Year 7 and 8 Skills 4 Living – Your survival kit

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Learning intention: Students will have a greater understanding of the necessary goods and services provided in our community and their importance for survival. They will consider the requirements to be self-sufficient, in terms of food, fuel, shelter and medicine.

Success criteria: Each student will prepare a “virtual survival kit” (report, poster or slideshow) that lists all the necessary requirements to survive indefinitely in an isolated location. 

Over the past couple of weeks most of you have experienced what it is like to be without telephones, internet, ATM’s and EFTPOS. You have also probably had times when there was a power failure, the tanks ran out of water or the gas bottle was empty. Often we take all these products and services for granted – we expect that we will always have access to electrical lighting; heating and cooling; cooking and washing appliances; waste disposal; communication and entertainment devices.

However, sometimes natural and man-made disasters occur (floods, bushfires, tsunamis etc) and all these goods and services are unavailable. There are groups of people who plan for such events – sometimes called “preppers” or “survivalists”. Some even believe in an apocalypse (doomsday or end of the earth as we know it). Your task today is to prepare a virtual “survival kit” to document what you would need in the case of some disaster that prevented you getting anything (food, water, power, shelter or any other materials and equipment) from outside this school. Can you think of any movies that begin with this premise?

You will need to grow your own food, because you cannot store enough to survive in the long term. You will need some way of producing energy if you wish to extract water from the ground and have hot water and lighting. Your report, poster or slideshow should include a list of requirements and a description of how they will be used.

Some resources:

Please add any other resources in the comment windows below.

Year 7 Skills for Living – Otway Fly Tree Top Walk

The spiral tower at the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk

Learning Intention: To remember and recount learning from listening to the guide on the excursion on Tuesday.

Success Criteria: You will produce a blog post of at least 100 words describing your visit to the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk. An excellent post will have correct spelling, grammar and punctuation and be interesting to read. Please include an image and mention the highlights of your excursion.

On Tuesday 6th November, twenty-four students from Year 7 and  fourteen students from Year 8, together with staff, visited the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk, near Laver’s Hill in south-west Victoria. Our guide was Nathan, who talked about the flora and fauna of the rainforest. Please write a blog post about what you learnt about the Otway rainforest including:

Year 7 and 8 Skills for Living – “A Winter’s Tale”

The Bollywood dancers – Year 7 girls

Your task today is to write a blog post, including an image, about the production. You can find images of the production in the “student public folder > 2012 > Production photos”. You could write it as a newspaper review, including what you enjoyed about the performance and how it compares to other shows you have seen. Or you could write it as a performer – what you felt before, during and after the show. Make sure you include the following:

  • a description of the characters and the setting
  • the storyline – what is the show about?
  • what are the highlights?
  • who were the ‘behind the scenes’ team who made the show such a great success?

If you didn’t participate in the production and didn’t get the opportunity to see the show, write a review of your favorite TV show or movie. You will still need to include the four dot points above.

Year 7 Threatened species project

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Learning Intention: Students will understand that all living organisms have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment.

Success criteria: Students will complete a project, presented as a video, slideshow, poster or other multimedia artifact, that demonstrates their understanding of the structural, functional and behavioural characteristics of a chosen local, threatened animal species.

So far we have looked at a range of living organisms and the characteristics that we use to classify them. All organisms have structural and functional features and behaviors that assist them to survive. To get nutrition, avoid predators and undergo reproduction, all organisms have evolved over many generations to survive in their particular environment. Your task is to chose from one of the following species that lives in and around the Victorian Volcanic Plains and research the ways they have survived and what now threatens their survival:

  • Golden sun moth
  • Glenelg spiny crayfish
  • Red-tailed black cockatoo
  • White-bellied Sea-eagle
  • Orange bellied parrot
  • Brolga
  • Malleefowl
  • Helmeted honeyeater
  • Regent honeyeater
  • Corangamite skink
  • Growling Grass frog
  • Striped Legless Lizard
  • Grasslands earless dragon
  • Carpet python
  • Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby
  • Eastern Barred Bandicoot
  • Humpback Whale
  • Southern Right Whale

This page from the DSE has a list of the action statements for threatened species across Victoria. Download the document relevant to your choice of animal and make sure to note the following information for your project:

  • Structural features (Physical characteristics e.g. scales, fur or feathers? Fins or claws?)
  • Functional features (How does the animal work? Does it have any special ways of saving water, lying dormant over winter or saving energy?)
  • Behavioural features (What the animal does to find food, escape predators or find a mate and reproduce?)
  • Habitat (Where does it live? Underwater or on land? Desert or forest?)
  • Threats to it’s survival – Habitat destruction, Introduced species, Pollution, Over-harvesting?)

