The crest of the wave?

gold adhesive letters

This $2.00 packet of metallic gold, adhesive letters (from a $2 shop, of course) provided inspiration for the past weekend’s project. I had decided that a version of our school badge – perhaps in three dimensions and in colours of white and burgundy ? – might be the most suitable design piece for the large blank, burgundy space above the windows of the library office, and a counter balance for the big “READ” sign in the far corner. When I saw these letters, I realised that “P E N R I T H” would actually be perfect scale to the photocopy of the school badge I’d enlarged to A3 earlier in the day.

Crest creation

On Saturday morning, I noticed that I’d left my A3 pattern at work/school, so out came the trusty ruler and pencil and I enlarged the small photocopy I did have.

I still had a spare Officeworks‘ plastic and cork “bulletin bar” (at $1.99), so I painted this burgundy and incorporated the shape so it would support the two main sections of shield and scroll, and might even give the illusion of a three-dimensional shaft section of the rocket which blasts off from our school badge (originally designed in the late 60s inspired by the 1969 NASA moon landing, I understand). The first version of the badge was in yellow and brown, the old school uniform colours, but it’s been red, white and blue for many years now, and simply black and white on letterheads, etc. I wasn’t changing the school colours here, but a rendition of the b/w badge using white and burgundy as the contrasting colours.

From Eckersley’s art supply store, I bought an A2 sheet of layered 5mm foamboard (@ $4.95), but I still have a lot, equivalent to A3 size, left over. These foamboards are more sturdy and resilient than cardboard, and come in numerous colours. I found a distinctively off-white variety, and a pure white one. Since the white lettering I’d been painting these past few weeks is lacquered, and isn’t really a stark white, the off-white foamboard seemed the best choice.

Crest

A Stanley knife was used to cut out the shapes I needed. The rocket became a cut-out hole, while the scroll had extra shapes to bring some parts into the foreground. The letters, plus two spare magnetic letters (ie. in the same font as the URL signage), were painted burgundy, lacquered with matt varnish, and glued into place. The school motto is a print-out from the computer. Essentially, the finished design is in four layers, and should cast some interesting little shadows.

My main concern was that it had to look classy, but it also had to be cheaper than a commissioned styrofoam sign from a professional signwriter.

Above window reno

This morning, I used nails to secure the three plastic strips to the wall. In case we ever get a new library built one day, I’m planning to take all my handiwork with me! Because the library’s closed for stocktake this week, there has been very few visitors and I’m anxious to show off my latest handiwork.

Desk end of library - final

The grey, soft-covered piping that emerges from the air-conditioner and connects to conduit is still giving me grief. I’m not game to paint it, in case the plastic-like material repels the paint. Maybe I’ll try wrapping it in burgundy ribbon? Happily, the ugly grey conduit disappears against the wall when covered in the burgundy paint.

The more we do to improve the look of this end of the school library, the more we reveal of the huge windows… and the mess beyond. My clerical assistant has been extremely busy removing my untidy “piles of stuff” from the tops of each vertical filing cabinet. Thanks Louise!

url above office window

Total cost of this makeover: Add another $8.94 to last week’s $39.96 and you’ll get $48.90. I think. 😉

The ABC of URLs

I’m at it again!

There has been considerable mulling going on. While collecting some exciting accolades, both in person and online, I’ve been considering how best to proceed: what bits of the library to work on next – and which will yield maximum returns for minimal outlay?

Considering advice from several people, I decided to splurge another $11.99, at Spotlight, on a second container of the burgundy Derivan Matisse background paint, and to extend the rich splash of colour across the top of the office windows (see below; top right of picture), covering up more of the ugly, varnished woodgrain panelling.
More burgundy

I didn’t end up getting a raw “Before” shot because, up until now, I’ve been avoiding taking this angle from so far back. An ugly piece of thin, grey conduit (leading from a non-functional air conditioner) had been intruding through the airspace, but I was brave yesterday… and I simply removed it. (Last year, an electrical specialist declared Air Conditioner #4 dead. He unhitched one end of the conduit – but some other helpful soul kept restoring the conduit, and/or attempting to switch on the machine.)

