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HELP UNEARTH AUSTRALIA'S ANCIENT HISTORY
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"Ancient Australia Unearthed"
is a unique book for kids that uses archaeology to teach Australia's ancient history.

Teachers need quality, comprehensive resources to help them teach the new Australian Curriculum topic 'Ancient Australia' - this book will address that need.



ABOUT THE WRITER
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My name's Thea, and I’m an archaeologist, a teacher and a writer. As Project Officer of the Young Archaeologists' Program at La Trobe University, it's my job to design and deliver archaeology activities that cover history curriculum topics, and to talk to history teachers about everything from bottles to bones.

Over the past six months, I've had heaps of teachers ask me for information - websites, books or anything else useful - that will help them teach the new Australian Curriculum history topic ‘Ancient Australia’. This unit is all about the Indigenous past, and while there are a handful of amazing online activities for kids, there are no comprehensive books devoted to this topic for a high school audience.

Powerful and well-funded bodies such as Veterans Affairs provide a wealth of information and activities for topics like Gallipoli and the Vietnam War, but Ancient Australia - an equally important part of our history - has been sorely neglected.

I intend to change that.


HOW IT ALL STARTED
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It all started with a visit to the high school where I used to be an English/History teacher.

I went to spruik the Young Archaeologists' Program to the Head of Humanities. While I was there, she mentioned that teachers are in desperate need of a book on Ancient Australia, a unit that focuses on the Indigenous past. In response to this, I started a blog (askthearchaeologist.wordpress.com) which explains the key terms for Ancient Australia in a way I thought teachers might find helpful.

Then, in July this year, I presented a 1-hour seminar on Ancient Australia at a state history conference, and the same question was asked: Why wasn’t there a textbook about Ancient Australia yet? Where could teachers access quality and comprehensive resources about this elusive topic?

I began a thorough investigation into currently available resources and soon learned why teachers found the textbooks so unhelpful.

There’s virtually nothing available.



In fact, several popular history textbooks barely even mention Ancient Australia. The best information I could find had been written in consultation with a top museum curator, and while the resource is of high quality, it, too, is lacking the depth needed to teach such a vast and layered topic.

It was at this point that I decided to address the problem and write a book.


WHY I CHOSE SELF-PUBLICATION
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As soon as I decided to write this book, I knew I had to self-publish. Going through "traditional" publication routes was going to take too long. Teachers need this information now, not in one or two years.

It's also important that I have the freedom to include as many illustrations as I think is necessary (many publishers have limited image quotas, and I want to include loads of pictures - after all, it has to appeal to kids as well as their teachers!).



I also want some say in the book design and format. While I'm not a great designer by any stretch of the imagination, I have firm views about how I want the book to unfold chronologically and visually, and I suspect a mainstream educational publisher would not permit an author to enjoy the level of creative input that I will give to this book.




WRITER VS TRANSLATOR
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With this project, I see myself not so much as a writer or educator, but more as a translator and guide. The bulk of information about Ancient Australia is locked away in archaeology reports and academic journal papers. And which teachers have time to sift through a hundred articles on an unfamiliar subject then create engaging lessons for an 8-week unit? None that I know.


THE BOOK'S PROGRESS SO FAR
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"Ancient Australia Unearthed" is well underway, with a draft nearly complete. It will be a unique book – the first of its kind – that uses archaeology to teach Australia’s ancient history. While the primary purpose will be educational, I feel that the aesthetics of the book are equally, if not more, important than the text. It would be so easy for my book to become boring, and I’m determined to prevent that from happening. This is why I’ve chosen to crowdfund – so that I can invest in great design and illustrations to make the book both educational and beautiful.

PLEASE JOIN ME ON THIS JOURNEY AND HELP UNEARTH THE FASCINATING HISTORY OF ANCIENT AUSTRALIA!

FAQ

IS THIS BOOK A TEACHER RESOURCE OR A STUDENT TEXTBOOK?

I intend to have 2 versions of Ancient Australia Unearthed, the first one being the student text. I will (eventually) publish a teacher resource, with additional information, activities, links, project instructions, and even some experimental archaeology! My aim is to have this ready shortly after the student book, but I'll have to see how I'm going for time. It will definitely become available at some stage, I promise!

THERE AREN'T MANY AUSTRALIAN HISTORY BOOKS SUITABLE FOR HOMESCHOOLERS' NEEDS, AND IN THOSE WE USE, THE CHAPTERS ABOUT PRE-SETTLEMENT ARE SO-SO AT BEST AND "RIP THE PAGE OUT" AT WORST. COULD YOU MAKE SOME OF YOUR CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES EASILY ADAPTED FOR HOMESCHOOLERS?

The activities and questions are designed for students to complete by themselves or in small groups, but there's no reason why these can't be adapted for homeschool students. After all, this is still a work in progress, and I am very happy to receive feedback at this stage because I still have elbow room to alter things according to students' and teachers' needs!

WHAT STRATEGIES DO YOU HAVE FOR INVOLVING TRADITIONAL OWNERS IN THE PREPARATION / REVIEW / APPROVAL OF MATERIAL THAT YOU ARE PREPARING?

