From Listen2Learners to the Melbourne Writers Festival

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An excited year 11 student greeted me outside the office one morning at the end of last year and proceeded to tell me all about the fabulous event that he and two others had attended in Melbourne the day before. (Read his post.) It was “Listen to Learners” – an event held to showcase student learning in Melbourne, organised by Innovations and Next Practise, Victorian Education Department. Community members and interested educators attended this meetup. Students were given the chance to talk about their involvement in innovative learning and made to feel important.

To show the importance of their audience, Dhugan produced a business card. It was from Jenny Niven, Program Manager, of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Over the next weeks, the students got on with their studies, but  Jenny soon contacted me. She was interested in bringing a global perspective to the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2011 and wanted to know if we would be part of it. Of course we responded with a “yes”. Thinking caps on! What could we do? Book trailers were a fascination and it was decided that these could form a collaborative project with year 8 and 9 the target group.

Marg Murnane from our school took the project on as part of her teaching load. That left me to find some global partners, setup the wiki and share the organisation.  Veronica Woo and Yew Yan Koon from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh,  Malaysia were interested as were several other contacts. A globalstorytelling wiki was set up with some resources, links, suggestions etc Students were to create a digital book trailer that would promote one of their favourite books, encouraging their audience to read this book. Pages were setup for the schools involved and it was hoped that the influence of different cultures would show.

However, exams, holidays, tests and the general ‘busyness’of school presented challenges. As time crept up on us, Veronica and Yew decided to work with four students from mixed backgrounds – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Chindian and from two schools.   SMJK Poi Lam is a secondary school and SJK (C) Ave Maria Convent is a primary school. The four students set up blogs to document their progress and the discussion tab of the wiki was used, but sparingly.

Here are the Malaysian student blogs (please visit them and leave a comment of encouragement)

Veronica contacted Yusuf Martin, a local writer, who is involved with the Malaysian Writers Festival. The 4 students worked with him for a session and looked at  using books based on the theme of culture. Veronica and Evon worked tirelessly with their students.

“We thought this would be interesting as Malaysia is indeed a melting pot of different races and cultures.” says Veronica.

Several weekends were spent visiting places to source authentic resources for their trailers:- a classical Indian dance session, interviewing a Bharathanatyam dance guru.

Here are the  books they have chose:-

  • Jesmund 16 years – Taman Saujana ( By Mubin Sheppard)
  • Maswin,16 years – The Straits Chinese ( By Khoo Joo Ee )
  • Tisha 8 years old – The Origins of Chinese Culture
  • Eusebia Clement, 8 years old -The Performing Arts ( Indian culture )

Another contact, Rori from 5th Primary School Mityo Stanev Bulgaria who is a co- member of the “little world skypers” group had produced glogs (using glogster) with her students. She agreed to add a page of these to our wiki. Her school is 

Global Student and the Writers Festival

We are proud and excited to have a bus load of students taking a 3 ½ ride to Melbourne for the Writers Festival on Sept 1st at 12:30pm. Selected students will be up on the big stage at Federation Square with Veronica and Yew and their four students videoconferencing in to the crowd at Federation Square from Ipoh in Malaysia. Our host or MC is Ed Hoyt.  Students from both countries will share their love of reading, their cultures and involvement in a 45 minute time slot. Four book trailers from each country will be displayed on the big screen.

This event will demonstrate innovative classrooms and ways in which classrooms can connect, communicate and collaborate across the world, using cutting edge technology, authentic projects and project based learning. It will showcase the exciting outcomes that students from a variety of cultures can achieve in this flattening world of ours.

Significance to the schools in Malaysia

At the Malaysian end, there will be the local press, students’ parents, teachers, friends, school principals, the State Tourism Chairperson, YB Dato’ Hamida Othman, the State Director of Education and a local politician.

Some of the learning

  • What book trailers are
  • The nature of other cultures
  • A deeper understanding of our culture
  • Exploring a number of movie making options
  • Using copyright free images and music
  • The pressure of time commitment
  • The Malaysian students have learnt to blog
  • How to add content to a wiki
  • The use of a variety of communication methods between us all
  • Connecting as a group in skype – Melbourne, Hawkesdale and Ipoh
  • the constant need for communication from all parties
  • learning about reading habits of students: – likes/dislikes


  • Set up a wiki with pages for schools involved, resources, a survey, student pages
  • Students and staff ‘joined’ the wiki
  • Students added an ‘about me’ section to their wiki page
  • Trailers were brainstormed
  • Discussion around copyright and appropriate use of images
  • Trailers were completed, published into wmv format and uploaded to youtube. The code was grabbed and embedded on each student’s wiki page.
  • Our school had to choose four of the trailers to be featured and three students to be up on the stage.
  • Veronica’s school got some parts of the electrical connection in the school hall rewired ready for the technical test.
Here are the book trailers  that we chose from our student cohort. The book titles and authors are as follows, but please view them as we are proud of student efforts:-
  1. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden put together by a group of 6 girls
  2. A Waltz for Matilda by Jacqui French
  3. A Rose for the Anzac Boys authored by 
  4. Hatchet by Gary Paulson

The Vision

It is hoped that other schools will be motivated to get involved in global projects and/or join our wiki to create and add book trailers.

Do you have a similar story to share?


4 responses to “From Listen2Learners to the Melbourne Writers Festival

  1. Hi! Anne
    I totally agree with you and hopefully our Skype video-conferencing at Federation Square and my school here will be able to create an impact on the audience on both ends, in Malaysia and Australia. I always thought that participation in global projects is actually a good platform to promote learning especially in intercultural understanding and tourism education. For students who are learning English as a second or foreign language, it actually provides them with an opportunity to practise using English in a real setting in real time with real people. Only then will they be able to see the purpose and real need for learning a language and hence adopting a more positive attitude towards their own learning and achievement in language proficiency. As for tourism education, it will definitely be a win-win situation for everyone in a connected community where we get to learn more about people in other countries in all aspects of their lives including visits to places of interest in a country. Just as the lyrics in a song go, it’s definitely ‘a small world after all’! Together we learn from each other and together we share towards the betterment of society as a whole. Book trailers as a global project is the way forward in inculcating good reading habits among students in a school environment. Even teachers and adults will benefit from it!

  2. Hi Veronica, thank you so much for replying here. We are excited to linkup with you next week and share our learning. Thank you for the huge amount of work that you have put it in. The book trailers are fabulous and really show the multi-cultures of your school. An added bonus is that those students have started blogging and this will help future connections and communication and allow conversations to continue. Thanks again. It is great to work with you.

  3. Your idea gave me one of my own- to use QR codes stuck on the front cover of the book so the book trailer is permanently linked to your copies of the book like this.

    • Alannah, I love this idea. How fascinating that ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and that two teachers from each of these countries are sharing ideas re technology on using books that students like to read in both our countries, that are pertinent to each country. Do your students read this book? Did you actually add code to Georgia’s book trailer pate ? She will be so, so pleased to hear that. Again so motivating for her. Thanks for stopping by and letting us know on both twitter and as a comment here.

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