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War correspondents

Australian War Memorial E00833

War Correspondents: Choose your own learning adventure

A resource for Year 9 teachers and students
Ben Lawless, Aitken College, Victoria


War Correspondents is a ‘learning adventure’ where students learn about some of the characteristics of Australia prior to the First World War, Australia’s involvement in the war and some of the lasting consequences, while developing their history skills. It is designed to fit in with the Year 9 History Curriculum — see Curriculum links for details.

1. What is a learning adventure?

  • A learning adventure is a unique way of learning about a topic, where students learn through a first person narrative and choose their own path through the adventure.
  • This learning adventure package and approach switches the learning from teacher-led to student-led.
  • This learning adventure focuses on 14 defining moments in Australian history.
  • Content knowledge
    • Students learn at their own pace by reading the adventure.
    • They also do regular content test quizzes (four in total).
  • Historical skills
    • The learning adventure contains the teaching of each skill, worked examples and exercises.
    • The teacher then checks if they have done it correctly and if not, they guide students back to the material so that they can revise their responses.
  • Students can complete the learning adventure activities independently online.
  • The activities have been designed to be easily printed or loaded to the class digital learning platform and interactive whiteboard by teachers. If the online option is chosen, students can save their work regularly to a suitable digital platform decided by the school/teacher.
  • The activities can be completed in one go, or they can be staggered and completed over a period of time.
  • Each time students finish an activity ‘assignment’ or end-of-section quiz they can save and email or print and show their teacher, reviewing their progress with their Learning Checklist spreadsheet.
    • The teacher decides if the activity has been completed successfully — if so, this gets recorded on the Learning Checklist spreadsheet which tracks XP (experience points) and what level they have reached.
    • If the activity hasn’t been done correctly, the teacher can guide students back to the material so that students can revise their responses.
    • It is important that students ‘own’ the Learning Checklist so that interests and strengths are recognised, and areas for development encouraged and supported.
  • The learning adventure focuses on in-depth learning through:
    • historically accurate and authentic narratives
    • choice of a path through the narrative
    • targeted development of history skills at each stage
    • ongoing review, reflection and evaluation processes and data tracking
    • carefully designed, authentic real-world project-based learning.
  • The learning adventure encourages:
    • independent learning
    • confidence with their own work
    • problem-solving
    • creative thinking
    • collaborative learning.
  • The learning adventure can be presented flexibly at each stage, and as independent or collaborative learning (a mixture of approaches is recommended to maximise engagement and depth).
  • The learning adventure is student-centred and teacher facilitated.
  • The learning adventure promotes:
    • engagement and motivation through competition (students can potentially see other students’ scores)
    • differentiation/targeted teaching (use of Learning Checklist and constant feedback processes)
    • interpretation of questions
    • better retention of content knowledge (because it is taught as a first-person narrative and students find it easier to remember narratives).
  • Game elements promote engagement, motivation and allow for easier constructive feedback because:
    • students are used to making choices where there is a clear contextual situation, problem-solving, learn-as-you-progress and score-checks
    • many students are fluent and comfortable with gaming and digital mediums that offer positive and constructive feedback on how to improve their performance.

2. How to run the learning adventure

  • Ensure students are ready to make some adventurous decisions, then simply get them to work their way through the learning adventure.
  • They will have choices along the way, but the adventure has been designed so that they will all learn the same historical skills and core First World War content knowledge no matter what choices they make.
  • Each time a student completes an activity, they can save and email or print and show the teacher with their updated Learning Checklist:
    • If it has been done correctly, put a ‘1’ in the appropriate cell in the scoring spreadsheet.
    • If it has been done incorrectly, guide students back to the material so that they can revise their responses.
  • There are 26 unique sections in the learning adventure. There are 37 in total because some are repeated to allow for the different choices students can make. In reality students will only see each piece of content once.
  • The learning adventure is designed to be completed over a number of lessons or sessions. At the end of each session students will need to record the activity number that they were working on. They can then use the Activity index page to find their way back in the next lesson.
Using the score sheet in the Learning Checklist

If you want to add a little friendly competition into the learning adventure (which can be very motivating for students), use the score sheet in the Learning Checklist spreadsheet and project the results on a projector as you play.

  1. Type or paste in student names or student IDs.

  2. Every time a student completes an activity, look at which section it is from. Put a ‘1’ in that cell in the spreadsheet.

  3. It will then automatically give the student XP (experience points) and convert it into a level.

  4. Scores:

XP Level
0 1
100 2
200 3
400 4
800 5
1000 6
1500 7
2500 8
4500 9
7500 10
Rubric used
Content knowledge Terms and concepts Questioning Source analysis Perspectives
C1: Remembers knowledge T1: Uses keywords Q1: Asks historical question S1: Lists specific features of source P1: Recognises a perspective
C2: Summarises knowledge T2: Explains keywords Q2: Asks open historical question S2: Identifies patterns or themes in source P2: Summarises a perspective
C3: Explains knowledge T3: Uses concepts Q3: Asks specific, open historical question S3: Uses outside knowledge to help explain source P3: Explains what a historical perspective means
C4: Categorises knowledge T4: Explains concepts Q4: Recognises questions that help answer overall question S4: Uses source to help explain external events / developments P4: Compares two historical perspectives

If a student completes the learning adventure, they will have completed activities for all of these levels.

