My class were lucky enough to enjoy lessons from two new teachers this week.
Firstly a school parent, who is a qualified art teacher, looking to get back into the work force; came in to give my class an two art lessons. We planned the lesson together using the Sidney Nolan’s series on Ned Kelly as inspiration. As a classroom teacher I am by the very nature of my profession, a generalist. I work hard to keep up to date in my knowledge and understanding of all the core curriculum areas, including Visual Arts. It was though a fabulous opportunity for my students to experience a ‘professional’ series of art lessons.
The second ‘lesson’ was a new experience for us all. Australian educator Adrian Bruce joined us for a ‘performance poetry’ lesson via Skype. At 11.00 am on the prearranged day we rang Adrian at his office in country New South Wales. After a quick visual tour of his office and a glimpse of his axolotls, we got down to work. Adrian firstly led my class through a tour of some of the finer points of the free program audacity. The students played around with recording their voices and adjusting the tone so that they sounded like chipmunks or monsters. We then used one of his halloween poetry scaffolds and we explored how to add spooky sounds from his sound file collection. Since we are in the middle of a unit of work studying ‘Australian Bush Ballads’ though, Adrian was also kind enough to give them access to his soundsnap account. In it they spent a busy twenty minutes downloading various bush sound files, such as whips cracking, trees rustling, animal noises and more. Finally Adrian showed them how to import these sounds so as to produce an audio file. They each worked to create their own creative content which incorporated both a voice recording and sound effects. Proving that it is possible for children to emulate professional quality audio books using free software and only one lesson.
Although I had a basic knowledge of audacity and this was helpful to me as I was the one problem solving on the go, I also managed to learn heaps of new tricks and ideas from Adrian. Tips I know I will incorporate into my English program in the future as well. To prove they had mastered audacity my class followed up his session, with one with the other year 5 class, in which they taught them everything Adrian had taught them. They are still completing their MP3 recordings but soon we will be able to listen to each others performances of famous Australian poems such as Mulga Bill’s Bicycle complete with added sound effects. When they are complete we will of course share them to the world and our community, using our class and student blogs.
Both these lessons were fabulous. If you have a parent who is a specialist teacher and who offers their expertise then of course you should grab the opportunity and welcome them into your classroom. With the advent of Skype though the opportunities are endless. My class have called New Zealand several times, as well as the education office at the Ballarat Goldfields. From Australia it can be difficult although not impossible to Skype other classrooms in America, as we discovered last year with our call to Wisconsin, when we spoke to our pen-pals. This school in Melbourne has also learned enormous amounts from Raj and his Indian students. All over the country schools are taking up the opportunities of bringing in experts that Skype can offer you.
Having a teacher join us though was new and interesting experience for us all. So if you need a touch of expertise in your classroom. If you want the opportunity to learn alongside your students why not use Skype and invite an expert such as Adrian Bruce into your classroom?