Mantle of the Expert

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Playground Construction - Community Constructions

Work in progress
Meeting Day Two;
The plan for today was for the students to have a meeting with the T.I.R. They would be able to introduce their company, roles and qualifications. As some members of the class have participated in MoTE and all have participated in Drama lessons it was decided that the class would freeze in role and Mr MacFlanagan would thought tap the different students to learn their history / qualifications etc.

At the completion of the thought tapping the class converted to their original plan of 'Formal Introductions of company'

Formal introduction of business positions

What is the roll?
Home many different playgrounds?
How can we bring the community into the playground?
Would you like the playground to be community based?
 - Who is responsible for injury and health of the playground?

Create a couple of different designs with budgets to accompany them.

The T.I.R then said the formal goodbyes and left the class. Everyone came out of roll including the students. To get them out of role the had to turn around.
As a class we wanted to reflect on what just happened. Questions to help promoting included things like:
What would Mr Flanagan thought of the company?
What would he be impressed with? What is your job now?

Playground Assessment

City of Ember - Sustainable City 

Planning stages:

After hearing of the recent success of Room 12’s Mantle of the Expert experience I was excited to have the opportunity offered to my class. Sue approached me about using this technique and I had already begun drafting some ideas. With limited knowledge and almost zero experience her guidance was very much appreciated and needed.  

'At its most basic level, MoE is a bunch of children and their teacher, engaging with a problem one might find in the real world and figuring out what to do about it.' (Debra Kidd)

The basic sketch for the term was set out. The main focus was on different organisations and how they work within a community. There was also a focus on the non paid worker and how we, as a members of the community, can make a difference for the better.

I wanted to use the Novel by Jeanne Duprau City of Ember  where the citizens are working without being paid for the greater good. They have little say any of their life decisions and are expected to work to keep the society alive. I believe putting the students into role and having them experience this will be enlightening for them and also spark some great detail.

Before talking with Sue I had know idea the structure of MOTE or how it would look in class.  One of the first things that I learnt was the importance of putting the students into a business model. This provides them with context to hang the drama on. We decided that the students would be involved in a building business where they are charged with the task of building an underground society. They would have to problem solve the logistics of living underground, planting, power and waste management (Science) as well as creating the social ideals, laws and traditions.

There is a huge amount of learning that I had to undertake just to get my head around this pedagogical teaching technique but I know that my class enjoys hands on task and having the students involved with MOTE will be hugly engaging.

See the Link below for Unit

Activity One

Prior to Sue coming into the class we had spent about one day activating prior knowledge and creating new understanding.  The student were given 5 key words and performed a noisy round robin.  This activity enables all students voice to be recorded and allows others to read their thoughts in turn adding to their knowledge base.
After all the ideas were recorded the students assembled in groups around each sheet. They had to find the common ideas and explain them to the class. The groups then came up with 5-10 questions. Most of these questions were shallow but as the students had limited prior knowledge this was acceptable. They needed to build on their knowledge with shallow questions before creating deeper questions.

Activity Two

Introduction to MOTE. Sue came into the class and we assembled the students on the mat. She explained the process of MOTE and asked if they would participate. Student Buy In.

One of the things that was repeated was "When I return I will be in role and you are a business". This helped set the scene and the students were able to imagine what a business would look and feel like. 
What does a business look like?
With out any prompting the students were able to identify different roles that there are within a business. They immediatly designated a receptionist, CEO and manager. A teachable moment appeared around the meaning of CEO and a 'research group' was quickly formed with the task of finding the meaning. The students had ideas as to how to set out a business, where tables should be positioning of seats. It was amazing to watch the enthuisam of the class in setting up their business and 

Student created successful business criteria. They were excited about setting up the class as a business. They were able to describe what a business looks like. Have to set up the class, What is a CEO.

The class co constructed who Sue was. Francine Vortex.

MOTE“When Francine arrives we need to be in role as a business”

Students were excited about getting into the business. they kept wanting to decided who their business was. Sue had to rain in the students as “we didn’t know yet”

Students were given two minutes to set up the class and they were 98% focused.
they organised the class into a board meeting. Heads at the front and ‘staff’ behind. there was no prior prompting as to how to set up.  When Francine arrived they all stood and had someone ready to greet her.

Formal hand shakes and introductions followed. The letter was read to the class.  To come out of role Sue removed her prop, Glasses and made the class stand up and turn around.

They were then bombarded with questions about their business.
  • What is the name?
  • What did they do for Christchurch that was so special?
  • What does a business noticeboard look like?
  • What is their logo
  • Who is in the business what are their roles
  • What are the roles
  • Catchphrase
  • jingle
  • What would it look like when Franchise returns

Students broke into groups and they were all focused on the task at hand because they had ownership over the task and wanted to have a successful business.

Students were excited and focused on creating their business and their profiles. They had the opportunity to change their name and pick any qualification. They choose what jobs they did during the Christchurch rebuild and had complete ownership over all parts of their profile. The students were given the opportunity to share their profiles with their peers and there was a range of details included. As the students heard the different qualifications and roles in the business they were given idea and motivation to add to their own profiles.  They genuinely wanted their profiles to be accurate and 'the best'.

Activity Three

MOTEThe second visit from Francine was organised and the class was excited and nervous. They were asking if they could set out the class right from the start of the day. As the time got closer, class work slowed and MOTE work that hadn't been completed was secretly having the final touches being added to. The students had ideas and expectations for what a business should look like and how it should run. They negotiated with each other the roles and responsibilities during the meeting and as the meeting time got closer the finishing touches, (jars of pens, laptops, paper to look busy) were added.

The class was in role as Sue arrived so she stepped into the class also in role. They were greeted and appointment times confirmed. Francine stopped and spoke with the different employees and asked them questions about their qualifications and experience. The students were able to use their employee profiles to answer the questions and draw on their prior knowledge to fill in any gaps.

During the meeting the class was able to ask a range of questions that would help them with their designs for an underground village. Most of the questions were redirected back to the class as 'thats information you will have to work out'.  Once the discussion was finished the class new that they had to create a village underground for 5,000 people. The village had to be able to support life for more than 3 years.  The students then broke all there questions in groups and made sub questions.

They were not put into groups instead they had the freedom to pick which area they were interested in and ask/answer questions.  Normally the students would be split into even groups with mixed ability for every group, MOTE requires complete freedom of choice which is a daunting thought for a teacher to let go the control.  I was surprised to find that the majority of the class were able to monitor themselves and stay on task. They produced many simple questions but the deeper ones begun to creep in. Some groups didn't have any students working on question and I was worried that this was going to hinder the progress of the class but over the next couple of days the students returned to the neglected groups and completed the questions. (What would happen if I left my math lessons up to the studetns... What would the learning look like if I taught them what they wanted to know - Fractions, 'that algebra stuff' - instead of what was planned)

Activity Four

The class has been working for a week on a huge range of topics. They have been swapping, starting, and revisiting a range of topics all week depending on their interest at the time. The students have been working with a variety of their classmate demonstrating a range of key competencies and tolerance.  When speaking with the students they are able to explain what they are searching and why it is important information that Francine would want to know.  My role as the teacher has been reminding the students of the process - checking the notice board, asking what question they are answering - and at time helping to add structure to the lesson. Designing a city is a huge undertaking and my role as the teacher was to break down all the different aspects when students started to become overwhelmed.

 An example of this was a student that came to me saying he wanted to make the school. I asked him how he was going to achieve this and what was needed. He quickly replied that he needed a class and an office. After a discussion with the student he went away and designed a layout for the school. He returned with a sketch for the school which included its layout and the year levels for the classes, he had also included how many students would be in each class.

MOTEI spoke with him about where he got the numbers from and he replied with "I just made them up". He was able to explain why he had chosen the class sizes citing learning environment and over crowding as the main reasons. I introduced the student to the population control team who had previously determined the number of people for each age group. The schooling team (which had grown to three) realised that their class sizes were not going to work. They had a discussion and decided that they would reduce the number of years children would attend school and are currently in negotiation around school timing with a thought of having half days or alternative days being implemented as this would mean less classrooms being needed therefore saving on space.

