Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Emergency Services talk

Today the kids were stuck inside due to a very welcome downpour of rain all day. I started reading Moby Dick as a serial ( I just love putting on those 'old sea dog' voices when I read aloud) in the morning and I am reading Stuart Little in the afternoon for the grade 4s. They received their own copies of the novel to add to their own personal library and finished them today. One of them remarked to me that the story ended abruptly. I thought so too. Although I have read a bit about EB White and his writing I don't recall any mention of him considering writing a sequel, but if any book ends just screaming out for a sequel it is Stuart Little. ( I'm glad I wasn't the only one to think so) 

My grade 6 students have started work on Moby Dick and seem to be enjoying the story. ( Ahab has just appeared and nailed the doubloon onto the mainmast and made his motley crew promise to die if need be in pursuit of 'the great white whale', a great point to end the reading on. Over this week we'll drawa sailor' kit, design an advertisement for sailors to join the crew of the Pequod- best not mention the mad captain and tomorrow we'll create a gold doubloon with an appropriately chilling oath to go with it.) 

My grade 4 students just finished their ANZAC Day book reports. They completed 4 panel concertina displays ( refer photo below) and they turned out well. 

While the kids were stuck inside playing in the home corner and with some of our construction material I put the finishing touches to my folk tales unit. I will 'road test' it over the next 3-4 weeks and then post it on TPT. I have included: The Magic Porridge Pot, The Enormous Turnip, The Little Red Hen, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Musicians of Bremen and Stone Soup into the unit.I found some great interactive app versions of the stories which I have put on iPads. My grade 2 girl will start off using the unit this week while the other grade 1 and 2 student finish off work on fables.( The Fox and the Boar and The Fox and the Tiger) 

Tonight I attended a talk given by a member of the Ambulance Union and introduced by Sharon Knight from the Ballarat East electorate. At the Ballarat Trades Hall in historic Camp Street.
He discussed the current situation regarding the industrial impasse between the state government and our emergency services ( fire and ambulance) which has been festering now for far too long.( 2 years!) Negotiations started very slowly. The union have had over 50 meetings with the government with no result. An offer made had significant impact on existing conditions and was rightly rejected.He discussed ramping ( where paramedics line up their ambulances with occupants at emergency service entrances at hospitals which don't have enough beds for patients or staff. Currently ambulances are stuck ramping for 13000 hours per month! (Some paramedics can wait with patients for their entire shift) Victorian paramedics are the best trained in Australia but have the lowest pay ( by up to over $20 000 in some instances) He discussed how dangerous the job is now. 10% of paramedics are on work cover currently. The dispatch system needs to be reviewed to reduce the amount of unnecessary call outs.Paramedics need to have the right to reject transporting people who don't require an ambulance.There needs to be more beds and staff in hospitals.Better health services are required through better state and federal government funding are required. 

Fire fighters are also under stress. A spokesperson from the United FireFighters Union talked to us about the challenges. $66 million cut out of the budget. Extra firefighters promised as a result of the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires were approved ( 300+ extra firefighters with more to come) But with the change of government there has been no increase in firefighters, no new equipment ( although new trucks are sitting idle because there are no crews) and an attack on firefighter conditions.
 Firefighters in Ballarat need more equipment and person ell but the CFA have said no because they don't have the money. CFA response time in Ballarat is supposed to be 8 minutes ( containing the fire to the room of origin and maximise the ability to rescue people) Ballarat does not have the resources to meet that timeline.The Government ( using fire levy money, paid by rate payers)  have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to the Federal Court to reduce staffing endangering lives. The MFB wants to reduce conditions ( especially safety requirements) and are going to court to try and achieve this. There are regional towns which do not have adequate fire service and the union will be campaigning hard to get their issues addressed.
The plight of our emergency services looks like being a big issue in the next state election in November.

Monday, 28 April 2014

First full week back

We had a busy day back for our first full week of term 2. I have a student teacher, Nichole from Swinburne starting today. 
Students had ANZAC day work to complete today. Below you can see our recruitment posters for the ANZACS ( They decided to make them funny, so they wrote about going to Turkey to play on the beach and having a holiday, one even mentioned having the opportunity to 'pick up nurses' and they wrote only in small print about the possibility of getting killed) and some made their own medals. ( see photos below) 

Those children working on fables are reading The Ant and the Dove and started working on their egg carton ants. 

It was busy across the road at the CFA shed today. the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Kim Wells visited today to make some announcement about refurbishing CFA trucks. It would have been nice if they'd let us know. The kids would have liked to have checked out all the emergency services vehicles that were there. 
Wells used to be Treasurer in the Bailleau Government but was fairly ineffective and was dumped when Napthine became Premier. I'm not sure how he is in his new job but I'm going to a public meeting about the crisis in emergency services in Victoria tomorrow, so I'll find out.

