The senior class started the year working with Lego Mindstorm Robotics kits. In particular, solving navigation problems using light sensors. They learned that in order for the robot to recognise light, the programme has to define the correct reading of light and dark so that the machine can then differentiate between the two. They learned that when eager classmates crowd around the robotics mat, the light reading change and the robot has a hard time finding light. The best thing about solving robotics problems is when it all succeeds, and every team has a robot following a black line on the mat.
Solving these problems not only teaches the students how one action leads to another, but also how failure is just a try that didn’t go well. They learn to try and try again until they solve the problem – sometimes by themselves and sometimes by asking advice.
The second half of the year focused on interpreting each grade’s English setworks. The grade 10 learners chose local author Rosamund Haden’s Finders Keepers as their book, while the grade 11’s chose Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The project was to convert their respective books into Instagram posts, as if the characters in the book were real people. We discussed first person voices, the use of hashtags to tell the underlying story for each post and also the use of a photo style in Instagram to create a cohesive collection of images
The grade 10s chose to break up into groups (we had four copies of the book so there were four groups) and were assigned chapters to discuss and summarise. They had to remember to write each summary as a first person report and as if the person reporting was writing for social media. Once they had their summaries they went back and made notes on potential photos and hashtags
The grade 11 group was smaller and thus all worked together to discuss what need to be said for each scene. They worked in a different way by considering all elements required for each post ie caption, hashtags and picture idea, before moving on to the next one.
All the captions were typed up in word processing programmes.
Gmail accounts were set up for each group and Instagram accounts registered using them. The volunteer teaching this class brought in two old phones that had Instagram set up on them and had empty photo galleries. After being briefed about the square Instagram format, each grade group was assigned a phone to use and, on several Saturdays, planned, posed for, and took the photographs for each post. In a few cases (fire, and specific locations or items), stock photographs were found on free stock websites.
The Finders Keepers group were provided with a bracelet which is a key object in the story, fake blood, and other props on an ad hoc basis. They chose not to use filters or photo manipulation, but relied on their clothing and the surrounding environment to provide a look and feel to the photos.
The Macbeth group were provided with three blue bed sheets, a cardboard crown, a cardboard dagger and some fake blood. Because of the tragic overtones to the play, they opted for a black, white and red colour scheme. A volunteer showed them how this could be achieved in Photoshop, so they had the opportunity to art direct each photograph.
Both groups played big and small roles in their own pictures – some were the lead characters, some just provided body parts to photograph (the bloody leg in Finders keepers). They were also allowed to recruit other people. One of our volunteers plays the teacher in the Finders Keepers story and one of the juniors, Mandla’s sister, Nandi and one of the Grade 11’s posed as Lufuno’s (dead) best friend Dudu. In Macbeth, a horde of juniors payed the adoring crowd looking up to the Macbeths on their balcony. All non-stock photos taken were planned composed and executed by the students.
Once all the photos and words were captured onto a computer, they were loaded onto an Instagram scheduler called Later.com. They were scheduled to post at specific times over a week, making the posting seem lifelike.
Visit these two projects on Instagram:
Grade 10: Finders Keepers
Grade 11: Macbeth
In previous years, the English project was a dramatized version of the setworks all of which can be seen on our youtube channel.