Using scientific and technical knowledge

Stage 3 students are studying states of matter in “Material World” (Science K-10).


Rubber ground installed in playground


Geosynthetic application | How “geotextile mattress in shore protection” is done?


Alternative heating in Ukraine: Kamyanets-Podilsky switched to alternative fuel using straw

Research projects: Progressing with Oliver and collecting evidence

At Penrith Public School, the transition to Oliver (from OASIS Library) and the students’ interface, Orbit, had to be delayed slightly due to long-service leave. It has been a very busy year: in addition to volunteering to be a Lighthouse School – demonstrating implementation and integration of Oliver through action research – we have been celebrating our school’s Sesquicentary celebrations. We have also been adapting from a complete Collaborative Planning, Programming and Teaching Program (CPPT) K-6 to the teacher-librarian providing one hour of Release-From-Face-to-Face (RFF) teaching for each class teacher.

Despite these hurdles, I am committed to continuing to involve most Stage 2 and Stage 3 students in the Guided Inquiry approach and collecting data on student learning with the tools of evidence-based practices.

Because the RFF program had to commence in Week 2 of Term 1, and it was not yet decided on just when the Oliver transition would occur, it was essential that I continue to collect quantitative and qualitative data using the SLIM tool kit survey forms (School Library Impact Measure, designed by Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005). I highly recommend the collection of such data for all Guided Inquiry activities.

SLIMtoolkit
^ SLIM toolkit template (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005)

Surveys (as adapted for each unit from the template) are routinely filled out by students at pre-, mid- and post- intervals, even if not all data is tabulated immediately. I know that some teacher-librarians prefer to use an abbreviated survey (the so-called “Skinny” toolkit, as adapted by Lee FitzGerald and others), I do like to have all the data on hand simply because one often doesn’t know what evidence might be required/requested in the future.

For the two Guided Inquiry units started earlier this year – Stage 2: Built environments (science & technology) and Stage 3: Global connections (HSIE) – it became obvious, but too late, that the best way to integrate an introduction to Orbit would have been when locating relevant websites for research. By the time Oliver had arrived at Penrith PS, we unfortunately had already progressed past the Initiation and Selection stages of Guided Inquiry. (For the next time these units are taught, I need to ensure that all of the new and useful websites we found the hard way are represented in the new catalogue, so that students will achieve scaffolded success in their early searches).

For the purpose of today’s presentation, I am drawing my examples of a previously-taught Stage 3 unit, Endangered animals, for which a full set (pre-, mid- and post-) of survey responses is already available.

SLIM1
^ Question 1 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM2
^ Question 2 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM3
^ Question 3 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM4
^ Question 4 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM5
^ Question 5 responses (Click on the image to download)

Above extracts (pp 31-33) are as featured in McLEAN, Ian. ‘Research columns: Taking the plunge: Guided Inquiry, persuasion and the research river at Penrith Public School’ in Scan 30(4) Nov 2011, pp 26-35. (Stage 3 students used a weblog to showcase their learning journey in Guided Inquiry, and to share their persuasive multimedia slideshows on endangered animals with the extended school community – and beyond. This action research paper is peer reviewed.) Download the whole article as a PDF from HERE, courtesy of NSW DoE’s School Libraries & Information Literacy.

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinström, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure: SLIM: a toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of Guided Inquiry through the school library, Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University (CISSL), New Brunswick, NJ.

* Banks PS teacher-librarian, Julie Grazotis, has a wonderful ClassMovie video clip about their Oliver journey HERE. Other links to local preliminary Lighthouse School Library System projects are HERE.

More about national parks and feral animals

Stage 2 students are continuing their explorations into Australia’s national parks.


Australian National Parks


Springbrook National Park and Lamington National Park, Rainforest Australia in HD

We have also been investigating the onging threat from feral animals in Australia, another threat to our national parks, farms and rural communities:


Australian Feral Camel Management Project 2013


Feral pig control

Another controversial issue is the suggestion that Australia’s marine parks, and “no take” fishing laws, be extended. Some excellent examples of persuasion here, from both sides of the debate.


60 Minutes – Marine parks in Australia

Federation in Australia: Stage 3’s political cartoons

Stop the presses!

Traditionally, a newspaper’s political cartoons are created close to deadline.

