In Integrated Studies at Mernda Primary School we have implemented programs to increase student knowledge and allow time to create, experiment and research a range of topics. Across the school, year levels complete units of the Australian Curriculum including:
Civics and Citizenship
Design and Technology
To ensure consistency throughout the school all units reflect curriculum guidelines and a variety of teaching and learning approaches including inquiry based learning, problem based learning, design process and creative learning.
Within a unit of work, which is covered in the classroom, multiple curriculum areas are combined during the term. For example, while learning about the community, students will also be learning about the history and location of the area. Where possible links to other subject areas are made, for example geography creates opportunity for location and mapping skills, government involves collaborative group work and persuasive writing.
As a whole school approach, teachers dedicate time and effort to ensure that the students’ learning journey is valuable and exciting as they progress through the school. With consistent planning documents and high expectations set, the foundations are built for students to develop their skills and harness their curiosity to direct their learning.
Highlights from 2016
This year as the Preps are at the beginning of their school life they were involved in the integrated topic ‘Me at school’, where they developed their confidence and personal organisation and learnt about following school routines and expectations. The Preps were very excited to explore and investigate being part of a community. This involved participating in many incursions to our school, such as, RACV Road Safety, Ambulance Victoria and RSPCA Pet safety. When the students were learning about their local community and the roles that emergency personnel have in the area, the Prep classrooms were transformed into community shops. Each classroom had a different theme and the whole classroom was decorated as Police, Fire Brigade, Café or Fruit shop. The preps ventured off to the Kew Traffic School to ride bikes and learn about pedestrian and road safety. The Preps have also participated in a unit ‘Toys Then and Now’, where they had the opportunity to explore how toys move, what they are made of and how they have changed over time. Using this knowledge the students designed and constructed a toy out of recycled materials. The students Grandparents and special visitors came into our classrooms and shared stories and toys from when they were children. The students loved looking into the differences between old and new toys. In Term 4, the Prep students have been participating in the Swimming Program.
This year, the Grade Ones began their integrated unit of work by exploring many aspects of Australia, such as native plants and animals, the Australian flag and anthem. They also explored what a map of Australia looks like and used it to identify where we live. Through our history unit ‘Travelling through time’ students investigated their own personal history and looked at how the world around us has changed. Students got to experience firsthand what school and home life was like in the 1900s with an exciting excursion to Yarrabee Yesterday’s World. As part of our Chinese language program, we had a Chinese Cultural Day where students participated in activities based around Chinese culture and traditions. An external incursion provider also ran an exciting dance workshop. Students had the opportunity to dress up in traditional costumes and perform the cultural dances to their parents at the end of the day. Our final unit required students to investigate the needs of humans and animals and the habitats in which they live. To further explore animals in their habitats, the students attended the Melbourne Zoo. They then applied their design and creativity skills to construct a diorama of a habitat for a zoo animal of their choice.
Students have learnt about Geography and posed geographical questions about familiar and unfamiliar places. They also collected information and photographs about places around the world including Australia. Students represented data and the location of places and their features by constructing tables, plans and labelled maps. They presented their findings in a range of communication forms, for example, written, oral, digital and visual. Students learnt about the Olympics and explored past and present games, sports people, countries held and sports played. Then they followed the Rio Olympics watching Australia play against other countries and counting medals. They also participated in Swimming at Epping Leisure centre where they learnt swimming skills and safety around water. Students who didn’t attend swimming completed a safety around water at school. When completing the ‘Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds’ unit students learnt the benefits of safe behaviours and responses to different situations. They explored the different stages of the life span from infant to adult and their needs. They learn how to make healthy eating choices for the different stages and consider the factors of food consumption. When looking at the history of significant people, buildings, sites and parts of the natural environment in the local community and what it reveals about the past. We have been learning about the importance of a historical site of cultural or spiritual significance; for example, a community building, a landmark, a war memorial. Students are understanding the impact of changing technology on people’s lives at home and in the ways they worked, travelled, communicated, and played in the past. Students get to share their learning and understanding through class tasks including blogging on Kidblog.
