Two weeks of term and the school year left to go. Along with another teacher, I am one of the organisers (Archangels) of our staff secret angel scheme which runs in the last week of school. Like the performance in the video, it's about changing the atmosphere (given that the peeps can be a tad tired in that last week), adding joy, creating fun. We've been doing that for over ten years, and enjoy facilitating the fun that ensues for all those who participate - and of course it spills over to the place generally, all good!
If you nag me enough I could put the details of how our secret angel scheme runs here...just don't have it by me right now.
*C*h*e*e*r*s* (with fairy lights)
PS. Have to show you our school library Christmas trees - all about books and kids! Sometime this week, I promise! We're busy with the annual stocktake, and have the Year 6 into 7 Orientation this week, and I don't know what all.
Which reminds me, if you want to appal yourself and others, and you have access to the recent Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen Pride and Prejudice film, do investigate the extras on the DVD for the alternative ending filmed for the US market. I myself personally can't believe that the US market is so dumb as to need the travesty provided... although it was fun watching English teachers go green at the gills when I showed it to them. The kids were universally scornful.
Well, only three weeks left of term and this school year (for those outside Oz, our school year runs along with the calendar year). I'll try to post a few bits and pieces here before the summer hols arrive - our Christmas decorations this year are even better than last year (and easy and cheap as chips!) and if you're really really good I'll let you in on how to obtain over 1000 bookmarks for 50c. Really.
Thanks for the many kind messages sent while I've been quiet - I appreciate the thoughts and kindness very much.
...too busy! Sorry for the silence, and thank you to all those kind folk who emailed/left comments hoping there wasn't a sinister reason I'd fallen over the edge of the world. Just been an awful lot going on here, and something had to give.
OK, you can focus your speech on an incident in the book that really had an impact on you. (teacher has told me kid x has read the book).
Kid: Well, I guess the bit where she found out her brother was dead
O-kay...but are you sure the brother died?
Kid: Oh yes, George died.
There's a picture of George as a man here in the book...
Kid: He died, miss.
And here's a paragraph about it (reads paragraph, which describes GEORGE finding out how HANA died in Auschwitz - George having survived the war).
Kid: that's right, Hana died.
Now about your speech, what else do you remember about the novel?
But you read it in class, all together
Kid: Yeah, but I didn't listen much.
So why did Hana have to pack a suitcase?
Kid: it was the war
Kid: the one with the Nazis
And that was - ?
Kid: World War.
World War 1 or World War 2?
Kid. One. Two. One. No, it was Two, wasn't it?
by the end of the lesson, we had the beginnings of a speech....he went away with a printout of what we had composed so far, and we'll work on it a bit more when the class returns. There are a couple of others especially needing one on one help, and whose removal from the class makes it all work just a bit better...
The happy life of teacher librarians: one step at a time, and make sure you know WHO died (!)
So if you have a mentor group, or year group, or kids needing study/organisational help, this might be just what you're looking for. More than a grid, but less (alas!) than the folding and cutting fun and cuteness factor of the PocketMod. (Confession: I ended up making a version of the PocketMod using Publisher, just to share with my kids here. But the VCE planner is a good one too).
I cut out the copy of this article from the Saturday SMH Spectrum section and pinned it up in the library for the students to peruse. It's online here, with video too (and the picture above). John Marsden on the film of Tomorrow When the War Began. Much anticipated film.
It opens 2 September, next week. I've blogged in other entries about the trailers etc.
Last week, one of the kids was THRILLED to find that there were books for this film. Can't remember if I could find the first one for him; we have multiple copies, but there has been increasingly brisk John Marsden business in the last couple of months as the film gets closer.
The Blue Mountains west of Sydney NSW were used for some of the location filming - it will be fun to see if the kids pinpoint any particular places they know.
Another blog that is a constant cornucopia of wonderful links is Anne Weaver's Reading Power. Just toddle over there regularly and you'll find roundup after roundup of links, ideas, inspiration. She's the blog I've featured on our school's (internal) staff blog this week.
Will Richardson (Weblogg-ed) offers in his most recent blog entry some thought-provoking and challenging ideas about Unlearning Teaching. Worth reading and thinking about, and talking about with colleagues.
These blogs are in my blogroll (over in the right hand column). Don't forget to check this regularly, as it shows the most recent entry for each blog - always something good to be found there.
Tagxedo (tag clouds With Style) was one of the Web 2.0 tools I mentioned at the WeSSSTA conference presentation I gave last night. I've been amused to see the Sydney Morning Herald use Tagxedo to create graphics related to the election - eg. the party leaders' launch speeches.
We've just had a parent-teacher night here. I make a point of attending, as a member of the teaching staff. I may not, in advance, have many (or any) appointments with parents - kids tend to make them with their class teachers. But I'm not lonely. A number of parents stop by to say hello - I was year adviser to one of their older children, or am mentor to one of their senior students now, so I hear how the older ones are going, talk about the ones still at school. Some I'm able to help find other staff members (the kids may know what each of their teachers looks like, but parents need the name tags on the tables).
