In June 2015, I was invited to share my past experiences of Fiji with the group who would be travelling to Fiji with The SEE Project in July 2015. I shared pictures and stories, and shared what I had learned about myself and my future as a teacher, and by the end of my 20 minute presentation I had decided that I wanted to return to Fiji, with them, in about a months time. After discussion some different ideas with Vinesh, I developed my own project which aligned with the philosophy of The SEE Project – to Share, Engage and Educate. From our discussions, I discovered that there are not many children’s story books in Fiji, and many stories are still passed on orally. This was really powerful information, because: as a child I loved to read and be read to; as a studying teacher I knew the huge range of benefits for reading from a young age; and with stories predominantly being spoken, there is always the possibility that these important cultural stories could be lost forever – these three reasons underpinned my proposed project. My project was to create digital story books in Australia and Fiji, and then have the schools that participated swap what they had created. The big ideas were that students would enjoy the writing process, because they would be writing about topics that interest them, and their stories would be written with a real purpose, to entertain and educate others.
Before leaving for Fiji, I spent a few days volunteering at Lawnton State School, where the students of 3/4M and 5T created digital story books using iPads. A big thank you to admin, staff and students for participating in the project, and a special thanks to Mrs Crilly and Mrs Fletcher for welcoming me into their classroom’s, and providing this unique opportunity for their students to take part in.
Thanks to the connections I had made while volunteering in February, I was able to organise to spend 4 days teaching at Toko Primay School. In this time 3 classes were able to create digital story books, with grades ranging from 6-8 (equivalent to 5-7 in Australia). For each new class, I asked the same question “Why do people write books?” and the students’ responses were all very similar… “For school”, “to learn from”. I asked the same question to the students in Australia, and their first responses were “for fun”, “for enjoyment” and “to entertain”.
It was very fitting that the next thing that we did was read for enjoyment!! Which we continued to do after every recess and lunch throughout the week.
After reading a few stories, the students were inspired and excited to create their own digital stories. The students worked in groups of 2-3 to write, illustrate and create their digital story books.
The students were having so much fun creating their digital stories, that they didn’t want to leave during lunch breaks, and if they did, they would be back in 5 minutes wanting to come back inside, not to play computer games, but to continue their stories! I asked the year 6 teacher “When’s the last time your students came running back to class early to continue learning about narrative writing?” to which he replied “They never have!”.
It was very pleasing to have the teachers actively involved in the classroom activities. Many teachers in Fiji have limited knowledge and skills with computers, however, the teachers at Toko Primary School saw the opportunity to further develop their own understanding.