Saturday, December 13, 2008

A life cut short and a life too long

This is a year 12 class I had 3 years ago - they're now all about 21 or 22. The single photo is Lindsay (seen also in the group photo) who recently lost his life in a rock climbing fall.As well as teaching Lindsay, I know his family well, his mother in particular. He was the youngest of 3 children, born when his sister (friend of my daughter's) was 4 years old. Such a huge loss and waste of a young life, how will his family and close friends ever get over it? We, whose lives have thankfully been untouched by such a tragedy, can only imagine the depth of their grief and suffering.We will go to Lindsay's funeral later in the week and try and share some of that burden of sorrow.
Meanwhile, my grandmother continues to live on at the amazing age of 107. She was born in April, 1901 and led an eventful and active life. A slightly eccentric person, she was wonderfully creative and enterprising all her productive life. Now she lies in her bed at her care centre and can do nothing. Sometimes her carers lift her into her special chair but still she does nothing. She barely communicates, won't talk, resists food, she doesn't seem in pain - but she won't leave us either.My mother (86 years) feels so sorry for this mother who once ruled the roost, such a vibrant and commanding person, reduced to this unlife. We can only wish her a merciful release some time soon. Meanwhile another family is left to wonder why their beautiful son, grandson, brother, boyfriend, cousin was taken from them on the verge of adulthood.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Michael's 30th -a wild thyme!

Just playing around with animoto

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Back from the Land of the Notables

Thought I better do something on this blog to satisfy expectations. I've just been informed that a wiki has been created by the OZNZ crew
and my blog address has been included as an example of a teacher's blog. Woops - haven't added anything for ages and much of what I post up here is more personal than related to my teaching activities.So,I now feel somewhat conscience bound to add something that other teachers might find useful.So here goes...

I have just emerged from a reasonably stressful time coordinating a big yr9 project that our school has run for the last 8 years or so called The Night of the Notables. This involves students choosing a notable person who has contributed in a worthwhile way to society.They extensively research that person, developing timelines, posters, artifacts, open ended questions, U-lead presentations etc etc. They have about 4 weeks to complete this research and then comes THE NIGHT when they set up their display stations on a table and pinboard. They dress up in costume as their designated notable person and - if they're really good actors and researchers, actually "become" that person for the duration of the presentation (one hour). My friend and colleague and Web Guru, Sue Tapp discovered this program (from another school) and introduced it to our school. She ran it singlehandedly for 6 years and then 2 years ago it was handed over to me. I had just weezled my way out of coordinating English which I had done for 13 years.As part of my "Expert" teacher status, this was my new duty (actually I seem to have a few "duties") Last year's Notables was relatively easy to coordinate with 9 Yr9 classes and the presentation at school. This year we had 11 yr9 classes (80 students over 3 nights) and the presentation was run off site because of a school building program. We were lucky to have access to a big space at a close by Baptist church whose pastor and community were delighted to help and were wonderful hosts.The whole event was overall very successful and was the result of many helpers and supporters. As coordinator I was extremely busy and frequently stressed but am pleased with the end result. Needless to say, I am very relieved it is now over and I can concentrate on exam marking and report writing as well as entertaining my junior classses for the remainder of the government school year.
This activity does involve researching on the internet and producing a digital image display to music - so 21st Century technologies are involved.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Long Weekend

The photo was taken around 1954 -when I was three years old - that's me in my father's arms. We were off the The Mackay Show. I have Queensland roots - came to Melbourne when I was 7 years old. I was showing my brother Stephen (the younger of my 2 brothers) that photo tonight and he wanted a copy so I scanned it so now I have a digital copy of an ancient pic!
I'm feeling just slightly liberated with a stretch of time in front of me - facilitated by a public holiday - to celebrate a horse race, no less. Yes, dear old Melbourne town, Australia, actually has a public holiday to watch horse races - The Melbourne Cup. Does any other place in the world have such a holiday? Anyway,I'm not complaining. Tagged on to my day off, I have a 4 day break! but of course, I've got plenty to do - year 11 essays to mark on the film, Beneath Clouds by Aussi, part indigenous guy, Ivan Sen.
I've also got a big project I've been working on coming to fruition in a couple of weeks - the Year 9 activity - The Night of the Notable My job is to coordinate this event and it is coming along okay - but it will be a relief to have it behind me.
Been watching an excellent program on SBS called First Australians -totally recommend it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Back Into It!