And my colleagues see me there, part of the teaching staff, spending my afternoon and evening at school the same as they are. Good library PR. A couple of them refer parents to me, or include me in a discussion. The principal knows I choose to attend; a couple of times he's brought parents to meet me who may have asked about or been appreciative of the library. As I said, good library PR. I also have home-made muffins and make a cuppa for the teachers in the faculty to which I belong - they're deep in interview after interview, and I can escape for a few minutes to make a cuppa and bring it to them at their desks.
I've had some teacher librarian colleagues rubbish the idea of attending parent-teacher night, for various reasons. Me, I know it's my time, I know I probably don't HAVE to be there, but I choose to be there and am happy to demonstrate my professional commitment. I've had a couple of colleagues ask, bewildered, why are you here? But they know I am, and will be. It's my choice, as a teacher.
Years ago I got one of the best bits of advice about parent-teacher night from an English teacher (who I now can recognise was one of my most important mentors in teaching): the parents want to hear something positive about their kids - whoever their kid may be. It works for me. It doesn't mean you can't get down to brass tacks when there are problems that need addressing, but it's a useful mindset for a productive, appreciated discussion.
WeSSSTA has invited me to present at their annual inservice at Penrith in August. I'll be doing a revised/tweaked/personalised version of my presentation about Personal Learning Networks. Maybe I'll see some of your Social Science colleagues there? - tell them to say hello! I've attended these over the past few years (at school I report to the SS head teacher, and attend SS faculty meetings), and it will be fun to present. Good to revisit the presentation, which I put together for the staff here in term two, and see how I can improve/develop it, based on how it went and what I've learned in the intervening time. Always room for improvement!
Australian libraries and library associations have got together to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading, linking together all the great things that are already happening around books, reading and literacy, and giving them an extra boost, with inspirational programs and events taking place across the country.
We’ll be partnering with government, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.
“Having books in the home has a greater impact on children in the most disadvantaged families. It is at the lower end of the scale, where books are scarce, that each additional book matters most.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 2010
National Year of Reading
The National Year of Reading goes live to the library and book world at the Australian Booksellers Conference in Brisbane, on 12 July 2010, and Impact 2010, the Public Libraries NSW conference in Albury, on 14 July, but the really big launch date is for the year itself on February 14, 2012.
So how can you get involved? Read on…
The site has flyers, teasers, and lots more info. Put the date in your calendar now!
So a Year 7 history class is running about the library in enthusiastic search of books with biographical information on a specific list of people: Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Joan of Arc, Beethoven, Genghis Khan. Their goal is to find one encyclopedia article on their person, and two different books with information on him/her.
They find some interesting stuff. Joan of Arc was BURNED to death, miss? GROSS! Who'd a thunk?
They're very used to googling, of course, and googling, of course, is forgiving of natural language (Abraham Lincoln) in a way that library catalogues and book indexes (Lincoln, Abraham) are not. We get in some useful learning - Abraham's in the L volume, the Napoleon we want is the first one, look for the subject heading not the keyword on the catalogue terminals, Beethoven's first name wasn't Beethoven, yes the call number has to be EXACTLY the same to find that book. It really does. You know. Stuff like that.
One little chap is hunting down Genghis Khan. I still have the World Book research guide/index in my hand, and launch, for the umpteenth time (but with patience, because this is stuff they need to learn, and this kid needs some support, I've helped him before) into my first name/surname/how to find someone in an index spiel. He listens. What should we look under? Genghis, he ventures. Is that his surname? Dunno. When we look you up in list, like your roll, are you under your first name or your surname? Joe, he says. Is that your surname? No. Well, on the roll lists, aren't you listed in the K's, since your surname starts with a K? Yeeessss.... All righty then. Will we look under G for Genghis or K for Khan? K! he says.
We look under K.
Khan, Genghis, says the World Book index. See Genghis Khan.
That would be G.
We find the G volume and he goes off with the article. Happy, I think. Probably thinking I'm a tad odd, if he gives it any thought.
The happy life of teacher librarians. Egg on face edition!!
Names changed to protect the innocent. His name isn't Joe. Mine is Ruth. And now this is a goof you, dear reader, will never make.
While au fait literary types around town await the buzzed-about new novels from Jonathan Franzen and Nicole Krauss, other former English majors have spent the summer trying to get hold of “Mockingjay,” the third book in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian trilogy, so intensely under wraps that not even reviewers have been allowed a glimpse before its airtight Aug. 24 release. What fate will befall our heroine, Katniss Everdeen? My fellow book club members and I are desperate to know. When will the Capitol fall? And how can Collins possibly top the first two installments, “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire”?
Oh, did I mention? “Mockingjay” is for teenagers. I am well into my 30s.
But I am not embarrassed by my, shall we say, immature taste in literature. And I wasn’t much concerned when, barreling through “The Hunger Games” at the hospital after giving birth to my third child, I hardly noticed whether he ate or slept. When will the rebellion begin, I wanted to know. Which suitor will Katniss choose?
