Category Archives: events

ANZAC day

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ANZAC Day is celebrated across Australia with a public holiday. It is a day of national pride and one of our most important national occasions. On April 25th,  we remember those who have defended our country in war time.

This date commemorates the landing at Gallipoli in 2015 – the first major military action by Australia and New Zealand during World War I. Australians become involved in marches, dawn services and remembrance services.

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Our school has a commemorative service the day before. It takes place in our school stadium. Student leaders participate in readings with our Principal and Assistant Principal reminding us of the meaning of this day. Two students are involved in the navy and army cadets. Dressed in uniform and accompanied by two student leaders, they parade our Australian flag into the stadium and lay it out on the steps to the stage. During the ceremony, students how have brought flowers lay them on the flag.

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The day care centre, kindergarten and our primary school students made poppies, produced posters or other art work and these were displayed on the walls or laid on the flag. A special Gallipoli oak tree was to be planted but rain prevented this from happening. field of poppies.jpg

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ANZAC biscuits are a tradition. Several classes of students made ANZAC biscuits. These biscuits were also on sale in the school canteen.

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At 6am, Hawkesdale held a dawn service in the community reflection space situated on the main road through Hawkesdale. Many people turned up for this event where we are reminded of the some of the history associated with wartime, odes are read and the Australian flag lowered, then raised. The Last Post and Reveille were played on a bugle and a minute’s silence observed. Hawkesdale P12 College school leaders, students who are on the Moyne Shire Junior Youth Council and the local scout group took a lead role. Wreaths and flowers are laid at the epitaph by community organisations and individual members.

HADDAC provided barbecued sausages and the Hawkesale Scout Group made ANZAC biscuits for breakfast afterwards.

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South Western Victorian Bushfires on St Patrick’s Day

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March 17th was forecast to be hot and windy, with high fire danger and extreme warnings were issued by the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

It was an early morning rise on Saturday 17th March. I had stayed overnight with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in an airbnb accommodation in Broadmeadows as it was a short ride to Tullamarine airport. They were flying out to Sth Africa and had to check in at 7am. I was then to drive their car back home.

After seeing them through their flight check-in, I continued on to the Victoria Market to have some breakfast and purchase some fresh delicatessen items, meat and fruit. It was a lovely warm, calm and pleasant morning and I thought that surely the weather forecast was wrong.

After a 3.5 hour drive home, I stepped out of the car to feel the heat and the strong winds that were now blowing. It did not cool down much at all so even when I went to bed it was really hot. Instead of the winds dying down they continued to escalate in strength and speed – a most unusual occurrence. As I was tired I had retired early for the night.

Our landline phone had been out of order for four days, but Telstra had said it should be fixed by the following Tuesday. For some reason, I took my mobile phone to our room and placed it on the bedside cupboard (it is usually charged overnight in the kitchen). At 12:40am I heard it ring via viber (using our wifi) as we do not get mobile phone service at home. It rang out but started up again. I could see it was my daughter trying to ring us and assuming that one of the grandchildren had taken ill, I answered it. However, Katherine was trying to tell us that there was grass fire headed to Hawkesdale and that Hawkesdale was being evacuated. In fact, most people had left at 11:00pm. (We are 8kms south of Hawkesdale). Her snapchat was going wild with people’s photos and updates regarding the extent of th evacuation.

This was hard to believe, as we could not smell smoke or see any fire. Fortunately, our power was still on, so I started up our computer to check out Facebook and the Victorian Emergency website. To my horror, there were fire alerts over much of Western Victoria.

The other puzzling factor, was the fact that our pager had not gone off. My husband is a volunteer firefighter with Warrong which is just south of Hawkesdale and in cases of serious fires in our local area, his pager would have gone off.  Then….. the pager did go off! I quickly threw some things together, including our passports, a sleeping bag and pillow, jumped in the car to evacuate to my daughter’s house in Warrnambool, whilst my husband donned his CFA firefighting uniform and went to Hawkesdale to help fight the fires.

