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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Archive for the ‘Asia & Australia’s Engagement with Asia’ Category

Migration Year 5 & 6 unit of work

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 21, 2014


I am working on a new unit of work for years 5 & 6: it’s intended to teach content from the Australian Curriculum on the topic of migration:

Stories of groups of people who migrated to Australia (including from ONE Asian country) and the reasons they migrated, such as World War II and Australian migration programs since the war. (ACHHK115)

In addition to exploring waves of migration at different times in Australian history, I am also interested in guiding students towards an empathetic understanding of the migrant experience, which will include the experience of being a refugee.

So far, I have gathered together these picture books to support the unit

  • Rebel! written by Allan Baillie and illustrated by Di Wu
  • The Peasant Prince, the true story of Mao’s Last Dancer, by Li Cunxin and Anne Spudvilas
  • The Little Refugee, the inspiring story of Australia’s happiest refugee, by Anh Do and Suzanne Do, illustrated by Brice Whatley
  • Boat Boy by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Eric David
  • The Island, by John Heffernan and Peter Sheehan
  • Ali the Bold Heart, based on the true story of an Iranian refugee, who performed as a magician in his own country, written by Jane Jolly and illustrated by Elise Hurst
  • Glass Tears, by Jane Jolly and Di Wu
  • Ziba Came on a Boat, by Liz Lofthouse, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
  • A True Person, written by Gabiann Marin and illustrated by Jacqui Grantford
  • Home and Away, by John Marsden and Matt Ottley
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan
  • The Boat, by Helen Ward and Ian Andrew

Novels to use include

  • Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman
  • The White Ship by Jackie French
  • When Hitler Took Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

Non-fiction resources

  •  Story of Migration to Australia, Heinemann
    • From the Middle East and Africa, by Nicolas Brasch
  •  Migrations series (Wayland)
    • Chinese Migrations, by Judith Kendra
  • We Came to Australia, Looking for … series, by Christine Mulvany & Lucy Carroll, MacMillan
    • Family;
    • Jobs and Education;
    • Different Environments;
    • Freedom;
    • Different Lifestyle.
  • Australian Immigration Stories by Louise Courtney and Linda Massola, Heinemann,
    • 1900-1940
    • 1940-1960
    • 1960-1980
    • 1980 –

Does anyone else have any suggestions for resources for this topic?

Posted in Asia & Australia's Engagement with Asia, Australian Curriculum, Australian History, School Library stuff, School Library Units of Work | Tagged: | Comments Off on Migration Year 5 & 6 unit of work

Book review: Hannah’s Night, by Komoko Sakai, translated by Cathy Hirano

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 26, 2013


Hannah's NightHannah’s Night is a simple story about a little girl who wakes up in the middle of the night and explores her home without her family’s knowledge.  Written and illustrated by Japanese author/illustrator Komoko Sakai, it would make a lovely companion piece to Margaret Wild’s The Midnight Gang (2004).   The Midnight Gang

In both these stories, small children discover a world of adventure.  Hannah first tries to wake her sister, and then establishes that her parents are asleep too.  She is accompanied by her cat, Shiro, and she has a small taste of independence when she gives the cat some milk and eats some cherries without asking – and no one tells her off.  She borrows her sisters doll, her music box, and her drawing things, and takes them back to bed to play with.  She looks out of the window but does not venture outside, eventually falling asleep again on her sister’s bed.

Baby Brenda’s midnight gang is more adventurous.  The reader can tell that Brenda often ditches her nappy  and scrambles through the cat door because her friends are all waiting for her.  Her wild adventures in the park include a trip to the stars, but like Hannah, Brenda eventually toddles back to where she belongs and no one is the wiser.

These books appeal to small children, because they love the idea of having secret adventures that their families know nothing about.  Hannah’s Night is simpler and less venturesome, but the illustrations are darker and convey the mild sense of danger that Hannah feels.  Ann James’s illustrations for The Midnight Gang are more whimsical and the children have cute cheeky faces.

I have been thinking for a while of building a shelf collection of picture books from Asian countries to support the cross-curriculum priority Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia, and while all I have at the moment for my ‘Japanese shelf’ are books by Junko Morimoto, Hannah’s Night could be the start of a ‘country study’ of Japanese authors, exploring the sense of restraint, calm and containment that (in my experience with adult fiction and a few picture books) characterises Japanese literature.  I am mulling over ideas for how to approach this concept…

Author: Komoko Sakai
Title: Hannah’s Night
Translated by Cathy Hirano
Publisher: Gecko Press, New Zealand, 2013
Source: Review copy courtesy of Scott Eathorne from Quikmark Media

Availability
Fishpond:
Hannah’s Night
The Midnight Gang (if you are lucky, there might be a second-hand copy there, if not try Brotherhood Books.

Posted in Asia & Australia's Engagement with Asia, Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Recommended books | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Book review: Hannah’s Night, by Komoko Sakai, translated by Cathy Hirano

Review: Chinese Lives, The People Who Made a Civilization, by Victor H Mair, Sanping Chen and Frances Wood

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 8, 2013


Chinese Lives: The People Who Made a CivilizationChina is becoming ever more important in world affairs, and for Australians, the inclusion of Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia as a curriculum priority for all students of all ages, means that teachers need to get up to speed with a multiplicity of countries, their cultures and histories.

