Thursday, 27 February 2014

Islander canoes

I put the kid's canoes up on display today. They look great. ( I'll track down the name of the book that I got it from and post it tomorrow)
The Glen Park fire truck took off again today but came back soon after so it might have been a false alarm. Today is the last day of summer. Roll on Autumn, the best time of the year in Ballarat, but there will probably be a few more days of hot weather to come. 

16500 views today. Thank you.

Third Kitchen Garden PD

Ballarat Botanical Gardens 
Kitchen Garden PD
Session 3

Julie showed us plant signs that she made using old pieces of slate and oil pastels.
Julie handed out a Ballarat planting guide.
We had a brainstorming session about curriculum activities that we could do with the planting guides and plant labels.

Worm farming (organic waste)
Davo's Worm Farm
Worm castings are a stimulant. Worm castings put microbes back in the soil.
Worm castings are 6 times better than compost. 
Dave is a strong advocate for teaching children the value of organic food and rotational planting.
At school Dave recommends the plastic worm farms available at Bunnings to show children how they work. He recommends red tiger worms and 50/50 grounds to greens- not too much nitrogen as the soil gets too warm for worms. ( Worm Farmers Association. Education section worth looking at)
Checking out the worm farm.

Forest Street PS ( Cameron Lanyon)
Challenging disengaged students in grade 5-6
Groups of children came up with ideas to improve the school. They suggested keeping chickens ( and other farm animals) and replenished their garden beds and built garden beds and a playscape area using recycled material. It encouraged mentoring and co-operation and strengthened community links.

The gardens are preparing for the Begonia Festival starting next week. I took some photos of the gardens, the empty greenhouse ( awaiting begonias) and some photos from the PD. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

iPad PD expression of interest sent out.

Below is an early morning photo of the school. It was drizzly this morning. Recent rain is starting to green up the grass with only a couple of days left of summer.
I've been asked to provide a clearer picture of our Olympic skiers. Refer to the photo below. They were supposed to stand up but over the weekend they toppled over so I put them up on the side of the cupboard with magnets. 
Today we finished our islander canoes which are on display. ( photo tomorrow) 
I drove past the site of the grass fire I mentioned yesterday and took a photo. ( below) It was very close to houses.
Some of the kids today shot an interview using iMovie on their iPads and others filmed a Jack and the Beanstalk puppet play. They were a bit frustrated that they couldn't pause their filming. I'll have to play around with it ( I think they can edit ) and some others we've downloaded. 
Today I sent out an expression of interest to some of the Moorabool Network schools ( the ones close to Glen Park at the moment) to see if anyone is interested in an ' Introduction to iPads' PD session at Glen Park next Wednesday after school.Those interested will need to email me by Friday.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


The local CFA ( Country Fire Authority) were called out to a fire in far off Alfredton / Lucas ( miles away from Glen Park) as there was another grass fire this afternoon. The truck roared out with siren blaring which impressed the preps .( This is the fourth grass fire in the Lucas area this summer) 
Below is the empty CFA shed with the tanker gone. ( There is only the school and the shed at Glen Park. the Shire took the bus shelter away years ago.)

Huge TPT sale

Teachers Pay Teachers has now achieved 3 000 000 members and they are celebrating the fact with a massive sale.
Everything in my store (over 50 items) has been reduced by 28% over the 27th-28th February (USA time) So use the code on the following button to get the full discount.

Click HERE to access my TPT store

Thanks Krista Wallden for the TPT sale button.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Water play

I've wanted a water tray for years and I finally found one in a catalogue the other day and bought two ( one for water and one for rice) and with the aid of an Alan key I managed to put one together. I put some water in it and gathered some appropriate toys and 'let a couple of the preps lose'. They had a great time so I'll try to give them plenty of time for play while the weather is mild, if not warm.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Busy day

We were busy creating newspaper front page stories and movie posters for They Found a Cave.
We used an app called PickTapPlay to make the posters.

