Upper Primary Conflict Unit
One of our classes has been undertaking a unit with a focus on World War 1, making comparisons between the years 1900-1920 with a WW1 focus, and the new millennium. They have been making comparisons between “then” and “now”, looking at technology, fashion, specific roles and expectations of men and women, medical practice, and how changes are incurred directly and indirectly through the advent of war. The teacher requested that I fill in the gaps with a focus on war literature.
(As each block contains only 7 lessons, the first of which is a planning session, topics are not covered in as much depth as may be preferable.)
In my first lesson, I had amassed a large selection of war/conflict/refugee novels, picture books and non-fiction texts. After giving a quick spiel about all of the titles I’ve read, the students were able to select and borrow to conduct their own reading of the topic.
Tuning In Exercises
I presented some information from the following teacher site: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/0702/070207-child_soldiers.html
(Mine took the form of war related images and some questions on the IWB. Spirited discussion followed)
In each lesson, I read one of the first three titles below and discussed content, similarities and differences, motivation and people behind war and its after effects.
The Enemy, Davide Cali and Serge Bloch
The Tin Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman, Raymond Briggs
(If the book is unavailable, the story does appear on YouTube)
Grumpy Little King, Michael Streich
This year, our timing meant that classes created some illustrations in response to these picture books in order for their work to become part of the library display. Previously, I have used only The Enemy and the titles listed below. Songs have motivated the students and they have mentioned, in discussions, films and video clips which they felt contained powerful messages.
In Flanders Fields, Norman Jorgenson and Brian Harrison-Lever
Photographs in the Mud, Dianne Wolfer and Brian Harrison-Lever
I Was Only Nineteen, Redgum
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Eric Bogle
Barbara Braxton has since directed me to a unit which she created. She also adds:
Blowin’ in the Wind, Bob Dylan
The Times they are a-changing, Bob Dylan
Imagine, John Lennon
Give Peace a Chance, John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Turn, Turn, Turn, The Byrds
In class, some students and the teacher also guided me toward other music, some perhaps more suitable for secondary students:
Civil War, Guns N’ Roses
The Saints are coming, U2
Army Dreamers, Kate Bush
This Is War, 30 seconds to Mars
Other books which may work in different units are My Mother’s Eyes: The Story of a Boy Soldier, Mark Wilson, Memorial, Gary Crew and Shaun Tan, Erika’s Story by Ruth Vander Zee and Robert Innocenti, Anne Frank, Josephine Poole and Angela Barrett and even A Child’s Garden…a Story of Hope by Michael Foreman. For ANZAC day, there are always My Grandad Marches on Anzac day, Catriona Hoy, Only a Donkey, Celeste Walters and Patricia Mullins and Angel of Kokoda by Mark Wilson,