I’ve been on holiday, travelling around and have not felt drawn to writing in my blog for some time. I’m trying to work up some enthusiasm and here I am on a Sunday afternoon at home – and totally out of excuses! Last Sunday we spent with the grandchildren and their parents at Healesville watching a music concert. My musician son was heavily involved in an Abby Road concert there – he had come up with the idea and many of the children and young people involved (including my g’son) were performing songs from the old Beatles album. It was a perfect day and lovely to see the family again after our very successful motoring tour around parts of Tasmania.
We had flown into Launceston and hired a car with my brother and his wife. Travelling for 10 days we stayed 2 nights in each location and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Walked around a huge lake in the shadow of Cradle Mountain; visited the eerie but hauntingly beautiful old convict centre at Port Arthur; were dazzled by the old world charm and serenity of old Hobart town, particularly around Battery Point and Salamanca; enraptured by our sandstone, convict built cottage accommodation in Hamilton – surrounded by a heavily perfumed cottage garden visited by huge (but harmless) bumblebees; were awed by the giant trees in the Styx forest. On a mild day in Hobart we drove up to the top of Mount Wellington and were snowed on and frozen!

We took a car ferry over to Bruny Island and explored its beauty for the day. On Bruny we visited a memorial to Truganini – an amazingly strong tribal woman who used to live on the island with her family and tribal group. I only ever had vague information about this lady but here we found her full and devastating story – at 17yrs she witnessed her mother’s stabbing murder by men from a whaling ship; her two sisters were kidnapped by sealers, timber-getters violently killed her betrothed and she was repeatedly raped; her brother was killed and her stepmother kidnapped by convicts; her father died of despair within months. Her story doesn’t get much better - and you can read it all for yourself if you follow the link. Her story is a sombre and powerful reminder of the devastation and destruction wrought by the European invasion of Australia. It is important to note however the Truganini was not the last Tasmanian aboriginal person. There are still today many folk in Tasmania who can claim aboriginal descent. The First Australians on SBS made that very clear.
Our Tasmanian sojourn was altogether amazing and very enjoyable - totally recommend it to anyone in coowee of the apple isle.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tomorrow is another day

While Monday is marvellous (my day off), Tuesday is tedious. I'm thrown into a "6-on" day and it's very trying and exhausting. I have been reminded tonight by Vicki Davies that I do love teaching but that I need to be like Fred Astair and keep on re-inventing myself. Certainly my little forage into technology, particularly this year, is helping in this regard.
I've got the nicest year 10 class this year. I've had so many difficult and challenging year 10's over the last few years that I had forgotten how positive and interesting young people can be at this age. I can remember an excellent year 10 class I had about 20 years ago. I had a very good class about 8 years ago and a nice one about 6 years ago. So they are a bit rare.
This year's year 10 are great. There's one fabulous group who listen attentively, try their best and talk to me just like I am a human being! They've done a really good job with their blogs and seem to be enjoying this alternate way of presenting English work. Some of my students started reading my blog today - I'd provided a link on their homepage. I wanted them to see how I had presented my 6 word story and photo and how I had provided some background info on what had inspired me. I felt a little strange them reading some of my more personal entries - like my daughter's recent disappointment - but they were lovely about it. Hopefully, reading my blog will provide them with some writing modelling.
Anyway, I had this good class first two periods. Second two periods I had my rather challenging year 8 class - they deserve a dedicated post. In the afternoon, the yr7's -nice but high energy. My yr11 class at the end of the day? Well they can also be hard work. So I was feeling quite washed out by the end of the day - I needed Vicki's pick me up. Oh, and a wonderful podcast from the US and Columbia-cute kiddies with strong Spanish accents. Must do some podcasting with my students or get a flip video - something different- who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Christian the Lion - the full story (in HQ)

"That's life"

That's what my grandson said in response to the loss of a potential little sibling. My daughter has had to experience the sadness of a miscarriage at 10weeks. She says it has been a bitter sweet experience. There has been much loving support from the tight knit community where she lives. Families have been bringing food and flowers and transporting the children to and from school. The little life that isn't has been buried under a daphne bush that Ishaa has especially chosen because this is the time of year it blossoms. We're going to visit for the day tomorrow and do what we can.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A 6 word story - Searching the key to new horizons.