Yup, they are. The link above also gives you access to the NYT books podcast in which Pamela talks about her enthusiasm for the genre. The article goes on to say:
...the erosion of age-determined book categories, initiated by Harry Potter, has been hastened along by an influx of crossover authors like Stephenie Meyer and interlopers like Sherman Alexie, James Patterson, Francine Prose, Carl Hiaasen and John Grisham, to name just a few stars from across the spectrum of adult fiction who have turned to writing Y.A. According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women and 24 percent of same-aged men say most of the books they buy are classified as young adult. The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.
...and then you get distracted by George, don't do that*, and it becomes an elastic four minutes, thirty seconds....unless you deploy a handy little online countdown tool like E.gg Timer.
Put in your own set time (three minutes and twenty seconds, five minutes, whatever) on your own laptop/teacher PC and when time's up, it pings. Whether or not you were distracted by George... and it's objective, so difficult to argue against.
Or you could get kids to open a new window on their machine and set individual timers. Although that could have a cacophony effect...
* as referenced here. Including a link to Joyce Grenfell's original monologue, lovely (and all-too-accurate) observational comedy.
I've been working all year with the English teacher who has a low-ability Year 9 English class. All but one boys. It's an interesting challenge to find material for them, that is within their scope, not patronising, not childish but accessible and attention-grabbing. We've done a 'film trailer' lesson with them already, using 2012 (which a number had seen, and all thought RUBBISH) and The A-Team. It worked out well, and they had lots to comment on and discuss in class.
Wanting to cover tone, colour and suchlike with them, we hit on using Batman as our example. Contrast/compare can really help these kids see the differences and therefore be able to comment on them, and most have some idea of Batman based on the most recent films, so it gives them some secure ground under their feet/confidence to contribute.
Compare the 1960s Adam West/tv series Batman, not afraid of the daylight:
In showing trailers/clips from each, there's plenty to talk about - use of colour, tone/feeling, the way the stories are being presented, the characters are being presented, how music and voiceover are used. Lots of obvious details that the kids could pick up on - the suit, the badge, two versions of the Joker etc etc - that could be used for discussion/elaboration.
Here's the list of trailers/clips I compiled for the lesson in the library - some we showed twice. In their next classroom lesson the teacher has a worksheet prepared for them to work through as a class group, to make notes and discuss what they've seen.
The boys said they'd MUCH rather wear the latest Batman's suit, not the stretchy purple number from the 1960s; but they found Heath Ledger's Joker much scarier than Jack Nicholson's (esp. since some of them recognised Jack from one of his more recent films, a comedy).
They also found the 1960s Batman corny (well it was...); and the two teachers' reaction to the shark clip (labelled Bat Ladder! Helicopter that requires careful piloting until this inconveniences the plot! the shark! - we had tears of laughter!!) rather funny too.
I've created several lessons for English classes based on film trailers and clips - with YouTube, TeacherTube, direct projectors and computers, it's much easier to do than it once might have been (at the start of my teaching career one of my jobs was setting up the reel to reel film projector for colleagues, films out of big round tins...) and it's engaging for the kids, visual literacy...and fun. Fun's good for learning.
PS if you reproduce this blog entry or list anywhere, can you please acknowledge the source? Thank you.
One for your Design and Technology teachers and students. This gallery on the homelife.com.au site has images of twenty iconic chair designs, with the bonus of links to more information about each designer and a separate/additional image gallery focusing on that designer's work.
I meant to post this last term, saved the draft and somehow life got in the way... so here's a chuckle from the end of last term.
In the last week of term 2, my school has "Spirit Week", which involves a variety of extra events: morning tea for senior citizens, concerts for the senior citizens and local primary school students, a disco for the kids, raising money for charities (chosen by the kids), Jump Rope for Heart, Motivational Media.
Four days have clothing 'themes', so on Monday I wore 'school uniform' (my year adviser school jersey, the correct colour skirt and black shoes - it was very hard to spot other teaching colleagues among the throng, but boy oh boy the kids were like meerkats trying to catch out teachers 'not in full uniform' and asking if you had a note if you were out of uniform!). On Wednesday, Pyjama Day, I took a teddy bear but wore civvies, as I had to go somewhere straight after school (and really really didn't want to totter around school all day in ugh boots and flannel jarmies).
Yesterday was "Hippies and Heroes". I studied my wardrobe, and in the morning put on an outfit including RM Williams elastic-sided boots, a Drizabone short coat and an Akubra hat. All Australian clothing icons, popular with rural folk, like, say, farmers (worthy heroes, the men and women on the land, no?).
Tossing on the hat and coat in the school carpark, I added a Buchanan tartan scarf (lairy colours, it must be admitted) as the morning was a tad on the chilly side. There have been some beautiful frosts on the way to school this week (it hasn't been cold/wet enough for black ice, which is rare anyway, so one can admire frost without fretting).
