Core units: 5–6 — Inquiry and Skills

Illustration 1: Citizenship in action

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography (and its various HASS-based iterations) content descriptions addressed in the illustration are:

  • The influence people have on the human characteristics of places and the management of spaces within them
  • Present findings and ideas in a range of communication forms, for example, written, oral, graphic, tabular, visual, maps; using geographical terminology and digital technologies as appropriate
  • Reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and describe the expected effects of their proposal on different groups of people

Learning goals

The illustration-specific learning goals are:

  • identifying the ways in which people shape the characteristics of places and the spaces within them
  • working collaboratively with others to negotiate an agreed position on a proposed development
  • applying learning to propose individual or group action in response to a geographical issue
  • identifying possible actions that could be taken to influence decision-making processes and debating which one would be the most effective
  • influencing others on possible actions and ways to reach consensus about a geographical issue
  • presenting information and ideas in oral and written form.

Geographical understanding and context

In Years 5–6 students become more critical, analytical and evaluative in their thinking. They are increasingly aware of the wider community, and are learning to take on individual and group responsibilities. They develop an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of citizenship. 

In Year 5 students are introduced to some of the environmental and human processes that explain the characteristics of places. Students learn that places are managed and changed by people. In this illustration students explore this concept as they undertake two investigations.

In Scenario 1 students focus on a local planning issue and work collaboratively to:

  • evaluate a hypothetical development proposal
  • determine a particular course of action
  • argue, from an informed perspective, their preferred outcome.

In Scenario 2 students consider the merit of hazard-reduction burns and techniques used to manage bushfire risk. In doing so, they:

  • reflect on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship
  • consider alternative ways of influencing decision-making processes
  • role-play the selected response.

Teaching approaches

This illustration of practice involves a series of sequential, skill-based learning experiences, each one providing a foundation for the next. Steps to undertake these learning experiences are provided below.

Scenario 1

An Asian-based, international shopping mall operation has indicated that it would like to develop one of the country's largest, most modern, retail complexes in one of the city's fastest growing suburban areas. An area of bushland at the junction of two major roads is their preferred site. The land is relatively flat, it is close to a railway station, and it is easy to get to for those who rely on cars to get about.

The state government is keen to have the complex built because of the economic benefits it will bring to this part of the city. It has offered the company a number of taxpayer-funded incentives. One of these incentives is the long-term lease of a government-owned site at minimum cost. It is anticipated that the mall will create more than a thousand full-time and casual jobs when it is fully operational.

The land offered by the state government is one of the few remaining areas of native bushland in the neighbourhood and is home to a number of endangered plant and animal species. Locals also use it as a recreational resource.

The company's development has been lodged with the local council. However, it has been met with opposition from a number of community groups who are concerned about the loss of the bushland and the congestion associated with such a large development. Some people support it because of its economic benefits, especially the jobs which are badly needed in the area. 
Those groups opposed to the development are planning a political and legal campaign to force the council to reject the company's proposal. Should the plan be approved?

A selection of the views expressed by members of the local community is provided in Resource sheet 1 (PDF). Have your students read each of the statements, and then undertake the following tasks.

  • Introduction - class analysis

As a class, make a list of the statements that are in favour of the company's proposal to develop a large shopping mall on the site. Make a separate list of the statements that are not in favour of the development.

  • Small group discussion

Divide the class into groups of four or five students. Working in their groups, ask your students to discuss the different statements about the development proposal. Direct them to find agreement on what they think should happen. Ask them to be prepared to defend their group's viewpoint when they report back to the class.

  • Class debate

Conduct a class debate on the topic: The proposed development should be approved.

  • Secret ballot

Following the debate, conduct a secret ballot to determine whether the class will support the proposal to develop the shopping mall on the nominated site.

  • Personal exposition

Ask each student to determine which point of view they agree with. Have them write an exposition outlining the arguments they would use to justify their position. The Exposition scaffold (PDF) can be used to facilitate this activity.

  • Brainstorm

Working in their groups, ask the students to brainstorm the strategies they could use to influence public opinion and the council's decision-making processes. Then direct them to share their group's list with the rest of the class. Compare the lists with those strategies included in Resource sheet 2 (PDF).

  • Role-play

As a class, role-play one of the methods or strategies identified in task 6.

Scenario 2

The second scenario provided in this illustration relates to the impact of bushfires on environments and communities, and how people can respond.

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) has announced that it intends to conduct a hazard-reduction burn in the national park adjacent to a suburban area on the outskirts of the city. Conservationists and some local residents oppose the burn-off. They claim that its impact on natural flora and fauna will be devastating. Other residents, concerned about the risk a bushfire poses to homes, support the hazard-reduction. Should it go ahead?

  • Introduction - investigations

Ask your students to investigate and find out information about hazard-reduction burns. Perhaps ask a member of the RFS to speak to your class about the management technique.

  • Brainstorm

Divide your class into two groups. Ask one half to brainstorm the arguments in favour of hazard reduction burns. Ask the other to brainstorm the arguments against the technique.

  • Repeat

Complete tasks 3-7 from Scenario 1 (adjusted to accommodate the new subject matter).

What you need

Resource sheet 1 (PDF).
Exposition scaffold (PDF).
Resource sheet 2(PDF).
Time required: 4–5 hours over several days.


All required resources are listed in the 'What you need' section above.