Over twenty thousand views!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Inquisitive Cows

This morning I was up at work early getting organised for the next week.My grade 2 girl is currently studying folk tales and this morning I prepared reading and writing tasks for Little Red Hen, The Giant Turnip and Stone Soup. ( I'll see about packaging them up to put on TPT) There are some great app versions of all of these stories that I downloaded on her iPad.
 When I came to work this morning the cows in the paddock next door came over to check out what I was doing.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

ANZAC Day photos

Finishing off ANZAC Day tasks

Today we finished off our ANZAC Day tasks. The grade 4s finished off their work on Gulliver's Travels by watching the Hallmark version which is quite good. Those who didn't complete their wreaths yesterday completed them today and we finished pictures of Australian soldiers.
One of my parents, Emily helped students to make ANZAC biscuits using her secret recipe? the kids loved them and there was enough for them to have 2 each.( The cooks got three)

ANZAC Day display including ANZAC wreaths.

One of my students watching the excellent ABC interactive program. 'Gallipoli The First Day'

Tonight I passed the Cenotaph on the way home and they had blocked off part of Sturt St. for the dawn service.Not far from the Cenotaph is a statue of local war hero Albert Coates ( below) He served in World War One and later became a neurosurgeon post war. in World War Two he volunteered to serve with the 8th Division in Malaya and was taken prisoner and served as a surgeon on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway where he saved hundreds of lives and was a mentor to the famous Weary Dunlop.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Busy day

We had a very busy day today. It was very misty up at school this morning before the sun came out 
( refer photos below) 

My senior students are working on their ANZAC Day activities today. We built model planes ( A good lesson in patience, planning and reading instructions) and they did a pretty good job ( Photos below)

My grade 1/2 year students made cardboard ANZAC Day wreaths ( We wandered outside to look for mini pine cones ( we have pine trees along the side of Ralstons Road) but we didn't find much. ( I grabbed some chestnuts this afternoon that the grade 4s can add to theirs tomorrow) 

We also made anchor charts for fables today ( refer photo below)

The preps meanwhile have been studying the letter 'l' and made some impressive lady bugs. I'll read the 'Bad Tempered Ladybird' to them tomorrow and we have lion faces to make.
Tomorrow we are making ANZAC Day biscuits ( I got all the ingredients this afternoon Emily) We finished watching a Gallipoli documentary today and tomorrow the grade 4s will be watching Guliver's Travels ( just the first part of the story when he is in Lilliput) Next week grade 4 will be working on Stuart Little (and possibly some other EB White stories) and grade 6 will be working on Moby Dick.
Tomorrow will be a big day finishing off our ANZAC Day work. I'm glad this is a three day week because I'm a bit pooped.
Below is a photo of the ANZAC Day preparations on Sturt Street just in front of the Cenotaph. the crosses represent the local Ballarat people who served in the First World War.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

First Day Back

Today was the first day of term 2 following the Easter Monday long weekend. We have another short week with ANZAC Day on Friday. Today we started our ANZAC Day tasks with more to follow over the next few days. I popped into Coles tonight and bought all the ingredients for our ANZAC Day biscuits on Thursday. I got in very early this morning and finished off The Captains Courageous literature unit. I also logged onto EZYDVD and found the DVD for only $7.00 so I've ordered that. Below is a photo I took early this morning ( It was a wet day today) outside. I need to replace that gutter on the old shelter shed. I also took a photo of the Glen Park CFA fire truck which was out of its shed today.

 I also took  some photos outside Ballarat Town Hall. Photos include the ornate interior of the Town Hall and the Boer War Memorial.

There was an interesting article in the Age on the long weekend entitled 'Private Schools in race to impress with best facilities' Helen Proctor from the University of Sydney said ' High fee private schools were engaged in an 'arms race' for the most impressive theatres, aquatic centres and sports stadiums.While some so called elite independent schools are spending up big on facilities ( Wesley College spent $43 million over 4 years, Trinity spent $37 million and many are building special campuses, buying blocks of land and setting up outdoor education sites.) public schools are seeing a steep decline in infrastructure spending since the BER. Victorian public schools spent an average of $877 per student, Catholic school $1491 and independent schools $2905 on onfrastructure. The gap between public and independent schools is widening significantly.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Ultranet RIP

