Category Archives: events

The White Night – and the Melbourne culture

white night melbourne

We often get questioned about our culture. Although we live in a rural area, the capital city of our state is Melbourne, a 3.5 hour drive away. By chance I was staying a night in Melbourne, on the “White Night

flinders street

This event has occurred over the last 3 years and celebrates some of what Melbourne and we, as Australians stand for – music, food, film, art and light. White night starts at dusk and continues through to dawn in the Central Business District (CBD) of Melbourne, with clever light shows projected onto some of our major historical buildings including the State Library, music/sounds in the streets, outdoor theatres, shops, restaurants and cafes open all night, bands and crowds upon crowds of people enjoying both the free and ticketed entertainment.

It shows innovation, ingenuity and creativity in those who set it up and made me reflect on how such skills could actually be brought across into the classroom. The City Square featured sculptures, clever light shows and sounds that changed regulalry. The lights adaption of the story Alice in Wonderland featured across many of the buildings in the CBD.


alice in wonderland

Melbourne is classified as the Most Liveable City in the World for the fourth year in a row and major events like this show why this may have been achieved. What major events is your town, city or capital city involved in?

Apologies for the black and white photos but my iphone is exporting them from colour into black and white for some reason.

It’s 30 degrees – global weather contradictions!

summer here
path between snow

It is 30 degrees in Boston, USA according to Lorraine Leo, a teacher there but she showed photos of snow. My students related that it will be 30 and 31 degrees here in southern Australia, but that meant it would quite a hot day for us! How could this be?

It was the first ICT class for year 8 ICT – a group of 23 students. I like how Reinhard Marx in Germany introduces his students to global connections in their very first week of school to set the scene for a year of global collaboration and communication.

A skype chat with a great colleague, Lorraine Leo alerted me to the fact that she had just been notified that there was no school that day due to the heavy snow falls in Boston, USA. This was the second consecutive day this week and students had also missed school last week for 2 days due to snow. A couple of nights ago Australian television news actively highlighted the potential weather extremes on New York City.

Always aware of using up online colleagues’ spare time to connect with my students, I asked whether she might skype us the next morning to share the weather and snow falls with my year 8 class.

cars in the snow at night

Lorraine kindly agreed and we discussed the possible tools. We would start with a mystery skype, using skype, then use the virtual classroom software, Blackboard Collaborate to share images, Lorraine’s audio to present and enable students to use the chat to ask questions, provide feedback on the images and generally share. As a backup I created a backchannel in Todaysmeet Whatweather for conversations and skype would be used for the video projection. (we did not use this during the presentation but in the last 8 mins of class time, students quickly answered some questions that I put in there).

Students were quick to work out where Lorraine was from. They then logged into Blackboard Collaborate. However, we faced technical hitches as many computers had to download the launcher and experienced a slow bandwidth, took a long time to do so. We perservered and started with the presentation, with some students sharing desktops!

Lorraine expertly talked about the current conditions and had some wonderful photos to share with the students. Students asked some great questions in the chat, were quiet, engaged and listened intently. The subject of 30 degree temperatures was compared and what a great global lesson – different countries have different units of measurement!

Below are the comments from the students sharing what they liked about this synchronous lesson and some of what they learnt!

Kailyn:  I liked that we are talking to someone from another country and learning a bit about the different things that happen. I learnt that it is snowing there at the moment while here it is rather sunny and that over there it is night time, and here it is morning as we have just started school.

Dharma:- liked the part of the pictures of how big the snow is, and telling us about the schools sometimes being closed off.

Lisa: It was good to see the photos so I could see what Lorraine was actually talking about. Mrs Leo explained things really well.

Kyra: choose where the person was from. She said it really clearly and showed the photos of what the snow looked like especially as I have never seen snow.

Chelsea: I liked how we could see the pictures and I have never seen snow before so it was interesting to see it through pictures.

Sophie: I liked seeing the pictures and seeing what it is like in Boston.

Vesna: I liked using BbC as it is easy to connect with someone rather than skype which can glitch easily. I liked the way she presented it as we had pictures to see what it looked like and not just telling us about it which made it more interesting. I liked the flowers representing spring with the icicles in the window.

