Monday, 29 February 2016

Beautiful morning this morning

On the road to work at sunrise his morning.

I dropped school pamphlets off along White Swan Rosd today and took a photo of this old tumbled down shed.

Good idea

Interesting graphic
And this


Most of the grade 4-6 students have finished their Musketeer paper dolls today.
D'Atagnan and Milady.
Musketeer with great looking sword.
We also wrote letters of introduction for D'Artagnan and letters from D'Atagnan to his parents explaining what a mess he has made of his first trip to Paris. The intrigue of the story is just hotting up.We should be finished the novel by Friday and we will watch some of the movie. I think we will watch the 1970s version which I remember my sister taking me to see when I was in grade 6.

We also started sketching period prints of Musketeers like the ones we have seen online.

The grade 2s have only a handful of fables to finish and then we will start on folk tales and fairy tales.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Finished Spit MacPhee

Today we finished the last of the Spit MacPhee tasks therefore finishing our Australian literature unit.During this unit we have:
Read and completed tasks based on The Bush Bandits, The Bunyip Hole and The True Story of Spit MacPhee
Completed History reading and tasks about the discovery and white settlement of Victoria and Melbourne
Created PowerPoint projects and completed reading about Australian Megafauna
Created a poster about bunyips and information reports on Australian windflowers, waterfalls and the Murray River.
It has been a big unit but a very productive one. 
Below is a photo of the Spit MacPhee literary socio gram and adoption forms

Children working on their Three Musketeer paper dolls.

Ballarat victims of abuse were able to watch Cardinal Pell's testimony live in the Ballarat Town Hall today from Rome. As I drove to work this morning at 7:00am  Sky News were in town interviewing some survivors.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Teenagers and reading.....

From the New Yorker
I agree that the populatiry of Harry Potter, Twighlight, Hunger Games may have pleasantly surprised people into believing that teens were engaged in books. I know that graphic novels are very popular but I also know that the teen book market, always popular with girls is not as robust as it appears. Book sales have increased, particularly in the US. But maybe the book market isn't that solid once kids move into high school. I know that Ballarat High School has a brilliant library but none of my daughter's contemporaries borrowed books or read them but read and increasingly watch a lot on their devices. All I can say on this matter is that I'm proud that I expose my students to classic literature at school and try to make it exciting in the hope that they might continue to seek out quality literature as they get older and have some at least passing knowledge of the classics.
Neighbourhood library in Queensland.

It’s very likely that teen-agers, attached to screens of one sort or another, read more words than they ever have in the past. But they often read scraps, excerpts, articles, parts of articles, messages, pieces of information from everywhere and from nowhere. It’s likely that they are reading fewer books. Yes, millions of kids have read Harry Potter, “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hunger Games,” and other fantasy and dystopian fictions; also vampire romance, graphic novels (some very good), young-adult novels (ditto), and convulsively exciting street lit. Yet what happens as they move toward adolescence? When they become twelve or thirteen, kids often stop reading seriously. The boys veer off into sports or computer games, the girls into friendship in all its wrenching mysteries and satisfactions of favor and exclusion. Much of their social life, for boys as well as girls, is now conducted on smartphones, where teen-agers don’t have to confront one another. The terror of eye contact! Sherry Turkle, in her recent book “Reclaiming Conversation,” has written about the loss of self that this avoidance creates and also of the peculiar boredom paradoxically produced by the act of constantly fleeing boredom.

If kids are avoiding eye contact, they are avoiding books even more. Work by the Pew Research Center and other outfits have confirmed the testimony of teachers and parents and the evidence of one’s eyes. Few late teen-agers are reading many books. A recent summary of studies cited by Common Sense Media indicates that American teen-agers are less likely to read “for fun” at seventeen than at thirteen. The category of reading “for fun” is itself a little depressing, since it divides reading into duty (for school) and gratification (sitting on a beach towel), as if the two were necessarily opposed. My own observation, after spending a lot of time talking to teen-agers in recent years: reading anything serious has become a chore, like doing the laundry or prepping a meal for a kid brother. Or, if it’s not a chore, it’s just an activity, like swimming or shopping, an activity like any other. It’s not something that runs through the rest of their lives. In sum, reading has lost its privileged status; few kids are ashamed that they’re not doing it much. The notion that you should always have a book going—that notion, which all real readers share, doesn’t flourish in many kids. Often, they look at you blankly when you ask them what they are reading on their own.