Lauren O'Grady has created a wiki where contributors are invited to display a photo accompanied by a 6 word story. I had a bit of a think about it - she wanted us to write something about ourselves. I prowled around the house with my camera looking for something suitable and found it in the music room. My son, who is a professional musician and teacher, has persuaded me to take up the piano again. So, between the keyboards of the piano and my laptop, I have been searching for new ways to extend myself and feel more personally developed and challenged! Thanks Lauren for this affirmation - now to ask my students to do this same task...

A Rainy Day in all sorts of ways

It's my precious day off and I'm trying to make the most of it. Wading through a pile of year 11 essays on language analysis is no guarantee of cheer. I suppose the process of analysing written and visual persuasive language and describing the most likely effect on the reader is a skill some people never master - hence the popularity of tabloids. But I also did not prepare my students thoroughly enough - the preparation time was rushed and they didn't do enough practice runs. Some of the stronger students have produced reasonable discussions but the majority? - Let's just say we'll need to do more practice - certainly before they hit year 12.
It's been raining continuously which is exactly the type of rain we need to break the drought - but it's very dreary and cold. At least the guys are here to fix our heater at last.There are all sorts of noises emanating from beneath the house where they're working.
There's bad news for my daughter's pregnancy. In the last 3 days there have been ominous signs that all is not progressing well. She will have a blood test today so hopefully she will know for sure. She is only 10 weeks pregnant and of course lots of people have experienced this heartache - but it's hard to cop. My daughter's 2 older children are very sad -particularly her 9 year old. I think it's the loss of the idea that hurts the most.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Time for a Post

I figured it was about time I made a new post. I've given up waiting for something really startling to blog about so I'll just web log about ordinary stuff. Our gas central heating unit is still not fixed so we are still cold. The open fire and the little blow heater are stopping the lounge room from turning into an icebox - but only just.I'm also wearing lots of layers of clothing so I suppose that's what we should always do instead of burning off more fossil fuels. We're hell bent on self destruction I suppose.
I went swimming this morning - I'm a bit obsessive about swimming 20 laps two times a week - which is 2ks a week. I'm quite quietly proud about that actually. It's the sort of physical endurance feat I never thought I could do when I was a young person. I used to do lots of dance / calisthenics as a young person which kept me pretty fit but now I swim.
We've planned a 10 day holiday in Tasmania- going with my much younger brother and his wife so that'll be fun. We were supposed to share a Turkish holiday together last year but my brother was too busy and couldn't make it. He's an immigration lawyer and does some great things for distressed people. Anyway, my sister-in-law was still able to travel around turkey with us for 3 weeks.She is actually Turkish / Kurdish and was over there anyway working on her thesis for her PHD.She was a lovely travel companion for us and an invaluable translator - especially when my husband wanted to track down his family roots in a little town outside of Ismere.
At the moment I'm wading through Year 11 essays analysing persuasive language. Some of the students understand the process well and others just don't get it. They want to summarize what the article is about rather than identify the persuasive techniques and discuss how these devices position the reader. We'll have to do a lot more practice. Well I might go and watch some Olympic sporting event but you should check out the ad that channel 7 refused to run.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My friend Sue

I have to acknowledge the inspirational debt I owe my friend and colleague, Sue. If it wasn't for her talent, guidance and enthusiasm, I doubt if I would be having the fun I am having with technology in the classroom.At least once a week I take my year 7's, 8's and 10's into a computer room to work on their blogs. They are either posting up some creative or reflective writing or doing some text based responses. Lately they have been enjoying working on mystudiyo where they can create their own quizzes. Further down the track, I intend to learn how to do podcasts and have students interview each other on various topics. Once again, my guru Sue has led the way in podcasting at our school. For a wonderful acknowledgement of what Sue is doing with taking classes into the digital age, see Anne Baird's comments on her blog.
Adding this extra dimension to my teaching has been challenging but very satisfying and exciting. The majority of my students have responded in a positive way to this alternate manner of presenting work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A cold July night.

