Illustration 1: Curriculum-based program planning and assessment

About the illustration

This illustration provides guidance on the steps you can take to plan programs and assessments based on the Australian Curriculum: Geography strands (Geographical Knowledge and Understanding and Geographical Inquiry and Skills) and assessment standards.

Start your planning with 'the end' in mind. Begin with the achievement standards which describe what students should know, understand and be able to do, at each year level. Then decide what the evidence will be that shows students' learning. Once you know this, it is time to plan what concepts, knowledge and understandings and skills students will need in order to achieve these results.

The content descriptions and achievement standards of the Australian Curriculum: Geography (and HASS) are interrelated for each year level and together, provide the basis for planning and assessing a program or unit of work.

Classroom application

Identifying the learning requirements provides a way for you to organise knowledge, understandings, concepts and skills when beginning the planning of assessment tasks and the teaching of a unit. Once these are clearly identified, decide on the inquiry questions and 'big ideas' that will link to the activities and lesson plans for the unit.

The Geography year level planning template provides an example of how you can document your planning aligned to the curriculum. Recording your planning in this way will ensure all content descriptions and the whole of the achievement standard is considered when planning the assessment.

Documenting the thinking and planning of what is to be taught, learnt and assessed will equip you to plan the learning activities over the unit, and lesson by lesson.

Questions for discussion

To identify goals and learning requirements, ask:

  • What is the knowledge and understanding (from Australian Curriculum: Geography) that students will be required to achieve?
  • Which skills from the Geographical Inquiry and Skills strand are specific for this unit of work?
  • What is the key inquiry question (or questions) which will guide the thinking for the teaching and learning?
  • What do students need to show that they know, understand and are able to do, at the end of the unit of work?

Once you have established these goals and learning requirements, ask:

  • What are the teaching approaches that are appropriate for each stage of the planning process?

To check your planning, ask:

  • Have 'all the boxes been ticked' at least once? In other words: Have all of the knowledge, understandings and skills been included in the planning of the unit?
  • Is each concept and skill covered enough times to ensure all students have the opportunity to be successful?

Questions for reflection

Having worked through the planning and assessment process, reflect on the following questions:

  • Is the reason for teaching this unit clear?
  • What are students expected to produce as evidence of their learning? Is this possible? Are the expectations fair, valid and reliable?
  • Is there a variety of modes of presentation and products in the assessment pieces?
  • Are the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities evident?
  • Are the necessary resources sourced, available and collected?
  • Will primary or secondary sources be used? Does a field trip need to be planned?
  • How will the students demonstrate they have the required prior knowledge and skills to be successful in this unit?
  • How will this planning be shared with students and parents?


Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning. Abingdon: Routledge.