Congratulations to our Stage 3 students, who rose to a unique occasion. Following our intensive investigation into Democracy and Federation in Australia (HSIE unit), I challenged them to break into pairs and, armed with just a black felt pen, a piece of paper and heads full of concepts and ideas, to create a political cartoon in just 20 minutes. No pencils or erasers permitted.

Federation political cartoon

Our complete Flickr slideshow is HERE.

Restoring endangered animals

In 2011, our Stage 3 classes created digital slideshows as persuasive texts in a Guided Inquiry unit, Endangered animals: beyond the rainforest, which focused upon rainforests in HSIE (human society & its environment’s Global Environments: Rainforests) and endangered animals in science & technology (Ecosystems).

A data crash of the Photo Peach servers, in December 2012, meant that the visual elements of the final products were lost. I am slowly restoring the students’ work from the archived storyboards, and the salvaged captions and comments on the old slideshows. I have restored the slideshows on my own (paid) PhotoPeach site, rather than the free s3penrithps page we originally created, because I can download archived versions as part of my subscription, and safeguard against losing them again.


by Tamara, Nandita & Riley (2011)


by Tahlia, Christina, Corey, Angela & Christian (2011)


by Tom, Matt J. & John (2011)


by Naomi, Bernise & Quinn (2011)


by Tristan & Luke (2011)


by Trent, Michelle & Latisha (2011)


by Jeremy, Lisa, Kayla, Emily & Phoebe (2011)


by Monique, Courtney, Patrick & Milo (2011)


by Jade, Lauren & Kiesha (2011)

Some of the original storyboards are linked at the Endangered animals: beyond the rainforest blog, plus programming, supporting documentation and a research article.

The Great Photo Peach Crash of 2012

Hi all – from Long Service Leave Land,

I’m not sure how many of you are aware that the free online facility for making digital slideshows, Photo Peach, had a massive crash in mid December, when its owners were trying to do a major upgrade. Despite their efforts, two backup servers failed simultaneously and they’ve unfortunately lost about 50% of people’s stored data between two specific dates. Sadly, this has meant numerous pieces of my work with students have lost their images – and sometimes the captions as well. The good news is that I can slowly rebuild the slideshows (which will give each one a new URL, and will require lots of changes to old blog entries and bookmarks) – thank goodness I saved all the students’ paper storyboards for the trickiest ones (ie. the Stage 3 students’ Endangered animals: beyond the rainforest Guided Inquiry material of 2011).

I had only just bought a Photo Peach subscription for my own material, but had not yet downloaded anything to my hard drive (which is the main reason for purchasing a subscription). “Endangered animals” was not included in the subscription, being on a separate, free, user account, so it’s been quite traumatic facing this loss. It seems that viewer comments (and most of our lists of Creative Commons photographers, whose Flickr pics were used) are safely preserved on the now-skeletal slideshows, so I am even able to restore these. Very time consuming, but hopefully worth it, since I use – and revisit with students – this material often, including at professional development presentations with teachers.

With Chinese New Year approaching, I’ve just recreated Dragon parade! and it’s now newly located at:
photopeach.com/album/13c5mli.


Dragon parade!

Penrith PS mural is also restored at:
photopeach.com/album/mcj05a.


Penrith PS mural

I shall keep you posted as other popular slideshows get restored.

Royal Australian Mint, Canberra, for Stage 2

Further to our unit on Financial Literacy, here are some useful Youtube clips about the Royal Australian Mint in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) for Stage 2 students.

A tourist interprets the displays and machinery at the Mint:

Royal Australian Mint

The current range of commemorative and collectible coins are showcased here:

Royal Australian Mint 2012 Product Launch

A tourism specialist has prepared this narrative-free, persuasive clip about the Mint’s experiences available for visitors:

Royal Australian Mint – grasshoppertravel.com

Although this clip is about the 2008 coin releases, it has several sequences which illustrate the processes of coin design and manufacture:

Royal Australian Mint 2008 Products Launch

The original tourist, from the first clip, mints her own commemorative $1 coin. (Spend $3.00 to create $1.00!)

Making Money at Royal Australian Mint

Financial literacy for Stage 2

In Term 3, to complement Stage 2 students’ class work in the area of financial literacy (Priority Schools Program), the weekly library lessons will be providing field knowledge opportunities and Guided Inquiry research activities about money.

These introductory Youtube clips should prove useful:


The invention of money and currency.


Dollar Bill and Australians keep the wheels of industry turning.


Australian currency


Making plastic money