Check it out – again!

Check it out - again
“Check it out”! (But no books till next year.)

I’m still pottering around the new BER library, adding bits ‘n’ pieces as I go. Last weekend was spent sanding, painting, varnishing, and on Monday afternoon, gluing. The above MDF wooden lettering (from Spotlight) was salvaged from my original renovation makeover, as made to my old library, but I’d glued the lettering to the old circulation desk *to stay* – and they were a devil to scrape off. The edges were quite uneven and damaged. So I added a coating of Galeria Acrylic Medium, with a medium grain gel added, and it gave a wonderfully textured finish and hid the blemishes. I then painted them blue, over the original burgundy (below), and then varnished.

"Check it out!" - Shoestring makeover
The original “Check it out” signage!

I was never happy with the original placement of the “C” letters (above). The guideline of rulers I’d taped to the desk prevented the bottom of each “C” from sinking slightly below the line. My revamped blue lettering has worked out perfectly.

A meeting of the Supermen? PRC 2010


Only a few days after hanging up the framed Premier’s Reading Challenge poster of our students in our new BER school library (our students were selected this year’s Challenge “poster kids”, below), and opening the library to its first timetabled week of visitors, I was off to represent us at the annual reception. This year, the PRC celebrated another successful year at the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.


My official job this year was to be the minder for football heroes, Mario Fenech and Hazem El Masri (that’s Hazem in the background of the first pic, behind those two handsome superheroes). Mario and Hazem had a great rapport with the students attending the event, and slipped in plenty of references to the value of reading, as each group wound its way through short, meet ‘n’ greet activities – with a host of popular children’s authors and illustrators, including Duncan Ball with Selby the Talking Dog (who stayed mute), and Kim Gamble sketching yet another “Tashi” masterpiece as we watched, gobsmacked.

Kim Gamble draws Tashi
Kim Gamble draws “Tashi”.

Snow White was also there, making balloon animals, and there was a very gregarious Superman, who, at the event’s close, did additional duties – as Selby’s minder and Grug’s wrangler!

Yes, Grug is back! Remember that shaggy caveman creature from the 1980s, in Ted Prior’s hugely popular little picture books? Well, Grug is back in print, and many of the younger students found their own little stuffed Grug in their goody bags (look out for them in bookstores this Christmas!) Several of the adults noticed, just before the Premier’s car was due, that a huge blue vinyl bag had arrived in the foyer. Normally, such an occurrence may have caused a security alert, but we were abuzz with “It’s Grug! Grug’s in that bag! What else is that shape like that? That’ll be Grug!” (Well, we had noticed his name on the guest list, which helped immensely.)

Grug undercover
Grug arrives undercover!

Grug uncovered
Grug unleased!

Selby has left the building
Selby unleashed!

PRC GoH Kristina Keneally
Premier of NSW, Kristina Keneally, spoke passionately about the joy of reading, and the many rewards that books can bring.

PRC GoH Andrew Daddo
Children’s author Andrew Daddo sums up. Boori “Monty” Pryor is in front of me!

Superman is asked to round up the overheated Grug and Selby.

Superman escorts

Grug has left the building
Grug has left the building!

Destination 2011: Guided inquiry

I’m off tomorrow to a teacher-librarians’ seminar on “Guided Inquiry”, presented by Dr Ross J Todd!

Teacher-librarian Lee FitzGerald, a former editor of “Scan”, is also presenting and last time I heard of her experiences trialling “Guided Inquiry” under Ross’s guidance, I went back to my school and made a point of recording more often student pre-test and post-test results and tracking the emotional side of my students’ self-evaluations, thus gaining very solid statements of the students’ analyses of their learning, in their own words.

Powerful stuff! The Kinder students who were part of a wiki project in 2007 still talk about those experiences to this day, and the Stage 3 students who did a bushrangers WebQuest in 2008, and recorded their learning on a blog, are being represented in a text book very soon!

Both of those successes occurred without the benefit of now seemingly-indispensable elements such as IWBs and the Connected Classroom. Looking forward to tackling the next stage!


Ross Todd
Ross J Todd presents the election speeches of
Obama and Cheney… as Wordles

Entering the literary garden of delights!

Frog Prince & golden ball
Student comment: “I saw the Frog Prince and his golden ball in a bowl, but I think that is the same bowl Chook used last year when he was being an astronaut!”

Today, the students at my school had their first experiences in our newly built school library. I’ve spent three weeks unpacking the book stock (from long-term storage) and decorating with new and nostalgic elements. The students were full of questions, but I used Circle Time to maximise and equalise all the the talking and listening. It was a great day. The looks on their faces, as they explored (hands free) all the new nooks and crannies made all the planning and hard work worth while.

Archeological dig
Our historic school milk bottles are now enshrined in a shadow box.

The quote from a framing store, to have the bottles placed into a customised shadow box was $200 but I did it for about $40, thanks to parts bought from Spotlight. The inside text reads: Penrith Public School’s library stands on the site of a portable library building, and before that a previous portable building. In 2010, workmen excavating the foundations found these “school milk” bottles buried deep in the rubble. One is embossed “1/3 PINT PASTEURISED MILK”. See the original blog entry of our archeological find HERE.

48 more photos of display elements ready for today’s opening are HERE.

Wally and the lion

I found Wally, er, Waldo
“I found Wally, er, Waldo!”

After three weeks of unpacking, shelving, unpacking, labelling, unpacking and even more unpacking, our new BER school library is almost ready for young, enthusiastic browsers. The students have been peering anxiously through the glass doors (removing nose marks has been a pleasant daily chore) and soon they will get a chance to see the treasures that await them. For one, I found my old “Where’s Wally” figure, a souvenir of a trip to the USA over Christmas 1991. This Wally, er… Waldo (in the US) most often used to hang in a model hot air balloon in my previous school library, where I had originally made the stupid mistake of promising to “hide” him each week – but the students almost ransacked the shelves looking for him. In this new library, Wally will guard the sure-to-be-popular display of “Where’s Wally” puzzle books.


Library lion
… a library lion guards our new Returns box.

I fell in love with a beautiful reclining lion statue in a local store just last January. It was $50 and I wandered off wishing I could afford it for the library. But it seemed a very extravagant expenditure – and everything was about to go into storage while our BER library was being built. A few months later, I remembered that our collection included the beautiful picture book, “Library lion” by Michelle Knudsen & Kevin Hawkes, and suddenly a lion guarding the new library was an essential. I went back to the shop and the lion statue was still there! But he was now $70. Oh well…

A few weeks ago, I was upstairs in the seedy bargain section of a local bargain store, shopping for inexpensive picture frames – and located, instead, a sitting lion in a forgotten, dusty corner – in almost the same pose as the lion on the cover of the picture book. He was only $14, and the shop assistant said she didn’t even remember him being part of their stock. Thus, we now have our own library lion, and a smugly satisfied, bargain-hunting teacher-librarian.