Category Archives: events

Clean Up Australia Day

clean up Australia Day1

Each year one day is dedicated to Cleaning Up Australia – Clean Up Australia Day. Although this day falls on Sunday, March 2nd, our students from foundation to year 12 were allocated an area of our school grounds and fenceline to clean up. At 12 pm, the forms and year levels congregated under the bus shelter, were given rakes, gloves and bags and proceeded to clean up their area.

As a form teacher for year 10, we cleaned up the fenceline along the school grounds and roadway. See how beautiful our surrounds are and as we finished the roadside, we heard two kookaburras laugh! They must have been well pleased with our efforts.

If you are from another country, do you acknowledge similar days?

What does the world’s largest classroom look like?

map across vic
What would the world’s classroom look like at any point in time? I feel that I experienced that this morning. Why? There was/were

    • 1 classroom (virtual in Blackboard Collaborate)
    • up to 17,000 students
    • 170 physical classes
    • A class of deaf students from Furlong Park School
    • 1 teacher (or presenter)

It is Safer Internet Use Day today and the Topic is “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  Our Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development organised a webinar for all interested Victorian classrooms. The presenter was Greg Gebhart from Cybersmart ACMA who spoke on “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  The session went for 45 mins and was highly interactive which is essential to student engagement in a virtual environment.

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Questions and polls were posed at varying intervals. Class answers were placed in the chat. The presentation included lots of graphics and images and Greg’s presentation style was also engaging. When a round of applause was called for at the end, many used the virtual clapping hand but it was also exciting to hear real applause and cheers from classes who turned on their microphones.

Isn’t technology exciting? This is  a wonderful use of technology that has engaged and embraced many students across Victoria simultaneously. To keep the conversations going, innovative Sandy Phillips has created a blog where students will actually be able to “Build a Safer Internet” and share their ideas, experiences and opinions. It is rich in resources so check out each of the pages as well as the posts and interact where possible. Below are the questions that Sandy uses to get discussions going with students and others.


What are you doing for Safer Internet Day?

Happy New Year to my Chinese friends!

gong xi fa cai 恭喜发财

May You Be Prosperous! May You Earn A Lot Of Money! May you Obtain A Fortune! (used as a greeting at Chinese Spring Festival or Chinese new year)

year of the horse1

Chinese New Year is a special time of year as our school teaches mandarin Chinese as its second language. It is also special to me as I have some very close online and face to face colleagues who are Chinese. One such colleague is Veronica Woo who I have e-worked with over the last 5 years or so. (See cultural eLearning adventures). Veronica teaches in a Chinese school in Malaysia - SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh.

So much of a culture, language, geography and backgrounds can be learned in real time using technology to connect with those who live in other countries….. but nothing beats travel, actually visiting the country and meeting face to face online colleagues. As such my husband and I have visited Malaysia and met Veronica and travelled with her around Ipoh and Penang. To our delight, Veronica and her niece came to visit us, stayed on our farm and vistied my school in December last year.

xhiao wen and veronica

A large parcel  was discovered in our roadside mailbox yesterday. It was full of gifts, cards and red packets or ‘ang pau’ for family and students at school to celebrate  the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse in 2014. There were decorations, photos, Tshirts,  cushion covers, a  horse and much more!


With pride, I took the cards and gifts to school, distributed them to students and  adorned our front office proudly with the decorations acknowledging our association with the Chinese people!  Students were excited to open up their cards and find their laminated photos and of course my grandchildren loved the gifts and cards too.

A snap decision was made to decorate our office window and foyer with Chinese decorations to share this festival with staff, students and community members.


office and lanterns

Festivals are a time for celebrating with families. Thanks Veronica for making the new year special to us at Hawkesdale and Happy New Year to you and all my Chinese friends.

Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? If so how? Melbourne (my state capital city) celebrates Chinese New Year. Veronica has suggested that the following movie is viewed:-

The Reunion Dinner (回家過年) is a 15 minute short movie written and
directed by Anthony Chen (導演: 陳哲藝) who just won the Golden Horse 2013
Best New Director (第五十屆金馬獎最佳新導演).A simple yet superb film that will surely touch your heart:
The Reunion Dinner 回家過年by Anthony Chen 陳哲藝@

Two other youtube videos suggested by Veronica Woo for the staff and students to watch:-

A site for Chinese phrases

OZeLIVE Conference 2014


Three years ago, under the encouragement of Steve Hargadon, Carole McCulloch and I commenced the Australia eSeries to bring together all educational communities in Australia and enable webinars, PD and discussion to take place across all educational sectors and through to the globe. It is with some pride that on a very fast schedule, the OZeLive conference — the free, Australia time-zone friendly educational technology virtual conference will be held in February. The team from Australia e-Series in collaboration with The Learning Revolution, are very excited about holding our very own  first conference in 2014 online, free, in Australia friendly time zones (and much of Asia, New Zealand, Pacifica etc) and that will encourage presentations and sharing from all educational bodies and across all educational sectors.

