eBooks for school libraries

Finally, my Storify on the fabulous ASLA Tasmania eBook conference for school llibraries held on Friday 12th April in Hobart.

Hope you find the information and links useful. Thanks to ASLA Tasmania and presenters for a great and informative day.

Penguin Teachers’ Academy resources

So today’s the big day of the Penguin Teachers’ Academy that I’ve been blathering on about here for the last little while. It should be a great day of sharing and learning. To help continue that, the vast majority of the resources I’ll present can be found here:

Cool reading resources wiki

Thanks to all of those people who have generously agreed to share their own work.

QR codes for orienteering

Some time last year, I showed Phys Ed teacher Andrew Thickins’ year 11 Outdoor Ed class how to make their own QR codes. The students had developed online surveys and posters to advertise said surveys. I suggested adding QR codes to them, which a fair number of the class did.

 Andrew also follows the innovative way technology can enhance Phys Ed learning and teaching as shown by Jared Robinson on his The PE Geek blog. It was here that Andrew read about using QR codes for orienteering.

So late last year Andrew and colleague Tom Williams began developing an orienteering unit for year 9 using QR codes. They are happy to share the documents they developed here:

Before the activity began, students who had smart phones were asked to come to the front of the class. Then teams were allocated so that each team had at least one person with a smart phone.
Some of the lessons were conducted on foot and some on bikes. The students really enjoyed the interactivity of the unit as some of the QR codes linked to videos and websites to give clues.

It was certainly an engaging unit and a big thanks to Andrew and Tom for developing something really engaging and also willingly sharing it here.

Penguin Teachers’ Academy

I was very excited and proud to be asked by the lovely Tye Cattanach to deliver the full day professional learning event for Penguin Teachers’ Academy on Friday 8 March in Melbourne.

I’ll be presenting on innovative reading and book promotion techniques using ICT and will focus on:

  • The Readers’ Cup – a free reading competition for Victorian schools
  • Book promotion and sharing students’ responses to text using ICT
  • eBooks. How we’re using eBooks at Kew High School
It is $120 for the full day, which is a bargain in my opinion. If you are interested, you can access more information and the booking form here. Also have a look at the day run by Corrie Barclay on ICT for Primary literacy at the same link.


Feel the fear…

Today was the first day of our school year. This morning, our Principal told us a story about her holidays and explained how her experience could be used in our teaching.

Our Principal is afraid of deep water (not alone there). However, as she and her family have a boat and had recently purchased a ‘sea tyre’ which is towed along behind the boat, she knew that she was going to have to ride on the tyre with her grandchildren. The grandchildren were very excited and showed no fear, so not to ruin their excitement, she pretended she was excited as well.

Logically, she knew that nothing could go wrong. Everyone was wearing life jackets, there was an observer on the boat, the boat could quickly turn around if needed. In fact, everything went well and she had a great time.

So in terms of learning, the idea is that even if we are afraid of teaching or learning something new, as long as we scaffold the learning to support our students, they can take what they perceive as risks and will come to no harm. Once the perceived risky learning has been successful, our students will become more confident and willing to take further risks.

I had a dream

One night earlier this year, I had a dream where I was hosting the Readers’ Cup State Finals competition in conjunction with my friend and former colleague Reina Phung. Although I had voluntarily assisted SLAV to run the inaugural RC State Finals in 2009, they were no longer able to commit to their role again.

So. taking the dream as inspiration, I talked Reina into assisting me and as a bonus, another friend and former colleague, Jan Connor, came on board as well. We are all part timers with family commitments, so it meant we were able to find the time to meet and plan as well as offer the competition free of charge to schools.

The day of the Readers’ Cup State Finals arrived and it was with much excitement that students and teachers arrived, ready for the competition.

It was terrific to see the team signs the students had made identifying them for the judges, but also showing their creativity and individuality.

We began by asking four questions for the following books:

  • Ship Kings – the coming of the whirlpool
  • Dragon Keeper 4 – blood brothers

Then we had our creative round where teams created a digital interpretation of one of the four books studied. These were all so very different and engaging, showing a wide range of skills and creativity. Videos, interviews, videogames, quizzes and more were shown to an appreciative audience.

Rounds three and four encompassed:

  • Coraline
  • Diary of a whimpy kid – cabin fever

It was an extremely close competition with the following results (out of a total of 24):

  1. Gossip Group (23 points)
  2. Icy Bubbles (22.5 points)
  3. Razzledazzlers of Jazzmatazzles and 8 Grevillia (21 points each)
  4. 8 Fern and Computer Nerds ((20 points each)
  5. Extremely Mad Karate Chimps (18 points)
  6. Super Cool Crystal Jewel (17 points)

Congratulations to all students and their teachers for their hard work and organisation. We hope to see you all (and a few more teams) back again next year!

Huge thanks to Quantum Victoria and Allen and Unwin for their support. Thanks also to Reina Phung and Jan Connor who helped me organise the day. This enabled the Readers’ Cup to be run free of charge for schools.

Some dreams do come true. They may just take a little (or a lot) of work.

‘Everything I learned was from the internet or YouTube’

Yesterday’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald featured one of my school’s students. Andy Truong is a 15 year old fashion designer who is just about to mount his own solo show at this year’s Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. He is the youngest ever designer to hold their own show. What an amazing effort, it’s seriously impressive.

But the line that really stood out for me in the news article was Andy’s quote, ‘Everything I learned was from the internet or YouTube‘. It’s a way of learning that some of us don’t understand and don’t rate. At Friday’s excellent session with Marco Torres, he told the story of presenting to 7 different Maths conferences. He held challenges between the maths experts and students. At each session, the students won the challenge simply because they used the internet, apps and software to discover what they needed to know. We need to start acknowledging the way the internet can teach us; we need to start thinking differently.

If Andy Truong had sat back and waited to learn design and sewing using traditional methods, he wouldn’t be experiencing what he is today. So kudos to the people who shared their knowledge via YouTube and the internet that he was able to access.

This type of sharing is something that, I believe, has brought us to a crossroads of current human belief and nature. It has been epitomised by the Apple vs Samsung decision in the last few days. Debate rages online about whether Apple or Samsung are in the right; simplistically, should we share our ideas or are others allowed to use our ideas or to ‘copy’?

Again Marco Torres illustrated a point using the example of Disney buying the rights or ideas to Marvel Comics for $4 billion. Here ideas are our new currency. He also explains how chefs like Jamie Oliver are the ideas people and it’s the sous chefs who actually fine tune the recipes initially conceived by head chefs. It’s the head chefs who earn more as they’re the ideas people.

Andy Truong certainly has his own ideas, that’s not in doubt; but what if the people who shared the ‘how tos’ on YouTube hadn’t have shared? How would Andy have learned? He probably wouldn’t have. So what value is there on sharing? It’s not something we can put a price on.

We need to radically rethink our ideas about making a lot of money vs making enough money and the role of sharing in our society. What will we decide?

Sorry blog

Dear blog,

Please forgive me. I’ve neglected you. I’ve been spending lots of time curating three new topics on scoop.it; My dream school, eBooks and libraries and Teach meets, in addition to my other topics Pottermore and Are you game.

I’ve been sidetracked by lots of items that came up at the #plnlead day lead by Will Richardson at the State Library of Victoria on 20 July. Some of the notes from the day can be accessed here:

Some of these items include writing part of an article on the #vicpln program and hashtag for the Australian College of Educators and collaborating with other teachers in forming the #plnaction group and writing a response to the DEECD New Directions paper for school leadership and the teaching profession.

And I’ve been busy preparing and presenting my session on Creative literacies and QR codes for the AToM conference held on Saturday 11 August at the State Library of Victoria. I’ve been unfaithful as I used a posterous blog for this material.

Is there any way you’ll forgive me? I know it’s all my fault and I’d hate to break up as we’ve been together for a while now and I think we understand each other. Let me know what you think. I know I ate your chocolates too, but you hadn’t touched them.

Love, me xx

You know I love a school visit

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to visit St Andrew’s Lutheran College thanks to the kindness of teacher librarian at ICT guru Julia Boulton.

Being a P-12 school, there were two lovely libraries to visit and gain inspiration from. The Junior School library is compact, attractive and bright, with lots of references to the PYP IB program.

The Senior School library is a new facility that is just mind-blowing. The facilities are superb and the design is functional but also wildly engaging and beautiful.

It was also lovely to see student vege gardens and students engaged in their learning.

It was a real honour to be able to visit and I thank Julia for the time and effort she invested in making my visit happen and the other staff who took time out from their day to discuss libraries, learning and schools with me.

Screencasting and scribing with students

Since I’ve been at my current school, one of my tasks is running professional learning sessions for teachers. I set up a wiki to keep a record of pretty much everything I’d done in this area for teachers to refer to if and when they needed/wanted to.

One of the things I used to help staff learn were screencasts, some made by me, some sourced from YouTube. I made quite a few last year and a few more this year. As the school decided to use OneNote across the college for staff, I created screencasts for how-tos. They’d made a bit of an impact as, upon receiving notification of said screencasts, one of the APs came straight over to tell me what a great way to learn the screencasts were.

Of course, Alan November often speaks about the power of students using screencasting for both learning and teaching.

So it was with great pleasure that one of the teachers approached me today to help her students learn to screencast. The plan is for one student a week to screencast that session’s learning and for one student to record the session’s learning via Google Docs. Great for revision, students who are absent and students who need extra time to learn.

I decided to show Screenr as there was no need to download anything (as there is with Jing) and it was terrific to see the students all creating practice screencasts almost immediately. I’ll report back down the track when we see the impact this type of learning and teaching has had on the students.