Skype an author with Hazel Edwards

Recently author Hazel Edwards undertook a ‘Skype an author’ session with New Zealand librarians. Hazel explains how the process felt:

Surreal Skype NZ Book Launch with NZ librarians
I felt a bit like a security camera. Surreal. I was an electronic participant-observer via web-cam  On the wall screen. f2m: the boy within was launched by Kevin Hague, Green MP, at 6pm. But it was 4 pm in Melbourne, and I was on the Skype web-cam from Melbourne.
Hazel on webcam from Melbourne

Hazel on webcam from Melbourne

We’d had a practice two  nights earlier, luckily. Sorted the visual and sound problems. I could hear the enthusiastic crowd, and see some of them, and apparently they could see me on the big screen. Had to remember not to do anything embarrassing. But I couldn’t control where/what I could see.
Location of physical launch: Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington. New Zealand.
Thoughtful, witty and enthusiastic launcher NZ Launcher Kevin Hague Green MP’s Review, Green MP stressed how health issues were realistically covered in the novel.  Quotes proved he’d READ the book, thoroughly!
But I only ever heard his melodious voice, never saw his face, because the web cam was fixed.
Ditto for my co-author’s eloquent launch speech & the bookseller. Plus they had rich NZ accents.
So I felt rude, not to be looking into people’s eyes, nor acknowledging each by name. I could hear the rustles of appreciative response from the big crowd and see some of them. Not sure how many more were there outside my field of vision.
Distanced, but observing the fabulous buzz in the room. On a technological high, I realised I could take a book crowd snapshot via Skype. So I did. But I was facing the wrong way and they were moving off to form a queue to get their copies autographed by Ryan. And they sold ALL the copies!
Congratulations to my co-author Ryan Kennedy. A fabulous book launch.
Summing up:
A satisfying artistic and electronic experience. Plus:  Saves time and money. I didn’t have to fly to New Zealand. And I could keep working my computer while I waited for them to set up. Downside: I had to settle for toasting in virtual champagne.
Such a great idea for remote and regional schools to be able to connect with an author in this way.

Readers Cup Film Festival

Sponsored by School Library Association of Victoria: A competition for Readers in Years 7-8 and 9-10.

Thanks to Sandra Hay for the following information:

Encourage your students to showcase their reading, thinking and creative skills, and have fun doing it.

The Readers Cup Film Festival encourages students to participate in school teams, sharpening their reading and thinking skills and developing their digital publishing capabilities.  The competition focusses on the creation of a digital artefact that reinterprets a story with flair and originality.  Any digital technology can be utilised, such as (but not limited to) PowerPoint, video, mobile phones and entries could include photo-stories, mash-ups, animations, videoed plays, news casts, interviews – *you name it*.

For example, in 2009, one creative school entry was a videoed version of a Reader’s Cup quiz panel.  It’s your choice.

The guidelines for the competition, and the Team Registration form are available on

On Friday 26th November 2010 students work will be showcased at the Readers Cup Film Festival.  This end of year event will encourage audience participation with quizzes, competitions and great prizes to be won. It is a great end-of-year activity and lots of fun.


Please contact Sandra Hay: if you have any queries about the competition or Film Festival.

Book Week 2010 @ Whitefriars College

Thanks to Rhondda Powling, Head of Library at Whitefriars College and School Library Association of Victoria President for allowing a parallel post from her blog about the success of their Book Week activities this year.

We tried to do things differently this year. We finally have a large screen for showing digital images, videos, etc. and we bought some digital photo frames. This allowed us to change the emphasis to digital formats.

Book Trailer Competition: Our library technician Dawn created a great competition by gathering together 21 book/film trailers and putting them into a single film using Corel Video Studio. She spent a good deal of time putting in text (and editing the trailers slightly when the titles were a bit too prominent). Our students had to fill out the title of the film, the title of the booked linked to it the author of the book and in what section of the library you would find it (fiction, Non Fiction, picture book, graphic novel. The video file was playing everyday before school and at recess with sound and with the mute button on during class times. Some of the seniors were very taken with the idea and worked on the clips in one of their private study sessions.

