Many thanks to Paul Macdonald and his staff at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft, for the invitation to hear Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks, this afternoon, discussing their magnificent new picture book, “The dream of the thylacine”. This moving work features “Ben”, the very last Tasmanian tiger, who died a lonely death in Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo in the 1930s. Margaret and Ron were generous with their anecdotes, words of wisdom, time and autograph-signing hands, to the appreciation of 70 teachers and teacher-librarians who travelled to hear them. The champagne flowed freely and there were plenty of bargains (and CBCA shortlisted books) for sale in the store.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2011.
The students at my school have really appreciated “The dream of the thylacine”, which is a strong literary and artistic example of a persuasive text – a very timely book for the lead-up to last week’s NAPLAN test, and for our Stage 3 students studying endangered species. It was also pleasing that many of these students actually remembered seeing the old b/w footage of “Ben”in 2009, when I introduced “How WEIRD is that?” (one of that year’s Crichton Award CBCA nominees) – one of the first film clips we displayed on the old library’s then-new IWB!
Margaret spoke of being entranced by that old b/w footage during a trip to Tasmania, and the text for “The dream of the thylacine” grew from that. Ron talked of his initial reluctance to take on the project as illustrator (and designer), despite their previous successful collaboration on the award-winning “Fox” over ten years earlier. Ron had been deep into “Drawn from the heart”, his recently-published memoir, but inevitably he embraced the uniquely-Tasmanian elements of “The dream of the thylacine”.
The Stage 3 students are deep into a Guided Inquiry unit on endangered animals. At this point, we haven’t zeroed in on exactly how the students will present their new information, but we are keen to make use of the elements of persuasion, and effective use of Web 2.0 online tools. Over recent weeks, I’ve been noticing bargain stores with inexpensive, faux fur, glove puppets of a range of endangered animals, such as a koala, orangutan, polar bear, tiger, panda, elephant, two lions, a Tasmanian devil and a monkey. Each between $4 and $8.
I’m fascinated how the puppets might end up getting used.
Above: Last-minute platypus! He was $16, but so cute I couldn’t resist.
If you’ve never used this website with students, please have a go when next studying endangered animals or persuasive texts. I had a great science and technology lesson about The Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus with Stage 3 today.
In preceding weeks, the students had already viewed selected Youtube video clips of rainforest animals, “The Dodo” episode of the TV program “Extinct”, and an array of fiction and non fiction books about endangered animals. We had already discussed concepts such as authority, reliability and publishing dates of the books and clips. Today, in groups, they were asked to explore the Tree Octopus site, reporting on ways the web composer had used persuasive images, design features and text.
For a disturbingly long time, no one questioned the factual content, authority or reliability of the site. It took some students a full 45 minutes to realise they were being fooled by a bogus website. A few remained confident right to the end. Some great dialogue ensued and I know this will be a memorable, cautionary experience which will support their ongoing research in the weeks to come!