Sea creatures on the IWB

K-6PR created these murals yesterday on the IWB. Their current theme is “Sea creatures”.

Stage 2 group:

Sea creatures 1

Once upon a time, there was a mermaid. She was looking in her mirror to put on lipstick. A shark came to eat the fish swimming around her. The mermaid could see the shark behind her in the mirror.

The man caught a fish on his fishing rod. The man saw a dolphin jumping high. It was going up and down.

The crab is finding a pearl in the clam.

The whale is coming up out of the ocean to spray water out of his blowhole.

The seahorses were watching the shark chase the fish. They were hiding in the seaweed because they didn’t want to get eaten too.

Stage 1 group:

Sea creatures 2

The whale can move through the water by swishing his tail. It is looking for krill to eat.

The shark is swimming and wants to eat the turtle. The turtle is on the beach so he can be safe. He wants to go into the water to find food but he is scared of the shark.

The dolphin wants to make friends with the clownfish.

The crabs are digging lots of holes in the sand because it is time for bed.

The mermaid is cuddling a fish because he is her friend. The sunblock on the beach belongs to the mermaid. She uses it when she comes out of the water and her magical tail has turned into legs.

Early Stage 1 group:

Sea creatures 3

We can see a whale.

We can see a mermaid putting on her lipstick. She has a fish tail instead of legs.

We can see a fish with bubbles coming out of his mouth. There are five orange fish blowing bubbles.

We can see a dolphin swimming.

We can see some crabs swimming in the water. They are playing “Hide and Seek”.

We can see two fish swimming together.

The eel is chasing the fish because he wants to eat them.

The fat dolphin wants to eat the fish.

The blue fish is in a bowl.

Stage 3 group:

Sea creatures 4

Once upon a time there was a shiver of sharks. The sharks wanted to attack a seal because they were hungry. This is why the seal looks so worried.

Meanwhile, a dolphin was swimming towards a catfish. He was going to teach the catfish how to jump. This was so the catfish could get away from the sharks.

The crab was planning to use his nippers to catch the seahorse’s tail. The seahorse wants to make friends with the catfish.

The sea turtle is swimming towards the shallow water where the sun is shining through. She is ready to lay her eggs in the sand.


When we were writing the above story we needed a collective noun for a group of sharks. We read that it could be a school, a shoal, a pack or a shiver of sharks. Here are some more interesting collective nouns:

A cast of crabs.

A pod of dolphins.

A school or shoal of fish.

A gam of whales.

A bale of turtles.

A bob of seals.

Good news week?

A quick blog entry to share two new purchases:

This metal newspaper rack was picked up in a St Clair bargain ship for $19.99. At the moment, it’s holding some copies of last year’s Premier’s Reading Challenge honour roll inserts.

This “Imagine” sign was already painted white. Not a bad find at $9.99, also at St Clair.

We actually spent today – between teaching – attempting to consolidate two poster racks, jammed full of posters, into one. A job we never attended to, even when we had the racks in storage while the new BER library was being built. Lots of the posters are terribly dated, especially the ones from the late 60s. A few we are keeping for pure nostalgia value.

When the rectangular-frame rack is empty, I plan to turn it into a puppet theatre. The other rack, which has crossbars, should hold what’s left of the posters, but I still think it’s an efficient storage method. The posters have had call numbers for many years, but were never accessioned. We hope to add a brief record for each to OASIS. It’s been frustrating that no posters appear in a subject hearing search. We aren’t going to go too overboard, though, because once every classroom has an IWB, posters in classrooms may well become obsolete.

I shall keep you posted on some other, upcoming “good news”…

Nursery rhymes: beyond the pail!

Jack and Jill

Stage 1 students today consolidated their knowledge of the nursery rhyme, “Jack and Jill”, by creating some digital stories. We brainstormed ideas, the students suggested suitable toys and props from around the library, we made scenery on the interactive whiteboard (IWB) and I then uploaded their photos to Photo Peach to create a new slideshow.

Jack and Jill title card

Tomorrow some other classes might suggest extra captions and ideas.

