Friday, 31 July 2015

Nice gesture from Bri

From the Educator

Bri Dredge, a 32-year-old teacher at Yuille Park Community College in Ballarat, appeared on Millionaire Hot Seat on Thursday night, where she won a cool $20,000.

But rather than splashing out on a new car or going overseas on a much deserved holiday (teachers, we know how hard you work), Dredge decided on a much more selfless pursuit, buying every one of the school’s 200 students new shoes.

The big-hearted teacher said the sturdy leather shoes would get them through Ballarat's long, cold winter, which has been as low as 4.8 degrees (and that’s maximum temp).

Upon returning to her school, Dredge found the reaction of the students to be one of joy and appreciation.
"I walked into school and every student in the whole school has given me a hug and said thank you," Dredge told AAP on Friday.

"The look on their faces was worth all the money that I won."

Dredge said that while being on national television was a "scary" experience, she hoped it would encourage the students to challenge themselves.

(Bri is the daughter of ex-principal of Ballarat High School, Peter Dredge)

Meanwhile back at Glen Park. I went up this morning after giving blood at the Red Cross ( Wonderful staff and volunteers  at the Ballarat office of the Red Cross) and finished my Hobbit unit. After road testing it I'll put it on TPT. we also finished reading the Woman in White yesterday and I've finished that unit too. damn that Count Fosco!
Wet and cold again, but a magnificent 'Blue Moon' in the sky last night. Tomorrow we pick up an change teacher from Japan who is staying with us for a few weeks. She will be teaching Japanese and improving her English at Ballarat High for a few weeks ( My daughter is doing year 12 Japanese and volunteered to be a host) 

Who wrote these young adult books ( Mmmmm I've read Unfortunate Events to primary age kids and I'm thinking of reading Golden Compass or Northern Lights next year)


Shakespeare and spelling

Story from today's Age

Shakespeare was undoubtedly the greatest writer in the English language, perhaps in any language. His mastery of all aspects of literary expression is unmistakable and he profoundly shaped the evolution of both drama and world literature. But would he have passed year 9 NAPLAN?

Probably not. When Shakespeare was penning his timeless works, spelling was anything but standardised. He spelt his own name many different ways. In the six documents he signed, including a deposition, a bill of sale and a will, his name was different each time. There are two documents recording his marriage. One is signed "Wm Shaxpere" and the other, entertainingly has the signature "William Shagspeare" (perhaps a wry admission that he had, after all, got Anne Hathaway​ pregnant).

English spelling in the Elizabethan period was especially unstable because of the influx of foreign influences, driven by advances in scholarship and science, plus higher levels of trade. More than 10,000 words were added from Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish. Indeed the first dictionaries were listings of foreign terms. Shakespeare had a vocabulary of about 15,000 words, including lewdster, moldwarp, giglet and porpentine. Many of the first usages of words are traced to Shakespearean plays.

It was not until the appearance of English dictionaries, beginning with Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, that spelling "rules" began to be formalised. Ever since, those "rules" have been anything but. They have mostly demonstrated just what a complex mix of influences, even mess, the English language is. It has been a sponge that absorbed influences and words from everywhere.

Unlike phonetic languages, where the spelling matches the sound, English words routinely have the same spelling for different sounds, such as "height" and "weight". Or they have different spellings for the same sound, such as "fair" and "pear". Such details did not trouble the Elizabethans, however. They had little interest in being consistent anyway.

Cycle forward 400 years to year 9 NAPLAN. In online sample tests, 25 of the 50 questions relate to spelling. It is a fair bet that Shakespeare would have done very poorly on these. He would probably not even have understood why the questions were being asked.

He would have performed better in the section in which students are required to complete sentences, but his approach to punctuation would almost certainly have been considered substandard. He would have excelled in the grammar section, and easily identified metaphors, alliteration, similes and rhymes. But overall he would either have failed or scored a very poor mark.

How can this be? Surely the Bard was passably literate. For example, he was capable of soaring metaphors: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." That has to be worth at least a B minus. He was reasonably well informed about rhetorical tropes, such as synecdoche, metonymy, hendiadys or anaphora. That must tick a few capability boxes.

He could do a fine line in achingly beautiful phrases, such as Ophelia's lament in Hamlet: "I hope all will be well. We must be patient; but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i' the cold ground." Has a nice ring to it, although I am not sure about the punctuation.

This heavy emphasis on spelling is, at one level, not unreasonable. English spelling is a bizarrely inconsistent code that children have to learn if they are to function effectively. It does not happen in phonetic languages. There would be no point having a Great Spelling Bee television show in Spain, for example.

