Feature blog – Glenys Lowden’s year 7 History blog

Lowther Hall AGS’s Head of Library Glenys Lowden has kindly agreed to share information on the development of her year 7 History blog.

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Glenys explains why there was a need for such a resource:

I have set up a Year 7 History blog for my class this year.  The main aim is to disseminate information to them through this source, have discussion when appropriate for tasks and include media content.

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It is great to see that Glenys is reinforcing students set tasks through the blog along with a range of resources. Looking at the number of comments from students, using the blog seems to be a popular way to learn. Another excellent resource from Glenys.

OLMC on Twitter

Our Lady of Mercy College Heidelberg has a library Twitter account.

We also set up a twitter account which was linked to the facebook page.  This was an attempt to tackle the facebook conundrum directly and to see if, as educators we can communicate through our students’ choice of social media.  After a year of working to inform teachers of the potential of Web 2.0 in learning and assessment, I also wanted to look at my own area and how we could utilise these tools.
Teacher librarian Michael Jongen explains how the need to tweet came about.
At OLMC Library we have been using Twitter to try to engage and communicate with students.  We use it to promote events like Book Week, Readers Cup and new books as well as good web links. Previously it was linked to the OLMC Library Facebook page which meant that I could place links, news etc onto Face Book and it would also be uploaded to Twitter.  Now that we have a closed group Facebook page this can no longer be done and I have to post separately to Twitter.
I feel that the initial enthusiasm shown by students to Twitter has evaporated and that they are back to Facebook which seems to meet their needs.  While I feel it is a great tool for educators I feel it is not so important with the young who seem to be enamoured with Facebook.  I will still use
Twitter to promote but will focus on Facebook.
Interestingly Head of Library Tricia Sweeney and I are using the school’s intranet portal to promote much more.  Filters enable us to target Year levels so we can target our message much more effectively.

It is really worthwhile to give some new communication methods a trial, so well done to the OLMC library team!

MLC Lit Club Blog

Kew’s Methodist Ladies’ College have kindly shared information on their Literature Club.


No link as the blog is on the school intranet

Robin Anderson, Literature Club Coordinator and Jane Viner, Director of MLC Libraries explain:

MLC Lit Club is a group of Year 7 – 12 students who meet weekly to share a love and appreciation of literature. As a teacher librarian part of my role is to coordinate these weekly sessions, organise activities and encourage student participation and membership. Before establishing a blog for the MLC Literature Club in 2009, I worked with a learning technology liaison teacher for two sessions. I needed to understand the concept of blogging and how to set up and maintain a blog as part of the mymlc website. Previously the Lit Club members had access to a discussion forum which is part of Educate, an online curriculum delivery software program.

No link as the blog is on the school intranet

No link as the blog is on the school intranet

Lit Club students from Years 7 to 12 have posting rights on the blog and student posts have not so far needed to be edited. Bloggers review/discuss particular authors (Agatha Christie), titles (“Twilight”), favourite picture books (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar), conduct polls… We also record, with appropriate photos, special events for example author visits, book selection activities, excursions and joint meetings with other schools. Students are encouraged to continue discussions online about a topic of interest arising at the weekly meeting. Teacher librarians also form part of the Lit Club blog audience and there is a link from the Library homepage to our blog.

No link as the blog is on the school intranet

No link as the blog is on the school intranet

It certainly sounds like the students are enjoying their involvement with the Lit Club blog. Being able to share and discuss thoughts and views and write to an audience is a real attraction for students, while honing writing and communication skills. An excellent resource!

Feature blog – Glenys Lowden’s tech blog

Regular readers of Bright Ideas will recognise Lowther Hall AGS‘s Glenys Lowden as an avid developer of Web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching. This time Glenys shares her new tech blog, the cleverly named Lowd en clear.


Glenys explains why the blog was born:

I decided to also set up my own blog for practising new tech and including other things that might be relevant. I am trying to consolidate all the things I have been learning from so many sources. I thought that if I practised in this space using different tools then this would help my learning. I am currently Head of Library and have been a teacher since 1977. Phew that is a long time. I only moved into the Library field in recent years and prior to that had been Head of Welfare and Head of Humanities at a number of different schools. I am not quite sure yet how I will set out the blog but I will start with this format and see how I go.

