Scholarships for ESL students

Shamso, her aunt and cousin with me on the day she received the scholarship

Last year, two young women involved in The Huddle’s Study Support Program were awarded scholarships by NMFC group ‘Inspire’, to support them with their studies. Shamso, a newly arrived migrant from Somalia, was one of the recipients and has used the award to support her studies in Year 10 at a local secondary school in Footscray.

Shamso has a most gracious presence in The Huddle. She is open, loving and thoughtful. She has moved here to live with her aunt and plans to study nursing. For now, she is working at acquiring English language and literacy skills and learning where to focus her efforts within a new education system. She is settling well into Australian society and is very grateful to be supported to achieve her best.

In October this year, thanks to the women of Inspire, further scholarships were awarded to female members of The Huddle community –  read about it on the NMFC website and hear how they will benefit from this wonderful opportunity.

http://www.nmfc.com.au/new

s/2013-10-30/providing-the-inspiration

To read about Inspire and the great work they do, visit http://inspirenmfc.org.au/

Computer and language skills for young migrants

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Teenagers newly arrived in Melbourne come to The Huddle regularly to learn computer skills and build language around items that hold special memories for them. The computer skills of students vary greatly, depending on where they come from, their levels of literacy and education and the experiences with computers.

They practice personal pronouns and language to describe the object and its significance. This opens the possibility for them to share their feelings and experiences through speaking and listening, visually with photographs and in writing using the stylus on Samsung slates. They make a poster using photos and writing about their items which is shared online so that their stories exist beyond The Huddle.

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The Huddle – connecting through footy

IMG_4364012Read about the activities of The Huddle – Study Support, Schools Program and Community Programs – in the context of AFL clubs.

http://sportsbusinessinsider.com.au/news/category/community-sport/connecting-kids-through-footy/

Watch Mohamed, who I am delighted to have known since he was 8 years old, interviewing people at The Huddle for Marngrook Footy Show

http://marngrookfootyshow.com.au/2013/07/13/the-huddle/

 

 

 

Talking confidence with indigenous AFL players

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Students from the Midwest Clontarf Academy travelled from Geraldton to Melbourne as a reward for participation and effort in school last week. Once they complete school at the end of the year, they will be the largest cohort of indigenous students to complete school together in Australia’s history.

They joined us at The Huddle to talk to our amazing indigenous players, Daniel Wells and Lindsay Thomas. Both Wells and Thomas spoke of their past, their entry into footy and the opportunities that AFL has given them. They emphasized that a positive attitude, learning to be a leader (not a follower) and working hard is what helped them to be successful in AFL. They also spoke of their desire to give back to community and to support indigenous people. Their generosity, gratitude, enthusiasm and modesty were all noted. The discussion enabled students to consider career paths and how to make the most of opportunities that come their way.

Below are the strengths of character that the students identified in Wells and Thomas after talking with them. Conversations like these inspire young people to make plans, set goals, gain confidence and understand themselves and their place in the world. The Midwest Clontarf Academy’s logo “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” reinforces our work at The Huddle where connecting with players and others in the community helps all of us to listen, to be empathetic and to grow.

Strengths that students identified as Thomas and Wells having in common
Students identified these personal qualitites as ones that Thomas and Wells have in common023

For more on this see http://www.nmfc.com.au/news/2013-08-16/confidence-is-key

Join in the Chorus

Over the past few weeks at The Huddle, we worked on a creative project using the NMFC club song “Join in the Chorus”. We asked a group of students to create a lip sync video collaboratively, based on “Join in the Chorus”.

We assigned roles to each member of the group so everyone was responsible for one element of making the video

  • music/sound production – cueing the song
  • art production – enhancing the visuals and setting to be filmed.
  • camera person – shooting the footage
  • actor / lip sync-er, person filmed
  • lyrics – supporting the actor with the lyrics

Using Samsung Slates, art production was probably the most creative role. Instead of sourcing props and costumes, this role involved drawing on the screen with your finger or a stylus to animate the video and enhance the visuals around the person being filmed. The Samsung camera allows you to draw your own pictures on screen and then shoot; or to use preset frames, filters and animated emotions – or a mixture of both.

Given some roles carried a heavier workload than others, students were able to rotate through roles and gain a fuller experience of film-making. The acting role was somewhat challenging and could be done in a group, which would have the potential to make reference to the team singing the song after they win a game.

Though we talked at length about how to make editing easy, probably the hardest aspect of the activity is to edit the song together so that lip sync is achieved. So we have more thinking to do with the editing process and applications that might suit this activity.

AFL club songs are great and I love “Join in the Chorus” http://www.nmfc.com.au/video/2013-06-02/join-in-the-chorus. The lyrics are rousing, joyous and speak to the heart – making all True Roos feel proud to belong. But the beginning of the song which the players sing at the end of matches, is not recorded in the official release of the song, so it doesn’t present an opportunity for lip syncing http://www.nmfc.com.au/fans/multimedia/theme-song. After we ran the activity, we wondered whether we should ask students to video a rendition of the Hearts to Hearts verse – we may try that another time!