the Age today is reporting that Ultranet has been turned off. ( It has been 'turned off' at Glen Park since the use of Ultranet was banned by the union during our overly protracted wages negotiation last year) The Ultranet was supposed to provide children with a one stop online learning portal as well as provide teachers with an opportunity to collaborate online and for students to set goals and get feedback online.
Sadly it was plagued with problems ( like MYKI, HealthSMART and LINK all tech disasters) and quickly became obsolete due to the introduction of iPads and schools adopting a bring your own device approach. It was also very clunky and slow and counter-intewative for teachers and students used to Microsoft products for nearly 20 years. The new government sacking Ultranet coaches also had an impact on its demise. 
The recent rain has had a fantastic impact on our lawns which looked very green and healthy today. 
I finished reading Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling today. If I use it when we finish Moby Dick, I'll need to locate an abridged version to read as a serial. it is an interesting book and. I can see why it was so successful.( I'll have to track down the Spencer Tracy movie) It reminded me a lot of Call of the Wild and Treasure Island.The transformation of the spoilt brat into the honourable young man may have had a real life sequel. Kipling was a rabid imperialist and when the First World War began he bullied his son ( who had poor vision like his father) into joining the army ( they had to visit numerous enlistment centres until they found one who would take him.) He went missing in action in1915. Kipling went to France to search for him but his body was never found. Did Kipling ever regret his 'tough love'? Biographers seem divided about that. Needless to say his writing never had the humor and tenderness of his pre1915 writing.

Yeah, 19500 visits!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Stick Insect Haven

The old school building seems to be a haven for stick insects. I discovered a huge ( at least 20 cm long) stick insect on the wall of the old classroom while I was de- cobwebbing outside. ( Photo below) It is fantastic to see so many of them about.

I got a lot of admin finished today including getting some document evidence organised for the 2014-15 Principal Review. ( The Region just signed off on my last review and copies of it are tabled in the old classroom for parents to read if they like) The Education Department still hasn't completed the new Principal review format ( The new one is supposed to start in May) I have written about this before.
 ( refer Performance and Development posts) I don't have a lot of faith that they can deliver a user friendly effective review process in time. ( They postponed the new review process for ES - Education Support staff and maybe they should do likewise for teachers and principals until they can get it right.)
it remains to be seen.
While driving up to work this morning I took a photo of the interesting sign on display in Humffray Street. obviously there is a crime issue in Brown Hill. I also took a photo of work they are doing at Russell Square which is used for soccer. They have installed a watering system, re-turfed it and are putting up a new fence. 

I noticed that our vegetable garden from last year has popped up by itself after the recent rain ( lettuce, parsley and various herbs) 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Wintry day

Today was a wintry day with a cold breeze and a fair bit of rain. Being Good Friday all the stores were closed but every cafe seemed to be open. I took some pictures around the Lake on my way to school this morning and stopped off at Racers for a coffee. ( I'm not one of those who takes pictures of their meals so this is my first and last photo of a really nice cup of coffee I had today. ) 
Photos below from around Lake Wendouree.

White cockatoos having a meal.
A really great cup of coffee.(Even better than Cafe Europa!) 

I popped up to work today to do some cleaning and complete some admin. ( more to finish tomorrow) I got a 'stinging rebuke' from one of my parents having a go at me for planning to cook. 'Packet ANZAC biscuits' Ouch! She's right of course and she volunteered to come in and bake some biscuits from scratch this Thursday so I'll take her up on that. Thanks Emily.
On the way home this afternoon I parked near a big 1950s American car ( probably out for a long weekend drive) which literally took two parking spaces. WOW! They don't make them like this anymore.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tidy Up

I popped up to school for the day today to do some re-organisation. I tidied up the library, managing to squeeze in all the new books I've bought late last year and so far this year. I will do a reorganisation of the picture story books and I still have a lot of non-fiction books to process ( Maybe a job for my student teacher next term?)
 I also had a big tidy up of our art cupboards. I've been just 'plonking' things in there for years and it has become jumbled. Below is a before and after photo.( Everything out to be reorganised and then put back in labelled boxes and the craft/ science table set up for next week.)

It was an unseasonably warm day today with a lot of post fire season burning off going on around the school. ( photo below) 

As I drove into town for lunch ( a luxury when I'm at school by myself) I stopped to check out all the clearing they've been doing around Spring's Creek ( Springs Road) I hope the clearing ( a bushfire precaution?) doesn't impact on wildlife that depend on fallen trees and undergrowth for their habitat. 
( Refer photos below)

Another busy day planned for tomorrow. Cleaning the classrooms and toilets and a bit of a tidy up outside. I also have a fair bit of admin to take care of.
( ANZAC biscuits we'll make next week)