Students in Grade 3 have investigated the history of Australia in the unit ‘Community and Remembrance’. Students learnt about Indigenous Australians and explored customs and celebrations with a guest speaker who demonstrated tools and instruments used. After reading Dreamtime stories, students wrote their own creative story about how something came to be. Students have maintained an ongoing effort to make sustainable choices in their lives following the motto ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. After completing the unit ‘Sustainability’, where they learnt about water use and the waste process at the Western Treatment Plant excursion, students are more aware of the impact they have and how they can care for the environment. Students have investigated their family background in the unit ‘Same but Different’ and discovered facts about their country including location on the world map, traditional clothing and famous landmarks. The information researched was presented digitally using Movie Maker. As part of the multicultural focus students also attended an excursion to Chinatown where they visited the Chinese museum and participated in a Kung Fu class led by the Grandmaster, William Cheung. They also tasted Chinese cuisine in a banquet style lunch. Using creativity and design skills, students participated in the unit ‘Simple Machines’, where they learnt about lever, pulleys, wedges and how basic machines are used in daily life. Students attended an excursion to Science Works, where they had hands on experiences and learnt about how things work.
This year, Grade 4 students inquired into their cultural backgrounds. Students were able to investigate their culture and traditions which shaped them into who they are today. Students presented their background to the class by an oral presentation. As part of our Healthy Living unit, students focused on health benefits and facilities in our community. An excursion to the MCG supported our learning of a major sporting facility promoting health and fitness. Students were created a replica or model of a local community facility that promotes active and healthy lifestyles. Students were highly engaged in the First Contacts unit, they were discovering the migration routes and reasons why European Settlers came to Australia. Students participated in an incursion, having a chance to dress up like European Settlers and participate in traditions of the late 1700’s. The inquiry unit on Australian Government has intrigued the Grade 4’s in questioning the society that we live in. Students are actively learning about the process of making a law and the different responsibilities of local, state and federal governments. Grade 4 students will also be having a Q&A session with the local mayor to discuss changes in the local community.
During the healthy living unit students learnt about the different aspects of health including mental, physical and social. Students researched influencing factors on health and possible diseases as well as how to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. When researching about Australian history, students looked at the lifestyle of the people on the first fleets and explored the time of colonisation. As part of the topic an incursion was held where people from History Box came and performed as a character from the first fleet to assist student learning about that time in history. As students were learning about geography the excursion scheduled to support the topic was held at Eureka Skydeck where they identified different geographical features. Students took part in a walking excursion around the city to see the CH2 building- a 5 star sustainability building. From the features they identified when looking at the building the students had to create their own sustainable building model using a variety of features. The year 5s an Earn & Learn program, where the focus is on economics. Students develop their own business plans, resumes and job applications throughout this process and learn new terminology such as tax, superannuation, insurance and more. As an excursion students visited Preston Market where they were challenged to purchase a healthy snack with only $5.00 – making sure they obtained a receipt for proof of purchase. Year 5 and 6 students will be involved in ‘Trading Days’ where they are able to sell and purchase items from other mock businesses using ‘funny money’.
During a unit on healthy living, students learnt about different types of health and how it is more than just eating healthy and exercise. Students researched agencies and clubs that promote positive health, and had guest speakers from Whittlesea Youth Services informing services they provide, as well as other resources that are available to kids in our area if they want to join a club or learn more about health outside of school. Students also learnt about puberty and the changes that are occurring during your early teenage years. Grade 6 studied Australia’s Parliamentary System and Australian History from Federation in 1901 up to the present day. They explored what government structures exist in Australia and the process of making laws. Students looked at events such as hosting Olympics, Aboriginal heritage and migration and went to the ‘National Sports Museum and Shrine of Remembrance’ in the city for guided tours. In a Geography focus students learnt about the location of a country in relation to Australia and created a display reflecting where Year 6 have travelled around the world. Another part of the unit was exploring ‘Natural Disasters’ and describing the cause and effect of people and the Earth. Grade 6s learnt about economics and business and used the program Earn and Learn! Students used prior learning and improved their economics and business knowledge through investigation and hands on experiences through Trading Days. This is an important unit to witness the students’ budding creativity and entrepreneurial decisions.