Digital Stories

- VCAL students interview ESL learners -

In which Tina's students are interviewed by students from the VCAL group.

Context - provider and class / course

There are two classes – one is a VCAL class and the other an ESL level 1 class. The VCAL class is undertaking the project in order to fulfil assessment criteria for their English class. The English Level 1 class is working on a CSWE1 module for listening to and speaking descriptions. The learners met during class time.
This would work well with any combination groups of learners. You could try it with an English Level I and II or III for example. It’s beneficial to have one group with strong writing skills.

About the learners

o The learners range in ages - from 16 – 76 years of age.
o VCAL and ESL students.
o Involvement in the project will help both groups to complete and enhance their class assessments.

Goals for the activity

o To get the two groups of learners together so that they can benefit from each other’s knowledge. (The other teacher and I thought it would be wonderful to have the older learners share their stories.)
o To further foster the community spirit at PRACE J
o To help learners fulfil assessment criteria.

Outline of the activity (process)

- We met weekly for four weeks.
- We started with a meet and greet session. Students were paired up. We played games and had a trivia quiz with questions that were designed to have the partners rely on each other for the answers J. There were chocolate prizes for winners! J
- The next week the ESL students brought photos in and the VCAL students helped them write captions for each photo and to record the time the photos were taken, in which country, etc
- The VCAL students took photos of the photos
- Storyboards were planned and written up. (We used A3 paper with blank rectangles for photos and lines underneath for the planned dialogue.)
- Then we worked in the computer room. We downloaded the photos and set up Photostory 3.
- We organised the text.
- In the last session, we completed the ‘Digitales’ and added sound/subtitles and voice. The partners read the story together. For example:
ESL student: My name is Fatu. I come from Liberia.
VCAL student: Fatu came to Australia in 2005. She came because of the war.
- We had planned to have a party and showing session but sadly we ran out of time.

Technologies (equipment, rationale)

We used digital cameras, the AMES digital stories program (CD-Rom), iriver (for recording voice) and microphones. Some students recorded directly onto the computer whilst others used iriver. (T30)

What happened in class?

After initial reservations and fears the students bonded and had a positive enriching experience. We did have some hiccups with partners sometimes being away or forgetting to bring photos, etc but we worked around it by bringing other students in or stepping into the missing partner’s shoes for the day.

Reflections: what worked, what would you change?

Perhaps next time, we could scan the photos rather than take photos of the actual photos J. Some of the photos had to be brought in again as the quality was sometimes blurry. It delayed us a little and was hard to organise people to bring their photos in again.

Reflections: from the learners

The learners were very nervous at first. The VCAL students were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to understand the ESL learners and the ESL learners were worried that they would not be understood J.
Everyone was scared which made them all look 12 years old again J. Once the ice was broken though it was a lovely and enriching experience. The VCAL students got an insight into the ESL learner’s journeys to Australia. Often, these journeys involved war and extreme hardship so it was a very important and positive experience for them. The ESL students also got to feel that their stories were important and they had a chance to share them.

Additional - ways to adapt the activity

This activity can be used for the one class to have learners share their journeys and life experience. It can also be used with different groups in the community. It’s a wonderful bonding tool and helped to form great friendships and respect within the two groups.