1— Introduce the unit with You and Me: Our Place
Leonie Norrington grew up at Barunga Aboriginal community, south of Katherine, and central to the story is the portrayal of the long-grass people who sleep out on foreshore reserves on the outskirts of Darwin.
Complete a colour, symbol and image (CSI) chart for the word ‘Indigenous’. Collect these to ascertain the students’ initial beliefs and knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Record students’ ideas in one colour so that at the end of unit, when you return to this same chart, responses can be in a different colour to provide students with a visual sense of their growth.
Before reading You and Me: Our Place
As a class, look at the cover, title and end notes of You and Me: Our Place. Ask students to suggest what clues about the story the cover gives to the reader.
- What else is on the cover? Why have these symbols or images been included?
- Can we see different ways of looking at the world in the images the artist has chosen to use?
- What clues do we get about the story by looking at the cover?
Use on the following activities as pre-reading strategies. Complete a predict-o-gram based on the front cover. Use key vocabulary and names such as Uncle Tobias, Auntie Ruby, beach, fishing, park, sand, stingray, prawns and mangrove worms. Or provide students with four or five images from the text and ask them to work in groups to put the images in an order of their own choosing, to provide a predictive telling of the story.
During reading You and Me: Our Place
Refer to the predict-o-gram or group predictions of the story, as You and Me: Our Place is read. Discuss why certain predictions may have been made and whether existing knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures has an influence on the predictions.
Ask students to comment on the illustrations and layout in the book.
- Do they consider that the artist’s illustrations enhance the story? How is this achieved?
- Did the ending surprise the students?
- What were they expecting to happen as the story progressed?
- What are we being persuaded to infer about this specific Aboriginal culture, or about ATSI cultures in general, based on the illustrations in this text?
Jointly construct a table with the headings Information from the Text and Thoughts and Reactions. Under the first heading, list what is happening in the story sequentially as well as interesting language and sentences. Under the second heading, place matching information from the text that explains how the characters may be feeling, the reaction of the reader, or motivation of the author.
Refer to the language devices used in the text.
‘The sand crunches with newness under our feet’
‘Uncle Tobias sends the silver lure far out to sea to call the fish in’
‘His basket smells of salt and darkness’
Encourage students to visualise the images being described and suggest reasons for the author’s language choice.
Ask students to record similes that describe the setting and characters in the story.
After reading You and Me: Our Place
Have students record their reactions to the story.
Introduce the idea of contemporary and traditional Indigenous cultures. Jointly construct a definition of both ‘Indigenous’ and ‘cultures’ and display within the classroom.
Have the students write questions for each of the characters in the story and perform a ‘hot seat’ activity in small groups. Introduce the idea of point of view. Place thought bubbles over the top of the artwork in You and Me: Our Place, to help describe the point of view of characters. Discuss why various characters may answer the same questions differently. Which characters represent contemporary Aboriginal cultures and which characters represent traditional Aboriginal cultures?
How is the oral story telling tradition of Aboriginal Australians represented in You and Me: Our Place?
As a class, use sticky notes to label pictures in You and Me: Our Place that represent either contemporary or traditional Aboriginal cultures. Allow students to justify their point of view if they don’t agree with the group. Pay special attention to images that reflect both contemporary and traditional cultures simultaneously.
Select a page from the text to explore the use of colour in the illustration. Guide discussion on what colours Huxley has used and how these colours represent the earth and the sea. Observe any distinctive aspects about how the characters have been painted.
Display only the text from a different page and ask students to create an image to illustrate the text, based on some of the same painting techniques.