Thursday, September 22, 2011

A quick craft activity idea

One of the downfalls of using Blogger is that there is no space to upload files and documents. I have to upload them somewhere else and then link them here. When The Critical Classroom is a bit bigger, we'll move over to a self-hosted site with loads of space. But til then, we'll have to stick to linking.

I've uploaded the craft activity we gave to visitors to our QEDREX earlier this month. You can download the file from either the SlideShare or Google Docs.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keeping track of The Critical Classroom

Just a quick update: 

I've just recently created a Facebook Page for The Critical Classroom. I'm finding it's an easy way to share the incidental articles and links that I come across during an ordinary day.

I'm very conscious though that not everyone is a fan of Facebook, so I've created a The Critical Classroom tag on my Delicious account where I'll post the same links (along with my editorial in the comment section).

The Delicious account won't have everything though - links to internal FB pages will probably not work. But if you're not into Facebook, yet don't want to miss out on additional ideas and resources, bookmark or subscribe to this link -

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know.

Thanks, Leesa

Update: have recently updated (it was a service originally owned by Yahoo but was sold). The Delicious folks have created a new feature called Stacks. I've created a The Critical Classroom Stack for readers. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

World Indigenous People's Conference on Education 2011

Performers at the start of the opening ceremony

I had the great privilege of attending the 2011 World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education last month. Held in Cusco Peru, I quickly learnt the highs and sometimes lows of attending an international conference in a non-English speaking country at high altitude. I’m not complaining though, since its conception twenty four years ago, this was the first time the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) was held in Latin America.

One of the Elders calls everyone together
Along with many great presentations on Indigenous education, the conference saw Guaranies, Aymaras, Mayas, Mapuches and Quechuas communities attending for the first time since it was last held in Latin America. One fantastic initiative of this year’s conference was the allocation of forty-five percent of our registration fee going directly to a local Quechua community.

The overall theme of WIPCE 14 was Living Our Indigenous Roots. There were a variety of presentations to choose from for each day - Day 1 - Indigenous Education for Future Generation,  Day 2 - Living Indigenous Language, and Day 3 - Indigenous Wisdom for Common Welfare

I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Wilbert G. Rozas who talked about his experience of the struggles to getting Indigenous languages recognised as a valued body of knowledge to succeed in mainstream society, and including having recognised bilingual education in Peru. There were approximately 60 pilot schools at the start of their initiative, with only 2 currently in operation. He argued that there is an assumption that if students do not learn Spanish (Peru’s official language) that they won’t succeed in ‘civilised’ society.

I also learned about fracking during a presentation by Mike Bruised Head (Chief Bird – Ninaa Piiksii) from Standoff in Alberta Canada. His presentation was on Environmental Education: A means of survival for Indigenous People. He also talking about hydrolic fracking, and it's impact on Indigenous communities. You can read more about this topic here. 

Overall it was an excellent experience in a very different community. I hope to write up more about the speakers over the next few weeks. I also look forward to attending the next conference in Hawaii in 2014.

You can read other educator's blogs about WIPCE 2011 here:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 NAIDOC Poster is available to order

The 2011 NAIDOC Poster is available from

The poster was created by Matthew Humphries and is titled Road to Change.

Description of work: A First Australian family link hands as they step out on the road to change – proud of who they are, encouraged by what has already been achieved and united in their goal to be changemakers for a bright new future.

You can order copies of the poster from the National NAIDOC organisation at

You can see the 2010 NAIDOC poster here.

Want to celebrate for more than a week? Why not celebrate for a whole month!

Blak History Month is a grassroots movement that is celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, people and communities for the whole month of July. You can order a Blak History Month poster created by Sam Cook from Kiss My Blak Arts from the online store, RedBubble, and you can download free resources from my Blak History Month for Teachers website.

Leesa Watego

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gathering information and curating the past - some ideas and challenges

Historically, many east-coast Australian communities have paid little attention to the cultural history of their places. Most communities proudly display plaques to their war dead, the young men and women from families that marched and died on battle grounds in Europe, the Pacific, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Occasionally there are plaques to explorer and settler families, but quite often these are held in the naming of places, streets, parks, mountains, and hills.

Generally there is little recognition of the people who walked and lived the land we now know of as Australia, since time immemorial.

Gathering and then curating this knowledge and information to suit classroom purposes is our modern day challenge. Quite often information is held within individual families, but mostly it's in the archives, in old newspapers, explorer/settler diaries and/or historical books that are out of print. Some of this information is on the web, but most is on shelves.

The community I live in, Everton Park in the north-west suburbs of Brisbane, is one such place. Over the past few years I have slowly cobbled together some information in my spare time.

My first effort at compiling information in a way that was presentable was using Google Maps. I was inspired by Stilgherrian's 50-50 project.  Using a word list from Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of early Queensland, I used place markers to mark the Aboriginal names of places throughout Brisbane. My next effort was in creating a Picasa/Google album of Aboriginal Place Names. Unfortunately, life has got in the way of my extra-curricula activity and I've not progressed as far as I'd like - still so many places still to add.

This is one of the on-going barriers to the challenge of curating information for a specific purpose - time, energy and focus. The other key challenge comes in making sure that any texts (in the form of maps, albums, podcasts or books) is done in a way that is appropriate to the memory of Aboriginal peoples of the past as well as respectful of Peoples that live in communities today.

A recent query from a teacher at the local primary school has prompted me to compile what I have so far here in a  a public Google document . I suspect that much of this information would work well and be useable in a blog format - perhaps I'll leave that one for an empty weekend.

What tools have you used to gather and present information about your community? What are some of the barriers or challenges you have faced?

Cheers, Leesa

Update - I'm not certain if the Map link is working. I'm going to try to embed the map below to see if this works.

View Aboriginal Place Names of Brisbane in a larger map

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blak History Month Poster

Last week I ordered a poster created by Aboriginal artist Sam Cook from Redbubble.

Australian Blak History Month is a very grassroots celebration of history, people, events, stories from a Blak perspective. I have written about it elsewhere on this blog, and there is a link also to my Blak History Month website which has a range of free resources.

I highly recommend all schools purchase this poster. Not only does it look DEADLY, supports an Aboriginal artist, but it will resonate with your students and their families when they see it hanging in your school and classroom.

The poster I chose is print mounted on a matte board. I chose the white matte board. There are different options of purchasing with RedBubble including already framed prints.

You can see all Sam's artwork at

Leesa Watego

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You're deadly, I'm deadly. We're all deadly.

I've written before about the 'You're deadly' poster I created a while back.

I have created another poster using Glogster. It's fairly simple as it's the first one I've ever created. I'm sure I'll get better as I do more.

February 2012 Update:

The Glogster link has failed. I'm reposting my original poster. You can download it from Flickr

Too Deadly Poster

Leesa Watego

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thinking the 26th of January

For many people the 26th of January is a day of celebration, while for others, it is a day of sorrow or mourning. We have created a series of lessons designed to assist teachers to create activities that are inclusive and respects the beliefs of their students. The document is created as a Google Doc and is accessible via this link.

You will need this Google Presentation - Stimulus Texts for the 26th of January. I will be adding to this presentation over time.

More posts on this topic:
Any difficulties downloading, contact me: lwatego [ @ ]
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