But the suspicion is that focusing on spelling is also attractive because there is a right and wrong answer, which makes scoring easy. If this is so, then it is a misunderstanding of what literacy is. It rests on qualitative, usually comparative, approaches, not quantification and numerical measurement. Imagine, for example, claiming that Shakespeare is a 40 per cent better playwright than his contemporary Christopher Marlowe. What would this tell us? Nothing.

Yet if we showed that Shakespeare used metaphors in a number of different ways, while Marlowe's range was more limited, we would be learning something about the particulars of their art. That would be far harder to put into a NAPLAN test. But it would more meaningful.

Read more:

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Work samples 2

The grade 5s completed their letters for Sovereign Hill ( explaining why they've travelled to Australia and what life is like in the gold fields.) and sealed them with sealing wax.
I also created a paper model for the church that the evil Sir Percival dies in.

Our Wilkie Collins display table

The grade ones are making cup cakes this morning with Jess based on Town Mouse and Country Mouse. 

Lovely Sunny winters day today which is welcome after a very cold, miserable day yesterday.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Work samples

Today I finished sketches for my Hobbit unit and also finished some pop up scenes.
I've also created a sample art work for River Town from the novel.
Step by step photos are below.

The grade 5s are working on their Sovereign Hill letters using old dashing ink and pen and calligraphy paper. when they are finished we will fold them and seal them with proper sealing wax.

Completed pop up scenes showing Marian eavesdropping on Count Fosco and Sir Percival.

Gym this afternoon. On the big bar.
The pit

What Pet Should I Get?: Dr Seuss 'releases a new book'

A newly discovered book by the prolific children's author Dr Seuss has hit US bookshops, two decades after his death.

What Pet Should I Get? is believed to have been written by Dr Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, between 1958 and 1962.

Australian fans of Dr Seuss will have a wait to buy the book from a local bookstore — publisher HarperCollins says the release date is still to be confirmed.

Good Gonski news

I have been a bit pessimistic about Gonski since the election of the Abbott government when they backed out of full Gonski funding and when Christopher Pyne shared his thoughts about public education funding.It wasn't improved when the Andrew's State Government guarrenteed private school funding but hasn't done the same for Gonski funding. however there is a bit of good news about Gonski. refer below.

Senate inquiry has been launched into the impact of under-resourcing on the education of children with disability. It also explores what needs to be done to improve the system.  

The AEU believes that it is essential that senators understand exactly how big this problem is, and why Gonski funding must be delivered in full to all schools. They have asked for personal stories to contribute to the inquiry: Refer to the link for more information.


On Sunday Labor finished their national conference where they set out their positive plans for the future, which included  Labor re-committing to the Gonski principles: to a sector-blind, needs-based school funding model. For better results, a fairer society and better jobs in the future.The conference has sent a very clear message: only Labor is committed to Gonski. Kate Ellis ( The Shadow Education spokesperson said 'The only way that Australia will see Gonski become a reality is under a Shorten Labor Government.' 

To see her speech to the conference below you can also share the speech to let everyone know the good news.

Muzzling the Safe School Coalition

From today's Age

A government-funded program that prevents homophobia and discrimination in schools has been gagged from speaking out in favour of same-sex marriage.( of course!)

The Abbott government has warned the Safe Schools Coalition – which aims to create a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students – against commenting on the politically sensitive issue of gay marriage.

It is understood that concerns were raised with the Foundation for Young Australians, the program's national convenor, after Safe Schools Coalition Victoria told The Age last month that Catholic school principals should refrain from handing out anti-gay marriage leaflets from Archbishop Denis Hart.

A spokesman for federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the Safe Schools Coalition was established to work with participating schools to create "supportive and respectful environments for student learning"."It is not intended to be a media commentator."This is promoting having sex, promoting having different kinds of sex and it is not age appropriate," she said.

She called on the Abbott government to axe $8 million of federal funding for the program.

Ms Francis also raised concerns about the program's recommendation that transgender children use the bathroom of their choice.

She said parents should have to provide consent for their children to take part in the program, and be made aware of its contents.

Roz Ward, who has been co-ordinating the program since it began in Victoria in 2010, said the ACL's campaign was "extremely disappointing". She said its comments highlighted the importance of the program.

"Their comments are based on a complete misunderstanding of the program. We are extremely proud of the work that we have done in Victoria and the difference it has made to young people's lives."

Safe Schools Coalition Australia national program director Sally Richardson said there had been no change to media protocols.

"Safe Schools Coalition Australia has chosen not to comment on issues that fall outside the focus of our program. Our focus is on challenging the bullying and discrimination of the LGBTIQ community within the school setting."

