Task 10: Identifying Professional Development for Humanities Teachers

As per the results of my self-assessment matrix here: E. McCulloch AITSL Self Assessment, I have determined my areas of strength and areas for development in relation to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. The below table represents this information in a similar format to the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) Annual Performance Development Plan for teachers (2016).

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It is clear that I have many strengths in the domains of professional practice and professional engagement, however have quite a few areas that require development in the domain of professional knowledge. An important component of reflecting upon professional performance is identifying opportunities for professional development (Salton & Chalk, 2017).

As a Geography teacher, the Geography Teachers’ Association Queensland (GTAQ), provides many professional development (PD) opportunities, support materials and resources that seek to ensure the importance of Geography teaching and its role in the development of students’ learning (n.d).

I have been a GTAQ member for the last 2 years and receive frequent e-mails not only notifying me of upcoming PD events, but also relevant announcements such as the release of the new Geography syllabus, and new teaching and learning resources that have become available. There are many PD opportunities that I would seek to engage in as a Humanities teacher. Many of interest are held by GTAQ.

Upcoming professional learning events through the GTAQ include: GIS in the Field, which introduces a range of free geo technologies, including how to: “easily integrate GIS into your classroom, use location analytics to make web apps, and collect meaningful data in the field using your mobile phone” (GTAQ, n.d). With technology being the way of the future this would be a fantastic PD to attend.

Past PD’s offered by GTAQ that I have been interested in attending include:

  • The Digital Future of Geography – a beginners guide to harnessing the latest digital technologies which will create innovative and challenging classroom learning.
  • Australia’s Engagement with Asia: Indonesia – a session exploring the cross-curriculum priority of Australia’s Engagement with Asia, focusing on Indonesia. This resource supports Year 7’s unit: Water in the world, Year 8’s unit: Changing nations, Year 9’s unit: Biomes and food security, and Year 10’s unit: Global geographies of human well-being.

Engaging in continual professional learning is a requirement of the teaching profession. Teaching standards 6.2 and 6.4 require teachers to participate in learning opportunities that can be applied to improve student learning (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2011). Attending PD’s such as those mentioned above would assist me in improving student learning by strengthening my professional knowledge, specifically, teaching standards 2.1 “content and teaching strategies of the teaching area” and 2.3 “Curriculum, assessment and reporting”, by providing me with an increased level of content knowledge and teaching strategies to “develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs” (AITSL, 2011). Such programs require extensive and comprehensive knowledge of the curriculum. PD undertaken with GTAQ, along with accessing their suite of resources, will support both my teaching of Geography and the students’ learning of Geography, with the hope of making us all lifelong learners.

Photo by Sutherland Careers on Google Images.


Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2011). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/apst-resources/australian_professional_standard_for_teachers_final.pdf.

Department of Education and Training [DET]. (2016). Annual Performance Development Plan for teachers. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/pdfs/annual-performance-development-plan.pdf.

Geography Teachers’ Association of Queensland [GTAQ]. (n.d). Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://www.gtaq.com.au/.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 4 – Assessing for success. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/course/view.php?id=11084.


Task 9: Reflecting on Personal and Professional Ethics in the Humanities

The below situation has been used to reflect on ethical practice in the teaching profession. For the purpose of this blog post, the student absent from school will be referred to as Student A.

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(Salton & Chalk, 2017).

As a Humanities teacher, if I was presented with the described situation, I would first REFLECT on the situation by analysing the relevant facts and circumstances, similar to the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) ethical-decision making model (2016).

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(DET, 2016).

As long as I saw evidence of communication with Student A, I could not penalise the three students who have completed their part of the task. The scenario indicates that text messages were sent to Student A suggesting how Student A could still contribute to the task, despite their absence. I would thus need proof of these text messages. My reasoning behind not penalising the three students aligns with the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT’s) Code of EthicsDignity: “valuing the effort and potential of each student” (2008). Once I had seen the proof of communication I would offer an extension for these students to demonstrate the necessary skills and knowledge needed for said criterion. This would likely be in the form of an alternative task, but still complementing the original task; demonstrating Justice through “being fair and reasonable” (QCT, 2008).

Student A is in a similar boat, they are being disadvantaged because of someone else too, their ill parent. I would make contact with Student A and find out exactly why they have not submitted the work. This demonstrates Care: “having empathy for and rapport with students and their families” (QCT, 2008). If Student A had just been lazy and offered no plausible explanation I would have no choice but to tell the student they will be receiving a fail grade for said criterion; similar to the three students above, demonstrating Dignity: “valuing effort and potential of each student” (QCT, 2008). If the student has not completed the work due to external influences as a result of their current situation, such as helping their ill parent, younger siblings, home duties and so on, I would offer the same exercise as the other students, an alternative task to demonstrate said criterion; Justice: “being fair and reasonable” (QCT, 2008).

