The past two weeks have been absolutely crazy but wonderful too 🙂 First I was involved in a week long research festival at the University of Sydney. My time was divided up into giving presentations myself (about various aspects of learning through roleplaying in Second Life) and enjoying the amazing work by other educators in the areas of English, literacy, drama and theatre. I was also involved in some general sessions about research and learned about the fabulous research being done by some of my colleagues – projects I didn’t know about because we don’t always get opportunities to share!
Two sessions I attended were incredible – both related to using texts in the classroom, and getting young people to respond to them through drama and roleplay. The first text was Shaun Tan’s The Arrival:
In the session we explored issues of immigration, loss of language, dreams (some realised, some shattered) and discovery.
Another session I attended was using Shakespeare’s The Tempest:
In this session we explored ways of getting into the themes of the Tempest (colonialism, power) that would also allow young people to access the complex language of Shakespeare. This session was led by reknowned drama educator Jonathon Neelands from the UK, and participants included many members of the Sydney’s Bell Shakespeare Company who had been doing research into how to work with Shakespeare in schools. There were also theatre experts from New Zealand and other states of Australia who attended.
Then this week I was involved in the Catholic Education Middle Years of Schooling Literacy and Technology Conference. I gave a keynote on machinima, but again I managed to attend some incredible sessions by teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms. The first session involved two teachers using Kahootz (which I have spoken about at length here before!) in their studies of film as text. They had their classes working on units of work about the Great Barrier Reef, and then study the film Finding Nemo. The kids then used Kahootz to produce some machinima representing “deleted scenes or DVD extras” from Finding Nemo, and these had to weave in accurate factual information about the environment.
The other session I went to was all about using claymation to enhance English and literacy in the classroom. This was a report of work done by a cluster group of teachers and their classes and was absolutely amazing. The kids were photographed as they made their claymations and then interviewed afterwards about their participation in the workshops. I loved the kids comments so much I managed to get copies of not only their claymation videos but also their interviews. Here are some of their comments I thought were absolutely priceless:
“you felt proud because it was yours”
“teachers didn’t do anything except walk around taking photos, we taught ourselves how to do it all – it was the power of the children!”
“you felt like a professional”
“we made ourselves do homework to make it better”
“you have more respect for people who do this work all day long”
Aren’t they gorgeous!! I love it!!! And their twisted fairytale animations are just incredible. Hopefully I will get a chance to share those sometime too.
Anyway, I guess I’d better go grade those 80 assignments piled up in my office 🙂