In Other Words

100SB_IOW2012_Kamishibai

With In Other Words 2013 starting very soon, we’d like to share with you the background to this collaborative project and how it contributes to the literacy, confidence and sense of belonging of its young participants.

In 2012, Maribyrnong City Council invited us to develop a storytelling program in consultation with Dinjerra Primary School in Melbourne’s west.  As part of the council’s ‘River of Words’ early years initiative, we worked with 60 children in Prep – Grade 2 and their families. The children of Dinjerra Primary School hail from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and the school community is made up of a mix of newly arrived and more established families.

The project had two main aims: to support literacy development, and to help forge stronger home/school/community partnerships around children’s learning. The idea was to engage parents who, for reasons including lack of resources or language barriers, may feel ill-equipped to support their children at school, but who still have a wealth of experience and skills to share.

Through a series of workshops, guest storyteller presentations and a film premiere night, the children and their families told and retold stories in the form of Kamishibai, an ancient Japanese storytelling technique. The atmosphere on the night of the film premiere, with the school halls filled with children, families and the smell of fresh popcorn, was an incredible mix of excitement, pride and belonging. The films were also shown on the big screen at Federation Square, another occasion for the children and their families to share their creations with a wider audience.

100SB_In Other Words Fed Square

This project involved a rich collaboration with Maribyrnong City Council and the staff and families of Dinjerra, and we feel privileged to be able to work once more with these partners to develop the program, and learn from our experiences. Dr Paul Molyneux from the Melbourne University Graduate School of Education conducted an independent evaluation of the 2012 project, and we’re delighted to share his findings here:

The In Other Words initiative has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the participating students’ language and literacy skills.

The benefits for the students in terms of their engagement in meaningful learning and with each other were major outcomes of the project.

The participating teachers were both major contributors to the success of the program, and major beneficiaries in terms of developing confidence to build on the successes in 2013.

Successful home-school-community partnerships, as well as excellent three-way school-council-partner organisation collaboration were characteristics and outcomes of this project.

We can’t wait to get started in May this year on In Other Words with the both new and returning students in Prep – Grade 2.

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