Kevin Hennah had suggested, at the recent conference on library design and redesign, that many libraries were now showcasing their URL (of the library’s Internet presence), when creating new signage, and I thought that the far right corner might be balanced with a large white version of the school crest?

Wandering through a local bargain shop yesterday, I found packets of 26 plastic magnetised letters of the alphabet – for only $2.50 a packet. To get sufficient “i”‘s, I required four packets. Two “j”‘s were forfeited to cut free some full stops for the URL. A spray can of white paint ($13.99) would cover the bright fluoro colours! (And I need some more strong glue, having splurted the last tube all over myself – it must have been faulty at the sealed end.)

But how to mount the letters? I found some long plastic-and-cork “bulletin bars” from Officeworks. At $1.99 each, these were a steal! I’ll be able to fasten the letters securely to two of these plastic bars, and only worry about nailing up the bars, not each individual letter.

Magnetic letters

Here’s a test of the white-undercoated plastic letters, spelling out the URL of our school library wiki site, lined up for fit on the two now-burgundy bulletin bars:
URL undercoat

Total cost of this makeover (so far): $39.96 (but lots of paint and little plastic letters left over). Watch this space!

Like… here:

slim url

Finally more fables

This time last year, I was conducting an exciting online project with a group of Kindergarten (Early Stage One) students during which we constructed a wiki, and used it to jointly-construct four core values fables.

This year, I’m repeating the unit with a new cohort. While last year’s project included an annotation page in which I recorded the progress of our learning, this time I’m also preserving notes from our Circle Time brainstorms and hot seat activities.

For example, in Week 3 – Favourite animals suggested for possible use in fables were: cats (allergic?), giraffe (who has his own special space), fox (sneaky), dolphin (helping people to water ski – going “Forward with Pride” – our school motto), sharks (sharp teeth, show off, brushes her teeth), panda (nice, look like bears, on TV; all black?), poodles (pink! – like to lick people), dog (that lets me go anywhere), kangaroo (with a joey inside her pouch – and a little bed), rhinoceros (go riding on it), dinosaurs (in a police uniform and a ballerina’s tutu), a lion (pride).

Week 4 – Circle time: shark has gills; lions go forward with their pride (of lions) and can run faster than a car; kangaroos and emus can’t walk backwards, always go forward (with pride); giraffe likes eating toast for breakfast; magical fox turned the poodle pink, turns into a dragon, always buys strawberry (pink) ice cream.

Week 5 – Investigate more of Aesop’s fables; Who was Aesop?; discuss morals in fables. Circle time: “Forward with pride” – our school motto. Makes us think of forward, four (number), 4 (numeral), fore (golf – “Look out in front!”), going for wood (forward), we would go for wood. Woodpeckers and beavers like wood. Fences, branches, sticks, treehouses, cubby houses, tables and chairs are made of wood. Fire needs wood. Trees need bark. Pride of lions. Things that make us proud: playing on my bike; Mum buying me stuff; parties; using my own money to buy a Slushy at 7-11; my doctor was proud of me at the hospital when I got stitches and he gave me a toy; winning at my DS game; my teacher is proud when I read well; winning lollies, stickers and Good Ones at school.

Week 6 – “Recent visitors” to the wiki include locales of: Soul-t’ukpyolsi, Hlavni Mesto Praha, and the exotic French location, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. Circle time: Bringing the pink poodle and the shark (favourite characters) into the same fable as the giraffe. Note that a giraffe now also appears in the “Kangaroo and Emu” fable, according to artwork. Inspiration from French locale discovered from “Recent visitors”. Perhaps also need to investigate the art of feng shui? The colour red? Eiffel Tower?

See the four drafts of our, as yet, unfinished school motto fables at the new wiki page. If you’re finding this blog entry at some time in the future, the fables may not resemble their early versions by much.

