Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Slaughteryard post-mortem

Edward Bright's Slaughteryard

Today I road-tested the iHistory concept. In a couple of weeks we will take students out to visit 5 different sites over one day. Today was intended to show up what worked and what didn't.

It was a lovely day for a fieldtrip, although one of my students reckons that "fieldtrip" is an ugly Americanism. Four groups went out, armed with iRivers, a podcast on the slaughteryard building that lies in our school yard and a list of tasks that were required, plus a working pen and pencil. I went armed with a camera to record this momentous occasion.

David & Clay listening intently!

Overall, a great success! The students were engaged, said it was 'fun' (imagine that...Australian History fun!) and were really keen to know when the fieldwork day was on. There were a couple of issues:

1. Time was an issue. It took them a lot longer than I expected. I thought it would be all over in 30 minutes. But it actually went for about an hour....could have been the pleasure of being outside in the sun that induced them to drag it out! However, given that we have 5 sites to travel around in a fortnight, I need to be careful about the amount of tasks that I require them to do.

2. Teamwork was an issue. It wasn't so much that some people did all the work while others listened to radio on their mp3s and lazed in the sun (alright...it may have happened!) but more that groups did not split up tasks. They preferred to do everything together. I think this was because they were not confident with the nature of the task.

3. Understanding the tasks was sometimes an issue. In one task, they were required to record their observations using the voice function on the iRiver. However, they all simply wrote their observations very briefly. I wanted a more extended description. Perhaps I need to model that to them.

This experiment also highlighted the simplicity of using on-site and local sites for historical fieldwork.

The circular trunk foundations of the slaughteryard annex

Personal highlight - discovering the old foundations of an annex to the slaughteryard building. They are tree trunks about 20cm in diameter that have been cut to ground level, and are almost covered with grass.

An excellent trial!


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