Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A meeting of the Supermen? PRC 2010


Only a few days after hanging up the framed Premier's Reading Challenge poster of our students in our new BER school library (our students were selected this year's Challenge "poster kids", below), and opening the library to its first timetabled week of visitors, I was off to represent us at the annual reception. This year, the PRC celebrated another successful year at the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.


My official job this year was to be the minder for football heroes, Mario Fenech and Hazem El Masri (that's Hazem in the background of the first pic, behind those two handsome superheroes). Mario and Hazem had a great rapport with the students attending the event, and slipped in plenty of references to the value of reading, as each group wound its way through short, meet 'n' greet activities - with a host of popular children's authors and illustrators, including Duncan Ball with Selby the Talking Dog (who stayed mute), and Kim Gamble sketching yet another "Tashi" masterpiece as we watched, gobsmacked.

Kim Gamble draws Tashi
Kim Gamble draws "Tashi".

Snow White was also there, making balloon animals, and there was a very gregarious Superman, who, at the event's close, did additional duties - as Selby's minder and Grug's wrangler!

Yes, Grug is back! Remember that shaggy caveman creature from the 1980s, in Ted Prior's hugely popular little picture books? Well, Grug is back in print, and many of the younger students found their own little stuffed Grug in their goody bags (look out for them in bookstores this Christmas!) Several of the adults noticed, just before the Premier's car was due, that a huge blue vinyl bag had arrived in the foyer. Normally, such an occurrence may have caused a security alert, but we were abuzz with "It's Grug! Grug's in that bag! What else is that shape like that? That'll be Grug!" (Well, we had noticed his name on the guest list, which helped immensely.)

Grug undercover
Grug arrives undercover!

Grug uncovered
Grug unleased!

Selby has left the building
Selby unleashed!

PRC GoH Kristina Keneally
Premier of NSW, Kristina Keneally, spoke passionately about the joy of reading, and the many rewards that books can bring.

PRC GoH Andrew Daddo
Children's author Andrew Daddo sums up. Boori "Monty" Pryor is in front of me!

Superman is asked to round up the overheated Grug and Selby.

Superman escorts

Grug has left the building
Grug has left the building!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Destination 2011: Guided inquiry

I'm off tomorrow to a teacher-librarians' seminar on "Guided inquiry", presented by Dr Ross J Todd!

Teacher-librarian Lee FitzGerald, a former editor of "Scan", is also presenting and last time I heard of her experiences trialling "Guided inquiry" under Ross's guidance, I went back to my school and made a point of recording more often student pre-test and post-test results and tracking the emotional side of my students' self-evaluations, thus gaining very solid statements of the students' analyses of their learning, in their own words.

Powerful stuff! The Kinder students who were part of a wiki project in 2007 still talk about those experiences to this day, and the Stage 3 students who did a bushrangers WebQuest in 2008, and recorded their learning on a blog, are being represented in a text book very soon!

Both of those successes occurred without the benefit of now seemingly-indispensable elements such as IWBs and the Connected Classroom. Looking forward to tackling the next stage!

Ross Todd
Ross J Todd presents the election speeches of Obama and Cheney... as Wordles!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Entering the literary garden of delights!

Frog Prince & golden ball
Student comment: "I saw the Frog Prince and his golden ball in a bowl,
but I think that is the same bowl Chook used last year when
he was being an astronaut!"

Today, the students at my school had their first experiences in our newly built school library. I've spent three weeks unpacking the book stock (from long-term storage) and decorating with new and nostalgic elements. The students were full of questions, but I used Circle Time to maximise and equalise all the the talking and listening. It was a great day. The looks on their faces, as they explored (hands free) all the new nooks and crannies made all the planning and hard work worth while.

Archeological dig
Our historic school milk bottles are now enshrined in a shadow box.

The quote from a framing store, to have the bottles placed into a customised shadow box was $200 but I did it for about $40, thanks to parts bought from Spotlight. The inside text reads: Penrith Public School’s library stands on the site of a portable library building, and before that a previous portable building. In 2010, workmen excavating the foundations found these "school milk" bottles buried deep in the rubble. One is embossed "1/3 PINT PASTEURISED MILK". See the original blog entry of our archeological find HERE.

48 more photos of display elements ready for today's opening are HERE!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A tale at 3.20 - a.m. that is.

"Don't blame me, it was Tiger. (Who only looks like a platypus. Made of sheepskin.)"

Okay, a new spooky story for you:

My Jack Russell terrier is on medication for meningitis at the moment, and needs to visit the backyard more often than normal. In the past he's had quite an affinity with a ghost in the house (who was here before he was, and has done numerous freaky things both before and after the dog arrived). This morning, I started dreaming about dog poo and awoke to realise the smell was still there. I fumbled around for my glasses and the bed lamp to get the dog outside. I noticed that the desk clock was flashing - there had been a power outage during the night. The clock was flashing 3.18am.

I found the dog poo way down the end of the hall, neatly stepping over it to put the dog out to complete his task, then returned to check the time on my watch and clean up the mess. It was now exactly 3.20am.

So.... did my dog doing Number Twos at 3.18 cause the power outage, or did the power outage cause him to need to poo?

Or was it the ghost - but she smells like fish, not dog poo, but the dog often barks at the exact spot in the family room where we used to encounter her fishy smell, months before the dog arrived as a pup?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

First one in... is a leaf!

Newly renovated pool 2

Mmmmmm. How does that happen? Somehow I should have known that the leaves would beat the humans into the newly-renovated pool, before it's even finished filling up. Now it'll probably rain.

Newly renovated pool 3

Newly renovated pool 1

Ah! Found a "Before & After" shot!

Pool in November 1999
Pool in November 1999

Newly renovated pool, November 2010
Pool in November 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010



Here's something hilarious! Jack, who hates being locked up in his "recovery cage", has taken to entering his cage voluntarily! He's sitting in there now, with his blankey piled high!

The vet (and hundreds of dollars in tests) says that Jack's chronic neck pain is unlikely to be a slipped disc, bladder infection or arthritis, but possibly mild, non-infectious meningitis - or perhaps a rare brain lesion. Hope this new medication works. We're treating for meningitis and hoping for the best. The hardest part is keeping a Jack Russell terrier calm. Jack Russells don't do calm. Hence the cage.