Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students discover how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use fire to manage Country. They investigate the question after viewing clips about cool burning in a tropical savanna. Students work in groups to research one ‘line of inquiry’ question and compile a report. They then produce two checklists that could be used as tools to improve management strategies for the Australian tropical savanna.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use fire to manage the savanna
  • Students recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use their knowledge of seasons and local conditions to produce cool burns that are sensitive to local ecosystems
  • Students understand that cool burns have a lower ecological impact than the more damaging wildfires which may occur later in the season.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingCultural UnderstandingTeam Work

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 5 HASS:

  • The influence of people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, on the environmental characteristics of Australian places (ACHASSK112)
  • The environmental and human influences on the location and characteristics of a place and the management of spaces within them (ACHASSK113)
  • The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (ACHASSK114)
  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary sources and secondary sources (ACHASSI095)
    Interpret data and information displayed in a range of formats to identify, describe and compare distributions, patterns and trends, and to infer relationships (ACHASSI100)

Year 6 HASS:

  • The world’s cultural diversity, including that of its indigenous peoples (ACHASSK140)
  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary and secondary sources (ACHASSI123)
  • Interpret data and information displayed in a range of formats to identify, describe and compare distributions, patterns and trends, and to infer relationships (ACHASSI128)

Syllabus outcomes: GE3-1, GE3-2, GE3-3, GE3-4.

General capabilities: Intercultural understanding, Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priorities: 

Relevant parts of Year 5 HASS achievement standards: Students identify and describe the interconnections between people and the human and environmental characteristics of places, and between components of environments. They identify the effects of these interconnections on the characteristics of places and environments. They locate, collect and organise data and information from a range of sources to answer inquiry questions.

Relevant parts of Year 6 HASS achievement standards: Students describe the interconnections between people in different places. They locate, collect and organise useful data and information from primary and secondary sources.

Topic: Cool Burning, Indigenous Education.

Unit of work: Cool Burning – Primary.

Time required: 95 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – introduce new content, assist with student research, confirm that students understand the communication project, assess the achievement of student outcomes.

Resources required: 

Related professional development: 

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, resources, wildfire, bushfire, cool burns, seasons, adaptation, savanna, ecology.

Special thanks to:

Fish River Station, John Daly, Dr Jeremy Russell-Smith, Peter Jacklyn, Peter McConchie, Dr Tommy George, David Claudie, Dale Musgrave, Carolyn George and Victor Steffensen.

Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the support of the Bennelong Foundation in updating these lessons.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum. There is great diversity in histories and cultures among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia. This resource includes investigations into and information about some of them. It has an emphasis, but not an exclusive one, on the histories and cultural practices of the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory. It is underpinned by consultation with Aboriginal communities in various parts of Australia. 

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use fire to manage the savanna
  • ... recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use their knowledge of seasons and local conditions to produce cool burns that are sensitive to local ecosystems
  • ... understand that cool burns have a lower ecological impact than the more damaging wildfires which may occur later in the season.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... work collaboratively and independently
  • ... participate in class and group discussions
  • ... conduct research online
  • ... produce a report to share with the class.

Teacher content information: In Australia, 23-25% of the land is covered in tropical savanna. Each year in the late dry season, hot fires sweep through a large proportion of this area. Hot burns result in about 25% of the landscape being burnt, which contributes between 1% and 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas em

...

Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: "Nearly 80 percent of Australians were affected either directly or indirectly by the 2019/2020 bushfires." (Climate Council)

Activating Prior Knowledge

Have a look at the image below and record your thoughts about this image using the questions in the table below:

 

What do you SEE?

What does it make you THINK about?

What does it make you WONDER?

Introduction To Cool Burns

Once you have watched the clips and participated in the class discussion, work independently to complete the prompts below with your responses.

I used to think...

But now I think...

Group Investigation

Your group will compile a report about how and why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use fire to manage Country. Select one 'line of inquiry' question from the table below to guide your research.

Criteria for your report:

  • Compile a report in one of the following formats: Word, Prezi, Video, PowerPoint
...

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