Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Autumn views

You probably gathered that Autumn is my favourite time of the year. I stopped a few times on my way to work this morning to take some photos. One is of a service road next to Sturt Street and the next one is taken off Springs Road just down from the school.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Rural Education Framework

Rural Education Framework Strategy Workshop
Ballarat Regional Office 30/04/13 ( Video conferencing with Horsham)

Introduction by Lesley Hubble acting Regional Director
This workshop is the first in a series that will look at the document The State of Our Children Report 2011 as it relates to rural schools
Facilitators from the performance and evaluation division from central office
Disparities have emerged between rural and metropolitan data for student school performance.
Joyce Cleary introduced the Victorian child and adolescent outcomes framework and the origins of the report.
Joy McLaughlin discussed some general findings from the report.
Rural Victoria will grow from 1.5 million to 1.9 million in 2031. In rural Victoria there is higher unemployment, parents less likely to have finished year 12, Prep children are likely to be more developmentally vulnerable especially in more remote areas.Dental care is well behind metropolitan children.Binge drinking and STI rates are greater in rural areas. There are higher rates of child abuse in rural areas. Regional and rural children are more likely to be victims of crime and perpetrators of crime.( young offenders commit crimes against property) Koorie children are more likely to participate in kindergarten in rural areas ( Half of Victoria's koorie population live in rural Victoria)
Some strengths included higher levels of community connectedness, more opportunity for children to have input into community decision making. (More likely to report a lack of transport access and access to community resources ) immunisation rates are higher and participation in kindergarten and improved rates of physical activity.Early school levers make better transition to employment.Rural children are more likely to have someone to turn to for advice and have a trusted adult in their lives.Concerns for our region include poor access to dental services but there are strong NAPLAN results for year 7 and 9.

Geographical location does not appear to be a major factor in disadvantage, rather socio- economic outcomes in rural and remote areas have a greater impact on disadvantage.
The data was unpacked in detail and discussed around tables.(Data did show that adults in some rural areas weren't reading to their children in the first year of life and it was discussed that children who are read to at that age improve their reading skills and engagement in later years. It was suggested that Maternal and Child Health professionals could address this issue directly with parents.)

In the afternoon session Katherine Henderson discussed 'What is next for Rural Education'
How do we use this data to make a difference in our schools?
Katherine posed the question in our table groups ( including Horsham) What are the core challenges in education for our community?
Issues included: transition, workload, curriculum provision, ICT connectivity, lack of opportunity, harnessing goodwill in small rural communities, determining priorities, declining enrolments and small town demographics, tyranny of distance, staffing and recruitment,Government policy and DEECD policy one size fits all mentality,dealing with change management, concerns about parenting, lack of diversity low levels of aspiration and a reduction of community profiles.
We discussed a range of strategies that we thought might address some of these issues. ( My ideas, for what they're worth can be read in the school's website, refer to the Documents section for papers I've written for school council and my collegiate group over the years.)These were noted down and will hopefully help inform future planning. ( This is the first workshop of many to be held around the state.
Participants were praised for their innovative approach to rural issues and their proactive response to challenges. It was suggested that we should put it to DEECD that they should 'get out of the way' and let us get on with finding solutions to our problems.It will be interesting to see the final report/framework that comes out from this data and series of rural workshops.

Chitty Chitty

Fresh Autumn day this morning with a bit of a mist.
Below is a photo of some of our work for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.( Perspective pictures, acrostic poems, special car drivers licenses, pros and cons of owning a special car and more.)The other day the children took photos of their family cars when they were picked up with their iPads and today they wrote labels for the photo describing all of their car's 'special' features.Some just told the truth about their car and others decided to give their cars candy dispensers, seat massages, built in televisions etc.

