book cover Refugees
by David Miller

Picture book | 32 pp | Years 58

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[ Responsibility | Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion | Responding to Text ]


What do you think are the main events in the story that impacted on the wellbeing of the ducks? Record them to demonstrate the chain of events by completing the Chain of Events worksheet.

What different organisations or people do you think may have been responsible for each stage of the chain of events? Use the 'chain of events' records as a starting point and discuss possibilities in small groups. Record your decisions on the right-hand side of your Chain of Events worksheets.

What social issues or concerns about human interaction with the environment are raised through the text and illustrations? The 'chain of events' records will assist in this task. Record your findings in the Thinking about Issues worksheet.

How do these environmental issues relate to the community we live in? Share individual findings identified in the Thinking about Issues worksheets and develop a class mind map to record the issues, environmental perspectives and local concerns. Use the mind map to identify concerns to investigate and form groups to address each one.

In a group, plan your investigation considering what you already know about the issue. Possible research questions could be:

  • How does this issue effect the environment?
  • What impact does this have on local wildlife?
  • How does this issue impact on the community?
  • Who is responsible for making environmental decisions and what regulations do they follow?
  • What responsibilities do different organisations or individuals have in regard to this issue?

Assign the research tasks between group members and undertake individual investigations to answer the research questions. Share your findings and develop an action plan for the group that provides a range of ways to inform others of your concerns and findings. For example, write to the local newspaper, council member or parliamentarian or design, publish and display posters that inform people of the issues.

As a class, share group action plans and identify one action that could be undertaken at a whole class level to inform the local community. Plan a way to enact this and evaluate the outcomes.

Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion

Collect and read or view media files or reports from current sources that relate to refugees. Consider print, electronic and audiovisual information. In a class reading time, read or view media files brought by others.

As a class, discuss ways to organise the files into different themes or aspects relating to refugees. Construct a mind map by pinning examples to a display board with linking headings and lines. From the information already gathered consider and discuss:

  • What situations lead to people becoming refugees?
  • What are the major problems that refugees have to deal with?
  • How do organisations deal with refugees?
  • How do governments deal with refugees?

In what ways were the ducks' experiences similar to those of human refugees? Record the ducks' experiences to demonstrate the chain of events that led to the final outcome by completing a Chain of Events worksheet. On the right-hand side of the boxes add key summarising words that describe these events as they relate to human refugee experiences.

  • Investigate one event in recent times that has resulted in a refugee crisis. The contents of the class mind map and the suggested websites will assist you in selecting your group of people and finding out the causes, effects and outcomes for these people.
  • Take notes in a new Chain of Events worksheet to ensure that you cover all aspects.
  • Present your information in a story format similar to David Miller's Refugees, presenting the point of view of two human refugees. Choose an illustrative style that you feel best suits the story you have told.

Share stories to a wider audience by reading at assembly, inviting another group to your classroom or visiting other classes.

Publish individual stories together to form a collection and hold a book launch, inviting family members, local government representatives and the media to participate. Prepare a flyer for the book launch that reports on the class work, findings and outcomes, and significance of the book. Advertise in the school newsletter and wider community.

'Australia demonstrates a responsible commitment to the needs of refugees seeking asylum in this country.' Form groups and divide into teams to debate this statement. Useful websites include:

Run a class debating session that allows each group to debate this issue. Have the audience peer assess each debating team on the basis of the arguments presented and how each team worked together.

Invite community members and the local media to attend the class debating sessions. At the end, invite them to participate in a general discussion on the issue.

Responding to Text

David Miller's use of language and illustration to describe places and events in Refugees reflects his own personal views on the issues he is writing about. Consider the language he uses to describe the swamp at the beginning of the book and compare it with how he describes the machinery at work. Examine the text and complete a PMI chart to identify the positive and negative language he uses to show his feelings about the environment and the impact of development. In the 'Interesting' column, list examples of interesting language that is descriptive, but does not reflect a particular point of view. Re-examine the book in regard to David Miller's use of colour and perspective and add examples to the PMI chart.

Select a section of the story that you think strongly reflects David Miller's point of view. Using the PMI as a starting point, work together to rewrite the selected passage from the opposite perspective as if from a developer's point of view. Identify the dominant colours and visual perspectives you would use to illustrate this section.

What parts of the story are not explained in the text and illustrations? Why do you think the author left these details out? Select an example and create a double-page spread that could be added to the book to expand on the text. Consider your text and the contents of your illustration carefully so that they are representative of David Miller's work. Present your work in a three-dimensional format that can be displayed, such as a diorama.

© Curriculum Corporation 2006