I have an introductory activity that I used with Year 7 orientation in the first week of term on there. It is very short but I didn’t have much time with the class. The IWB section of the activity is not there but I have tried to briefly explain what I did. They really enjoyed using the mobile phone as the source to photograph and record their answers.

Glenys has started her blog in a brilliant way by sharing her year 7 orientation lessons. The RevolverMaps widget is a nice addition. Looking forward to seeing the blog develop and evolve. Well done again Glenys.

A Backyard Beginning – Hawkesdale P-12

By Tadfish

By Tadfish

The absolutely amazing and multi award winning teacher Anne Mirtschin from Hawkesdale P-12 College has kindly shared information about how her blogging journey with her students began:

Three years ago, a rich picture studies case grant from DEECD required us to use web2.0 tools. A quick request to my computer technician found some information on web2.0 tools including blogging. The article was produced by Heather Blakey of Soul Food Cafe blogging fame. By a strange coincidence, I also received an email to say that a globalteacher and global student campus was being set up, so I immediately enrolled.  As I had no idea what to do with these blogs, I,  in usual form procrastinated.

As luck would have it, our librarian Faye Matters had attended a SLAV PD in Melbourne, heard a lady called Heather Blakey speak and immediately booked her up for a cluster PD session and art workshop at our school, Hawkesdale P12 College.

Heather squeezed in some time to come to my IT class and discuss the possibility of a backyard blog. We were researching volcanic evidence in our area, and backyards seemed a logical beginning as students had lots of interesting things to talk about – and they all love their backyard. The backyard blog began as a class blog. Students wrote about their backyards. I would grab their file out of their folders and post it onto the blog. Imagine our amazement and delight, when after one of the first posts we received several comments!


Your “backyard” is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with the world.

Lori, California

Thank you so much for sharing your backyard. When we all share like this, it makes our world just a little smaller and better.

She Wolf

These comments acted like magic to my class and me. Somebody was reading our work, we seemed to have a global voice. Later we found out, it was Heather’s wonderful blogisphere who were reading and commenting. However, we were up and blogging. Soon students from years 5 to 10 had individual student blogs. It was hard work, as there was so much to learn  and much of our work was by trial and error– posts, dashboards, tags, categories, widgets, pages etc all had to be learnt. However, Heather created the wonderful  “25 steps to web2.0”. Each day for the 25 days to Christmas, Heather and her blogging friends would add a post each day, illustrating some aspect of blogging.

From humble and unknown beginnings, my globalteacher blog became my class blog, and now features the following:-


Pages include the following

  • About Me – a vital and important page where most visitors will go to seek out validity and nature of the blogger.
  • Current timetable and list of current classes
  • Code of conduct
  • E-safety
  • Past students
  • Resources
  • Global projects

Widgets and sidebar features include the following:-

  • A flikr widget that shows photos added to my online photo album.
  • Time clock
  • Categories etc
  • Various world maps to visualize where virtual visitors are from eg clustrmaps
  • Flagcounter
  • My slideshows (ppt presentations) uploaded to slideshare
  • List of classes taught with student blog links
  • Student blog of the week in 2009 as the school received a box of usb drives as part of a campaign. The usb drives were the weekly prize.
  • Links to resources and global projects

Posts contain hyperlinks where possible. This is an efficient means of directing students to further online pages and adjusts them to appropriate 21st century literacy.

Postscript: Unfortunately, busy time commitments have prevented me from working on the backyard blog so it rests peacefully at the moment, knowing that it has taken us to the globe!

Thanks Anne. What a brilliant start to what has become an amazing Web 2.0 presence at Hawkesdale P-12 College.

Librarian Idol

Princes Hill Secondary College librarian (and entertainer) Andrew Finegan writes an engaging personal blog that aims to inform readers about the truth behind the librarianship profession. Andrew explains:

I first started blogging back in mid 2007, about six months into my first professional position as a librarian, working in Darwin. It was partially as a way of reflecting on library issues and interacting with the global library community. However, something that always frustrated me was that there are a lot of misconceptions about the nature of librarianship outside the industry. A lot of friends and acquaintances didn’t necessarily feel the same enthusiasm for the profession as I did, which was understandable. What I wanted to do was write a blog which highlighted how interesting and innovative the industry was, in a way that was accessible to non-librarians.