In terms of the book as a whole, it is designed to cover Australia's prehistoric past in quite a broad archaeological sense to "map" a general chronology for the past 60,000 years. The Year 7 history lesson time allocation for 'The Ancient World' unit (which includes topics like the 'out of Africa' theory) amounts to around 10% of the year, equating to 4-6 weeks. Not much time at all! Hence the need for a broad but succinct overview of our rich and complex continental history.

In terms of site-specific material within that chronology, I have already begun the process of requesting advice and feedback from a number of experts, including traditional owners, to ensure that the textbook information is both accurate and respectful.

WHY AREN'T YOU WORKING WITH AN EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHER?

Believe me, I wish I could! It would make my job way easier. Unfortunately, most large publishing houses, while they produce great materials, take a long time to do so, and teachers need this information now, not in 2 years.

Plus, I want some creative control over the book design and layout, as well as the number of images included. Most publishers have image quotas, which just doesn't work for me. So for now, I have to settle for self-publication.

Some Of My Previous Work

I’m the Project Officer of the Young Archaeologists' Program at La Trobe University, a program where school kids can try some archaeology, and at the same time have fun with history. It’s my job to design and deliver archaeology activities that cover history curriculum topics. I spend heaps of time talking to history teachers and learning about what they have, and what they still need to help make lessons fun for kids.

I've got extensive experience as a freelance writer and proofreader, and I publish annual reviews for the Melbourne International Comedy and Film Festivals. I regularly attend writers' conferences, and in 2011 I was selected for the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program.

Before this, I taught English and History in Melbourne high schools, but since studying archaeology, I’ve realised there’s a heap of information available to archaeologists that isn’t readily available to teachers. This is what I intend to change - I will bring archaeology into the classroom in a way that's accessible to all.

The Challenges

All projects have their risks, and the biggest one for mine is time. Teachers need this information now - not in one or two years. I’m working hard to have this book ready for the beginning of Term 1 in 2014. But without funding, I won’t meet that deadline, and if I miss the deadline, then kids and teachers will miss out too, because I'll have to find another way to pay for design and print, and that could take a long time.

Please help me deliver this book to schools for Term 1, so that we can bring this rich part of our history to life.
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on 22nd Nov 2013 at 1:00pm. The payment portal is closed now.
A$2 +You'll enjoy the tickled pink feeling of being involved in making history.
0 Chosen | 200 AvailableEst. delivery is December 2013
A$5 +I've got a stack of awesome archaeology site photos for you to choose from. These include rock art, artefacts and landscapes. Whichever image you choose, I'll email you a high resolution copy.
1 Chosen | 199 AvailableEst. delivery is February 2014
A$15 +You've won a colourful Ancient Australia Unearthed fridge magnet!
1 Chosen | 299 AvailableEst. delivery is February 2014
A$25 +You will receive an Ancient Australia Unearthed Gift Pack, with a fridge magnet, some stickers and a badge.
2 Chosen | 298 AvailableEst. delivery is February 2014
A$30 +You're getting a pack of 10 high quality post cards with brilliant images of sites, rock art and artefacts. Enjoy!
4 Chosen | 296 AvailableEst. delivery is March 2014
A$50 +Your name will go in the book! That's right - all contributors who donate $50 or more will be acknowledged as sponsors in the book. You'll also receive an ebook copy of Ancient Australia Unearthed once it's ready for distribution. AND I will send you an Ancient Australia Unearthed military-style hat to keep you cool for summer!
17 Chosen | 183 AvailableEst. delivery is May 2014
A$100 +Your name will appear in the book as a major sponsor. You'll also receive a signed hard copy of Ancient Australia Unearthed, along with a personal thank-you note from me.
35 Chosen | 65 AvailableEst. delivery is May 2014
A$250 +You obviously love archaeology, so let's talk. Join me for a coffee or a beer in Melbourne and I'll happily chat about all things archaeology for an hour or two. As well as this, your name will appear in the book as a major sponsor, and you will receive a signed hard copy. I'll also include an Ancient Australia Unearthed gift pack with magnets, stickers, post cards and badges and an Ancient Australia Unearthed military-style hat to keep you cool in summer.
8 Chosen | 42 AvailableEst. delivery is May 2014
A$500 +Join me for a coffee or a beer in Melbourne to chat about all things archaeology. I'll bring along some artefacts for you to have a look at, as well as some unpublished images. As well as this, nominate a Melbourne school where I will deliver a professional development session to history teachers and donate a hard copy of Ancient Australia Unearthed, acknowledging you as the benefactor. Of course, your name will appear in the book as a major sponsor and you'll receive a signed hard copy.
0 Chosen | 20 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2014
A$2000 +Have me come and speak to you and a select group of your friends or colleagues about Ancient Australia. While I'm there, I'll visit a local school of your choosing and provide a 1-hour professional development session for history teachers. (Travel costs to and from Melbourne, Australia, are additional.) You'll be acknowledged as a major sponsor of the book and receive a signed hard copy. If you'd like to book a specific date, please email me first to check availability.
1 Chosen | 19 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2014