Welcome to the eighth edition of Teacher Tuesday, where I match one of my books to a year level, and offer some activities for sharing the book in the classroom. In previous weeks I shared activities for Pearl Verses the World, Looking Up, Toppling, Roses are Blue, Do Not Forget Australia, Snowy’s Christmas and The Floatingest Frog.
This week, I am focusing on my picture book, Meet Mary MacKillop which can be used to meet objectives in both both the History and English curriculum areas.
Using Meet Mary MacKillop in a Year Four Classroom
Published by Random House, 2013
Format 32page Hardcover, RRP $19.99
Blurb: Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first saint, was born in the 1800s and devoted her life to teaching children. Mary believed everyone should have the chance to learn, no matter how rich or poor they are. In 1866 she set up her first school and founded an order of nuns called the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. This book tells the story of that first school.
Sally’s Recommended Grade Levels: Year 1 – Lower Secondary, but these suggestions focus on Year 4.
- Famous Australians
- Religious Education
Publisher teaching notes available HERE
This unit of work uses Meet Mary as the basis for examining both the life of Mary MacKillop, and examining the roles and significance of other famous Australians.
Year 4 History and English
- Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (ACHASSI073)
- Sequence information about people’s lives and events (ACHASSI076)
- Present ideas, findings and conclusions in texts and modes that incorporate digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms (ACHASSI082)
- Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations incorporating learned content and taking into account the particular purposes and audiences (ACELY1689)
- Before reading: discuss the word ‘famous’. Ask students what it might mean to be famous. Brainstorm a list of famous Australians.
- Show students the book cover. Ask students who Mary MacKillop was and/or what the cover suggests about her.
- Read the Story (apart from timeline).
- After Reading: group work. Groups to complete table identifying words and images which show this book is set in the 1800s. Subheadings: Words/Language Used; Transport; Dress; School Equipment; Other. One column to identify what is portrayed in the book, and a second column to identify how these things might be today.
- Discuss what a timeline is. Students to compose simple timelines of their lives so far. Share
- Examine back of book timeline. In groups, students to identify which events are included in the story. Discuss: Why did Sally Murphy choose only part of Mary MacKillop’s life for the story? Can you understand Mary’s life without the addition of the timeline?
- Students to choose another famous Australian – either from earlier list or from a list fo teacher suggestions, of a particular time period. Using library/class resource collections and/or internet research, students to research their chosen person and compile their own timeline. Additionally, have them answer the following: Why is this person famous? Where were they born? Which part of Australia did they live in? What was their main achievement? How are they commemorated today (eg are they on a banknote, have buildings or roads named after them, memorialised in stories/songs etc). Why did you choose this person?
- Students to compile a visual presentation about their chosen Australian: either digitally or as a poster presentation.
- Createliterary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794)
- Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts containing key information and supporting details for a widening range of audiences, demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features (ACELY1694)
- Re-read and edit for meaning by adding, deleting or moving words or word groups to improve content and structure (ACELY1695)
- Use a range of software including wordprocessing programs to construct, edit and publish written text, and select, edit and place visual, print and audio elements (ACELY1697)
- Read other books in the ‘Meet’ series. If enough available, this could be done in groups, with each group examining a different book in the series. Identify key events in each person’s story, and also explore similarities and differences between the different books (each book has a timeline, for example, but the writing and illustrations styles vary. Some of the books cover a single episode in the person’s life, while others cover more of the person’s lives). Encourage students to elaborate which hones they like, and why.
- Identify common features in adapting biographies to fiction (the term here is historical fiction): creating characters, use of dialogue, key details, use of details to set scene (time and place).
- Students to use information from their timelines/presentations to craft a narrative telling their chosen person’s story – either one episode, or an overview of their life. This could be extended to create a picture book version.
Other suggestions for using Meet Mary MacKillop in your classroom include:
- Mary wrote many letters to her mother and to other people throughout her life. Examine the elements of a letter, and draft and write a letter. the theme of letters is also part of my book Looking Up.
- The work of Mary MacKillop continues through the sisters of St Joseph. There are various museums and centres across Australia and new Zealand which are open for school groups for different excursions.
- Art: read the interview with the illustrator, Sonia Martinez in the official teaching notes. Create collage art using historical pictures, combined with the students own drawings.
- Email the author(that’s me!) Your students can write to me through this website, and share their responses or ask questions.
- Meet the ANZACs, by Claire Saxby
- Meet Weary Dunlop, by Claire Saxby
- Meet Douglas Mawson, by Mike Dumbleton
- Meet Nellie Melba, by Janeen Brian
- Meet Banjo Patterson, by Kristin Weidenbach
- Looking Up, by Sally Murphy
Mostly, I’d love to remind you that while I love to see my books used in classrooms, I also love to see kids just enjoying them. Reading a book should be pleasurable – whether it’s being used in the classroom or not. So allow your students to enjoy reading Meet Mary MacKillop.
If you find this useful, or have any suggestions or comments, do leave a comment. And, if there is a particular book or year level or topic that you would like covered in a future edition of Teacher Tuesday, let me know.