That’s where a book like Chinese Lives, the People Who Made a Civilization is so very useful.  The blurb at Fishpond has this to say:

China is the most populous country on earth, with the longest history of any modern nation. In the 21st century, it is clear that China’s future, as a political and economic world power, is set to be as significant as its past, and its achievements still depend upon its people. This book tells the story of China through 96 short biographies. We see the range of Chinese cultural and scientific achievements, as well as its military conquests, wars, rebellions and political and philosophical movements, through the eyes of real people who created or were caught up by them. Here is a colourful array of very different men and women: emperors and empresses, concubines, officials and political figures, rebels, exiles, philosophers, writers and poets, artists, musicians, scientists, military leaders and committed pacifists. Their careers, achievements, misdeeds, disasters, punishments, ideas and love stories make this an unforgettable read. The expert authors have drawn on a huge range of sources to assemble information about the widest possible range of individuals from all periods and parts of China, from an early warrior lady of the 13th century BC, Fu Hao, to the late-20th-century Communist leader Deng Xiaoping.

Dream of the Red Chamber (Real Reads)What is so useful for busy teachers is that these short biographies really are short – only 2-3 pages long at the most, so they are quick and easy to read.  It’s a book made for dipping into, so although it’s handy that the Table of Contents lists the subjects by Chinese dynasty, i.e. corresponding to chronological sequence, it’s a pity that there isn’t also a listing by occupation.  I had to browse through it to find my first ‘pearl’ which was a bio of Cao Xueqin, said to be China’s greatest author, who has a status similar to Shakespeare in English-speaking countries. It was a quick and easy task to whip up a potted version simple enough for my Year 5 & 6 students who are about to embark on a Biography project, and it was also quick and easy to find a children’s version of Cao Xueqin’s novel, Dream of the Red Chamber (Real Reads) which I have ordered for our school library.

Mind you, it was not exactly a hardship to browse through the book to find interesting people worth knowing about.  And what this experience made me realise was that whereas every school kid knows the famous names of western civilization (Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, Einstein, Jane Austen, Beethoven et al)  and adults would be thought ignorant if they did not know who these people were, we in the West (apart from a few Sinophiles) have absolutely no idea about the comparable roll-call in China, one of the most advanced and enduring civilizations in history, and one that now matters to us all.  (Notwithstanding aspects of China that we don’t like, such as its appalling human rights record, its censorship and the dreadful conditions under which its workers create the cheap goods that we are forced to buy because Chinese manufacturing has put our own manufacturing industries out of business.)

I haven’t finished reading the book, and probably won’t have read it cover-to-cover by the time it has to go back to the library, but I shall be cherry-picking the profiles of people of some interest to 10-12 year-olds and adding them to my wiki.  If I had money to burn in my school library budget I would buy a copy, because it would be worth it even if only one or two of my colleagues were to read it.  For secondary schools, I think it’s a must-have.  Just as a quick sample, there are stories of

The Shang to Han Dynasties (c. 16th century BC to AD 220)

  • Fu Hao, a woman warrior of the Shang
  • Confucius (of course)
  • King Wuling of the Zhao, a warrior, and the man who brought trousers to China!)
  • Zhang Qian, an explorer
  • Sima Qian, an historian
  • Cai Yan, an exiled woman poet
  • Shi Le, a slave who became an emperor

The Sui and Tang Dynasties (220-907)

  • Kumarajiva, who translated Buddist sutras for the court, apparently kidnapped from Central Asia to do it
  • Wu Zetian, the only female emperor of China

As well as poets, there are plenty of politicians, rebels and bandits in this era because it was a period of disunity.  But not so many interesting people, which perhaps proves that peace is better for making progress than war.

Disunion to the Yuan Dynasty (907-1368)

  • Shen Gua, historian of science
  • Su Dongpo, not only a literary genius but also a legendary cook whose Dongpo-style pork is still a delicacy
  • Yue Fei, a patriot and national hero
  • Zhang Zeduan, a painter (the pictures in the book are gorgeous)
  • Khubilai Khan (yes, that one)
  • Guan Hanqing, founder of Chinese drama

The Ming Dynasty to the People’s Republic of China

(This section, as you’d expect, takes up about half of the book)

  • Zheng He, the eunuch admiral who sailed to Africa
  • Hai Rui, who is famous for being incorruptible, and Heshen, famous because he wasn’t
  • Xu Xiake, a traveller and geographer, who did most of his exploring on foot, covering nearly all the provinces of Ming China
  • Feng Menglong, a popular writer of bestsellers (the Dan Brown of his day?)
  • Pu Songling, a popular writer of ghost and horror stories (the Edgar Alan Poe of his day?)
  • Lin Zexu, who took on the British at the height of their power and banned the opium trade
  • Qiu Jin, feminist heroine and martyr (who learned martial arts in spite of having bound feet)
  • Lu Xun, greatest Chinese writer of the 20th century

Of course there are bios of the Usual Suspects: Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong, but you have to have been under a rock not to know who they are.  The last entry is about Deng Xiaoping, the leader who transformed post-Mao China into a market-driven economy while also maintaining its iron grip on dictatorial powers and the suppression of all dissent.

Authors: Victor H Mair, Sanping Chen, Frances Wood
Title: Chinese Lives, the People Who Made a Civilization
Publisher: Thames and Hudson, 2013
ISBN: 9780500251928
Source: Casey-Cardinia Library

Availability

Fishpond: Chinese Lives: The People Who Made a Civilization
Book Depository: Chinese Lives, the People Who Made a Civilization

(On the day I looked, it was significantly cheaper at Fishpond)

This review is cross-posted at ANZ LitLovers.

Posted in Asia & Australia's Engagement with Asia, Australian Curriculum, Book Reviews, Recommended books | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »