Saturday, 29 November 2014

Books for next year

I've had a busy few days at work getting organised for the last few weeks of this term. ( I also watered our garden, it has been hot this weekend) On Demand testing didn't work.....again so I'll try to get it operating again later in the week. Meanwhile I have PatMath, Burt word and Torch reading tests to do this week.
Rotary had a book fair and I popped in and bought a few books I can use next year. ( A Margaret Clark horror story which the kids liked, the sequel to Born Free, Joan Phipson's The Boundary Riders which I can read as part of my Australian theme at the start of next year and The Cricket in Times Square with illustrations by Garth Williams )

Labor Win

Impressive wins for Sharon Knight ( below) and Geoff Howard in tonight's state election. They have both achieved solid swings and have won their respective seats of Wendouree and Bunninyong comfortably. 
The new government made many promises about public education in opposition and in the election campaign and they will need to work hard to achieve those promises which included restoring and improving TAFE, building new technical schools, restoring funding for important school services, helping schools to support disadvantaged students and de-merging our unworkable regions.
I also expect them to address inequality between rural and metropolitan students.( Interesting to note the very poor performance of the National Party in the election.It might have something to do with them doing nothing for country people over the last four years? Also predictable to hear David Davis union bashing and sprouting delusional claptrap! on the other hand it was good to hear the new Premier, Daniel Andrews say that Victoria will now be the education state!)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Nap time for Napthine

Education was front and centre of this election campaign. After 4 years of cuts from the Napthine Government totalling more than $600 million and after a long drawn out election campaign the voters have a clear choice to make about which party has the best credentials when it comes to reinvigorating state education which has been in the doldrums over the last 4 years.(For the past four years Premier Napthine and his Liberal/National Government have cut valuable programs and support in our public schools and TAFEs.)
The major parties raced to outbid one another and present a vision for the future of Victoria’s public schools and the children they educate.
The track record of the Napthine Government means it doesn't deserve a second chance.


The  Labor's Party has announced that it is committed to safely removing all asbestos from public schools by 2020.

They have made an additional commitment to provide an extra $100 million to escalate the identification and removal of asbestos in the short term will mean that some of the worst affected buildings, classrooms and portables will be made safer sooner. In a previous post I quoted a State Government audit that found over 300 Victorian schools were plagued with asbestos.

The AEU said today:"It is unacceptable that the Napthine Government has kept this information hidden during an election year, especially given the threat asbestos poses to health and safety. Asbestos is a dangerous material and its safe removal should be a number one priority in ensuring our children, families and school communities are safe." 

She says that Labor's announcement demonstrates that they are listening to parents, teachers, principals and support staff and committing to tackling the problem.

"State governments must take responsibility for the safety of our community, and not expect school principals and staff to bear the weight of this responsibility alone," says Peace.

"Every Victorian child deserves access to education in up-to-date and safe buildings. Most important is the assurance that students and teachers' health and safety is at the forefront of the government's mind."

Sub plots

Today we discussed the myriad of sub plots even in an abridged version of Great Expectations.
We decided on a major plot but the kids were asked to come up with 2 sub-plots each. They chose some that they liked and added them to a perspective picture of the exterior of Miss Haversham's home. The grade 4s finished their caravans and will start work on Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator next week.
Caravans closed
and open.

Ballarat Christmas lights

IMyers window display- The Gingerbread Man and Christmas tree and reindeers

Miss Haversham's Wedding Feast

Today I created a scene from Great Expectations. 
This is a perspective drawing exercise that worked well.
I started the drawing below. ( I think you can see how we used the skills in perspective drawings we've tried before. I'll try another one of The outside of Miss Haversham's house next week.)

After drawing over my pencil sketches with a black sharpie I used water colors to color it.

I used patterned tissue paper as wallpaper for the 2 walls on the side. ( I should of had some of it peeling off the wall.)

I added some more tissue paper as curtains and shrank my portrait of Dicken's on the photocopier to make a painting for the wall.

The kids did a good job on there's. 
Some added cob webs and bits of balsa wood to make the house look more dilapidated.

We painted portraits of Dicken's and placed them in cardboard frames I painted and prepared for them. They added name plates including basic information about Dicken's. We also sketched our interpretations of Magwitch and included a quote by him from the story.

We're about half way through Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and finished off Great Expectations this morning ( Do Pip and Estella make a go if it? I hope so. the kids liked it, even the grade 4s asked to watch it on DVD.) The grade 4s finished their baby Austin paper models and will work on their caravans tomorrow.

Trouble in the Apple Isle
The Tasmanian government has frozen public servant salaries for two years including teachers. Teachers in Tassie today called a two hour stop work and the Minister decided to close all schools for the day ( from 10:30 am!) and take a pupil- free day off schools in 2015. Understandably this enraged teachers and parents. (catholic schools are joining in strike action)

Parents have joined the fight against the Tasmanian Government's budget cuts to education. the government ultimatum is accept a pay freeze or we will cut services.Moonah Primary School council chair Lyndy Bowden said teachers and parents would not take the cuts sitting down."We're going to fight this the whole way. It will be a little bit inconvenient, but that has to come back to the Government. It's not the teachers, it's not the union," she said. It goes without saying I wish my Tassie colleagues all the best in their struggle!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Great Glass Elevator

I've just started reading Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. ( Not my favourite Dahl novel. I find it dated and a bit politically incorrect. It is also hard to read aloud. But it is a sequel to their favourite Dahl story. I read that last year so I won't read it again for a while.) 
Below is step by step photos of me making my 'glass elevator' model. it didn't turn out too bad. We are currently working on Danny the Champion of the World  ( images of some of their work on Friday) and the grade 6 kids are starting to read Great Expectations. ( Probably my favourite Dicken's tale - after A Christmas Carol)

Painting the model.

I painted the button on the elevator using paint pens.
Using some of the left over cardboard to make a concertina piece to attach the characters to the back of the elevator.

I'd use glue to seal it up a bit better and maybe not paint it black inside. We could also put cellophane on the front of the elevator.
Emily came up to school this morning and dug out the beans and planted and mulched some new plants.

Big thank-you to Emily.

Sunday, 23 November 2014


A secret state government audit has found that some schools are so plagued by asbestos that buildings should be cleaned up immediately or cordoned off.
The Sunday Age has accessed Freedom of Information reports that some schools are so at risk that department has been ordered to urgently remove their asbestos.
Out of 368 schools recently audited 92 % contained asbestos. 5 were deemed high risk and 72 were the second highest ranked which means access should be restricted and asbestos removed as soon as possible.
The government has withheld this information ( interestingly today marks the first day of Asbestos Awareness Week!) Clean up work has significantly declined in recent years. many issues could be dealt immediately such as removing old switchboards, heaters, cement flues and fireproof safes. The bigger, and costlier problem is dealing with old buildings riddled with the material.( Only this  year Timboon school was closed for a while when WorkSafe inspectors issued 2 prohibition notices after finding asbestos and peeling lead paint.)

Ballarat at night

Sunset over Lake Wendouree

Some of Ballarat's Christmas decorations.

Thirty thousand views! Yippee!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ready for the garden

I popped into Bunnings and bought our seeds , seedlings and mulch for our garden.
I also popped into Spotlight and bought up loads of Christmas craft material.

Friday, 21 November 2014

What the Dickens!

We have just finished our spies unit and we'll start a unit on Dickens next week. I prepared a unit on Tale of Two Cities last year but ran out of time to use it so I brushed it off today and I'll start to read it on Monday.
 We will also read A Christmas Carol ( a Christmas tradition) and probably Great Expectations. The grade 4s will start Danny the Champion of the World and the grade 1-2 will finish off Jack and the Beanstalk and start on The Snow Queen ( their choice)
After a big morning I rounded off the afternoon doing my bit for public education by dropping off 400 or so flyers in the very quiet suburb of Wendouree.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Finishing off The Witches

The grade four kids finished work on The Witches today. They re-created the story in the book about the girl who was enchanted into a painting. They found a rustic themed painting on Google and took a photo of themselves on their iPads and put that in the picture along with a story about how they came to be in there. They also painted an ornate frame ( blank one from Google) for the painting to go in.The finished results looked great and they were very proud of them. 
I've just finished reading Danny the Champion of the World and they'll work on that for the next few weeks. My next Dahl serial will be Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. 
The grade 6 kids will finish off their work on spies and World War One next week and we'll start an author study unit on Charles Dickens ( Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and of cause A Christmas Carol which I've read as a serial at the end of the school year for 20 years, never get tired of it.)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Finishing off our spy unit

Today we completed our paintings to use as background art for our alternative DVD covers for The Riddle of the Sands. They turned out well.
Some of the grade 6 kids also finished their passports ( every spy needs one or two of those) and they did a great job of them too.


ABC radio were in town today doing an outside broadcast for the state election.   ( just over a week away) Ballarat has two of the most marginal seats in the state so there is a lot of interest in what happens here. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Bean Dip

We've had a great harvest of beans this year from our garden with more plants ( carrots amongst them) to come.
Under Emily's supervision the kids picked and opened the beans and made a fantastic dip with them. We weren't sure they'd like it but they did. They also made a carrot dip ( purple carrots) from some donated produce.
A big thank you to Emily. They made enough to take some home tonight.

We created some more watercolor paintings for The Riddle in the Sands. ( Refer step by step images below) and we have used them to create alternative DVD covers.)

I'll post a finished image of these tomorrow.
39 Steps timelines
Our finished model plane dioramas. At the moment we are completing information reports on World War One. Some of the topics we've used include- planes, tanks, weapons of mass destruction, leaders and submarines.