I place strong value on effort, and will never penalise a student who is putting in the effort. As long as I saw evidence that each student did as best they could, given the circumstances, I would certainly feel right offering an extension and alternative task.

Humanities teachers are constantly exposing students to ethical issues and dilemmas, encouraging them to formulate judgements based on their individual moral values. We are constantly making students question historical events, such as forms of Governments, weather patterns, natural disasters, and so on. In both physical and human Geography, moral judgements are at the foundation – “ethics is not so much something that should be added on to science as discovered within it” (Smith, 2000).

Geographical research consistently looks at harm vs benefit (haves and have nots, 1st and 3rd world), private vs public (what rights/responsibilities do governments/countries/organisations have, who is responsible?), fact vs fiction (global warming, resource needs). As humanities teachers, we need to make sure students are equipped to deal with ethical issues in their lives, by exposing them to and educating them on different situations. We need to make them wordly – “active and informed citizens” (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [ACARA], 2015) – in the hopes that they too will demonstrate Integrity, Dignity, Responsibility, Respect, Justice and Care (QCT, 2008).

Photo by LinkedIn on Google Images.


Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [ACARA]. (2015). Home / F-10 Curriculum / Humanities and Social Sciences / Introduction. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanities-and-social-sciences/introduction.

Department of Education and Training [DET]. (2016). Standard of Practice. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://education.qld.gov.au/corporate/codeofconduct/pdfs/det-code-of-conduct-standard-of-practice.pdf.

Queensland College of Teachers [QCT]. (2008). Code of Ethics for Teachers in Queensland. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://qct.edu.au/standards-and-conduct/code-of-ethics.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 4 – Assessing for success. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/course/view.php?id=11084.

Smith, D. (2000). Moral Geographies. Ethics in a World of Difference. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved: https://cybergeo.revues.org/823.

Task 8: Reflecting on the Process of Marking

Along with the moderated version of Task 7 provided by a fellow Humanities pre-service teacher, I also sought feedback on my marking from two practising teachers, a Senior Geography teacher, and a Primary school teacher. You can view their comments here: Feedback on marking from practising teachers.

Discussions held in the moderation process regarding my initial assessment of the student’s achievement, with both pre-service and practising teachers, demonstrated that I can effectively make “consistent and comparable judgements of student learning” (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2011). Overall, there was agreement surrounding the awarded level of achievement for the assessment, being a C-. My marking was described as both “thorough” and “detailed”, and possibly a little “rigid”, which for the senior phase of Secondary can be a positive when it comes to verification.

The only real discrepancy in my marking would be in the first criterion: Decision- making processes. Of the three characteristics assessed in this criterion, I awarded the student two solid C’s and a B-/C+. Throughout moderation it was mentioned that this criterion could have been marked a little higher as the student did justify their thinking at a slightly higher level than a C. My reasoning behind giving the student an overall C for this criterion was that I believed she was lacking the detailed, effective and balanced evaluation that Standard B required. My overall comment supports this by stating that the lack of evidence/examples reduced the effectiveness of the task.

It was also mentioned that my annotations were too detailed for a final assessment piece. I do agree. In the real world, the feedback that was within my annotations, would have been provided to the student in their draft or through verbal communication/conference. I included such detail in my marking to demonstrate my ability to both provide feedback for a draft and a final assessment piece. It would be too time consuming to provide this level of feedback for a class of 20 students or more. Providing one detailed comment at the end of the assignment would be sufficient for the final assessment piece, so long as it enables students to clearly see the relationship between their result and the task. I believe my overall comment for this sample task does this well.

Instead of providing such detailed annotations for the final piece, I could instead make notes when marking and provide whole-class feedback based on overall student performance – what students did well and should continue doing, along with what to stop and start doing. During class discussion, in collaboration with the students, the teacher could propose class goals that will be revisited after the next assessment (Weimer, 2014). The class discussion could also be held as a reflection – what did they learn? What do they think might have improved their response to the task? How and when would they use the skills learned in this task in the real-world, outside of school?

Reflecting on the process of marking and moderation I have learned the importance of a well-designed assessment task and task-specific criteria (Salton & Chalk, 2017). The rubric/criteria can be interpreted differently by teachers, thus making it crucial I can justify my decision by providing evidence of student work as to why I have awarded a particular grade. I have learned that teachers need to be objective when assessing student work. For me and those moderating this was quite easy during this task as we did not know who the student was. In future when marking for my own students I will endeavor to mark without looking at the student’s name (Salton & Chalk, 2017) as to ensure my marking is not influenced by anything except the evidence provided. I will strive to uphold the quality of my feedback demonstrated in this task, and continue to reflect on my teaching practise through moderation, discussions with fellow colleagues and continuous professional development.