Our central heating has broken down so we are experiencing a cold Melbourne night in July. I am sitting under the doona as I write this in an effort to keep warm but my nose is freezing!
However, I was fortunate enough tonight to partake in another amazing meeting with the OzNZ Educators group. Every Sunday 20 or so teacher-type folk put on their headsets and adjust their webcams and prepare for an interesting discussion. Tonight's topic was based on a member's blog entry in which she observed how the "e" tag placed on learning etc has blown out of proportion. We have become obsessed with ethis and ethat and have lost sight of what's really effective in teaching today's children.Anyway you can read her blog for yourself if you follow the link.
I helped my 9year old grandson create his own blog today. He hasn't put much in it yet but he would be very thrilled if you dropped in to visit. I'll insert a clustrmap so he'll know if you've been there

Saturday, July 19, 2008

School's back in

Survived the first week back at school which is always a challenge after a break. Routine is a comfort we take for granted until we have a break from it. Anyway, I have started 3 different classes blogging! This is my exciting achievement for the moment. I have 2 classes working in 21 classes and one class in Edublogger.

However, I must say I'm finding Edublogger a headache - it's clunky and obscure compared to the much more amenable 21classes platform. Edubloggers has a tremendous array of support backups but they certainly need them - there seems lots of little quirks and tricky aspects. But I am determined to stick with Edubloggers for this one class - I've spent so many hours trying to work it out that I don't want to throw it all in now!

My students' reactions have varied. My most challenging class - a remedial yr8 seem quite engrossed during their blogging session. Some of my clever little year 7's are struggling a bit with the concept and have questioned why they need to have computer skills in English. This response is slightly infuriating but I just remain calm and explain how they will come to appreciate the opportunity to share their views online / comment on others and build up their own web spaces. Funnily enough my 16 year old year 10's seem the most flummoxed by the whole blogging experience. They know nothing! I thought I was the old newb. But, it's early days and I won't let little hiccups dampen my new found enthusiasm.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Due on my birthday!

Apologies to the not so baby minded...
Great news today - another gc on the way. Very early days but daughter No1 said she doesn't mind if everyone knows - if something should go wrong then she would be just as upset if she was 6 months down the track. In the olden days, there was much secrecy about a pregnancy until it was well established. Then in the unfortunate event of a miscarriage, the grieving parents were not given any acknowledgement of their loss. So, anyway, that's the modern thinking and it makes sense. so - here's hoping for a successful outcome! Don't worry - I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oh Brother, where art thou??

I have spent about 3 days trying to get our wireless router to talk to our new fancy Brother Multi Function Centre - printer / fax/ scanner whatever. I am delighted to say it is finally happening but - what a slog! a very frustrating and infuriating experience. We eventually employed a techno wiz type young person to come and help us but even he had a battle. The problem was that the settings on the machine were defaulting to something incorrect. So, even when we got it working, after the power saver was turned off and turned on again the next day, the settings had been lost -urrgh! Any way, it's working now and it's great, so there you are.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

a Peanut butter wiki for year 11

I've been putting together a pbwiki for Year 11. I've posted up a lot of resources on the play, Freedom of the City by Brian Friel and some study questions. Of course, it's meant to be a collaborative enterprise so I've emailed the other yr11 English teachers and they can add or change things as they wish. I was following a link posted by Jo McLeay who is still over in Texas doing the NECC thing but still thinks of us living our prosaic lives down under and looking for inspirations in the antipodes. I am quite pleased with myself actually and even managed to insert some bubble share slide shows from images I pilfered from Google - which reminds me I will have to acknowledge their origin. anyway, you can check out my pbwiki (free) at and make any suggestions if you feel so inclined.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A few energetic days

Close detail of Fairies' Tree, carved by Ola Cohn, 1930's
Fairies' Tree - restored somewhat

Inside Captain Cook's Cottage

The last few days have been "on the go" as we say in aussiland. My 2 precious grandchildren have been staying with us - sometimes accompanied by a parent or 2, sometimes not. Young children are lots of fun and lots of work! My grandchildren are not toddlers anymore - ages are 5 and 9- but they sure keep you on your toes and remind you what a demanding job child rearing is. Anyway, we had a successful day visiting Captain Cook's cottage and the carved "fairies' tree" in Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens. We then walked round to the Old Treasury building that has been converted into a fascinating museum covering early Melbourne history.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Discovering Adeline Yen Mah and holidays

