Environment – Moonee Ponds Creek

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Moonee Ponds Creek near Arden St
Moonee Ponds Creek near Arden St

At The Huddle, one of the places we learn about through observation and images is the Moonee Ponds Creek.

The Moonee Ponds Creek is a neglected environment only a block away from The Huddle. Though many students live close to it, they do not recall the creek readily. Having been a swampy area with seasonal flooding, I understand the creek is currently categorized as a drain. Further upstream, it runs along a freeway and has been a concreted environment since the 1960’s. Near Arden St, it still tends to flood and running alongside the creek’s edge are a trainline, a bike path and an overhead freeway. Despite the urbanisation of the creek, with a focus on transport and other infrastructure, there is life in and around the creek.

The Huddle invites young people to document what they see along the creek on video. It also invites them to consider their vision for what a creek and indeed this particular creek should be like.

To date we have discovered a lot of wildlife at the creek including – black swans, ibis, turtles, ducks; indigenous reeds, peppercorn trees and grasses. We have also noticed that it is a flood plane which floods regularly, that people live under the bridges, and that there are gas lines, factories, an electrical station and a plethora of train infrastructure between here and the Docklands.

Young people visiting The Huddle have not been aware that there are major plans for development along the creek. This includes the plans relating to the Arden Macaulay Structure Plan, the East-West Road Link and a train station at Arden St. The vision young people at The Huddle have for the creek is that it should be a cleaner environment, that it should make space for plants and animals and that the impact of urbanization on the natural environment should be considered in future planning.

Their films document the environment as it is today. We wonder what will become of it in the near future …..photo 11

Moonee Ponds Creek near Arden Street
Moonee Ponds Creek near Arden Street

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One student, the daughter of a cameraman from Iraq who has migrated to Australia, brought along her own video camera and made a movie narrated in her first language. I look forward to seeing what she may create in the future.

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Kids filming under Citylink Electrical station on the creek

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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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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Emoticon

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The Huddle has developed a new program at The Huddle for middle years students where they explore how people overcome challenges through the stories of footballers here at The North Melbourne Football Club (NMFC). They identify the personal qualities they and the footballers draw upon to help them get through any challenges they may face. By creating a safe space at The Huddle, students go on to share their own stories in small groups and do a role-play to share with the whole group.

Emoticon has been a popular program and I have found the challenges that students are facing very interesting – moving to a new country, making friends in a new school, being bullied, being addicted to computer games, maintaining friendships, co-operating with siblings, learning in a new language, improving a skill, learning to be organized, hating maths, forgiving, fearing the water, hating their handwriting, feeling included in sport and so forth. Fairness often surfaces, and often relates to interaction with siblings which students agree seems to be an area rife with conflict. They have also noted that we often hold grudges longer and co-operate less readily with siblings than with friends.

Even more interesting has been the ability of young people to find solutions and support each other as well as seeing a light side to a situation while they are learning to deal with it and analyzing it – their ability to laugh it off!

Finding solutions is supported by group work and by the use of new technologies in The Huddle classroom. Once the students have reflected on their stories and identified a personal quality relevant to overcoming their challenge, they then go on to take photos and write captions – they make a poster about it using Comic Life.

As we may expect, young people are used to the camera and use it freely to express their emotions and relate their story. Students from diverse cultural backgrounds pose and pull faces to generate a story in a digital format using their own language and expression – and those who are literate in their first language also use it in their poster.

It is rewarding to see how students develop the language and concepts that enable them to discuss challenges openly. This is enabled by the honesty of the NMFC players and the challenges they have faced in recent times. Each player is interviewed to uncover a different sort of challenge, whether it be mental, physical or social – Lindsay Thomas and his lack of form in goal kicking in 2011; Leigh Adams and the “chicken-wing incident” in 2012; Majak Daw‘s entry into AFL and supporting his family to understand what being a professional athlete entails; Andrew Swallow as leader of the team; Jack Ziebell and the controversy around being reported in 2012.

The honesty and clarity of each player around their challenge and exactly how they overcame it, who supported them, the personal qualities and inner strength they had to find and the positives they gained from what could have been a negative experience all contribute towards a healthy discussion and open-minded outlook.

Having seen that other young adults, in this case NMFC players, are willing to share their challenges, creates a safe space for students to explore them selves and others.

To read about Emoticon from the perspective of NMFC Captain, Andrew Swallow, visit http://www.nmfc.com.au/news/2013-03-18/its-an-emoticon-game

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The Huddle – learning about place, self and others through digital storytelling

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At The Huddle we actively promote social cohesion through our IT-based education programs. Middle years students from local schools come to The Huddle to learn about place by exploring images of the locality and how it has changed over time. They also learn about community through the guests to the classroom, many of whom are elite sportsmen playing Australian Rules Football for North Melbourne Football Club. An underlying aim of all our programs is to develop oral language and IT skills and to empower students by giving them the camera. We cater for students with diverse language backgrounds learning in mainstream classrooms and in programs for newly arrived migrants.

Using video and stills, they make their own digital stories to build community through sharing stories. In the photo above, you can see posters some students have made that reflect on their experiences of migration.

The oval at Arden St, where we are based, was once a swamp with a seasonal lake known as the Blue Lagoon. Gil Freeman created this beautiful watercolour to re-imagine the swampy environment that is now the football oval.

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I will link to a 3 minute video about Arden St that some students from North Melbourne Primary School made at The Huddle. They now attend University High School.

January 2013

Here’s my first blog. I plan to post about community participation, the arts , innovation, education, multiculturalism, music and community projects that integrate these.

I work at The Huddle – the community arm of the North Melbourne Football Club. The Huddle specializes in innovation in education and community development with an overall aim of promoting social cohesion. We have a state of the art computer-based classroom which engages young people in digital storytelling about place, self and others.

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My role at The Huddle involves creating, developing and delivering educational programs for 8-16 year olds that cater for English language learners in mainstream classrooms and establishing a Study Support program for 15-25 year olds to support their learning.

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I am also a musician and composer. I play with strings and vocal trio Euphonia with my sister Dee Hannan and dear friend Alice Garner. I composed for the film One Night the Moon, with Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly and directed by Rachel Perkins. I also composed for the theatrical version of One Night the Moon directed by Wesley Enoch at Malthouse Theatre. I currently compose pieces for Xylouris Ensemble and Euphonia.

I like a balance between being a practitioner, creating new work, developing ideas and reflecting on and analyzing these to give new perspectives and approaches to what I do.

euphonia 2 M Hannan 2008