What they’re saying about…

… ummm, me. 😉

This week, I did a quick Google search on what other schools around the world are doing regarding Kindergarten students using wikis. (Answer: still not much?) It’s now been a full twelve months since the unit of work, documented at penrithpslibrary.pbwiki.com, was done at this school, and I’ve just launched a similar project for a group of (possibly) gifted and talented Early Stage 1 students, hoping to repeat and improve upon the 2007 successes.

What surprised and delighted me was that numerous sites recently have earmarked/bookmarked our wiki pages, as an exemplar from which others can draw inspiration:

For example, on the University of North Texas School of Library Science wiki pages, Janienne Brown says, about our site, “This example of a Wiki from Australia shows exactly what a Wiki can accomplish and in this case [Stage 3 book review page] one of the students had their review printed in the newspaper and another student won a voucher for their participation, this is above and beyond the immediate benefits of the Wiki. Also shown are the stages the Wiki went through to illustrate that this is a process [Kindergarten fables] and the process is part of the journey. The setup of this Wiki is from their home page and names the book and author of the book and ‘A book review by first name, last initial, and grade’. This Wiki shows beautifully what we hope to accomplish, students reading, writing, getting other students excited about reading and writing too.”

Cool!

And, in an excellent and enthusiastic PowerPoint presentation (“Web 2.0 – Join the journey”) , for a Summer Institute for School Librarians by Lori Franklin, our Core Values Fables pages were recommended in her section called “Why in the world wiki?”

Even cooler!

I’m making sure I take lots of notes (ie. “evidence-based practice”) again as I run the program this term. I’m already realising that some things I did last year, as a bit of a fluke, were very effective. We still don’t have an interactive whiteboard in the school, so last year, when I had the wiki page set up on a bank of three computers, the students were able to see, quite dramatically, that changes to one wiki page on one computer, were instantaneously altered on the other two computer screens, after a simple page refresh. I only had one screen on for the first lesson this year and I suddenly realised a missed opportunity.

The twelve students, from three different classes, are highly motivated and are excited about working together on some “special”. I was impressed that they seem to be more Internet savvy than the 2007 group. It will be an interesting term!

Communicating: home & school

Now that the Beijing Olympics & Book Week 2008 rap has come to a conclusion, I decided to select a variety of extracts from my groups’ rap responses (sports articles, a few photos, a wrap rap up message) and combined them as a mini-newspaper (double-sided A4, folding down to make a simple four-paged booklet of The Shaggy Penrith Times), which will slip inside our school newsletter tomorrow. Price = three carrots.

The back cover of the booklet explains the educational parameters of this rap, shows a frame grab from the blog, and gives URLs for both the NSW DET rap blog site, and our own Library wiki pages, encouraging our parents and caregivers to look at the students’ work online.

It didn’t take me very long – but a wombat probably could have done it faster (see The Shaggy Gully Times by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley). An efficient way of communicating with the parents, and giving them access to further information!

A brochure that came out to promote National Reading Day – 3 September 2008 suggested doing something similar online, or in hardcopy, and that was always in the back of my mind as we added things to the school wiki pages, but it’s only now the rap is over I found time to dig back through the archives. Of course, schools needed to have registered between 3rd and 7th September, when the rapping schools were all deep into the rap! Maybe next year?

Book raps and travel buddies

I’ve received a question about the current rap, the Beijing Olympic Games and Book Week 2008 rap, which is going to incorporate a wiki activity.

To join the actual rap, go to http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/raps/beijingolympics/index.htm and follow the prompts. The rap blog itself, where you enter your class responses, is over at http://rapblog3.edublogs.org/

There’s still time to join, do jointly-constructed introductions and then Rap Point 1.

I’ve also been asked about one of my school’s Stage 1 teachers’ “Cranky the crocodile” project. This is like a “Travel buddies” set-up, but just for the one class to share. Cranky is a stuffed class mascot/puppet, who goes home with a different selected student each weekend. That child is responsible for documenting the adventure with photos, stories, drawings and small, flat souvenirs (such as cinema ticket stubs).