Needed something to read so picked up Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah - what an amazing story. She had such a WICKED stepmother! Almost impossible to believe someone could be so mean - and her own father didn't care! Adeline's real mother died as a result of childbirth complications when she was 2 weeks old and the little girl was blamed - all her life! Where was the childhood protection agencies? Anyway, fascinating (and very fast) read. Would like to find Falling Leaves which is apparently more for older readers so I might not read that one so quickly.
Well, school holidays have just begun - 2 weeks of no school. Bliss. Actually I don't hate school that much but after 20 years at the same place, I'm a little over it. But it is so close - 10minutes walk away, 2 minutes drive, so I stay...
Pleased to say I will have 3 classes using blogs next term. Have set up 21 classes for the juniors and Year 10's are using edublogs. Just starting off small and private. Once students get into the swing, and get okay from parents, will go public and hopefully attract a wider audience. Have used epals before and know that students are thrilled to communicate with far away audience.
My friend and muse from school is at the NECC conference in Texas so I'm following her trip with interest. she'll come back knowing so much and will work hard to get us all on board using technology in the classroom. Well, I'm trying.
Will be visiting the cottage of Captain James Cook tomorrow - it was brought over from Yorkshire, England, and rebuilt in the Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne. I first saw it when I was a little girl (many a long year ago) and it fired up my imagination. Will be taking the grandchildren (aged 9 and 5) so hopefully they will be similarly inspired.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Captain Cook and his childhood home

I'm very entranced with all things Captain Cook at the moment. It all started with watching an ABC mockumentary on Cook presented by Vanessa Collingridge. Then I read the book on which the program is based. I then read a wonderful book by Marele Day (yes I hadn't heard of her either) called Mrs Cook - The real and Imagined Life of the Captain's Wife. On Sunday we're taking the 2 grandchildren and my dynamic mother who turns 86 this year - who must take credit for my new Cook passion -to the Fitzroy Gardens to see the cottage where James Cook was raised.
by mister.crowley

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mother, son,cat and letterbox man

Today is the winter solistice - 21st June and the longest night in the year. From now on the days will start to get longer. I spent it in a cosy little town in the foothills of a great mountain. There was much celebrations and festivities going on. I had the care of my beautiful grandchildren for the day and we went into the main township and joined in the fun. My 9 year old grandson was exhibiting a letterbox he had created for a very novel competition. See the picture above. His friend traced his outline and he used a jigsaw to cut out the shape of his letterbox man.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Useful tips for newbs

Look - now I have learnt to make a screen photo and post it in my blog:

Just fell across the Vicky Davies site - so useful to a beginner like me
vicki davies
so as you can see I finally learnt how to make a link. Who knows what else I might learn as I am meant to be writing my end of semester reports! thank you Vicky!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Just hanging in there

Hello my faithful little band of red dots on my cluster map. Who are you? Do you just drop into my blog for an instant? Do you actually read it? I read recently that blogging is a narcassistic activity. I have to confess (don't tell anyone) that I actually prefer writing in my blog than reading other people's !! but I do read other people's blogs, I really do. Sometimes they are very informative, instructional all that sort of thing.

Well, we are in the least bearable time of the year for a high school teacher in the southern hemisphere - end of semester assessment, exams and reports. You have to take the piecemeal approach and nibble away at it, bit by bit. that's my approach. Been doin it for 20 years and it seems to work.

You know we are all heroes, plugging away at our lives in little corners tucked away out of notice, unheralded but satisfied that we're still at it. I'm actually echoing some sentiments expressed by Melbourne journo Catherine Deveny in the Age newspaper this week. I'll quote her for a bit:

I watch office workers, jolted out of their slumber by the alarm clock, who have shovelled in their breakfast, thrown on their clothes and rush to catch the train to a job they hate. I say good morning to elderly neighbours who gingerly walk around the block trying to get their creaky bones and foggy heads working after a night of constant pain and little sleep. I wave to the woman from down the road who has lost her mother after a long fight with cancer. She is shrouded in grief, yet she gets her kids up and dressed, the lunches made and has, against all odds, got the kids to school on time again. And I cheer my mate, overwhelmed by anxiety and depression who runs, every morning. He forces himself out of bed when what he wants is to pull the doona over his head and disappear. Where's his medal? Where are all of their medals?

1."Every day the sun will rise. It is a different day with endless possibilities."
2. "This too will pass. These words, engraved on an ancient Sultan's ring, made him solemn in happy times and happy during sad times. Remember these always."

You are amazing. You're doing a great job. Just. Keep. Going.