Photo by Learning in Hand on Google Images.


Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2011). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/apst-resources/australian_professional_standard_for_teachers_final.pdf.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 4 – Assessing for success. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/course/view.php?id=11084.

Weimer, M. (2014). When to Use Whole Class Feedback. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/use-whole-class-feedback/.

Task 7: Feedback and Reporting on Student Work in the Humanities

I have awarded the sample assessment a C-. Please refer to my original annotated and marked version here: E. McCulloch. Task 7- Annotated and Marked. 

According to Hattie and Timperley, both researchers in the field of Education, feedback is “one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement” (2007, p.81). They elaborate that the type of feedback and the way it is delivered can impact on its effectiveness. When feedback is effective it also provides information that can be used to shape teaching. Meaningful feedback from students allows teachers to check if students understand the content and the task, so modifications and adjustments can be made to engage all students (Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA], 2014). Students should receive both informal and formal feedback, through formative and summative assessments, which allow them time to “action the feedback, calibrate the feedback, and to think about the process steps that they might go through” (QCAA, 2014).

Accuracy and consistency are important when awarding grades and providing students feedback applicable to the criteria. The achievement standard/s awarded to all students must be based on evidence of student work and how it aligns or doesn’t align with the descriptors in the criteria (Salton & Chalk, 2017). It is important that all students can make connections between the criteria, the task, and the feedback provided to them. Therefore, when I marked the above student’s work I tried to incorporate task-specific wording from the criteria in my annotations/comments.

Feedback should be educative in nature, referencing a specific skill or knowledge. Of the 4 Geographic criteria from the Senior Geography syllabus: 1. Knowledge, 2. Analytical Processes, 3. Decision-making process, and 4. Research and communication (QCAA, 2007), criteria 3 and 4 were assessed in this particular assessment task. Students who completed the above assessment task should therefore receive feedback that demonstrates how they have or haven’t provided evidence of these criterion. It’s important that students receive feedback on what they did well and what they could improve on. I want to empower my students with the feedback I give them, and make them feel confident moving froward, sure about what they’ve mastered and what they need to practice. I try to use the feedback sandwich – compliment, correct, compliment – where possible when providing feedback.

When determining the overall result of a C- I really focused on the wording in the rubric. For example, achievement Standard B required “effective and balanced application of appropriate criteria“, and Standard C required an “application of some criteria to the decision”. The student who I refer to as Sarah in this task, applied all, not some, of the appropriate criteria in her assignment, however I didn’t believe it to be “effective or balanced”. Thus, I highlighted “application of appropriate criteria” from the B Standard, and not “effective and balanced”, placing Sarah between a B and a C for this characteristic of the standard. This is explained further in my overall comment.

I attempted to make the overall comment as personalised and specific to the task as possible, with the aim of answering 3 main questions: “Where am I going?”, “How am I going?”, and “Where to next?”, also referred to as “feed up”, “feed back”, and “feed forward” (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, p.86). Sarah needs to work on presenting a more in-depth, tailored response (Where am I going). Currently her response is quite generalised and vague. Sarah follows the report structure well and seems to have an understanding of the Environmental, Economic and Social criteria associated with Geography. Incorporating additional Geographic conventions will assist her in providing a more well-rounded, balanced and effective response (How am I going). I have encouraged Sarah to consider in future assignments and class work to assume that her readers/audience have no prior knowledge of the topic she is talking about, with the hope that this assists her in providing more detail and examples, which will enhance her own and others comprehension (Where to next). In answering these questions, the gap between where students are and where they want to be should begin to close (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, p.90), representing the power of effective feedback.

Please refer here E. McCulloch. Task 7- MODERATED for a moderated version of my work. Moderated by: Andrew Pennell, pre-service Humanities teacher.

Photo by Flickriver on Google Images.


J, Hattie., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. doi: 10.3102/003465430298487.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA]. (2014). Responding to assessment – Mathematics. Implementing teaching, learning and assessment. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior/snr_tla_7_res_as_maths_tscript.pdf.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA]. (2014). Senior Syllabus: Geography. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior/snr_geography_07_syll.pdf.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 4 – Assessing for success. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/course/view.php?id=11084.


Task 6: A Resource to Support High Quality Source Selection

Resource: E. McCulloch, 2017. Selecting and Using Relevant and Reliable Primary and Secondary Sources to Support Geographical Inquiry.

The above resource has been designed to facilitate the collection of reliable, relevant and unbiased information/data from a range of primary and secondary sources, to support the Questioning and Collecting data phase associated with Geographical Inquiry (Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA], 2014).

