Using Primary Sources in the Classroom when Exploring Anzac Day

As we explore Anzac Day in the classroom each year, we might seek new ways of presenting familiar events and stories. One way to take a closer look at the history of Anzac Day is through presenting and exploring primary sources. But where can we find primary sources around Anzac Day and how can we use them in the classroom.

 
Using Primary Sources in the Classroom When Exploring Anzac Day. A look at what primary sources are, where to find Anzac Day primary sources and exploring 3 particular primary sources. A Galarious Good blog post
 

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are documents, images or artefacts from the time period in question. They provide ‘on the spot’ information about the events and the people involved.

Primary sources can include photos, diary entries, newspaper reports, physical objects, government documents, advertising and interviews.

Where to find primary sources for Anzac Day

When exploring Anzac Day, most attention turns to World War One, particularly the events at Gallipoli. However, students can also explore the Second World War and other military involvements, including in Korea, Vietnam and modern peacekeeping and conflicts.

One of the easiest ways to access primary materials - especially news reports and photographs - is online. Many state libraries and museums have online collections, as well as organisations like the Australian Army. These documents can be displayed with projectors, used on tablets (especially the PDF booklets) or printed out for students to explore.

As well as the big museums in Australia, smaller local museums and historical societies may have primary sources for exploration. These collections might not be as big as the larger institutions, but might have connections with the local area of your students.

Libraries are other good sources of local history material. They may have photographs, newspaper articles or documents to explore, but may also have books which have collected photographs or documents together.

Finally, it’s worth seeing if the families of your students have any primary source material they can bring in to explore. Families may hold onto medals or photos of family members, or have letters or postcards or other primary source material like service records which they have collected over the years.

 
Using Primary Sources in the Classroom When Exploring Anzac Day. A look at what primary sources are, where to find Anzac Day primary sources and exploring 3 particular primary sources. A Galarious Good blog post
 

How to Use Primary Sources - Three Examples

Below I’ve chosen three World War One primary sources to take a closer look at, including some discussion and response ideas. These sources are all available online as of March 2019.

Recruiting Posters

You can find these resources at the Australian Army website

This collection of 10 recruiting posters gives students an insight into how the government and the army went about recruiting men to volunteer for World War One. The tone of the posters ranges from ‘come along and help out some friends’ to ‘you are pretty horrible if you don’t come and fight’, as well as asking young men to be proud of being Australian and of being part of the British Empire.

Students can explore the different images and words used on the posters and consider why those images and words might have been chosen. They can also explore what the reactions might have been to these posters. Students can also compare these posters to more recent armed forces recruiting posters - what’s the same between now and then? What’s different?

Students might like to use these posters to formulate questions about the war. Why did most of them say ‘God Save the King’? Why is the date for Australia Day so different? Who is this Earl Kitchener who is often quoted on the back? What are some of the items shown in the illustrations?

Students can also engage in research related to these posters. Why was so much recruiting required? What happened to men who didn’t volunteer to go to war? Did the Army use similar techniques in World War Two?

The John Lord Collection

You can find these resources through the Museum Victoria website

This is an extraordinary collection of primary sources - from war diaries to leave passes and many photographs. John Lord was 19 years old when he enlisted to serve in World War One and he served from June 1915 until after the end of the war. He took or collected a number of photographs and souvenirs which he brought back to Australia. You can read more about him at the Museum Victoria website.

Students might like to browse through the entire collection to get a better overall picture of the experiences of John Lord, or they could focus on one image like Extreme Right of Anzac which shows Australian soldiers standing on the edge of a cliff at Gallipoli. Students examining the photo will get a good understanding of how steep the cliffs were at Gallipoli and why it was so difficult to move around. They can also see the different types of clothing which was worn by the soldiers and make inferences about what they were doing at the time.

 
Museums Victoria: Extreme Right of Anzac Using Primary Sources in the Classroom When Exploring Anzac Day

Museums Victoria: Extreme Right of Anzac
Using Primary Sources in the Classroom When Exploring Anzac Day

 

Students can use the collection to create a page which tells a story of World War one, using a range of photographs to illustrate it. They can also choose a photo or two to write about or they can create pieces of artwork inspired by the photographs. Students might also like to explore the war diaries to create a short piece of writing about what it was like to be in World War One.

