Researching our past: creating memorable learning

ANZAC Project Celebrating Their Legacy

ANZAC Project Celebrating Their Legacy

This post is to celebrate being part of a global collaboration between schools in New Zealand and Australia to commemorate students’ ANZAC legacy.

Andrew Churches, from Kristin School, created the ANZAC Project with the essential question,

What is the significance of ANZAC day one hundred years on?

To answer this question students were challenged to research their family stories, create a page on a shared a WikiSpaces Classroom and comment on each other’s stories.

My ANZAC Story

My ANZAC Story

To initiate this community project, I wondered what personal and community stories we would discover. So I started with my own story; phoning family members, asking questions and piecing together stories, images and even discovering the importance of an old medal. These primary sources had an intimacy that caused me to reflect on my family and how women suffered while their husbands, fiancées and fathers went to war.

As teachers and students involved in the ANZAC project, researched, they became authentic historians investigating a real issue and discovering stories and primary sources that led to new family and community discussions. The students who had no war past researched a person using the National Archives. This also led to a new awareness of our community and ANZAC Day. Below is one student’s reflection,

I also discovered how my classmates spent ANZAC Day and how ANZAC Day is commemorated in our community. When we had the class discussion on the ways our community celebrated ANZAC Day, I learned even more on what happens around Adelaide and the different events and traditions. Additionally, I was challenged to think about how ANZAC Day is significant 100 years on. I never thought about this question, as my family does not really celebrate this day, meaning I was oblivious to what was happening amongst our communities. When we discussed this topic in class, it gave me new and different perspectives to what people around Australia believe is happening to ANZAC Day. This project has definitely altered my viewpoint on ANZAC Day as the class discussion about how ANZAC Day is significant 100 years on.

 Project Celebration Display

Project Celebration Display

At the end of the Project, we celebrated with an exhibition opening and invited our Principal to hear students retell their research stories.

Here is a student’s reflection,

This project has changed the way I think about ANZAC day because now I will remember my great grandparents who fought for their (assorted) countries, as well as thinking more deeply about all the other soldiers who have their own stories. I think this is because now that I have researched them and know some of their details, the ANZACs become less of a legend and more actual people who did amazing things, and people who had family that loved them.

This wonderful ANZAC Project has had many unexpected consequences including building a shared memory that reflects the Wilderness School community and their personal history. To build on this opportunity and to engage parents in both their children’s learning and the Wilderness ANZAC Legacy, students are to create an iBook as a permanent document for all to view.

To read Wilderness student and teacher stories go to Sarah Harding’s  and Catherine Juniper’s WikiSpaces Classrooms.


An extension that technology offers history teachers is to Skype a professional historian. To read more about this open ‘Skype and the ANZAC Legend’ on It’s About Learning.

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  1. Sorry it’s taken a while to get a comment up!

    I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this project. I agree that it was the unexpected consequences that made it so rewarding.

    The students were so excited to be a part of this and to investigate their personal history. It made history so real for them and they came to class bursting to tell me and their classmates about the latest revelations. It was lovely to hear that many of them had called or emailed relatives, many of whom they didn’t contact very often.

    Not only did it strengthen students’ personal and family communities but it also enhanced the classroom and school community as students shared findings and discovered similarities and differences in their personal stories.

    A wonderful experience to be a part of.

    • Hi Sarah, I’m very happy that you and your students enjoyed the experience of researching their past. Their wiki pages visibly demonstrate a deep understanding of how valuable primary sources and oral history are to contemporary understanding of ANZAC day in our community.

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