Carol’s Indigenous students had such an “awesome time” at school that their friends starting coming to class too

In this post,  Aboriginal Engagement by teacher Carol Puskic from Geraldton Senior College in WA, Puskic talks about using a very clever but simple tool which has transformed the energy and engagement of the students in her class – a class specifically for disengaged Indigenous students who come from Halls Creek, Port Hedland, Broome and beyond and board in Geraldton.  The tool is called ClassMovies.

I first stumbled across the ClassMovies project in July 2010 and was so excited by its potential as a tool that teachers could use in so many useful ways that I wrote about it[1]  I introduced the article as follows:

It’s rare these days for something so new yet so simple to emerge that qualifies as a breakthrough. It would appear that the classroom documentary project is such a breakthrough, and has the potential to give voice to teachers everywhere to capture the magic in their classrooms. An unlikely union between the film industry and the classroom is fast becoming a world leader in defining how schools engage and connect with their communities. The story behind this accidental breakthrough began in an attic in Sydney and has the potential to celebrate the role of teachers everywhere.

If you work in a disadvantaged school and you don’t know about ClassMovies you really should check it out.[1]  Oh and I know what many of you may be thinking – another magic bullet,  – educational snake-oil rolling over schools, exhausting us and leaving with no trace (or maybe a bit of snake slime) until the next bright and shiny thing.

I am one of the worlds biggest cynics about programs with fancy names imposed on high need schools.  They make me very angry.  But this is not like that all.  It is not even a program as such. It is a simple, clever and very cheap tool. What you do with it is up to you, but its uses are many.

It is a mini documentary making facility that can put video making in the hands of teachers but support them with a highly professional back-end to make mini documentaries of their classroom.  It can be used to show parents what happens in their child’s classroom, it can be used, as Carol says, to engage students in their learning. It can be used to develop a portfolio of your teaching for advanced standing assessment.  New uses for this tool are unfolding all the time.

It has been used across the WA Catholic Education Sector for many years now.  It is taking off in Scotland, in parts of the UK, in all South Australian Government schools, and in many many independent schools.  But if schools and school systems don’t know about something they cant anticipate its uses or the unidentified and unexpressed needs that it meets.

After-all before i-pads and kindle type tools were around I did not sit around wishing I could travel with just an e-reader and not a pile of heavy books.   I fantasized instead about having second hand swap type bookshop at all airports and train stations.  But this solution is so much more elegant.  But if you had asked me what I needed it would not have been on my list.

[1] http://www.classmovies.com/blogs/ProfessionalEducator/tabid/184/language/en-AU/Default.aspx

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