A wolf in sheep's clothing in a tree

And yes, Jack is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In a tree.

Also see our 2008 adventures with “Jack and Jill” on our wiki page.

Jack and Jill

The grasshopper, the ant and the IWB

I’m really loving the power of Interactive Whiteboard technology to bring the resources of Internet to my fingertips and making said resources big enough for everyone to see!

Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 students are studying fables this term, and this week is Aesop’s “The grasshopper and the ant”.

An obviously useful website has been DLTK’s Crafts for kids , and I’ve supplemented the text of the fable from the site with Google Images searches for some amazing graphics of grasshoppers, ants and corn kernels.

A word of warning about the following short Youtube version of “The ant and the grasshopper”, as told by Jack Spirko on “The Survival Podcast”. It’s fascinating for its political stance, and as an example of how stories have been told, retold and evolved with the retelling. After previewing it on my own, I elected to use it in lessons only up to the image of the dead grasshopper being overwhelmed by ants. (The sequence after that is very confronting, and perhaps useful for higher stage levels discussing the persuasiveness of media products. But not essential or relevent for my purposes.)

Counting for Canberra

Our Stage 3 students are studying Australian government, to be topped off by a culminating activity: an excursion and camp to Canberra.

The educational activities on the Australian Electoral Commission website are proving useful. We’ve been using our votes predicting the CBCA Book Week award winners to practise

Counting the votes for the House of Representatives


Counting the votes for the Senate.

These video clips have been quite engaging!

The students have also enjoyed using the Practise voting demonstration on the library’s IWB.

Happy Anniversary, Apollo 11!


I’ve spent the last few weeks demonstrating some of the joys of my school’s new interactive whiteboard (IWB), and browsing on Google Earth has been addictive for most of the school’s population.

But, in similar vein, NASA has just released some very cool pictures from their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (or LRO), which has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. “The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon’s surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules’ locations evident.”

Apollo 11

The online comments added by moon hoax conspiracy theorists are hilarious.

I really liked the appended comment from a NASA Moderator: “This is just the first glimpse of many more images to come. When we’re in the operational orbit of only 31 miles, resolution should be two to three times better, and we should be able to get the right lighting conditions to identify the rovers.”

All images credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University.

Boy, sitting in the school hall watching a fuzzy black and white television in 1969 (Year 5) at Arncliffe Primary School seems sooooooo long ago, but it also seems like it was only yesterday. It’s frustrating we are currently on vacation and unable to make use of the anniversary with students this week.

Apollo 14

Also worth checking out: The Moon in Google Earth

IWBs and ICT – a pre-test survey

Earlier this term, our school’s first interactive whiteboard (IWB) arrived, and the Year 4 and Year 5 students in a composite class did a “pre-test” survey in Circle Time with me.

Our survey was called: Does the use of Interactive Whiteboards assist with student engagement in their education and therefore improve students’ literacy and ICT skills?

Do you have the Internet at home?
Yes: 21
No: 1
Don’t know: 0

What does an IWB do?
• Like the Internet, plays videos, like a TV
• It helps you learn
• Lets you read a book to the whole class (eg. “Pete the sheep” simultaneous reading day) – looks bigger
• Like a plasma TV with bigger speakers
• A computer from the future, touch screen, can save work
• Like a normal computer only bigger
• Can search for stuff
• Can show stuff again, and save work
• Like the Internet only bigger, can do more things
• Like a computer, can touch the screen to change things
• Don’t know/Pass: x 11.

How is it better than an ordinary whiteboard??
• Can save stuff, use Internet, write things, use screen keyboard
• Like a computer, play games, do stories
• Don’t use Texta – use finger to write and draw
• Play games x 2
• Internet
• Already has information in it (eg. Notebook 10)
• Can save
• Can click to rub out x 2
• Like a computer and whiteboard combined
• Play music
• Can type or write with finger/IWB pen
• Look at everything on it
• Get pictures (eg. Google Images), save, rub out – not gone forever
• Can go back weeks later to revise
• Don’t know/Pass: x 6.

Why are we using an IWB to write, publish and read our Identity Rap blog posts?

