Wrapping up Book Week

A few months ago, I did a presentation to the MANTLE Teacher Librarians’ Conference in Newcastle about creating book trailers and digital stories. As part of the preparation, a series of space and science fiction related digital photos had been newly uploaded to Photo Peach (“Here’s one I prepared earlier…” again) and I was able to demonstrate how images could be easily moved, duplicated or deleted in the editing process.

During the presentation, members of the audience suggested a few possible captions, in keeping with Book Week’s “Read Across the Universe” theme, and my intention was to get the Stage 3 students, back at school, to complete the brainstorming of the rest of the captions during Book Week. As the events of that week overwhelmed us, I filed away the groups’ A3 planning sheets, but dug them out again this week – and was thrilled with their results.

As promised, here is the finished slideshow:

Read across the universe by 5/6E

and an additional set of bookish/SF images that got the students’ conversations going:

Book Week 2013

A reminder to those on iPads: the latest version of Flash is required, so you’ll need to use a regular computer to see Photo Peach slideshows.

By the way, we found “Robot jokes” during a Google search:

and we were surprised to find that there are interactive “Yoda speech generator” sites (it started out as a joke that there might be one – and there were several!), such as:

And this just in: the Tuesday Library Book Club at Wyong High School was inspired by my presentation at MANTLE and spent some time with their teacher librarian, Ms Murray, making claymation figures to create an Animoto audiovisual to celebrate Book Week 2013 and its theme HERE. Wow!

Elusive Antarctica

With the emptying and storage of our school’s library contents, I’ve only been able to hold back minimal thematic resources to cover us for the next seven months (or so?). Added to that is the fact that the library’s now-invaluable interactive whiteboard (IWB) is in storage, too, and only a few of the classrooms I visit have their own.

The Stage 3 students are studying Antarctica in HSIE (Human Society & Its Environment) and we’ve been keen to revisit an interactive website we found two years ago, but numerous TaLe and Google searches weren’t revealing the one we wanted. I know I had the URL on the C-drive of my library computer, but that is packed away too. The clickable pages, which were motivating enough on small computer screens, would have been very exciting as IWB learning objects.

Last night I found the website! It was, of course, Discovering Antarctica, a UK site.

The most popular page, last time, had been What (not) to wear, an opportunity to dress an Antarctic scientist in appropriate clothing for his unique working environment. I can’t wait to see how it looks on the classroom IWBs.
What (not) to wear

Keyword research with Google Wonder Wheel

The Google Wonder Wheel is a research tool that helps students narrow down their search results. It can lead to better, more efficient access to websites that will provide them with background information on their specific topic. It is an excellent scaffold to promote and support thinking skills and the quest for deep knowledge. The video on Youtube is by Karen Bonnano of schoollibrarymanagement.com. Thanks Karen!


On Friday, I added a “ClustrMap” to the blog, ie. the little rectangular graphic of the world map. This “free” widget (on the right, below my avatar pic), automatically tracks visitors to the blog site and gives a cumulative tally. Little red dots appear to represent “hits”, and will grow larger every ten visitors. (It’s free in that, if you want a wider range of services, you can upgrade with $$$. But the free version, despite tossing in a few advertisements deemed relevant to my readers, seems to be informative enough – and a fun diversion.)

By clicking on the map, you are taken to a larger version. To see the breakdown of “Country totals”, click on that hyperlink. So far, the figures show mostly Australian hits, but there have been visitors from seventeen other countries! 102 unique visitors over the weekend.

Of course, me being red/green colourblind, red dots on green landforms aren’t terribly helpful (for me), but if I really concentrate I can eventually notice a difference.

It will be interesting as the little red dots continue growing across Europe, the Pacific islands and the USA mainland, as Internet surfers the world over encounter the blog page through Google searches, etc. I know from my other blog, over at Blogger, upon which I have a “Sitemeter”, that these days many visitors seem to find my sites via a Google Images search, and this has been a changing trend in the past year. Either Google Images is more efficient than it used to be, or simply more people are using it to surf the ‘Net. Of course, that’s not to say they find what they’re looking for once they arrive. One of the mysteries of the Internet!

ClustrMaps is a great reminder that the Web 2.0 world is always watching!

The savvy searchers

Last year, when the Stage 2 (Year 1 and 2) students were participating in the READiscover Book Rap, instead of simply bookmarking the site, I decided to model finding the site each time on Google, to see if the students would build confidence and find the site at home on their own computers.

Each lesson, a selected student typed in the phrase “Raps and Book Raps” – within the inverted commas – into the Google search engine. (I already knew this to be the exact title of the desired web page that would lead us to the correct Rap; it can now be found at the link Raps archive.)

Previous tests of this search, before the students arrived for their lesson, had confirmed that the web page did always come up as the first choice. However, I also wanted to demonstrate to the students what happens without the inverted commas being in place when searching: we received back a list of 3,100,000 possible hits! Putting the inverted commas back into place, we reduced that possible hit count to just 5,550. The students were very surprised.

The modelling worked. Students came in at lunchtimes to demonstrate to friends how they performed the search with inverted commas in place, and numerous students reported that they’d located the web page for their parents at home.

During their Rap Wrap Up message – brainstormed during a Circle Time activity – Stage 2 students asked to add to their post to the other schools:

“Our skills and insights:
* Inverted commas can help you search better on Google.”

I’m still smiling. And more convinced than ever by the power of modelled behaviour.