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.