Near the library door, some of the Supernova/scifi/manga/graphic novel crowd (who have spent endless hours since that wondrous event telling me all about it, showing me their loot, telling me even more about it, showing me photos of the loot they can't bring into school...) erupted in whoops of joy.
MISS! THAT'S SO COOL! YOU CAME AS DR WHO!
Ah. Right. "Thank you. Thank you ver' much. HowEVER did you guess?"
(Tom Baker, I presume...)
The happy life of teacher librarians: take the compliments when they come...
PS Today's theme is Where's Wally. Requested garb: red and white, one/other/both/stripes. Tricky. But it worked better than you might have expected.
Worth sharing with your Science staff, Society and Culture teachers, Aboriginal committee/liaison group/Aboriginal studies teachers, History teachers and others. You don't have to be in Sydney or NSW to make use of many of the resources on the site.
There's a sign on the window by my office door that points out that I'm not young enough to know everything (kids read it sometimes, and go, well, of course...)...and yet sometimes you see the bulletproof young heading towards disaster - or at least, problems - assuming they're teflon-coated, when you know they aren't. Internet privacy's one of those problems.
In The Web Means the End of Forgetting, (NY Times) Jeffrey Rosen discusses how publication of information about individuals can influence present circumstances, future prospects, eliminate opportunities.
We’ve known for years that the Web allows for unprecedented voyeurism, exhibitionism and inadvertent indiscretion, but we are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent — and public — digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts.
Worth reading. One to share with colleagues, students and children.
PS. if the lemon tree in your garden is utterly ignored except when you can pick fruit from it, does that benign neglect qualify it for 'organic' status? If so, today's lemon cupcakes with chocolate icing had organic lemon zest in them... Hurrah for a cupcake Monday!
The official site for the film of Tomorrow When the War Began, based on the excellent book series by John Marsden, has just been launched. Find it here: http://www.twtwb.com/ .
How does the website fit in with the film's marketing: “Our goal was to engage the current fan base of the John Marsden novels and create a truly engaging interactive site that could feed their appetite for content and broaden our audience leading into the film’s release. Tequila understood our vision to interact, engage and create a site that fits with international standards”, said Cate Smith, Marketing Director Paramount Pictures Australia.
“Extending the narrative into the interactive space is really where we see the future of entertainment marketing. It’s a real privilege to work with like-minded people when working on projects like this,” said Russ Tucker, Tequila’s Creative Director. (source)
43 days left before the film premieres...
...about to toddle off and work with Year 7 on a biography assignment we've called: Who Are They? And Why Should I Care? Invented it for one class and the good news spread - today's will be the third class to do it. Woo hoo! The kids don't do another Powerpoint? groan!, but instead have set requirements including a model related to their person. Much more fun.
...you hear lots of holiday stories from the kids. I've found an excellent question to ask is, "And the best part of your holiday was - ?" - gets some great replies. Although I could have done without the detailed description of one kid's vomit -
- but Miss, you could see -
I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!
And at recess I got a detailed description of hunting feral pigs (to help the farmers). Pig-dogs, knives... don't ask. More than I evah knew before.
The happy life of teacher librarians. All the news that's fit to print, and some you'd rather avoid. Bless 'em.
As you could probably tell by the silence on this blog, the end of term got VERY busy around here. Had a great holiday, back with a more ideas to play with and share.
John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began series has a lot of fans who've been enjoying this latest trailer for the film (which will be in cinemas in early September 2010). I know it looks like it doesn't fit on the page, but play it - it does (you can fullscreen it too).
Found this on the Tomorrow-Movies (fan?)site here. They sourced it from here.
From Megan Johnston in this week's Education section of the Sydney Morning Herald, an article about outstanding teachers and the impact of school leadership. It begins:
Pause a moment to ponder your school years. Most of us would remember fondly at least one teacher for their enthusiasm, spirited classes and willingness to push students to achieve their best. At some stage, however, many people have also encountered the opposite: a mediocre teacher who struggled with students and delivered dreary lessons.
Teachers at either end of the spectrum are now recognised as potentially the biggest influence on a student's academic achievement. Research has widely shown the effect is greater than the type of school or even who heads it.
But what separates top teachers from their lacklustre counterparts is not exactly clear. Creative nous, intelligence and resources obviously play some role, but the most dynamic schools are more than the sum of their teachers.
And, as many educators, parents and researchers will attest, the quality of a school is often determined by the people who lead it.
"You can have good teaching without having a good school but you can't have a good school without good leadership," says Professor Stephen Dinham, the research director of teaching, learning and leadership at the Australian Council for Educational Research.
"Leadership is an enabler, bringing the school together and driving it forward," he says.
But effective leadership is no simple matter. Many experts, Dinham included, believe it comes in many forms and is not restricted to the formal role of principal.
A senior education lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Dr Jane Wilkinson, refers to "lighthouse teachers" as those who guide their peers. "The ones with credibility, the ones others look to - we're talking about very influential teachers," she says. ''They … are recognised as leaders because of their credibility in the classroom."