One of my grade 4 girls wrote an adventure story ( as part do our work on Dr Doolittle) and published it as a 'rustic journal'.She did a fantastic job ( refer to the pictures below) It is very dainty and looks very realistic. She showed a lot of diligence and persistence ( one of our school values) to complete it.

The grade twos also created  Pushmi - Pullyus and mounted them on jungle designed scrapbook paper.
In the afternoon we made Winter Olympics skiers. Some stood up and I've put them on display. ( as they were supposed to do but others needed a little help.) 
I asked the children to decorate their skiers in the team colors of countries competing in Sochi.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Busy. Afternoon

I Just finished reading 'The 27th Annual Hippopotamus Race'. It is a great book, lots of laughs and fantastic illustrations by Jeff Hook.
One of my grade 6 girls helped the preps create some Australian animals.( photo below) Tomorrow we'll all have a go at creating a Winter Olympics skier.( Find the template on TPT for free)

Most afternoons after school I have cleaning to do, lessons to prepare and chores to run for school but sometimes I have meetings or Professional Development (PD) To attend and this afternoon was one of those afternoons.I had the second of the kitchen garden PDs to attend and an AEU Principal Class Association dinner meeting.

Ballarat Kitchen Gardens
Session 2

Ballarat Kitchen Garden Blog (Learn Grow Share) - developed by Blake Curran 
(John Ditchburn site has a great planting calendar for Ballarat. Refer to the above site for a link)

Steve Burns talked about creating sustainable school gardens.(Steve is from the Ballarat Permaculture Guild. Refer Chestnut Farm)
Making School Gardens more sustainable.
Steve talked about above ground garden beds.
he split his talk into 4 sections

Natural ecosystems ( Refer Permaculture principles on Google)
Efficiency by mimicking natural systems- observe what is happening in the garden and how children interact with it. Utilise the children's energy in the garden.Children can eat food as they play. ( life skills can be learnt) children learn about life cycles and they have to accept them. Feedback on the garden design is determined by how children interact with an integrated garden- gardens need to be robust using natural resources - tap renewable resources. Try not to produce waste.( Let children forage) Watch out for big summer gardens which peak during the holidays. 
Determine what is the point of the garden and then conceive a plan from there.Integrate the garden into the school ground and the garden activities into the school program.Design from the kids eye view.( Refer Clunes Kinda) Purchase from locals.Implement over years.Use diverse species and value micro- climates. Plan for sensory diversity.Utilise biodegradable materials.Respond to change.If something doesn't work then try something else.

Watering problems
Wiking beds have a reservoir in each raised bed. Water added to reservoir which reduces evaluation and encourages roots to grow deep in source of water.
Steve suggested using a spud box, lining it with 2 layers of plastic.Add 90mm plastic pipe right down to the bottom of the box. Include an overflow pipe if possible.Add scoria. add weed mat between both layers and put the soil on top.( have a dip in the middle which will remain wet) You only need 30 cm of soil.

Making gardens fun (Rusty Keeler)
'Natural Playscapes', 2008 Exchange Press
Children create the games in the garden. Rusty encourages confidence, creativity , appreciation and empathy through play in gardens.Natural playscapes are designed from a child's eye view.
( refer. Creswick playscape) Yonke Van Geloven also encourages edible options in a playscape garden.

Perennials increase sustainability. Plant once and harvest for years. You can create a habitat for beneficial insects.hardy plants to cope with children climbing and running. Add perennials to beds of annuals.Consider vines for a pathway and plants with distinctive seasonal characteristics.

There were a lot of things to consider for us at Glen Park following Steve's talk especially regarding turning our orange plant boxes into proper wicker boxes, purchasing Keeler's book for the parent library, considering changes to our playground to make it more 'child friendly' and planting perennials.  

Meeting ended at 6:15 pm

Australian Education Union ( AEU) 
PCA ( Principal Class Association) meeting  20/02/14 from 6:30 pm
Discussion with the PCA team.