The teacher took Cranky home the first weekend, then Cranky went home with the most able students first, so there were some good model examples in the first few pages of scrapbook. This set a high standard.

Another school ran a “Travel buddies” project to complement the NSW DET’s “Possum Magic” book rap a few years ago. Grandma Poss and Hush – and their bicycle! – were posted off to numerous schools who’d signed up, and Grandma Poss collected photos, postcards, souvenirs and diary entries along the way.

Details on “Travel Buddies” is at http://www.oz-teachernet.edu.au/projects/tb

When local schools all have their interactive whiteboards (IWBs), I’d love to do something similar and maybe send a stuffed animal from school to school. I have a great flying fox toy the students have named Phoenix. currently, he’s helping the Stage 2 students with the new rap.

Here’s the wiki page we’ve set up.

More learning, growing and achieving

Unlike the last conference I was asked to speak at, I went into today’s events without that heavy weight of responsibility and impending disaster. I mean, if I could fill an hour on my own last time, how much easier would it be this time? We knew our material back-to-front, if necessary. The most difficult aspect would surely be, what bits do I leave out?

My co-presenter, Cath Keane, had prepared eleven of our PowerPoint pages, I’d added my own hyperlinks to the twelfth and last slide, and we only had 50 minutes or so to fill anyway. We also had plenty of time before our session, “Young rappers”, to play on the interactive whiteboard (IWB), test our hyperlinks and cache all our web pages that we were planning to visit. We also knew in advance that we had about twenty people signed up to hear our talk. Everything worked in the rehearsal and off we went to the first keynote event of Day 2 of this Early Years Conference.

Clinical psychologist, Lyn Worsley, presented her fascinating session on “The resilience doughnut: the secret of strong kids” and, while she probably didn’t say anything terribly new, especially to a ballroom filled with teachers who already had solid backgrounds in early childhood education, the strength of her approach was the clear answer of “where to know?” that one could glean after having used her clever, simple analytical tool for gauging the resilience of a particular student. Wonderful!

Before we knew it, Cath and I were deep into our presentation on book raps, blogs, wikis and Circle Time. Our only hitch was that our computer connection, which had worked so perfectly in rehearsal, had been lost for the presentation. A tech person came in and got us back online most efficiently, but our live connection to the Wilfrid rap blog (on Edublogs) was no longer working. Luckily, our PowerPoint had lots of frame grabs from the site, and the links to the Departmental website and my school’s wiki pages were still viable, so we carried on regardless. We finished off with a reading of my Kinder students’ “Zebra with spots” fable of 2007, and a walk-through of selected pages from my school’s wiki pages. I hope our presentation has encouraged more schools to start dabbling in wikis and blogs.

It all seemed to go very well, but a highlight for me was that two attendees hung back at the end to (re)introduce themselves. It was none other than Warren and Kathy, two of my colleagues from my teachers college days! They’d noticed each other in the audience of my workshop session – I’m not sure at what point they realised that I was also from the same year – but morning tea turned out to be a mini-reunion of the Class of ’79 of the Guild Teachers College. We swapped anecdotes about the good ol’ days and pocket histories of our lives. It was the first time we’d seen each other since Graduation Day in 1980 – very exciting, and great to know that they are doing so well in their own teaching careers. (I can see a bigger reunion coming up in the next few months! I hope.)

Next up was Peter Gould, Manager, Mathematics at NSW DET – and one of the people I worked with on numerous occasions back in my Scan editor days. Peter’s keynote was “From ABC to 123: what counts in early numeracy” and – despite some frustrating glitches with the movie clip elements of his presentation – it was an invaluable reminder of the essential differences in the ways young children learn to be numerate as opposed to literate.

