The mosquitoes are big along the Murray River but last week there was an even bigger buzz in town when students in Robinvale had the opportunity to fly a drone over the school, town and flood waters. In collaboration with VACL, Brendan Kennedy and the Aboriginal community in Robinvale were the successful recipients of the IDX Flint Program administered by the National Centre for Indigenous Digital Excellence. IDX Flint is a program that sparks the interest, ideas and talent of young Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders in making digital technology.
FLINT Manager Grant Cameron, Learning Experience Designer Celeste Carnegie and Programs Coordinator Claude Williams travelled to Robinvale from Sydney to host three days of mentoring, activities and workshops at the Clontarf Academy at Robinvale P-12 College. Aboriginal students in higher grades were given the opportunity to fly a drone, build and program lego robots, use 3D printers and code trackways for ozobots. Students then taught these skills to the younger classes in self-led group activities. One of the highlights of the week was certainly watching how eager and capable these older students were in quickly using these new skills in leadership roles to teach others. The community were also treated to some basketball skill building with multitalented Wiradjuri sportsman Claude Williams, who played with the Sydney SuperSonics among many other significant sporting achievements in basketball, rugby and cricket.
"This is future Koorie education at its best, the possibilities of this to teach language are endless. It really broadens the horizon of what we can do, bringing the old ways and new technology together," said Brendan Kennedy.
The community in Robinvale are now deciding which equipment they will keep in their community for ongoing digital learning experiences, language education and cultural projects. The possibilities are limitless in the imagination of children and they are the ones who can take digital excellence to new levels. We’ll be following their lead with great interest!
Applications for the next round of the IDX Flint Program will open soon – keep your eye on their website for details!
At Heywood and District Secondary College in the state's south-west, the Gunditjmara Languages Program is in its third year and going really well. Year 8 students are offered two lessons per week in 2014, and Year 7 students one lesson per week. Language and local Gunditjmara history is further incorporated into the Year 7 Integrated Studies program to cover the gap in classes and enrich students' Koorie cultural learnings.
"We started in the first lesson talking about kanang wanga - deep listening - and the concept is that you listen 110%, with your ears, your heart and your spirit." Stephanie Tashkoff, Program Coordinator
During Reconciliation Week 2014, Year 7 language students studying a Local Aboriginal History unit during Term 1 ran language workshops and Year 8 students went out on Country to the IPA in Tyrendarra to have a look at eel traps and farming irrigation systems. The unit they were focusing on was all about eels and the deep cultural and economic significance of eels for Victorian Koories.
During Term 3 & 4 students will learn all about human and animal parts of the body, traditional Victorian Koorie body-counting systems, and the significance of land and the environment. In Term 3, Year 8 students commence studying a unit on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. They will also be developing a small possum skin cloak as they discuss the significance of the designs and patterns which were traditionally etched into the cloaks, and compare those with contemporary cloak design. The Year 8's Term 3 unit leads into Term 4 where story-telling is combined with art to enable picture story books to be designed, written and translated into Language by the students themselves.
"For the school community overall, there is a sense of pride in being a school that offers a Koorie Language, and being a school that is developing a sense of This is who we are!" - Steph Tashkoff, Program Coordinator
Towards the end of 2013, students studied Gunditjmara traditional stories and focused on local themes, geographical features and places of significance. Students then wrote a story in English and worked on translating it into Language to produce a series of picture story books. As a result, the school now has a library of just under 40 picture story books which are all in the Gunditjmara Languages, and are looking at how they can transform some of these into animations to use as a wider resource, and work more closely with local primary schools around Gunditjmara Languages and culture.
"The Gunditjmara Languages Program has been extremely beneficial for all students undertaking the course - making connections between the history and culture of where they live, developing understanding and appreciation for local language and cutlure, as well as encouraging their language acquisition and assisting the developmetn of the different neutral pathways that are engaged in language learning.
For Koorie students in particular, further benefits are around developing an enhanced sense of pride and awareness of local language and culture, particularly for students who don't have strong connection to the community." - Steph Tashkoff, Program Coordinator
Images: Year 7 students from Heywood & District Secondary College running Aboriginal Language workshops with Grade 5 & 6 students from all around the district during Reconciliation Week, 2014 (images courtesy of Steph Tashkoff)
For more stories about Heywood students click these links below
Thanks to Steph Tashkoff for this story and images