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Today I took the grade 5s to the Ballarat Town Hall to see the Royal South Street debating. They enjoyed them and were pretty good at adjudicating the 3 debates we saw.
 The Council chambers where the debates took place.

We also finished our newspaper stories for The Moonstone and the Woman in White pop up stories. ( Poor Lady Glyde died today while we were reading.......or did she?)
I'm also nearly finished my Hobbit unit.

Our Wilkie Collins display board.
The Hobbit radio play we've been listening to.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Wilkie Collins

The grade 5s finished their portraits of Wilkie Collins and are writing their newspaper stories about the mysterious disappearance of the Moonstone or the deaths of Rosanna or Godfrey.

The grade 2-3 are currently using the iStop Motion app to make a movie about the Avengers.
I discovered the old 1960s cartoons I used to watch as a kid on YouTube.

I am currently working on my Hobbit unit. We are about half way through the book
The audio tapes are great and so is the graphic novel version of the book.

Huge achievement gap in our classrooms

Teachers are dealing with wide discrepancies in student learning, with a five- to eight-year difference between the strongest and weakest students in some classrooms, a new report by public policy think-tank, the Grattan Institute, has revealed.

Teachers should target teaching to individual students, and should be given adequate time and training to monitor progress, the report says.

"Schools need to commit to the systematic collection of high-quality evidence of student learning, to analyse this evidence to identify learning gaps and to monitor progress over time, and to use this evidence to identify successful teaching," the report says.

Standardised testing was a useful tool, but should not be heavily relied upon by teachers to track progress. NAPLAN​ results are "imprecise" and the tests were held infrequently, the report says.

It was also found some teachers were inaccurately grading their students, giving marks based on expectation rather than true performance.

Schools should be focusing on the level of a student's progress on individual tasks, rather than measuring ability through standard grades, the report urges.

"A student could make two years of progress in a single year but still be so far behind that an E is appropriate. Another student could start so far ahead that she could afford to make no progress for several years and still receive an A," the report says.

It was found parents could also play a role, by asking schools to report on how much a student has learnt over multiple years, rather than simply reporting their grades.

A targeted teaching approach would fast-track the progress of learning and land Australian students in the top five performing countries on the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, the report proposed.

The report says an overhaul of Australia's classrooms would cost roughly $300 million a year. 

Schools have taken steps of their own in relation to these concerns. Three years ago, Camberwell South Primary School decided to gather student data to build a curriculum around the spectrum of student ability.

As part of the so-called "targeted teaching" approach, the school appointed five full-time coaches, who observe teachers' classrooms and offer mentoring in weekly hour-long sessions.

Principal Coralee Pratt said the classroom has changed radically in recent years, with students doubling their rate of progress in spelling and science.

"You don't see 'good work' or 'nice work' anymore in teachers' feedback. It's very focused, very targeted at what was the intent of that task, and how the student has achieved it, and how they can get better at doing what they're doing," she said.

It goes without saying that at Glen Park we can have a 10 year difference ( kinda to year 7-8) between children all in the same class and we have differentiated individual learning plans for each child.

Read more:

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Too chilly to letterbox newsletters!

JAccording to Vanessa O'Hanlon it was snowing in Trentham today.( photo below) 

I don't doubt it. I went up to work today to clean and prepare for this week. I also wanted to letterbox our Glen Park Gazette around the Coorabin Estate near Glen Park when it started to hail and then sleet!It was bloody cold. I dropped off about half of what I had but when my fingers went numb I had to give it away. I'll try again on Tuesday or Wednesday after school.

'First day of school' $88 from the Fairfax Archive.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Tiny New Zealand libraries

As big as a small bedroom or a small shed, these libraries located around New Zealand are probably the smallest in the world.

Based in old churches, attached to halls and post offices or stand alone iron sheds, the tiny libraries set their own opening hours which can be a few hours a day, weekly, monthly or by even request only. 

Organised by dedicated community members these tiny libraries don't have the bustling atmosphere government owned libraries feature.

Instead they provide the community with a quiet welcome, and an area where locals can relax and enjoy their surroundings.

Puhoi library known to be one of the smallest in New Zealand even boasts its own website, claiming to have over 4000 books and 500 DVDs. Entering the library is 'like stepping back in time; in winter the fire will be going and the warm smile of the volunteer librarian greets you.' 