I felt that, as a library professional, there are certain areas that we must constantly pursue in the way that we interact with others, and these are what I aim to cover in my blog:

– The nature of my work as a librarian. I’ve worked in various roles in academic, state, public and now school libraries. They are vastly different industries, which further demonstrates both the versatility of librarians, but also the diversity of the industry, and why librarian stereotypes couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be further than the truth.

– Information literacy and emerging technologies. As professionals, we need to be on the forefront here. We should be predicting emerging technologies, and how they will affect our information society. We should also be working to make mainstream technology as accessible to everybody in our community.

– Political issues that affect our values as information professionals. We need to have an opinion on issues such as copyright, censorship, curriculum and access to technology. We need to express them. It is our obligation to our profession. This is something that librarians should not be quiet about.

– Sharing our passion for information and reading. Whether it be the newest technology, or the newest book, we need to share that passion with our community, and have conversations with them about what we love about the information culture that is very much a part of our lives. That way, we’re starting a conversation that hopefully our library users will go on to have with their friends, and so on. It makes a difference.

Of course, being the informal context of a blog, my posts can sometimes be more irregular than others. However, if it’s something that I feel strongly about, then I’ll generally post about it. If it’s something that I feel I should be letting other people know about, then I’ll post about it. Sure, there’s an element of professional narcissism involved – it’s a blog, after all. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Through my blog, I’ve made many important connections. Some have been influential bloggers overseas. Others have been Australian professionals who have provided varying levels of mentorship in my early years. Curiously, there are many bloggers in other library sectors, but few from school librarians, especially in Australia. Or perhaps I just haven’t stumbled upon your blog yet. But blogging has provided an opportunity to feel a connectedness with the rest of the industry, which is especially important with libraries, where it’s easy to feel professionally isolated.

And looking back over the last three years of blogging, I can definitely see a progression in my views. Some of my attitudes in the past have been misguided, whilst at the same time I sometimes need to be reminded of times when I was particularly inspired to use libraries to make a difference in society. But most of all, I’ve learnt to be eloquent about what it is I do, and why I do it. I’m confident with my “elevator pitch” about libraries, and I’m certain that part of that is because I write about it all the time.

It is great to see the way Andrew uses his blog to reflect, not only on our profession, but also on his own posts and views. Readers can see for themselves Andrew’s growth as a blogger. Thanks for sharing your blog, Andrew.

Feature blog – Rhondda’s reflections – Wandering around the web

Whitefriars College Head of Library and Information Services (and School Library Association of Victoria President) Rhondda Powling began her extensive blog in June 2008. Rhondda posts several times a week and always includes a list of useful tools.

Rhonddas blog

Rhondda explains about the development of the blog:

As a teacher librarian in a Melbourne boy’s secondary school I have a unique role,  with a cross-curriculum view as well as working with teachers in specific subject areas.   I need to keep abreast of what is happening in the wider world, and I don’t just mean the sometimes narrow, educational world of secondary schools. The Web world allows me to access so much information that can be useful for my own professional development as well as giving me tools and ideas to for student learning and teacher education.

I want our students to leave our school with, if not a love, than a healthy interest in learning.  I would like to have a part in inspiring young people in their learning during their school years and, when they leave our school, they do so as well-rounded learners, confident that they have the tools to cope with, or problem-solve, anything that may come their way.

I try to support the teachers I work with, both in the classroom and as part of the curriculum team by sharing new ideas, tools, educational theories, etc. or creating tools they can use.

This site was set up for me to take the time to reflect on what I have learnt about the web and what I have learnt about what is working with students. I also see the blogging world as one that everyone can share create a collective knowledge far greater than if we were on our own.

Reflecting on teaching and learning is an important aspect of being a teacher. Rhondda’s blog provides not only an outlet for her reflections, but a forum for other people to join in her thoughts and discussions. As an RSS subscriber to Rhondda’s blog, it is always amazing to see her vast lists of useful tools that appear on a weekly basis. A blog definitely worth checking out!

