Teaching all of the HASS content in the Australian curriculum can be overwhelming! Particularly as the grades go up. Add in Civics & Citizenship in Year 3 and then Economics in Year 5 and your head can just be spinning with all the different content your students need to know by the end of the year.
Trust me… I know the feeling. After moving around a few different grades, year after year; re-writing HASS programs for each grade; I know the juggle of cramming it all into one year all too well – particularly in those upper primary years. It can almost seem ridiculous what your students need to learn in such a short period of time.
BUT… It is possible to fit it all in. And today I’m going to share with you some of my biggest tips for doing just that.
How to plan successfully for HASS:
1. Keep the Achievement Standard in mind!
The HASS Achievement Standard is what you will be reporting against. It is from here that you will be writing report card comments and formulating rubrics. Basically if it isn’t in the Achievement Standard you should be reconsidering whether you really need to teach it or not. The wording of the Achievement Standard can be a little vague though and lack context.
This is where the Content Descriptors come in. They will break down for you the appropriate content for that year level that will help you successfully meet the outcomes of the Achievement Standard.
You can break down Content Descriptors further with Elaborations. These give great examples of how you may approach teaching the Content Descriptors. It can become very tempting to try and teach all the examples in the Elaborations as most examples are really good… BUT… in order to teach the content in a meaningful way, it is just not possible to cover all the Elaborations. You will need to show some self-control here and just pick the ones that you feel will be most helpful and relevant for your students.
BUT… neither the Content Descriptors or the Elaborations should be what you base your assessment and reporting on. The Achievement Standard is for this. Therefore, don’t get distracted by all the ‘fluff’ of Content Descriptors and Elaborations. Keep the Achievement Standard in mind and its goals and then this will help keep your HASS program simpler.
In all of our units we make sure you are fully aware of the Achievement Standard components that you are covering. Like in this example from our Year 6 Australian Government Unit.
2. Integrate, integrate, integrate!!
Another great way of keeping things simple is to integrate HASS either just within its own strands or with other Learning Areas.
When you are reading the Achievement Standard and its associated Content Descriptors, consider what other subjects may compliment the unit or whether there is content from either of the HASS strands (History, Geography, Civics & Citizenship, Economics & Business) that would work well together.
Be careful though! Don’t overthink integrating HASS with other Learning Areas. If it isn’t coming naturally, don’t force it. Sometimes we can try to integrate different Learning Areas and all that ends up happening is a unit that is a hot mess resulting in disjointed teaching experiences and disconnected learning. Keep things simple!
English and History are great together! And likewise Geography and Maths can be a match made in heaven. We particularly love integrating English and History, like in our First Fleet Lapbook Unit for Year 4.
3. Consider your audience
When you are planning and teaching the content of the Australian HASS curriculum, it is important to consider your student’s backgrounds and experiences. This is particularly important when teaching content related to cultural and Indigenous studies.
Student’s experiences and backgrounds may influence how they receive and connect with some of the HASS curriculum content. In order for your HASS program to be a success, you will need to make sure you are sensitive to these students. Speaking with their parents or other members of your teaching community may be helpful here.
We have taken much care and done a considerable amount of research when developing our Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander units to ensure they are culturally sensitive and accurate. Our Year 3 My Place Unit is a great example of this.
4. Make the content engaging
Let’s be honest… some of the content of the Australian HASS curriculum can be quite dry. Alright… REALLY dry! But it doesn’t have to be. We have a few favourite ways of making the content come alive and more exciting for your students.
a) Youtube – there are so many great Youtube clips that explain different concepts in a far more engaging way than any teacher could.
b) Use technology – if you have it available, there are a number of apps or even just word processing software that can increase the engagement for your students on any topic. Our favourite: Microsoft Powerpoint, iMovie, iMotion, Canva, Quizzam, Google Earth, Sock Puppets, Popplet
c) Lapbooks – I can not tell you how much students love presenting their learning in a lapbook. If you don’t know what a Lapbook is, you can find out more here.
d) Flipbooks – This is another fun way for students to record their learning and research. We have a large selection of flipbooks over a variety of Learning Areas. You can view them here.
e) Factballs – Another fun way for students to record their learning. Find more about factballs here.
f) Powerpoints – Some content in the Australian Curriculum can be hard to find, particularly if you want it in child-friendly language. Our selection of Powerpoints designed to tackle some of the most difficult to teach content in the Australian HASS curriculum can not only help you teach the content but students can also use them independently to walk through the content at their own pace.
g) Field trips – Depending on your current Covid-19 restrictions this one may or may not be possible but we had to put it in here anyway because sometimes a field trip can cover more content than you could ever cover in a whole term, due to the hands on experiences students can engage with and the expert knowledge that often comes with those that run them.
h) Virtual Field Trips – If real field trips aren’t an option than virtual ones can be just as engaging. Just google Virtual Field Trips to see if there are any that cover the content you are trying to teach.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel – draw on knowledge around you
Most of the content in the Australian curriculum isn’t new. Teachers and educators have been teaching about the Australian gold rush, colonial life in Australia and the First Fleet for years (just as examples). Use their knowledge and expertise to help guide your teaching.
You would also be amazed at the wealth of knowledge that parents can offer to your HASS lessons. Don’t be afraid to ask for guest speakers from your own parent community to help teach the content.
With a little bit of googling too, you can find resources to support the content you are trying to teach. BUT… if you don’t have time for this and would rather it all done for you… then just head here to all our HASS resources to take your pick of our ‘done-for-you’ units.
Hopefully these tips will get you HASS organised in no time this year.
Don’t forget to comment below with any other great planning tips to share with our RDR community here!
Yours in teaching,