Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What will anyone else find interesting about us?

What will anyone else find interesting about us?I was asked this question by a student in my classroom about two weeks prior to the end of Term One for 2010.  (In New Zealand we work on a February-December School year, with two week breaks in between). The student was posing a question that I also recently saw as a 'Comments 4 Kids' post, where a student was struggling with writers block and wondering about a topic on what to write about.  We'd been discussing videos to film for the end of term to post online and as our starting point we were having a classroom discussion about what to post that other people would find interesting and learn from.

My reply to the student was to think about what interests her, and what she could teach 'others'.  We're very fortunate as a class that our audience has build up over the past two years to the point that when something new goes online we invariably get feedback from around the world so for our classroom 'others' can literally mean people/students and educators around the world.   That is a huge motivational factor for my students.  I have tried to explain this to other staff, even to the point of showing them our wonder wall of comment's we've received on our blog (thanks Joe McClung) but they (the staff don't seem to get 'it') for the students its just 'cool'.    

In a nutshell the student with three others developed a lesson to teach a Maori Kapa Haka skill, Raukau.  It's a skill/game involving the use of wooden sticks to repeat a pattern.  Its used to develop skills, to increase co-ordination, timing and prepare students for performance.  The student in question is a Maori student and she's brought up to respect her culture and show pride in it.  To her it took a little time to convince her about the interest level in creating it, as she was unsure as to whether others would find it interesting,  but thanks to the success of some of our other work early this year (Russian students learning to speak Maori) she got herself organised and put together a tutorial lesson.  (As a side note while she brainstormed the idea and wrote the script she opted out of actually doing the presenting because she was too shy, she's in the video on the left).

In this case its all about taking the little things and displaying them for an audience.  We've already had two classrooms comment stating they will be creating their own patterns as a result of watching the tutorial.  The student who had been stuck for ideas was gob smacked by this initially, as what she knows has been taken on board by others, something that she knows others most defiantly have found interesting and have taken on board.  Ergo, a successful teaching moment and hopefully (particularly for this student) motivation to bring to other areas of her work.

Would this have been successful without blogging? Possibly.  I could have had the student concerned create the lesson, plan and create the tutorial and taught other students in the classroom or in the school.  That would have had a local impact and that's a good thing.   However thanks to the internet, to the connections that we have, to sites just like this it becomes something more than that.  It becomes a moment to teach people around the world and make that connection, that lesson, that moment so much more special. 
Raukau Sticks - Lesson One from myles webb on Vimeo.


Wm Chamberlain said...

That is why we blog instead of create content only for our classrooms. The potential audience is much larger. Myles, you have had a lot of success with other schools emulating your posts. It is something you should be very proud of.

NZWaikato said...

Yes I do take pleasure in that, and really and honestly wish more people would do it. We'd love to see something similar from first nation/indigenous students around the world, but its no something that we always see. I'm really hoping that the student responsible for this video really kicks on from here with it because I've seen the affect that its had on her.

Manaiakalani said...

Great post Myles. It is fantastic to see you sharing the pedagogy behind what you are doing with your students. As far as your own staff go, I have found that some teachers are more convinced by 'hard data' than what is happening under their noses - possibly because they can't understand it. So I suggest you share with them the data from when you started out in the Manaiakalani cluster in 2008, and if it would be useful I can give you the research report of 2009, the year after you left. The student outcome results have snowballed (Yrs 4-10) but of most interest to me is the attitude-to-writing data. Our researcher interviewed kids across 7 schools and the age levels above, and 100% of them told her that they like writing if it is going to be published on a blog - "Because I know other people are going to read it".
Perhaps you should conduct Action Research around your own work now you don't have our cluster researcher to do it for you :)

NZWaikato said...

@ Dorthy - I would love to have that research and perhaps we could discuss it by posting it here, in some form. I see the value of blogging and am such an advocate of it, that sometimes when other teachers don't share that enthusiasm I guess I can get a little disheartened (I do think that some people for instance see it as just IT and not literacy) by that. Yes conducting Action Research around my work now, perhaps looking at the attitude questions from Asttle Writing Test would be a good way to go, or maybe even doing something similar to your cluster and interview the students before and after about blogging.

Tabitha Greenlee EDM310 said...

I am Dr. Strange's student, taking EDM310. Until this class, I truly had no concept of what blogging was, nor it's impact. Sure, I had read some, but I did not have any blogs of my own. I had no idea that I could even create one! Now that this class has taught me some things I have the required one and a few others. I comment on the assignments and venture back to comment on other blogs because I know it does feel good to have comments posted about your work. It is very encouraging to have other people read what you blog, the further away the better! I applaud all the teachers who keep blogging in their classrooms and hope that those who shun the idea reconsider, there is a place for technology in learning...that place is here and now. Don't leave the kids of today behind!

Allison Rogers said...

Your right, blogging does have a huge impact on the world. Up until this semester in EDM 310 I didn't think much at all about blogging. I thought it was just people with to much time on their hands, but now I realize that it is part of a global learning network that I didn't even know exists until now. I can defiantly see where this will become a major component in education.

Jamie Anderson said...

I also am taking edm310 this semester and like my classmates I was not aware of how useful a skill blogging could be in teaching and learning new skills. I have neighbors who have been educators for a number of years and I asked them if they have used blogging in their classrooms, I was disappointed to find out that neither one has tried blogging in their classrooms.