[Episode 8 | 1938 : Colum]

Colum and Thommo are collecting bets from their neighbours on horses in the 1938 Melbourne Cup. They present these bets to Mr O'Sullivan, the local shopkeeper. Colum and Thommo hope to win big in order to save Thommo's family from eviction.


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 [3]

Activity 1: The Melbourne Cup
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Subtheme(s): Historical events; Language and scripting
  • As a class, discuss the way this episode is set at the time of the running of the 1938 Melbourne Cup. Brainstorm what the class knows about the Melbourne Cup and discuss why it is called 'The race that stops a nation'. List all the facts and ideas that come forward.
  • As a class, revisit the list and divide it into either 'for' (positive) or 'against' (negative): What is good about the Melbourne Cup and what is bad about it?

  • Ask students to select a side in the debate and develop their argument for or against. Once the students have completed a 1–2 minute persuasive text, organise a class debate on the topics 'Horseracing should be banned' or 'The Melbourne Cup is harmless fun'.


Activity 2: Writing a newspaper report
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions
  • Ask students to bring some examples of horseracing reports from the sports section of a newspaper. Deconstruct the texts with the class, looking at the structure of this text type or genre, the style of writing and the sort of information included.
  • Source an old newspaper report about the Melbourne Cup, either online or from the library, which includes descriptions of the horses and of the fashions. Deconstruct this text with the class and use the information to create an outline of the features of this text type. Use this model to create a jointly constructed newspaper report of a mythical horse race.

  • Ask students to write their own newspaper report on the 1938 Melbourne Cup, using information from old newspaper reports, books or online. They should include the names of the horses, the jockey's colours, the owners, events on the day and of course, fashion. What were women and men wearing?


Activity 3: Sayings and punishment
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Language and scripting
  • As a class, look at some of the colloquial expression or 'sayings' used in this clip, for example, a 'grandfather of a hiding'. Read the script for Episode 8: 1938: Colum to find other examples. Discuss the meaning of these.

  • Ask students to discuss the concept of 'corporal' punishment. What is the origin of this term and what is involved in corporal punishment? Ask students to jot down other terms that mean the same as 'a hiding'. As a class, evaluate if 'a grandfather of a hiding' is better or worse than another sort of hiding. Ask students, 'Do you think people still view corporal punishment today as they did in 1938? Why or why not?'
  • Another saying used is 'Not a word to your mother.' Ask students to discuss the context in which this is used and what it means. Have students think of sayings of a similar nature, such as 'Mum's the word,' or 'Keep it under your hat,' or 'Don't tell a living soul,' and 'Sit on it.'
  • Ask students to create an ongoing 'sayings' file where they list the phrases with their meanings. Students could read though the My Place scripts to find examples more quickly.


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