Newspaper Article - Rejoicings in Australia

You can find this article and the transcription on the Trove website

This news article from The Age in November 1918 demonstrates how the people of Melbourne celebrated the end of World War One. It’s a particularly descriptive piece of writing, allowing the reader to get a good idea of what it might have been like to be there.

Students might discuss why the celebrations were so joyous and what some of the issues were around the celebration. They might also like to rewrite the article in the style of a modern newspaper or search for images which might accompany the article. Students can also write a short piece from the point of view of a young person who might have been there during the celebrations or a time traveller from today who went back in time and got caught up in the celebrating.

This primary source is also a good example of some of the difficulties with using Primary Sources. The original newspaper can be difficult to read and the transcription has some errors. Students can talk about how mistakes might be made when using primary sources or how primary sources may be shaped by the people involved with them and their biases.

Whether it’s posters, photographs or articles - or journals, artefacts or official papers - there’s a wealth of primary source material related to Anzac Day, allowing teachers and students to take a deeper look at an important commemoration in our country.

 
 

Why We Should Explore Compulsory Voting in Our Classrooms

One of the striking parts of election day coverage in Australia is seeing people interrupt their regular Saturday activities to vote. Images of voters in swimmers and towels, sporting uniforms or wedding outfits is not uncommon. It’s one of the side effects of compulsory voting which Senator Herbert Payne probably didn’t consider when he proposed it back in 1924.

So, with compulsory voting just part of life in Australia - why should we worry about exploring it in the classroom. And if you’re teaching outside of Australia, is it a topic which should even come up?

 
Why should we explore compulsory voting in the classroom, what role does it have in Australian history and how could students learn about it from other countries? A government and civics education blog post from Galarious Goods
 

The 1922 Australian election saw a dramatic drop in voter participation - a drop which continued a trend which had occurred over a number of elections since Federation in 1901. This concerned a number of government representatives including Senator Herbert Payne who proposed a private member’s bill to make voting compulsory. Since the passing of the bill, participation in Australian federal elections hasn’t fallen below 90%.

This is a fascinating moment to put into the context of history. World War One had been both a devastating and defining moment for the young nation, with the loss and injury of many, a long way from home. Senator Payne and his supporters were concerned that low participation rates at elections would lead to a deterioration of democracy and the laws which were being made.

If the country hadn’t been so young - still working out how to go forward after only 20 years since Federation; if Australia hadn’t just been through World War One where they were called on to work together for an ideal a long way away from their day to day lives - it’s possible that compulsory voting may not have been embraced.

This is not a moment in history which we often look on in Australian classrooms. We don’t spend a lot of time on electoral history - with the exception of a few referendums. But it’s interesting to contemplate what might have happened if Senator Payne and his colleagues had not passed compulsory voting. How might that have changed future elections? And how might that have changed Australian history?

 
Why should we explore compulsory voting in the classroom, what role does it have in Australian history and how could students learn about it from other countries? A government and civics education blog post from Galarious Goods
 

While compulsory voting is widely supported in Australia, it’s very rare for a democratic country to have, maintain and enforce compulsory voting. For many in countries with voluntary voting, being compelled to vote appears unfair - even undemocratic.

Exploring the benefits and drawbacks of compulsory voting is an excellent classroom activity. Students can look at how compulsory voting encourages governments to set up systems which make it possible for everyone to vote (especially important when you have remote areas like in Australia) and explore some of the systems in place in Australia. Students can debate whether everyone should get a say in elections - whether they’re informed or interested or not. And students can explore some of the reasons people put forward against compulsory voting and debate whether they are robust arguments or not.

What about students and classrooms outside Australia? Exploring the Australian system of compulsory voting gives students a different idea of what voting can look like - this can be expanded with students looking at other kinds of voting around the world and how they contribute to different types of democracies. Older students may also like to explore why compulsory voting works in Australia and what conditions would be required for it to be successful in other countries.

