Kids Connect is an annual technology conference run by kids for kids. This year’s conference was organised by the Year 7 Students of St Thomas’ Primary School, Camp Hill. With the theme Ctrl, Alt, Create primary students from across the Brisbane and Rockhampton Archdioceses gathered at the historic and dynamic Brisbane Powerhouse to spend two days immersed in learning about and with technology. You can view their YouTube channel to see more.
When approached by the organising committee of this year’s conference the ResourceLink team felt it would be interesting for students to explore the varied history of the Brisbane Powerhouse; from a Power Station that once controlled the source of our city’s electricity, to an abandoned building which was an alternative home for Brisbane’s homeless, to the modern, dynamic and creative arts centre it is today.
The Web2.0 tool Capzles allows students to easily create interactive timelines and digital stories. It was decided that this would be a powerful and engaging tool for telling these stories from the Powerhouse’s history.
As we had no por knowledge of the group of students’ skills and abilities it was important to ensure that a collection of effective resources was available to support a diverse group of learners. We found these resources in several locations, including primary evidence materials sourced from the John Oxley Library.
Using the LADDER inquiry model to develop a broad learning scaffold enabled the students to drive the development and delivery of the interactive timelines. Learn more about LADDER and resourcing inquiry on Inquiring Minds.
We LAUNCHED our inquiry into the history of the Powerhouse by exploring the idea of telling stories using timelines. We did this by deliberately choosing to create a real life time line so students could develop a concrete experience before moving to a digital platform. The students were given a collection of photos, logos and advertisements which told the story of the Apple Computer Corporation; these images were sourced from a Capzle. You can view this capzle here.
Students were asked to select a photo which they felt was interesting and to tell the group what aspects they found interesting. This opened up the necessary dialogue to support our historical inquiry. After this round table conversation students were asked to place these photos in chronological order. In the process a clear pattern emerged; students could accurately place photos in order during the course of their own personal history. The real historical inquiry began once the group recognised this pattern, and began to ask questions and hypothesising about the earlier sources. Students moved beyond statements like ‘well its a black and white photo, it must be old’ to ‘I haven’t seen the rainbow apple before so it must be old’ to ‘well that apple is in these photos so they must be around the same time’. Students led by guiding questions were now able make assumptions based on critical questioning. What developed was a timeline which was relatively accurate to the original Capzle. This process framed our inquiry about the history of the Brisbane Powerhouse and gave the student a clear understanding of how they were to approach their own historical investigation.
Students ACCESSEDhistorical content about the Powerhouse through another guiding activity.
In groups of four, the students explored the Brisbane Powerhouse with a collection of photos of the Powerhouse from each of its three eras. These photos had been sourced from the John Oxley Library. Students were looking for evidence of the past which remained in place today. They spent time taking photographs of areas of the Powerhouse that reflected the era that they were creating a timeline for. Again this activity demanded students to ask critical questions of the source photos and of the Powerhouse.
Returning to our work area the students began DEVELOPINGtheir timelines.
The students took on roles within the groups that reflected their strengths and interests; some researched further information about the individuals whose stories could shed light on the Powerhouse’s past by reading archival newspaper articles that were made available electronically to the students.Others developed scripts for short films, where students roleplayed individuals from the point in history they were researching. Those who were exploring the Powerhouse’s current story as a creative arts centre wrote interview questions for Powerhouse staff, who were later interviewed on film. Further research led to more critical questions and the discovery of new areas of the Powerhouse that needed photographing.
It was clear throughout this process that the students were fascinated by the Powerhouse building and its chequered history. They were totally engaged in every aspect of the process. They DEMONSTRATED their knowledge through the construction of three Capzle timelines, which can be viewed online here: the Original Powerhouse, here: the Powerhouse as an abandoned building and here: the Powerhouse as a creative arts centre.
In the course of their construction, students used a variety of digital tools and technologies, including digital cameras, digital video cameras, digital voice recorders, Garageband (to create the background music), iMovie (to edit the film footage), PowerPoint (to create the image files of the newspaper articles and their research) and Wordle. It was fascinating to watch as the students shared their variety of experiences with each other, teaching each other (and us!), playing with the various tools and developing their skills in each of them.The Capzles were completed early on the second day, so we took some time to EVALUATEthem with the students. Together we asked ‘is there anything missing from the Capzle?; what could be improved? how could it be improved?; does it truly share the story of the Powerhouse at that time?’ The students were full of ideas on how their creation could be made even more informative, and were keen to ensure that the layout, music, images and multimedia worked together to reflect the time period of the timeline.
To REFLECT on the process, we interviewed the students to record their experiences, their learnings, what they enjoyed and what they would like to do next. The students wrote these questions collaboratively, and interviewed each other. Some of these interviews were captured on film, which you can watch below.
As teachers, we also took time to reflect on the Kids Connect experience; our thoughts are below. Click on the table to view in a larger format:
It was a great experience, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The Year 7 students and their teachers from St Thomas’ School at Camp Hill are to be congratulated on the smooth running of the event….where we all learnt so much!
For teachers wishing to do something similar in their classroom, our Education Officer:History, Helen Hennessy has provided the following valuable information about linking these activities to the Australian Curriculum:
Links to the Australian Curriculum, History.
The learning experiences in this unit link very well to the Australian Curriculum, history.
The skills reflect the historical skills of chronology, historical questions and research , analysis and use of sources, perspectives and interpretations and explanation and communication. These skills form the basis of study at all year levels.
The content area could be used as an introduction to the Year 7 Depth Study, “Investigating the ancient past” as it explores how historians investigate history. While the sophistication of the investigation and use of technology might need to be modified, the concept is perfect for the Year 3 topic that explores one important example of change and one of continuity in the local community.