Read the rest of the article here and consider the lighthouse/leadership role possibilities of teacher librarianship...
It's become very popular, in the last couple of years, the WW2 Keep Calm and Carry On poster. We have one in the library, a present from Year 12 last year. The year group and their year adviser really liked the idea expressed and also giving this to the library for the whole school to be able to see, enjoy and think about. It's a lovely focal point.
This is 2m tall, vinyl over a wooden frame. Remo General Store has two sizes, Regular and Big (ours is Big): prices range from $165AU to around $600AU, depending if you order it framed (add shipping to those prices - and the framed options are only for Sydney). They have other vinyl poster designs too. What's good about vinyl is its durability (no silverfish munching!) - this should last a long time we hope (it doesn't get any direct sun, either). The link below shows you some of their other vinyl poster designs. They also stock some other Keep Calm items, such as Tshirts.
OK, so now you're saying OUCH in a big way? Keep calm....(but don't forget the possibility of seeing if your end-year group, whether it's 6, 10 or 12, needs any suggestions for their School Present...)
There are other options.
Barter Books in the UK rediscovered this poster (read the story here) and sell copies at a VERY reasonable price (even with postage to Australia). Keep Calm and Carry On is GBP3.60, and its companion posters, Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might and Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory are GBP4.60. They can fit more than one in a mailing tube (ie. keeping postage costs down). They also have Tshirts, mugs, aprons, postcards and so forth with the Keep Calm design. Think what you could do with a pack of postcards... (and note that I've given you an excellent bit of info for a trivia night question, with the two companion posters). Framing doesn't have to cost a bomb: one neat inexpensive trick is to buy a slightly larger frame (I found one in Ikea for under $10), buy a mat board sized to fit the whole frame (ie. no expensive hole-cutting) and put the poster on top of the mat board in the frame. Easy to switch them around, too.
Larkmade in Victoria has the poster for $25 plus shipping (poster in a size to fit Ikea Ribba frames) and Keep Calm homewares. They are also a very charming rural small business worth supporting.
Real Shopping, an online shop associated with Real Living magazine, has a canvas version (size isn't given, but I'm guessing it's neither tiny nor huge), ready to hang. $44, free shipping in Australia.
The poster isn't copyright, so there are a gazillion folk out there with versions (some more ethical than others). Try searching http://www.etsy.com/ for "keep calm" and you'll find colour variations, and all sorts of associated merchandise. Dozens of ways to keep calm.
For a quirky twist, take a squizz at the Flickr pool of design variations - some very clever (hmmm, is there an English writing task possibility there???). (Be warned, some of the Flickr suggestions are not school-age friendly, so don't show the site without previewing.)
Sometimes, it's handy to look at that big red sign and remind myself to keep calm. Sometimes, kind kindpeople point it out to me (can't imagine why...). Bless their little cotton socks.
Hi Miss Good morning!
How was your weekend? Did you enjoy the quilt convention?
[note: we had previously discussed our quite different weekend plans] Sure did. Got these fabrics to make a quilt for a sick friend [I happened to have the fabric bundle in my hands when he accosts me, so I razz him a wee tad by showing them to him, knowing I'll be admiring his weekend loot. He evinces polite, brief interest, and I know I should let him off the hook, he's BURSTING to talk about his weekend.] And you? How was your Supernova comic convention?
I was hugged by Optimus Prime! [thanks be I recollect he's a big Transformer. I think] Wow! Do you have a photo of it?
No...but I have photos of me with other characters Bring them in to show me.
And I got a Green Lantern ring! Fabulous!
And this Scott Pilgrim graphic novel - it's great, you should get it for the library. There's only one bit to worry about, and they don't actually have sex. Right...
And I hung out with [a group of Australian comic book creators, name escapes me], and it closed at six and they had to chase us out of the building. Sounds like a great day.
It was! Don't forget to bring in those photos to show me...
The happy life of teacher librarians: weekend edition! And I can now capably refer to 'cosplay' and 'glomping'. The comic crew was [momentarily] proud of me. Not bad for an old lady (they'd already told me that the only people at the quilt show would be nannas, like 70+...!).
PS Found great little display item at Ikea on the weekend. Will share it this week. Cheap, useful, lots of potential, reusable. Bargain!
Sorry for the hiatus in posts - so much else keeping me busy!
Had great fun yesterday working with Year 11 extension English students in a double period. The teacher and I wanted them to think about how novels begin, so I put together a document with the beginnings of about twenty-two novels, from Ludlum to Atwood to Novik to Shan to a variety of teenlit authors. The students could look at the book covers only (not blurbs, not open them) and had to work out which beginning went with which book, just using clues from the text and the covers. They started off thinking it was an IMPOSSIBLE task. Love setting impossible tasks and watching students find they're do-able... I told them that if they got it out, I would shout them a hot chocolate (I'd stocked up with a pot of Choc-o-latte that morning).