Read more:

Or check their site by copying and pasting this link:

ALP Conference

The Labor Party 'Advance Australia' National Conference 
Melbourne Convention Centre
July 25th 2015

Saturday morning Session 
A world-class education for all Australians Moved by Kim Carr (VIC)Seconded by Kate Ellis (SA)
( It began with Bill Shorten explaining his new policy on refugees) BIG NEWS!

The Labor Party ( ALP) 'Advance Australia' National Conference 
Melbourne Convention Centre
July 27th 2015

Saturday morning Session 
A world-class education for all Australians Moved by Kim Carr (VIC)Seconded by Kate Ellis (SA)
( It began with Bill Shorten explaining his new policy on refugees) BIG NEWS!

Kim Carr emphasised the transformational role of excellent public schools.
He criticised the current government for their approach to education which are a polar opposite to Labor values.He emphasised that Labor unlike Pyne doesn't support fee deregulation and a less equal Australia.
He promised to work with the states to ensure all children have access to quality education. He supports public TAFE and the VET sector.Labour will prepare for the future and the prosperity of the regions with its approach to education provision.
Carr emphasised the transformational role of excellent public schools.

Kate Ellis
Nothing more important to fairness for all  than quality accessible education.
Education - provides skills for global economy and is a fundamental right for ALL.
Parents need to be confident in local school and teachers need support
Kate emphasised Labor's long proud legacy in education dating back to Whitlam reforms.
Gonski outlined solutions to reforming state education and Labor won't give up on Gonski reforms ONLY Labor is committed to Gonski.
Speakers raised amendments which were successfully voted on

Moved by Sharon Bird
$2 billion has been cut from training
TAFE undermined and this must stop
TAFE is at the heart of the vocational and training sector
TAFE is a national asset.

'Free and secular education'
Labor will not support any  attempt to privatise any public education providers. ( This is a reference to the suggestion that parents should pay to send their children to public schools. Refer to a previous post)
the ALP will support the principles of providing quality education to public education using the Gonski template.

'Excellent education for every child in every school'
Moved by Kate Jones and Deb O'Neill
ALP policy to  confirm that all children get access to the best education based on needs
Abbott will cut 30 billion dollars from education!
Our students need to participate in the digital economy and future schools they need
Commitment to coding so they can become the architects of Australia's  digital economy
Speakers acknowledged the work of teachers and need to up skill them.
Coding is the global language of digital age and coding helps young people to engage with the world. ( Still not totally convinced by this push)
Teachers need support to get across this digital knowledge and they will support teachers to help develop pedagogy to teach coding. ( They will have too!)
Labor has a responsibility to implement Gonski ( it is about improving student learning which requires an equitable accessible quality education).

'Training for teachers and aides including koorie educators'
labor is committed to Lifting the standards of training for all educators
Our non-teacher educators especially in koorie communities need extra support 

'Recognising parents in education'
Provide community education programs to support parents 

'Higher education'
Labor supports our Universities but not deregulation of fees.
Student and staff should be represented on uni councils
Labor support student unionism

'Boosting apprenterships and training'
Supported amendments
'Excellent education for every student in every school'
supported amendments

'Universal access to early childhood learning 4 year olds'
Quality childcare learning between 0-5 is a Labor goal.
There are proven benefits
Support for 4 year old kinda is a great legacy for labor
Fund an increase to 30 hours of 4 year old and possibly 3 year old kinda is something to aim for.
Ambitious program with early childhood education and it should be seen as equal to primary secondary education.

'Inclusive programs for LGBTI students'
a Labor government will need to improve health curriculum and support teachers and involve parents.

'Non education amendments which impact on education'
Labor is also committed to ensure broadband is available to all Australians especially regional Australians. Poor broadband in rural areas does not provide a level playing field
A fast equitable and accessible broadband is essential regional Development.
Jaala Pulford spoke on the need to support regional communities through investment in rural Australia via infrastructure funding and empowering local communities 

I stayed for the afternoon session to hear the historic amendments passed on a 50% renewable energy target.

It was great to hear The ALP fully support the re-implementation to Gonski funding, (The all important last 2 years of funding. They will be held to account for this promise and will need to get moving on it straight away. I hope James Merlino was listening to it. Hopefully this time all the states will come on board.) a recommitment to TAFE and affordable university education. Now they need to formulate those into effective policies that can be taken to the next election so there is a clear distinction between them and the Abbott /Pyne governments. this is potentially a huge vote winner for them if they do it right.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Identifying students at risk

Australian schools are watching their students' every move on school-supplied computers or tablets to spot signs of radicalisation.

Melbourne High School and and Kilvington Grammar School in Victoria are among at least a dozen schools in Australia which are using a surveillance tool from cyber security company Netbox Blue, to detect signs of political extremism.