The skills taught within the resource align with achievement standards from both the 7-10 syllabus and 11-12 syllabus. In the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s [ACARA] 7-10 syllabus, Geographical Inquiry and Skills > Collecting, recording, evaluating and representing, students: “Evaluate sources for their reliability, bias and usefulness and select, collect, record and organise relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources” (2014). QCAA’s 11–12 Syllabus, assessment Criterion number 4, Research and communication, requires student work to have: “current, valid and reliable information from a wide variety of sources and settings” (2007, p.74). The syllabus documents therefore clearly outline the importance for researching and evaluating skills to be taught.

I designed the resource around Geographical Inquiry as Geography is an inquiry-based subject across years 7-12, thus making it an appropriate resource, adaptable for all years of secondary schooling. Through inquiry-based learning students are actively involved in their education and naturally engage in key competencies such as “collecting, analysing and organising information” (QCAA, 2007), which is detailed in this resource.

The resource explicitly outlines the difference between primary and secondary sources, as well as provides examples of primary and secondary data in the field of Geography as to promote student understanding, and assist with the inquiry process. Positioning this information at the forefront of the resource supports the information to follow.

Next, is an image of the Geographical Inquiry Model. I included this for a few reasons. One being, so students, depending on their experience in Geography, could either a) become familiar with steps involved in Geographical inquiry, or b) refresh their memories and reflect on prior inquiry-based learning experiences. By highlighting the Questioning and Collecting data phases, I hoped to make it obvious that this resource would be tackling how to approach these two phases. The rest of the model is there simply for students to see the progression of inquiry.

Using the information listed under the Questioning and Collecting data phases, I then decided to include information helping students to evaluate sources, knowing that this skill will both assist them in developing their inquiry questions and collecting information to answer these questions. When creating the table to determine a source’s reliability, potential bias and usefulness, I consolidated information from a range of already existing sources, including elements from: QCAA’s Year 9 Geography Sample Assessment, Chalk and Salton’s TADPOLE Model, and Oxford Big Ideas Geography 10 textbook. The reliability/bias/usefulness table in the resource is designed as almost a checklist, with questions for students to determine the credibility of sources.

Following this table, is a note-taking table designed to support students in their research. Once students reach this section of the resource they should have the skills to identify and evaluate primary and secondary sources. Through the development of these skills and further research, students should be able to decide upon what questions particular sources will answer. Through their research, students should have an understanding of any social, environmental, or economic impacts – which I often refer to as the 3 geographical criteria. I included this last column as throughout the study of Geography, students are consistently asked to consider these criteria, and would likely need to include this knowledge in learning beyond this resource.

The graphic organisers which follow the note-taking table are included for students to use in conjunction with the former parts of the resource. Students certainly don’t need to use all of them, or any of them in fact, they are simply there as a tool to support the inquiry process and are a fantastic way of organising content and facilitating the comprehension of new information, helping students to internalise what they are learning through their visual and spatial modalities (TeachHub.Com, 2017). The visual element of graphic organisers allows students to actually see connections and relationships between information, an important skill in Geography and beyond.

Overall, I believe the resource that I have created will successfully support the teaching and learning of using relevant and reliable sources in Geography across years 7-12, through both its careful integration of Geographical inquiry and adaptability.

Photo by Wexford Educate Together on Google Images


Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s [ACARA]. (2014). Home / F-10 Curriculum / Humanities and Social Sciences / Geography. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/humanities-and-social-sciences/geography/.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA]. (2014). Australian Curriculum Year 9 Geography Sample Assessment | Teacher guidelines. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/p_10/ac_sa_geog_yr9_inv_production_patterns.pdf.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA]. (2007). Senior Syllabus: Geography. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior/snr_geography_07_syll.pdf.

TeachHub.Com. (2017). Use Graphic Organisers for Effective Learning. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://www.teachhub.com/teaching-graphic-organizers.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 2 – Pedagogical Priorities in Humanities Education. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/course/view.php?id=11084.

Task 5: Differentiation in the Humanities – Geography

Case study #2 (Salton & Chalk, 2017)
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The above scenario foregrounds policy issues, including how the school of this particular student defines gifted and talented students (GATS) and what support is available for these students. It does not define GATS, however, so this blog post uses following definition: “gifted pupils are those students most academically able,” (EdChat, 2013).

Standards 1.5 and 1.6 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, require teachers to differentiate their teaching to meet individual needs, and demonstrate a broad understanding of strategies to support the participation of students with disability (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2017). Both of these standards refer to the teaching of gifted and talented students (GATS), and those with lower academic ability and disability.

A study by Rowley identifies 12 instructional strategies successful in facilitating learning for GATS. To summarise, teachers should employ teaching strategies which: “accommodate the individual; motivate and provide opportunities; develop talent; differentiate the depth and pace and offer challenging content and promote higher-level thinking” (2008).