The language and social skills that has been employed to negotiate and justify their decisions during MOTE I would struggle to recreate through my 'typical' inquiry lesson.

Engagement Continues

At the beginning of the MOtE sessions there was a small group of boys that choose to sit on the fringe and not participate. To-date they are the students that have produced the most detailed slides explaining ventilation systems and fresh water filtration. They are the students that are focused 100% of the time and are excited in the learning.  During a typical lesson the same boys are often found off task and day dreaming.  I struggle to think of another time when these students were just so focused. They have located, read and reviewed a range of ventilation fan systems and approached me wanting to create a prototype for Francine.

MOtEAs much as I tried to get in the way of the project their enthusiasm hit me full on and threatened to roll over the top of me. All I could do was get out of the way and let them run with it.  Since getting out of the way I have been astonished with what they have achieved. They have pulled apart a fan learning how a coil and magneto works, attempting to reverse the polarity to change its direction.  They have faced a raft of challenges and every time employ different strategies to solve time.  The group constantly revisits and rereads websites to problem solve as well as experimenting and trailing different methods reflecting and evaluating their effectiveness.  These students that are normally reluctant to complete tasks came to me today saying they had gone home and reread the instructions on the internet and tried it again. He was excited because it had worked but still couldn't understand why his school model couldn't work. He wasn't put off or disheartened instead determined to find a solution.

While all this is happening for one student the others in the group are just as focused in creating the housing for the fan system. They have scoured the school locating timber that mets THEIR strick requirements. They are now using their mathematical skills to measure and adapt the web designs to meet their material restrictions.  I have witnessed them follow the same problem solving path that has had them reviewing and reflection constantly. What has driven this learning? Their own determination and enthusiasm for the topic.

After completing this entry a student had one of those moments that I have to take a share. He was again fully focused on the task of creating a model of the ventilation system. This is a video of him involved in the work. He has finished creating the box and has found the centre. He is now attaching a piece to fix the fan to. This is a student that normally is reluctant to get involved in class work.

Business Presentation.

MOtEMOtE The day quickly arrived when the class was to go back into role and present their findings to Francine. Student were busy finishing creating 3D models for their homes and accurately measuring them out using chalk and a tape measure. These two tasks were part of the math program - Curriculum Level 4; relate 3 dimensional models to 2 dimensional representations and vice versa.  I was also able to assess the students ability to convert between millimetres and metres. All of which was helpful in keeping my data current while writing my end of year reports.

MOtEMOtEDuring this time there was also a hurried completion of their Google Presentation with discussions about who was going to speak and how it should be formatted.  Another opportunity for me to assess the students based on their Curriculum Level.  The students negotiated their roles and responsibilities and as Francine approached there was still many conversations in progress. From the my point of view the student were not ready with slide missing main point and students unorganised.  What surprised me was their ability to come together in the seconds and produce a well organised presentation.

Once Francine was in the class and the presentation was underway students used their initiative and spoke during slide that were not their own. They did this because they wanted to make sure their 'business' did not get a bad reputation and because they are the experts. At the completion of the lesson I was speaking with Sue and she was surprised to hear of the disorganisation. From her point of view they were well structured and prepared with detailed information.  During the presentation the use of topic specific vocabulary and their ability to answer specific questions occurred at a higher rate than what would normally occur.  As I watched the presentation I was surprised with the amount of detail that my class was able to give and the extra information provided to Francine. I did not realise that they had copied off housing blueprints, school layouts and population statistics for Francine to take away with her.

View the presentation Here
After the presentation was completed the class said goodbye to Francine and she left. Sue returned and the class was able to have a discussion about the presentation. They were asked "What do you think Francine was impressed with?" and "What do you think she was disappointed in?" The student can honest reflections and I believe this was because they didn't feel like they were evaluating themselves.  Drama allowed the students to step out of the class and evaluate/assess as if they were the expert.

