Review Blog

Apr 19 2012

Rigby Blueprints: Upper Primary Series A. Unit 4: Shaping our nation

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Pearson Education Australia.
Recommended age: The year level correlation for the Upper Primary Series A set is Year 5.
The Rigby Blueprints sets are unit-based literacy series with a strong Australian and explicit literacy focus. Each unit has a Big Ideas Book, one Guided Reading Book and five Topic Books; three non-fiction and two fiction. Each topic book supports the main ideas of the correlating 'pacing text' from the Big Ideas Book.
Also included in the Big Ideas Books are several related texts for each pacing text. The books are separated into three phases; introducing, investigating and applying and contain a wide variety of texts including newspaper reports, expositions, time lines, autobiographies, recounts, fiction extracts, visual texts, poems, tables and graphs and information reports. Early on in the Big Ideas Books students are presented with an all-encompassing unit challenge to complete which requires them to demonstrate their engagement with the topics discussed and show the development of their new understandings.
This particular Shaping our Nation unit covers five main events and influences that have shaped Australia as a nation; the Gold Rush, Stolen Generations, World Wars and the role literature and writers have played in shaping the national character. While well aligned with the Australian Curriculum English strand this unit also touches on some of the Year 5 Australian Curriculum History content. The non-fiction topic books are fantastic in that they use real life stories and real life people to bring the topics to life and make the information more meaningful for students, as do many of the texts within the Big Ideas Book. The simplicity of the fiction topic books mean that they are accessible to students of many reading levels. This is a notable point for this series as the varied text types allow access for students of various learning styles and levels.
The Big Ideas Book comes with a Student CD-Rom with a text and interactive activity for each of the four key topics as well as 'scene setter' and 'going beyond' activities. The texts are various formats (film, voice recording, question and answer form, information report etc) and the interactive activities are interesting and fun inclusive of quizzes and fill in the gaps activities. The CD-Rom also includes three assessment tasks related to the unit which open in Word and could be completed by students in a digital format.
Sample Australian Curriculum correlation documents and assessment rubrics are available  for one of the other Upper Primary Series A sets; Waterwise. These are extracts from the Upper Primary Series A Teacher Resource Book. This book covers all four units in this series; Waterwise, There's more to me, Our energy choices and Shaping the nation. Also available are Listening Post Audio CDs and BLM's.
Overall I think this particular Rigby Blueprints series could be successfully used to scaffold a whole term literacy unit through either whole class activities or small group work. The series provides students with a legitimate chance to meaningfully engage with the content of the texts and synthesise their new understandings with existing knowledge. This is especially achievable as the content of the unit is directly relatable to the students' real life and provides opportunities to connect learning with their immediate world.
Set contains:
Shaping our Nation: Big Ideas Book
Shaping our Nation Guided Reading Book
Topic Book 1: Gold and Mud (A play by Sally Odgers)
Topic Book 2: Stories of the Stolen Generations (by Marji Hill).
Topic Book 3: Maria's Journey (by Susie Brown)
Topic Book 4: We went to Gallipoli (by Pamela Rushby)
Topic Book 5: So Much to Tell Us: Amazing Australian Children's Authors (by Dianne Irving)
Nicole Smith-Forrest

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