I love Catherine Deveny, she can be so irreverent and cheeky but here she is getting to the heart of pathos - and she's talking about us - all of us. But especially those of us who are doing it hard - from the victims of unspeakable disasters in China and Burma to the lady across the road who is old and bed ridden and no hope of getting any better but who still manages a smile and a joke on the too few occasions I go over to visit her.I wish my dad was still alive - he would have loved this blogging business. Maybe I can send a message to him and he will pick it up in the ether somewhere out there. Hi dad - look at this, you can do it too - maybe post some excerpts of that latest piece of writing you were thinking about when you so unexpectedly left us. Your writing will be immediately accessible and available to an unlimited audience.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Turkish Memories

The slideshow below shows some snippets from our Turkish holiday - taken last year. Seems a lifetime ago. We started off in Istanbul and made our way down the west coast - Cannakale, Troy, Avyalik, Foca, Izmir - here we researched and discovered the location of the village where my husband's family came from - Kouklouja - now called something else. His family were Greeks who made a forced exodus in the 1920's, lived in Egypt for 30 years and came to Melbourne in the 1950's.
We loved Turkey, the ruins at Ephesus are amazing, the seaside town of Cesme, enchanting.People everywhere were helpful and hospitable. For 3 out of the 5 weeks my Kurdish / Turkish sister-in-law travelled with us. She was doing field work on a PHD and visiting a sick nephew and it was a wonderful coincidence that she was there at the same time as us. Of course she was a marvellous interpreter, especially when we visited old Koulouja and she was able to explain to the locals who we were.

Check out my Slide Show!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bloggers Feast Melbourne, May 15th

Listen to a fascinating podcast made at the bloggers Feast last week. I was somewhat of an interloper but Sue persuaded me to come and it was interesting and fun to meet all these nice folk who are very savvy bloggers and technology in education innovators. Very inspiring for an old teach like me who needs something to keep me going.

My voki has a plum in her mouth

Do you think she looks like me? She doesn't sound like me though. I could have recorded my own voice but I was working (playing) on our old home computer and the microphone doesn't seem to work. She's really to accompany my class blog but I added her here because I could.
Update - I've recorded my own voice now - just my unplummy aussi accent!

Get a Voki now!

Friday, May 16, 2008

To blog or not to blog?

Do people blog to escape the reality of an unhappy environment? Do they feel the people in their accessible vicinity have no interest in what they have to say? Or does the blogger have no interest in communicating to them? a bit of both perhaps. A lot of blogs are highly informative and instructional and a marvellous opportunity for us to extend our immediate horizons. Of course we could do this by reading - books, journals, newspapers etc. But this does not have the dynamic quality of following an evolving thought process. and the reader can interact with the writer - possibly - more easily than with some far away author.
As a means of communication amongst educators it has become a valuable tool to spread helpful and innovative teaching ideas - particularly related to the use of technology in the classroom.
This electronic and borderless (unless you live under a military dictatorship) means of communication is a unique means of finding out about the lives of far away people in exotic cultures. Remember The Bagdad Blog by "Salem Pax" as he waited for the US reign of terror invasion? He was lucky not to have his blog intercepted.
I suppose if you have relatives living overseas, or if you are travelling yourself, you can post pictures and written accounts that your friends and rellies can read. I am hopeful to start my students blogging sometime soon. I'm sure they will find it exciting and motivating.
So, I suppose there's lots of good reasons why people blog.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Link to my first podcast

Link to my first podcast
My friend Sue wrote up our podcast and provided a link which I haven't worked out how to do yet -so here's her blog address and find the post called My very first podcast. I must learn to do these links.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Very fun and interesting Skype conversation with Kevin in USA on - Are teachers qualified to teach students of the future. Sue had been communicating with this guy for a on a ustream and he wanted to have a chat with us and another American non teacher - Colby. Amazing to have this direct 4-way chat about important aspects of education - eg US obsession with testing - creating a compliant, obedient society etc. Sue's gradually convincing me this can be a very neat way to engage in discussions.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Naomi Klein and John Cusack

check out the above video link to a most interesting interview of authorNaomi klein with actor / director, John Cusack.

