Different Family Types: Communities and Education
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Connected Classrooms on Google+. Virtual field trips and collaboration with fellow educators.

Connected Classrooms on Google+. Virtual field trips and collaboration with fellow educators. | Different Family Types: Communities and Education | Scoop.it
Bring the world into your classroom through Google+
Fletcher's insight:

Google Connected Classrooms (GCC) is a virtual field trip facility; allowing students, teachers and educators the chance to connect to various organizations, departments, museums, centres and institutions, laboratories (as some examples) and learn ‘first hand’ as if on a real excursion within the actual premises. The Welcome Guide (2013) suggests that Connected Classrooms is “is a program from the G+ Education team to provide teachers with the resources to connect their students with experiential learning opportunities, like virtual field trips, on Google+…With internet access, webcams and inquisitive minds, the possibilities are endless (p. 2)”. GCC is a collaboration between the community body (for example a zoo or museum), a school or classroom and its teachers and students, and the technology which mediates this connection. Additionally, once schools and teachers have set up their schools and classrooms, they can run their own virtual excursions for international language and family exchanges and meetings, connecting to other schools locally and globally, and many other long distance connections. Students can also be assisted in doing this, allowing them the freedom of tailoring education to their specific needs and interests (Klemm & Tuthill, 2003, p. 181).

 

The latter can assist teachers and students in remote areas connect with virtually any establishment or community body with the means to connect online with their student audiences. An advantage of these virtual field trips, particularly for topics involving the sciences, is that they are moderated by trained professionals; which leads to providing opportunities for students to share and express viewpoints and opinions, and ask questions on curriculum-related topics to people best suited to address them. Smaller groupings are thusly encouraged so as to provide sufficient time spent with the moderators for each student.

 

Establishing the connection to the GCC network is not a lengthy process, but one involving becoming educated on the Google+ “Hangouts on Air” system (2013) and completing certain privacy and security documentation. This is a safeguard to take into account web-safety for both educators and the students. Once the free accounts are created, and the technical equipment is tested and working, virtual field trips can then be undertaken.

 

For teachers and students alike, this web facility is a tool which opens up the global community and brings it into the classroom, not only for learning about scientific topics, but setting it up for students for a number of KLAs and topics, such as HSIE and family and culture.

 

------References------

 

Google (2013). services.google.com/fh/files/misc/cc-welcomeguide-nov2013.pdf [PDF Document]. Retrieved 6 April, 2014, from http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/cc-welcomeguide-nov2013.pdf

 

Klemm, E.B., & Tuthill, G. (2003). Virtual Field Trips: Best Practices. International Journal of Instructional Media. 30, 2, p177-193.

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Dust Echoes: Ancient Stories, New Voices

Dust Echoes: Ancient Stories, New Voices | Different Family Types: Communities and Education | Scoop.it
Ancient Stories, New Voices. Dust Echoes is a series of twelve animated dreamtime stories from Central Arnhem Land in Northern Australia
Fletcher's insight:

The Dust Echoes website is an online, flash-enhanced, animated collection of dreamtime stories of Aboriginal origin. It is a multi-layered website that incorporates flash animation, text, images and sounds to portray these stories. These were initially audio-recorded and then interpreted by many animators, musicians, artists, writers and actors as the twelve animations that appear in a somewhat timeline fashion on the site. The website is composed of a default landing page which discusses the theme of the site and provides downloadable items including study guides for teachers, and .mp3 audio tracks to enhance the stories. Upon entering the flash animation overview screen, the audience is presented with a large image of a Northern Territory landscape, with the ability to ‘explore’ each region (sky, water, plant and camp life, and underground). Once a destination is chosen, the many different stories are viewable, with links to a glossary of terms used, additional wallpaper downloads, and credits. Each individual story also has a synopsis, a story meaning, and a story history (ABC, 2007).

 

There are many strengths of this resource, and the most basic of strengths is its form. Being a web-based format, Dust Echoes can be opened and closed speedily, and can be used anywhere a classroom or teacher has access to the internet. Being a computerised resource, it must be used to enable student learning and enhance the experience of the lesson, rather than detract from it due to its ‘oooooh, aaaah’ factor. Twining (2002) refers to this in the Computer Practice Framework stating that once a focus of a lesson is known, the impact of computer use is critical in evaluating its benefits, nonexistent changes, or extension to and of lesson content. Dust Echoes slots into what is known as the ‘transform mode’, in that its use is transforming education; that the “content and processes are different to what they would be if computers were not being used....and without a computer, the [educational and knowledge] changes would not be achieved” (Churchill, et al., 2011, p. 322).

 

When used in isolation, Dust Echoes can reinforce idealisms of Indigenous culture particularly stemming from students’ home lives and experiences. Many resources for younger students often romanticise dreamtime stories which portray Aboriginals as savages removed from reality (Cavanagh, 2005, p. 296). As Indigenous Australians comprise approximately 2.5% of the Australian population it is easy to see how many misconceptions can occur with minimal population representation. An idea stemming from the Human Society and Its Environment KLA, and incorporating the desired outcome and indicator would be an inquiry learning unit involving studying local Aboriginal communities, or the traditional owners of the school’s land. An inquiry learning unit would allow students to collaboratively research local Aboriginal history, as well as make links with modern communities and elders. Dust Echoes could be used at the beginning of the Inquiry learning module to get an understanding of traditional stories from many Aboriginal communities.

 

------References------

 

ABC. (2007). Dust Echoes: Ancient Stories, New Voices. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from http://www.abc.net.au/dustechoes/default.htm

 

Cavanagh. P. (2005). Silences, secrets and little white lies: reflections on the representation of Aboriginal people in Australian schools. In G. Cant, A. Goodall and J. Inns. (Eds.), Discourses and Silences: Indigenous Peoples, Risks and Resistance. pp. 289-308 Christchurch, NZ: University of Canterbury.

 

Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N. F., Keddie, A., Letts, W., Mackay, J., McGill, M., Moss, J., Nagel, M. C., Nicholson, P., & Vick, M. (2011). Teaching: Making a Difference. Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons

 

Twining, P. (2002). Conceptualising computer use in education: Introducing the computer practice framework (CPF). British Educational Research Journal. 28, 1, pp. 95-110.

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"Who's In Your Family?" Music Video - YouTube

Fletcher's insight:

This video resource is a light-hearted and ‘catchy’ song, which is entertaining and fun at the same time. It could be used primarily by stage 1 students, simply as a form of entertainment and also to educate about different families being something that ‘just is’. The first few lines of the song indicate this; “Who’s in your family? One mummy or two dads. Who’s in your family? A dog that wears blue plaid”. It details many family possibilities and that there are ‘all kinds of people’ who can sing as one.

 

This song perfectly matches with the HSIE syllabus outcome and SSS1.8 and indicators of this, in that it can assist students in learning about and celebrating different family structures (BOS NSW, 2006a, p. 36). A teacher could use this resource as part of a larger unit of work, at the start of the school year, to introduce students to each other and the teacher by having them discuss and include their family in the work samples.  

 

A unit of work including this resource could specifically incorporate ideas from Music (in the Creative Arts KLA), especially in the sub-strands of performing and organizing sound. The students could learn and sing this song in class or in an assembly-situation, with various animated gestures and movements (stationary dance steps) in line with the overall theme of the song. For added benefit, and to make the outcome synchronous with the HSIE syllabus, the teacher could assist the students in arranging this piece, making sure to incorporate specific musical concepts such as tempo for gestures and movements as this “reflects the way students make meaning of concepts” (BOS NSW, 2006, p. 13). This can then provide a teacher with the means to assess students’ awareness and comprehension of different family types.

 

------References------

 

Board of Studies New South Wales. (2006). Creative Arts K-6: Syllabus. Sydney Author.

 

Board of Studies New South Wales. (2006a). Human Society & Its Environment K-6: Syllabus. Sydney: Author.

 

[Kathleenlatlip]. (2012, July 13). Dottie’s Magic Pockets: “Who’s In Your Family?” Music Video [Video File]. Retrieved 29 March, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSel9ggGNUI

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“Who is in your family?” A resource kit by Rainbow Families Council | GLHV

“Who is in your family?” A resource kit by Rainbow Families Council | GLHV | Different Family Types: Communities and Education | Scoop.it

"A resource kit for early childhood services, primary schools and the rainbow families who use them Produced by the Rainbow Families Council , 2010"

Fletcher's insight:

Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV)  "is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) health and well being policy and resource unit" (GLHV, 2014) which is funded by the Victorian Department of Health. The website is a resource for a great many areas; however the 'Online Library' collates various online forms (documents, links, reports, journal articles and fact sheets as examples) from a vast array of agencies involving the LGBTI community. The “Who is in your family?” resource kit is one such example designed for “maternal child health centres, childcare centres, kindergartens and the early years of primary school” (Rainbow Families Council, 2014). The resource kit aims to assist teachers and educators in starting positive discussions and encourages acceptance and appreciation of families that are often perceived as ‘different’.

 

There is a significant degree of care and understanding for parents', teachers' and schools' opinions in the production of the posters in the resource kit. An example is the PDF poster which shows different family types and how they are regular, loving families (substituting animal figures in place of humans). This example show cases two things: the passionate drive of the LGBTI community in getting their voices heard and the restraint put upon them by social norms and conventions to not offend non-LGBTI by their ‘otherness’. It works on the assumption that there is still an accepted great deal to accomplish before complete acceptance is a reality. The effects of this example are far reaching. While the resource kit works on the basis of empowering and encouraging appreciation of difference, it could also be seen to indirectly cater to (or at the very least accept) the conventions of the society in which it argues its place. Generally speaking, it could be ‘taking one step forward and two steps backward’.

 

Another argument could be that it simply uses animals to get the interest of younger students, and then provides the moral written component to connect the ideas to the student’s real world.

 

The many helpful tips, posters, information and further guides and links can assist teachers for issues involving students and their various family structures. In its simplest form, the resource kit attempts to create awareness through resolving problems of homophobia before they arise.

 

------References-------

 

Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria. (2014). “Who is in your family?” A resource kit by Rainbow Families Council | GLHV. Retrieved March 26, 2014, from http://www.glhv.org.au/fact-sheet/%E2%80%9Cwho-your-family%E2%80%9D-resource-kit-rainbow-families-council

 

Rainbow Families Council. (2014). Rainbow Families Council | We are a volunteer community organisation based in Victoria, Australia. We support and promote equality for ‘rainbow’ families (parents and prospective parents who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, or intersex, and their children). Retrieved March 26, 2014 from http://www.rainbowfamilies.org.au/

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Strengthening family and community engagement in student learning resource

Fletcher's insight:

The Strengthening family and community engagement in student learning resource document is one designed for a wide audience; particularly schools, community groups, teachers, parents and students. It is a document which aims to report, instruct, inform on, and assist in the creation of, a wider ‘community involvement’-based education. It seeks to do this for the benefit of all involved.

For students, the “significant role of families, family-school relations, and parental involvement in education has been recognized in promoting achievement across elementary and secondary school levels” (DEEWR, 2011, p. 16). The document then refers to modern research which shows that, for students involved in community-based education, benefits include increased self-esteem, engagement in learning, and participation in more challenging subjects, as well as improved: literacy and numeracy, attendance, completion of work, behaviour at home and school and a wider connection to the school and community in general (DEEWR, 2011, p. 15). It also discusses the many benefits for the school and to parents and communities after engagement in educational programs.

 

This resource would be beneficial for teachers and for decision and policy makers in schools to discuss ways in which their school could benefit from involving local community groups and parents in their day to day curriculum and classroom activities. Pages 19 to 23 detail the steps required to analyse and determine steps for action for schools and the communities involved.

 

As a way of involving the students from the very beginning in this process, a teacher could establish an inquiry-learning component, where the students are given responsibility in the establishment of community-based educational programs and connections for themselves and for future students to benefit from. An example might be where a school class, or grade, negotiates a connection with a local recycling plant, or Aboriginal community, or local government office and takes necessary steps to encourage talks at the school or shared educational discussions for all parties (as some examples).  Reynolds (2009, p. 32) suggests that inquiry-based learning emphasizes the role of the student’s understanding of the world in which they live, and this perfectly aligns with such a connection. The learning could be tailored to any stage level with scaffolding provided at different levels by the teacher (much greater scaffolding at early stage 1, which then gradually lessens with increasing stages as responsibilities and expectations rise).

 

------References------

 

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2011). Strengthening family and community engagement in student learning resource [PDF Document]. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/media/downloads/about-us/our-reforms/local-schools-local-decisions/reform-agenda/working-locally/family-community-engage/strengthen-student-resource.pdf

 

Reynolds, Ruth.  (2009). Teaching studies of society & environment in the primary school.  South Melbourne, Vic:  Oxford University Press.

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