When storyboards collide!

Last week’s literacy sessions with a new group of Stage 1 students proved to be a challenge!

Once again, the purpose was to create storyboards, based on a well known fairy tale, that could then be photographed as a digital story. The students managed to develop two separate storylines, although both arcs hit a stalemate before we could determine their resolutions. Eventually, one student suggested combining the two sets of characters, and the story of the unlikely friendship of an ugly cockatoo and a tiger with no stripes was born. Since the only obvious common locale for a black cockatoo and a tiger would be a zoo, the students were able to explore the possibilities with gusto.

Enjoy Cockatoo and Tiger, a digital narrative by Class 1K, also loosely based on the fairy tale of “The ugly duckling”.


Or sample more digital story PowerPoints.

An unexpected archeological dig

My current school set up a little museum of archival material a few years ago, to coincide with the opening of our then-new school assembly hall. A piece about my research into epidiascopes was the focus of one of my very first blog entries (in 2006).

Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for a third-of-a-pint “school milk” glass bottle, without a lot of success. What used to be such a ubiquitous object in primary schools of the 1950s and 60s and essentially vanished off the face of the earth. Recently, I was given a few regular one-pint (600 ml) milk bottles and even a half-pint cream bottle, but numerous visits to antique stores proved fruitless. In 2007, the Royal Easter Show featured a special offer: plastic replicas of the “school milk” bottles (but marked 200 ml) – and I was beginning to think that was going to be as close as we could ever get. One of the teachers has a waxed paper drinking straw of the same bygone era as the milk bottles, which she has promised to donate if we can find a bottle, but yesterday we were doing the happy dance of an archeologist!

Two glass 600 ml milk bottles (1970s) and an Imperial half pint cream bottle (1960s). For scale, they stand next to my plastic replica of a 1960s Dairy Farmers’ school milk 1/3 pint bottle (from the 2007 Sydney Royal Easter Show).

The workmen excavating the ground for our new library’s foundations found, on the site of the old library, two examples of actual 1/3 pint “school milk” bottles buried in the rubble. They are both embossed, in slightly different ways, with “1/3 PINT PASTEURISED MILK” in raised lettering.

The “Moment in time” episode (#37) of the ABC-TV series, “Can we help?”, and the online transcript, explains that the “School Milk Scheme” was originally the idea of the British Medical Association, which had promoted that children under thirteen years of age needed a daily ration of milk. It “would be beneficial for school children’s physical and mental development”, and by 1951 the Menzies’ government had all Australian primary school students being offered milk daily. It was supposedly promoting “bone growth and well being and general good health”, but more cynical types considered it was a program to remove a glut of milk from local sources. The scheme ended in 1973 under the direction of the Whitlam government, no doubt reacting to Nugget Coombes’ full report into government spending. Supposedly, “one of the things he discovered when he looked at the school milk scheme was that it wasn’t doing any good at all. It had a marginal or very slight effect on the health of children” and the scheme was scrapped – just as many schools took delivery of fridges, if I recall, that would have kept the milk icy cold (for a change!)

Ask any adult who was at school in the 50s and 60s and they’ll all have some wild and wacky anecdotes about school milk. Amongst my own is the solving of the mystery of the little black specks that began appearing in our classroom’s milk supply one term. New milk monitors had been appointed, and it was their job to remove all the silver foil caps from the bottles and insert the waxed paper straws, thus encouraging even the laziest student to partake of his average daily allowance of dairy! After several frustrating days of putting up with the enigmatic black speckles, we finally caught Jeffrey, the shorter of the two monitors, standing atop the crate of opened bottles in his plastic-sandalled feet, spruiking his wares to all and sundry. Yes, it was little chunks of fine asphalt gravel, trapped in the crevices of his footwear, which had been polluting our milk.

School milk
Our amazing archeological find!

Sustaining interest!

A small class of Hearing Support students at my school joined the Learning for sustainability rap today. The boys are very excited about rapping and hope there will be other classes, from around Australia, joining the rap (“Welcome aboard, too, Canterbury PS!”). This afternoon, we got a whole lesson out of deconstructing the official “Year of Sustainability” logo. Our other Stage 3 students are deep into a “Gold” unit this term, but I went in search of a keen group to have a blogging experience. Thanks Mrs Coote and SCHC.