About six were guessed fast because one or other student had read them. They had to think, and consult each other (it was an all or nothing competition, they had to collectively arrive at their choices). Discussion went on about what covers were signifying, and what the words of various beginnings implied - chicklit, thriller, fantasy and so forth. Students would say, I think this cover is for this beginning, and would then have to justify their choice and see if others agreed. If they got it right, and all agreed, and had justified their answer, I took the book from the long table at which they were all sitting, so they could see what was left to match up.
And they got it out. And were not only very pleased with themselves for solving the 'impossible task', but pleased with the hot chocolate (I like random/intermittent rewards like this - but not the every-lesson lollipop, which seems unduly expensive and seems also to lead to whining kids). We're part way through going around the group and asking them which three beginnings they like best - the next stage of this is looking in greater detail at writing techniques, comparing, contrasting, considering what they can find to add to and improve their own writing. Interestingly enough, as we tally favourites, the Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale, one of my favourite book beginnings - everything is there in that first chapter about the gymnasium) is proving to be popular with the students, too.
They're coming back in a fortnight for their next double. More fun to be had!
I've been working with some Year 7 English classes on a biography assignment too (which is called, "Who are they and why should we care?") in which they have to think of ways to present their information in an interesting way - eg. in a model. They've been enjoying that. At the end, they get 10 votes each to give to other students in their class - only one vote per colleague - and this is taken into account as part of the marking. A certain amount of friend-voting goes on, but the outstanding ones draw votes from friends and colleagues.
With Year 11 Visual Design, on a longer term assessment task on picture books, we're at the beginnings - illustration techniques, writing techniques and so forth - they have to produce their own picture book. The Vis Arts teacher and I selected a bunch of picture books to show them - it was fascinating to see our overlapping but not identical focus, me a tad more on words, she a tad more on images/techniques/artwork.
And so it goes, and so it goes. That's just some of the iceberg keeping my workdays happy and occupied. I'm sure yours are the same!
Trust me. Go and read the entire article. Then (as I did) pat yourself on the back for what you do; and work out what you can do better, or start doing. One to share with all library staff. From a customer's point of view, that list is the service you'd like to get, isn't it?
And is this customer service replaced by the internet?
Don't forget to advise the Twilightery at your school. I blogged about this at the start of the term, but figured you'd appreciate a reminder. There will also be a hardback version for sale, is the information I have.
PS I'm scheduling this to publish on Skerricks on 8 June to accommodate the time difference between here and the US.
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald's glossy mag about the design store, Top3 included a useful list of their top design sites and blogs. Top3 has only three types of any one item -those they consider the best (so the Top3 site itself also has design education potential).
Lots of material there for your students and teachers doing design and technology subjects.
PS We've just finished and installed a spiffing bit of art in the library - a second cousin of the word walls. More (including pictures, please goodness Blogger will cooperate on the picture front) next week...
Sites2See are great info packages on all sorts of topics (eg. Volcanoes). They contain images, evaluated links and more - they're put together by CLI (Centre for Learning Innovation, part of the NSW DET) and published on TALE (Teaching and Learning Exchange). Some TALE content is DET intranet only, but the Sites2See are freely available on the internet.
Evernote's on my horizon, but not yet part of my daily practice (when you can't install applications on work computers, it does have an impact). But it might be... and this blog entry has a comprehensive look at how it's useful for collecting and sorting information.
Mrs B, who let the school choir sing the latest cool music, like Fernando by Abba. Even if it was transposed up so we had to screech in some sections. And who taught me the soprano descant for Silent Night. I can still sing it.
Mr B, who loved putting on school musicals, so we got to be a part of that wonderful experience - yay for Oklahoma!
Mrs A, the fiercest, most uncompromising PE teacher ever - and the one we most wanted to have
Mrs B, (a different one) who showed me a little of the beauty of mathematical equations. I bought a calculator after my HSC and have never looked back, but still remember that aha! moment.
Ms B (a third one!), who made 3 unit English a joy - Romeo and Juliet, Ted Hughes - still some of the best literature study I've experienced
Mrs ?? whose name eludes me, but whose weekly coloured chalk illustrations from children's books made her term as primary teacher librarian when I was in grade 5 utterly memorable
Mrs E, who taught Ancient History with style, verve, and many handwritten purple fordigraph sheets: I've never forgotten that Alcibiades won the trifecta. Or that scent of metho from freshly-produced fordigraph sheets...
At tertiary level:
WC: best English literature tutor ever.
MH, who inspired me to be a teacher librarian. Thank you.
Who would be on your list?
who once had one of my Year 12 students say how much she remembered my salad sandwiches. Right. You never know the impact you're going to have...!!
Recently, I needed origami instructions for a dead simple box (a Year 7 class assignment had the class members voting on each other's work, and so each kid needed a box for the raffle ticket 'voting slips'). Googlegooglegoogle and this box from Instructables is perfect - simple, fast, works with any rectangle of paper/cardboard.