The best thing about the whole activity, is that it just made us laugh. I still laugh watching and thinking about it and I loved the way the students had fun with this and threw themselves into it.

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Refugee week at The Huddle

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Refugee week saw a range of activities at The Huddle. Students from St Aloysius College learnt about migration, reflecting on why people migrate, their own heritage, multicultural communities and belonging. They viewed digital stories made by students at The Huddle relating their journey to Australia.

Our journeys - Huddle digital stories
Our journeys – Huddle digital stories

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The Huddle also hosted the launch of the Department of Education’s Vision for English as an Additional Language, by Ministers Dixon and Kotsiras. At the launch, two EAL students spoke of how they have grown through The Huddle.

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Mohamed was born in Kenya and is of Somali background. He arrived in Australia at a young age and is a Year 10 student who attends the Study Support program about 3-4 times per week. He is footy mad and plays for West Coburg, having previously played with our local team Flemington/Kensington Junior Football Club. He is also in the AFL Multicultural Development Squad for under 16’s.

Mohamed is grateful for the fact that his footy pathway has been supported by The Huddle. This week he is undertaking work experience at The Huddle, alongside Multicultural Development Officer, Yahye Fitaax. He has already enjoyed meeting the players, footy and administrative staff which has broadened his understanding of careers in sport, including the need for mathematics to run a footy club and statistics to select a team.

Apollonia arrived in Melbourne from Crete in February this year. As an Australian citizen, she has taken the opportunity to be educated here, joining the increasing number of Europeans who have entered new arrivals programs and schools over the past couple of years. Whilst she seems fluent and her accent is distinctly Australian, she has struggled with vocabulary and with writing in specific subject areas. At The Huddle she  has been supported in maths, through our Maths Clinic, for her studies at Mount Alexander College at Year 10 level. She also took part in the Unity Cup where she made new friends, learnt some footy skills and got to mix with students from other local schools.

It was a pleasure to learn alongside first and second generation migrants during refugee week, hearing their perspectives on the migrant experience, on belonging and on welcoming people from all cultures into the community.

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Positive Education through AFL players’ stories

The Huddle is positioned perfectly to explore the values that guide people’s lives and help them to reach their potential. Using the stories of North Melbourne Football Club (NMFC) players, young people are able to identify what keeps footballers motivated, disciplined and ready to meet the challenges of being an AFL player.

All visits to The Huddle aim to build identity and a sense of community. The Schools Program also embeds positive education, digital technology and student creativity as a path towards students viewing them selves positively and feeling empowered. Middle and Later Years students from a wide range of schools visit The Huddle to further their understanding of self and others, through discussion with players, reflection activities and digital storytelling.

Recently I hosted groups from rural Victoria and suburban Melbourne taking part in The Huddle’s “Character and Careers” program where they listened to the journeys of AFL players at NMFC.

The program begins with the vocabulary, exploring strengths of character and building language to do this. The aim is to understand each word or concept by identifying connections and differences through an activity I call “a community of inquiry”. This supports us all to reach a common understanding about each word and for EAL students (bilingual students who are new to English) to uncover and discuss meaning. I use nouns on cards and I weave in verbs, synonyms and antonyms as well as paraphrasing with examples and stories to support students to visualize the concept in practice and to practise each word. From here, students may also identify strengths that they think would be useful in particular lines of work.

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The group then meets a player from the NMFC list, who is asked about his journey into AFL – from childhood to the present day – and his hopes and aspirations beyond football as well as the strengths he draws upon to meet the challenges of being an elite sportsperson in the AFL. Students ask a great range of questions and players answer openly. To complete the time spent with the player, the students are asked to identify 3-5 strengths that they think are most evident – the ones in the photo above were selected for Jamie MacMillan (player 34) with modesty being the quality they noticed to be strongest. The player will then comment and make any changes that he thinks are more applicable to him as a footballer.

After this focussed discussion time, individually, the students explore videos of players on the same theme which we have filmed at The Huddle. They report back to the group on the character strenghts that they noticed and give examples of these in action, drawing on the stories they have listened to. To complete the program, in pairs, they use Windows 8 Mind Mapping software – Nova or Mind8 – to consolidate their learning by documenting the stories around a key strength relating to NMFC players or to them selves.

I have found this to be an effective way of supporting students to understand others and to begin to reflect upon them selves. By scaffolding and recycling the language and by identifying strengths in others, they become more able to identify positive qualities and activities in them selves and to focus on strenghts rather than on weaknesses.

The Huddle creates a safe space for learning through discussion. The players are honest and articulate their hopes – they “speak to” young people which supports open discussion. Given events in the AFL over the past two weeks, the discussions have also included attitudes towards racism, where students have built understanding around the #racismstopswithme campaign and identified areas for improvement in their own schools. It is a privilege to provide a context where the issues and events surfacing from AFL in the media can be discussed openly with young people and used to build intercultural understanding and social cohesion.

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