Saturday, 27 August 2011

M.A.D. archive project

At the end of this academic year our school, St Felix Middle School in Newmarket, Suffolk closes. Suffolk are operating a phased policy of middle school closure... and its our turn. Our Years 5 - 8 school becomes Year 6 - 8 for this coming academic year. 
No-one wants to forget and let the memory of a good school die without marking the occasion. This is especially important since our school building burned down in 2008. The headteacher, Greg Sadler, was keen for this year to have a whole-school focus and that it should be some kind of archive. To that end he timetabled a two-hour double period each week for all three year groups . The curricular areas that will be covered are Art, Design and Media, taught by four teachers. I'm the project co-ordinator, teaching the Media element. 

Now as a title for this slot, ADM is boring, DMA sounds like an illegal substance and DAM is totally inappropriate for a Church of England School. MAD, however, has a pleasantly rakish ring... and I'm in charge - so MAD it is. As a Primary teacher for the earlier part of my career I ran through the project themes that used to be  favourites (way back in pre-NC days). One that never failed was "All about Me". Children after all are only human and find this a fascinating topic. It seemed a good place to start and a few moments thought suggested it was an excellent place to start - start looking inward and then term by term extend our gaze outward, first to our school  an then to our town. In the summer term we could collaborate with Scaltback (the town's other middle school) and Newmarket College (the High school) on a project about . 

I should say here that none of the plans for the future have been officially approved so I'll confine myself to discussion of this term in this post. 
As I said above,  I'm teaching ME-dia and I'm currently planning an eight hour unit on digital stories - short, personal narratives using stills, the spoken word and music. Digital stories can be likened to a haiku - suggesting more than they say. The BBC project, Capture Wales, used this form extensively to enormous effect. I think we'll probably set up a vimeo plus account to host the results. I'll post links so you can see what happens. We'll be using PhotoStory3.

The Art element will be to create a ME-shirt a visual representation of the things they'd like the world to know about them.

The Design element will be to create a MEseum. a micro-museum in a box.

I've built a Google Site for internal use which will host slideshows and links to support and stimulate ideas. I also felt we needed a public face for Parents, Governors and friends (and you too, if you like) so I've set up a Posterous blog for students and staff to blog about the process throughout the year. I'm inspired by Sugata Mitra's idea of a Granny Cloud so I'll see if I can get in touch...