Sunday, 30 March 2014

Photos around Glen Park

On Sunday I drove my daughter around town while she took photos for a high school photography project she has. We drove around Glen Park while she took 'artistic' photos, meanwhile I took a few snaps with my iPad. 
Below are some of those photos. They include some old derelict farm houses( one is being restored) some flowers which popped up in the middle of nowhere, ( Possibly they were part of a garden for a long gone house. There were lots of little shacks and farms around here before the big potato growers bought everything up. Sometimes you'll see a random rose bush or an apple tree indicating where a house once was.) a sign warning about fox bait, a nearby hillside and a bush track near the school.
( Also a sunrise photo at school this morning)

This morning my grade 2 boy and grade 1 girl finished their pop- up story for The Fox and the Grapes. my grade 6 kids finished their 'bike outline on map' pictures with mixed results.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Rainbow Run in Ballarat

They held a 'Rainbow Run' at Victoria Park this morning ( very loosly based on the Indian Holi Festival ) It apparently symbolises universal brotherhood with colors merging all classes, sexes, creeds etc. 
Participants pay to register and receive a white t-shirt, run or walk around a course ( Victoria Park) and then get bombarded with colored powder. You can do it just for fun, as a family or as part of a group charity event. I popped up to the park this morning and took a few photos (below) It looks like fun.

Paul Jennings unit as promised

This is a  LINK to a Paul Jennings bundle for Undone and Unreal, a literature unit I've just finished teaching my grade 6 students.

Friday, 28 March 2014

My School Needs

My union ( The AEU) has just launched its ' My School Needs' campaign to ensure that our public state schools have the resources they need to provide a high quality, accessible education for every child regardless of their socio- economic background, whether they are city or rural or able/disabled.
We have an election in Victoria in November and the AEU is determined to make education the number one priority for voters.
Currently Victorian schools receive $1881 less per student than the national average. We need our state government, which has ripped millions out of public education since it was elected to now start to invest heavily in public education ( especially given the Commonwealth's reluctance to live up to its Gonski promises) . An investment in schools now is an investment in our states future.
The other day, I took the pledge ( refer photo below) to put education first. 
Ballarat has two marginal electorates going to the polls later this year and I'll do everything I can to enhance the profile of state school education through my blog and AEU endorsed industrial campaigns and I encourage any state government teachers who read this blog to visit the AEU web page and also take the pledge!
At no time in my memory as a state school teacher ( nearly 30 years) has public education been both neglected and attacked at a state and federal level as it is now. I suggest you read an article by Ken Boston in the latest edition of the 'AEU News' magazine entitled 'Gonski: What's at Risk' to get an idea of the pressure state education is currently under.

On a lighter note. I was up at school this morning preparing for the week ahead and noticed how our oval, after recent rain is stating to green up. It is amazing what Autumn rain and good quality grass, recently sowed can do.

Improvised Play

RMIT ( Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) released a two year study looking into children's engagement in the playground and play activities. They studied 2 schools, one of them being a large private school in Ballarat and found that children playing with 'household' items are more active and this type of play promoted their creativity more than traditional playgrounds. ( ABC online March 9th)

Hardly earth shattering stuff!
The author of the study, Professor Hyndman said ( in regards to his observations at the big private school that has a playground full of household junk )"students began building their own structures using the objects, with the range of items forcing them to negotiate, share and collaborate. It was incredible to see those types of behaviours" 
Incredible indeed!
Children in small rural schools have been doing that since the dawn of time!
The kids at Glen Park always had loads of fun during 'cubby season'.That time of the year when they started building cubbys out of whatever they could find. ( It has been a lean season or two recently as I had to clear up a lot of branches and sticks during fire season.) They've always enjoyed playing with whatever they could find or improvise with.( They also enjoy playing on our playground. I think a combination of both is ideal) 
Below are some photos of the kids indulging in 'improvised play' in the school grounds today.


Finishing up our work today on Oceania. The kids completed a 3D graphic organiser ( triptych) using a proforma  from a Scholastic book called '3-D Graphic Organisers' by D. Barnekow. Next week we'll look at some Fijian myths and legends and we'll be finishing off work on The Demon Bike Rider ( A big week next week with an excursion and Easter tasks prior to the last day of term.)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Last Kitchen Garden PD

Kitchen Garden PD 27/03/14
Wendouree Kitchen Garden PD at Wendouree PS
Wendouree PS has a Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden. They have an excellent set-up ( especially their kitchen) Refer photos below

Last Kitchen Garden PD session at Wendouree PS
Tania ( Community action projects) from Fed. Uni talked about gardens on a budget
She suggested : upcycling - not breaking down an object but modifying something that would otherwise be thrown away ( using old pallets for compost beds and old bath tubs converted into worm farms also potato boxes used as wicking beds) and recycling. 
She has an interesting slide show showing lots of quirky ideas for the garden beds ( using gum boots, old tyres, bath tubs, wheelbarrow, Twinnings tea cans, bike wheels, old toilets, bikes etc)
she also handed out a companion planting guide from Milkwood Permaculture ( which I'll laminate)
Mike from Friends of the Gardens praised teachers who wanted to work with young kids they teach to encourage them to respect the environment and in particular looking after Ballarat's gardens and getting involved with tactile experiences in the garden.

Mary from Wendouree PS talked about budgeting in the kitchen.

