News » Local Aboriginal Stories in Our ClassroomsLast updated 10:13 AM on 9 October 2013
Providing connections for learners is integral to the success of student outcomes and Cessnock Community of Great Public Schools (CCGPS) will soon release a comprehensive package of support materials and lesson plans developed specifically to engage students in learning with a focus on local Aboriginal stories. The packages, designed for students from Kindergarten to Year 6, are literacy based, but incorporate rich learning activities across the key learning areas.
"The stories are dreaming stories related from the Awabakal people. No one 'owns' them; they have been passed down from generation to generation of Aboriginal people by word of mouth. They are local dreaming stories pertinent to certain famous areas within the Awabakal boundaries", said Sonia Sharpe, President, Korreil WonnaiAboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). "The AECG allowed these stories to be taught as Awabakal are one of the mobs in our area", she said.
Based on stories of local landmarks including Mt Sugarloaf and Nobbies, the units are aligned with the New English Syllabus to create a learning framework which is significant to Aboriginal students as well as strengthening the awareness and respect that all students have for our local Aboriginal culture.
"Our intent as quality educators, is always to provide learning experiences which are rich and meaningful. By providing our students with learning around stories which are locally relevant, not only do we build on their cultural identity and understandings, but we also make strong links for learning," said Todd Osland, Principal of Kitchener PS and Leader for CCGPS Aboriginal Education Team. "The stories which represent our past according to Aboriginal Dreamtime, are important as a focus for all students, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, because they create meaning and provide a focus for learning which children can easily relate to".
The units have been developed by a group of local educators from across CCGPS schools in collaboration with the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). Professional development for staff around the "Eight Ways of Learning" and "Stronger Smarter", educational frameworks which underpin the units, have also been offered across CCGPS to strengthen the confidence and capacity of teachers in delivering these learning modules.
"We are very proud of the work we are doing to embed Aboriginal learning styles and culture into our practice. On November 13th, the Principals of CCGPS, Kurri Kurri Learning Community and Korreil Wonnai AECG will unite to sign a ground-breaking Partnership Agreement aimed at maintaining a collaborative partnership into the future. It is very reassuring to know that as we sign off on this pact, we do so with the knowledge that we are indeed backing this up with genuine action", said Todd.
In 2012, CCGPS exceeded targets for Aboriginal students, halving and even closing the gap in some areas for literacy and numeracy. With continued strategic planning targeted at improving the outcomes for their Aboriginal students, they hope to see sustained growth and elimination of the gap altogether.