Illustrations of personalised learning

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Early Colonists: Builders or destroyers

Two Year 5 teachers at this school collaborate and team teach as a strategy to meet the needs of all students in their classes. In this lesson students were organised in mixed-ability groups, with one of the groups consisting of high-ability students. The students re-examined the ‘Port Adelaide looking north along Commercial Road’ watercolour by S.T. Gill, 1847, to recognise perspectives and different understandings, assumptions and situations, feelings and motivations of people in the past. Students chose a character from within the painting and independently undertook a Step Inside Thinking Routine (What might the character perceive, know or care about?). Students were given questions to ask their group members from the perspective of the character they chose in the painting. The high-ability group had to pose their own questions, focusing on the complex issues of the past empathising with a particular viewpoint.

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Australian Curriculum

Learning area


Year level

Year 5

Content description

Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies (ACHHS106)
The nature of convict or colonial presence, including the factors that influenced patterns of development, aspects of the daily life of the inhabitants (including Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples) and how the environment changed. (ACHHK094)
Identify points of view in the past and present (ACHHS104)

General capability

Critical and creative thinking / Inquiring – identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas / Pose questions / Identify and clarify information and ideas / Organise and process information (Level 4, Level 5)

General capability

Intercultural understanding / Interacting and empathising with others / Consider and develop multiple perspectives / Empathise with others (Level 4, Level 5)

Personalised learning

Teacher intention

To develop students’ ability to: • examine sources to recognise points of view by identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas • describe, through interacting and empathising with others, the different experiences of people in the past.

Personalised learning

Plan from age equivalent learning content:

The teacher plans from the Year 5 Humanities and Social Sciences (history) content to develop a teaching and learning program about establishing new colonies and understanding how historians use primary and secondary sources to learn about the past.


Use the general capabilities and/or cross-curriculum priorities to adjust the learning focus and to personalise the learning

The teacher focuses on the general capabilities of critical and creative thinking and intercultural understanding to challenge the students to think about the issues of the day in Adelaide and probe a deeper understanding of the perspectives of the people in Gill’s painting. 


Questions for discussion

1. How might you use the General Capabilities to differentiate the teaching and learning to meet the diverse needs of students?

2. How might you involve students in the planning so as to engage them to personalise their own learning and become self-directed?

3. What are some differentiated learning strategies that are suitable for all students and also enable gifted students to demonstrate higher order thinking?

Professional Standards for Teachers

Standard 1

Know students and how they learn

Focus area 1.5

Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities

Standard 2

Know the content and how to teach it

Focus area 2.1

Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Standard 3

Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

Focus area 3.1

Establish challenging learning goals

Standard 4

Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments

Focus area 4.1

Support student participation

School details

Wilderness School
SA Australia

School type


School sector


School location


School description

A non-denominational school for girls from Early Learning to Year 12 and boarding for students from Year 7 – 12.

Supporting documents

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