education.govt.nz

'Let’s Learn Samoan’… and a whole lot more in the process

Issue: Volume 100, Number 7

Posted: 31 May 2021
Reference #: 1HALLQ

Children from Christchurch's Bromley School created a prototype Samoan language app to plug a need in their school and wider community – but the learning that took place from the project has exceeded all expectations.

Students Amelia and Jeremiah worked with teacher Mele Togiaso to help them find a way to continue their Samoan lessons.

Students Amelia and Jeremiah worked with teacher Mele Togiaso to help them find a way to continue their Samoan lessons.

Amelia, Azariah, Leonie and Jeremiah are all smiles during our chat on Zoom, as they describe what it was like to create a prototype Samoan language app from scratch.

 “I feel really proud that we made our own app,” says Amelia, “We worked together as a team.”

 “It feels so good to feel like we’re helping people learn Samoan,” adds Leonie.

 The Year 5 and 6 students are amped about having their work featured during Samoan Language Week. And they aren’t at all fazed about being interviewed. After all, their app has caught the media’s attention, with a story on Newshub(external link) appearing earlier this year.

Solution

The idea for creating an app was sparked by the departure of the school’s Samoan language teacher.

Teacher Mele Togiaso agreed and with her class, she began the search for solutions.

After looking at the existing Samoan language resources on offer, they decided there was a need for a fun and easy-to-use app that could help students and the wider community learn Samoan.

So they embarked on a journey to create a prototype app called ‘Let’s Learn Samoan’.

At a workshop day they pooled together their ideas about what they liked about the existing resources and what they thought they thought they could improve on, as well as their own creative ideas.

“They wanted to include a gaming aspect to the app because they thought it was a really fun way to learn,” says Mele.

“They also drew inspiration from some of the beautiful print resources they looked at. We had a lot of different artefacts that helped them draw in aspects of their culture.”

“As much as we could, we wanted to ensure the language was accurate, so we had to draw on the strengths and expertise of our community, involving them in the process.

Students Azariah, Amelia, and Jeremiah show Bromley School principal Scot Kinley their prototype Samoan language app.

Students Azariah, Amelia, and Jeremiah show Bromley School principal Scot Kinley their prototype Samoan language app.

Letting creativity flourish

“Our original goal was to make a difference in our community and solve an authentic problem that we noticed,” says Mele.

But principal Scot Kinley says the project has morphed into something much bigger than its original goal.

“The project has drawn on the front end and the back end of the curriculum. They’ve learned skills, they’ve learned creativity, they’ve learned to be independent learners. They’ve learned about their culture and language. They’ve learned about the power of their voice and belonging and identity. I’m really rapt about the whole process.”

Scot, a self-professed lover of quotes, paraphrases Albert Einstein to help explain his school’s philosophy. “Einstein said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge, because imagination tells knowledge what to do.’ From our school’s point of view, we’re looking at that balance of knowledge, skills, imagination and creativity.”

Mele says the learning that took place through the process extended well beyond the digital aspects.

“There was a lot of learning going on in terms of dispositions and other types of skills. They had to learn communication and cooperative skills.”

Mele says developing the prototype also involved a lot of planning in the initial stages as they worked to create a simple wire frame of the app prototype.

“We articulated a clear vision for the user experience so that when we got to creating the app, they knew how they wanted it to look and function.”

Problem-solving was big part as well.

“We came across bugs as we were creating the prototype – I wasn’t too sure how to fix them, but as a team we came up with solutions,” says Mele.

Developing teaching practice

Scot says it is important for children to see their teachers embrace the same curiosity in their learning that they as students are encouraged to do.

Mele agrees that learning alongside the children was an important aspect of this project.

“I supported the children to learn basic app prototyping development skills and helped them to find solutions to challenges they came across throughout the process.

“I am inspired and supported by colleagues and leadership to grow my own interests and talents,” says Mele.

Next steps

As for ‘what next?’, Scot says they’re reflecting on what they can learn from the project in terms of developing teaching practice and creating independent learners.

“This has created more opportunities than we can cope with! We’ve had to grow our own capacity.”

And as for the app itself, after Apple showcased it on their Apple Newsroom(external link), the students are hopeful that their prototype might one day feature on the app store so that it might be used by anyone.

Creativity flourishing: Amelia and Leonie are all smiles and laughter as they work together to refine the app, and fix bugs.

Creativity flourishing: Amelia and Leonie are all smiles and laughter as they work together to refine the app, and fix bugs.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 3:02 pm, 31 May 2021

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