As such, we are looking for presenters, participants and volunteers. Will you be part of this our exciting first conference? We would love you to be part of it.

See the official flyer for more information, please join our Australian Educators ning (it is not just for Australians) and watch out for the hashtag #ozelive on twitter, facebook etc. What questions do you have?

Christmas on the Farm


At the request of my good friend, Tatyana Chernaya from Moscow, Russia asking for a description of what Christmas looks like on the farm, this post will try and briefly describe how it looks. The Christmas period is always a busy one but its timing for the farm makes it doubly so. It usually means that the hay needs to be cut, raked and baled and this year. At the same time the warmer weather means that the sheep need to be brought home, drafted, checked through, sheep crutched and suitable fat lambs sold at market.

hay bales1

The blackwood wattles and fiery red bottlebrushes are in full flower and make a wonderful contrast against the hay bales.

Black wattle in full bloom

Black wattle in full bloom

A week or so before Christmas, Bruce, my husband, cuts down a young pine tree from the roadside, to place in the house. It is decorated with bright decorations. On Christmas Eve, it is time for a special Children’s Service at our local church where the children replay the nativity scene. On Christmas morning, the children and grandchildren come out to open up their presents from under the Christmas tree.
christmas tree inside
Any of our children who are overseas and unable to come home for Christmas are videoconferenced in via skype. This year, it was Jason and Katrina in London who watched virtually the opening of presents.

Jason & Katrina watch via skype

Jason & Katrina watch via skype

Lunch and the evening meals are times for family gatherings. Our immediate family enjoyed roast turkey, pork and lamb together with a variety of vegetables. The evening meal consisted of cold meats and salads with the extended family coming to our place in the evening. We love to eat outside whenever possible and as the weather was warm we were able to enjoy the meal outside on our patio.

Christmas tree patio

Branches of pine trees set in pots were decorated by the grandchildren! How do you spend Christmas, if you also enjoy celebrating this festival?

An hour of code

This is Computer Science Week, Dec 9-15th 2013. I love the notion of the hour of code. I have never learnt code formally but have had to tweak html code on many occasions as a blogger and web2.0 user. As a teacher of year 11 IT, students are required to study and use a programming language.

The hour of code is designed to be a  one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator. You can learn about code here and here. 

Yesterday, two of my classes spent an hour on code. The year 6 class worked with Scratch. We watched the introductory video together, discussed creating an animated holiday card an animated holiday card. As a class we looked at the tutorials and links on the right hand side of the tutorial site ie how to delete a sprite, how to make it move etc. The students then worked at their own pace.

Here are some other great sites and resources

  1. pencilcode
  2. or start here with angry birds etc
  3. Lots of tutorials
  4. Paper binary strips
  5. Build iphone apps
  6. Videos and posters
  7. suggested approaches

The South African Connection

mandela.jpg (2) As the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela and we all take time to reflect on this great man’s achievements, there is an even closer connection for me and a more personal impact. For you see:-

  • my daughter-in-law is Sth African
  • two of my grandchildren are Sth African
  • my oldest son lives in Johannesburg Sth Africa with his family.

One of the first places we visited on our first visit to Johannesburg was that of Soweto. The advice was to take a guided tour and one of the highlights of the tour was stepping through the home that was Mandela’s. When visiting Cape Town that same year it was with some disappointment to learn that all tours to Robin Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for so many years, were fully booked. Coming from a developed country to a third world country always adds an element of shock. It is heart breaking to see the conditions that many still live in, in this beautiful and stunning country. Although the country has a long way to  go in providing equal opportunity, erasing racism, reducing sheer volumes of poverty and unemployment; and overcoming corruption, the process is in place due to the great influence and example set by Mandela and the end of apartheid. It means that my grandchildren will mix with, attend school and make friends with black, white and coloured people. They will continue to build on the legacy that Mandela has provided for them and ensure that Sth Africa becomes as beautiful in nature as it is in its looks!

Nelson also emphasised the role that education can have and as such, we as  teachers can play a big role here as well. Wecan connect them globally. allow them to learn from and with each other, sharing their backgrounds, helping them understand each others cultures and beliefs. Misunderstanding leads to racism and conflict. Education can overcome this.

Thank you Nelson Mandela.

