Wednesday 21 August 2013

Story Circles, Preserving Language and Promoting Literacy

One indigenous language dies every two weeks. Not only do the words die but a whole way of thinking and being. In a world bereft of solutions we need diversity. We need ways of looking at the world that challenge our thinking, to keep us fresh and revitalised.

Story Circles addresses this problem. We work with children, teachers and community groups to gather their stories, songs, dances and artwork. We then work with this rich material and publish it on  We publish this material in the language of the group we are working with e.g. Somalian, Tokelauan, but we also publish alongside, the English version.

Parents, teachers, children and community groups can then use these resources, for free, to listen and read in their language. Together they can retain their words and their world. At the same time they can learn English together. The songs, stories, artwork and ideas come from within the group and make a deep connection.

Learning to be literate is more than learning the alphabet and its sounds or sight words and sentence structures. Literacy is about connecting to the words and stories in a deep way. Learning with meaningful depth that has strong connections to the world of the learner. This is the essence of the Story Circle's process.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Nature Deficit Disorder

Ten years ago when I began making Digital Learning Objects, now Apps, it was in a response to technology arriving in my New Entrant classroom. Digital learning was being hailed as the great new educator, some magical way of learning, that would completely change the way we teach and children learn. Everyone seemed to be getting a bit carried away.
In response to everyone getting carried away, and with Resn, an amazing Wellington IT company, we made The Bridge. With The Bridge I began to put the possibility out there, the possibility using technology, digital learning, to promote learning in the real world, the environment. To integrate technology with the way children have always educated themselves, through their senses and through their natural world.
What I was promoting then, and continue to promote now with my Pixelhouse resources is BALANCE. Pixelhouse DVDs and apps are not something that children click on and repeat the same experience over and over.  Our resources are teaching tools, prompts for teachers and children to explore and deepen their learning through drama, art, dancing and playing in the sandpit, engaging with their natural world.
Now I hear all this getting carried away with the technology has got a name, Nature Deficit Disorder. Which basically means growing and learning is not balanced. Children are so occupied with technology they don't have time for real experiences. Children need hands-on experiences, they need to use all of their senses and physical abilities to grow and learn.
Technology does offer new ways. It has got some fantastic possibilities, but don't let's get carried away...and use Pixelhouse resources, they promote balance.