At least 400 schools in Australia are monitoring their students' iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites and Google searches for signs of cyber bullying, self-harm and other anti-social behaviour.

In February, the department appointed a senior adviser to work with government and non-government schools to promote racial and religious tolerance and social cohesion.

Regional offices across the state have been working with their counterparts in Victoria Police to provide advice and support to schools.

But Monash University's counter-terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton said schools and communities were generally inexperienced in dealing with extremism. He said software that protected students from predators was a good start.

"In the earlier stages, you see more open exchanges and curiosity-driven searches and if the system works well, it will pick it up before the kids are in the danger zone."

A Victorian Education Department spokesman said the department was advising schools with at-risk student populations on ways to support vulnerable students.

Victorian Student Representative Council spokesman Spencer Davis said it was important that schools performed "some form of monitoring" during school hours, but surveillance should not extend beyond the parameters of the school.

"What happens outside of the school should be the responsibility of the parents, not the school."

If schools really want to monitor, say illegal drug use by their students outside of school it’s really pretty easy to do so. 

Just look them up on Facebook! It is amazing what some kids will put up there for the whole world to see! I think a few pious private school principals would be astonished to see what their 'young citizens of the future' do in their spare time.
Read more:


Staff and students at Flinders University have warned of an angry backlash if controversial Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg is allowed to set up a research centre at the Adelaide institution.

The university has approached the government about potentially hosting the "consensus centre" - a think tank that would use methods similar to those used by Dr Lomberg's Copenhagen centre.

( Climate change skeptics favoured by Abbott and Pyne and rejected by the University of Western Australia and all credible climatologists.)

Dr Lomborg is a contentious figure because he argues that the risks of climate change have been overstated and it is more important to tackle problems such as malaria and poverty - though he accepts the science of human-induced climate change.

Hang tough colleague at Flinders. Just like the staff and students did in WA. Let the liberal Party pay to house the Lomberg Thinktank if they think it has anything important to contribute to climate science.

Read more:

I'll be an official observer at the Labor Party Conference tomorrow. I'm looking forward to hearing speeches and debates about education that are on tomorrow's agenda. hopefully they will re-commit to the last 2 years of Gonski funding.

Yippee 46000 views- that escalated fast!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Conflict wheels

Today the grade 5s completed conflict wheels on characters from the Moonstone. They also decorated blank outlines of Rachel's door.

One of the grade 1s was reading a book in guided reading about going to the market so she did some role play as a shop keeper in our home corner. the other kids were more than happy to help.

I've been asked about the Marvel Comic CD ROM I've been printing Avengers comics from. It is quite old, I think about 12-15 years old so I doubt it is still available ( maybe online?) Anyway, there's a picture below. It was released by Topics Entertainment.
Phases of the moon charts. We photographed them using our iPads and then printed them off A3 size so they could eat their moons and still have a record of what they did.

Mmmmm what school did he go to?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Phases of the Moon

The grade 5s finished off their top hats and we created phases of the Moon diagrams using Oreo biscuits. ( I won't go into details, it was an idea I found on Pinterest)

We will start our jewel boxes tomorrow and next week look at the Ballarat gold rush for history prior to our 2 day excursion to Sovereign Hill in August.

Top hats

Today the kids completed their literary socio grams for The Moonstone on our PCs and they turned out well. They also completed their top hats (Make sure you have stiff cardboard, lots of tabs to conect the pieces and put it together with a glue gun and sticky tape rather than glue.)

The grade 2 and 3s are completing a literature theme on The Avengers....yes The Avengers. They are reading the original comics ( Ages ago I bought CDs that contained versions of the original comics that could be downloaded and printed.) They print off well especially in color and don't include the advertising. ( Remember adverts for boxes of soldiers and X- Ray specs?) The kids have been completing comprehension, craft and creative writing tasks for the comics. (The student below is comparing Iron Man's armour through the ages.)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

ReadBrightly's list of great books for 5-6 year olds.

Check the website

The list can be downloaded from their site. It contains a few favourites of mine. ( Refer below) but lots of books you wouldn't find outside of the US.

From the website:

There’s so much happening with 5- and 6-year-olds. They’re learning to tie their shoes, practicing cutting out shapes with scissors, some are even ready to ride a bike. There’s a big continuum of development at these ages, and that applies to children’s reading development, too. Some kids are not yet ready to read, while others are reading independently. And that’s as it should be, according to both developmental and literacy experts.

No matter where your child is on this developmental continuum, here you’ll discover the best books to encourage their love of reading. Each book has been carefully selected by our group of experts.