Year 7

This unit of work contains 9 lessons aligned to the Year 7 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum. It includes worksheets, informal assessment items, a formal assessment item with marking rubric, information for teachers and a list of related resources.

Duration
9 lessons
Assessment
1 formal
Worksheets
2

Before you begin

Year 7 unit of work Curriculum alignment

Background information for teachers

Resources required

Extra resource: Parliament in Pictures is a set of 10 posters with a classroom guide and is available for purchase. This resource relates directly to lessons 1 to 6 and would be particularly useful for teachers who would like further information about these topics.

Lessons

Lesson 1 – What is the Constitution?
Lessons 2-3 – What are the key features of the Constitution?
Lessons 4-6 – Group assessment task
Lesson 7– Assessment presentations  
Lesson 8 – What is a referendum?
Lesson 9 – Debating a referendum issue

Lesson 1 – What is the Constitution?

Give students the Concept map to complete for the first time, including Date 1. (This will be revisited at the end of the unit to show student progress.)

Show students a copy of the Australian Constitution and ask students to brainstorm in pairs:

  • What do we know about the Constitution?
  • Why do we have a Constitution?
  • What does the Constitution do?
  • When was our Constitution written?

As a class, watch the Federation and The Constitution videos.

Before students watch the videos, write down the following focus questions:

  • Why did the people in Australian colonies want to join together to form a nation?
  • Why was the Constitution written?
  • What happened in 1901?

After watching the videos, ask students to discuss the answers to these questions in small groups and then as a whole class.

Go through federation section of Get Parliament online as a class. Choose 1 or 2 activities for students to complete from the corresponding activity sheet (PDF).

Go through the Australian Constitution section of Get Parliament online as a class. Choose 1 or 2 activities for students to complete from the corresponding activity sheet (PDF). Do not use activity 6 or 8 as they may be used later in this unit.

Lessons 2 to 3 – What are the key features of the Constitution?

Distribute Worksheet 1:Separation of powers to the class, to be completed in stages throughout the lesson.

Note: this worksheet has 3 differentiated options, increasing in difficulty from A to C.

Explain that many key features of the Constitution detail how power should be shared in Australia and that the Constitution protects these power-sharing arrangements. Write the following headings on the board:

  • Separation of powers
  • Role of the Executive
  • Roles of the houses of Parliament
  • Division of powers (also known as levels of government).

Separation of powers

Discuss the separation of powers under the Constitution using the Separation of powers: Parliament, Executive and Judiciary fact sheet. Show students the Playing fair interactive. Ask students to complete the relevant section on page 1 of Worksheet 1.

Role of the Executive

Discuss the role of the Executive using the Ministers and shadow ministers and Cabinet fact sheets. Ask students to complete the relevant section on page 1 of Worksheet 1.

Roles of the houses of Parliament

Watch the The House of Representatives and The Senate videos. Discuss the composition and roles of Parliament using the Australian Parliament fact sheet. Ask students to complete the relevant section on page 1 of Worksheet 1.

Division of powers (levels of government)

States and territories (except the Australian Capital Territory) have established local councils, which are not mentioned in the Constitution. Territories are the responsibility of the Australian  Government and have been granted self-government through their own legislative assemblies (parliaments). 

Watch the Three levels of government video. Discuss the division of powers (levels of government) under the Constitution using Three levels of government: governing Australia fact sheet. Ask students to complete the relevant section on page 1 of Worksheet 1.

Using the Representative government and responsible government information sheet in the toolkit, discuss these concepts and how they underpin the Constitution. Ask students to complete the relevant section on page 2 of Worksheet 1.

Students can research the answers to the rest of Worksheet 1 using the Australian Constitution fact sheet.

Lessons 4 to 6 – Group assessment task

Suggested schedule

Lesson 4 = explain task, group research time
Lesson 5 = group research time, group organisation time
Lesson 6 = group organisation time

Divide the class into 8 small groups of 3 to 4 students. Distribute and discuss the Assessment, outlining expectations and presentation time limits.

Eight scenarios have been provided which relate to the 4 curriculum topics below:

  • Scenarios 1 and 2: a separation of powers between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.
  • Scenarios 3 and 4: the roles and responsibilities of the different levels of government.
  • Scenarios 5 and 6: the roles of the houses of Parliament.
  • Scenarios 7 and 8: the role of the Executive.

Assign 1 scenario to each group. The group must identify which curriculum topic their scenario fits best with.
If there are fewer than 8 groups, assign at least 1 scenario from each curriculum topic.

Lesson 7 – Presentations of assessment

Organise a schedule of presentations. Each presentation needs to include main points which can be noted down.

Optional  During each presentation, other students can complete Worksheet 2: Constitution presentation. Alternatively, teachers may choose for students to write the dot points in their workbooks.

Lesson 8 – What is a referendum?

Explain to students what a referendum is and how it works. Discuss some past referendums and how these have changed the way Australia is governed.

Discuss the process of a referendum.

For further information about referendums, see the Referendums and plebiscites fact sheet, The Australian Constitution paper and the Australian Electoral Commission's information on referendums and plebiscites.

Organise a debate of the 1999 referendum issue regarding making Australia a republic. The public information campaign for the 1999 referendum can be found on the Australian Electoral Commission website.

Introduce the topic by holding a brief class discussion about Australia being a constitutional monarchy, and the role of our Head of State (the Queen, represented by the Governor-General). Discuss the difference between a constitutional monarchy and a republic.

Split the class into 2 groups to represent the 2 sides of the debate. Give groups time to write down dot points to support their arguments. Students could do this in pairs or small groups. If groups are struggling to come up with ideas, they can be given time to research the topic or be given ideas from the table below.

Ideas for each side of the republic debate:

YES NO
We would have an Australian as Head of State. Keep the status quo – Australia is fine as it is, so we don't need any changes.
Australia would become entirely independent. It may cost a lot to introduce change.
Many Australians are from non-English backgrounds, so the link to England isn't as strong as it once was. Major changes may produce unknown results without clear benefits.
We should be looking to our future, not just our history. Our current system has served Australia well for over a century and has made our country strong.

As an alternative to this issue, the class can debate an idea for a different change to the Constitution. They might look at section 51 and decide to add or remove the Australian Parliament's law-making powers. For example, the class could debate giving the Australian Parliament the power to make laws about pet control or take-away the Parliament's power to make laws about trade and commerce with other countries.

Lesson 9 – Debating a referendum issue

Hold the debate, with a student chairperson running the meeting. The chairperson calls each person to speak, alternating sides to give both sides time to put forward their side of the argument.

If you have time to hold the referendum in class, the Australian Electoral Commission has resources on how to run a referendum in the classroom.

For a more advanced lesson on the republic issue, use the Hold a referendum Classroom activity.

After the debate, hold a class conversation about what took place. Ask students if they think this referendum would succeed today. Why/why not? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a Constitution that can only be amended by referendum.

Ask students to add to the Concept map, including Date 2 to show how much they have learned.

Learning outcomes for assessments

Assessment task

Small groups consider scenarios and how it relates to the Australian Constitution.

Students:

  • explain key features of Australia's Constitution
  • develop a range of questions and gather and analyse information from different sources to investigate Australia's political system
  • develop and present arguments on civics issues using subject-specific language.

English Curriculum

Students:

  • make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language features to engage the audience.

Refer to assessment rubric for more detail.