After lunch, I attended two more workshops, both of which (again) ably demonstrated the amazing array of teaching and learning strategies that interactive whiteboards are bringing to classrooms in the 21st century. I guess that’s the main thing I’m taking from this conference: that most of today’s students are already citizens of the digital world of Web 2.0. The sooner their teachers and parents play catch-up the better. Every presentation I went to was using IWBs as part of their presentation – even my presentation, and today was the first time I’d actually been able to use one! Knowing that a little knowledge is dangerous, I can’t wait to get my hands on an IWB as part of my school library’s facilities and let my imagination run wild. Or wilder.

This conference left its delegates with so much food for thought (and delicious food for the body – the Novotel, Brighton-le-Lands always does well in that regard), great ideas we can start using on Monday (first day back of Term Three), and some wonderful memories of networking with colleagues, old and new. Synthesising all the learning into our daily lives will take time, but I’m glad I gave up two days of my vacation to absorb it all. I’m also grateful for the very handsome, gold-embossed “Presenter” pens, which Cath and I received for doing our workshop.

Roll on Term Three…

Web 2.0 for happy rapping

On a professional listserv, a question was raised about book raps using Web 2.0 technology rather than the traditional email listserv…

Some of this is covered in previous blog entries here, but here’s a summary I prepared:

The School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit (NSW DET) trialled the use of Edublogs this year. We re-ran a previous book rap – on Mem Fox’s Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge – in Term One for Stage 1 students, using a blog format to set out the rap points and discussion, and it was excellent! (Just be careful choosing your “theme” or “template” because not all “posts” and “pages” permit people to “comment”. It can be a tricky combination between setting your preferences and simply choosing the best “theme” for the job.)
http://www.rapblog.edublogs.org

We had schools all over in Australia in that, and even one from Vietnam.

In Term Two, we ran an Identity: Sharing our Stories rap for Stage 3 and 4, and this focused on Aboriginal perspectives. Again, the blog format was very efficient.
http://www.rapblog2.edublogs.org

Both raps have also featured a Gallery of artwork. For “Wilfrid”, I – as a coordinator – set up a wiki page of “bonus” activities (with PB Wiki) and these also were well received. A worthy experiment, and I can’t see us going back to clunky listservs. I’m not sure that a wiki would be as efficient if used for the blog proper. It seems to be that schools could accidentally interfere with the layout too much on a wiki.

The disadvantages of a listserv format are that: only subscribers get to share in the rap; you can’t edit inappropriate material once it’s been sent out by the server; late starters to the rap miss all the previous work (unless the list owner resends it all); and if you wish to preserve the rap’s content (as NSW DET have done on the Departmental website) you have to set up an online archive.

The good thing about Edublogs (over regular WordPress and Blogger) is that it’s possible to upload from a NSW DET computer. Further, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit put in requests to ensure that our rap blog pages would be accessible under the appropriate student passwords (so they could view the previous comments), even though responses are still made by a group of students working with a teacher. At my school, we also promoted the rap blog URLs in our newsletter, and many students reported showing their class’s work to parents from home!

We’ve also been able to have the Teacher questions visible to all. Previously these were on a private Teacher listserv, and only visible to teacher subscribers, but many great ideas and shortcuts/success where never seen again beyond that rap.

I’m not aware that NSW DET has *any* fully-supported, freely-accessible “internal software” for students communicating with other groups of students. Yet. Certain schools have trialled various things over the years, such as Stu Hasic’s Eduweb(?), but as far as I know that operates within certain schools on their intranets only, and can’t go beyond each school, let alone other NSW or interstate schools.

Planning for simultaneous “Arthur”

Arthur

I have organised a wiki activity page based on the picture book, Arthur by Amanda Graham and Donna Gynell, which is the book being used for the upcoming ALIA National Simultaneous Storytime on Wednesday 21st May at 11.00 am (Term Two, Week 5). A group of nearby Priority Schools Programs (PSP) schools have recently formed a professional network, to prepare for our forthcoming interactive whiteboards. The Penrith Reading Project: Books from Birth (another local PSP initiative, containing different local schools), has also been invited to join us for the reading.

