Double identity

Last year the School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit of NSW DET conducted a rap, Identity: Sharing Our Stories for Stages 3 and 4. Due to the success of this rap, via the Edublogs blogging facility, it is being run again this term!

The rap addresses outcomes in English, HSIE, PDHPE, Music and Aboriginal Studies. It draws on a range of contemporary texts, including personal stories, to explore Aboriginal perspectives on what builds strong identity. The rap is helpful for cultural understanding for all students. It also supports the Stage 4 secondary COG unit, “Cultural identity”.

Many teachers complain that they find it difficult to make sure they address Aboriginal perspectives in their programs correctly, and to find relevant resources to support their units of work in this area. Even if your school is not planning to participate, I would again urge teacher-librarians to visit the pages as the rap unfolds. Rapping is a great learning experience – for students, teachers, teacher librarians, AEOs (Aboriginal Education Officers) and community members. A range of excellent online resources is available, including: programming and planning, proformas, music, and online factual texts. This rap offers an excellent way to develop an educator’s familiarity with blogging as an educational tool, embedded in your program of work.

This year, our Year 5 students will be working in groups on the rap activities, and utilising our brand new interactive whiteboard (IWB), which is located in our library. Now that’s exciting! The new version of the Identity rap starts the week of 18 May 2009, and runs for about six weeks. Schools can use as much or as little, as suits their unique situations.

Out of the mouths of babes

Yesterday, a group of Stage 3 (Year 6) students met with me in three small groups, in the school library, to compile a Rap Response to the first Rap Point in the Identity Rap. We read some articles by some local Aboriginal educators and then the students had to discuss when they had returned to the house they’d lived in when they were younger, and to recall some well-worn phrases from parents and grandparents that continue to shape their identities, and that have become “messages for a good life”.

I can highly recommend Circle Time as a successful strategy for scribing the students’ fresh, unassuming responses to the stimulus material. They were delivering their grandparents’ sayings with such seriousness. (I was inwardly in hysterics by the spontaneity and honesty of their oral replies, and it was all I could do to hold the pencil steady as I scribed their warmly humorous answers.)

They said:

We will always remember these wise words:

“When cooking pikelets, don’t get too close to the pan.”

“Don’t jump on the couch.”

“Chew like a lady.”

“Never draw on people when they are asleep.”

“These things you should remember because I did it the hard way.”

“Always start the day with a good breakfast.”

“Study hard!”

“Never pick your nose in public.”

“Respect people, even if you dislike them.”

Wonderful stuff, eh?

I have an article about Circle Time in a recent issue of Scan. If you’re interested in following it up, the details are:
‘Circle time: maximising opportunities for talking and listening at Penrith Public School’in Scan 26(4) November 2007, pp 4-7.