Year 6 students at St Brigid’s Catholic Primary Marrickville dressed as famous global figures – Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, St Patrick, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Eva Peron, Robert the Bruce from Scotland and many more – as part of ‘Around the World in a Day’.
Held on 23 September, the day was the culmination of a term’s immersion in Geography, which started with studying the book, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. The students also read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, a novel set in Japan, and learnt about Rio and Brazil during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The immersion also involved each student being allocated a country to research and prepare and present a geographical display for ‘Around the World in a Day’. As part of their research they chose a notable person from their focus country.
Taking on the character of their notable person, the students acted as tour guides for visitors to their country display. Armed with their ‘passports’ the student visitors toured the different country displays, asking questions about Sweden, United Arab Emirates, India, Malaysia, Norway and Nepal and many more. At the end of their visits, the students’ passports were filled with interesting facts on the currency, climate, religions, dress, symbols, housing, history and food of more than 30 countries.
Year 6 teacher, Michelle Saville said immersion day activities like ‘Around the World in a Day’ are student-centred learning experiences.
“They encourage the autonomous learner and promote creativity and real world knowledge,” Ms Saville said.
Other benefits of this style of learning and assessment were that it allows students of all abilities to demonstrate knowledge and skills through demonstration and discussion rather than by solely completing a written post test. It also developed higher order thinking skills as students selected, analysed and synthesised research materials.
“They learnt many geography skills and knowledge in the classroom including mapping the longitude and latitude of their focus country.
Ms Saville said while the focus of Geography for Stages 1 and 2 was on learning about their place, town or city and country, in Stage 3 it was on making global connections.
She said the students learnt a lot about world geography by following the global journey of Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days.
“They learnt many geography skills and knowledge in the classroom including mapping the longitude and latitude of their focus country. The culmination of their learning was demonstrating their geographical knowledge and skills through their presentations.”
Catherine Sevdalis, who took on the role of Maya Gurung from Nepal as her notable person, said she chose her because she was one of the first women to climb Everest.
“I also chose her because she helped victims of earthquakes and in Science we have been studying earthquakes.”
Catherine was one of many girls in her class who chose inspirational, trail-blazing women as their notable person with others selecting Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland and human right campaigner, Kitturchenna, a freedom fighter from India, Eva Peron from Argentina and Mary, the mother of Jesus from Israel.
Antonio Andonopoulos, who took on the role of St Patrick, really enjoyed investigating Ireland.
“I learnt that they have two official languages – Gaelic and English and in Irish, the country is called Eire. I found it very interesting and didn’t know that Northern Ireland existed as a separate country.”
Caterina Spinelli said she was really excited when she was allocated Egypt as her focus country.
“I had always wanted to know more about Egypt and all the pharaohs and the pyramids. I was going to chose a woman politician as my notable person but chose Cleopatra as she was the last pharaoh of Egypt.”
“The research the students put in enabled them to bring their learning alive.
Principal, Lynette Sandford, said the research the students put in enabled them to bring their learning alive.
“Dressing up in costume and taking on a character role makes learning more enjoyable and will help them retain the knowledge,” Ms Sandford said.
“The peer to peer learning is also really valuable as in Year 6 they are really influenced by their friends so they enjoy learning from each other.”