Performance and Development
Formal consultation period has started. They have removed the ES P&D regime until 2015.
The 'guiding range' ( the number of people passing their reviews within schools)has been removed. Concerns that not giving increments is part of school financial management.
ALP is developing new policies relating to principal workload in particular regarding maintenance workload. they are considering developing 'new networks' that can support each other about the  workload associated with school maintenance. 
They are promoting 4 domain areas with weighting with an emphasis on student outcomes ( the fourth domain) as opposed to 'growth'. they are primarily concerned with a numerical result ( input and output expressed by a number) Other evidence that show how students grow is hard to measure even though extra effort apart from student outcomes ( attendance data and extra curricula work could be considered) which are not quantitative.( numerical results don't necessarily inform our judgement.DEECD has produced samples of evidence for teachers which are not just numbers coming out of a testing regime)
Unsatisfactory performance for teachers (4 descriptors) sounds like a big stick. Some confusion between unsatisfactory and under-performing. No resourcing and limited time frame for dealing with staff needing extra support.
The Governance issue has been pushed back and seems to be off the agenda
Independent school experience in WA show no improvement but the workload for principals increased.

Annual Report requires a sign off on school procedure. School engagement policy will need to be reviewed due to the new ministerial orders. Asbestos issues are of concern. Worksafe is critical of DEECD's approach to asbestos management. DEECD is doing Part 5 for all schools which will include signage ( for state not private schools?)Principals may be asked to be on committees to review expulsions in schools following the new engagement guidelines a role previously undertaken by regional personnel. 

AEU state election campaign will use principals ( the most trusted members of the education service) to be involved in their campaign. the AEU wants us to be involved in the campaign and is asking for volunteers to help- especially in the 'sand belt seats' where the election will be own or lost.
Very little money flowing through to schools. ( Glen Park certainly hasn't seen any) Additional money went to private schools and national partnership schools. Only $7 million went to the rest of our schools.Lack of transparency regarding where the money will be going.In NSW every school knows how much money they will be getting for the next 4 years in stark contrast with Victoria. The AEU has Gonski vans travelling across the country making sure that the clear message that year 5-6 funding should be in the federal budget forward estimates in May. 

Meeting ended 8:00 pm

Below is a photo of the Golden Crown Hotel, venue for the PCA meeting.( 16000 views today!)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Venn diagrams

Today the grade 6 students completed their movie proposals for a movie version of They Found a Cave. (we haven't done this activity before so I led the way a bit. Refer to the unit on TPT) They watched the movie ( it is quite a quaint little movie! I think you can only purchase it from Chauncey Vale in Tasmania. I bought it direct from them along with a slim biography of Nan Chauncey. ) and then completed a Venn diagram for it.(refer photo)

We are about half way through 'The 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race' and the grade 4 kids will start activities for the book next week.They are finishing off their jungle adventure narratives this week. We also started watching Dr Dolittle ( the 1967 version) which is an amalgamation of three of Lofting's Dr Dolittle books. We are watching it over 3 days because it is so long. I forgot what an odd movie it was. Rex Harrison seems to be snoozing through it, they have a tedious and unnecessary love story and most of the songs are pretty grim. Anthony Newley is at best annoying and the Pushmi-Pullyu just looks like two guys in a bizarre llama suit. I told the kids that I saw it at the movies as a kid and they had an intermission during it so you could stretch your legs and get a snack.( I didn't tell them we used to sing the national anthem and they had shorts at the beginning of the show)

I've decided to read some Paul Jennings books over the next fortnight. I think the kids will love his off-beat humorous stories and I'll add some Gary Crew books ( The Watertower) to add 'an edge' to the theme. ( I have already posted my Gary Crew units to TPT and they are free)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Network meeting

Sheep in the potato paddock next door, this morning when I got to school.