Greythorn Primary School. A SLAV/Connect Web 2.0 winner

Congratulations to Duncan Exton of Greythorn Primary School who was a SLAV/Connect Web 2.0  competition winner. Duncan explains how his blog came about:

The thinking blog started as a result of several attempts at individual blogging that lacked focus.  I chose to focus on thinking curriculum in the guise of philosophical questions.  I gathered references at school relating to philosophy for primary school students as there was nothing  much on the internet.  The classroom blog was used as a best practice example for part of the year before I introduced individual students  to blogs.

Greythorn 1

Each week I featured a topic, often using  digital content from Digilearn as links.  The class would watch a video about a subject, discuss the subject and write their responses to the thinking questions in their individual student blogs.

In this way students had a clear focus with their blogging.  They are covering loads of curriculum including writing, ICT for creating and communicating, thinking curriculum and managing personal learning.  Their blogging has formed an excellent body of work for assessment and reporting to numerous dimensions.  Students are becoming more analytical in their thinking processes and using examples to promote a point of view.

We use comments to promote communication amongst students and promote positive interaction in the Web 2.0 realm.  In the future I hope to expand the thinking community with many more classrooms in order to promote thinking dialogue between students, and to promote the idea of Web 2.0 communication.  I have created a separate blog entity in order to do this, specifically for thinking blogging.  I will be able to add teacher users to this blog so that content may be added and that the community will expand.

Greythorn 2

I am not sure how I will use the prize of the Nintendo Wii we won in the classroom.  I will need to interact with the games first before I use it in the classroom.  It will be a focus during next year without a doubt.  Our school is also purchasing Nintendo DSi’s which should complement the introduction of the Wii.

Congratulations to Duncan and Greythorn Primary School for a wonderful unit of work creatively delivered. We look forward to hearing about how the Wii has been used for learning and teaching.


Camilla Elliott is a real learning leader. Her blog, Edubeacon has been informing readers for six years now, which is an amazingly long time in the relatively new world of Web 2.0. Camilla explains more about Edubeacon:

Why do we blog?  I’ve been blogging at Edubeacon.com since January 2004.  The site has gone through a name change and a platform change (starting on Blogger, then migrating to WordPress) but the purpose remains the same.  It is a place for reflection; for storing resources with explanatory notes and for sharing with others. Most bloggers will give you the same answer.


‘Edubeacon’ is an extension of my website ‘Linking for Learning’ (L4L), which began life in about 1997 as ‘Staying Connected’ – an accessible place to store study resources.  L4L needs some therapy but is a patient companion.  I use it to link to my conference presentations and professional writing, thereby saving the odd tree or two and the photocopying budget.  It is also an accessible site for beginners seeking resources of relevance to Australian educators.

Blogs, wikis, personal websites and collaborative spaces, reflect the open and sharing nature of the Internet and Web 2.0 resources in particular.  Edubeacon serves as one of the cogs in my Personal Learning Network.  It provides opportunities for the occasional conversation and has had various changes of pace over the years depending on life’s pressures.

Building a Personal Learning Network is an essential professional activity in this time of constant change.  It’s a journey on which we build knowledge, collegiality and understanding with a variety of companions.  Blogging on Edubeacon is part of my  meandering learning journey.

Thank you Camilla for sharing your learning journey with the readers of Bright Ideas. Edubeacon really is a beacon of blogs; a shining light on technology and education that is thoughtfully researched and written.

Feature blog – Lucacept

Bright Ideas is pleased to announce on behalf of the School Library Association of Victoria that Jenny Luca, uberblogger, Web 2.0 sensation and Head of Information Services at Toorak College, is the recipient of the 2009 John Ward Award. To win the award, the recipient must demonstrate an outstanding contribution to learning and teaching at their school and raise the profile of the profession through their role as teacher-librarian. Jenny has certainly done this!

As most of you probably know, Jenny has written her inspirational blog Lucacept for some time now and has gained an amazing and well deserved following, both throughout Australia and internationally. Comments on Lucacept come from the who’s who of the Web 2.0 world.

 Jenny has kindly taken time out from her busy schedule to share news on the development and evolution of Lucacept.