Friday, 26 April 2013


Last year our kookaburra's were very shy but this year they're all over the place. Their favourite haunt is to perch on some branches behind the store shed. In the past they used to sit on the playground equipment. ( Maybe it is a bit too out in the open for them. We do have a few eagles around. Last week myself and 2 students watched one gliding around the surrounding pine trees with binoculars.)
I was able to take a few photos of them this morning and on Friday morning (refer below) Sometimes they fly off before I can get myself organised but this morning I could get within 10-15 metres of them.
Just got 1500 views.Thanks to all those who have viewed the blog.


This afternoon with Marlene's help we planted our veggies and herbs: lettuce, carrots, strawberries, parsley, onion, beet root and more. We'll just have to keep them watered, keep away the rabbits and snails and we should be able to get at least a nice salad out of it.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I attended one of a number of ANZAC Day ceremonies being held this morning around Ballarat ( Refer photos) ANZAC stands for The Australian New Zealand Army Corp. During the First World War Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an allied (British and French) invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. The object of the invasion was to capture Constantinople and drive Turkey out of the war freeing up the Bosphorus so that the western allies could support Russia and Serbia and encourage Romania to enter the war on the allied side. The invasion was a disaster. it was poorly planned and executed. the Turks fought stubbornly and after over a year of stalemate the allies withdrew. Turkey remained an ally of Germany until the end of the war and Australian soldiers went on to fight on the western front and Palestine. Gallipoli as it is called in Australia and New Zealand was seen at the time as the 'coming of age' of our two countries at a time when the human sacrifice made on the battlefields equated with national pride.
Today ANZAC Day ( which is a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand) is honoured as a day when we can reflect on the sacrifice that Australian's made to protect our families and our country since that first expedition of police were sent to the Maori Wars in the 1840s and NSW artillery went to Sudan in the 1880s to defend the 'Empire'. ANZAC Day went out of favour for a while when people began to doubt its relevance and feared that it was becoming a day for glorifying war.( especially during the Vietnam War ) but today it is generally seen as a day of genuine reflection, an opportunity to 'connect' when distant family members and a chance to give thanks that we live in a free and democratic society.
Since the last of those original diggers ( The landings took place at dawn on April 25th 1915) died ceremonies have encompassed other wars including Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the equivalent of the US Veterans Day although we also honour Armistice Day but we call it Remembrance Day on November 11th.
I usually use ANZAC Day to study not so much the Gallipoli landings at school but to look at other aspects of Australia's involvement in war ( The Australian Navy, the Japanese bombing of Darwin, Australian involvement in the Korean War and the role of peace keepers.) but this year I have decided to do a unit of work on Remembrance Day instead. ( I will post that later in the year)
My son is one of the captains of Ballarat High School and he was involved in a wreath laying ceremony ( pictured below) at the entrance to Ballarat's Avenue of Honour this morning.

Autumn in Ballarat

Autumn in Ballarat is a lovely time of the year. Below are photos of crosses on display out the front of the cenotaph in Sturt Street for ANZAC Day. Each cross has the name of a man from the district who volunteered to serve in the armed forces in the First World War.I have also posted a photo of some picturesque autumn trees down Ripon Street Ballarat and a view of Sturt St.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Education Forum in Ballarat