Of course, these kids are very busy. School, homework, sports, jobs, clothes, parents, brothers, sisters, half brothers, half sisters, friendships, love affairs, hanging out, music, and, most of all, screens (TV, Internet, games, texting, Instagramming)—compared with all of that, reading a book is a weak, petulant claimant on their time. Reading frustrates their smartphone sense of being everywhere at once. Suddenly, they are stuck on that page, anchored, moored, and many are glum about it. Being unconnected makes them anxious and even angry. “Books smell like old people,” I heard a student say in New Haven.

Yes, I know: this is not a new story. We have known it since the iPhone was introduced, in 2007. Yet teen-age time on screens, as Turkle has documented, has recently increased to the point where it takes over many young lives altogether. Digital culture has enveloped us more quickly and more thoroughly than most of us had imagined. But what can be done about it? Many adults, overwhelmed by a changed reality, shrug off the problem. You don’t want to become a crank. After all, reading technologies have changed in the past; television altered consciousness and social patterns sixty years ago, and kids survived and became adults. Literature will survive, too, somehow. Or so we would like to think. (I’m not so sure: the personal gratification provided by constant feedback doesn’t wither as one gets older.) Some of this indifference may be caused by rueful self-acknowledgment on the part of adults. Many of us are looking at screens all the time, too. Even the book lovers, carrying some tome on an airplane, or listening to an audiobook in the car, turn on their phones as soon as they can.

Was it better once? I know perfectly well that there was never a Golden Age of Teen Reading. No more than a minority read, on their own, J. D. Salinger or Joseph Heller or Charlotte Brontë fifty years ago; or Kurt Vonnegut or Ray Bradbury or Allen Ginsberg forty years ago; or science and history. Yet now that minority has grown even smaller—and defensive, too. The celebrated nerds among kids are mostly techies.

Making the case that serious reading is one of life’s great boons—that screen-bound kids are in danger of missing something tremendous—has become awkward, square-headed, emotionally difficult. The plea for beauty and moral complexity may sound merely plaintive. (Few of us are as fierce as the gentle Keats.) Novelists, poets, essayists, and university humanists, emerging from their proud corners, find it hard to talk of character, judgment, perceptiveness, wit, empathy, and other such virtues encouraged by serious reading. They are not salesmen, and they don’t want to sound like William Bennett: such things, they believe, should be self-evident. Earlier ages (the Greeks, the Victorians, etc.) were convinced of the improving value of literature, but in the twentieth century the sophisticated position (Wilde, Nabokov, Updike, Vidal) was always that literature improves nothing, does nothing; it creates only delight. Among famous critics and scholars, Harold Bloom, in book after book, has argued for reading as the way to a developed self, but my guess is that he speaks to those who don’t need convincing. If the rest of us give up on book reading without a fight, we will regret it, even be ashamed as the culture hollows out. I will put it tendentiously. Could a country that had widely read “Huckleberry Finn” have taken Donald J. Trump seriously for a second? Twain’s readers will remember “the king” and “the duke.” They know what a bullying con artist sounds like.

Lifetime readers know that reading literature can be transformative, but they can’t prove it. If they tried, they would have to buck the metric prejudice, the American notion that assertions unsupported with statistics are virtually meaningless. What they know about literature and its effects is literally and spiritually immeasurable. They would have to buck common marketplace wisdom, too: in an economy demanding “skill sets”—defined narrowly as technical and business skills—that deep-reading stuff won’t get you anywhere.
What would Jane Austen think?

The Times reported on Monday that at least fifteen state governments were offering some type of bonus or premium for high-demand STEM degrees. “All the people in the world who want to study French literature can do so,” Matt Bevin, the governor of Kentucky, said. “They’re just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayers like engineers will be, for example.” (Governor Bevin, as it turns out, graduated from Washington and Lee with a bachelor’s degree in Japanese and East Asian studies. So much for the crippling effects of the humanities.) But this STEM panic may be nonsense. Business leaders have repeatedly said they want to hire people who can think and judge, follow complicated instructions, understand fellow-workers, stand up and talk in a meeting.