Lucacept evolved after probably a year and a half of exposure to ideas about Web 2.0. I was involved in a project with the AISV being run by Tom March called My Place. We were using some of the tools and I was beginning to see how we could use them for student engagement and collaboration. Unfortunately, it wasn’t funded beyond that initial year. Things cemented when I went  to the Expanding Learning Horizons conference in 2007 and participated in a 5 hour workshop with Will Richardson. That experience got me really excited about the possibilities and I started reading his blog. Not long after I was presenting at an ALIA conference in Adelaide and John Connell was a keynote presenter. He mentioned his blog and I started reading that too. It was like a springboard effect; the more I read the more I discovered and the more I realised that I wanted to participate in the conversations that were happening in the edublogosphere.

Over the summer holiday break we went camping and I decided that once I returned home I’d start writing. I was mulling over a name. I was talking to my husband and said that I was trying to intercept the Web. He drove to work and rang not soon after suggesting ‘Lucacept’.  I had the name, now I just had to start writing.

So start writing I did. Here’s an excerpt from my first post;

“I’ve taken the plunge and decided to become a blogger. I want to learn as much as I can about the Web 2.0 world and think it would be a good idea to share what I am learning. I’m reading lots of blogs via my Google reader  and can see that sharing some of these amazing insights will be beneficial for others.”

And this happened (from my second blog post);

“Last night I wrote my first post. Well, I thought, that will fade into obscurity until I tell someone they should have a look at this newfangled thing I’m doing. Wasn’t I surprised (and very excited I might add) to see comments  from Alec Couras   and Judy O’Connell this morning. Thanks for taking the time to notice – it means a lot to a novice.”

I’d committed to writing a post every day bar Saturday. I did this for the first six months and then decided that it wasn’t necessary to do this. Another factor was that I was now part of the network; I was connecting and communicating with others using tools like Twitter and was finding it hard to maintain balance. That continues to be a struggle, but I’m finding it easier now that I have established a presence. I know I can be away for a little while and the network won’t forget me!

The connections I’ve made have been the most  valuable part of my blogging experience. I was able to work with Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson to incorporate Australian schools into their international Cohort of Powerful Learning Practice. That program is now being used as a pilot with DEECD for a Netbook trial. The students at my school have participated in Global projects and are starting to understand that you can have reach and influence if you actively pursue it. I’ve established a Ning called ‘Working together to make a difference’ with Angela Stockman from Buffalo, New York and Mike Poluk from Canada; it is a wonderful space for sharing and doing meaningful service learning work. I am very proud of the caring and supportive network that is growing in that Ning environment. My own students have worked in a Ning environment that links four classrooms and it has changed the nature of our interactions. Learning takes place outside of classroom hours; we have created community. Expert voices such as Michael Gerard Bauer and Barry Heard have joined along the way and have helped the students understand their words. I learn every day from the people I share with and try to bring that learning back to my school environment. I know that the library space we are in the process of creating (we have funding for a new building and will begin the build in the new year) will be influenced by the thinking I am exposed to via the networks I operate in.

I’m constantly surprised that people read my words and are inspired by them. My school community are aware of what I do and I am supported by my Principal, Noel Thomas, who encourages my work and often broadcasts it to our wider school community. His support enabled me to attend Learning 2.008 in Shanghai where I was able to meet some of the people in my network face to face.  I don’t force my blog onto the staff; if they want to read it they know it is there. What I have found is that people know that I have knowledge and they are starting to approach me to assist them in trying out new ideas for teaching and learning.

I’m excited by investigating the validity of these new tools for educational purposes. I’ve been invited to contribute to a Reference Group informing ACER (Australian Council of Educational Research) who are beginning to research the impact of digital learning environments.  

Blogging has changed my life. I’m a learner now, first and foremost. I learn alongside the students I teach and we share the rewards and frustrations of new ideas and environments. I’ve never been more energized or excited about the future of teaching. It’s a wonderful time to be a Teacher-Librarian. We have this perfect storm of opportunity to run with new thinking and be the leaders in our schools. Libraries are in the process of reinvention and can become true hubs for thinking, conversation, sharing and belonging.  We need to embrace the change and run with it!

Jenny is an extremely deserving recipient of the John Ward Award. She dedicates innumerable hours to Lucacept, the Ning and other Web 2.0 projects. Jenny’s school, Toorak College, is extremely fortunate to have a staff member of Jenny’s intelligence, vision, drive, commitment and passion for learning and sharing. Jenny is an outstanding role model for teacher librarians and lifelong learners. Congratulations Jenny!