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2. Planning discussions

Viv says:

We began our journey with several planning conversations in January / February. Here's some of the background information we discussed in those meetings.

Who are the learners?

  • Intermediate age children in New Plymouth school
  • Very 'willing' class who have already established strong relationships with each other
School wide inquiry topic for the term: 
  • Identity
Client, commission and responsible team selected: 
  • The class will be positioned as a team of museum curators commissioned by the local council to investigate a traditional greenstone Adze found by a builder digging in a local park.
Note: Miguel made the very sensible and pragmatic decision to adapt an existing plan he'd experienced himself as a student at university. He could see how that resonated strongly with the required topic of 'identity'. 

Possible curriculum tasks emerging: Investigating the original purpose, meaning and manufacture of Adzes in Māori culture. Exploring why this Adze might have been lost or buried. Imagining personal stories and revisiting historical events from the area. Advising the finder on the appropriate protocol for handling the taonga. 

Inquiry questions emerging: How do traditional objects convey or store identity through time? How does the treatment of historical artefacts relate to modern concepts of 'identity' including 'identity theft?' When considering identity, what is the difference between what you do and who you are

Other information: Miguel plans to devote 3 afternoons per week to this Mantle of the Expert experience for the next 7 weeks. 

MIGUEL: Hi, as expected, I am inundated with assessment paperwork and the usual Term one mayhem has ensued. Swim sports trials, lockdown procedures, closure due to contaminated water and chant practice have all infringed on our learning, but this is a normal term right? So, I'm going to try to create a program that I can implement over 7 weeks so that, no matter what arises, I can still get an efficient and worthwhile project underway. At present I have allotted three afternoons per week to TOPIC/MOTE. I'm in week five of eleven and I have taught only three lessons! Time is the enemy, and any school/team task that needs doing is done in the afternoon - instead of Topic. I have to accept that and make do. 

However, the lessons I have taught have gone extremely well. I have a willing class, a will to succeed and boundless enthusiasm. I don't like working too hard and I'm not that crazy-organised teacher that spends every moment stuck in a book. I want to implement MOTE with the least fuss and paperwork possible. I used a template that Viv used at Uni during my training and adapted it very easily. In fact, I'm also using the template that I used LAST TERM as well. 
I'm not interested in bringing up the vanguard here, just teaching simple and effective MOTE. Getting flash will come later when I'm the boss of this. The kids are the ones who bring the awesome anyway.

Viv and I's conversations are such a relief to me. I have some humble ideas and she has the expertise. We both share in the enthusiasm and humour. Talking brings everything out. After my first foray I am very aware of the childrens' perspective. I have found them to be very LITERAL. So as we talk I try to put myself in their shoes. I share my lessons with my wife in the evenings and often she had said "I couldn't do that, how do you expect them to?".



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3. The opening sequence

Viv says:

Last time we talked, we looked at a possible sequence for the opening few sessions. I'll share this outline here but I bet things changed in practice, right Miguel?

Yes they did :) We also had much shorter lessons than anticipated and fewer lessons due to school closures and meetings. That's ok though as I am enjoying the challenge of fitting in the MOTE whenever we can, and I have been excitedly saying things like "hopefully we will have time to do some drama later?" Yay!

Suggested sequence was:

1. A warm up on preparing to play / imagine through the "Scarf game" (kind of like the object transformation in this link)

This went swimmingly. The kids first co-constructed the requirements for a safe drama environment and then agreed to honour them for their classmates. They enjoyed the scarf game and they were pumped to get started.

2. A trading game activity on the question "what is identity?" (Trading game described here by Brian Edmiston)

10. Responses and Final Reflections.

Phew! All done, what a ride! I think it took us 7 weeks all in. Considering the amount of upheaval that we experienced, we did a great job. What I wanted to prove most of all was that YOU CAN DO THIS. In a very short time. I'm a 2nd-year teacher struggling to get my program together...but won't I always be? Yes, the cross-curricular work was not to the best standard but that was through my inexperience. I now see that I could EASILY have improved the standard of the work by either:

making the quality of the work PART of the Mantlehaving some forethought about my core subject teaching, and theming that work according to the topic and our focusMy MOTE was very separate from my core subjects. This needn't/shouldn't be the case. I did this because it was the first term and there was too much going on with assessment and class setup and what not. Next time I will integrate the MOTE story across the curriculum. It's easiest to do with art but making it part of literacy an…