The Power of Persuasion

Wilderness School

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 us to be part of their journey.

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.

Before I started using the Fluencies I was concerned about the structure, sequence, and how students should move through the learning cycle. In retrospect this fear made me build constraints where it was not necessary.

Ann Rooney

Wilderness School

Using the Fluencies, we realize that kids (and teachers) today learn from Youtube, Twitter, and blogs anywhere and at anytime; they don’t have to be told. This ability to learn at any time, any place, and at any pace is the reality of our world.

Ann Rooney

Wilderness School

The Global Digital Citizen Foundation 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.

Ann Rooney

Wilderness School

What does it take to inspire

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.

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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.

Where 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 in order 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. Multiple information sources can lead to multiple 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 clearly that when searching for information it’s best not to scrutinize only one or two sources. So they dug deeper, and used critical thinking and Information Fluency skills to find the answers they needed.

How do we plot a

path to success?

“After they acquired the knowledge, they analyzed each of their sources using a triangulation chart,” Ann continues. “This activity was really useful 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 own unique way. This led to discussions about persuasive language and the difference between fact and opinion.

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They learned such tactics are used to shape our ideas and opinions about tough 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 personally 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 do we measure

growth and progress?

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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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 continue to

improve and excel?

Ann continues to find new ways to engage and inspire her students using the Essential Fluencies. She cites GDCF 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. “My teaching has changed from a traditional approach, as the teacher being the source of all learning, to a more challenged-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.”