Mary said her program hinges on the support of volunteers. Mary recruits people using word of mouth. She has many volunteers who are grandparents and community members who are passionate about gardens, cooking and/or education. Mary loves bringing people together and she thinks that interconnecting is something the children can learn a lot from. She feels that she learns as much from her volunteers as they do from her. Mary does a briefing in the morning and a de-brief between classes over a cup of tea.
Mary believes that children should be able to 'look after themselves' and that it is great for their self- esteem. Senior kids are taught every week ( Discussing their learning intention , demonstration, setting up stations, working in the garden, harvesting, cooking, sharing and cleaning up) and junior grades once per term.She showed us how to create pizza dough,chutney, sauce, jams and lavosh.Her program costs $7000 with fund raising, prize money  and lots of donations.
Mary intends to build a pizza oven at Wendouree PS ( Sounds like a great idea) Mary recommended the Stephanie Alexander website for resources.
Mary runs an excellent program and she obviously has lots of enthusiasm and talent. It would be great to see her in action.
Today the grade 6 kids completed story maps for. The. Demon Bike. Rider. some used my story map and others used their own.

My prep girl has been playing with felt boards today to make scenes.( the first time she has used felt boards) One of her pictures below. ( Mmmmmm Pirates and dinosaurs- could be a Hollywood movie in that? )

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New PSTs

Our 2 new PSTs from Federation University started teaching today. They are taking the kids for cooperation/team building games on the oval. They loved it and worked very well together. Well done girls!
( Some photos below)

Below. The kids have been playing 'battleships'. The kids have been taking it in turns to read out coordinates. Grade 6 kids completed posters for their Paul Jennings short stories and the boys have started creating their 3D haunted houses. We have nearly finished reading The Demon Bike Rider. It is one of those books that is hard to put down. We'll start reading one of the sequels on Friday.

Over 18000 views.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Demon Bike Rider

We've started reading The Demon Bike Rider. The children have started learning tasks including reading comprehension, creative writing ideas and a 3D 'haunted shack' model. The grade 4s have started reading Gulliver's Travels apps and will start reading tasks tomorrow.
Below is a picture of our Paul Jennings perspective pictures and one of my students reading a collection of their own Paul Jennings style short stories in a book we called 'Unfathomable'
( I keep leaving my laptop at school. So I'll put my Paul Jennings unit up during the week.)

Also below is a photo of my trusty Russell Hobbs coffee driperlator. It has served me well for I think the last 7-8 years. Sadly it has 'packed up' (worn out element I think.The coffee has been Luke warm lately) I looked at some new ones today. They're either mini espresso machines for $1000+ or flimsy plastic junk from K-Mart. I decided instead to buy something industrial strength ( like our laminator and book binder) from a catering business in town. It should last 20 years! 
We are also leasing a new photocopier.( on order) It will be color, connect up to the network (including our iPads) scan, answer email....maybe it could make coffee too? Anyway, photocopiers have come along way since I started teaching and we used a Getstetner duplicating machine.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

History Wars

Prior to popping up to work this morning I drove out to the National Prisoner of War Memorial and took some photos.

Tony Robinson ( of Blackadder and Time Team fame) is in Ballarat at the moment filming a program on Australian military history. He was very generous with his time giving autographs and posing for photos.

Photos below.

This morning I worked through a pile of mail ( mostly advertising or farm machinery adverts) and found a parcel from the Veteran Affairs Department. They always create excellent resources around ANZAC day that they send out to schools.This year they sent out some posters and some books about Australian military heroes.Also in the pack was a poster advertising the Commonwealth Education Department's National History Challenge.It was interesting to see a big picture of Robert Menzies on the poster ( refer photo)

Over the years conservative politicians (Abbott, Pyne, Costello, Howard etc) have said they wanted to see some revision to the way history is taught in our schools ( hence the current curriculum review) so as to emphasise more the 'conservative political' contribution to Australian society.( that shouldn't take long) at hey were keen to crank up what has been dubbed 'the history wars'.So it was with some interest that I noticed that the picture they chose to have of Menzies on the poster was of him talking to Robert McNamara in Washington in 1964. 
No doubt talking about their eventually disasterous intervention of the US and Australia in the Vietnam war. ( In fact in 1965 Australia would invite itself into the Vietnam conflict. Australia volunteered combat troops long before the decision was announced in April 1965.)Our conservative political leaders would go on to urge America to escalate the war by bombing North Vietnam while at the same time being totally indifferent to the views of the South Vietnamese.( For further reading on this I'd recommend 'War For the Asking' by Michael Sexton.)
I'll post my Paul Jennings bundle tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Bike outline with map ( I need a punchier title than that! )

I tried again to make one of these.This version should be a bit easier for the kids to cut out. We'll start reading The Demon Bike Rider on Monday and also read a couple of extra Paul Jennings stories from Unbearable. I'll post a Paul Jennings bundle on TPT tomorrow including Undone as well as Unreal.

I finished it off with a green paint wash and laminated it.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Kitchen Gardens

Another lovely sunny Autumn day at Glen Park

We had the second last kitchen garden PD this afternoon.
Julie Millar from Sebastapol PS ( Past principal at Yarra PS )
She started a kitchen garden at Yarra PS in 2007.( An inner city school that started up a Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden)
Sebastopol has a ten week cooking program in her classroom which included all learning domains in an integrated approach.
in her cooking she wanted to emphasise team work, safety first, hygiene, establishing routines, problem solving, utilising literacy and numeracy and learning to cook everyday meals.
The children worked in groups ( 20 minute per group) with some cooking, completing a numeracy and a literacy activity related to cooking.( shopping maths using the supermarket docket) 
Julie did her cooking in a regular classroom using a hot plate and a frypan.
Our next session will be at Wendouree PS where they have a Stephanie Alexander garden.

We had a very busy day today. We completed our Aladdin Pictures which included marbling the background.They also created pen portraits of the main characters.

The Preps ( by popular demand) wanted to make the Magic Fish that the older kids made yesterday.

Grade 6 and 4 finished their 'down the pit' picture.