In this situation, my responsibility as a teacher is to meet the needs of all my learners. For this particular student who is gifted in numeracy, I need to ensure that I do not teach, but rather facilitate the learning in this area. It is important that I provide this student with choices/options, and opportunities to connect with ideas at a higher level of thinking (Rowlely, 2008).

Literacy, specifically spelling, is an area in which this student struggles. It is therefore important to increase their sense of efficacy, helping them achieve at a higher level (Howard & McCabe, 2004). To do this, Howard and McCabe (2004) highlight the importance of teachers strengthening students’ expectations of success rather than failure; tasks should match the student’s ability levels, and challenge, not frustrate them. Other instructional principles should also be implemented: linking new work to recent successes; reinforcing effort and persistence; and helping students create personally important goals.

To improve this student’s spelling, they could read out-loud from a piece of writing of his/her choice, applying his/her public speaking skills. The student can then independently identify the words he/she has trouble spelling from this piece of writing by creating a spelling list on the computer. The spelling list compiled by the student could be distributed to the parent to reinforce and practice at home, taking advantage of the parent’s support and collaboration. If the student selects the piece of writing, practices their public speaking, and independently identifies spelling words to later practice, the student may regain and strengthen interest and self-efficacy.

If the student has a disability, the Disability Discrimination and Disabling Standards for Education is relevant. It includes information about making reasonable assessment adjustments, available support services, and curriculum development and delivery (2005). The Guidance Notes provide additional material that compliment the standards, designed to enhance the understanding and application of the standards.

Petrilli acknowledges that the greatest challenge in schools today is the “enormous variation in the academic level of students” in the classroom (2011). As a humanities teacher, it is important I know my learners’ needs and implement differentiation to meet them.

Photo by Sequent Learning Networks on Google Images


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). Student Diversity. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/student-diversity.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards.

EdChat. (2013). Teachers TV: Gifted and Talented. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awo4yGIJ7w8.

Department of Education and Training. (2005). Disability Standards for Education 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2017, from https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/disability_standards_for_education_2005_plus_guidance_notes.pdf.

Howard, M., McCabe, P. (2004). Self- Efficacy: A key to Improving the Motivation of Struggling Learners. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=a065d11c-e0b7-438a-a0e9-ed7580e60c2c%40sessionmgr101.

Petrilli, M. (2011). All Together Now? Educating high and low achievers in the same classroom. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://educationnext.org/all-together-now/.

Rowley, J. (2008). Teaching strategies to facilitate learning for gifted and talented students. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/fullText;dn=720828846652095;res=IELAPA.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 3 – The Humanities for Everyone. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from https://lor.usq.edu.au/usq/file/16f9d986-b194-4a29-af0e-1b0e95f592fb/1/EDS4408%20-%20Module%203.pdf.

Task 4: Literacy and Numeracy in the Humanities

Across the Australian Curriculum students develop the knowledge and skills to become literate and numerate. Literacy and Numeracy are General Capabilities, combined with curriculum content and cross-curriculum priorities to promote successful work and life for young Australians in the 21st Century (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2017a).

Within the Literacy continuum there are 2 overarching processes:
1. Comprehending texts through listening, reading and viewing, AND
2. Composing texts through speaking, writing and creating.

These 2 processes incorporate 4 areas of knowledge:
1. Text knowledge
2. Grammar knowledge
3. Word knowledge, AND
4. Visual knowledge (ACARA, 2017b)

ACARA also provides a Learning Continuum, whereby certain Literacy skills are aligned with the years of schooling. E.g. “Typically by the end of Year 10, students…” (2017c).

Numeracy also has a continuum. It is organised into 6 interrelated elements:
1. Estimating and calculating with whole number
2. Recognising and using patterns and relationship
3. Using fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and rate
4. Using spatial reasoning
5. Interpreting statistical information
6. Using measurement (ACARA, 2017e).

Again, ACARA also provides the Learning Continuum for Numeracy for teachers to use as a guide.

In order for students to successfully engage in the Humanities, students require sound knowledge and understanding of certain literacy and numeracy skills. As identified by ACARA’s  ‘Key Skills for Humanities and Social Sciences‘ students in the humanities need to be able to:
develop questions;
research, collect data and organise information;
analyse and interpret information, identify key points, purpose and reliability of sources;
evaluate, draw conclusions and suggest courses of action; and
communicate and present findings in appropriate forms for the appropriate audience, including the correct use of subject-specific terminology (ACARA, 2017d).

The table below links this information to examples of literacy and numeracy skills required in Geography.