Peter Garret ( Minister of Education Sebastopol College 23/04/13) introduced by Catherine King local MP and Minister.
National Plan for School Improvement
Peter discussed the origins of the Gonski review.
He discussed the diversity of our school system and noted the investment by the Federal Government in the National Curriculum, BER , National Standards, information about schooling via Naplan and My School , National Partnership investment and highlighted the money spent on Sebastopol College.
The Gonski Review into education found that we have a large proportion of children from low socio economic backgrounds who finish well behind other students. Higher achieving students aren't doing well and that we are stagnating. There was also a belief that the current funding model lacks transparency and Isn't working. Gonski proposed a new funding model.
Gonski recognises what children need to learn regardless of location, size of school and background and that funding for schools required the government to 'bolt on' the loading of disadvantage to funding per student. ( Socio-economic, aboriginality, location)
What will be the the purpose of this funding?- The National plan for school improvement includes recognising student need (early years and literacy ) more autonomy for school leaders and the community , consistent national data sets nationwide for all schools. The PM has guaranteed 14.5 billion dollars of Gonski funding. Today New South Wales has signed on to the NPSI today.IT is now very important that other states join in.
Peter believes that it can work regardless of the procrastination of some states and the negative approach of the opposition. He believes that we all have a 'school experience' but over time that view is being challenged by the massively changing nature of our geo-political world, We have been a big quarry to the world in the past ( selling commodities seldom value adding) but we need to become imaginative innovators if we are going to continue to enjoy our current state of living. Finally we need to know that every young person should not be left behind because of the level of funding to their schools. We need to 'lift those kids' so that they receive the opportunities that they are entitled too. Well educated children get good jobs and contribute to the welfare of the nation.
Loadings to funding have changed at the minister's suggestion.Disability loading has proved to be a huge issue and he believes the funding is generous. They are working on a national definition of disability. He believes it is a very exciting time in education an that this an historic moment. The Gonski reforms provide a Solid platform for 21st century learning.Without them this country will go backwards.

Friday, 19 April 2013

New Unit; Hugo Cabret

This is a unit plan for the remarkable Caldecott  Medal winning book The Invention of Hugo Cabret written and wonderfully illustrated byBrian Selznick. I created this unit in 2012 to coincide with the release of the excellent movie version of the book. It was 'road tested' with an enthusiastic reader and grade four girl who started at Glen Park PS last year. It is an ideal book for personal reading (not really suitable as a serial.) We expanded the unit to include other French classics such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.The unit worked well and I'd use it again possibly adding The Man in the Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers.

Click HERE to go to this unit on TPT

Graphic novels

I've been purchasing graphic novels for our school library for the last four years and they have contributed to effectively engaging reluctant readers to read. I have bought my graphic novels mainly from Pulp Fiction in Adelaide but a new store has opened in Ballarat called Heroes HQ ( Refer to the photo below) which has a fantastic range of books and paraphernalia. If you would like to read a discussion paper I prepared about using graphic novels in the classroom then go to my school web site ( A link to Glen Park PS is on the right) and click in the documents section.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Not a big fan of dioramas but we decided to have a go with some purpose built diorama boxes with in built clear plastic fronts. ( I didn't have any shoeboxes) We created an underwater scene inspired by Island of the Blue Dolphins.I have 3 of the messiest girls in the Southern Hemisphere and they lived up to their reputation. They also discovered that hot glue guns produce HOT GLUE!
They had fun (certainly laughed a lot) and produced some dioramas that they are proud of.

Co-operative Games

Our Thursday student teachers ( We have 6 at our school at the moment!) played co-operative games with our students on the oval. The game shown in the photos required the children to 'move' a hoop around a circle of students while holding hands. Not as easy as you might think but they managed to droit in 38 seconds. What impressed me most was the different ideas they came up with to improve the activity to make it more challenging. well done students and kids.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

New sports equipment

It took awhile and hundreds of supermarket dockets but we finally got our box of Sports equipment from Coles. We didn't get very much but you shouldn't look a gift horse n the mouth. we ordered some additional skipping ropes , footballs, basketballs and netballs.
This is a photo of Chelsea opening up our box of equipment.

More skipping fun

The kids practiced their skipping at lunch time again. Amity beat her record of 3 and skipped 5 times, Chelsea was able to touch the ground and skip and Henny and Zayda jumped together and high fives each other as they jumped.

Fun with the student teachers.

We had 2 of our student teachers here today. They took the kids for skipping and had a great time. They allowed the kids to invent challenges for themselves with the long skipping rope and they came up with some great ideas including skipping in pairs and bouncing a basketball while skipping.

Emails from Gary Crew

Gary Crew emailed me again today to see if I've worked out the secret to The Watertower. I' m still none the wiser. maybe the kids will be able to help me when we study the book later in the term.
here are our emails.