Instructables (Make, How-To and DIY), if you haven't come across it, is an almost inexhaustible supply of how-to, from the sublime to the Unusual, and every byway in between. Here, for example, are some of the links from the home page when I looked at it recently:
If your students (or teachers eg. in PE or Science or Home Ec.) are after reliable health/medical information from an Australian source, try the Victorian government's Better Health Channel website. Fact sheets, patient info, image library, quizzes, medical dictionary, medicines guide, a whole kit and caboodle of stuff that's a safer bet than Wikipedia (where, apart from the issue of veracity, you sometimes run into techno-vocabulary that's beyond the scope of school kids).
The site will often come up high in Google searches, but why not direct the kids straight to a good site, rather than letting them loose in the wilderness that is health info on the internet? The language level is accessible and clear for kids to understand, and the fact that it's Australian is important (if you're in Australia) - recipes reflect local ingredients, medicines have their correct local names, further links to support groups etc aren't going to recommend a fabulous organisation in Idaho or Yorkshire...
I was going to include a graphic (the site logo), but Blogger didn't want to play. Again. Sigh.
Every week in the Good Weekend magazine that comes with the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald, there is a page/article called Favourite Things. I haven't found it on the SMH website, so I can't give you a link.
Favourite Things features someone showing their three favourite things. It's an intriguing way to get an insight into someone, and likewise the array of favourite things ranges from the sublime to the bizarre, with every possible byway in between.
Last weekend the subject was Chris McAuliffe, Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art (in Victoria). Among his favourite things, three wooden signs: "Easy Books", "Reference Only", "Adult Non-fiction".
Succumbing to the attractions of the second-hand, McAuliffe scopped these signs at a NSW garage sale. Originally from Ballina Public Library, they help order the McAuliffe's country Victorian home, where thousands of books threated to overwhlem. "My ideal abode would be a library with bathroom and kitchen attached," says McAuliffe. "I counted all the books we had lying around recently and we had 250 books on the floor, on a table. Anywhere you turn you've got an idea, an encounter, a voice. Minimalist living doesn't appeal. "If I go to someone's house, I will get on my hands and knees and go thruogh their record collection. I prefer an overt display, an admission of interests. That's what makes people intriguing."
My favourite part of this (apart from the library signs, which I covet):
Anywhere you turn you've got an idea, an encounter, a voice.
That's what's in books. And in libraries, in various forms and formats.
It could be an interesting idea for a library display - defining someone/people by having three of their favourite things on display. Maybe a competition? Book Week idea? General library promotion idea?
If you don't know about TED, you should. If you want to experience TED, TEDXSydney is on this weekend - you can go to the Carriageworks, or view the live webstream. Brief talks on a fascinating range of subjects from an extraordinary range of speakers.
TedXSydney has the program and all you need to know. If you want a flavour of TED, click on the TED tag at the end of this blog entry for some earlier entries where I've highlighted TED resources for schools.
While going through our DER laptop student responsibilities with Year 9 last Friday, I touched on social networking and privacy. At present, they can't access social networking on their DER laptops at home or at school, but this may change in the future; and right now, they certainly are using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
Facebook Privacy: a bewildering tangle of options is a New York Times article with a detailed graphic illustrating just how many privacy options there are - and where - in Facebook. On the one hand, it's complex enough to make lots of people (including students) toss up their hands and run in the other direction. On the other hand, if you do, then the choice is letting far more information than you may wish or realise become public.
If you're interested in school libraries and teacher librarianship, now and into the future, find a comfy seat, make yourself a cuppa and set aside some serious reading time to spend with the transcripts of the hearings associated with the Australian Government inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools. For example, the Sydney hearings on 28 April.
For the inquiry's home page, where you can find more links to hearings transcripts and submissions, click here.
After a delightful time at the Mantle conference in Newcastle, it's been full steam ahead at school on the technology front, as our Year 9 Digital Education Revolution laptops are being distributed this week. I've fished out my seven things to try week 1 list and will be going through that and the revised Student Responsibilities part of our school's laptop policy at a staff meeting. Tomorrow, with the Year 9s, they get to Experience my PowerPoint on Student Responsibilities in period 1, before the handout begins. I wonder if their eyes and ears will function? - they can't wait to get their laptops.
Our DER laptops for Year 9 will be distributed at the end of the week, so I'm busy putting together the PowerPoint for the first period, on school rules/policy reminders. The laptops will then be issued, period by period, and in the last period of the day, I've been asked to address the whole year group (200+ kids...)again, on 'stuff like copyright and things they need to know'. So that's another PowerPoint, with the slightly more formal title of "Digital Citizenship". (Rumpestilskin, where are you??? - two major PowerPoints to prepare in under a week...).
However endlessly entrancing I may find my own voice, and however utterly brilll-y-unt I may be at holding an audience of 200+ year nine students for nearly an hour... (twice in one day!) I know that there must be some great things out there on digital citizenship, cybersafety, copyright and so forth to add different voices/change the pace/keep their interest. And there are. I'll share some of them this week on the blog.