Napthine's recycled promises

The government have announced their education manifesto for the election ( including recycling their 3D printer promise) and it is basically promising to spend the Gonski money which they said they would spend ( in fact committed to spend in writing with the previous Federal Government back in 2011) nearly 2 years ago.

The AEU says that:"None of this is new money and in fact I think it is pretty disingenuous to suggest they are revealing $4.2 billion in Gonski money for the first time," 

"What our schools actually want to know is how much additional money is being provided to individual schools from both sides of government. The government has consistently failed to be transparent about this and what our schools tell us is there is no or very little additional money in their budgets."

Opposition education spokesman James Merlino has promised that a Labor government would reveal exactly how much extra federal and state money each school in Victoria received under the needs-based Gonski funding model.

But Premier Napthine indicated there would be no breakdown of how much Gonski money flows to each Victorian school under a Coalition government.( More slight of hand)

Dr Napthine was joined on the hustings by his son Tom, a recent teaching graduate who held a press conference after his dad.

He also made small talk with students in the year 10 maths class, telling them that "if you're a Magpie supporter you've got a greater probability of committing a crime". ( Bizarre! obviously the apple doesn't fall far from the tree)

Read more:

The Auditor Generals Report into our infrastructure ( February 2013)
A quarter of all schools are outdated and not suited to offer a modern curriculum.
2042 buildings are at a point of imminent failure, or have already failed.
3074 buildings are below stand DEECD requires for all school buildings
$420 million of investment is required.
One of the most ubiquitous maintenance issues across the state- and the most deadly- is asbestos.( During 2011-12 only 47 new asbestos audits were completed.
More than half the school's set to receive infrastructure funding are in Coalition Government marginal seats.
The Coalition has cut $126.7 million for maintenance funding.

Funds for the boys

The Napthine government paid elite private school Scotch College $5.4 million for a thin strip of land, taken for a road-widening project, that was previously valued at just over $1 million by the state's Valuer-General.

The payment was made by VicRoads in October last year.

The government's road authority in 2008 used its compulsory acquisition powers to take a 2.8-metre-wide and 400-metre-long sliver of land from the Hawthorn boys' school.

The land was taken in order to add a lane to CityLink, which runs alongside the school.

The strip of land taken for the road widening adjoins three of Scotch's sporting ovals.

In 2008 the Brumby government offered the school $1.06 million for the land, after a valuation by then valuer-general Jack Dunham.

It also offered Scotch $86,400 a year as a fee for occupation of other school land it needed during construction.

The school refused the offer, and took the government to the Supreme Court.

Nothing was heard of the case's resolution, until the school this year lodged its 2013 financial return.

It shows, among the school's revenue for the year of $70.9 million, a payment for $5.4 million as "reimbursement following a Supreme Court action".

The payment helped Scotch record a net surplus of $11.5 million.

Scotch old boy and state Liberal Party elder David Kemp headed a taskforce to ensure the school got what it considered fair compensation for the land.

Dr Kemp, the party's state president between 2007 and 2011, said on Sunday there had been "normal legal negotiations" between the school and the government over the land's worth.

And he said the negotiations were entirely undertaken by lawyers. "I had no personal role," said Dr Kemp, who is a Scotch College director.

A spokesman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder confirmed Dr Kemp had not been personally involved in the negotiations.

A spokeswoman for Scotch said the value of the land acquired for the freeway expansion "was the subject of negotiation during the Supreme Court action".

She said the final amount received from the government included payment for disruptions to school operations, ground repairs, reimbursement of other costs, and rent for the use of property by construction companies during the project, which was finished in 2010.

The Australian Education Union, though, said "It is a sad indication of the Napthine government's priorities that they are willing to make a secret $5 million payout to one of Victoria's wealthiest schools for a thin sliver of land, but not willing to be open with other schools about ... extra funding under the Gonski reforms," the union's Victorian president, Meredith Peace, said.

Let's not forget-

Victoria is the lowest spending state on public education per student.

40% of Principals surveyed said that they relied on fund-raising to pay staff.

In 2011 the Coalition Government cut $481 million from public school funding. by 2013 the cuts were more like $600 million.

between 2013-14 $209 million was cut from VET and $300 million has been cut per year over four years to TAFE 

Preschool teachers are paid 9% less than there primary school colleagues.

In 2013-14 funding for early-childhood education was cut by $21.3 million

There has been a 21% cut in regional and central office staff.

Read more:

Monday, 17 November 2014

Starting our new serial

Today I started reading The Riddle of the Sands.
We still had some 39 Steps tasks to do ( A timeline) and some still had their Venn diagrams ( comparing the novel and film) to complete. ( Photo tomorrow) We also completed our model aeroplanes. ( We made some for ANZAC Day) but these look a lot better. We put them into dioramas and they look terrific. I also experimented with a paper model row boat ( The type Carruthers and Davies used to spy on the German invasion fleet and the one featured on the Puffin book cover.) I painted another one of those too.

Tomorrow Emily will be making a bean dip using our beans!