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However, 5 minutes down the road, I remembered my iPad which I desperately needed to keep up to date with the VicEmergency app. I quickly went back inside the house, got my iPad and drove down our drive for the second time. When I reached the end of our driveway, a car had pulled up. It was our neighbours who were coming back to check on us for the second time. They had been to our place an hour earlier and banged and banged on our door trying to wake us up and alert us of the approaching fire. Unfortunately, we had slept right through this. I thanked them and proceeded onto Warrnambool.

It was eerie driving to Warrnambool. There were no other cars on the road (as everyone else had most likely evacuated and reached their destination.)  I had the radio on and could hear all the bushfire warnings. Finally I reached Warrnambool and Katherine’s house. There was little sleep to be had as we listened to the radio and watched the app for the latest updates. Facebook updates provided information from those who had evacuated and from some who decided to stay at Hawkesdale. (They evacuated to the recreation reserve at Hawkesdale or to the Hall). From their updates we knew that Hawkesdale had still not been taken. However, I had no idea where my husband Bruce was. He finally messaged me via viber to say he was okay, had been trying to mop up the fires where they had hit on the farms in Greens Lane and put out some of the fires in the windbreaks and trees.

By morning, we were able to watch some of it on the television news. At 10am I decided to drive home and see what of my garden I could water (to save both the garden and our house, should the fire proceed once more). Winds were still fierce and it was still quite warm. At 4pm there was meeting organised by the CFA for community members in our school library. The library was full of community members and representatives from a wide variety of groups. We were briefed on the extent of the fire and some of the options for financial and hardship relief.

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The significant role of social media in all this.

Without social media, we may not have known of the impending fire until it was too late as we had no mobile phone service and our landline was out of order.

Snapchat: my daughter’s snapchat feed alerted her to the fires in the district including Terang, Camperdown and Gazette and then to the evacuation of Hawkesdale and the sheer numbers from Hawkesdale who had left. Watching the feed closely she realised she needed to urgently contact us using viber. Fortunately our power was still on for wifi to work. In real time, she was getting photos from people who could see the fierce fires nearby.

Facebook: updates here, enabled us to keep in contact with others who had evacuated and who had stayed in Hawkesdale. A site setup with the sponsorship of the Red Cross allowed us to mark that we were safe.

The Vic Emergency website: kept updating every 2 hours with the latest alerts, incidents and warnings.

 

Guest speaker for International Women’s Day

I received a very special invitation from Seena and Sebastian Panakal to speak to a group of women for International Women’s Day on March 8th. In Australia, the status of women continues to improve and gender equality is increasing in evidence. There is a lot of public attention on treating women with respect but that is still not always the case.

The group of women who I was to present to were from Kerala, India. These are Women of the Wiki, women who wish to become empowered, improve their status in life and the education of their community and to increase employment opportunities for their families. They do not enjoy the same privileges or standard of living that I, as a woman in Australia does. How special to share this International Day with women who lived in another country.

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My role was to share the power that technology can provide. Accents can always be a problem and English may not be their first language, so I put together a brief Powerpoint presentation with images to help with understanding. I showed where I live  (on a farm in rural south Eastern Australia) and where I teach (a remote rural school of 200 students aged 5 to 18), an area that has no mobile phone service. However, access to the internet and a powerful network has enabled the world to be our classroom, resulting in a number of awards including global awards. Many invitations have now come my way to present at a variety of conferences both in Australia and overseas, including Qatar, Shanghai and USA. It is hoped that these women could see that ordinary women can achieve great things with the innovative use of technology and a strong network.

Skype was used to connect. Screen sharing allowed the Indian audience to see my presentation. Sebastian capably organised the videoconference from his end.

The women of Kerala, India were encouraged to consider tourism, providing homestays (through homestays.com or airbnb or similar) or “meals with strangers” (through apps and sites like VizEat, EatWith) could provide a welcome income for some of these women. Selling their craft work online is another possibility. The internet can open up willing global markets. They could teach their language online for a small fee. What other ideas do you have to help them?

Sebastian Panakal, a valued online teaching colleague, together with his wife Seena organised this event. Other online guest speakers were to follow. It is hoped that these women can think of ways to use technology to full effect and improve their and their family’s station in life.

One of the women asks a question

One of the women asks a question

 

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day is a global day at the beginning of February each year, encourage people (especially students) to stay safe online.