Moorabool Network Meeting
Welcome to Reg who is filling in at Gordon (Dawn is now at Toolernvale PS) 
It was decided to continue meeting at Gordon.Conference feedback was asked for. The venue was seen as positive. Muffy Hand will be asked back after the new standards are released. (Probably May) 2014 Conference ideas in August were suggested including a PD ( organised by Judy Poole) at the AEU building about the 'Wellbeing of school leaders'. The budget went into the red so schools will pay $80 each to cover the shortfall per head costs for PD will need to be paid (user pays) by network schools in 2014 on top of our affiliation fee.
The Network curriculum day will be on March 11th at the Bungaree Community centre. (Glen Park won't be participating in this event ) Andrew Fyffe shared information from a PD he did on setting goals and measures for AIPs and performance plans.The principal at Mt Egerton talked about her experience when they had a small bushfire near the school.
Below is a photo of my grade 1 girl and grade 2 boy with their pop-up card story about the fable of the Monkey and the Dolphin.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Story map

Today the grade 6 students completed story maps for They Found a Cave. We will finish work on this during the week and have a look at the old 1960s movie version and compare that with the book.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Wild kingdom

It was like an episode of Wild Kingdom this morning at work. (Showing my age!) First a rabbit leaps out at me when I walked down the path, then I found a stick insect on the wall near the front door, then when I went to clean the drinking trough I discovered a little frog. ( I put some moist mulch over him and left him there. Good excuse not to clean the trough) 

There is a Rockabilly Festival here in town. They blocked off Lydiard Street and filled it with classic cars, bands, stalls and eateries. There were big crowds and lots of people having a great time.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Busy Valentines Day

We had a very busy day today. First thing this morning one of my parents and my two grade 6 girls baked some Valentine's Day mini cakes using small heart shaped foil cake pans. The girls decorated them with icing and sprinkles and the kids took them home for their mums this afternoon.

We also made some Valentine's Day monkeys.( a Pinterest idea) the preps were helped by my grade 1 and 2 girls and they did a good job. ( these girls are studying the 'fr' sound at the moment and made photo frames. Photo of them below)

We finished reading both They Found a Cave and Dr Doolittle today. The grade 6 kids completed 'wordles'using the Wordsalad app. The grade 4 kids are working on their animal adventure tales. Next week they'll start work on 'The 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race' and the grade 6 kids will read 'Loku and the Shark Attack'
Yeah 15500 views. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Kitchen Garden

Our vegetable garden was a bit of a mess in its first year of operation.(Too many things planted and my lack of a green thumb) Some parents picked some herbs and carrots but on the whole it became overgrown and went to seed. This year I decided to be more scientific and strategic with my planting.
To help with this I decided to participate in a 'kitchen garden' professional learning opportunity put on by the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (FBBG) at the Robert Clark Horticultural Centre at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.( six Thursday nights, starting tonight)
This evening we started with a talk from Peter Burke, Principal of Daylesford Primary school ( 300 students) about his experience in developing a school kitchen garden and suggested that school groups visit the gardens and use their facilities and expertise.
Julie Bradby is convening the workshops/seminars and told us ( about 50) that the nature of the program will develop throughout the next 5 weeks.
Peter's school is a Stephanie Alexander Kitchen School. ( two year grant) The emphasis is to develop a 'harvest table' of produce. Garden sessions are 30 minutes but the cooking sessions can be an hour and a half- 2 hours. The children start in 'the shed' with volunteers who split children into groups. Children need to get their 'wheelbarrow licence' to work out into the garden. They have a strong emphasis on developing the quality of the soil in their garden and creating compost. It is very hands on but also there is a lot of theory about germination, timing of planting, best growing conditions, watering and more. They encourage volunteers who support the gardener a, the kitchen and for watering (The Friends of Daylesford Kitchen Garden) and networking with local people and businesses ( such as the Lake House restaurant )They have attracted other grants to help support their program. Children using the gardens are from grade three to six.Peter is impressed with the social Competencies that develop in the program ( sharing, co-operation, teamwork )
Harvesting is an important time and children enjoy producing good quality food. ( Peter started by creating gardens in boxes to take home to get them started. He also puts recipes in the newsletter utilising food from the garden.) Peter is lucky to have a local chef helping to prepare and cook the food coming out of the garden and he also has 2 dedicated specialist teachers. Dayelsford has a large kitchen space (5 kitchen stations) In cooking there are five groups contributing to creating a recipe. Once it is made and served there is a sharing session.(They encourage children to sit and converse and use cutlery properly like a family might)
Peter started with a big working bee and with support of the local nursery. The working bee created an instant garden. He initially used the canteen as a kitchen. Peter needed to encourage volunteers to take one step back and allow the kids to do the work.The BER buildings in 2010 gave him the opportunity to create a space for the garden and the kitchen.Peter found that the garden gave parents an opportunity to get involved in the school and strengthened the school community. Fundraising helped to support the program as it is costly.
Now that the Stephanie Alexander grant has expired they levy families to raise money and have fundraisers and seek grants.It was interesting to hear about Peter's experience and to see his slides.
Our approach would need to be very different. It might be best to plan some meals first ( maybe one per term) and to plant vegetables to incorporate into the meals. Volunteer helpers will also be important given the facilities we have in particular the size of our kitchen (Our kitchen is well equipped but not a good size/shape) and preparation space. (maybe we can organise our furniture better and purchase a table suitable for food preparation)
Next week we will be looking at sustainability and wicking beds, composting (Something we should look at, at Glen Park) curriculum, auditing kitchen garden programs, cooking without a kitchen with Julie Miller, Clunes PS will discuss their concept of an edible play space and we will have the chef at Daylesford PS working at Wendouree PS kitchen.
( Below are photos of the Robert Clark Centre )

