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Duration and pathways: Using this unit in the classroom

This unit is designed to be used flexibly in a number of possible ways. Students will inquire into an important sustainability theme as they address the essential question presented. This will also include further questions that arise from issues around the prevalence of rubbish and how our lifestyles are shaping and changing the planet. Using Kath Murdoch’s integrated inquiry model (see table below), the unit can be conceptualised as a larger inquiry-based unit with 12 connected sequences of learning, ranging from tuning-in activities to students taking action with their learned skills, knowledge and understandings. You can opt to run with some or all of the activities presented, or indeed modify activities, content and modes of presentation to suit the contexts of your school and the nature of the unit of work.

The unit could be broken into parts based on a question that guides a particular learning sequence; for example, a specific focus on an individual making a difference (Sequence 7) or an issue in focus (Sequence 8). This unit would complement the study of a novel, or text in focus, or a paired text study; for example, using Andy Mulligan’s novel Trash with the documentary film Waste Land (Sequences 3 and 4). A closer focus could be made on review writing using the first four sequences of learning in particular. The latter sequences in this unit could be isolated if a key focus were to be placed on the teaching of non-fiction writing processes, or feature article writing in more depth (Sequences 9, 10, 11 and 12).

The unit could complement the study of broader issues of sustainability, moving beyond a focus on rubbish or waste, to climate change, population studies, food production and consumption, or even to an exploration of space junk! Students can also be encouraged to undertake further research into any one of these ideas. There are many ways that this unit could also be integrated with other learning areas, such as the visual arts, science and geography.  The unit could also lead into a project-based approach to learning, culminating in a class- or school-based sustainability project, a project aiming to draw attention to re-using and re-purposing personal rubbish, or waste.

Sequence Sequence title Kath Murdoch’s integrated inquiry model
1 How do we quantify and conceptualise trash? Tuning in
2 How do we bring this issue closer to home? Finding out
Sorting Out
3 How has trash been used as a setting in fiction?
4 How has trash been used as a setting in fiction?
5 What does sustainable living really mean? Going further
6 How have people made their lifestyles more sustainable?
7 What can we learn from Brennan Bird?
8 How has e-waste become the waste of the 21st century?
9 How do I find the right angle to a story?
10 How do I write an effective feature article? Making conclusions
Taking action
11 How do I add credibility when writing informative texts?
12 How are our lifestyles shaping and changing the planet?