Literacy Numeracy
Questioning For students’ to successfully form geographical inquiry questions they need to have an understanding of the learning area vocabulary and have sufficient knowledge in spelling (word knowledge).
Research For students to adequately collect and organise information they need to be aware of text structures and text cohesion (text knowledge). The research process in Geography often requires students’ to interpret statistical information. For example, when creating a climate graph, students’ need to find and understand the relevant data, to plot onto a graph. An example of this can be seen in the featured image of this blog post.
Analyse In analysing and interpreting information, students’ require sound knowledge of grammar, specifically: sentence structures, words and word groups, and an understanding of how opinion and points of view are expressed in texts (grammar knowledge).
Evaluate If following this order, students should now be able to combine their knowledge of words, text and grammar to draw conclusions and suggest action. Using the same example of a climate graph, when evaluating, students need to be able to recognise and identify patterns and relationships. For example, high rainfall might correlate with high temperatures.
Communicate To effectively present their findings, students need to understand how visual elements create meaning (visual knowledge) To present information in the climate graph, students need to calculate, use spatial reasoning and measurement skills to accurately plot the data.

The below scenario has been chosen for this blog post to address the literacy and numeracy skills necessary for students to successfully engage in the Humanities.

Case study #1: (Salton & Chalk, 2017)
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When focussing on literacy and numeracy, the student in the above case study clearly struggles in this area and will need support to both understand key concepts and express their knowledge and ideas. The student has support from home and would most likely respond to encouragement and receive a boost in confidence if given a few tasks within his/her capabilities to help him/her see themselves as literate and numerate.

Other appropriate strategies would be to break learning into manageable chunks and provide visual and verbal prompts. Wherever possible, combining visuals/graphic organisers to support written work may assist this student as well as providing these tasks to the tutor to review and revise with the student.

In helping this student to write I could provide an exemplar and scaffold the learning into appropriate size chunks. I could also provide him/her with sentence starters and a scribe, or technology that uses speech-to-text applications.

Photo by KS3 Geography on YouTube


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2017a). Home / F-10 Curriculum / Humanities and Social Sciences / Geography / General Capabilities. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanities-and-social-sciences/geography/general-capabilities.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2017b). Home / F-10 Curriculum / General Capabilities / Literacy / Organising elements. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/literacy/organising-elements/organising-elements.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2017c). Home / F-10 Curriculum / General Capabilities / Literacy / Continuum. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/literacy/continuum#layout=columns&page=9.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2017d). Home / F-10 Curriculum / Humanities and Social Sciences / Key Skills. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanities-and-social-sciences/key-skills.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2017e). F-10 Curriculum / General Capabilities / Numeracy / Organising elements. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/numeracy/organising-elements/organising-elements.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 3 – The Humanities for Everyone. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from https://lor.usq.edu.au/usq/file/16f9d986-b194-4a29-af0e-1b0e95f592fb/1/EDS4408%20-%20Module%203.pdf.

Task 3: Reflecting on safety in the Humanities – Geography

As per the Australian Professional Teaching Standards 4.4 and 7.2, teachers must “maintain student safety” (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2017) and “comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements” (AITSL, 2017), such as policies and processes, which include those outlined by Education Queensland (EQ).

Reflecting upon my practicum placement experiences concerning safety within Geography, there were two key incidents, with one inside of the classroom, and the other outside of the regular classroom.

During my most recent placement, I was fortunate enough to attend the Year 12 Geography Camp, whereby a major part of the students’ Field Research Report was formed by exploring the impact of the viticulture industry on the natural environment.

After a long and tedious journey to the camps destination, students were required to begin setting up, starting with tents. Considering that most students involved had attended the Year 10 Geography camp only two years prior, it was presumed that the students would be able to erect their tents in a prompt and safe manner. These being the circumstances which possibly lead to the first incident.

Two male students, one of who was the School Captain, decided it would be a ‘fun’ idea to throw their tent pegs into the air, participating in a game of chicken waiting for them to land in the ground. Both students were wearing minimal foot protection – thongs – with several other students only meters away, oblivious to what was going on. There were 2 practising teachers, and myself, a pre-service teacher who witnessed these 2 males acting in an unsafe manner. One of the practising teachers explicitly told the 2 students to stop what they were doing and to focus on setting up the tents like all the others.

Upon reflection, I do not believe this incident was handled appropriately by the practising teacher. The 2 students should have been removed from the task of setting up the tents and spoken to about the safety implications their actions could have led to. All students should have been wearing protective footwear in the first place.

The second incident in which the issue of safety arose was again on my most recent practicum, however, this time in a Year 8 Geography classroom. Students were working independently, revising for their upcoming Geography exam. Expectations were clear, that students were to work either silently and independently, or quietly in pairs. One student who sits in the back corner of the room each lesson repeatedly misbehaves and does not work well with other students. In this lesson, this particular student was swinging back on his chair and spinning a pair of scissors in his hands. Several safety concerns are present here. One, danger to this individual student swinging on his chair with an extremely sharp and dangerous object, and two, the threat to the other students in the room if the scissors departed from this student’s hands. The practising teacher immediately told the student to put the scissors away and to stop swinging on his chair. The student listened to the teacher’s instruction for about 10 minutes, and then returned to swinging and spinning the scissors to which went unnoticed by the teacher who was working with other students.

