Be not afraid


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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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Be not afraid

  1. 1. Nigel Mitchell Kleo Dokas Parvathy Balakrisnan Emily Parker
  2. 2.  We are a group of year 10 English teachers at Open Access College in Adelaide, South Australia. Kleo Emily Parvathy Nigel
  3. 3.  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. 4.  The four of us collaborated during term 3 2010 on a year 10 English unit we titled “FreedomWriters”.  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. 5.  Could the Holocaust happen again today?  How can my schoolwork make a difference in the world?
  6. 6.  Communication – class discussion  Digital literacy – participation in an online discussion forum  Formal essay writing skills
  7. 7.  June 2010 Students and staff attend an exhibition “Remember the Holocaust” at the SA Migration Museum  July 2010 All students watch the 2007 film “FreedomWriters”  Students were provided with additional resources on the Holocaust and the events depicted in the movie through the course Moodle
  8. 8.  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. 9.  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. 10.  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. 11.  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. 12.  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. 13. Wordle courtesy of
  14. 14.  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.
  15. 15.  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
  16. 16.  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.