“Must Know” of Facebook for Parents

A ‘hands on’ parent session was held tonight helping them understand about facebook.  A whole lot of learning went on for all of us.

Prior to the evening session

  • Set up a google document  ‘Must knows’ about facebook. This was crowdsourced online through skype and twitter. Year 9 students from school worked with the Health Teachers on the document adding their wisdom,experiences and suggestions.
  • Parents could accept the invitation via email, hard copy or as a comment on the School Facebook Page
  • Facebook was unblocked by technicians for the 24 hours
  • An A3 page was set up with my photo, a profile and a question “What did you do today?” Britt Gow set up a profile complete with phone number, address, children’s names and ages etc on an A3 sheet.
  • Created a simple powerpoint presentation with links and prompts
  • @brittgow offered to help (which was great!) to have another experienced user.
A hard copy - profile, post and comments

A hard copy – profile, post and comments

Approximately 10 people ranging from “non-users” to “hardly ever use” to experienced users of facebook.

The learning space:- hands on in the computer lab.

The Procedures:

  1. As they entered the lab, parents were given a sticky note, answered the question “What did you do today?” using a pen and then stuck the note onto the A3 sheet.
  2. Parents logged on
  3. Watched the common craft video on social networking (facebook)
  4. Discussed the sticky notes on A3 sheet of paper and equated it with posts/updates and comments. Sharing and learning about each other
  5. Britt shared her profile, discussed whether appropriate and why.
  6. “Walked parents through facebook” – posts, home, profile settings, ads, comments, likes etc
  7. Parents registered for a facebook page or checked out their privacy settings, produced updates, comment back, made friends with each other, explored the chat, IM etc.
  8. Everyone produced a screen dump using shift/PrtSc and pasted into a Word document.
  9. Logged off and discussed importance of logging off

The questions: how to untag photos, suggestions on best privacy setting options

Re school page: do we check permission for photos of students published there, do we ever post times, places etc of where and when students will be there (query from parent who has children in custody)

The issues:

  • Parents who were infrequent users forgot passwords. Had to ring or msg home to get password or ask for a new password.
  • Discovered some of children of parents present had their profiles set on public as did some of the infrequent user parents.
  • An unsavoury update existed on one of the parents feeds as her settings were on public before this evening. The parent was immediately helped in blocking that person (who was not a friend), so obviously settings are not secure enough (need to check that our), but what a teachable moment.

The learning was amazing and immediate and we all learnt with and from each other. We could all friend each other, update, comment, like, chat, tag and immediately see what it looked like on the screens next door. So different than using facebook alone and not knowing how it appears to others.

The outcomes: A parent stated: “There is a real need to teach our students the things that we learnt tonight.”

The google crowdsourced document has been linked to the School blog and the School Facebook page and will be added to when necessary.

Hour of Code

Hour of code will take place during Computer Science week.

Computer Science Week, Dec 9-15th 2013 I am hoping that some of my students will take place in this. This takes place in our last full week of school so most of our senior students are gone and many of the years 7-9 students are on a week’s bike ride, but I shall be encouraging those who remain behind to take part.

‘What’s an Hour of Code?’  according to the publicity?

It’s a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator.

We’ll provide a variety of self-guided tutorials that anybody can do, on a browser, tablet, or smartphone. We’ll even have unplugged tutorials for classrooms without computers. No experience needed.

You can make a holiday card and view some of the activities here. View some of the video tutorials here. Some comments from the Scratch team To get started, check out our Scratch Hour of Code resources, which include a facilitator’s guide, , and a self-guided tutorial

Will your students or classes take part in this hour of code?

Necessary items for those affected by Philippines Typhoon


Each year, year 12 students in our shire have the opportunity to experience an Alternative Schoolies Program as they finish their final exams. They can choose to go to the Philippines with Moyne Shire Youth Development, Geraldine Edar-Ralph who was Philippine born and now married to our assistant Principal. See Geraldine takes a team back home to help

After making contact with friends in Philippines affected by the typhoon, the message came back basic necessities as  toothpaste, tooth brushes and soap were in high need. Our students, staff and general community have been encouraged to donate these packaged items over the last 3 days. They are placed  in a box, will be collected  and then taken by the Alternative Schoolies to the Phillipines when they fly out on Friday. Red Cross has given them a clearance to travel the 18 hour bus trip to the affected areas, hand out the items and help out where possible.

What a wonderful opportunity to show empathy to our Asian neighbours and for our local young people to be able to physically see the area their goods will go to. Thanks to

  • Geraldine for making this possible.
  •  those young people from our shire who take on this community service rather than attend many of the party type Schoolies activities.
  • to our community for donating these necessary items