100 Years of Anzac

After school returns in a few days, we will have a week before it is Anzac Day. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. To help our students on the autism spectrum engage in understanding the Anzac campaign, I have put together an iTunes U course filled composed of visual history activities for classes to work through.

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A few weeks ago I spoke at the Australian Maritime Museum at an Apple educational event where I presented our iTunes U course and spoke about the reason visual activities such as ones presented in the course are so significant for our students on the spectrum. I have put this blog post together to show some of the activities presented in the course. It was lovely to hear how the course has already been used in high school classes for students focusing on English as a second language, and for a variety of students in mainstream settings who have benefited from a more visual engagement with these historic concepts.

The course is called 'Understanding Anzac Day', published under my educational institution Autism Spectrum Australia. You can access it for free on iOS in iTunes U by following this link:

'Understanding Anzac Day' by Autism Spectrum Australia

The course is designed to be used classrooms students in the week leading up to Anzac Day. The focus is on visually driven, interactive content that allows students to create unique work on their iPad that can be presented at school Anzac Day services. 

Take the following work samples as a first example. Students utilise the Australian War Memorial website to research photographs of Gallipoli, and then to choose a medium of their choice to recreate the scene in the photograph with a focus on explicating the phenomenon that is being represented. Below are samples of a photograph of Anzac Cove, followed by a cove a student found in Minecraft to represent the one in the photograph. Then, using the app Union on iPad, the student combined the original photograph with the Minecraft cove, adjusting colours in the process and presenting the resulting image as a unique modern portrayal of the historic scene. Using special interests in this way is one of our core pedagogical approaches.

Below is the same activity, with a student using Lego to construct another scene from the Australian War Memorial. Then, using the app Diptic, the student presents a photograph of their recreation along with the original historic photo. It makes for a quality exhibition display in the classroom to showcase these creative visual recreations.

Another learning activity involves reading 'Meet the Anzacs' by Claire Saxby and Max Berry, and for students to note down reflections on what the Anzacs may have been thinking and reflecting on as they embarked on the campaign. Using the app Paper, students can visually note these considerations for the purpose of later creating an animation that they will depict and narrate in Toontastic. In Toontastic students can draw Anzacs and place them in a scene composed of photographs they have previously sourced from the Australian War Memorial website. It is a significant way of exploring the experiences that Anzacs went through as described in the texts explored as part of our Anzac reading. 

The last learning activity to share in this post is one that focuses on understanding the geography of the campaign and where the Anzac travelled once they left Australia and New Zealand. Again with reference to the book 'Meet the Anzacs', students note down the geographic locations mentioned and use either the app Barefoot Atlas or the Maps app that comes on iPad to take screenshots of the locations for the purpose of entering these into an Explain Everything presentation so as to be visually annotated. Barefoot Atlas is particularly strong to show some of the cultural footnotes associated with particular geographic areas, whereas Maps shows a more cartography based visualisation of the travelled campaign. Students can annotate the screenshots in Explain Everything using notes obtained within 'Meet the Anzacs'. 

I hope these activities and the 'Understanding Anzac Day' iTunes U course I put together are of use in your classroom in the week leading up to Anzac Day. Do let me know how you have found the activities, particularly in relation to how students on the spectrum have responded to the way these activities engage our historical understanding of Anzac.