Learning Areas

The learning areas below have been incorporated into the Australian Curriculum. Schools and school systems are responsible for delivering curriculum programs that reflect these learning areas, with appropriate flexibility to determine how this can best be achieved in a local context.

Each learning area has a specific discipline base and each has application across the curriculum. Specific resources that may assist schools and teachers implement the Australian Curriculum may be found here.


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Concepts in Geography: Essential questions


  • In what ways can we define place?
  • How is place a human construct?
  • List characteristics of places studied in Geography, for example population.
  • How does place contribute to culture and identity?


  • What are human features of space?
  • What are the natural features of space?
  • What is the difference between Place and Space?


  • How can we define environment?
  • What is the impact of the environment on human beings?
  • What is the impact of human beings on the environment?


  • What is changing over time in a particular location?
  • What may stay the same?
  • In what ways can change be slow? In what ways can change be sudden?
  • What is the impact of change over time?
  • What are the future implications of changes to places and environments?


  • Why are maps crucial to understanding spatial dimensions?
  • Why is spatial technology becoming more important for geographers?
  • How can the spatial variation between places and changes in environments be explained?


  • How do the interconnections between places, people and environments affect the lives of people?
  • What are the positive impacts of interconnections between peoples?
  • What are the negative impacts of interconnections between people?
  • Why do different cultures, often in the same location, have different perspectives about the environment, the use of natural resources and the best way of living in human communities?


  • What do we mean by sustainability?
  • What is the relationship between sustainability and well-being?
  • How can people use places and environments more sustainably?

Adelaide Coastal Areas: A Geographical Investigation

This learning task was developed by Malcom McInerney for a workshop at AISSA on 1/8/2013 and is used with permission.

Process: Collecting, Understanding, Interpreting, Analysing, Evaluating, Questioning

  1. Collect all the information you know about the Adelaide coastline
  2. View your information through the geographical concepts of Place, Space, Environment, Change, Interaction, Sustainability, Scale
  3. Based on the concepts, pose the geographical questions of inquiry 

Geography Inquiry Questions

  1. What do the sources reveal about the condition of the present Adelaide coastal areas?
  2. What is sand and what role does it play in our coastal environment?
  3. How valuable are our coastal areas?
  4. How has urbanisation and industry impacted our coastal region?
  5. What are the benefits of coastal development?
  6. Should we control the coastal region in a more intentional and regulated manner?
  7. What would happen if the water level of the sea dropped?
  8. What if the Government discontinued its management of the coast?
  9. How will the new proposals for the Marine Parks impact the coastal region?
  10. How can I help to improve and preserve Adelaide coastal regions?
  11. Adelaide's coastline is under threat." Do you agree? Why? Why not
  12. “We should return the Adelaide coastline to its natural condition ". Why? Why not?
  13. Your school is situated on the Adelaide coast line. Develop an original plan to improve and preserve your section of the coast.

DVD Resources

Email manning@chariot.net.au for Thinking Geographically. This DVD is a comprehensive professional learning resource for the teaching of Geography. It was created by teachers for teachers in order to support professional learning for the implementation of Geography in the Australian Curriculum. The cost is $89.

Web Resources

Malcom  McInerney’s Geography Concept Wheel may be found on this site or by clicking here.

This excellent website is an initiative of the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) supported by the resources of Education Services Australia (ESA). 


Plane Finder

Marine Traffic



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History Concept Wheel








Click here to view the History Concept Wheel

Concepts in History: Inquiry Questions 

Cause and Effect

  • What were the causes of? Long term.... Short term...... Catalyst?
  • What were the short term and long term effects of .........?
  • What was the impact of............upon......................?
  • What motivates people to act as they do?

Change and Continuity

  • What changed?
  • What stayed the same?
  • Is change a continuous process?
  • What prevents change from occurring?


  • Why are there different interpretations of the past?
  • Why is it useful to consider the views of others?
  • Is one interpretation more valid than another?


  • What was it like to lives in times past?
  • How are our lives similar to those who lived in the past?
  • How are our lives different from those who lived in the past?
  • Can we really know what happened in the past?
  • Why do we treat others as we do?


  • What is a primary source?
  • What is a secondary source
  • What is bias and how do we detect it?
  • How useful is a source as evidence of...?
  • How reliable is the source?       


  • Why are there different stories/narratives of the past?
  • Why is it useful to listen to the stories of others that may be different from our own?
  • How and why do stories change over time?


  • What makes something significant?
  • What makes one event, person, thing or idea more significant than another?
  • What makes something insignificant?

Concept of Significance

This is a relatively new concept, even for experienced teachers of History, so extra support materials have been gathered to assist teachers. The resources below are excellent.

Centre of the Study of Historical Consciousness, “Historical Significance” in The Historical Thinking Project, Canada,

Establish Historical Significance,

Learning About Historical Significance

QCA, 2007, “What is Historical Significance?” in The National Curriculum, UK (PowerPoint)

Teaching Historical Significance at Key Stage 3, http://www.keystagehistory.co.uk/Resources/HT-r4.pdf

“What makes an historical event significant?” in Medieval Realms, UK, (PowerPoint)

Group Work Activities

QuestivitiesTM: Significance

This learning task is designed to promote group discussion and encourage critical and creative thinking among students. It is based on a thinking model created by Carolyn Coil and originally entitled Questivities. These days, Coil’s model is called Encountering Creative Questions (ECQ). A blank template of the model may be found in Support and Resources, General Capabilities – Critical and Creative Thinking

1. List celebrations which are significant to you.

2. Choose one celebration from your list and explain why it is significant for you.

3. Compare and contrast Australia Day with an event that is significant in another country.

4. What would happen if celebrations were banned?

5. Would you rather celebrate Anzac Day or Remembrance Day?

6. How would you feel if Australia Day was abolished?

7. What makes something significant?

8. How does an event become significant for a whole nation?

Active Questions:

  • Make a list of questions that aboriginal people might ask about the significance of Australia Day.
  • Make a list of questions that a pacifist might ask about the significance of Anzac Day


This is based on the work of Christine Counsell, University of Cambridge, and it works well with older students and adults

  1. Think of something remarkable that has happened in your lifetime.
  2. What is something you remember that was crucial at some stage in your history?
  3. What is something that resulted in consequences for the future in your life?
  4. What is something in Australian History that resonates with Australians, something that people like to make comparisons with?
  5. What is something that was revealed to you about the past?

References and Resources

AC History Units

The History Teachers' Association of Australia (HTAA) has also launched a website with AC History UnitsDeveloped by classroom teachers from around Australia, it is designed to support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: History in primary and secondary years. The site presents eight units. The first, Teaching History, is a foundation unit, providing a brief introduction to the discipline of history and designed to 'unpack' the skills, concepts and historical understandings of the Australian curriculum. The remaining seven units focus on specific topics relevant to particular year levels and provide practical support in the form of teaching programs, sample learning sequences, a wide range of resources and assessment ideas.A major goal has been to provide the conceptual background (in Unit 1) and concrete examples (in Units 2-8) to assist teachers in designing their own programs and learning sequences for other topics and year levels. It is expected that this resource will be welcomed by teachers at all levels and teacher educators.

Board of Studies, Continuum of Concepts, http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/hsie/history-k10/continuum-of-concepts/ NSW, Date accessed 21/8/2013

Taylor, T., Prof., Positioning for Change in the Australian Curriculum, PowerPoint, 2011 


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References and Resources

Isaacs, M., 2011, Exploring the Australian Curriculum:Science, ACARA

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