We are surrounded by RED

Class 3/4L recently had an extra session in the school library, so we decided to create a digital slideshow, inspired by the powerful cover art of the new picture book, One red shoe, by Karin Gruss & Tobias Krejtschi (Wikins Farago, 2014). The book, set in the war-torn Gaza Strip, features black and white illustrations through, with the dramatic use of spot colour on a US-style, Chuck Taylor All-Stars red canvas shoe, to persuade the readers and viewers with symbolism.

Surrounded by RED

The resulting, jointly-constructed text of this digital slideshow, created during a Circle Time brainstorming session, is quite reminiscent of the colour poems featured in the now-classic book, Hailstones and halibut bones by Mary O’Neill (1961), although the students were not exposed to that particular work. Yet. Red objects featured in the images came mainly from the school library environment, but also a few from my personal digital albums.

Download free Teachers’ notes for One red shoe.

Robbie Rules: My first day at school

This digital story is especially for author Meredith Costain, with many thanks for sending Penrith Public School the signed copy of her wonderful new picture book, My first day at school (Windy Hollow Books, 2013). The book’s illustrations are by Michelle Macintosh.

Stage 3 students have recently been working as “buddies” for Kindergarten Orientation, and they enjoyed having Meredith’s book read to them in a library session, and then reminiscing, brainstorming, storyboarding, photographing, and suggesting possible text for a joint construction to create a PhotoPeach presentation. We anticipate our incoming Kindergarten students, future buddies and staff and students at other schools to get some useful tips from it.

Special thanks to Ms Stockton, who allowed Robbie Rules – our oldest “student” at Penrith PS, who’s never graduated from Stage 1 – to visit the library for the last few weeks of Term 4, 2013.

Robbie Rules: My first day at school

School libraries leading learning

I’ve been invited to speak at two sessions of the State Conference of ASLA (Australian School Library Association) NSW Inc, which is being coordinated in partnership with the School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit (NSW Department of Education & Training).

This is quite an honour, especially as I cast my eyes down the list of guests – what the ASLA website is calling an “exciting line up of challenging speakers”.

When one is deep into daily life at the so-called coalface of primary education, the many deadlines of every day go whizzing past at typical breakneck speed. It’s often a shock to pop one’s head up above ground, ever now and then, and realise one might actually know enough to start imparting some of that knowledge to one’s colleagues in other places of learning. You know, I didn’t know I knew about wikis and blogs until I started doing my own, and I certainly didn’t think I’d know enough to be using them with students in teaching and learning situations (so soon) – until those first few attempts bore sufficient fruit to make me want to gloat about it (just a little). It was almost: “Look, everyone, look what I did – and on purpose…!”

During the week, our school newsletter came out, reprinting one of the Kindergarten students’ jointly-constructed fables from last year, along with the URL for the School Library’s wiki. One of the Stage 1 teachers reported that her whole class were engaged as she read the fable to them aloud. As several of the Early Stage 1 graduates are in her new class, it was quite amusing when they proudly claimed ownership – in February 2008 – of certain phrases, words and punctuation devised last November.

‘Irritated’!”, says one student confidently (every time he hears someone reading the fable aloud). “That was my word in that sentence.”

A parent noted that her child is able to read back to her all four wiki fables, even though the texts are a higher lever, jointly-constructed, language that is of a more difficult standard.

These little anecdotes, so often forgotten a few minutes after they are told, are invaluable for spurring me on to bigger and more challenging projects. And note that I really don’t mean those infamous “projects on cardboard” that some of us know way too well.

The conference is themed: School Libraries Leading Learning, and will run from Friday 28th to Saturday 29th March, 2008. The three main strands will be Quality teaching, School libraries in a Web 2.0 world, and Literacies. On the Friday, I’m joining Dr Ross J Todd and Lyn Hay on the panel, “How do you see Library 2.0 working in Australian schools?” On the Saturday, I’m running a workshop, “Web 2.0: Working with wikis for K-6”.

I’m very glad I spent some of January getting my thoughts in order, and that I made many notes and recorded my observations last term. Just as I experimented with including elements of diverse, “new” strategies (such as Circle Time and Guided Inquiry), it is exciting to think that people may soon be utilising my ideas and experiences re wikis with Kindergarten, and creating something else quite unique with their students.