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Be not afraid

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This presentation was originally prepared for the Global Education online conference November 2011. ...

This presentation was originally prepared for the Global Education online conference November 2011.
It was also presented as a workshop at iMoot11 in May 2011

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  • 1. “Be not afraid” Student responses to Racism and the Holocaust in an online forum
    Nigel Mitchell
    Kleo Dokas
    Parvathy Balakrisnan
    Emily Parker
  • 2. Presenters
    We are a group of year 10 English teachers at Open Access College in Adelaide, South Australia.
    Nigel
    Emily
    Kleo
    Parvathy
  • 3. Our context
    Open Access College is the distance education school of the South Australian government Department of Education and Children’s Services.
    The school provides education for over 2000 students from K-12, all of whom are isolated for reasons including distance, medical, psychological and family circumstances.
    Classes are conducted by internet, telephone, and snail mail.
  • 4. The Freedom Writers
    The four of us collaborated during term 3 2010 on a year 10 English unit we titled “Freedom Writers”.
    Multidisciplinary approach – an English unit which could just as easily been a SOSE (Studies of Society and Environment) unit.
    Main themes: Racism and Identity
  • 5. Essential questions
    Could the Holocaust happen again today?
    How can my schoolwork make a difference in the world?
  • 6. Skills
    Communication – class discussion
    Digital literacy – participation in an online discussion forum
    Formal essay writing skills
  • 7. An exhibition and a Movie
    June 2010Students and staff attend an exhibition “Remember the Holocaust” at the SA Migration Museum
    July 2010All students watch the 2007 film “Freedom Writers”
    Students were provided with additional resources on the Holocaust and the events depicted in the movie through the course Moodle
  • 8. Remember the Holocaust
    An exhibition curated by local artist and Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner.
    The exhibition included artefacts, descriptions and multimedia presentations of the Holocaust
    Many students had little or no prior knowledge of the Holocaust
    Andrew Steiner generously spent time with the students after they had viewed the exhibition and answered their questions
  • 9. Freedom Writers – the movie
    Set in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the 1992riots
    A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.
    One of the activities she employs with her students is taking them to a Holocaust exhibition.
  • 10. Key Understandings
    Students will understand that words are powerful, and that education can change your life.
    Students will understand the consequences of racism on their own lives and the lives of others.
  • 11. How we taught the unit
    Classes meet weekly for 30-50 minutes, with individual contact by phone and/or email between students and teachers between classes.
    Class discussions focussed on the content material (Holocaust and the Movie) and the written tasks.
    Three main assessment tasks:
    Interactive forum on the Moodle
    Text response – student response to short answer questions
    800-1000 word Essay:
    What did the 'Freedom Writers' learn about themselves in Erin Gruwell's class? In your essay, refer to the themes of racism, gang violence and alienation.
  • 12. The Moodle forum
    Students were required to make a minimum of 6 entries on the forum during the term.
    First two posts: responses to the film and exhibition/what you have learnt about the Holocaust
    Other posts can be in response to your thoughts during the unit.
    Students who were struggling for inspiration were encouraged to write about the themes of racism, gang violence and alienation (i.e. chunking the essay)
    Students were also encouraged to respond to posts by other students
  • 13. The response
    52 students
    184 discussions
    Up to 17 responses (average 1.2) to each discussion
    Total of 390 posts = average of 7.5 posts per student
  • 14. The response
    Wordle courtesy of www.wordle.net
  • 15. Some notable posts
  • 16. ... and some more
  • 17. ... and more
  • 18. Amazing and unexpected
  • 19. Student outcomes
    Increased awareness of racism and related issues, both historically and in their own communities.
    Students explored other sources, including books, films and websites, for more information, and shared that information with each other through the forum.
    Very pleasing level of student engagement with the whole unit.
  • 20. What we learnt as teachers
    Our students know very little about the Holocaust, but once they learn a bit they develop a thirst to learn much more.
    Students do respond to sensitive and controversial topics.
    Students can engage with issues of racism and identity.
    An asynchronous online forum is an ideal way to allow students to express their ideas and interact with each other on a controversial topic
  • 21. What we might do differently...
    Engage with students in another school who were doing a similar study.
    Draw more explicit links between historical examples of racism and racist attitudes in contemporary society.
    Encourage students to move from thought to action.
  • 22. Every teacher likes to hear this
    For more information or to continue the discussion contact:
    Nigel Mitchell nbm1@bigpond.com
    Twitter 1nbm