Over the last few years, the Office of eSafety Commissioner, conduct an online webinar for schools with students of years 4-6 levels. These webinars are great as they are interactive and informative.

This year’s webinar’s theme “A better internet begins with you!” encouraged the students to make the internet a positive space to enjoy. Internet use was likened to playing sport. An email from Digital Learning informed us that there were more than 500 logins to the webinar with 17,200 students attending virtually. Time was given for students to discuss given questions and scenarios, the results then placed in the chat area of Adobe Connect. The updates certainly came in at great speed due to the number involved.

Students were each asked to make a pledge on how they could make the internet a positive place. Students in grade 4-6 made their pledges at the completion of the webinar.

Another great webinar with Greg Gebhart presenting, illustrating the power that technology can bring to the classroom.

Many valuable online resources can be found from the Australian eSafety Commissioner’s  website for teachers, the classroom, parents and community members.

 

25 years since the first txt msg

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It is now 25 years since the first text message. Read the article on 25 years since txt messaging

This was a great trigger for learning and to get students to share how they now use text, spelling and grammar for messaging. Here is what the lesson looked like:-

  • I spoke about my experiences in getting a television for the first time, and seeing a computer for the first time.
  • Students had to guess what the very first message actually was.
  • We read the Herald Sun article on 25 years since txt messaging as a class.
  • Students discussed some of the points raised in this article.
  • They then proceeded to follow the instructions below.

Student tasks:-

  1. Create at least 6 elements of a txt conversation, including emojis, images or whatever else you would use when you txt each other
  2. Insert speech bubbles into word to share each element of the conversation
  3. Use the snipping tool to create an image of the conversations>save in your folder
  4. Add your snipped etxt to this padlet. Double click on the wall, add your first name in the header
  5. Click the + button and upload your images

It can be seen that the snipped text did not create a clear image. Students have been asked to do it again, increase the text and take another snapshot. If you are reading this post and have students it would be great if they could add them to this wall as well.

The Global Education Conference 2017

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The quotes on this tweet by Lucy Gray really resonate with me and those who are passionate about global education. This conference is an amazing one in that it is online, free and truly global. It runs 24/7 over the course of three days. See the schedule and choose your time zone.

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Living in Australia means that I am either asleep or at work for the times when the USA presenters and participants are active, but that also means that I get to connect with some of the other parts of the world eg Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa who are active at this time. It means that a variety of languages are involved with English not always being the first language spoken by participants. This also means fun and trying different ways to communicate if moderating sessions!

Our Australian news can be full of conflicts and problems occurring overseas and it still amazes me that I can be in a virtual room with others who actually live in those countries and are experiencing what we are reading or seeing in our media.

This conference is a great opportunity to

  1. develop or further develop a global network,
  2. learn of what other passionate educators or community groups are doing
  3. get started in global education
  4. learn about potential global projects to be involved in
  5. gain ideas on global projects from simple to complex
  6. find supportive mentors
  7. grab some takeaways to be used back in the classoom

There are opportunities to volunteer and help with moderating presenters.

There has been an noticeable increase in activity on twitter as many of the organisations involved in global projects and collaboration are pushing out the big advantages of and the engaging outcomes associated with going global with education.

Will you join the world in global education? Check out the daily updates and feedback from Steve Hargadon’s Blog

  1. Day 1
  2. Day 2
  3. Day 3
  4. Our Final Day

Remembrance Day 2017

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Whilst in London last week, it was noticeable that red poppies were being sold in a number of places around Banstead – just outside the supermarkets and other places. They are to be worn on Remembrance Day. In Australia, we also buy red poppies to wear as a tribute to those who have fought in World War I. The red poppies were among the first to flower in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium in the First World War. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we have a minute’s silence in Australia to remember those who fought in World War I. As part of this commemoration, many schools hold a ceremony with readings, national anthem and laying of wreaths at war memorials. Our school held a service today at the Hawkesdale Reflection Space as 11th November is on a Saturday this year. The nostalgic poem, In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow  was recited by one of the students, together with a number of readings, the singing of our national anthem and laying of wreaths at the centopath by students, shire and community members.
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