The students have now fast forwarded to a point where the underground village has been built and the class is formed in to the city council. They have the responsibility to name the city and decide on the people they will let in. They will think of the different jobs and roles in a city but most importantly they will be required to think and decided what personalities will be allowed in. What type of morals will our villages be required to have?

Mantle and ICT

In my classroom I endeavour to use ICT to help with engagement, relevance and reducing workload.  As my students enter a world that is increasing become more digital I believe it is even more of a priority of a teacher to prepare their students, not for the current technology but the technological changes that they will not doubt encounter.

The choice to use ICT with this unit was a no brainer the tricky part was going to be the how.  I begun by creating my planning using Google Doc. This enabled me to share the document with colleagues and allowed us to edit the same document and view the changes instantly. Also the ability to add in hyperlinks was helpful.

Throughout the research stages the class was using the internet. Having instant access to the collective knowledge of many experts in a range of field was invaluable. They were able to locate and read about a range of topics and were able to answer their initial question while creating new deeper one. I was able to observe and assess my students ability to locate information and sift through the facts. I was able to assess my classes ability to make generalisation and draw conclusions.

When dealing with Francine they received messages in a range of formats. More often she dealt them then face to face but she was also able to send email and attachments. This was fun for the students to receive and they enjoyed reading them on the interactive whiteboard. I am still endeavouring to have a skype conversation as I believe this would be a lot of fun of the students and this eventually online conversations will become more common place.

The use of Google Presentations was instrumental in creating an environment of cooperation and self management.  The students all worked on the same document at the same time. This instantly created many challenges as students began adding, deleting and editing slides simultaneously. They had to quickly create a set of working criteria and negotiate how to develop the slide for the benefit of the 'business'.  Students that committed to researching an area and presenting it were all of a sudden held accountable by their classmates.  They were also able to leave feedback in terms of additional questions while reading each others slides. As a teacher I was able to give feedback and suggest possible alterations according to the achievement objectives of the curriculum.  This feedback was instant for all those that read it.  Students were able to read what instructions I was giving and what features I was looking for. Instead of the feedback being helpful for one student it was placed in a forum where it could benefit the who class.

Fast Forward

Because drama allows students to work in multiple time frames we were able to jump ahead to a time where the underground city was constructed and a city council formed. Sue explained to the students that they made up the council members, in particular the ethics committee and their decisions would shape the underground society.  As a member of the council they had to decided who and what would be saved. The student were able to have a moral debate about the kinds of people that would make a utopian society.

They made rash decisions like no one with a criminal record would be allowed and no one unemployed. Sue then placed the students into 4 lines and proceeded to tell each line that they had not be selected because; they had a criminal record, were unemployed, had no qualifications, were farmers.
The student, being in role, immediately felt hard done by despite the fact that it was them that created the criteria. They had to write a letter to the Council explaining why they should be allowed to join the underground city.

The writing that was received was very passionate and fill of persuasive language. Different students used different approaches to try and convince the council that they had made the wrong decision. This writing task allowed me to asses the students ability to write for a specific audience and purpose while examining their use to topic specific vocabulary.  The language that was used during writing in role was of a more authentic nature than that which I would have received if I had of used a contrived scenario.

As part of my integration into ICT I tried to think of a different way for the students to present their letters to the council members. This is what I came up with:

The idea was a bit left field for some of my students however they quickly became enthusiastic as they were speaking in role and their full faces were not being shown.  This technique allowed for the students to practice reading with expression and emotion; which was easier for some than others.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Luke and Sue! Having been in your class before Luke I recognise these faces and can clearly see how engaged they are in the mantle. People are often doubtful about whether intermediate aged students will buy in to the role play aspect of MOtE but these videos show how effective it can be. I especially like the clip where the students are involved in their independent research. Fabulous to see the elevated language, engagement in the task, peer to peer interactions etc etc. Love how mantle gives inquiry purpose and authenticity. Keep up the good work - I'll be watching with interest.