Planning a Unit of Work (Learning Sequences)

Ellen Cornish and Don Jordon at work
“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”  Roger Lewin
by Ellen Cornish and Don Jordon, Ph.D.


Feel good, feel great.

The human body.


Self, family and others. Maintaining wellbeing, a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, fitness.


Identity and culture.

Inclusivity, preparing for life (through change), relevance.


Thinking and creativity. Relating to people. Making meaning. Living a healthy life. Learning sustainable practices. Using technology and media.

Goals for Learning


  • Helping students to develop an understanding that behaviours, attitudes and choices affect identity and relationships.
  • Students will be able to use these understandings to make good/informed choices about their health.
  • Students will consider how these choices affect themselves and others.


Overarching Goals.


  • What factors contribute to physical health and well-being?
  • In what ways can we make positive and informed choices about our wellbeing?
  • How do these choices impact on others?


Students will understand that:


  • Key features about their physical body and how it works, grows and develops and ways of caring for it.
  • How to make informed choices about the nutrition we need in order to keep our bodies healthy.
  • That our choices impact on well-being.


Learning Experiences that lead to Understanding


  • Creating a positive learning environment.
  • Connecting to prior learning.
  • Making learning meaningful – references to what the students know, what they want to find out, how, rubrics:

teachers’ and students’.

  • Recognising individual differences.


Demonstrations of Successful Learning


Measure learning across all dimensions; multiple methods; use feedback; reflect on learning; express thought

through writing, concept maps, rubrics, pictorial representations, oral presentations.



Tuning In

Brainstorm with the class the following question:


What do you know about wellbeing and good health?


  • Conduct an activity in groups of three to assess the students’ knowledge of their wellbeing and good health.
  • Have three students simultaneously write individually in three different colours on a large sheet of paper about their understanding of well-being.
  • Students share their answers with other members of their group. Ask the listeners to decide the most important piece on information given.
  • Students report to the class three of the most important pieces of information from their group.
  • Working as a whole class have students sort the information into categories of food and drink, drugs, hygiene/ keeping clean, germs/ diseases and feelings.


Read Dr Dog story as Tuning In activity (Author Babette Cole. 1996)


Brainstorm with class what messages they think the author is giving in relation to well-being.


Ongoing Assessment


  • Record students’ thoughts as written notes.
  • Keep students’ written work as a record of current understanding to compare with their understanding after the unit.


Focus on students’ ability to:


  • Express and generalise information about implied health issues.
  • Express thoughts in written form.


Ask the students to try not to just re-tell the story of Dr Dog


Finding Out, Sorting Out

How can we find out about how our bodies work?


Guiding questions:


  • What do we already know?
  • What do we need to find out?
  • What happens when…..?
  • What does the ……do?
  • Why?
  • How do we find out?







What is inside my body?


Teacher directed: Lead a discussion on ways to look after our bodies related to what is inside our body and how it works.


  • Working in groups, have students draw a life size body for the group.
  • Have students create the inside of the body. They may do this in any form they wish, eg draw, paint, collage etc.
  • Ask them to label the parts they have identified.
  • Have the class undertake group research tasks on body systems.


Teacher directed: Explain the complex nature of how all the body parts work together. Tell students that to help us understand this complexity, we can look at ‘systems’ in the body.


Examples of body systems:


  • Path of food through the body relates to the digestive system.
  • Parts related to breathing form the respiratory system.
  • Continue to make a list of major systems of the body giving a brief description of their functions.
  • Advise the groups to list the information already known and to list questions to direct their inquiry.
  • Discuss the use of internet sites, reference books and asking an expert.
  • More able students can seek extra information.
  • Have students design a rubric to assess each group’s as well as their own presentations with reference to the criteria discussed. (see sample rubric)

Ongoing Assessment

·         Display the students’ ‘bodies’ and use these representations as references for ongoing reflection.

·         Encourage oral presentations, technology (models etc.), visual artwork, graphs, maps, collage.

·         Have each group present their information about their specific body system to the class in the form of an oral presentation supported by a life-sized labelled poster/diagram, Power Point.

·         Explain to the groups the criteria that will be used to assess each group’s oral presentation.  Suitable criteria include: using strong, clear voices, facing the audience, ensuring each person has equal turn to speak, agreeing on a time frame, making it interesting for the audience, referring to the poster/diagram to assist understanding, explaining how the system works.

·         Assess students’ oral presentations to the class of their research task, including their diagram/ body poster.

·         Assess how effectively the group explains the body system and how its parts work together.

·         Score 1-4 on each criterion. At the completion of each presentation, have the whole class assess the presentation using a rubric.


Investigate factors contributing to well being


Do we need more of some foods than others?


Teacher directed, ask the students:


  • Are there some foods we should eat more of than others?
  • What are they?
  • Refer to the way certain foods are better for our bodies.
  • Discuss food groups and with the help of the students brainstorm to categorise individual foods into food groups.
  • Using a large class pyramid, have students sort pictures into a Healthy Diet Pyramid – Eat Most, Eat Least, Eat Moderately.
  • Clarify their choices through a class discussion and ask why they placed particular foods in particular places on the pyramid.
  • Using the computer program WORD, have students design a Healthy Diet Pyramid on the computer importing

Illustrative pictures.