Year 4 (who did the “Olympic Rap” on the library computers in 2008):
• Screen is bigger, easier to see
• Computer monitor too small
• Not bunched up, and no more arguing over chairs (ie. sitting around small monitor screen)
• Much bigger screen, can sit at tables and chairs
• Bigger screen, can write more things
• No people are stuck up behind others
• Can’t see small screen properly
• Don’t know/Pass: x 3.

Year 5 (who are doing the “Identity Rap” on the IWB in 2009):
• On small screen, you can’t see well x 2
• Easier to read writing
• Screen is much bigger
• Don’t know/Pass: x 1.

What will Year 5 have learned when they have finished the rap?
• Learn about our environment x 2
• About human body x 3
• Teamwork is really easy with an IWB
• Learn about other people’s identities
• How living things work
• Learn about where people come from (eg. Schools doing the rap with us)
• Transport – how cars move
• What the topic is, learn more about it x 2
• Learn about the solar system
• Cooperate with each other
• Know more things than the first time
• Don’t know/Pass: x 8.

What else could we do with an IWB?
• Use it as a TV, watch movies on DVD
• Make it read books
• Play games x 2
• Play music x 2
• Listen to heavy metal music x 2
• Learn rules for playing sports
• Read stories
• Look at different websites
• Draw
• Search the Internet
• Browse the Internet
• Learn about first aid
• Learn about speech writing
• Use Google Earth
• Search for things with Google
• Write stuff
• The school could buy things they need on eBay
• Don’t know/Pass: x 0.

We are going to do this survey again at the end of the Identity Rap.

School libraries in 21st century schools?

The School Libraries & Information Literacy Unit at State Office, NSW DET, is asking for comments on the question, “Do we need a school library in 21st century schools?”. There is a School Libraries 21C blog and associated readings.

Today I added thusly:

I love those reports from country towns, where their tiny public library facility would be under threat of closure – and many of the people who turn up to the town meeting would be residents who’ve never actually stepped foot into the library. But they realise its importance, and they don’t wish to contemplate the possibility of life without a public library. Just in case…

Even for myself, I tend to buy most books I want/must have/need to read. My own ventures into libraries unknown (public, university and school) – as a then-class teacher, when a mature age student, and also when researching a commercial piece of freelance writing – are quite sporadic, but the thought of a 21st century that’s somehow “moved on” from the concept of a physical library space is quite abhorrent.

But I think I am ready for any future library to have a different size, shape, location (partly in holographic or even cyber space?) or collection. I stare at my amazing, new iPhone – which is so reminiscent of Dick Tracy’s funky little two-way wrist radio/computer in comic strips of the 50s – and am lost for words. I mean, I only just discovered that my iPhone has been diligently copying across all songs I’ve been downloading from iTunes to my Macbook Pro, ever since I bought it last September. I simply hadn’t thought to look in that bit up till now!

The other day, while doing a presentation about wikis and blogs, and relying on a live Internet connection, the link went down and we had to call for a replacement computer. Only later, I remembered that all of my extended notes, on another page of the wiki, were accessible via my iPhone’s internet connection. I had my palm cards, of course, but the PowerPoint material and much more were only a few button-presses away!

An off-the-cuff mention of Tasmania tigers yesterday, during Year 6’s library lesson (we were looking at a unique picture book, “How WEIRD is that?”, one of this year’s Crichton Award CBCA nominees), permitted the impromptu calling-up of 1930s b/w moving footage of Australia’s last captive Thylacine, and now we can display him on the IWB at point of need.

Library books aren’t going away – I’m especially reminded on those days when air-conditioner-overload causes yet another blackout in the library, but the power of us having so much instantaneous information is both exciting, and another whole can of worms (as to helping students to be able to sift their way through it all).

The IWB arrives!

The start of a new school term, and the long-awaited interactive whiteboard (IWB) has arrived!
IWB complete

IWB tigger

I had to adjust the layout of the four “news room” clocks, and I now have even more ugly conduit to cover up with green wall paint, but here we are!

Welcome to the 21st century!