I know that reading literature, history, science, and the rest of the liberal-arts canon helps produce three-dimensional human beings. But how is a taste for such reading created in the first place? Infants held in their parents’ arms, told stories, and read to will not remember the images or the words, but they will likely remember the warmth and comfort associated with books and conversation, especially when the experience is repeated hundreds of times. The luckiest of the children fall out of parents’ arms into preschool. In the good ones, books are read aloud, valued, expounded, held up for kids to enjoy. The rest of American children arrive at school in kindergarten and are then, for thirteen years, either nurtured or betrayed by teachers.
These are funny.

Teachers are the most maligned and ignored professionals in American life. In the humanities, the good ones are as central to our emotional and moral life as priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams. The good ones are not sheepish or silent in defense of literature and history and the rest. They can’t be; the children’s lives are right before them. In high-school English, if the teachers are shrewd and willing to take a few risks, they will try to reach the students where they live emotionally. They will engage, for instance, with “naïve” existential questions (what do I live for?) and also adolescent fascination with “dark” moods and the fear of being engulfed by adult society. Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Poe, Hawthorne, Twain, Stevenson, Orwell, Vonnegut, and many others wrote about such things. And if teachers can make books important to kids—and forge the necessary link to pleasure and need—those kids may turn off the screens. At least for a few vital hours.

Don't piss of sea lions...

Radical and rapid change is afoot - ATAR is no longer the only way of getting into tertiary education and universities ( Refer Swinburn) are now offering an extraordinary number of entry programs,  adjusted ATARS, bonus points and wide-open doors. It demands the question - who needs a 90-plus ATAR? Or as one independent school principal recently told The Age: "what will it mean for schools that sell themselves on 90-plus ATARs?" Fascinating times.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Wishing them well

Well done Ballarat for giving the victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse a powerful farewell as they left for Rome to watch Cardinal Pell's testimony. Let's hope they can get front row seats and that those seats aren't occupied by a Vatican rent a crowd ( the local seminarians that were asked to attend.) 
Photo from Catherine Kings Facebook page.

I'm surprised by the way the people of Ballarat have got behind the victims of sexual abuse. It would be interesting to look into this phenomena ( why has Ballarat responded as it has and some other communities would still prefer to sweep it under the carpet?) maybe there's some academic at Federation University writing a thesis about it right now!
Meanwhile I stopped off on my way to work this morning and took some photos of the plethora of ribbons tied on the fence of St Patrick's.

There is more every day.
Check out this harrowing SBS news story:

Outside the Ballarat Law Courts this week

I prepared for next week by adding personal learning plans to individual student iPads and got art materials ready for our Three Musketeers unit. I won't have time for my big Insects science unit but I'll get it set up and ready to go first week back after our Easter break.
I'll post my Aussie literature theme on TPT next weekend. Meanwhile I finished the Three Musketeers unit today and should finish Ivanhoe next weekend.
I talked to School Council at our meeting last night about cutting our lunch break in half and finishing 30 minutes early. I'll also look into starting at 8:30 and finishing even earlier at 2:30? 
We have done this year's ago by cutting lunch and recess in half we used to finish at 2:45 over term 2 and 3 so that will be good to do again if every one agrees.
Before I left for lunch I gave our garden a thorough watering. Something is eating our carrot tops, I'm not sure what and our corn is looking the real deal I'f not a little short still.

Decimated carrot tops!

Strawberry flower.

Corn looking good!

It saves lives

From Huff Post
The school LGBTI program, the Safe Schools Coalition, has become such a political football in recent weeks, as politicians and lobby groups on both sides of the fence aim to score cheap points through their support or opposition to the framework, that it has almost become easy to overlook what is actually at stake here.

Let us remind you.

LGBTI people are between three and fourteen times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual Australians. One in six young LGBTI people have attempted suicide. One in three have self harmed.

