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8. Polishing and Rehearsing

Viv has left us for the Plains of Africa (with her Robert Redford!) so I will be finishing up the Blog myself :)

The last week has been hectic and a little tense, in a good way. We have been using every minute available to finish their adze stories and their logos so that we have something to present at our final presentation and to put up in our room. They have been awesome at helping each other either with their story completion or colouring in.

There has been a lot of 'counting down' the days, hours and lessons, by myself, so that the pressure has been subtle but present. As you would in the real world when you have a deadline to meet. Things like: "Mr Mana is coming on you know your story? What if he asks you? Is your personal freeze frame telling your part of the tale? Check each other and give each other advice".

The general excitement has been palpable. We have stopped often to reflect on the identity element across the learning. I have felt freer to do this and without the guilt of stealing their learning. Guiding them to the connections, when they can't see them, is part of the teaching.

I asked each of them to create a six-word poem about the identity of their FF. Then we took one word from each kids poem to make the groups poem. They enjoyed this and we asked which words were the most expressive and why.

With some of the children away, it was difficult at times to get the groups' work done. I was roaming everywhere and giving tips, pointers and guidance wherever I could. So much questioning! I feel that my questioning has improved immensely due to this process.

We moved to the hall for the last two lessons on Monday and Tuesday. There we decided on the:
  • Order of the stories and why.
  • The words our host would use.
  • The timing of each FF.
  • The positioning of the children in the room.
  • The route the guests would take.
  • The mechanics of standing up from sitting, getting into and holding the FF and sitting back down again.
  • The optimum environment for the presentation, visually and audibly, i.e. how they should be sitting and in perfect silence.
All of these decisions were made by the children. I presented options and always spoke with a tone of curiosity. Then they practised while I tied up the loose ends like:

  • giving guidance to my presenter/host for her part (where to stand, what the guests should do etc)
  • helping the narrators of each FF to tell their stories rather than describe their FF's
  • looking for those who were bored and giving them something to do (check each others' FF and give advice etc)
We're nearly there! Such hard work and commitment from the kids. Yes, lots of mucking about but...they're kids?! I remember being in Viv's class and mucking about loads too! So, just keep an eye on them and let go a!


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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…

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 …