The Dawn of a New Australia

A Federation WebQuest for Stage 5 Students

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This webquest has been designed to be used within the context of Topic 1 in both the 1999 Syllabus and the 2003 Syllabus. It addresses the issue of the Reasons for Federation.


This webquest has been designed to extend and refine student knolwedge of the different perspectives of the colonies in the pre-Federation period and to help them understand that the colonial experience was not the same in all colonies.



Make sure that the two cds, which have been supplied to your school, are available on your computers or the network well before hand so that you, or your teacher librarian or support person, can become familiar with them and the way they run. The CDs, Stories of Democracy and One Destiny, may be put onto a school network without a licence - permission to do this is stated in the accompanying booklets with the CDs.The 1901 CD can alse be put onto a single computer for additionalreference purposes but may not be networked.

Go through the mechanics of the webquest itself and develop a clear understanding in your own mind as to what you are going to do. Make any adjustments you think necessary to suit your particular needs. Become aware of the scaffolding available through the links on the pages so that students can be directed to these aids and maintain their independence in learning. They include how to draft a report, how to write a submission and what to put in a final report. There are also some guides as to how to create a PowerPoint presentation and what to put in and not put into a PowerPoint presentation.


The webquest has been designed to take about 4 lessons of 40 minutes in total and will work on the following schedule.

Pre-planning lesson in the classroom. Introduction to the idea of the webquest. Allocation of groups, distribution of the colonies and consolidation of assumed knowledge such as who Henry Parkes was, how the colonies had become independent and the early moves towards Federation such as the growing idea of being Australian.

Lesson 1 - Introduction and early research

- read through the webquest main pages (home, scenario, task, process, assessment)
- proceed through Steps 1 to 3 and allow 5 minutes at the end of the lesson for the groups to reach their conclusions in Step 3

Lesson 2 - Research phase

- proceed through Steps 4 to 6 with Step 5 being completed as homework

Lesson 3 - Report preparation stage

- complete Step 7. This should be done in two phases. Group work, discussion, sharing of ideas, coming to conclusions (10 minutes) and preparation of the final report and presentation (30 minutes) . One half of the group should do the preparation of the written report for submission whilst the other students prepare the content for the group's presentation.

Lesson 4 - Presentations



The assessment tasks and marking guidelines provided deal with Group Work, Written Submissions and Presentations and are based on the Outcomes allocated.

The assessments included in this webquest are by no means exclusive and you may choose to change them depending on the ability of your students. No lengths have been set for the reports nor the presentations and this you will have to do. You may find it useful to allocate your extension students an additional task of preparing Henry Parkes' speech after listening to all the presentations from the colonies and then presenting that speech themselves.


The webquest also offers an opportunity for alternate exercises and these were suggested by Andrew West of Northholm Grammar as part of the peer reviewing of this webquest.

The students could look at the scenario of the addition of new states (such as the Riverina or New England - both of which have a long history of possibility). The questions would then be along the lines of how the new states would react to the main issues and, importantly, what would the attitude of the existing states given that both potential states fall within New South Wales and may be natural allies of that state. What would that do to the balance of power? Students might also examine arguments for or against creating such new states in general terms and it should be noted here that the original federation star had eight points which included one for New Guinea and one for Fiji. New Zealand, of course, was invited to be a part of the Federation and, although they sent delegates initially, eventually resolved to develop independently. What if they had joined and we had become Australasia? How would the main issues have affected those additional states?



When you divide your students into groups make sure that they are a mix of students and not simply groups of friends. If you have extension students make sure that they take up the challenge of Step 6, do not over-rule the other students but work with them. Similarly Life Skills students will benefit from working alongside extension and general ability students and may be allocated more appropriate tasks.

Remember to observe and record the groups' activities so that you have clear documentation for your assessment of this section.



There is a series of questions on the Student Reflection page which all students should be encouraged to complete. Print the page off as they will not be able to access it "on line" to write their responses. This should be marked and returned to the students as part of the de-brief.


We hope that you enjoy this exercise. It can be a fun way to learn about History, it is challenging because it is student centred work and it promotes higher order skills in the students. For students who are not overly familiar with computers it also provides a controlled environment of access to limited internet links and therefore increases their confidence in their own ability to research on the web.