Wednesday, 14 September 2011

My students are trying to make a difference to the world that they live in....

Quick note: I have been very neglectful of this blog and will get back into it.  I appreciate all the feedback that I have been given.  I am now looking for your help.

If you have read any of my previous blogs or follow me on Twitter, I am all about kids and learning and making connections to the world that they live in.  My kids have inspired me and motivated me already this year and my group in my 1-1 laptop class were awesome. 

Like every man and his dog who teaches years 3,5,7 or 9 we are madly trying to get the kids ready for the NAPLAN test.  If you have been living under a rock for the past year, you would not be aware that the writing genre for this year is a persuasive text.  I must admit that I am a bit uncomfortable with this genre.  I had built up my skillset in teaching the narrative genre (of course I don't teach for the test - insert snigger here) and was very confident in teaching its elements and getting the job done.  Persuasion on the other hand has been a different matter. 

We have been exposing the kids to as many different forms of persuasive texts and getting them to do the usual deconstruct / reconstruct / improve / analyse / create / panic / have a go type of things.  We have been texts about various things such as school uniforms, homework and the interesting topic of 'Should Australia have capital punishment?' There work has been fantastic so far.

We are doing a unit of work on government.  The other day I had one of those 'light bulb' moments when I said "This is getting boring - how can we link it to the kids world?"  After pondering that question for about 5 minutes (it takes me that long to process things) I came up with the idea that the kids could write about a relevant government issue that they are passionate about and email a member of parliament about their concerns trying to persuade them to see their point of view.  We created a wiki within our virtual classroom and the kids created new pages and wrote out their persuasive text.  Other students from within our learning environment then read each others work and provided feedback on areas in which they could be improved upon.  It worked brilliantly!

Whilst this was a fantastic opportunity, I still thought it was a little bland.  Then yesterday as we were walking around Parliament House, one of my darlings said "Mr Proud, we could create an online petition about our issue and get people to sign it.  Our arguement would have more strength if more people agreeded with us?"  I thought it was an awesome idea and set the wheels in motion to make it work.

We learnt yesterday at Parliament House that anybody can create a petition within the government website and have it published there.  I thought that this was the solution but upon further investigation, I realised that it was a complicated and hard process.  I told the kids and they were a bit down.  They were all pumped up and really looking forward to creating a significant difference to the world that they live in.

Then another brainwave hit me - I remembered the awesome presentation that Kristine Kolpekine presented at last years eLearning conference and I signed a petition to get her grandfather recognised as a significant person.  I simply 'stole' her idea and manipulated and made it my own.  My kids used a free online petition creation tool and we used it in a safe and ethical manner. 

Then we started to brainstorm ways of increasing our 'value' to our petition eg how can we get more people to see it.  Various ideas such as signing each others, asking teachers to sign them.  One kid then said "I am going to email this to my dad and get everybody at his work to sign it!"  Others thought that this was a brilliant idea and I even heard the dreaded Facebook word being mentioned by some kids under their breath. 

Below is links to my kids petitions.  If it is not to much to ask, could you please take 5 - 10 minutes and add your signatures / leave a comment at the end of as many as you can.  They really are trying to make a difference!

Please note: obviously everybody has not finished this yet and I will edit the list as it is updated.  I really appreciate the fact that you are taking some time to read them and add 'value' to their idea.  They have loved this tasked and worked really well. 

Nothing like trying to make a difference to the world that we live in! If you could leave me a comment below, that would be appreciated as well.

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