Upon reflection, this incident was not handled well by the practising teacher. The scissors could have been removed completely from the student’s possession and the student could have been asked to stand for 10 minutes, with his chair removed, before earning back his chair. There should also have been a one-on-one discussion with the student regarding the safety implications of his actions.

There is an abundance of information on EQ’s website about the hazards and risks associated within schools. The website provides information about managing common hazards, as well as the Curriculum Activity Risk Management Guidelines (CARA), which provide essential information about risk assessments.

The study of Geography often involves field trips or excursions, therefore it is of vital importance that I am aware of the requirements of providing a safe environment and how to minimise risks associated with learning both inside and outside of the regular classroom. This can include seemingly innocuous activities like bush-walking, which can be very hazardous if students and staff are not adequately prepared.

Photo by Elly McCulloch – Stanthorpe, 2017


Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved August 14, 2017, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards.

Department of Education and Training. (2014). Hazards and Risks. Retrieved August 14, 2017, from http://education.qld.gov.au/health/safety/hazards.html.

Task 2: Self-assessment and student learning in the Humanities – Geography

Through geographical inquiry, students develop critical thinking skills and an appreciation for different viewpoints in our constantly changing and interconnected world.

As outlined in the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s (QCAA) Geography Senior Syllabus document, Geographical skills that students learn include retrieving information – i.e. researching statistics – and creating, manipulating and presenting information – i.e. creating a graph that represents said statistics (2007). Thinking skills developed through the study of Geography include the recalling of knowledge, analytical processes such as interpretation; analysis of relationships, cause and effect, decision-making processes – i.e. evaluating or making judgements and justifications using evidence. Communication skills developed include the conventions for written communication, for instance acknowledging sources and adhering to the structure of a field report; oral communication, such as using the appropriate geographical terms when investigating; and cartographic and graphical communication, which can include graphing and mapping (QCAA, 2007).

Students develop these skills through key learning experiences that are aligned to Geography’s general objectives and exit criteria: knowledge, analytical processes, decision-making processes, research and communication (QCAA, 2007).

Geographical skills can also be found in the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s (ACARA), General and Cross-curriculum Capabilities. For example, the cross curriculum priority of ‘Sustainability’, where students’ determine actions that could support a more sustainable way of living (ACARA, 2017).

As a humanities teacher, I plan to implement a constructivist approach to my inquiry pedagogy, meaning my teaching is learner focused, and therefore promotes “active, cooperative, problem-based learning” (Salton & Chalk, 2017).

Duarte’s paper written about what constitutes ‘good teaching’ provides valuable resources from its “insightful reflections of experience and successful teachers” that each have over 10 years teaching experience (2013).

Like Jade, a marketing teacher in Duarte’s study, I believe that teachers “do not need to know everything”, rather, “they must be enablers of learning” (2013). Knowledge derives from multiple sources- “including our own students” (Duarte, 2013). Therefore, good teaching works in collaboration with both teacher and learners, developing a space where together knowledge is discovered.

Research highlights that there is little evidence to support the correlation between a teacher’s subject knowledge and student achievement. John Hattie, a well-renowned education academic, supports that content knowledge is only a “minor consideration” in academic achievement (Heggart, 2016). Hattie even conducted a meta-analysis that identified 138 different factors influencing learning.

“Teacher subject-matter knowledge had an effect size of 0.19, meaning that it was far less effective than other factors like classroom management (0.52) or effective teacher feedback (0.75)” (Heggart, 2016).

Yes subject knowledge is still vital, however, on its own it will not positively impact student achievement. Keith Heggart, a High School teacher from Sydney, explains it best: teachers “need a wide range of different skills and attitudes… these should include relationships with students, subject matter knowledge and an understanding of pedagogical processes” (2016). In weaving this range of abilities together, teachers will be able to provide the most meaningful learning experiences.

For me as a pre-service teacher it is now clear to me that though content knowledge is important, it is not the only thing that will enable me to be a good teacher. I need to balance this with even more critical knowledge of my learners – the student’s in front of me. This links directly to the Professional Standard for Teachers 1.2: understanding how students learn and the implications for teaching (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AISTL], 2017).

Photo by BAM! Radio Network on Google Images


Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [ACARA]. (2017). Home / F-10 Curriculum / Humanities and Social Sciences / Geography/ Cross-curriculum priorities. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://v7-5.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanities-and-social-sciences/geography/cross-curriculum-priorities.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards.

