Case Studies

Case Study: The Power of Persuasion

Students have an acute awareness of the world through media. They got a chance to demonstrate this on a project led by Ann Rooney.

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The Brown sisters founded Adelaide’s Wilderness School in 1884 with a belief in kindness in relationships, joy in learning, and a balance between seeking individual excellence and generous service to the community. These values guide every part of its culture, relationships, teaching, and learning practices today.

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Part of our awareness as global citizens is knowing how different media shape our opinions and outlooks on the issues that affect us all. This was the focus of Ann Rooney’s work with her students at Wilderness School.

Here’s the story of how they allowed Wabisabi Learning to be part of their journey.

How to we inspire lasting and meaningful change

Today’s students are more connected to the world than any generation before them. They care about social issues, world crises, and the health of the entire planet. The bright young students of Wilderness School, a Christian all-girls school in Adelaide, are no exception.

All of them know we are global citizens who share an awareness of the world through media. They got a chance to demonstrate this awareness on a project led by their teacher Ann Rooney.

One of Ann's students works on a triangulation chart as part of her project

Part of their awareness as global citizens meant knowing how different media are used to persuade us into forming opinions and outlooks on the issues that affect us all. This was the focus of Ann’s use of Information Fluency in this valuable lesson.

How do we begin to transform

“The Year 8 girls wanted to look at an issue they were passionate about, and what they wanted to shine a light on. Using Information Fluency, we needed to look at three different types of information,” Ann recalls.

Part of using Information Fluency is the process of analyzing the data we get from various sources. The idea is to compare any findings to pinpoint accuracy, bias, and relevance in the information. That’s why Ann had her students consult social media, formal news media, and digital media (video) as their three information sources.

Asking questions, seeing problems, investigating solutions; these are the skills students need for future jobs. 

Multiple information sources can lead to numerous representations and viewpoints and Ann knows this well. “Media isn’t just about reading an Internet site,” she affirms. “It’s also about social media and video.”

With her guidance, students understood that when searching for information, it’s best not to scrutinize only one or two sources. So they went more in-depth and used critical thinking and Information Fluency skills to find the answers they needed.

How do we plot a path to sucess

“After they acquired the knowledge, they analyzed each of their sources using a triangulation chart,” Ann continues. “This activity was beneficial as it got the girls to compare the information.” When the charts were finished, it was time to share them with their classmates.

Students saw that each source shared information in its unique way. This led to discussions about persuasive language and the difference between fact and opinion.

A student gathers newspaper articles during her project research

They learned such tactics are used to shape our ideas and opinions about difficult issues and sensitive subjects. “Through collaboration, they discussed different ways that media and the Internet use persuasive techniques, ” Ann says.

The final step was for them to decide how they would present information about their chosen issue with an original article. Each finished piece received peer feedback and was published on their notice board.

How best can we measure growth and progress

Students

Asking questions, seeing problems, investigating solutions; these are the skills students need for future jobs. With the Fluencies, it is the students who are asking questions, and this is driving learning. As a result, Ann's classroom has a more student-centered learning environment.

  • The learning is more collaborative.
  • Students have a sense of ownership and control as they use the Essential Fluencies to scaffold their learning.
  • The Fluencies have become unconscious automatic approaches for them.
  • Students now see higher levels of relevance in their learning.

    Teachers

    Before Ann started using the Fluencies, she was concerned about the structure, sequence, and how students should move through the learning cycle. In retrospect, she says, this fear made her build constraints where it was not necessary. However, once she began trusting in the intuitive processes of the Fluencies, everything changed.

    • The Essential Fluencies provide an innovative and creative way to teach the curriculum.
    • Ann has become more of a mentor, leading students toward being courageous and independent lifelong learners.
    • She is now more free to react to the spontaneity of her students’ questions and curiosity.

    School Culture

    Wabisabi Learning is passionate about changing education and building skills that students need, such as global citizenship and awareness of how media forms opinions, and how to effectively collaborate. This approach is making education more relevant to the real world, and it begins in schools like Wilderness.

    • The learning environment is more student-led.
    • Scenario learning provides greater student engagement and allows for more effective assessments.
    • Classrooms have become more cooperative and discovery-based learning environments.
    • Ann and her students are happy, engaged, and enjoy learning together.


      How do we ensure learning continues to improve and excel

      Ann continues to find new ways to engage and inspire her students using the Essential Fluencies. She cites Wabisabi Learning president Lee Watanabe-Crockett’s influence during his many visits to Wilderness School.

      “Lee reinforced my belief that interest precedes learning and the importance of stimulating interest for students to learn and acquire new knowledge,” she says.

      With the Fluencies, it is the students who are asking questions, and this is driving learning. 

      “I have used the Fluencies to develop Year 8 English units. My teaching has changed from a traditional approach, as the teacher being the source of all learning, to a more challenge-based approach using real-world problems to engage and excite students.”

      So what’s next for Ann and her students? “My passion at the moment is collaboration and citizenship,” she claims, “and I’d like to expand on these more in my classes.”

      Case Study: Power of Persuasion—Wilderness SchoolCase Study: Power of Persuasion—Wilderness School

      Case Study: Power of Persuasion—Wilderness School
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