Introduction to the NorthviewWrites project:
This project has been designed to engage our Grade 10 Core French Students in learning about and working with social justice children’s literature, in connecting with local authors and humanitarians who have shared their stories with us via video and video conference and in giving students the opportunity to write and publish their own stories as dual language storybooks that will be printed and shared with students at our neighbouring feeder school and with other students at Northview Heights Secondary School.
All teaching and learning materials and student exemplars for this project, along with some of our documentary film footage can be located on our project website: http://northviewwrites.wordpress.com
- How can students be inspired and motivated to explore their own experiences and to find ways of using their own voices to share their stories as published dual-language children's story books?
- How can various forms of multimedia, including videoconferencing, be effective tools to assist students in learning about other socially-justice-minded authors and storytellers and in developing the skills needed to write their own stories?
- How can students share their voices and stories with their peers and other students at our local elementary feeder schools through the creation of written publications and online storytelling projects
Learning Objectives/Project Development and Process:
- Students are introduced to a variety of different formats of storytelling and books that connect with social justice issues that interesting and relevant to their experiences both in Canada and around the world.
- Students carry out "interviews" of children's story books in order to become familiar with the elements of a story (character, setting, conflict, plot development etc.), themes, character development, perspective and point of view, conflict and resolution, and the overall structure of children's stories.
- Students engage in personal reflection and response activities that enable them to consider what life and learning experiences they feel comfortable sharing and writing about in a storybook format.
- Students have face-to-face, video-recorded and video conference learning opportunities with three authors whose work connects to social justice themes and issues.
- Students complete a series of writing activities relating the development of their characters, description of the setting and storyline and progression
- Students write a version of the story in both French and in English and work together in small editorial teams to get regular feedback and to ensure that their stories are clearly communicated and written with appropriate grammatical structures and age-appropriate vocabulary.
- Students create and design illustrations to accompany their stories.
- Students layout their dual-language stories with their illustrations to prepare for printing and publication.
- Throughout the project, students document their progress by writing posts on Twitter Feeds and in writing in personal journals. Regular feedback is given by the teacher as well as opportunities for individual and collective reflection.
- Students have the opportunity to engage in a live presentation with author StudentAsim writer of Khadijah goes to School; former child soldier and human rights activist, Michel Chikwanine, author of Child Soldiers: How Girls and Boys are used in War (to be released in October 2015); and Canadian Humanitarian, CEO of Plan Canada, and author of Every day is Malala Day, Rosemary McCarney. The final presentation will be shared by videoconference with other classrooms in Ontario.
- Students' stories are professionally printed and shared as part of a NorthviewWrites Book Launch at the school. Local elementary students come to participate in the book launch and to hear stories read to them by our NorthviewWrites Student authors. A Canadian author as well as school administration and School Superintendent come to celebrate the work and achievements of students in their publications for NorthviewWrites. The celebration is shared via videoconference.
- An in-school film crew of students from the school’s Cyber Arts department is invited to document the progress of the students’ work and are creating a documentary film as evidence and in celebration of our collaborative efforts on this project.
- Students will participate in a video recording of them reading their stories in both languages which will be housed on an archived website for them to share with their families and friends.
- Students will contribute their feedback to our documentary and will offer critiques to their classmates to validate and appreciate their work.
Currently what we are working on:
- To date students have submitted the draft copies of their dual language stories for editorial feedback and are beginning the process of creating the illustrations and layout of their books.
- They are also creating short biographical statements about themselves and writing the materials which will be printed on the book jackets for their work.
- Presentations with local authors and videoconferencing, as well as the documentation of our class’ NorthviewWrites Project are ongoing.
- Plans are being made as for the program of our NorthviewWrites book launch to take place at the end of May 2015.
- Students will have created dual or trilingual children’s stories to be published for our school library and for classroom use.
- Students will use their voices to share their stories with local elementary students.
- Students will learn how their voices can positively affect change in their own lives, the lives of others and their communities in raising awareness of social justice issues affecting children and teens in Canada and abroad.
- Students will feel pride in the creation, development, writing and reading of their NorthviewWrites published stories.
- The process and progress of students’ work will be documented in the form of a documentary, shared via face-to-face as well as videoconference and shared as part of the TIG Showcase at the Toronto Science Center on May 21st, 2015.
The value of using videoconferencing as a teaching and learning tool
Videoconferencing is an educational tool that can help connect students with the TDSB community and our global community. Videoconferencing is a tool that breaks down classroom walls and opens a door or a window to the world ... opening this door or this window opens our students’ minds to authentic real world opportunities wherein they are immersed LIVE in their subject curriculum, in another geographic location, in another culture. By seeing, hearing and talking LIVE with others they discover that there are many things we all have in common around the world. Students recognize that they can absorb knowledge and can share it. Because videoconferencing is a LIVE event, students have the immediate gratification of knowing that they were empowered to use their "voice" to talk about ways to achieve positive change where it's needed. They also have the immediate gratification of feeling like their "voice" is heard. By using socially innovative technologies such as videoconferencing students can connect and have conversations with experts and/or other students around the globe. Essentially, we are bringing their subject curriculum to life and this helps to break down resistance and indifference towards making positive change. By immersing this vision into a TIG project based assignment, wherein students create and publish a children's story on a social justice theme to then be shared with a broader community, both in person and via videoconference, this only further roots their experiences in an authentic role as citizens with a VOICE who are empowered with the ability to make positive contributions to our global community.
Call to Action:
This project is a call to action for students to use their voices in French, English as well as their native tongue in sharing a story in the format of an engaging children’s story. This work allows students to contribute to the literary community both in our school and across the country as we share their work electronically both in the form of their books and in the reading of their stories.
We invite other teachers and students in Ontario, across Canada and beyond, particularly second-language teachers to connect with us about the possibility of our sharing our stories. We also invite schools to contribute to the writing, collection and sharing of stories that connect with issues of social justice and which will empower students to use their voices for good.
Teachers and students interested in learning about the project design, its progression or in having us share our stories or in creating a learning partnership should connect with us at the school through one of our teachers: French teacher, Katy Whitfield (email@example.com) or Teacher-Librarian (firstname.lastname@example.org)