Thursday, 22 March 2018

Stepping outside the classroom - real life learning in our wonderful Community.

Today our level 2 Sos class took part in the 'Home Fires' workshops as part of their assessment 'Conduct a reflective Social Inquiry 91280' into the TRC and the housing issues happening in our area.  One of the criteria requires our students to 'describe people’s points of view, values and perspectives and to consider the ways in which people make decisions and participate in social action related to the focus of the inquiry'.  The social actions that our kids have been studying in class and have happened in our community, have been wide and varied.  We watched numerous videos, read articles about protesting and listened to guest speakers (thank you DJ, Renee, Brenton and Phoenix Lemalu) about their perspectives on the issue.  But these types of learnings were still in the confines of my classroom and after a while, my kids were becoming disengaged and off-task because the context for their 'language of learning' was limited to my class.

Today they were challenged to step out of the classroom and see what the issue meant to another group of people it had affected.  Tamati Patuwai is part of a group called Madave who are a local community group and have shared their journey of the changes that are going on around them.  They invited our kids to a non-violent, artistic, peaceful expression of actions as they are a group of people whose houses are one of the few remaining on Fenchurch - the development is unbelievable!.  Every day the families in the little houses that remain, wake up at 6am to the sounds of drills, trucks moving concrete or generators buzzing furiously all the way til 10pm.  I can't imagine what that would be like!.

The group welcomed our kids onto their whenua (property) with a powhiri.  I sensed our kids feeling nervous and apprehensive for the day.  But those feelings soon disappeared as the day went on.  They were feeling like one of the whanau.  Our kids had a choice of one of 4 workshops:  Poetry, Graffiti, Dance and Photography.  Each group had the same question - what does a 'Home' mean to you?  Seeing the kids step out of their comfort zones and not be shy about sharing what they've learnt in such a short time, showed me the value in taking these 'last minute' opportunities when they come.
The respected Kaiako for the each group.

I was worried about taking these students out of their other classes to this field trip because I know how hard it was when half of your kids are taken out out of your class especially during an assessment.  Believe you me,  I know how frustrating it can be.  But as I look for ways to engage my kids better, if as a teacher you are willing to take the risk and in your hearts of hearts know that the value & learning in it is bigger then the walls of our classroom, sometimes you just gotta take that chance.

I saw our kids respectfully treat Tamati and his sister Ngaraiti's home like it was their own.  I saw how involved they became in their groups learning and engage in their learning like I've never seen before.  And I saw how they stood up proud of who they were and who they represented.  Three of them said they didn't want to leave, and when we got back to school, two of them told me that they would be going back for the evening session.

When I ask myself 'was it worth all the grief that comes with being last minute?' I say 'hell yeah - just ask the kids!'
Ms Gordon and the little fulla 


A beatiful Tui painted on the side of the house


The photography group is brainstorming

The poetry/haiku group getting their poems ready.

Photographers out and about

Teariki starts the graffiti groups story

Vei asked Ms Gordon if she could take a photo of her art work

The words become real.

Lawrence learning his dance poses


The completed graffiti 'wall'

The Graffiti group sharing what they have learnt

The photographers sharing what they have learnt

Go Tupou!

Lawrence and the dance team in action.


Chasity, Evelyn and Latisha being expressive in their dance

You were amazing dance team!

Our poets Kaho, Zeke and Neva sharing their poems.

Antonio has the last word.

Reflecting on my year 12's exams

This term, my seniors have been busy preparing for practice exams.  We have looked at a complicated topic like Israel and Palestine and pick...