Having found some useful YouTube videos, my next challenge was working out how to put a YouTube video into a PowerPoint, because I haven't done that before. Google google google and here's the most useful set of instructions I found. It's from Clay's Blog, and specifically refers to PowerPoint 2007. The Captivate animation to show you how has a broken link on the above page (it's his new site) but works on his old site - click here to see how-to, step by step.
My one variation is that I paste the original URL into the Note section of the PowerPoint slide for future reference, then paste it again to edit it as the instructions outline (I can delete this second one once it's in the Properties - the Properties Movie window where it has to go is teenytiny). If this makes NO sense, read his instructions/watch the Captivate demo and then it will.
You still need to have the computer showing the PowerPoint being connected to the internet during the presentation - this links rather than embeds. It still means that you don't have to clunk out of the Presentation and over to a browser, but just instead click on a Play button.
Hey! Something new I've learned how to do, and something to share with colleagues and the kids.
OK, this isn't one to give half an eye over a cup of coffee while six kids ask you six entirely different questions, from photocopier operation to the third Melissa Marr book (it's Fragile Eternity, and the next to be published is called Radiant Shadows - there's a book trailer for that on her site, too).
Where was I?
Mark Pesce has written a long, thoughtful analysis of e-books, e-texts, hypertexts, digital texts, what reading means in the context of these: he covers a whole bunch of stuff in an intellectual discussion that's definitely worth reading and digesting. Whatever Happened To The Book?
Discovered via @RossJTodd on Twitter. Read another blogger's post about this at Darcy Moore's blog here.
As Kafka once said, "A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us."
Reading is not simply an intellectual pursuit but an emotional and spiritual one. It lights the candle in the hurricane lamp of self; that's why it survives. There are book clubs and book Web sites and books on tape and books online. There are still millions of people who like the paper version, at least for now. And if that changes—well, what is a book, really? Is it its body, or its soul? Would Dickens have recognized a paperback of A Christmas Carol, or, for that matter, a Braille version? Even on a cell-phone screen, Tiny Tim can God-bless us, every one.
Cheers, and more cheers for the axe and the candle
The US National Public Radio program, All Things Considered, recently did a program on vampire fiction. Including a list of seventy five vampire books read by Margot Adler. Read her article and list, For love of do-good vampires: a bloody book list, or you can listen to it at that link too. It's an interesting historical analysis of the vampire genre in fiction and on film and television - why they intrigue us, why this genre, constantly reinvented, sustains its appeal.
Not to be picky or nuffink, bu she misses the best one (as I note was pointed out in at least one comment at the end of the article):
Sunshine, by Robin McKinley. My absolute favourite. I've blogged about it before, and re-read it every year or two, to savour it again. Wonderful writing, fabulous world-building, great characters.
From a school library point of view, the list isn't specifically compiled for a teenage audience, so don't assume all the titles are Safe For The Young and instant school-library-adds. But it's a great resource.
Thought I'd collate a few reports/links here, for your reference and mine.
Recent news reports:
Faithful few left to keep Dewey alive in a download world by Natalie Craig in the Sunday Age, May 2, 2010. It begins: Rudd's billions are building thousands of school libraries. But, who will staff them?...More than 90 per cent of teacher-librarians in Australia are believed to be over 40, compared to half of teachers generally. Many teacher-librarians also retire early because of a lack of promotional opportunities. Meanwhile, there are just four tertiary courses nationally to train them, from a peak of 15, and only about 100 graduates a year.
Teacher librarian numbers in 'death spiral'. Posted April 30, 2010 13:03:00 on abc.net.au. It begins: There is concern over a massive decline in the number of teacher librarians in Tasmanian schools. A Parliamentary Committee hearing in Hobart has been told there are just 29 qualified teacher librarians across Tasmania's 215 primary and secondary schools. That figure is down from 109, 15 years ago.
Australian Government inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians.
Transcripts of the public hearings will be placed on this page
After the final report has been tabled in Parliament, you can find it on this page.
Death spiral? Faithful few? I started work as a teacher librarian in my twenties, and now find myself in that 90%. Current research shows over and over again the positive impact on learning that teacher librarians have. It will be most interesting to see the outcome of the Australian government inquiry.
I called this blog Skerricks because it began as a gathering place for me for the bits and pieces (or skerricks) I wanted to record, remember and use in my work as a teacher librarian. Turns out it's useful for others as well. w00t!
All text and pictures on this blog are copyright, by the author or as otherwise acknowledged.
If you borrow an idea and mention it on your blog, I'd really appreciate a credit/link back here, so people know where you found it. Thank you! (I have found blog entries from here copied word for word into other people's blogs, with no attribution, you see).
The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
I've been a Teacher Librarian for twentysomething years and a blog is a great way to share the stuff my flypaper mind finds amid the internet jungle. I'm also a year adviser at my school. If you want to reach me, leave a comment.