I've been meaning to get there for years.I'll make an effort this year!
Thanks Gary
Tony Shaw

Thanks mate, it's also reflected in Bubba's eye in the wordless page.
By the way I will be presenting at Clunes Booktown Festival in May. No
Program is available yet, but I will be there on 4/5 May if you want tocatch up.
Cheers, Gary

Thanks Gary for posing more questions than answers!
It's also there in the black and white picture of Bubba sitting by thetree.
We will be doing work on your books later in the term ( after Shane
and Moonfleet ) so I'll let you know what they come up with.
Tony Shaw

Hey, cool. My thoughts are these: you can see the rake thing through
the broken fence from the very beginning of the book. Note too that
it moves up behind Bubba without any evidence of mechanical aid.
Therefore it could be an (extraterrestrial) life form??????. Note
also that Bubba sees something on the top of the tank. and that the
tank is 'egg shaped'. Could the rake thing or another rake thing on
top of the tank be actually hatching out of this extra terrestrial
egg and that has taken over the town finally including Bubba... It
works if you think
about it. The kids certainly will.
Just random thoughts. Let me know if you need more.
Bests, Gary

Hi Gary
I've put the unit on my blog and Teachers Pay Teachers. I've also
ordered the various sequels from Ballarat Books. I read the article
you sent , I found an interesting one about using literature to teach
inference and one on teaching visual literacy ( From Hennessy
College) on the net. I have no idea what the rake thing is unless its
like the arms that shot out of the Martian tripods that snatched up
people and put them into steal nets to be relieved of their blood
(War of the Worlds) or is it more like the Invasion of the Body
Snatchers or even some sort of Picnic at Hanging Rock event??
Tony Shaw

Sunday, 14 April 2013

First day of term 2

Great to see everyone back safe and sound.
Great to also see the Commonwealth Government's response to the 'Gonski Review of Education Funding' released. Hopefully the state governments will play their part and support it before a new federal government less likely to support state education comes to power.
( Some parrots flying off when they saw me approach with my iPad. I'll have to be sneakier or build a bird 'hide'.)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Two new FREE units on TPT

Click HERE to go to this unit in TPT (It's free)

This is a unit plan (teaching ideas) for The Watertower . It is a 1994 children's picture book by the  prolific multi-award winning Australian author Gary Crew and illustrated by Steven Woolman. This gothic science fiction story takes place in a small rural town called Preston. The book explores bizarre fantasy and raises more questions than answers. A thought provoking picture book which Gary Crew is renowned for. Also included are teaching ideas for another of Crew’s book ‘The Windmill’.I will be teaching this unit in term 3.

Click HERE to go to this unit on TPT (also free)

Puffin are currently releasing the ‘Eerie’ series of readers (4 have been released as of April 2013 with more to come) in Australia. They are designed to appeal to reluctant readers grade 3-6 (and older) who are attracted to Goosebumps style horror books. For non-Australian readers of the blog the books should be available directly from Puffin or eventually through Amazon. This is a selection of English activities and writing ideas for the first 4 books in the series. I’ll have my grade five students read these and complete the tasks over 3 weeks.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

One thousand and Twenty visits

Just notched up over 1000 visits to this blog which is great. I hope all those who have visited have found something interesting to read or download.
I popped up to work today to get some office tasks completed. I forgot why I wasn't upset about missing the deadline to register for the Premiers Reading Challenge over the last 2 years.It is a nightmare to complete mainly because the website hasn't changed since Steve Bracks was Premier. it is so slow and clunky. I thought I'd registered everybody weeks ago but apparently NOT! So I've done it all over again but I'll have to check it tomorrow.
It was a bit smokey at work today I think they were burning off in the Wombat Forest. The haze filtered the sunlight but my photos don't really show it ( The iPad 2 doesn't have a very good camera) I also took a photo of the trees up Humffray St. Which are slowly turning yellow.
later in the week I'll be putting up that unit for Gary Crew's The Watertower, that I promised and a unit for a new series of Goosebumpish books that Puffin are publishing called the EERIE series which look ideal for grade 4-6 students.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Clean up

