The generation phase of playbuilding with Aboriginal Pedagogies is the first section of a learning sequence for Stage 5 drama.

Land links: Significance of place

Aboriginal ways of learning

Image: Land links, Community links, Story Sharing, Learning Maps, Deconstruct Reconstruct
  • 5.1.2
  • 5.1.4
  • 5.3.2

Teaching strategies

When exploring land links, teachers may choose to utilise the Aboriginal languages map, as well as local traditional language terms. This would require further research and community consultation.

Students watch the Reconciliation Australia video Who We Are: Country Place (0:00 – 6:31).

They then listen to ABC Education, Noongar people speak about a sense of place (0:00 – 2:51) and use the ‘Things to think about’ questions listed on the site to guide initial, teacher-led, class discussion of this podcast and what it tells us about the complexities of the Aboriginal meaning of place.

Teachers may choose to facilitate discussion around prior HSIE learning and encourage students to reflect on First Nations places of significance in their local community.

After listening, watching and discussing, issue coloured pens and paper and ask each student to draw their own story of a place that is significant to them and/or their family.

Students share their story-drawing with one other person in the class.

In a circle, volunteers then share their story drawings with the class.

After this sharing, explain to students that, as well as being part of their classroom routine in drama, sitting in a yarning circle and sharing stories like this is/always has been an important way for Aboriginal people to share knowledge.

Students agree on two places to hold daily yarning circles with the whole class this term (one indoors and one outdoors).

Students are introduced to the performance and submitted components of the assessment task (DOCX 79.5KB). Teacher unpacks the requirements and answers any questions about the task.

Teacher facilitates deconstruction of model learning maps. Some student and/or teacher observations when deconstructing each model may be similar to those outlined below.

Learning map 1

  • Non-linear journey
  • Symbolic use of colour and arrows to show process
  • Use of drawings/images to record learning at each phase
  • Repetition of leaf and lightbulb symbol
  • Language of Aboriginal pedagogy and playbuilding combined.
Image: Learning map 1 could be used to record a non-linear playbuilding process. It includes use of colour and symbol to illustrate the phases of the process.

Learning map 2

  • Linear timeline
  • Leaf and tree used as symbol of work developing
  • Written descriptions of process
  • Language of phases of playbuilding.
Image: Learning map 2 is a linear time-line of the playbuilding process. It includes written descriptions and images of leaves and trees to illustrate the phases of the process.

Learning map 3

  • Written overview/explanation
  • Non-linear mind map
  • Repetition of playbuiliding and Aboriginal ways of learning
  • Hyperlinks used to expand on the learning process.
Image: Learning map 3 is a circular mind-map of the playbuilding process. It includes written descriptions and a circle motif to indicate the phases of the process.

Make it clear that students have creative freedom to construct their own learning maps in new ways. Make sure students understand that the final learning map should include:

  • a starting point
  • images and symbols
  • land links
  • the techniques explored
  • changes in direction
  • any choices made
  • the elements of drama used
  • the arrival at final performance.

Students form groups of 3-6 and begin generating ideas for the place-based playbuilding performance. Tell students that their drama logbooks should be used throughout the process to record and experiment with ideas for the learning map component of the task.

In their performance groups, students negotiate an indoor place to hold their small group yarning circles while working on this task. In this space, students brainstorm outdoor places in the school or local community that are collectively significant to them. Encourage students to include places where they interact with the natural world.

Groups share their brainstormed ideas with the teacher and, based on teacher feedback and discussion, make a shortlist of 2-3 places before joining the class yarning circle to share short list with the class.

Based on class feedback/suggestions groups, agree on one place that is most significant to them as a group/community. The group use coloured pens and paper to draw their story of this significant place.

Groups join the class yarning circle to share their final story-drawing of place with the whole class.

Organise for students to visit their chosen place and complete some of the field work options below.

  • Agree on an onsite yarning circle for future group visit.
  • Make a list of words that describe what they see, feel, smell and hear.
  • Photograph the significant features.
  • Take photographs of how the place changes according to the time of day.
  • Draw the shape/s of the place (curves, lines, angles, waves).
  • Make a list of the people and groups who use the place most.
  • Make a record of how the place is used by the community.
  • Make a list of words to describe what makes this place important.
  • Record the background sounds.

In their onsite or indoor yarning circles, students share their stories of the significant place with the others in their group. During the discussion, students make a list of active improvisation ideas, in response to the stories told and the information collected from the place.

Students will use these lists as a starting point as they move into the exploring phase of the playbuilding process.

Throughout the following phases of the playbuilding process, students are encouraged to visit their chosen place regularly. If possible, find opportunities for students to devise work onsite.


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Drama 7–10 Syllabus (2003) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.


  • Drama 7-10
  • Stage 5

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
  • Learning Improvement
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