Among teenage boys, 40 percent wouldn't want a same-sex attracted person as a friend, sixty percent had witnessed first-hand someone being bullied for their sexuality, and a quarter believe calling someone a "homo" or "dyke" is OK. Up to 80 percent of LGBTI teens have experienced homophobic language at schools and one quarter had experienced physical abuse at school, according to some studies.

One in five lesbian, gay or bisexual Australians are currently experiencing depression, more than triple the national rate, while one in three experience an anxiety condition. These are statistics collected and collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, depression organisation beyondblue, Suicide Prevention Australia and various reputable universities across the country.

This is what the Safe Schools Coalition program looks to address and mitigate, through educating young people at schools about LGBTI issues, promoting tolerance and understanding, and giving resources for young LGBTI people to find help and counselling if needed. If you need a first-hand account, check out this moving, emotional recount by journalist Shannon Molloy on The Daily Telegraph.

"We know about 10 percent of young people are same-sex attracted or are experiencing gender identity issues. This is not a small number," Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue, told The Huffington Post Australia.

"LGBTI Australians are far more likely to be psychologically distressed, and it gets worse the younger they are."

With attacks on the Safe Schools Coalition lighting up the media in recent weeks -- just last night, a government MP likened the program to sexual predators grooming a victim -- Harman said young LGBTI people would bear a mental and emotional cost.

"If you're a young person struggling with identity or sexuality, and you're being constantly exposed to homophobic comments on the news or social media, all that does is compound those feelings of difference, that they won't be accepted, that there's something wrong with them. Those are factors that lead to self harm and suicide," she said.

Rebecca Reynolds, executive director of peak body National LGBTI Health Alliance, said comments from politicians and lobby groups just worked to further marginalise young LGBTI people. LGBTI Health also manages Qlife, a national phone counselling and assistance service.

"In a few weeks we would have better data on this, but anecdotally, children and young people are saying to services that they feel forced to be someone they're not," she told HuffPost Australia.

"These comments are in the mainstream, it is being discussed in schools and at home. We know that when there is hostility in media to LGBTI people, they take a step back on their journey. We absolutely see this as having an impact."

Reynolds said impacts and effects of bullying and homophobia in schools and in the media were not always as obvious and awful as suicide and self-harm; that such effects can manifest in eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. She said she supported the Safe Schools Coalition as a key part of addressing such issues at an early age.

"It's about making school environments as accepting for all young people as possible, so it stops pointing out differences and lets [young LGBTI people] feel included. Safe Schools has such a long list of programs and ideas that can be picked up depending on regional areas and differences," Reynolds said.

"That is why it is so important for this program to be operating around Australia, so schools can ask for help, and have programs tailored to them."

The Turnbull government has commissioned a review into the Coalition. Announced on Friday, the review -- to be undertaken by University of Western Australia academics Professor Bill Louden and Professor Donna Cross, will report back as to whether Safe Schools is:

- consistent with the intent and objectives of the program
- a suitable and robust resource for school teachers and students
- age appropriate
- educationally sound
- aligned to the Australian curriculum

The relative cost of each program.

Pushing the Boundaries

Good old Ron Lake, one of Jeff Kennett's 'Cold War Warriors' who re-invented himself and 'served' new masters and became a less than popular regional apparently...allegedly....Ron was busy buying CSG shares and....pushing the boundaries!
More news from IBAC