Isaac: The snow was pretty cool! It looks pretty fun! I liked the church picture with the person skiing in front of.

Kyle: I liked seeing how much snow there was. I liked learning about what happens in Boston from someone who lives there. The people walking on the pathway to their house with snow piled up on both sides.

Jonas: I liked seeing how much snow there was around the houses and seeing how high the snow was. I liked the people walking to their houses with the snow piled hight.

Zac: I liked the pictures of the snow and the one with the man snowboarding on the hill where a church was located.

Terri, I liked all the pictures of the snow. It was really interesting. I wish it would snow here. I learnt that snow can be very heavy and lie in big heaps.

Skyla: I liked seeing all the snow because we do not get it here. It was interesting to see how cold it gets. I learned that it snowed in Boston. I thought it was always hot. As when I visited USA it was really hot.

Teneika: I learnt that there was snow in America because my Dad’s family live in America and they have never mentioned snow. I liked how she had pictures as she was talking so you could see rather than just listen.

Lucy:  That my technology worked and I got into BbC. Mrs Leo took time to speak to us. I liked seeing the snow as it is a novelty to us. I learnt that it is a lot different over there like weatherwise at the minute.

Taylah: I liked every picture that was shown , was explained by Mrs Leo. I learnt that it is snowing over there, so the students cannot go to school and have 2 days off last week and 2 days off this week.

Caitlin: I liked how she taught us about Boston- the weather and what she does in her spare time and that she is a teacher. I found it interesting that it snows over there and that she has 238 students in her school.

Thank you Lorraine for allowing me to use the photos that you took the time to take for us. As you can see, the students frequently commented on seeing what it looked like rather than hearing what it was like! A memorable photo was this one, of roses (a sign of spring) in a florist shop with the tell tale signs of the current weather conditions (icicles) in the window.

roses with icicles

A surprise glimpse at the South Pole

my ice sheets

 

As our son and his family live in Sth Africa, so we flew to Johannesburg with Qantas to visit them just after Christmas.

A surprise element of this flight was that our flight path took us over the edge of the South Pole. A flight attendant had alerted us to this fact prior to our take off so we were on alert after 6 hours flying and keenly sought advice when we were actually flying over. Despite the fact that lights were out and window shades shut, half the plane awoke, pulled up the shades and looked to see what we could.

icebergs

We peered closely through the airplane windows and could make out the first icebergs as we flew over. Then we started to sight the sheets of ice and gained a real insight into what the centre of Antarctica might look like.

Access to the windows on the right hand side was keenly sought by other passengers, and we took photos when and where we could. It was exciting for us all as many people pay to take sight seeing flights over the South Pole, but here we were getting that package as part of our flight to Sth Africa.

good ice sheets

 

Please note that my good friend from Russia, Tatyana Chernaya, has asked for some details of this surprise glimpse with her students who are studying the weather.

The Edublogs Awards – #eddies14

lifetime achievement

Where does the year go? With the end of our Australian school nigh it is time for the Edublogs Awards. Many people argue against awards for a variety of reasons but these awards are special as they are organic, nominated and voted for by the general public, highlight those who are doing some wonderful things both in and for, education and give us a wonderful resource bank  of trends, thinking and learning. There are no prizes attached but the fact that blogs, resources and other online tools are nominated brings to the attention of us all those that have a special place in the lives and education of many.

In the school holidays, I love to go through the many nominations and see which resources will be of relevance and interest to me. There are new blogs to peruse, apps to try and online tools to experiment with.

It was with some surprise that I noticed my name had been added to the edblogs twitter list for “life time achievement’ awards. Whoever nominated me, I wish to thank you very sincerely. It makes much of the risk taking, the high evergy intake and time taken worthwhile. It also shows the value of the PLN and its wonderful place and role in pushing learning in innovative directions.

However, I was really surprised to read a tweet by my valued friend and colleague, Julie Lindsay asking people to consider voting for this blog as it had been nominated for the Best Teacher Blog. I had no idea that it was on the list until that tweet.

