Mariah was undertaking primary teacher education as a Health and Physical Education (HPE) specialist. In her final two practicum schools, she developed a four-week unit plan, including an assessment plan, task description and marking criteria for Indigenous Games in HPE.
The assessable task was for Year 4 students to research and develop an Indigenous game, based on their understanding of:
- the transferable motor skills it would develop
- the tactics required to play
- the cultural knowledge to be gained from coming to learn the game.
She added reflection upon the purpose and researching the origin of four games as a higher-order-thinking task for the Year 4-7 cohort.
Her interview with the project team provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate the success of the unit and to consider how she might plan and deliver it differently next time. The opportunity to talk explicitly about the cultural knowledge to be delivered via Indigenous games was not something an HPE teacher would normally do within the expectations of the HPE syllabus and indeed her assessable task was quite unique:
'At first, because it's HPE, I don't think it was something… they don't normally do it. Don't do [written] assessment tasks. And that's the thing I was really nervous about because… half of them [students] didn't bring this [booklet] back when I asked them to… I gave this out to them in the first week and told them they needed to bring this back. Most of them, I think most of them did bring it back. Because I had questions for them. And this is just like a formative assessment too, as well as final… I have two different assessments. My summative is the game and the booklet, and my formative is teamwork, cooperation, talking and working together.' (Mariah, 2012)
The pedagogical conversations that Mariah had with the project team resulted not only in an opportunity for her to showcase her developing skills in designing appropriate assessment generally, but to think deeply about how Indigenous knowledges was engaging her students in learning.
'I wanted them to think about the skills that were part of each game and where it came from. Why did the people play that game that way?' (Mariah, 2012)
Mariah also concluded that she would build in more time for students to research games from their local area in future offerings of her unit.
Mariah continued her commitment to embedding Indigenous knowledges at her internship school, where she returned to classroom teaching, by volunteering to run a before-school Indigenous games program. She also developed a Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE)/Art unit focusing on popular Indigenous art movements in Australia. Her internship teacher Ron described her as 'the best prac student I have ever had'.