Computer and language skills for young migrants

Image 008

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.

Image Image

Early Melbourne

Image

Over the next few weeks, students will learn about the settlement of Melbourne and consider the impact of Europeans on the Koori people. The Huddle’s program “Early Melbourne” focuses on events in the early 1800’s, through the lives of three characters: William Barak, William Buckley and John Batman. Learning about this significant event, enables students to consider indigenous Australia, intercultural understanding and events that form the basis of our existence in modern-day Melbourne. This is pivotal to reconciliation, knowing the place we live in and building our community by understanding our place within it.

The program begins with a pre-learning activity I call “Graffiti the Treaty” where students write titles, captions, thought bubbles and speech bubbles on a painting of white settlers (John Batman) making a treaty with Koori leaders in 1835. This is done on our Samsung Slates, using its stylus and a digital image of the painting.

020post learning

They go on to learn about the lives of Barak, Batman and Buckley by viewing images and texts from the 1800’s – for example, a transcript of a treaty, paintings of the natural environment and early settlement, photographs of indigenous people at Flagstaff and paintings by William Barak. They also view video commentary on the significance of these that are sourced from Victoria’s key cultural institutions available through Culture Victoria http://www.cv.vic.gov.au and browse the National Museum of Australia’s interactive resource Batmania http://www.nma.gov.au/interactives/batmania/shell.html

Discussion, being an important part of learning at The Huddle, enables students to question the meanings behind images, facts and events, to uncover the interaction during settlement and express their own views on what happened in Victoria and the situation that indigenous people found themselves in. Through images and discussion, students who are less familiar with Australia because they have only lived here for a short time, are also able to examine the origins of Melbourne and express their views on it. Students rotate through learning stations to examine pictures, maps and artifacts relating to the content so they can recycle language and grasp concepts through discussion with their peers. They learn new words in Koori languages and identify how central Melbourne, the docks, bay and Yarra have changed over the past 200 years.

At the end of the program, I will ask students to discuss whether the exchange of items such as axes, mirrors, flour, blankets and scissors was a fair exchange for 500,000 acres of land and how the exchange and settlement could have happened differently. The students will also make “freeze frames”, shot on Samsung Slates, depicting scenes from the extraordinary life of William Buckley – the escapee who lived with the indigenous people around Port Phillip Bay for 32 years prior to the arrival of Batman and Faulkner.

008 019 005 001

Refugee week at The Huddle

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

IMG_4368 IMG_4385

Multicultural Melbourne

This month secondary students aged 13-14 have been coming to The Huddle to investigate migration and multiculturalism. They do this by listening to stories from recent migrants recorded at The Huddle and by exploring stories of migration to Victoria over time.

Of the groups who have already visited, about 80% of them have parents who were born overseas. Despite this they initially appear to have limited knowledge of their families’ experiences. Another 10% were themselves born overseas and this group tends to know and be willing to share more about the journey, the reasons behind their parents’ departure and the circumstances in the countries they left behind.

It has been interesting to note that about 90% of these students speak a language other than English at home and in the community. Many students of African and South American heritage know about their countries’ political situation in some detail – of dictators, changes in government, elections, war, gangs and freedom (or lack of).

Students research a country of their choosing using the Immigration Museum’s Origins website that provides information gathered from the census on migration to Victoria. They learn 5-10 words in a new language and take note of their heritage by placing a mark on a world map. They discuss what multiculturalism looks like in Melbourne and record each others’ views on how or where they feel they belong using Flip Cameras.

Their observations are always intriguing.

20130522-161906.jpg

20130522-161939.jpg