Question to Ms Murnane: “Where is Federation Square?”
Answer from Ms Murnane: “You are standing in it!”
It was then we realised that not all of our 34 students on our bus excursion had been to Melbourne’s famous square.
Taking it Back a Few Steps or kilometres!
A busload of students had taken the seven hour, one way journey to Melbourne, some having to get up at 4am in order to catch our bus.They were accompanied by the school Principal and two teachers. Some of these students had risen at 4am to be attend the Melbourne Writers Festival. The majority of these students had created book trailers and placed them on a wiki page as part of a collaborative global project.
What a proud day it was for Hawkesdale P12 College, Australia, SMJK Poi Lam and SJK(C) Ave Maria Convent Schools, Ipoh, Malaysia. Staff and students from these schools had worked long and hard to collaborate on a shared wikii, sharing a little about themselves and to embed their book trailers, with the view of encouraging others to read these books and consider similar projects.
Our students attended the first workshop with writers in Federation Square theatres. Ten nervous students were led to the Board Room with their teacher Marg Murnane, who worked with them on their book trailers. There they met the MC, Ed Hoyt, who would lead the proceedings, introduce the special guests and the multimedia segments, and question students from both countries. The remaining students attended a second workshop. Once this finished, it was time to go to the green turf which had been laid down for seating for interested parties to view the videoconference linkup with Malaysia. It was with great relief that I could hear Veronica’s voice over the PA and skype. The internet at their school had gone down due to a perceived lightning strike, so she was skyping in with mobile internet access.
How it looked:-
- Ten bean bags on the stage for our students to sit on, in an attempt to settle their nerves early in the piece.
- Images, videos and projections of participants appeared on the big screen. Another large monitor or screen had been setup on the stage for the students to view the digital book trailers.
- A large crowd comprising students from other schools, Melbourne city councillors, representatives from Innovations and Next Practice, Victorian Education Department and other interested community members either sat or stood and watched the session
- Ed led the crowd through a number of activities to get them energetically involved.
- On the Malaysian side, many special guests and VIPs, teachers, parents and students were seated watching the proceedings from their country.
- Having Melbourne City Councillor Ong welcome everyone after an introduction by one of the Festival managers.
- Malaysian Perak State Tourism head, YB Dato’ Hamida Othman, welcomed guests and spoke briefly.
- The Hawkesdale student book trailers were shown and students who created them, spoke briefly about them and answered Ed’s questions.
- The Malaysian student book trailers were shown and they were to be questioned, but technical difficulties had set in by this stage.
- Hawkesdale students proceeded to pose the questions that they would like to ask the Malaysian students.
- Councillor Ong who initially welcomed all was originally from Malaysia and spoke on the fact that he hoped the two countries would maintain and further develop connections.
- The students made paper rockets to throw to the crowd when that segment featured in one of the book trailers. (Loved the innovative, interactive ideas that were introduced during the session.)
- Watching the students gradually get over their nerves and speak eloquently to the questions asked of them.
- Having our students on centre stage at Federation Square and knowing that they come from farms and go to school in a small, unknown country town.
- Sharing the fabulous work that students can create and share with the world.
- Seeing the products of weeks and months of hard work on behalf of both schools and Jenny Niven and other staff from the Writers Festival and Federation Square
- ‘Knitting’ students with communities that go beyond the classroom and across the seas. On the local side, our school, the Melbourne Writers Festival, Education at Federation Square, the Melbourne City Council, Innovations and Next Practice of the Vic Education Department.
Thank you to the Melbourne Writers festival for allowing us to be part of it all, to Jenny Niven who worked tirelessly with us keeping us on task, on track and on time, to Veronica Woo (and Yew Yan Koon) from Ipoh who spent countless, countless hours preparing for this linkup, to Marg Murnane who took on the crucial element of book trailer creation with students and to Innovations and Next Practice who provided the connection to Jenny Niven via Listen to Learners, and to Cindy Thomas, Program Manager -Education, Federation Square. And finally to the students themselves who demonstrated creativity and flair in their trailers. These students pushed themselves way beyond personal comfort zones. This is testimony to the amazing world that we live, teach and learn in.
Finally, here is the Melbourne Writers Festival program excerpt that promoted our event. It says it all:-
Students from Ipoh, Malaysia and Hawkesdale, Victoria have been sharing their very own wiki pages and other online tools. Come and see the amazing outcomes of their hard work including movie trailers and photostories of their favourite books, which they have collaborated on from across the seas! Featuring a live video linkup with overseas schools, this event presents some of the possibilities for empowering learning and student development offered by the new technologies.
This session is a must for teachers and students interested in learning more about innovative classrooms and the ways which classrooms can connect, communicate and collaborate acrorsss the globe. By working on authentic projects that utilize project based learning and using cutting edge technology, it showcases the exciting outcomes that students from a variety of cultures can achieve in this flattening world of ours.