Again it is such an honour to be nominated and although I will not actively persue on a public scale, if you do vote for me, I  thank you so much, not only for the vote but for being a special part of my life!

best teacher blog

If you should wish to vote for any of those nominated across the globe, please goto the Edublogs Awards site and ‘get lost’ looking at all the onderful nominations. Click on the like button and follow the prompts.

Others that are special to me include:-

 

 

Children’s Day: The first time I heard the National Anthem of India

Singing the National Anthem

Singing the National Anthem

Today is Children’s Day in India. What a wonderful day to celebrate and acknowledge our young and make them feel very special. To mark the occasion, my dear friend, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala, India asked whether I could arrange students to link up with his.
childrens day

 

Sebastian and children

Unfortunately the time was right on our school closing time, so our students were unable to videoconference, but I was happy to be their audience. Teachers and students of varying ages came up, said hello and asked some questions of me. The children were delightful, appeared extremely interested well mannered and spoke clearly.  Balloons were evident in the classroom – a sign of the celebrations.

girl and children

At the end of our 20 minute linkup, the students, teachers and Sebastian sang me their National Anthem with great pride and gusto. And I hate to admit it, it was the first time that I ever remember hearing the National Anthem of India.

children at desks

 

“Lost for Words” – Lest We Forget!

lest we forget wreathr

Katherine Zablatnik is an innovative teacher from Austria who brings textbooks to life wherever possible. She is responsible for creating the Hello Little World Skypers group which won the Edublogs awards for the winner of the “Best Use of Social Media” in 2013.

As a history teacher she is keen to make the centenary of  the start of World War I alive for her students. Today, I linked up with her students and shared how we commemorate Armistice Day at school, here in Australia. However, we call it “Remembrance Day”. Although it is not a public holiday, we hold a special commemorative service in the Reflection Space in the centre of Hawkesdale. Students walk up there and interested community members  join us.

students teachers

The student leadership team together with several staff members organise and run the service. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we hold a minute’s silence across Australia to remember especially those who served in both World War I.

A presentation was quickly put together to show our Student Leadership team at work at lunchtime in preparing for the special service that we hold each year. The reflection space, the school wreath, a summary of the program etc Link to the presentation

I talked about the program for tomorrow which is as follows:

  • Student led Introduction
  • In Flanders Fields
  • Commemorative address (Sarah, one of our student leaders)
  • Wreath Laying
  • The Ode for the Fallen
  • Playing of the Last Post, followed by the Rouse when the flag is again raised to the top of the flagpole
  • Singing our National Anthem

But when I talked aabout the odes and poems we use, they had not heard of them. They wanted to know what the red poppies were about. And I was flabbergasted as I thought everyone knew them.  Then I asked what they did to commemorate this day. The answer was ‘nothing’. I asked about the minute’s silence – they do not have one. Katherine asked what those words “Lest we Forget” signify on the school wreath.

However, they thought it might be an idea to join in with ours and maybe next year we could do something together. This has driven my curiousity further – where was Austria placed in the war, how do they feel about it all, how do Katherine’s students feel about us commemorating those who went away to fight for us. We are an island on the other side of the world and so, so far away from the battlefields.

They asked whether our textbooks and our learning of history was biased. Do we see some sides of the war and the countries as being ‘good and bad’? My response was yes, we do? But maybe that is my age .What do our students think? I am going to ask them tomorrow. Can we rewrite our history books? Can we learn more about each other together and avoid many of these conflicts that potentially exist.

When I asked Katherine further questions via the skype chat, she simply replied: “I am lost for words”. Now I am pondering on that!

The Sound of Music is one of our most popular movies and I guess it speaks volumes about some of the feeling in Austria at the time.

International Day of Older Persons

As my good friend, Sebastian Panakalof Kerala, India has reminded me, it is International Day of Senior Persons tomorrow, October 1st. He is has asked me to “wave to friends at the “Senior Citizens Forum Alangad” and wish them well!” Here is my response (but unfortunately, I forgot to actually wave.)

Sebastian asked me to share this with him in asynchronous time in case I am not online when he is ready with the Senior Friends. I considered

  • dropbox
  • email (file is rather large to send through to India)
  • adding media to my blog (reduced the size of the movie through Moviemaker)

I think the easiest will be the blog as Sebastian can right click on the video and save it to his desktop.