Maitland City Council has launched a new curriculum unit and interactive digital book which invites students to explore the life and times of the first 12 convict settlers of Wallis Plains, one of the most important historical themes for Maitland and the region.
The digital book titled ‘The Convict Adventure at Wallis Plains’ has been developed with the help of Morpeth Primary School, and aims to connect students to the social, political and environmental circumstances of the first European settlers of Maitland.
Council’s Heritage Officer Clare James says, ‘This digital book is a first for Council, which aims to assist students connect with and understand the past. We hope this resource guides students to find cues about history in today’s urban and rural environments.
‘Digital technologies are a central part of the modern school environment and an essential part of how young people engage with information. Making use of this technology and creating a resource that is fun and interactive was central to our approach to the books design’.
The children and teachers at Morpeth Primary School have been fundamental to this project. Their feedback guided the activities incorporated into the design, which include multiple choice questions, audio and video.
Ms Jane Fincher, a teacher at Morpeth Primary School, has used the new digital book with her students. ‘The Convict Adventure at Wallis Plains is a thoroughly researched and valuable resource that my students have really enjoyed studying. The maps, visuals, quizzes, quirky facts and clickable glossary make this digital book extremely engaging for students’.
The project is an initiative of the Maitland City Heritage Group. The project has been used to launch the Heritage School Zone on Council’s website, which will continue to be built as new resources are developed.
Daniel Woo (UXED Pty Ltd), an Apple Distinguished Educator, was involved from the outset of the project in 2013 to ensure the educational material developed could be utilised and accessed effectively in a classroom environment.
The book is available free from the iTunes bookstore and can be found on Council’s website at maitland.nsw.gov.au/Heritage/school-zone