Sustainability logo

Hosted by the NSW DET’s School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit, this rap is aimed at Stage 3 and Stage 4 students. 2010 is the Year of Learning for Sustainability. We hope to share and learn from others about ways of living more sustainably. Teaching resources are available for downloading at:

and the first rap introductions can be found by clicking on “Task 1” at:

Even if you don’t join the rap, I hope you take some opportunities to follow its progress throughout the rest of the term. Rapping is a great way to incorporate ICT and Web 2.0 into CPPT, T&L, S&T and HSIE (to toss around a few abbreviations).

Thanks Lizzie Chase (at School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit, Ryde State Office) for this great learning & teaching activity.

Fairy tales without fairies

The ugly caterpillar

Stage 1 students are working in small groups this term, with the teacher-librarian, designing storyboards for digital stories, based on famous fairy tales. Here are some of the completed PowerPoint presentations:

* Mr E and the Three Bears, a digital fairy tale by Class 1/2H, loosely based on “Goldilocks”

* The ugly caterpillar, a digital fairy tale by Class 1K, loosely based on “The ugly duckling”.

I’ve been asked to elaborate, so here goes:

This term we are addressing Fairy Tales with Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students and, yes, the Stage 1 students (mentioned above) are familiar with actual fairy tales before writing (or parodying) their own. I have an article on storyboarding digital stories in this term’s info@aliansw newsletter (May, #2, 2010). That article covers our 2009 “Bear & Chook” book rap digital stories with Stage 2, but the same principles are being applied here.

As part of our school’s PSP Literacy program, I’m working with a different half-class each week, across three or four days per PowerPoint (ie. 3 or 4 x 30-minute afternoon sessions depending on timetable interruptions). For example, in Weeks 2 & 3, all classes were learning about “Goldilocks and the three bears” in class (and library lessons) and then, on the first Monday afternoon, I took half of one class outside and we “retold” the story, person by person, as a “Circle Time” activity. We discussed how the story could be parodied, reversed, extended with a sequel, or whatever. Then they split off into three groups and quickly designed one storyboard per group. The next day, the three groups voted for one of the storyboards to “write”. We did that as a brainstorm, with me scribing under each panel. They, essentially, all end up with joint ownership of the one completed storyline. The next day is dedicated to a strategy meeting for taking the photos (what costumes, props, locations?) and some prop making. The final day is filming, and then I spend a session of off-class time preparing the PowerPoint. The first group ended up with a story called “The three bats”, about some cardboard fruit bats and a farmer. That digital story isn’t uploaded yet because we need a parent permission slip for the young student who played the role of the apple farmer in my playground duty hat.

The next week, “Goldilocks and the three bears” was repeated with the other half of that class and we ended up with a prequel to the famous fairy tale, called “Mr E and the Three Bears“, starring our own PE teacher and three toy teddies gather from classrooms. That digital story wasn’t uploaded straight away because I need to check if Mr E was okay with being an Internet celebrity. (We’d taken his photo and made a mask out of it, but he had no idea what we were up to until the PowerPoint was finished!)

This week, I took half of the next class outside to our COLA (Covered Outdoor Learning Area) and we “retold” the new fairy story of the fortnight, “The Ugly Duckling”, again person by person, as a “Circle Time” activity. We once again discussed how the story could be parodied, reversed, extended with a sequel, or whatever. Then they split into three groups and designed one storyboard per group. And so on. This time, we ended up with a story called “The ugly caterpillar” (as linked). That digital story was immediately uploaded because we didn’t need any parent permission slips this time.

The completed PowerPoints seem to work really well. The students read them over and over and over, and the look great on an IWB! Young students have such an economy of words when brainstorming stories – just what you need for this kind of storytelling – and you can see them channeling aspects of other narratives and texts they’ve been exposed to. “The ugly caterpillar” certainly owes a lot to Eric Carle’s “The very hungry caterpillar” picture book, and the Aesop’s fable of “The ants and the grasshopper”.