Rethinking remembering?

Remembering is the lowest of the lower order thinking skills.

Remembering is the lowest of the lower order thinking skills.

Over the last few years, the role of remembering has been downgraded in education in favour of consulting Google, our phone contacts list or personal leaning networks accessed via social media.

While I don’t condone the practice of requiring students to regurgitate facts for the sole purpose of passing examinations, the act of remembering is important to humans in a number of ways.

There are jobs that require a good deal of memory. Imagine a neurosurgeon pausing surgery to locate a patient’s spinal cord using Wikipedia. Or a bus driver consulting Google maps mid-route. Or a paramedic seeking instructions on resuscitation. And our ability to remember who we are and the names of our loved ones is central to our sense of identity.

There is evidence to suggest that an excellent memory is linked to a larger hippocampus, an area of the brain that governs remembering. One study showed that London cab drivers, who have to remember 25,000 streets in a 10 kilometre radius have larger than normal hippocampi. The research proved that brain training can enlarge the hippocampus.

These days, there’s very little literal need to exercise. We have cars, remote controls and smart phones. But we know that exercise is good for our health and wellbeing. We no longer literally need to remember the phone numbers of our friends or even our passwords, but perhaps the act of remembering is as good for our brain as exercise is for our body. The study referred to above demonstrates that remembering can enhance our brain’s plasticity.

There are certainly numerous excellent creative ways to learn in the 21st century. It’s the focus on, and the way we retain knowledge that I think needs revisiting. After all, who would have thought that the lowest of lower order thinking skills could have such a positive impact on brains?

How to survive your PhD and Mindfulness MOOCs

It’s been a while since I completed a MOOC (the previous one was on Gamification). However this week, two new MOOCs have come to my attention and I’ve enrolled in both of them. The first one I discovered was Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Performance, hosted by Dr Craig Hassed and Dr Richard Chambers from Monash University. It begins on 14 September. The second one, which begins today, is How to Survive your PhD, run by ANU’s Dr Inger Mewburn. It’s not just for PhD students, but anyone doing a research degree, or friends and family of the student completing (or trying to!) the research degree.

It’s terrific that free online learning is available to anyone interested on via your desktop or mobile device. These highly respected educators have developed wonderful resources to support people. I intend to take advantage of these courses and will report back upon completion.


Library visit – St Martin of Tours Primary School

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to visit other school libraries. It’s energising and invigorating to learn how other teacher librarians organise and promote their libraries. And there’s nothing like actually seeing a physical library space to help envisage the way in which learning and teaching occurs within that space.

And what better than to combine a library visit with a catch up with a long time friend and the opportunity to meet, IRL, an online friend from way back?

So it was thanks to Kim Yeomans, who organised a meet up with Louise Brooks and a library visit to St Martin of Tours Primary School. I had been fortunate enough to visit Kim’s library on two occasions previously, but an active and passionate teacher librarian such as Kim is constantly changing and improving everything about the library and what it offer to students, so another visit was more than welcome. To finally meet Louise was brilliant, she is such a wonderful educator and supportive person.

So here are some pictures of Kim’s wonderful library and the work she has done to make it the heart of her school.


Inspiration for young readers

Inspiration for young readers

Ideas for students struggling to find the right book

Ideas for students struggling to find the right book

Hooking children into reading

Hooking children into reading


A challenge for students

A challenge for students

A great way to get students involved in the library

A great way to get students involved in the library

A cute place for 'sick' books

A cute place for ‘sick’ books

A simple, yet effective message

A simple, yet effective message

Fun and attractive signage

Fun and attractive signage


The story chair

The story chair


What a beautiful library

What a beautiful library

Encouraging readers

Encouraging readers


The benefits of failure

For some reason, I only came across the 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech by J.K. Rowling a short time ago. While watching it yesterday (I had read the transcript earlier this year, but had not watched the video until yesterday) I found many ideas resonated with me and with my educational philosophy. Lately as a profession, we have been promoting the idea that failure is okay and even worthwhile. J.K. Rowling builds on this idea explaining that failure actually enabled her to write the Harry Potter stories and become the successful person she is today. If you haven’t seen the video, I encourage you to view it. It’s 20 minutes well spent.

The Library of Alexandria at your fingertips

Recently The Age published an article entitled Technology pushes teacher student relationships into new territory. It was an interesting read, but didn’t go far enough in my opinion. The quote from Andrew Douch saying

Everybody’s got access to the Library of Alexandria at their fingertips. We can take the conversation up a whole other level,” he said. “Students will be able to supply better and more recent answers than the teacher can, which is exciting and threatening maybe for some teachers.

is true. However, what was not mentioned in the article is the need for students (and teachers) to verify the validity of the information at their fingertips. This is what librarians did (and still do) when selecting books to be placed in the library collection. Librarians also do this when curating and developing Libguides, YouTube playlists or other resources that point to valid information online. This video from QUT Library helps show students how to validate what’s available online.


EduTECH 2014 part 2

Yesterday I posted about the EduTECH 2014 conference in general. Today I’d like to add a little more information about the content of the session that I participated in.

If you read yesterday’s post, then you’ll know that the title of the panel session was ‘Future possibilities of the cloud for schools’. (Interestingly, when I was talking to non teaching friends pre-conference, almost every one asked me what the cloud was.)

Our focus questions were:

  • How can we capitalise on the vast information available and networks online?
  • Selecting cloud-based resources such as videos, apps and portals
  • Reimaging school in a paradigm of online learning
  • How will the cloud continue to extend the roles of technology in education?

Paul Hamilton of Matthew Flinders Anglican College chaired the discussion. My points included:

  • Anytime you have connection to the internet, you have your documents. The latest, synced version. No need to wonder if you’re working or collaborating on the latest version.
  • The cloud is device agnostic
  • Perfect for devices like Chromebooks that don’t have storage.
  • Black Saturday photos, documents in cloud wouldn’t have been lost.
  • Perfect for collaborating across the room or across the world.
  • A great way for introverts to collaborate.
  • Social bookmarking. Curation.
  • The cloud caters for our online library system and ebooks that can be discovered and downloaded immediately at anytime.
  • Self organised learning system. 4-5 children per PC. Broadband + collaboration + encouragement.
  • Edna Sackson’s post Too many iPads. Is 1:1 ideal or should we ensure there’s someone online somewhere to collaborate with?
  • I select cloud resources by reading blogs and through Twitter feed, by trying them out personally, then professionally then sharing with colleagues.
  • Cloud resources I use include: Blogs, wikis for student resources, wikis for professional learning, google docs, google forms, history pin, YouTube channel and embeds, Flickr, padlet, Google+, twitter, diigo, scoopit, zite, Feedly, storify. Used to love Ning and posterous. Potentially publishing to iBooks and Kindle. Google docs for PBL class.
  • The internet of everything is enabled through the cloud.
  • Edna Sackson often uses Skype with other schools.
  • Jenny Luca’s post on the cloud for schools is a must read.
  • My role at Kew HS, leadership team meeting I presented to. (All cloud based technologies)
  • Cloud referred to in the Pew report
  • Cloud referred to in the 2014 Horizon report
  • Cloud referred to in the IFLA report
Thanks to Kim Yeomans for this photo.

Thanks to Kim Yeomans for this photo.

My take on EduTECH 2014

It was a career highlight and an absolute honour to be asked to participate in a panel at EduTECH 2014, held in Brisbane last week. The conference began with a keynote from Sugata Mitra, who is an interesting and thoughtful speaker and it was terrific to see him in person.


Seeing my name on a massive board was too much!

I was asked to discuss the role of the cloud in schools with Paul Hamilton and Paul Kenna. The focus questions we were given were:

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 7.20.36 am

A few days before the conference, I received an email revealing the location of the panel. I was expecting a small room, but certainly was shocked to read that we would be in the Great Hall. I consoled myself that as there were concurrent sessions on at the same time, there would only be a small audience. My anxiety flared again when I read that our panel would be offered to both the K-12 Ed Leaders and Library Managers streams (I had attended EduTECh in 2012 and the K-12 Ed Leaders was a huge stream. Apparently over 5000 people were attending EduTECH 2014 within the nine streams offered).

Our panel session took place after a session from the wonderful Jenny Luca (talk about a hard act to follow!). Fortunately, my nerves were not too bad as the lighting meant that those on the stage couldn’t really see the audience until nearly the end of the panel when the house lights were turned on to allow questions from the floor.

That’s when I realised the audience was fairly sizeable, but thankfully by then the panel was in its concluding stages. I had never spoken to so many people before, but I had never been so relaxed either. Being a part of a panel certainly took the pressure off, as the focus was not just on me and the session really was just a conversation, which was nice. It was also fun to be offered a job on stage from one of the other panel participants!




Afterwards I received some nice comments online and in person, which was generous and reassuring.

Now that my formal commitments were over, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the conference. That enjoyment increased when I bumped into the one and only Sir Ken Robinson when I was returning to my hotel to rest. He was so sweet and inquired if I would be attending his session. If only he knew that I have such an educrush on him!

What a lucky girl to meet one of my heroes!

Sir Ken’s talk was passionate and engaging, he is such a brilliant storyteller weaving his stories into relevant points for us to ponder. It was amazing to see him in person as he had presented to EduTECH via satellite the previous two years.

I also enjoyed meeting up with ‘old’ friends (too many to mention in case I leave someone out) and meeting people like Sue Waters, Kim Tairi, Leigh Murphy and Matt Esterman for the first time.

Hearing the wonderful Joyce Valenza and the incredibly passionate Ian Jukes were also highlights. Ian Jukes was deliberately provocative and certainly had the Twitter stream going beserk.

One disappointment though was that Joyce Valenza, Ewan McIntosh and Gary Stager were all scheduled at the same time.

Sue Waters has kindly shared a Flipboard on EduTECH 2014 and Jenny Luca’s post is a great summary of the conference too.

Anyone considering attending in 2015, start planning now as EduTECH is one of those events that are not to be missed.

Exciting news

With all of the work involved with the Readers’ Cup being held last week, I haven’t had time to share some exciting news.

I have been invited to participate in a panel during the EduTech 2014 conference in Brisbane in June next year. The EduTech website explains:

Tuesday 3 June – 2:10 PANEL DISCUSSION: Future possibilities of the cloud for schools

  • How can we capitalise on the vast information and networks online?
  • Selecting cloud-based resources such as video, apps and portals
  • Reimaging school in a paradigm of online learning
  • How will the cloud continue to extend the roles of technology in education?

I am super excited to be attending EduTech again and even breathing the same air as some of my EduTech gurus! What an honour to be asked to be a part of this event.

More ASLA13 reflections

Further to my ASLA13 post from Monday, I have some more session reflections to share. Another new friend, Michelle Jensen, who is SLANSW President, recorded conference minute videos for some of the sessions I also attended.

Check out the SLANSW YouTube channel here. Such an innovative idea to immediately record and share session reflections to keep ideas fresh. You can follow SLANSW on Twitter too.