everything old is new again

In this high tech world of creativity and innovation where we all worry and bother about the use of technology and try to be gleaming examples of it in the workplace, a lesson was driven home to me this week. sometimes new technology is not what is needed, and that in fact it should all be driven by task and need.

The most exciting item of interest in our library this week was this -


Yes, a blackboard. Not one teacher walked by without commenting on the “great idea” and the benefits of something so simple. I had purchased the blackboard to write motivational quotes and share information. In this instance it was to inform the seniors where their study rooms were during exam period. We have a big rolling electronic notice board screen above but that takes too much time and effort, with the blackboard they can view from outside the library doors instantly and be on their way. S-I-M-P-L-E.

Minerva and I are in competition for best accompanying graphics as well…

post conference exhaustion.

green suit

The conference was better than fantastic, but it was a full on three days. The first day went form 8.30am to 5.45 pm, not counting having to get there early to wade through the thousands to register.

I was solo, and it was great, as I didn’t have to worry about anyone else. If I wanted to sit quietly in a break I could, or if a session wasn’t what i expected I could move to another one easily.

I did meet a couple of librarians that I had been to PD with recently, one I had sat with for an entire day recently. I ended up sitting with her and a few of her colleagues during the first session with Sugata Mitra, but I walked out a different way to the morning tea break and made myself singular after that.

Except people kept attaching themselves to me, which was nice, I suppose, but… One woman kept commenting through a session to the point of irritation and I started calling her “Chatty Cathy” in my head. She was also one of those people who kept making excuses for why she wasn’t doing things, and using her age as an excuse. No excuse at all when it comes to technology. We can do it if we want. I left her in my wake at first opportunity.

The food was incredible, with sumptuous morning and afternoon teas of slices, muffins, danishes. Lunch was always a choice of salads, and not just lettuce and tomato salads, but grain salads, pastas, pumpkin and sweet potato salads, or hot dishes such as curries, fish, hot pastas, roast potatoes and more. There was one morning, the second when our group arrived to find all the food was gone, and we ll twittered our disappointment. It did not happen again.

The other key speakers were Anthony Salcito from Microsoft Education, Sir Ken Robinson, the curriculum creativity expert, whom we all adored, and also Ian Jukes of the 21st Century Fluency Project. Big hitters. At question time I think just about every presenter was asked to speak to our Federal and State Government Education Ministers and ask them to stop using teaching and education as a political football.

Strangely enough, pandering to the voting parent is not meeting the needs of a 21st century child. Institutional models of education like a production line no longer educates our students for today’s world.

Off the soap box, or at least I will leave that until another post! I returned to school on Friday, to be teased by fellow teachers that I had been on holiday, but I shared my notes and I think they can see that the days were filled from start to end. I have learned to much, and have so many ideas, little steps, that I want to implement. Our library shall be a space of creative enchantment.

irrigating the deserts


Back at school today to be told by some of my home class students that they had missed me. I burst out laughing it seemed so incredulous, but there you go, truth really is stranger than fiction! Students never cease to amaze me!

Tomorrow I am going to introduce my ICT students to code. I don’t really know how to code, though we were forced to do a semester of computing back in my undergraduate degree which had us using DOS. I am going to use the tool Codeacademy  and the students will learn how to animate their own names.

There has been a big push in recent months to interest students in computing, active computing not just passive consumption of media, and a new ICT curriculum is being introduced. All students will learn basic coding, right from the start of school.

I won’t be involved in actual ICT classes once the new curriculum is introduced as I don’t really have the skills, but as a teacher librarian I currently teach basic year 8 ICT and use of their laptops (we are a 1:1 laptop school) I also teach information literacy and research skills in the term long unit.

Last week I had the students use PowToon to create a presentation on cyber bullying. I told them the site to use and assisted them in downloading it, and after that they were on their own. What fun they had! My usual difficult to engage students even created and for once, were open to sharing their work.

Occasionally there are lessons where everything comes together for you and your students and it is just magical. Then it is when you realise why you are a teacher. The lessons can be few and far between at times, but when they come along… priceless.

I didn’t have to correct one student for the entire double period. Miracle! They all worked solidly, and I almost became dizzy as I raced about the classroom trying to view all the stages of their presentations when they asked for feedback.

Tomorrow’s class is a little harder and requires them to use their literacy skills in reading instructions to complete each line of code, but I think that with the exception of one young girl who is on a modified learning plan and has the assistance of a school aide, most of them should be able to cope. We can but try!

Or drink.


The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
C. S. Lewis



how green is my drive

Car 1

I have a new car. Same make as my previous car except this is a hybrid; so the same but different.

It has a graphic display that shows when the petrol is being used and when the battery is being used, or when the power is going into the battery. Then it has another area that glows blue if I drive uneconomically but green if I am using the hybrid compnents well. It can be quite a distraction and I am sure that if one is too much of a perfectionist or a little OCD then it might just drive you mad. For now I consider it a novelty and hope that the novelty wears off soon.

One thing that really gets me is that I receive a rating on my driving at the end of my journey. A display of flowers – varying numbers and with a varying number of leaves appears to score my “green” journey. I am already competing with myself to get a perfect “garden”!

