Friday, November 13, 2015

When Things Fall Apart Again...

Lakeside High School Library Media Specialist, Misti Bell, presents this article about a recent library collaboration program:

On October 29th, our library hosted Africa Day for the third time (go here to see how this event started in 2012).  Once again the library staff, tenth grade English teachers, and Chartwells collaborated to make this year’s Africa Day the best yet!  The tenth grade students are reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and this event was developed to help the students have a better understanding of the Igbo people of Nigeria in the late 1800’s. 


This year we focused on giving students more time at each station.  Students participated in four learning stations:  food, art, music, and games.   Students spent twelve minutes at each station; this provided them an opportunity to go more in depth and have a more meaningful experience.  
Taste of Africa was our food station; Chartwells (our food services) prepared a goat and yam stew, fufu, and wine (grape juice).  The students ate the stew with great reluctance; however, they soon realized that it, in fact, tasted like chicken!  The fufu acted as a type of “cornbread” to dip into the stew.  This station provided the students an opportunity to actually taste a meal that would be prepared in Africa.  One student shared, “The spices were absolutely perfect and I wish I could do it again and again!”

The art station consisted of African masks, art, and face painting.  This station was 100% student led; the art students made the masks and presented how and why the masks are used in Africa.  A popular part of this station was face painting.  Students chose a particular design and color; the designs were symbolic of various traits: strength, masculinity, courage, honor, etc.

Our video station encouraged students to not only hear rhythms but to also see that rhythm is a part of the African experience.  One student commented that, “It was really interesting seeing how rhythm was a part of their daily life.”  In addition to the video, our students were able to beat out some rhythms of their own on a djembe drum!

This year we introduced a game station; this station will definitely be a permanent part of Africa Day!  A symbolism matching game and two authentic African children games were a fun addition to this collaboration.  The symbolism game was added to emphasize the importance of symbolism in the novel.  The African games were Ekak and Nanpe.  The object of Ekak is to find a ring that has been buried in a pile of sand or sawdust;  once the ring has been hidden, children take turns by inserting a stick into the pile.  The person who finds the ring will be named king and allowed to hide the ring for the next players.  This game was rather messy, but the students really enjoyed this hands-on activity!  Nanpe is much like a dice game, but instead of throwing dice you throw sticks.  Players will form a circle and have four sticks; the sticks are brown on one side and white on the other.  The players will take turns and throw the sticks into the air and earn points based on how the sticks land.  If two colors land up, the player earns two points and if four colors land up, the player earns four points.  The first person to reach eight points wins the game! 


We also added a post collaboration survey.  Students were asked a series of questions to determine what worked and what didn’t work!  We will use this data to better prepare for our future collaborations.  Our goal for Africa Day was to expose students to a new culture and in turn help them better understand the setting of the novel, Things Fall Apart.   When asked if the Africa Day experience helped them to better understand the novel:  54% of students surveyed answered yes, 43% answered somewhat and only 3% answered no.  Students answering no were either not present for the event or felt that they had no understanding of the book.  Our most exciting data was that 89% of students surveyed would like to see more collaborative projects in the future! 


Based on our student feedback, I feel that we are moving in the right direction!  Students want to be engaged; collaborations are a way for the learning community to tap into resources and discover innovative ways for students to learn.

Go here to read about our collaboration based on The Crucible!

Read about my first International Google Hangout here!

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