Building a new Civilisation

Posted by lindsayfisher

Creating Weslandia

Last week, Year 5 had an exciting start to our new unit of inquiry, Where we are in place and time.

The central idea is: Connections between past civilisations and present-day societies influence the future

The Year 5 teaching team, along with Mrs. Sercombe, Mr. Eastwood, Mrs. Agars and Mrs. Drew invited all one hundred and twenty students to the foyer for a powerful and action-packed provocation. To pique the students’ interest, the teachers read the first part of a book called Weslandia, where a young boy has become disillusioned by his current life and sets off to build his own civilisation.

Our turn! Down to the foyer, everyone!

Using an array of equipment such as cones, boxes, ropes, drawing materials, cardboard, hoops and mats, they were tasked with getting into groups and building their own civilisation. There were no specific instructions, and the teachers did not answer any questions about what a civilisation is or should be, as we wanted to stimulate student thinking and get an idea of prior knowledge.

As the building was busily happening all over the foyer, the teachers were circulating and conducting interviews to gather student thinking. Students approached the task in a variety of ways. Some immediately obtained a rope to create a border, others built buildings and bridges and some groups had distinct regions in their civilisations for various purposes. Currencies were developed, borders were patrolled and transport systems were put into place. The foyer was buzzing with creativity, teamwork and enthusiasm.

Where to next?

Back in class, students reflected on the experience and a collective understanding of what constitutes a civilisation is beginning to take shape. Students shared their thinking around the features of civilisations, and are beginning to use solo taxonomy thinking maps as important ways of synthesising their understanding.

This provocation was a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile activity. The students developed their cooperative teamwork skills such as resolving conflict, respecting others and sharing equipment. After more investigating into ancient civilisations, students will choose and inquire into a feature of ancient civilisations to identify important connections between civilisation and legacies that have been left for us to enjoy today.

What legacy will we leave behind?