Early photography

[Episode 12 | 1898 : Rowley]

Rowley visits Mr Merry, a photographer and boarder in Rowley's house. Mr Merry gives Rowley a photograph of the brickworks where Rowley's father worked. His mother asks Rowley about his 'book of good deeds' and Rowley explains that when he gets to 1,000 his father will come home.


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: Picturing the story
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Historical events; Inventions and electronic media
  • As a class, search for early photographs, paintings or prints of this era and select 12–20 that are significant. The images could include people, buildings, machines, landscape, interiors or pets. Each picture has a story to tell. Call on individual students to explain to the class what they feel the picture is about.
  • Use these websites for reference:
  1. Google Images, http://images.google.com.au/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=1890s+fashion&gbv=2&aq=0&oq=1890s/
  2. Library of Congress, 'Around the World in the 1890s', http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wtc/wtchome.html
  3. Picture Australia, http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?term1=1890s&Submit=search&action=PASearch&attribute1=any+field&mode=search

  • Students are asked to select six images from the class collection, or from their own research. They are to assume a connection between them and arrange them as a storyboard of six frames. When they have completed the arrangement, they can write their story as a text, which sits below each frame, as in a story book. These can be displayed electronically, or as hard copy.


Activity 2: Good deeds
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment
  • As a class, define what the meanings of 'good deeds' and 'bad deeds' are. Make a list of good and bad deeds on a chart. Discuss with students why they feel that good deeds are actually best for people to do and receive. Examine why Rowley believes that by doing 1,000 good deeds his father will return to the family. Is this a superstition? What are some other superstitions students know of?

  • Ask students to prepare a 'Journal of good deeds' where they list 100 good deeds that they could do for others. It should not take longer than a month to complete all the deeds. During the course of the month the students should document their experiences in their journal. When they complete each good deed they should have the person they did it for, or another adult or older child, sign against it in their journal. At the end of the month, the class can compare and evaluate their experiences and the kinds of good deeds that were done.


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