Ongoing Assessment


Assess students’ ability to:


  • Categorise foods into the Eat Most, Eat least, Eat Moderately sections of the Healthy Diet Pyramid
  • Justify their choices.
  • Replicate their learning to a computerised format.


How do we know what is in particular foods?


Teacher directed: Ask and discuss with students questions such as:


  • How do we find out what ingredients are in food products?
  • What information is given on the packaging?
  • What claims do manufacturers make on the packaging to try to sell their product?


Investigate breakfast foods


  • Working in groups, ask students to compare different breakfast foods for sugar, fibre, fat, energy and salt content.
  • Have each group record information about four different breakfast foods.
  • Have each group produce a graph to depict the nutritional data collected on the foods.
  • Ask students to identify which food is the healthiest.


Ensure students justify their choices when showing their graph to the class.

Ongoing Assessment

Assess students’ ability to:


  • Analyse nutritional information,
  • Depict their data in graphical form.
  • Analyse their graphs.
  • Make conclusions.
  • Make considered choices.
  • Justify their choices.


Describe the components of a balanced diet.


  • Have students write down all the food they eat in two days.
  • Have students work with a partner to analyse each other’s diet and then to justify their decision as to whether it is balanced or not.


Teacher note: Ask students to refer to the Healthy Diet Pyramid and the information on the recommended number of serves per day in order to initiate a class discussion.


Pose these further questions:


  • What changes could you make to your diet?
  • What can we do to help put our understandings of what constitutes a balanced diet into practice?


Ongoing Assessment

Assess students’ ability to:


  • Assess their own diet.
  • Make considered choices about what they might change.
  • Devise a plan for adjusting their diet.
  • Incorporate elements of healthy, balanced diet into a breakfast menu.

Plan a healthy breakfast or lunch for the class.


  • In groups ask students to use their knowledge of a balanced diet to design a breakfast menu.
  • Have them consider cost, practical aspects of preparing food at school, individual tastes, health benefits etc.
  • Have students share their plans and reach a class consensus.
  • Have students assist in the preparation and serving of breakfast, with help of parents and or other adults.




  • Ask students to organise their information and make choices about how best to present their research. e.g. flow chart, series of models, timeline depicting particular events etc.
  • Make a board game to play with their friends to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained.
  • Read all about it… (make a class newspaper.)
  • Make a book to share with younger children or for the school library.
  • Ask students to share and present their work between classes.



Overarching Goals: Goals which overshadow the whole topic.

Tuning In: Finding out what the students already know about the topic, as well as what they would like to find out in order to stimulate their interest and enthusiasm for the topic.

Brainstorm: group discussion and sharing of ideas.

Guiding Questions: questions related to the topic which promote thought as well as refining the investigation to be undertaken.

Graphic Organiser: Charts which help visually organise information (there are many examples, including Y charts, T charts, fish bones, placemats, concept maps, flow charts etc. on the internet)

Rubrics: Teacher or student generated charts based on the topic being studied to assist with self-assessment.

Formative Assessment: Teacher assessment, as well as student self-assessment which can be demonstratedthrough drama, oral presentations, written material, information technology, art and craft etc.

Summative Assessment: System and school based testing.

Culmination: The final part of the topic where students demonstrate their understandings using a variety of methods including drama, information technology, oral presentations, written material, art and craft etc.



Ellen Cornish has had 33 years’ experience teaching in Tasmanian schools. She has taught in both primary and district high schools during that time. She has spent time in senior management roles within the school setting. Ellen has also held the positions of treasurer and president of the Early Childhood Educators of Tasmania Association. She has led many professional learning sessions for her colleagues and is skilled in the mentoring and training of pre-qualification teacher trainees, newly qualified teachers and teachers who experience difficulties and those re-entering the profession. Teaching in Korea helped to enrich her experience as an educator.

In March 2011the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation invited her to evaluate the leadership, curriculum, resources and teacher training and experience, at the Mechai Pattana Secondary School in north eastern Thailand. She was also asked to make recommendations for improvements to help bring the school up to the standard required to support the development of a teacher training institute.


She is skilled in providing a creative and challenging program where her students are encouraged to develop their own strengths as well as to take on board responsibility for their own learning and behaviour. She strongly believes that all children can reach their full potential by being given the appropriate guidance within an environment that is non-threatening and one which fosters self-belief.

She has expertise in the education of children with disabilities as well as those with challenging behaviour and their ability to function within the mainstream school.

One of her passions is to foster creativity in children. In order to facilitate this successfully she has regularly updated her skills by enrolling in professional learning courses. An example of this was a drawing course with the Art School, University of Tasmania.

Ellen has a Bachelor of Education, a Diploma of Teaching and is currently  registered with the Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania, Australia.

Don W Jordan

Dr Don Jordan, D.Sc.Ed, is an experienced educator, having taught in primary schools in Tasmania, Australia.His perspective has been enriched by his work with disaffected students in the United Kingdom and with Bachelor of Education students in the Gaza Strip and working with curriculum developers and teachers on behalf of UNICEF in the Maldives.

In March 2011, Don was invited by the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation, to evaluate the leadership, curriculum, resources and teacher training and experience, at the Mechai Pattana Secondary School in north eastern Thailand, in preparation for it to become a demonstration school for the a proposed Teacher Training Institute.

Don has a particular interest in the philosophical and theoretical place of computers in primary classrooms in Tasmania, and their effect on students’ learning, behaviour and social development.





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