My colleague, Kerrie Mead, and I have been brainstorming possible activities to support Simultaneous Reading Day. Here’s what a draft of what we plan to present to the staff of our own school on Monday, and we’ll be making the material available online – as a blog and wiki – for the other schools. (An email today tells me that the ALIA site offers even more activities, many downloadable.)

On Wednesday 21st May 2008, at 11.00 am, children all over Australia will be reading, listening to and commenting on the same story at the same time. The featured book is Arthur by Amanda Graham and Donna Gynell.

At 11:00 am we could:

* Gather in the hall and listen to the story en masse: one reader, readers from a single group (class, Student Representative Council members, captains and prefects, teachers, parents or __________________ ).

* Gather in three groups (Early Stage 1 and Stage 1; Stage 2; Stage 3) in the hall, upstairs area and library and read the story as above.

Before the day: (in class, at Stage meeting, at assemblies)

* Let the students know about it – the purpose of the exercise, the significance of this kind of literary activity, how it might be the same/different in each school. (Great Circle Time material!)

* Familiarise your students with the text. (See ideas below.)

* Outline how the event will be held – ask for ideas which the students think might improve the plan and let us know before the day!

* Promote the event in the school newsletter.

* Signage around the school for parents and students.

* Check out the official ALIA page, and links to free blackline activity sheets.

* Supplement our resources with official posters and the link to Era Publications.

After the event:

* Ask your students for feedback – eg. The best thing was… ; I didn’t expect that to happen; next time… , etc.

* Tell the PSP committee what you really think.

Some ideas to familarise your students in all the wonderful ways you know how to capture their imagination! (Our school has rounded up several copies of the Arthur picture book, a big book version, two sequels and an Arthur hand puppet.)

Early Stage 1/Stage 1:

Who is in the story? Where does it take place? (eg. Paint Arthur or your pet, write a list, make a shop diagram, role play, add a pet image to the wiki.)

What is Arthur’s problem? How does he try to solve it? (eg. Feelings barometer, descriptive writing, pet ownership graph, alliterative pet adjectives for the wiki – perfect pup, quaint quarrion, timid tabby.)

Pets need… – but what might pets want?

If I was a pet I’d like to be a ………………………. because …………………………

Interactive learning objects from TaLe (click on Primary and use search engine).

Stage 2:

Any or all of the above, plus

Descriptor matrix (eg. “Purple, spotty, three-headed wombat”) – and then create it.

Research – eg. Which animals are the most difficult to keep as pets and why? What is the best dog breed for (type of person/situation)? Who is the most famous pet and why?

Extend-a-story – eg. What other pets could Arthur have imitated and what would he have done? Write a new version of the story. Compare this book with the similarly-themed Edward the emu by Sheena Knowles and Rod Clement.

The perfect pet for ………………….. would be a …………………… because.

Stage 3:

As above, plus

“Unpack” the form of the story (repetition, chorusing, types of words used).

What are the conventions of picture books? Examine favourites from home and the school library to discover similarities/differences. Write and illustrate your own picture book.

Read the story with your buddy (Buddy Classes – pairs of students from different stages) and ask them some prepared questions about it.

What is the moral of the story? What is a moral? what is the point of stories with morals? What other moral stories (and traditional fables) do you know? Which ones make good sense… or not?

Check out the interactive Stage 3 learning objects from TaLe (click on Primary and use search engine).

Synthesising about synthesis

I promised to get back to Monday’s professional development day with Jamie McKenzie. I’m finding it quite tricky to “report back” on an event, which offered so many seeds for further (and deeper) thought, without it sounding like I’m doing a cursory summary of the guest speaker’s main points – which are covered so much better in the “virtual handouts” Jamie has supplied on his official website(s). And it’s ironic that I’m now attempting to synthesise synthesis, think deeply about deep questions, authentically evaluate authentic evaluation and deconstruct the valuable elements of deconstruction!