 
Why should we explore compulsory voting in the classroom, what role does it have in Australian history and how could students learn about it from other countries? A government and civics education blog post from Galarious Goods
 

Compulsory voting sounds like a bit of a dry subject on the surface. But a little digging can turn it into a fascinating history or government lesson - the perfect way to stretch your students a little. Have you taught it in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

Links to support teaching about compulsory voting

4 Ways to Use Amazing Songs To Make Your Lessons More Attractive

Some of my earliest memories of school include singing songs and using chants to remember what I was learning. (A is for Apple, A, A, A is still imprinted on my mind!). Songs are a wonderful way to help students understand and remember different learning topics - so where can we find them and how can we used them in the classroom?

 
4 Ways to Use Amazing Songs to Make Your Lessons More Attractive
 

Luckily for us, we live in the time of the internet and YouTube! This allows us almost instant access to some amazing educational songs which we can play right to our classes. One of my favourite bands for educational songs is They Might Be Giants. They have a couple of educational albums including Here Comes the ABCs and Here Comes the 123s, but the one I've used the most is Here Comes Science - I have a strange love for their Solid Liquid Gas song!

 
 

Schoolhouse Rock is a classic example of educational songs for a reason - even outside of the United States it's likely that you've heard at least some of their songs. These songs were originally created when an advertising executive realised that his son could remember all the lyrics to songs even though he was having trouble remembering multiplication tables. There's lots of songs available covering a range of topics - in English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

 
 

There are also a really wide range of teacher and student created educational songs! Some educators and classes have been incredibly creative with how they've explored a topic and they've been kind enough to share their creations with the internet.

 
 

But how can we use educational songs in the classroom?

1. Introduce New Topics and Gain Interest

Songs can be a wonderful way to introduce a new topic to a class. It may be directly connected to the topic you're going to be covering (like the Solid Liquid Gas song when you're about to explore solids, liquids and gases) or it might be indirectly connected (like protest songs when you're covering the Vietnam War and reactions to it). Students can just listen to the song, watch a music video or examine the lyrics. They may note new vocabulary, discuss what they think they're going to learn, or make connections to topics they've already covered or knowledge they already have.

2. Reinforce Facts, Events or Processes

Once students have been introduced to new topics or ideas, songs can assist in reinforcing them. This can be particularly useful for things which need to be memorised, like mathematical facts or formulas or historical dates. It may also offer an alternative way of looking at a topic - something which can be very useful for some students who are having difficulty with the way the material has been covered. 

3. Prompt Questioning and Further Exploration

While songs can definitely tell a story or provide information, their structure and length - and the fact that many are written for entertainment - means that inevitably parts are left out. This is great for us as teachers though, because we can use songs to prompt further questioning and exploration - did George Washington and Alexander Hamilton really have a close working relationship like they did in Hamilton? Why did Constantinople become Istanbul? What is the story told in From Little Things Big Things Grow?

 
 

Students can brainstorm these questions while listening to the songs, annotate on the lyrics of the songs or use a display board to add questions to as they learn more about the song and the events or ideas it describes.

Looking for a song about a historical event? This Genius list includes a lot of them - though not all would be appropriate for the classroom, so check them out first.

4. Create Your Own Songs

Can't find a good song for the topic you're covering? Then write your own (or ask your students to write one for you!)

Creating a song for your students, or having your class work together or in small groups to write songs can help to refine the topic you're teaching and really concentrate on what's important. Students need to show a really good understanding of the topic to create effective songs and the process can be a great way of clarifying and assessing what they know. 

Lots of teacher and student created songs begin as parodies of well known songs - this can make life much easier because you're not having to come up with the music or the rhythm of the songs - you're just fitting words into an already created structure. Some students (and teachers!) however, may enjoy the creative freedom of coming up with a brand new song.

This step by step guide is a great place to start if you're considering writing your own educational songs.

 
Using songs in the classroom - blog post from Galarious Goods
 

Whether you're just listening, taking an in-depth look at educational songs as part of your teaching or planning on becoming the next Schoolhouse Rock, educational songs are a great way of adding interest and memorability to your lessons. It's definitely worth trying to fit them into a lesson where you can.

Want to use educational song in Australian Government assessment? The Year 6 Creating Laws in Australia Assessment resource includes an educational song writing assessment task - perfect for any class examining how laws are made.