I was feeling guilty about my carbon footprint due to my long journey to work every day and I thought a hybrid car would held ease that but now I think I have just added another stress to my life – how green is my journey!

The medium is the message

Little 16 month old came to meet petit fille yesterday . He arrived with dummy in mouth, and iPad under his arm. He has been taught a form of sign language ( no he is not hearing impaired nor are his parents) over verbal language and he is already a deft hand playing with his iPad

As a teacher i  am more than a little concerned. I feel that his verbal development is being restrained by the use of signing over speaking. Apparently it cuts downing frustration but as his parents are the only ones who understand him it is very limited. His social interaction with other children is going to be interrupted.

Then the iPad. It was a lovely story about farm yard animals but I noticed that he was just scanning it. His level of concentration is miniscule. This is a problem we are encountering now, students skim read and do not read to learn.

Another child born and raised in this country has been spoken to only in her parents native tongue, a middle European language because they want her to be bilingual. Bilingual is great but at three she should be using English as well. Social interaction with her peers is again restricted and she will be starting her education with English as her second language.

Maybe my generation is showing, but I am of the opinion that these parents while they are trying to do the best for their children are setting their child up for a less than successful start in our main stream world.

What do you think?

Update: just found this article on the subject too. Eric Carle and iPad babies.

Eric Carle and iPad babies

they say the darnedest things


Two incidents made me realise that the world is changing faster than even I suspected.

I was teaching the year 8 class to check their school email account. I casually asked how many students had sent an email before. Two students out of a class of 24 put their hands up. The majority had no idea what an email was. Why should they when they text and facebook their lives away.

Do you think they complain about the number of tweets they get in a day like adults complain about the number of emails they have to read?

I instructed my home class to bring a pen to class. One student announced that he never brings pens to school. Can you imagine going to school without a pencil cake and at least a red pen and a blue pen? I guess he either uses his laptop in all his classes, or bums a pen from someone on the rare occasions he absolutely must use one.

How long is handwriting going to remain a norm and not just become a quaint hobby like calligraphy?

Sneaking change that you don’t notice until you want a kid to do something that just results in a blank expression from them.

the times are indeed a changing

In many ways we don’t notice the changes that sneak into our daily lives through the use of technology, but I was reminded of this on Sunday when I went to buy a small thank you gift for a woman who is coming to our school to present a workshop for teachers later this week.

Previously, one might have purchased stationery for a teacher as a gift, and heavens we teachers have always loved stationery; but now that we have laptops, iPads, iPhones and all the programs that allow us to keep files on the skydrive, addresses in our email and facebook pages and calendars on our phone etc. there is little need for notebooks, pens and post it notes. Now there are even electronic sticky notes for our desktops, so I even baulked at buying Kath Kidson sticker pads, a personal favourite. Technology has wiped that fall back gift line off the line, especially as this particular presenter is speaking on IT!

And changing social attitudes means that chocolates are not always acceptable as everyone is always trying to shed weight and get healthy. Wine, well they may not be a drinker, and there are mixed opinions regarding gifting teachers alcohol as we are suppose to be role models

The last thing a teacher needs is usually another cup or mug, as everyone gives teachers cups and mugs. We’ve probably all done candles to death. So, I was starting to panic, and was going to just go for a bunch of flowers, but that seemed a bit naft and what if she is allergic? (Minerva is allergic to flowers and the last time someone brought flowers into the library I had to lock them in my office. I didn’t get them away fast enough and her lips blew up like a trout mouth and I thought I was going to have to apply an epipen to save her). So scratch flowers.

In the end I settled on bath fizz bombs in the shape of macaroons. Hopefully she will read the label and realise that they are not a food product. If she doesn’t have a bathtub, well. she can throw them into a bucket and soak her feet! Or better still, she can put them away to regift and claim that she has already started her Christmas shopping! Win, win there I say.

This day will end…won’t it?

This day has been difficult from beginning to end.

I was being nice Mother and drove over to feed Mr and Mrs Boy’s worms, only to have their door key break off the key ring they gave me. It was lost somewhere in their yard, I knew that, but where was the big question.

I searched and searched and could not find it, and eventually gave up and drove home. I told Mr FD he was returning with me later in the day to search anew. (There were tradesmen renovating the next door house and I didn’t want them to guess that I had lost the door key, just in case one of them was packing a metal detector and would find the key and help himself to Mr and Mrs Boys electrical goods. That is how a mother thinks, even a Flamingo Dancer mother!)

So, we did drive back later in the afternoon, when the renovators had gone home and searched again. Eventually key was found…inside the worm farm! It was on its side and under all the food that I had added, but covered in worm dirt. I guess it fell off the ring and either into the food bag I was carrying or out of my hand and into the worm farm. I had looked but it had fallen deep…that is my excuse).

THEN, I arrived home and tried to access my email account only to discover I had been hacked (2nd time in recent weeks!) and locked out of my email! The reset went to an email address I can no longer access and have tried to delete on several occasions but it keeps popping up. It is a hotmail account and trying to contact anyone to assist or to change information is just like trying to climb a never ending mountain. After resigning myself to one last attempt before I went and consumed the last of the Christmas brandy, I got it to reset.

I need to go and lie under my doona now. I may be some time.