Migrating into a collaborative world of story-telling

The curriculum requires students to share stories of migration to Australia post-Federation, and to make that more engaging, St Peters students will be creating a Virtual Museum. Teacher Librarian in Upper Primary, Christina Wheeler, says students have “conducted interviews with migrants, collected primary source evidence and will use secondary source evidence as well,” using that research to create engaging stories of migration.

“Students really love the open style of the task, which is also coupled with their developing IT skills,” says Christina. Last term, student leaders ran workshops for their peers to teach students different applications and different presentation tools.  

For the second year, Deborah Abela, Children’s Author, has been invited as a special guest to conduct three-day workshops, helping students turn their research into engaging stories. “The Year 6s are also studying her historical novel, Teresa, which is a story of migration to Australia in the 1950s,” explains Christina. The workshops are a great way to help “turn student stories into something evocative and empathetic.”

With a lot of preparation and collaboration going into the project, Deb explains what students are doing “right now is exactly what I did to create my book.” Deb says, “hopefully that makes it more real for the kids. I can also tell them how fascinating I find the whole process of research and creating a story out of these really interesting lives these people have had.”

“I did the same thing a couple of years ago with Teresa where I wrote about my dad’s migrant story coming from bombed Malta to Australia after World War II.”

Deb says, “the really lovely thing is a lot of the kids have chosen someone from their family. What I love about that is they’re discovering the facts they never quite knew. They might have known the general story of their family but they didn’t know that specific detail, which is often what brings a story to life. It makes the audience, go ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’”

“They’re really getting into it—it’s really exciting.” 

“There are great moments when a story really comes to life for the Year 6 students and I can see it in their eyes,” enthuses Deb. “For me, I think reading and writing is all about making connections, whether I’m the reader of the book or whether I’m the author. When you see that in their eyes and you go ‘There it is! You made that connection because of storytelling. For me, the story is really powerful and when it comes to life like that—it’s magic.”