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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 Mantle
  • having some forethought about my core subject teaching, and theming that work according to the topic and our focus
My 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 and maths is not difficult either. 

In fact, the topic of identity was everywhere in our learning and, as time passed by, I found it easier and easier to find connections on a day to day basis. You'll be surprised how many ways your topic can be expanded upon and connected to your everyday learning. 

The children are sooooooo capable. Even though this term I was blessed with a willing crew, I still found it difficult to let go at times. My desire to do good work sometimes got in the way of...good work! You have to let go and manage the behaviour whilst guiding THEIR creativity.

The response from my Principal was very positive. He was impressed with the outcome and the attitude to learning from the kids. Mt Teacher assistant and Tutor Teacher were blown away by the kids' commitment to their stories. However, I still didn't get the feeling that most would want to implement MOTE in their classroom due to the fear of not being a 'drama person' or by the amount of work that it seems to go into a successful project. My first two projects have been assisted by Viv. And there was a fair amount of work done on weekends but it was just part of my topic planning, which I would have had to do anyway. Week by week it became easier because we were in full flow and the project took on its own inertia. I intend to do this again next term but I want to use different conventions. Not sure what yet but I'll find something. Kids want to do something with superheroes and the topic is 'investigations'. Any ideas?

Lastly, I don't know if anyone is reading this. If you are, please consider doing this FOR your children. I truly believe that, apart from my wonderful personality, MOTE has contributed immensely to the happy go lucky class culture that we are experiencing. Many of my shy kids have blossomed through this process. It is so worth it. The most prevalent comment on the Q&A with the kids was that they enjoyed working with their friends or with people that they would not normally work with. I know that they learnt a lot about the topic but I think most of all they learnt about themselves and their classmates through the topic. They were engaged and they were committed to the topic AND each other. That is something to build upon over the next three terms.


  1. Hey Miguel, thanks for continuing with this blog even after I took off on holiday and left you to it! It's a great read and I've met several teachers who have told me they've enjoyed it and been inspired to think that they, too, could give mantle of the expert (or some other form of dramatic inquiry) a 'go'...

    For me, what comes through most clearly in your reflections is the engagement and sense of ownership you saw this class develop through the process. The photo above captures that really well ... It's like you say, once you get that engagement and commitment going, then a whole lot of amazing things follow - new peer-peer relationships, concern to produce good quality work, fewer behavioural issues - the list goes on. I reckon this is one of the big strengths of working this way and I'm so glad you experienced that - what a great starting place to build on in future - for you and the children.

    Thanks for being brave enough to leap in and try and also for being generous enough to share the results with us. Tu meke!


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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)

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 schoolVery 'willing' class who have already established strong relationships with each otherSchool 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 …