Creating a dichotomous key


Learning Intention: You will understand the purpose of and how to create and use a dichotomous key.

Success Criteria: You will create a key that identifies lollies from a mixed bag, using questions with only two possible answers.

A dichotomous key is a tool used by scientists (especially taxonomists) to identify and name organisms. It uses a series of ‘yes/no’ questions to classify an organism based on the presence or absence of particular features. The questions need to be objective, not subjective, such as “Does it have limbs?”; “Is it symmetrical?” or “Does it have feathers?”. Subjective questions depend on the perspective of the user, such as “Is it big?”; “Is it light in color?” “Does it have lots of legs?” – they are not good questions, because the answer depends on what you are comparing the organism with.

Your task today is to create a dichotomous key to identify a range of lollies. You could use characteristics such as color, shape, melting point, wrapper or symmetry. Remember, each question must have only two possible answers (yes/no or present/absent).

Year 7 Classification

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Learning Intention: You will understand the characteristics that are used to define living organisms and how they are classified into groups.

Success Criteria: You will remember the six characteristics used to define life, the names of the Five Kingdoms of living organisms and create a poster that demonstrates your understanding of how vertebrates are classified.

This week we started a new unit of work – “What is Life?” – and you have learned about the characteristics of living organisms:

  1. Made of cells and the products of cells
  2. Require oxygen and nutrients
  3. Produce wastes
  4. Move and grow
  5. Reproduce themselves
  6. Respond to stimuli (light, touch, sound, odour)

Complete the three circle Venn diagram with these characteristics. We have learnt why it is important to identify living organisms – so we can communicate with others about dangerous and useful species.

Now we are going to learn about why we classify living organisms into groups – we have discussed the Five Kingdoms of Living Organisms – Plants, Animals, Fungi, Protists and Bacteria. They are grouped according to common characteristics  – whether they can produce their own food or rely on other sources (autotrophs and heterotrophs), their cell type (single-celled or multicellular, with or without a cell wall, distinct nucleus and cell organelles or not) and how they reproduce (sexually or asexually).

Within each Kingdom there are smaller groups in a hierarchical, nested structure:

  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus
  • species

A ‘species’ is a group of organisms with similar characteristics that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. Modern scientists (taxonomists) use DNA evidence to classify organisms into groups. Museums and herbariums usually have a ‘type’ specimen that is an example of the particulate species.

Today we are going to investigate how invertebrates (animals without backbones) are classified. There are six main groups:

  1. Protozoans – microscopic animals that consist of only one cell (unicellular)  and live in water or as parasites inside other organisms.
  2. Coelenterates – soft, hollow-bodied  organisms that mostly live in the sea. They have only one body opening and no body organs. They have special stinging cells called ‘nematocysts’.
  3. Worms – soft-bodies animals that can be flat, round or threadlike. Some have segmented bodies.
  4. Molluscs – soft-bodied organisms, often with a protective shell.
  5. Echinoderms – marine animals with tough, spiny skin and radial symmetry.
  6. Arthropods – animals with an exoskeleton (hard cuticle), a segmented body and jointed limbs. They are divided into four groups mainly on the basis of how many legs.

Create a table with these six headings. Go to “Arthur’s Clip Art” and copy and paste the different invertebrate groups into the correct column of your table. So, for example, snails and slugs are molluscs; seastars and sea urchins are echinoderms; jellyfish and sea-anenomes are coelenterates. Email me your work as an attachment to brittgow(at)gmail(dot)com.

Next week we will learn about classifying vertebrates (animals with backbones). There are five classes of vertebrates: Amphibians, Birds, Mammals, Fish and Reptiles. Some of the characteristics used to classify these animals are:

  • Does it have fins, fur or scales?
  • Does it lay eggs or give birth to live young?
  • Can it maintain it’s own body temperature? (warm or cold-blooded)
  • Does it have gills or lungs?
  • Does it have mammary glands and feed it’s babies with milk?

