More about national parks for Stage 2

This week, Stage 2 students are notetaking from the following Youtube videos about Australia’s national parks:

“Australian Wilderness Adventures”:

Cathedral Rock National Park, NSW (Part 1): To Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock National Park, NSW (Part 2): To Woolpack Rocks


Click on this HYPERLINK to view
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory.
Note that this clip is not of Australian origin, so some pronunciations and terminology is incorrect. It has an excellent explanatory diagram of Uluru’s formation.

News Ltd’s “News Interactive”:

Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park – Tasmania”: doco Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay

“Australian Wilderness Adventures”:

Burning Mountain Nature Reserve, NSW

This next clip is an example of persuasive text. The subject matter is an emotive one: the essential eradication of feral cats from a small island, which is a natural native bird sanctuary

Tasman Island Natural Values Restoration Project – removing feral cats

London bus does push-ups!

Here’s a pre-Olympics treat from Youtube that will be of interest to our Stage 2 students, especially, since it builds on recent science & technology work on levers and pulleys. The kinetic sculpture was created by Czech artist, David Cerny.

London double-decker bus does push-ups for Olympics.

London bus doing push-ups reaches its stop in Islington.

ITN News report by Sam Datta-Paulin.

Rap reports

The Stage 2 students and I had a great time this week writing up their sports reports for the Beijing Olympics & Book Week 2008. They came to the library with their class teacher (who is brand new to rapping) – usually we’ve had two rotating groups instead, but with the industrial action of yesterday morning, there were lots of students still absent in the afternoon.

We went through the key elements of a newspaper sports report/article, using the supplied Rap Sheet, then read and analysed the “Kiwis vs Wallabies” report from The Shaggy Gully Times by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley. When it came time to break into writing groups, the students were highly motivated, and they were so empowered whenever they made up a clever pun. Of course, it really helped that one of the students was fresh off the plane from her recent visit to Beijing – and that the extremely fast gold-medal winning Jamaican athlete she told us about had the highly punny surname of Bolt!

By the way, it only occurred to us later why that Shaggy Gully football match was being played at night!

Yes, it’s been a a busy term, but traditionally Term Three always is in school libraries: Book Week, National Literacy & Numeracy Week, and all that.

Rap Point 2 stretched across two weeks this time, on purpose, and it was also okay to post a bit late, since each school in the rap tends to work at a different pace. There had been a few new schools only just starting to look around the pages and/or noticing the newer messages on earlier rap points.

I decided to concentrate on prediction that week. I like to get the students to anticipate what might be coming next, so we predicted how we would:
* find the rap blog, with which search terms (eg. on Google)
* recognise our post from last week (ie. look out for school crest avatar).

Also, we predicted the contents of the page of The Shaggy Gully Times we’d be reading in the rap session. I asked one group of students to make predictions as to what they’d see inside the local newspaper when I unrolled it (fresh from my front lawn). Local newspapers are a great free resource, and many times they only get noticed by the students when they are asked to clean out the budgies’ cage, or collect newspapers for covering school desks during art, or when making papier mache.

The students were very engaged in skimming the layout, quickly identifying and confirming almost all their predictions about the newspaper. The standard of talking and listening was very pleasing – they were perceptive, and supportive of each other’s earlier ideas.

I hope this is an activity they will be able to repeat with their parents. (And that the newspaper they choose doesn’t have too many full page ads for local attractions such as “Wild Boys Afloat”, etc.) Several students reported recently that they’d personally gone online and shown their parents the current rap blog on their home Internet computers. One girl said, “I even printed out the page that had my name and comment on it.”

Enter the dragon!

Ah wonderful serendipity!

Yesterday, my last group of Olympic Games rappers had to miss their scheduled rapping session in the library and I had to play catch-up with them today. They were supposed to name the last of our animal mascot “reporters”: a large, cardboard, papier mache, crepe paper and fabric Chinese dragon, who has been a decorative fixture in the library since early 2007, and a frequent participant in our school’s annual Chinese New Year Parade.

