Learning about government, democracy and law comes under the domain Civics and Citizenship which comes under the strand of physical, personal and social learning. At VELS level 4 the standards for civics and citizenship states that: ‘At Level 4, students describe the nature of Australia’s democracy that developed as a result of Federation. They describe the three levels of government and some of the key functions of each level. They explain the basic elements of Australia’s federal parliamentary system and key democratic principles and values such as freedom of speech and equality before the law. They explain the concept of multiculturalism and describe the contribution of various cultural groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to Australian identity. They demonstrate understanding of the process of making and changing laws’.
In my lesson I first asked the students to share prior knowledge about bushrangers. Then I started going through a PowerPoint that I had made. The decision to make the PowerPoint was a good one, it kept the students engaged and more interested in the topic than if I had just been talking. I made sure to ask students for their opinions on certain topics and asked questions such as ‘what do you think...?’ before explaining certain things. A lot of the students put their hands up which I was glad to see and I made sure to acknowledge all their answers whether they were on the correct track or not. After the PowerPoint the students completed a worksheet on bushrangers which I have a copy of.
You can have a look at my PowerPoint by downloading it.
Below you can watch a video about the courtroom dramas at the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Another thing that students studying the unit ‘You and the Law’ can do is to tie the unit in with voting for house and school captains. I volunteer my time at UPPS and while I was there at the start of the year some people came out to the school from the Australian Electoral Commission. The students watched a video and learnt about voting. Then they got to perform their own vote on favourite singers I think the topic was. A few days later the upper year levels grades 3-6 voted on their school captains and house captains. This was a process that involved the candidates creating posters putting them up around school and giving a speech to their peers (those in grades 3-6). Then the students voted. Through this process the students are learning about democracy in a way that is relevant to them.
The AEC also has resources that schools can use which you can look through on their website.