There is one group of mammals that does not fit the pattern – a very ancient group that includes only two species of Australian native animals. Do you know what they are called?

Your homework is to create a poster that shows the characteristics of each of the five groups and a picture of at least one animal in each group (use clip-art, magazine pictures or draw your own).

Year 7 Skills for Living

Today we have several things going on due to production rehearsals and a special program with Quantum Victoria.

The boys who have not been going to Dance classes and have been working on their ideal school project will be signing up to Minecraft today. You will each be given a sheet of instructions, a web address and Minecraft access code.

  1. Firstly, get a Mojang account, by going to and registering with your name, email address and password.  Go to your email and click on the confirmation link.
  2. Next, register with Quantum Victoria – when you use the invitation code, make sure you use a capital ‘Q’ and exclamation mark ‘!’. Go to your email and click on the confirmation link – if you can’t find the message, it may have gone to ‘junk mail’.
  3. Start playing Minecraft by going to Quantum Victoria Massively Minecraft and have fun!

For those students who have been doing Dance – you need to complete your Maths homework – send me a photograph annotated with the length, width and height of a rectangular prism. We will calculate the surface area and volume of this three dimensional shape.

When you have finished, you can design the programs, posters and tickets for the school production – An adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, “A Winter’s Tale”. The show will be on Monday 29th October (7.30pm) and Wednesday 31st October (7.30pm). Tickets cost $5.00 for children and $10.00 for adults. Make sure your design is cohesive across the three items and uses appropriate fonts and creative commons images.

Year 7 Science – What is Life?

This amazing creature has been drawn based on fossils and named Hatzegopteryx – it is thought to be one of the largest flying animals of all time! It had hollow bones,  which meant that it weighed only about one sixth of the weight of a giraffe.

Learning Intention: To understand that living organisms share some common characteristics, despite their diversity. The differences within and between groups helps us organize and classify organisms.

Success Criteria: You will be able to list five characteristics of living organisms, name the five Kingdoms that all living organisms are grouped into and the five classes of vertebrates. You will also be able to discuss why we organize living things into groups and how this system has changed over time.

There is an amazing diversity of life on the planet – and we have evidence of even stranger organisms that are now extinct. What do all living things have in common? Draw up a Venn diagram with three overlapping circles. Add a dog to one, a robot to another and fire to the third. What do these three things have in common? What is different?

We will discuss your answers and decide on the five characteristics of all living organisms. We will also create a dichotomous key using a variety of different sweets and lollies. A dichotomous key is a hierarchical, branching tool that is used to identify organisms.


Sheep’s Eye Dissection

Last week we dissected a sheep’s eyeball to learn about the structure and function of the eye.  Some of you have been working on a slideshow that demonstrates what you have learned about the eye. If you haven’t started on your slideshow you can follow this link to a Voicethread and comment on the photographs, “Sheep’s Eye Dissection”.

There was an interesting article this week about an African fruit that has ‘structural color’, instead of pigments, that give it the ‘brightest color in nature’. The Pollia condensata, or marble fruit, has no nutritional value, but is full of seeds and keeps it’s color for decades.

My Ideal School

The Guardian newspaper in United Kingdom is running a competition similar to the task we have been doing at school during term 3. They are calling for entries into “The School We’d Like” competition, with the judging criteria as follows:

• Measurable benefits to your school community, please provide clear evidence where possible.
• Innovation – is this an example of clear innovative practice which could be used by other schools to the benefit of their communities?
• Consultation – evidence that there was a genuine consultative exercise across the school community to develop the idea.
• Collaboration – compelling evidence that teachers, students and other members of the school community worked together on the project.
• Pupil voice – evidence that pupil voice was developed by the exercise.
• Evidence that as many students as possible had the opportunity to learn or be exposed to life-long skill development such as project planning, financial planning, consultation, collaboration, presentation and interview.
• Evidence of positive learning from the exercise both for the presentation group and the wider school community.
• An indication of how the school community would use the lessons learned through the competition in the future.
• Sustainability: thought about the long term plans, how their idea will be maintained and sustained.

Consider this criteria as you prepare your plan and up to 500 word report describing your ideal school. Remember to justify each component of your plan and describe how it will improve student outcomes.  When you have completed your blog post, including an image of your ideal school, please add a comment below, with your blog address in the message.