This morning, one of the teachers of another Stage 2 class – having no idea of my plans to use the dragon during the rap – asked if she could borrow my dragon for her class item at Assembly next Friday. I told her that, by the end of the day, he’d even have a name (choosing a name was to have been a Circle Time activity for the rappers) but she said that the story being told in their item involved a Chinese dragon called Nian.

So Nian it is! Now one class is ecstatic that Nian is performing in another group’s item, and the budding actors are impressed that Nian will also be reporting on Olympic events for the rappers… between play rehearsals, of course. Anticipation for the rap events (and the Games) is at fever pitch!

I wish I could say I’d planned it that way. A typical week in the library.

Beijing, books and bungee-jumping

This term, I’m working with at least seven very enthusiastic groups of Stage 2 students on the New South Wales Department of Education & Training’s Beijing Olympic Games & Book Week 2008 rap.

Firstly, as with the other raps which ran this year, I’m promoting the rap blog URL in the school newsletter so that students can show off their group’s rap responses with their families each week.

In case the URL doesn’t make it home, I’m also explicitly modelling a search strategy (ie. how to use Google to find the rap pages) each time the students come for their blogging session. I show them what happens when we type in raps and book raps as search terms (almost 1.5 million hits!) and how the abundance of riches can be reduced by using inverted commas. (ie. “raps and book raps” gives only 5000 possible sites – and, in any case, the NSW DET Raps webpage appears as choice #1).

Also I demonstrate the pathway to get to the blog itself. For the last two raps, many students tried out visiting the rap blog from home, and we received great parental feedback.

Secondly, I brought in a collection of stuffed animal toy mascots (plus others that were already decorating the library). The Bruce Whatley drawing of Tammy the Tortoise (in the Children’s Book Council of Australia shortlisted book, The Shaggy Gully Times) is uncannily like a toy tortoise I had at home, especially with the addition of a battery-operated pocket fan strapped to her back.

Now each group is selecting (and often naming) one of the animal “reporters”, who’ll represent them in the upcoming newspaper article rap point. Each one has his or her own “Press card” to get them into Olympic venues. The animal characters (a flying fox, the aforementioned tortoise, a Puffin Books puffin, a Chinese New Year dragon, a large green frog, Selby the taking dog, and my trusty big, black, furry, bungee spider – it’s a long story) might prove useful for some f(p)unny photojournalism in the playground. We’ll be able to upload the pictures to the Gallery of the rap blog – and they should provide inspiration for some typically Jackie French-esque animal puns.

Book Week approaches

Welcome back to a brand new school term!

In the rush of all the end-of-term events a few weeks ago, the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) announced the 2008 shortlist for the annual Children’s Book of the Year Awards. The Winners and Honour Books will be announced in Term Three, on Friday 15th August, 2008. This year they are again presented in five categories:

  • CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers
  • CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers
  • CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood
  • CBCA Picture Book of the Year
  • The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

I found a few minutes between finishing up book raps, rounding up overdues, gathering resources for Term Two units of work, etc, to find out how many books on the shortlist were already in our collection. Quite a few, actually, which was pleasing; my selection criteria must be pretty good. I made some little badges (representing the bronze nomination stickers the books will start displaying in the shops) to put on the covers of the shortlisted books so I could set up a display. It occurred to me that, this year, I can parallel the gold, silver and bronze medals of the Book of the Year Awards with the medals of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Wandering through the supermarket during the holidays, I found the most wonderful $1.69 teaching aid! Three little “party favour” plastic medals in simulated metallic gold, silver and bronze. The number of times, in previous years, I have been presenting titles from the shortlist, only to find myself really stretching to describe the colour “bronze” to young children – and the number of times I end up realising that many young students simply have no concept, whatsoever, of what a medal is…

Maybe this year my $1.69 extravagance will pay off?