In one recording, Mr Lake told his friend and former education department deputy secretary Darrell Fraser that he did not care if the phone was bugged.
"If people are listening to this, $%$^ them," he said, drawing muffled laughter from the court room.
"We've done nothing wrong," he said. "Jesus Christ, you're allowed to have a life. If they examined everything I did as a principal, did I push the bloody boundaries? Absolutely I did."
Mr Fraser confessed in the recordings that he too pushed boundaries.
"It seemed right to me at the time," Mr Fraser said.
In a separate recording, Mr Lake frantically told Mr Fraser that his partner had been served with papers from the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption hearing while at their holiday house in Merimbula, on the south coast of New South Wales.
"What in the %&*^'s going on?," he exclaimed.
IBAC is examining how contracts were awarded and tendered for Ultranet, a disastrous $240 million IT project for Victorian state schools that was dumped in 2013 due to technical issues.
Mr Lake was a member of the Ultranet project board and bought $160,000 worth of CSG shares after the company was awarded the $60 million Ultranet contract. The inquiry was told he purchased the bulk of the shares on July 31, 2009, a day before CSG announced that it had acquired Delexian Pty Ltd.
Mr Lake told the hearing that he repaid a $10,500 loan to his partner Julie Baker, who was a former assistant regional director in the department. Ms Baker drove to a stockbroker and bought $10,500 worth of CSG shares on the same day she received the money. She told the hearing on Thursday that she had asked her partner for some advice on buying shares. "He said 'why don't you try the Ultranet?'"
Counsel assisting Ian Hill, QC, said commercial in confidence material was discussed during the Ultranet project board meetings. He questioned Mr Lake about whether this information influenced his decision to buy shares in CSG.
Mr Lake denied this, and said he bought the shares because he believed in Ultranet, and CSG was performing well on the stock exchange.
He later said a fellow board member told him CSG shares had grown from 42c to $1.09 overnight.
Mr Lake failed to disclose his shares to the board, but told Mr Fraser, who called him a "a silly bastard". He said he also told his former brother-in-law Tony Bugden, who was the chair of the board. Mr Lake was eventually replaced on the board after Mr Fraser raised concerns about his conflict of interests.
Mr Fraser, took an executive job with CSG in July 2011, two years after he was instrumental in giving the company its biggest-ever contract.
Mr Lake was asked to leave the Department in 2012 and immediately started work in Saudi Arabia alongside his partner Ms Baker. He is the Director General of Riyadh Schools, a group of 11 schools with 3400 students in the middle east.
"I left the department on a Friday and started in Saudi Arabia on the Monday," he told the inquiry. 
IBAC is investigating whether Education Department employees received gifts, travel and job opportunities due to their involvement in Ultranet, and whether they bought shares in the company that won the multimillion-dollar IT contract.
Ultranet was meant to deliver an online platform that connected teachers, parents and students, but it was plagued with technical glitches and rarely used after its rollout in 2010.
The hearing continues and I can hardly wait!

@theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Starting The Three Musketeers

We've just read the chapter when d'Artagnan finds himself involved in 3 duels on the one day! I didn't realise how short this term is, with a Curriculum Day, kids away at the cross country and Good Friday I will have to work over time to get this new unit finished by Easter. 
I've just started a mini unit on Ivanhoe but I'm waiting for a few abridged versions of the book, which I've ordered to arrive. 
Below photos of Spit McPhee work we finished today, the grade 3 and 4 making a little Star Wars film using their iPads and our Ivanhoe books and display table.


They can find $150 billion ( and you can bet that will blow out) on submarines we don't need, jet fighters that are useless ( ask the Canadians) and tanks that are useless against terrorists but they can't find $30 billion over 10 years for education!

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the submarines are essential and will help protect Australia. But what else could the $12.5 billion price tag of a submarine pay for?

$1000 cash for everyone 
$12.5 billion could fund $988 payments - akin to the Rudd government's stimulus handouts - for the 12.6 million Australians in the labour force.
Five cutting edge hospitals 
According to the latest figures, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital will cost $2.1 billion to construct.
Forgiving a quarter of all uni debt 
The total Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt is projected to reach $59.7 billion in 2016.
Reduce the budget deficit by a third 
As of December, the deficit stood at $37.4 billion.
Tax relief 
According to the Centre for Independent Studies, $12.5 billion could address one year of bracket creep, the process that sees inflation push wages into higher income tax brackets.
Complete reversal of record foreign aid cuts 
From 2014 to 2018, the government is overseeing $11 billion in cuts to foreign aid, the largest reduction in Australia's history.
....and finally six years of Gonski education funding

Lovely sky this morning

Glorious morning at work.( about 7:00 am)
Zucchini flower looking evil!
Stressful career.
Botanical Gardens after work today.

Cricket again today.
My grade 2 boy writing an information report on daddy long legs using an 'Are, Have, Can' chart.

Making diffusion paper pictures.
My grade 2 girl finishing off her picture for The Eagle and the Beetle fable.

A bit rude but piquant (engagingly provocative)