User:Taratj/my sandbox/playing with jos template/MIE - Minimally Invasive Content -

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We had a wonderful experience at the end of this year achieving a successful MIE experience where the children delivered and drove the curriculum for two weeks!

Term 4 has always been a mad time of year for my Year 5-6 class. We have so many prescribed activities that it is always difficult to start long-term meaningful activities without constant interruption for various (and very necessary) whole-school activities (sports, cultural performance, graduation dance, and prizegiving). Our blog posts and movie making began to get few and far between and this was not helped by a spate of three robberies in a row. By the end of the year we had only my laptop and 3 old desktops that I had acquired from the storage room in the library.

Meanwhile, I had had the absolute privilege of being a part of the Emerging Leaders Symposium where we met once a term to share ignite talks. One such ignite talk was Mark Osborne's talk on Un-Conferences for teacher PD. So a colleague Tim Kongand I decided to have an Un-Conference in our classrooms. All the practices were coming to an end, I had no ICT gear, the art supplies were dismal, and quite frankly the year 6s were pretty much 'over' their primary school experience. What did I have to lose?

The process went basically like any other Un-Conference: A short time to prepare what workshop you would like to teach.

  • Student: "Can it be on anything Miss?"
  • Me: "Yes, anything you want to teach them"
  • Student: "Ha ha, I'm going to 'teach them how to dougie'
  • Me: "You're on - you can go in the first session time"
  • Student: "Aw - I was only joking, Miss"
  • Me: "Go do your research"
  • Student: "I'll need your computer, it's on YouTube"
  • Me: "Go for it!"

Heads snapped around from all corners of the classroom after that discussion and things started to hum.

The curriculum for that week was something I could have never imagined:

  • Teach me how to Dougie
  • How to do a BMX jump
  • How to power-up on Epic Duel
  • How to change a tyre
  • How to perfect side-stepping in touch
  • How to bowl a cricket ball
  • Wood carving design (part one)
  • Wood carving with real tools (part two)
  • Pasifika art and craft
  • A new song (guitar)
  • A new song (ukulele)
  • Lion King Choreography
  • Sketching
  • Taiaha

The 'tutors' wrote their work-shop up on a post-it and the kids opted in and out of what they wanted to do. Just like the adult conferences there was some angst when a 'tutor' was teaching at the same time a session they wanted to attend was running so there were many requests for repeat lessons. The Taiaha lesson was so popular that the 'tutor' was running sessions during playtime and children from other classes were signing up. I was stunned by the Maturity and Mana of our Taiaha tutor who insisted on correct Tikanga (removing student's hats and shoes as well as telling stories about feathers dropping, chiefs and other meaningful knowledges). I learned so much!

Tim and I connected our classes with a skype call and shared google forms. The adapted Granny Cloud worked nicely where his (slightly older) students modeled some great reflection of the process which my students gained from immensely. Student's Reflections

Here are a couple of short vids of the process but it really doesn't give it justice. There was just so much good things happening - I found I had to put the camera down and enjoy the experience.

Bar Camp 1

Bar Camp 2

MIE - Goal for 2012 Making connections with Elwyn Richardson -

Another good influence and believer of authentic and non-standardized education introduced me to Elwyn Richardson. What I think is most striking is that the fantastic and motivating stories were written in the 1950s yet those of us using these ideas are considered to be 'innovative' and 'creative'. I am absolutely frustrated with the government's direction that is leading us away from Richardson's blissful, honest and authentic pedagogy. But, that aside, there is much to be gained from his reflections, insights, and beautiful examples of how he taught back in the day.

Where Richardson used the medium of Fine Art (pottery, lino and wood cutting)to create amazing language and mathematical experiences. I have found the same experiences using video. This is not intended for me to make the bold claim that 'I am like Richardson', but that it's not about what we are teaching but how we are teaching. Where Richardson thrived in a rural environment where children observed birds and animals and harvested clay, us urbanised, suburban, (post)modernised counterparts can achieve the same. It is my intention to find these parallels to show that we can all achieve authenticity whether we are in a rural environment, purpose built 21st Century environment, or traditional cellular classroom. The point Richardson makes is not that students learn best with birds and clay but that students learn best with things that are relevant and accessible to them.

One example he refers to is that his students were able to produce beautiful poetry and artworks about native birds and plants - but not from snakes. Why? They hadn't experienced snakes. This is in the same way that my students produced their best writing about how they felt about being robbed, but not so much in response to some arbitrary text in a standardised test.

For those who like the sound of Richardson, try this vid for starters.