Loves me, loves me not

[Episode 17 | 1848: Johanna]

Johanna reads a letter from her uncle to her grandmother. She plays a practical joke on one of the Owen boys by putting a frog in his chamber-pot. Johanna and her grandmother visit the grave of her mother. Johanna asks about who her father was.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Dying with dignity
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Subtheme(s): Character; Customs and traditions; Language and scripting
  • Play the clip to the class, and discuss the role of Granny Sarah. Ask students to replay the clip to establish whose gravesites Granny Sarah is visiting (her husband's and her child's) and why she is visiting the cemetery on her birthday. Ask them to work in groups of three or four to establish the family relationships that exist between characters in the clip. Refer to the ABC3, 'My Place' website for more information about the characters.
  • Sarah is a character who features across five decades (episodes 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21). Ask students to view these episodes and distinguish the differences of her role in each. Sarah is a connecting device used in the overall story of 'My Place'. Ask students to fill in a table that describes Sarah's role in each episode.
  • Sarah and Johanna (mother and daughter of Alice) visit Alice's grave. Ask students to notice the information on the gravestone to work out Sarah's age, Alice's age when she died and then Johanna's age. A gravestone may also have an epitaph that says how a person has lived their life or how they wish to be remembered. The epitaph on Alice's gravestone reads as:

Beloved mother to Johanna
Daughter of Sam and Sarah
Sister to Davey and Maryann

  • During the conversation between Johanna and Granny Sarah and throughout the episode there is information, both stated and implied, about Johanna's father. The ditty, 'He loves me, he loves me not' is full of meaning for Johanna and her quest to find out who her father is. Ask students about Granny Sarah's attitude to Sarah finding her father and contrast it with Johanna feelings. Ask them why each character would feel this way. Discuss with students the impact on Johanna of being an orphan and not knowing either of her parents.

  • It appears that Granny Sarah has established a tradition of visiting the cemetery each year on her birthday. As a class, brainstorm traditions or rituals around death and dying. (Teachers need to consider if this activity is advisable for their particular class and also ensure students exercise sensitivity towards any peers who have experienced loss or grief.)

Please note the following before you undertake the activity below.
Before suggesting that students investigate traditions and protocols of bereavement of a local Indigenous group, seek advice from the relevant community about whether the activity is appropriate for your local context. Ask about appropriate sources of information and about what information is appropriate for students to know and share.

You could seek further support or receive advice about who best to speak to by: 

  1. talking to Indigenous people working in your school
  2. connecting with staff from your education sector at a local, regional or state level
  3. talking and sharing with the families of your Indigenous students
  4. seeking out a school that has Indigenous students or contacts with Indigenous schools or communities if you have a small number of Indigenous students or no Indigenous students at your school
  5. finding out about Indigenous groups and organisations in your local area and getting to know people and asking for guidance.
  • Have the class break into groups of three or four to investigate traditions and rituals related to bereavement across different groups. Each group should select one of the following - Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or a local Indigenous group - and investigate traditions or protocols of bereavement of that religions or culture. Bear in mind that there may be crossovers between religious and cultural traditions. If students are investigating a local Indigenous group, you may wish to remind them that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are culturally diverse, and different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across Australia have different traditions.
  • Provide each group with the KWLH chart from Student Activity Sheet E17.3: Dying with dignity to help them to plan their investigations. Guide each group in conducting effective research, for example, considering relevance and validity of sources, and then support each group as they organise their information to share with the class.
  • Encourage students to write a eulogy for Johanna, Sarah or Alice. Explain that the purpose of a eulogy is to sum up the main events of a person's life and to persuade the audience that they were the best person they could be in life. Or, write a poem about the feelings associated with the loss. Each form of writing must start with, 'She loves me, she loves me not …'.


Activity 2: Dear Davey
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Subtheme(s): Character; Language and scripting; Relationships
  • As a class, view the clip Loves me, loves me not and ask students for their opinions about the 'situation' in which Johanna finds herself. Granny Sarah talks about Johanna being teased. She blames Johanna for getting herself into 'these situations' and she senses that Johanna provokes the incidents. Ask students to identify what it is about Johanna that may cause this unwanted attention.
  • Conduct a think-pair-share activity. To begin, each student considers what Granny Sarah might mean when she tells Johanna to 'turn the other cheek'. Have students rewrite the saying in their own words, while keeping the same meaning. Have students illustrate their new saying with a picture or cartoon. As a class discuss the appropriateness of 'turning the other cheek' when it comes to dealing with teasing or bullying behaviour at school today. Brainstorm a large list of alternative ways to cope with and to deal with unacceptable teasing or bullying behaviours at school today.
  •  Johanna reads a letter to Granny Sarah from her uncle Davey, who now lives in Bathurst. The letter highlights what a wonderful and productive life he is living, and he invites them to travel to Bathurst to live with him. Ask students to consider why Granny Sarah wants Johanna to read it. What do they think Granny Sarah means when she tells Johanna that you can do anything you want if you can read? Have students also consider why Johanna made up wild sentences.

  • Ask students to write a letter from Johanna to Davey telling him about what has happened over the past day and of her quest to find her father. The letter should describe her thoughts and feelings about the events. Students can interpret her actions as those of the victim or the perpetrator. The language they choose to adopt can evoke sympathy or anger.
  • Alternatively, write a letter from Johanna to her father telling him of her feelings about being abandoned and of her quest to find him.


Student Activity Sheet E17.4: Dear Davey

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