Just finished a big cleanup of the bookshelves in the study. It is still a mess and needs a cull but at least now I can shut the cupboard door. It also gave me the opportunity to see what novels I had that would make great serials for school this year. I found; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Five Children and It, Mrs Pepperpot, The Rescuers, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, My Paul Jennings literature unit which I though I'd lost and Dr Doolittle.Four hours later I' m just up at school for a few hours to tidy up my books here ( I don't know where they'd go if I needed to bring them home? Teachers are great collectors.....or is that hoarders?)I also want to download some apps I found that will support the Westerns unit I want to do this term. ( An audio app for Shane and Call of the Wild - which has video clips on it of Alaska as well and an adventure game app for Zorro.)
I sent Gary Crew a copy of my unit for 'The Watertower' yesterday and he kindly sent a reply. ( below)

Hi Tony, terrific To hear from you again. Thanks for your notes. This is
excellent. One thing: the interplay (sometimes contradictory) between word
and image is what makes The Water tower tick. I am sending you two
attachments of interest. Aloow time for the graphics to load. (1) my
original draft done on my lap in an aircraft over Western Australia and (2)
an article on the interplay of print text and visual text. If these are
interest you, ask me for more. Some questions for you: (1) what is the rake
thing that moves through the broken fence and comes up behind Bubba? (2) How
come the old man with the fork in the centre of the book has the watertower
logo tattoed on the back of his hand as does Bubba on the final page?
Interesting... Let me know what you think. The kids will be all over this
likea rash.... Ps. So when are you enrolling in a Doctorate with me to write
your own novel? Huh? You're doing great. Happy Trails, Gary. By the way,
where do you teach? I forget....Lettuce no. G

This was my reply

What is that rake? I made sure I re-drew that rake object in the sketch I did of Bubba sitting under the tree without really knowing what I was drawing! Didn't notice the tattoo only their eyes. I left the book up at work so I can't check it again now.
I'll have to pop up to work ( Glen Park Primary School, a one teacher rural school not far out of Ballarat) to open up your attachments.
Thanks for your prompt response, I really appreciate it. I'll get back to you.
PS I know that like me you love non-fiction books.I've just bought a new book called 'Air Disaster Canberra' by Andrew Tink about the plane crash that killed 3 politicians and General White in 1940 .I've only just started it. I' m also reading a book about the famous clown Grimaldi which is really good.
I have written a couple of books, just dry old school books.I couldn't do what you do but I do love reading them and sharing them.

Needless to say I have a bit more work to do on the unit before I put it on Teachers Pay Teachers.
below is a couple of photos of our 'Parent Library'. For the last few years I've been buying books and DVDs that think parents might like in the hope they'll take them home and set a positive example to their children as consumers of literature. ( I read somewhere that adults in Finland read an average of 100 books per year!) I was a bit despairing of the effort because myself and Glenda ( a retired staff member from here) seemed to be the only people reading from it but just before the holidays three sets of parents were spotted taking books home, in one instance an armful! ( I think I need to buy less cookbooks and books about 'dealing with adolescents' and more who dunnits!)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


I've just spent the last 4 days up at school sorting out some paper work, changing displays and working in the library(that took a full day!) and preparing school work for the start of second term including a literature unit on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I've decided not to get the lawn mowed at the moment, the grass is starting to take off so we'll see how it looks in a fortnight. We've had some beautiful parrots around the school the last few mornings but they're too quick for me to take a photo.
I've still got a bit more to do including loading some new apps on the student's iPads for next term. I've found some great books and maths apps as well as some apps designed for students with Aspergers.I also need to move the sand from the long jump pit into the sand pit.
Next term is going to be very busy with Somers Camp, an excursion to see King Kong, three sets of student teachers, ( We have two from the education faculty of the University of Ballarat starting on the first Friday back) an excursion to meet a scientist, two major Professional Development activities for me ( Using iPads to teach Languages Other Than English and an eSmart cyber Safety PD) plus ANZAC Day.
Photos were taken this morning around the school.