3. Relevant Defining Moments

The learning adventure incorporates 14 of the Defining Moments from the National Museum of Australia’s Defining Moments in Australian History website:


Inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia (Federation)

Investigation 1 — The forging of Australia


Australia takes control of Papua as an ‘external territory’

Investigation 2 — Australia gains a territory


Justice HB Higgins hands down ‘Harvester Judgement’

Investigation 3 — Aussie workers get a minimum wage


Legislation introducing national age and invalid pensions

Investigation 4 — Help for the old and sick


Douglas Mawson leads Australasian expedition to Antarctica

Investigation 5 — Mawson braves the extreme cold


Australian Government introduces a maternity allowance

Investigation 6 — Helping babies


Foundation of Canberra as the national capital

Investigation 7 — A new capital for a young nation


The newly created Royal Australian Navy’s ‘fleet unit’ sails into Sydney Harbour

Investigation 8 — Our new warships


NSW Government gains power to remove Aboriginal children from their families

Investigation 9 — Taking children away


Australian troops land at Gallipoli

Investigation 11 — Trial by fire: Gallipoli

Investigation 28 — Trial by fire: Gallipoli

Investigation 24 — The legendary Anzacs

Investigation 33 — The legendary Anzacs


First Anzac Day commemorations

Investigation 25 — Let we forget


Federal–state agreement for soldier settlement

Investigation 20 — Supporting our returned soldiers


Conscription for military service overseas defeated in two referendums

Investigation 19 — Forcing them to fight?

Investigation 31 — Forcing them to fight?


End of First World War and Treaty of Versailles

Investigation 23 — International relations

Investigation 34 — International relations

Investigation 36 — International relations

Simplified versions of many of the relevant Defining Moments are also available:


Becoming a nation — Federation of the Australian colonies

Investigation 1 — The forging of Australia


A ‘fair and reasonable wage’ — ‘Harvester Judgement’ establishes a living wage

Investigation 3 — Aussie workers get a minimum wage


The Stolen Generations — Aborigines Protection Act

Investigation 9 — Taking children away


The campaign that defined a nation — Australian troops land at Gallipoli

Investigation 11 — Trial by fire: Gallipoli

Investigation 28 — Trial by fire: Gallipoli

Investigation 24 — The legendary Anzacs

Investigation 33 — The legendary Anzacs


‘A day that will live in our hearts’ — First Anzac Day

Investigation 25 — Let we forget


A nation divided — Conscription for military service overseas defeated in two referendums

Investigation 19 — Forcing them to fight?

Investigation 31 — Forcing them to fight?

The National Museum of Australia would love to hear or see how you have used this learning adventure with your class, or how it has inspired you to use the decision-maker learning approach, or the Museum’s Defining Moments and other resources from Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom. Teachers can contact us via the National Museum of Australia’s Contact us page.

4. Australian Curriculum level and focus

Historical knowledge and understanding

Students will cover the following areas:

  • An overview of the causes of World War I and the reasons why men enlisted to fight in the war (ACDSEH021)
  • The places where Australians fought and the nature of warfare during World War I, including the Gallipoli campaign (ACDSEH095)
  • The impact of World War I (ACDSEH096)
  • Identifying the groups who opposed conscription
  • Studying the first and second referenda on conscription
  • The commemoration of World War I, including debates about the nature and significance of the Anzac legend (ACDSEH097)

Historical skills

Students will exercise the following historical skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts

  • Use chronological sequencing to demonstrate the relationship between events and developments in different periods and places (ACHHS182)
  • Use historical terms and concepts (ACHHS183)

Historical questions and research

  • Identify and select different kinds of questions about the past to inform historical inquiry (ACHHS184)
  • Evaluate and enhance these questions (ACHHS185)
  • Identify and locate relevant sources, using ICT and other methods (ACHHS186)

Analysis and use of sources

  • Identify the origin, purpose and context of primary and secondary sources (ACHHS187)
  • Process and synthesise information from a range of sources for use as evidence in an historical argument (ACHHS188)
  • Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of primary and secondary sources (ACHHS189)

Perspectives and interpretations

  • Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past (ACHHS190)
  • Identify and analyse different historical interpretations (including their own) (ACHHS191)

Explanation and communication

  • Develop texts, particularly descriptions and discussions that use evidence from a range of sources that are referenced (ACHHS192)
  • Select and use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies (ACHHS193)

Interdisciplinary thinking

Students will engage with the concepts of:

  • significance
  • continuity and change
  • cause and effect
  • place and space
  • interconnections
  • roles, rights and responsibilities
  • perspectives and action.

Cross-curriculum priorities

Students will have been involved in additional learning about aspects of:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies
  • Asia and the Pacific
  • sustainability.

Source: The Australian Curriculum Humanities and Social Sciences, v8.3, December 2016, viewed 1 November 2018

5. Learning at the National Museum of Australia

Enjoying our online teaching resources? Why not check out what else we have to offer?

We run onsite school programs, digital excursions and teacher professional learning programs.

Discover more about defining moments in Australian history through these curriculum-linked learning activities.

Student activities

War correspondents
Finding your way