Big Mouth Fish

We made big mouth fish today. ( An idea I saw on Pinterest) it is fairly self- explanatory if you look at the pictures below.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Another hazy day

We're still shrouded is smoke although it doesn't smell to bad today. Some of the kids rediscovered our DS players today and had a play with them. We also used the Penultimate app today which is even better since a recent update but the kids had trouble getting used to using the stylus. two of the grade 6 girls completed character webs for Cherry and Tas from ' They Found a Cave'. We're up to the bit where they find the aboriginal remains in the cave. 
At the end of the story they sell them to a museum. Of course aborigines having battling for decades to retrieve the remains of their people from museums all over the world to give them a traditional burial rather than be put on display or left in a box in storage. I'll see if The kids can locate a newspaper story about this issue on the web for a discussion. it wasn't an issue of course when Nan Chauncey was writing the book in the 1940s.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Hazy day

We were smothered in smoke haze today from serious bushfires. The bushfire season has at least another month to go so we have a long summer ahead of us. Sadly 9 of the fires are thought to be caused by arsonists. The smoke is a real problem for people with breathing difficulties, asthma and the very young and old. ( The photo shows the white swan of the local reservoir obscured by smoke)
One of my grade 4 students is reading Treasure Trackers books published by Blake. She has just finished 'Quest for the Birdman' about Easter Island and today she put the finishing touches to an Easter Island statue she created with air-dried clay. Photo below.


This summer is shaping up as a serious one for bushfires in Victoria. Currently there are over 19 serious fires across the state which have destroyed at least 20 homes and 280 000 hectares have been burnt. Seventy aircraft and over 2500 firefighters, some from interstate and New Zealand have been involved. Most of the fires are in Gippsland ( one of them in a coal mine!) and some serious blazes just to the north of Melbourne. ( as close as 30 minutes from the CBD) This morning in Ballarat and at Glen Park there is a strong smell of smoke and a very visible haze. (refer photo)

Yesterday was another busy day at school. My grade 1 and 2 student were getting into the North Wind and the Sun fable ( They got the moral straight away) and my other grade 2 student who is studying fairy tales finished her Puss in Boots work and has started Hansel and Gretel. She had never heard the story before so I found an excellent version of it on her iPad which she watched several times. ( I'll see if there is a short cartoon version she can watch on YouTube. She took the Ladybird book version home as a reader last night. Refer to the photos below)
Prep students finished work on Smarty Pants and with the help of a mum we put together their skeleton models! This week we start studying the letter 't'. The older students were finishing off their Australia Day puzzle activities and are starting their Australia projects and work on Australia's island neighbours.