Duarte, F. (2013). Conceptions of Good Teaching by Good Teachers: Case Studies from an Australian University. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1276&context=jutlp.
Heggart, K. (2016). How Important is Subject Matter Knowledge for a Teacher? Retrieve August 12, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/how-important-subject-matter-knowledge-teacher.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA]. (2007). Senior Syllabus: Geography. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior/snr_geography_07_syll.pdf.

The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland. Geography Years 1 to 10, Studies of Society and Environment, Key Learning Area. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/p…/research_qscc_sose_geography_00.docx.

Salton, Y., Chalk, T. (2017). Module 2 – Pedagogical Priorities in Humanities Education. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from https://lor.usq.edu.au/usq/file/c4665bb1-c42b-4fd0-91b9-f43261c98c11/1/EDS4408%20-%20Module%202.pdf.

Task 1: Mis/pre-conceptions in the Humanities – Geography

Incorrect views and opinions – often referred to as misconceptions – and ideas formed prior to sufficient information – otherwise known as preconceptions (Engleman & Huntoon, 2011) – influence the way we understand the world, and those within it. The Humanities, specifically Geography, is “the study of locations and the relationships between people and their environments” (National Geographic, 2017). The humanities as a whole, are often an undervalued area of study that provides its learners with significant skills, vital for students learning how to become “informed, responsible and active citizens” (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [ACARA], 2017), able to contribute to and participate in the growth and development of society.

A popular preconception believed by the majority is that ‘Geography’ is simply the study and production of maps. Though this is not entirely incorrect, it is often an opinion people have before they are exposed to the “rich and complex discipline” (Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA], 2007).

An example of a misconception could be students’ viewing the environment as objects – ‘just trees’ or ‘just water’. As the video in this blog post explains, students often have a limited view on the environment. This view needs to be challenged, and changed to one that includes students’ relationships with the environment, and therefore include an “element of stewardship, and environmental responsibility” (YouTube, 2013).

Teachers could challenge students’ misconceptions of environment by focussing on student’s ‘personal geography’, that is, their individual experiences with the environment. An example of this might include a student’s experience with litter, or recycling in the school. This real-world context provides students with the opportunity to make connections, from a local to a global scale.

It is important for teachers to know their students’ misconceptions, as it is a starting point for their teaching; ascertaining prior knowledge – what do my students already know, or think they know? Students are not the only ones with misconceptions and preconceptions. Teacher mis/preconceptions can also hinder academic achievement and teacher success (Engleman & Huntoon, 2011). Therefore, it is just as important that teachers address their prejudices, especially before teaching the content to their students.

In Ferrero’s ‘The Humanities, Why Such a Hard Sell?’ article, he talks about the three broad purposes of schooling: personal, economic and civic (2011). He explains how civic and personal aspects of schooling, which are largely the focus in the Humanities, are seen as less important, afterthoughts and by-products of the economic. This is a concern for the value of the humanities, as gaining credentials that are linked to employability overpower the importance of the broad exposure to the world that areas within the humanities, such as Geography, provide. Interest is then lost in those subjects “that cannot justify themselves in economic or credentialist terms” (2011). Ironically, the skills formed within an area of study like Geography, promotes analytical and decision-making processes, and effective research and communication skills through its inquiry model (QCAA, 2007), fundamental to those skills required in the workforce. An example of this is how Geography teaches skills such as planning and organising through “collecting, analysing and organising information” (Department of Education and Training, 2017), an essential life skill and key competency sought by employers. This affirms the contested opinion that the humanities, an undervalued area, hold exponential value.

Through studying Geography, and other areas within the humanities, both teachers and students are empowered to become aware of, and reassess their judgements and prejudices. The lessons, skills and knowledge learnt in the humanities, enhance our lives in a variety of ways, preparing us for the role of a citizen in the 21st Century.


Photo by Pixabay on Google Images


Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [ACARA]. (2017). Home / F-10 Curriculum / Humanities and Social Sciences / Geography / Aims. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/humanities-and-social-sciences/geography/aims/.

Department of Education and Training. (2017). Australian Core Skills Framework. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from https://www.education.gov.au/australian-core-skills-framework.

Engleman C., Huntoon, J. (2011). Improving Student Learning by Addressing Misconceptions. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011EO500001/epdf.

Ferrero, D. (2011). The Humanities – Why Such a Hard Sell? Retrieved August 10, 2017, from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=eafc6805-917a-4cc4-8e00-dd0f58e8f7f6%40sessionmgr103.

National Geographic. (2017). What is Geography? Retrieved August 9, 2017, from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/what-is-geography/.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA]. (2007). Senior Syllabus: Geography. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior/snr_geography_07_syll.pdf.

YouTube. (2013). Student’s Misconceptions in Geography. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPBqDFuyjuk.