Student Voice Heard in Canberra at Election Youth Forum

The Panel in Canberra

Senior students from our school were given the opportunity to be involved in a a videoconference linkup with Gungahlin College, in Canberra. This was Election Youth Forum was organised by Gungahlin College in conjunction with Electroboard (See Share Shape)and Community CPS Australia  on Friday 31st May 1:20 – 2:45pm.  Seven schools across Australia joined students from the ACT in questioning federal politicians and experts on youth issues in the lead up to the 2013 federal election.  Members from the three major parties were open to questions from students in the theatre audience and schools who join in via the video conference. The forum was  hosted by respected Australian journalist, James Grubel, Senior Political Correspondent from Reuters.  Polycom videoconferencing equipment was used to link students from across Australia. Seven schools were videoconferenced in – a mix of states, a mix of government, International and private schools. A twitter hashtag $gcf2013 gave every student the opportunity to share their voice.

Georgia asks her question

Georgia’s question was chosen to be one of those asked of the panel:-

What will you do to help with the costs for rural students of moving away from home to attend higher education in the city.

Questions ranged from lowering of the voting age, youth suicide, illegal immigrants, legalization of gay marriages, costs for rural students of moving to the city for tertiary education, racism, sexism etc. The twitter feed allowed all students and other interested community members to have a voice.

Keeping an eye on the twitterfall

Well done to our students for their maturity shown and involvement. Thanks also to Mrs Van Englen, Mr Poynton and Mrs Butters for helping collate a list of student questions.

A photo shared on twitter by @youthco_act of Canberra school

Anzac Linkup via Polycom with Lismore PS

On Monday 22nd April, Years 5 and 6 had a special Polycom linkup with Lismore Primary School, another small rural school, over an hour’s drive from us. Both schools had been researching Australia’s involvements in past wars.  Five students spoke about a relative who had been involved in a war. As Lismore students had created a movie of some of their interviews with past war veterans, they shared the movie presentation using the Smart boards. It was wonderful to share what each school had learnt with each other.

One of our students brought along her great Grandfathers army blazer, complete with badges and medals. This was proudly shared with each class together with the accompanying story.

Students have found 11 relatives who we will find on the Honour Roll at the Australian War Memorial when the students go to Canberra later this year.

World War 2 Army Jacket

Grade 4 skype a person who has MS

Student asking their question
Student asking their question

Grade 4 after their magnificent fundraising effort for the MS readathon drew up some questions and were able to skype a person who has multiple sclerosis and ask him directly, their questions. Skype was used for its videoconferencing facilities. Here are some of their questions:-

  1. When did you first find out that you had MS? How old were you then? How long have you had it for?
  2. How did you and your family react when you found out that you had MS?
  3. What did Doctors do to work out that you had MS?
  4. What Symptoms do you have?
  5. Many people with MS have trouble walking. Do you have trouble?
  6. Do you have trouble with your eyesight?
  7. Have they (The symptoms) made it hard or more difficult to do everyday things?
  8. What do you do for work? Have you had to change things since you got MS?  
  9. Do you have to take medication to help with your symptoms? What medication?Is your medication expensive?

What a fantastic outcome and great use of skype! Well done, Ms Vize and grade 4.

MS 008B

eDiscussion with ASB, Mumbai, India on racism


The Event: American School of Bombay, Mumbai, India and Hawkesdale P12 College, Victoria Australia discuss racism especially in relation to whether “Should Australia go to India to play sport?”

Date: Tuesday May 19th

Who was involved: 12 excited volunteer students from grades 5/6 Humanities class, Hawkesdale P12 College, 14 year 6 phys. ed students from American School of Mumbai. Alex Gustad and the phys ed teacher, three ASB technicians, myself and Graeme Poynton, the Humanities teacher.

Resources: Skype for videoconferencing, Google docs for the collaborative online discussion, Interactive Whiteboard in the library

Setup: Students applied for a gmail account prior to the event, then were divided up into groups of 4 or 5 by the teachers involved, 5 groups in all. Alex Gustad, the Community Projects Co-ordinator for ASB, setup the questions and google docs. Thanks Alex.

Pre- planning: two practise skype linkups between HCP staff with the ASB technicians and Alex to discuss the software to be used/procedures, regular use of email

The lesson

Students came up individually to the webcam and introduced themselves. Our students are geographically and culturally isolated, although we had one New Zealander in the lineup. As ASB is an International School, their students are third culture students, in the main, and came from India, Australia, Dubai, Korea, USA, Scotland, China, Canada etc

Once the introductions were complete, Alex explained the routine. The students were to use the text or chat feature of the document to discuss their questions. Each group appointed a leader who was the scribe and wrote the discussion points into the google doc. There was a mix of Australian and Indian leaders. After 15-20 mins of discussion, each group leader came to the camera and summarised their reflections. Skype was kept open throughout the session, so that we could talk to each other and ensure that both sides knew what was happening. What an amazing experience, it was as though we were one class!

Students worked well into their lunchtime and still wanted it to continue! Here are some of the questions that each group discussed. They all discussed the first question but the second question changed for each group.

  • Please write some bullet points about what has been happening to Indians in Australia in the past year. Include the response from Indians as well as the impact of these events on the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi.
  • Why do you think these incidents of violence have been occurring against Indians? Is it happening against other ethnic groups in Australia?
  • How could these violent acts been handled by the Australian and Indian governments in a way that would keep it from happening over and over again?
  • Do you think there is a sense of racism towards certain groups in your own communities? How is it expressed (through stereotypes, in the media, through violence, etc.)?
  • What would or could you do if you felt racist attitudes against certain people in your own community?
  • How have these acts and threats of violence affected the spirit of the Commonwealth Games? What can the teams do to encourage camaraderie during the Games so that they are not overshadowed by these unfortunate events?

Thanks Alex for putting together these great questions, summarising the student input/outcomes and for the opportunity to work with your school. We look forward to further association with you and your classes! It felt like we were one class, with one project and one passion – to wipe out racism!

Cross posted at murcha

Innovations Showcase with DEECD

This morning, Friday 15th May, students from year 7 – 11, were involved in an Innovations Showcase, live link up, with Mrs Mirtschin. Our students were here at school, whilst Mrs Mirtschin was in the Plaza Room at the Crown Casino, in Melbourne, with Ajax and Jason from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike, sat in on a special session with students from year 7, as Jason told us a little bit about the saxophone and the clarinet. This photo shows the screen that the students see using Elluminate software, as well as students busily interacting with the MSO representatives.

Footnote from Anne Mirtschin

These photos show what it looked like from Melbourne. (See comment below this post)

G'day to Perth, Boston and Manila from Hawkesdale!

Good morning to Geoff Kaye, a contact with the DiscoverE classroom in WA… and good evening to Lorraine Leo of Boston USA …. and good morning to Rox Cosico from Manila in the Phillipines. Today three countries from four distinct areas connected in one virtual classroom!!! They were Boston, USA, Manila, Phillipines and Hawkesdale and Perth, Australia.

How exciting is this!!! to actually meet someone who teaches a class of a similar age group at the same time that I do and speaks good English as well ……. and comes from Asia. The Phillipines class consisted of 43 boys of ages 12 to 13. Rox emailed us and said that “The Philippines have English as their second language, Tagalog or Filipino is their primary language, all my students know how to speak English, but the accent that they know are American or Filipino English so they might not be able to pick up immediately some of the British or Australian accent. We would love to hear your voices from Australia.” My class consisted of 16 students from year 7, Hawkesdale, Australia

After some technical difficulties (from the Manila end), and just as our morning recess bell was about to go, we connected fully with audio and video on all but the Manila front. Our students had prepared a powerpoint presentation that showed features of our school. Each year 7 student spoke to a slide and explained the nature of the image.

Our students were fascinated with the fact that it was an all boys school. When queried why, the response was that it was an elite school. The Phillipine students came online asking us to slow down our speech when relating to non-English speaking people. However, excitement was paramount on both sides of the classroom and another journey and steep learning curve begins!!

Thank you Lorraine for organising this for us!! And some suggestions from Lorraine:-

“I remind my students that they are ambassadors representing their class, school, state, country, continent and hemisphere ….This is especially helpful when doing a recording since it’s sort of like ‘live t.v.’
It was fun to see the smiles from the kids in Hawksdale when they realized that the students in Claret were in the audience! Students love working with students……no matter what continent they are on.”

View the recording of our session.