Teaching History with ACTF Resources

19 October 2018

Teaching History with ACTF Resources

ACTF Education recently presented at the 2018 History Teachers’ Association of Victoria (HTAV) Primary and Middle Years History Conference. Below, Curriculum Officer Janine Kelly reviews the range of relevant content and resources that we highlighted for participants.


Series and films produced by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) have been enjoyed in classrooms for over 30 years. They provide Australian children with entertaining media made especially for them, and gives teachers options for presenting curriculum content in innovative ways.

The much-loved television series My Place is used widely in primary and lower-secondary classes to teach Australian history. It adapts the picture story book of the same name, written by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, into 26 episodes about 26 children who have lived in the same place. Spanning a period of over 200 years, the two series help teachers explore different points in Australian history: from pre-European settlement, to the First Fleet and colonial life, to bushrangers, war, waves of migration, and the Prime Minister’s apology to Indigenous peoples in 2008.  

At the Primary and Middle Years History Conference, we highlighted the comprehensive My Place for Teachers website for participants. This free resource includes over 200 activities for teaching History, and was recently updated with high resolution clips from every My Place episode, which can be played on tablets and smart phones.

We then introduced teachers to our factual entertainment series, MY:24, in which 26 young people share diverse and aspirational stories about the day that changed their lives forever. The series explores themes relevant to History in the middle years, including Indigenous perspectives and migration.

The short-form MY:24 episodes and related documentary filmmaking app can be used in a variety of ways to develop and demonstrate historical knowledge, concepts and skills in middle years classrooms. Stories told by migrants and second-generation Australians, such as Rida and Andy, reveal how their perspectives and values differ from those of their parents – and how this can cause conflict between generations. Reflections by African refugees Fablice and G-Storm also provide insight into the experience of forced migration to Australia. These episodes are an engaging prompt for conversations about migration and diverse perspectives, and can encourage reflection on students’ own family histories.

Having viewed one or more of the above episodes, students could discuss the questions that may have elicited certain responses from MY:24 participants. This discussion will provide a tangible example of the need for both closed and open-ended questions in historical inquiry. Students could then develop their understandings by using the free MY:24 App to document the experiences of someone who migrated to Australia. The app could also be used to document student reflections about key dates such as Reconciliation Week or ANZAC Day.

Later in the session, we showcased one of our newest series: Woven Threads. This animated series shares the stories of eight refugees in an innovative way. In each four-minute episode, a refugee tells their own story of displacement, and how they came to be resettled in Australia. The moving first-person narration is set to beautiful and powerful animations, aimed at eliciting empathy and understanding from the audience.

Incorporating stories from the 1950s to current day, and a diversity of countries including Afghanistan, Hungary, Malaysia and South Sudan, this unique series gives insight into forced migration around the world. Woven Threads can be used to teach middle years students about waves of migration, migration stories, and the contributions that people from diverse backgrounds have made to Australian society.

Victorian teachers and students with login access to the FUSE portal can now view and download all episodes of MY:24 and Woven Threads. The two series are also currently available on ABC iview.

Thank you to the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria for hosting us at this fantastic conference, and to all the participants who came along. We hope you have walked away with some new ideas to implement in your History teaching.