complete the ‘Sculpting’ or ‘Moving in Role’ activities, as outlined by Margery Hertzberg.

VOTE WITH YOUR FEET: Students gather in a with your feet modality words pinjarra is read out, students move closer or further away if they agree or disagree.

MENTIMETER: use the word cloud tool to discover which words students believe has the most power, either from the quotes or from the information sources on the blog post for students.

WRITING:  A useful newspaper template. 


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