Been reading the Shock Doctrine and it's disturbing but important stuff that we always half knew but here it is all documeted and meticulously researched. and her chapters on Iraq, well. If Barack Obama doesn't agree with his vicar's views - he should! see also -

Friday, February 29, 2008

Home from Year 7 Camp

I have not been on a school camp for a number of years and forgotten how satisfying they can be but exhausting too of course.I have just returned from 2 nights and 3 days from a Year 7 camp at a very comfortable permanent camp site by the bay. There are expert instructors on site who offer a number of fun and exciting specialised activities for the students such as a high ropes course and snorkeling. Teachers also run less demanding activities like archery and sports activities. In spite of my advanced years I managed all my designated activities quite satisfactorily and had some great chats with students.The sort of relaxed atmosphere that you never get at school. Our students were very well behaved and I got to know my own yr7 English class so much better. I've finally sorted out all their names and made friends with even the quietest ones.

Me as a Writer!

My year 11 English class will be starting their first writing piece next week for their Creating and Presenting Folio - based on the lyrics of Paul Kelly.they asked me if I could produce a sample piece of writing for them and I came up with a biography of a family member as an example of informative writing. It was fun to write and I include it here for your possible interest.

Paul Kelly Inspired Writing Folio Piece no 1

Statement of Explanation :

It was mainly Deeper Water that gave me the idea for this piece of informative writing:

On a crowded beach in a distant time

At the height of summer see a boy of five

At the water’s edge so nimble and free

Jumping over the ripples looking way out to see

My Intended audience: Members of my family who would be very interested to read about Stanley’s life. Also my yr11 English students to give them a sample of the sort of writing they could do for this first Writing piece on informative writing.

My Purpose in writing this biography is to provide a brief over view of Stanley's life – to highlight the huge changes he had to undergo as a child – both geographically and emotionally. I want to also focus on how much he has achieved in spite of the obstacles he faced. Stanley has always displayed a passionate attitude to life, his family and his environment. He has never taken anything lying down and has always been a fighter – so I see him as a sort of a protester. (Our theme for Yr11 is "Passion and Protest". )

One Man’s Journey

Stanley was born in Alexandria, Egypt, the year after World War 2 ended. He lived in the bustling and multicultural city of Alexandria, home to expatriate Greeks for centuries. His family were in fact relatively recent arrivals. His father had come as a child from Turkey – escaping the excesses and violence of the new Turkish nationalism. His mother’s family had arrived in a more gentle and circuitous manner from the nearby islands of Chios and Cyprus.

Stanley was an only child for his first six years of life and was much adored and cherished by his parents, only surviving grandmother and a lively extended family. A sweet and well behaved child he was happy to welcome a tousled haired mischievous little sister, Tina, who was born in 1952.

Frequent trips to the nearby ocean beach, grandly named Camp Caesar (in honour of Julius Caesar who set up camp there when he was courting Cleopatra) developed in young Stanley an enduring love of the sea and surf. He was also treated to excursions to the mainly American cinema by his twin cousins. Other highlights of his Egyptian childhood were being spoilt by kindly Arab servants and eating treats of salami and olives from his Uncle’s grocery store, situated on the ground floor of the family apartment building. He attended a Greek school where he also learnt French and Arabic but especially loved maths.

This happy childhood idyll was soon to end however. At the age of eight, the family was obliged to leave Egypt. Now this country was also experiencing nationalistic fervour and turmoil and Europeans, once the mainstay of Egyptian wealth and tolerance, were no longer welcome. Some of the family moved to Greece but Stanley and his parents decided to follow an uncle to Melbourne, Australia.

Now begins a challenging time for the little Greek boy from Egypt. He arrived at Carnegie Primary School knowing no English and in those days there was no special consideration given to non English speaking students. In fact, in 1955, Stanley was the first Greek student to arrive at his school and it was sink or swim. He looks back on this time as a confusing period as everything people said to him at school was unintelligible. He remembers being teased about his multisyllabic surname and being called Stanley“half- potato” as the nearest approximation they could manage for his name. He remembers a kind girl who walked home with him and taught him the names of objects in the street. The only word he already knew was “football” and he quickly fell in love with Australian Rules football although his father had been a soccer champion in Egypt. One subject at school he could make sense of was the universal language of numbers – maths. Maybe that’s why he grew up to be an accountant.

Stanley's high school days are fondly remembered. He loved the social aspects, was a keen participant in all sports and became a school leader in his senior years. A charismatic teacher introduced him to the Greek writer, Nikos Kazantzakis and he read an English translation of Zorba the Greek as well as Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. He remains today a keen reader of English although his written Greek (not his spoken Greek) has unfortunately been forgotten. At nineteen years of age, Stanley matriculated and joined a city firm of accountants where he combined work and study and finally qualified as a chartered accountant. At twenty-six years of age he married a blue eyed, blond Aussie girl who was also a high school teacher of English - now he had his own personal language mentor – not that he ever appreciated her suggestions!

Stanley has now been married for thirty-five years, has three grown up children and two cherished grandchildren. He is still working hard as an accountant and many people depend on him to help organize their finances and complete their tax returns. He has travelled to Greece and visited his relations three times and even travelled to Egypt, Turkey and Cyprus to pay homage to his family’s journey. However, he has no regrets that his family decided to come to Australia all those years ago. He just hopes we can look after this beautiful country and world so his grandchildren and their children can enjoy it too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oh. I have an audience!

Really - although 2 comments are from encouraging friends (thanks) it gave me such a buzz to think there are people out there reading my entries - whoo! Better watch my p's and q's. Which reminds me about the WRAP course I am teaching this year to year 8's - The Writing and Reading Approach to Literacy based on the program developed by Romalda Spaulding. This approach takes the alphabet and breaks it into 70 different phonograms or codes which encapsulates the English Language. Along with 29 Rules, handwriting focus and a whole lots of other fun things this is a really exciting insight into how children can learn spelling and reading. It address the 3 pathways of learning – seeing, saying and doing – not all of which are satisfied in the old “Whole language” approach which has dominated the way language has been taught in primary schools for a long time. So there are many children who have not had their learning pathways opened up and end up in high school with big gaps in their reading and spelling and writing competency. So, with a number of colleagues, I recently completed 2 certificate courses in how to deliver this program and have started delivering it to a group of yr8’s who have been identified since leaving grade 6 as needing extra assistance. I have felt enthused and even inspired but inevitably this is wearing a bit thin in the face of student resistance and lack of cooperation amongst some members of my class. Because we have started with the easier phonograms some are complaining that this is babyish. I tell them it’s going to get harder – and so it will. The King of the phonograms has 6 different sounds- “ough” (oh,oo,uff,off, or,ou ). I’m just home from a parent info night about this program and only 4 sets of parents out of my 17 students turned up. However, I’ll be hanging in there and things can only start getting better.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Today is Monday and my day off for the week. I have been relatively productive although the idea is to rest and not do too much. Trying to sort out the new Yr 11 English course is a bit of a headache. This emphasis on students using their text as an inspiration for their Writing Folio can be riddled with pitfalls and invite very waffly responses. We're doing the lyrics of Paul Kelly (wonderful Australian singer/songwriter) with the theme Passion and Protest. Students will be asked to write in various styles about subjects they feel passionate about and or want to protest about using these songs sa a starting point. There are actually lots of ideas generated from the Kelly lyrics ranging from indigenous issues to relationship complications, love of place or cricket icons.
Anyway, for my day off I have been thinking a bit about school stuff as well as doing a bit of cleaning up around the garden (never ending). Oh, and had a marvellous sleep in which didn't happen over the weekend. So it's not all hard work. Must go now and do some shopping before dinner.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strike Day - all for a good cause

I was contemplating doing the right thing and attending the rally but I piked. I was tempted by my friend to have a shopping day instead. not very wise as I am losing money today so I shouldn't be splashing it around. however we went into a factory whare house in abbotsford and picked up some amazing price reductions. Had a pleasant lunch in Carlton too. Can't see us getting our much needed pay rise in a hurry however.
Still feeling great about the apology yesterday. We were given permission to bring our classes down to the Library and watch it on the big screen. Our library was just as hushed and reverential as Parliament house. hopefully our kiddies appreciated the significance of the occasion. As our former GG Dean commented to Kerry O'Brien later, it is certainly the first step in a long drawn out process. Marvellous to see that photo in The Age of the ex PM's and lovely Malcolm. totally appropriate that Howard stayed away.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Searching for inspiration

I've tried a few times to get a blog started so I hope this one is more enduring than my earlier attempts. I have a colleague who is a very dedicated bogger so she is my muse. I have just had a few days away from school what with Friday off (my sister-in-law's father's funeral, yet another reminder of our impermanency here) the weekend and Monday is my glorious one day off a week. Saw my beautiful grand kiddies yesterday - they are growing so quickly (5yrs and 9 yrs). I went for an early morning swim - my usual k swim at the local pool. then picked up some nice TS tops from Myer. Finished reading Atonement today - wonderful, the film is only half as good as the novel. Will try now and insert my avatar.