It was certainly reassuring to be reminded that numerous aspects of the above elements have already become embedded into my teaching style over recent decades; the day certainly highlighted the need for all educators to be explicit about why we do certain things, to remind ourselves why these strategies work, and not to get too dismayed when it (often) appears that there are never enough opportunities to use them. It doesn’t matter how many of these days I go to, there are always be new ideas to try, ideas to scoff at (that I sometimes end up trying anyway, somewhere further along the track), and ideas I already use and now have additional confirmation that, yes, they really are worthwhile, and noteworthy.

My main purpose of starting up this blog was to reassure myself that it was the little, but purposeful, strategies we use in our teaching that can promote good – often excellent – results. The degree of planning and collaboration can vary, and when we are deep into a unit of work, it’s easy to forget that we are using them. So often, we launch into a unit with no pre-testing, or the end of term rushes up and blurs opportunities for authentic evaluation and formative assessment (Jamie mentioned that such assessment is “to enlighten, not frighten”), but when we do make the time to ensure it happens, the results can be very rewarding.. for the educators, their students and the school community.

Even more ironic, though, is that – among the brief notes (I didn’t have to take, because Jamie had given us all the URLs we needed) in front of me right now – I see that I have scrawled, under the “Strategies” heading, the point “4. Avoid heroics”. Now I’m writing this blog entry under a banner headline that promotes this site as “heroic adventures in teacher-librarianship”.

As I think I recall saying in my first few blog entries, on a day to day basis, we often overlook the amazing things we, as educators, do every day. Often, when I’m mentioning various parts of my day to others, it’s only then that it starts to crystalise how, or why, or when, certain elements were particularly effective/successful/innovative or worth repeating, testing, gathering evidence, or simply sharing.

Say these things around the PSP (Priorities Schools Programs) committee and one ends up chairing a sharing session for parents. Say these things around the editor of Scan and one ends up writing an article, sharing the ideas and findings with a much wider audience than the usual local group of teaching colleagues. Say these things too often around certain people and one can end up presenting panels at seminars!

I guess the important thing here is the sharing. Educators become educators for good reasons, and it was interesting that Jamie mentioned several times that – for quite a while – the so-called “digital literacy” and “computer literacy” buzzwords of one revolutionary information delivery service derailed us (temporarily) from the things that effective educators have always done well (ie. the titles of Jamie’s sessions on the day):

* “questions of import: wondering, pondering and comprehending

* authentic learning and assessment

* smart use of ICT

* quality teaching and learning: moves, tactics and strategies that inspire, challenge and engage

* embracing complexity: making sense of a confounding world.”

Jamie suggested many more strategies on Monday for us to try out, to test, and to incorporate. By osmosis, and also by design, some more of these shall no doubt permeate into my daily teaching, and those I’m already doing shall hopefully be strengthened – sometimes simply by highlighting them, and/or making them more explicit.

Well, I starting typing this on a Wednesday, and now it’s Thursday already. There are other gems I could share but, as I said, Jamie’s website talks about them far more effectively. Finding the time to focus on all, or even some, of the above, is sometimes difficult. Not focusing on them is worse. The collaboration opportunities for teachers to work with their teacher-librarians and other support staff become more vital than ever. In Australia, we are fortunate that the profession of teacher-librarianship continues to be valued (by many stakeholders), and it’s a profession that is ever-evolving; I hope we don’t ever have to go into battle mode to save it. (Again.)

Between the end of school yesterday, and arriving home, a colleague and I attending a meeting of Penrith Reading Project: Books from Birth, sharing our ideas and experiences about whole-school reading picnics, and how the numerous schools in our group might approach the upcoming ALIA National Simultaneous Reading Day, featuring the picture book Arthur by Amanda Graham and Donna Gynell. Using several points from Jamie’s sessions earlier in the week, we have come up with some fantastic, highly practical activities – which have quality teaching and learning embedded in them.

Just wait till you see the new wiki page we have planned for all the participating schools to dabble with in the next few weeks! (You just knew I was going to mention the word “wiki” eventually, didn’t you?) Roll on 21st May!