Learning Occurs at the Point of Challenge

The First Line of Student Moth Stories

The First Line of Student Moth Stories

Year 8 English- Student Personal Stories of Challenge

In our English faculty, we are using Professional Learning Sequences (PLSs).  Our first provocation was to document our learning experiences using the Cultures of Thinking. To answer this provocation, I decided to use the ‘Cultures of Thinking in Action’ chart from our recent professional development with Ron Ritchhart.

Cultures of Thinking in Action

#7 Learning Occurs at the Point of Challenge

My Year 8 English class, has just completed a unit on writing a personal recount. To complete the unit with a fun formative activity, students transformed their stories into spoken text and rehearsed their stories to tell to an audience of their classmates.

This learning experience was based on The Moth spoken story events and had a global perspective as students would share their stories with students at Dana Hall in Boston MA.

What Did I Do?

The learning began with students choosing a Moth story from a list of Moth stories that are suitable for students. This list is on a Google doc that is also shared with Dana Hall.  With a partner, the students then used the Making Across the Curriculum (MAC) move of noticing and close observation to create posters that they shared in class.

The Bad Haircut - Noticing and Close Observation_ Making Across the Curriculum (MAC)

The Bad Haircut – Noticing and Close Observation_ Making Across the Curriculum (MAC)

LOOKING CLOSELY is about close, careful and sustained observation. It involves using any and all of the senses to fully notice what’s there. It often involves noticing all the parts of things and how those parts interact. It almost always means taking the time to go beyond first impressions.

Agency by Design: Maker Capacities

The Pool Party- Noticing and Observation MAC

Above are two examples of students observations. Students presented their findings to another group and we looked for points of similarity and contrast.

Telling their stories- the point of challenge

This ‘Moth’ story-telling event promoted learning at the point of challenge. Through the process of preparing their personal stories about a moment of change in their lives, learning was contextualised and allowed for self-differentiation. When we held our “Moth” event the actual telling of their stories stimulated a sense of daring and theatre as they were revealing a personal real-life event to their peers.

We created the atmosphere of an actual Moth event with tables being moved to the back of the room. Students took control as hosts and introduced each  ‘storyteller’. The audience listened attentively, clapping and encouraging confidence in their peers. Similar to the Moth, students evoked empathy with their audience through body language, eye-contact and sense of humour.


Listening to these personal stories was a very moving experience.  The class worked together to support and listen with respect.

This was a worthwhile and powerful learning experience for the students as they learnt about public speaking, audience, respectful listening and the purpose of different text types.

To listen to some of their stories open this Google Folder


Moth Student Videos

Making in Action: Observation Tools

The Moth Education

I have written about how I use The Moth in my English as an Aditional Language class in a previous post.


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