Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tomorrow When the War Began: HQ Theatrical Trailer

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.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oustanding teachers fight for recognition

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...



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GIFSL*55: Keep Calm and Carry On

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.
Get REMO Posters from REMO General Store

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 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 kind people point it out to me (can't imagine why...).  Bless their little cotton socks.



gifsl = good ideas for school  libraries

Monday, June 21, 2010

The happy life of teacher librarians: a Monday conversation

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!
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.
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!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's a busy life!

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!



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top 10 customer service skills for library staff

From this terrific blog entry at The Learning Round Table, A Collaborative Learning Experiment: Top Ten Customer Service Skills for Library Staff:

  1. Greet every customer
  2. Be aware of non-verbal clues
  3. Listen
  4. Restate the problem or question
  5. Be empathetic
  6. Provide alternatives to “No”
  7. Reserve judgment
  8. Get (back) to them as soon as possible
  9. Follow your gut instinct
  10. Thank them for using the library

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?

I think not.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life Matters on the national inquiry into school libraries

The Radio National program Life Matters had an eleven minute segment on the national inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians, including an interview with Karen Bonnano.  Listen here.



Found via Twitter.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Read the new Twilight novella about Bree Tanner FREE for the next month

Toddle on over to to read this novella free until 5 July 2010. (According to this SMH article).

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. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Top design sites and blogs

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).

The Top3 top ten sites for design inspiration:
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...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


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.

For yourself, try browsing the range of available Sites2See (note their size is neatly optimised for netbook-sized screens).

You know the way some kids just go to Wikipedia because they know it and it's familiar?  Try suggesting they add Sites2see to their searches, to land on these excellent information packages.