Library Treasure Hunt: Another of our staff, Karen Kearney, created a quiz that had the students using their research skills as well as their observation skills. This was a great way for all the year seven students to put into practice the different searching. As part of the personal development classes they were given the chance to take part. They could answer many questions with the appropriate use of the catalogue and information pages linked to the library website. We also had them come up to the library to answer the rest of the questions. The quiz could be done at any time during the week and some of the older boys were very confident they would do well.

Picture puzzles: We created more picture puzzles using the Mosaic maker from Big Huge Labs. Each of the 7 mosaics referred to books at WFC with “bridge”in the title. There was some fun when finding pictures that gave clues to the books. All the clues were designed to link to keywords the notes and/or  subjects linked to the books when you looked up the catalogue. The images were saved onto memory sticks (each with a mosaic number image before it) and then shown using the digital photo frames.
Create myspace graphic with Gickr
Make your own animation

Building a bridge: This activity was held over Wednesday lunchtime. A small but dedicated group of boys undertook to build a bridge using paper, rubber bands, paper clips, straws and string. The bridges had to span 20cms and we tested how much weight they could hold by putting books on them. We had some very interesting attempts at bridges. Some were remarkably strong and held a lot of weight and others just looked interesting.

The Literary Heads competition:

On Friday some of the teaching staff helped us out by being the guinea pigs and wearing the names of various literary characters. They took it all in good spirit and the students loved the incongruity between the staff members and their character label.

The Literary Heads competition: On Friday some of the teaching staff helped us out by being the guinea pigs and wearing the names of various literary characters. They took it all in good spirit and the students loved the incongruity between the staff members and their character label.
avatars myspace with Gickr
Make your own animation

Our students really got into the spirit and a few had favourites, who they tried to help out . It was a lot of fun and the laughs were great to hear. All the students were sorry when the bell rang for period 4.

During lunch times we showed some short television programs. Loosely based around the idea of using media to bridge the gap between our students and literature the viewings included some of the 1960′s Batman episodes (we have quite a few Batman graphic novels and books of the later Batman films). We also had the  first episode of Black Books, the dictionary burning episode of Black Adder, and future screenings will include the original as well as more current Dr Who episodes, some other cartoons and some adaptations of children’s books. Requests have included Round the Twist and Lockie Leonard. Of curse the seniors have asked to see more of Black Adder and the Batman series. We plan to show more book trailers, author sites, and slides of new book covers as well as student work.

As always the boys will have an afternoon tea and be presented with certificates, by the principal, for doing well. They all will be able to choose books as prizes and we will make up book plates to celebrate their achievement. Many more than just the “winners” (those who joined in) will also attend and all will be able to ask their parents to come as well as it is held after school.

What a fabulous week for the students. Well done to all of the staff who worked so hard to make it the success it obviously was.

Indigenous Literacy Day, Wednesday 1 September 2010

Let’s all celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day today. As part of the National Numeracy and Literacy Week, there are a number of activities taking place. The website explains:

Indigenous Literacy Day aims to help raise funds to raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Australians living in remote and isolated regions.  We need your support to help raise funds to buy books and literacy resources for these communities.

What happens on Indigenous Literacy Day

  • Events and fundraisers are held across Australia.
  • Participating publishers donate 5% (or more) of their takings from their invoices on ILD.
  • Participating booksellers donate 5% (or more) of their takings from sales on ILD.
  • Participating schools host The Great Book Swap and other fundraising activities.
  • Participating businesses, clubs and organisations host The Great Book Swap and other fundarising activities.
  • Across Australia people attend ILD events including local Great Book Swaps, purchase books at participating bookshops or organise their own private fundraising literary lunches and morning teas.
  • People everywhere pause to read to support Indigenous literacy.

There are lots of activities to choose from to support this important initiative.

Promoting reading using Glogster

This is a terrific example of using Glogster edu (see earlier Bright Ideas post) to promote reading. Anita Beaman has devloped this glog to further promote interest in a popular genre of books.

Glogs can be linked online for the full multimedia experience as well as printed out and laminated for display in the library or classrooms. This could be a good thing for librarystaff to create, or to encourage students to make either as library monitors or for creative response to text.

Assessment rubric for Book Trailers

Since Book Trailers have taken schools by storm and many classes are using them as creative ways to respond to texts, one question is how to assess them.

Whitefriars College library coordinator and School Library Association of Victoria President Rhonda Powling (@bibliokat) has developed a fantastic rubric for assessing book trailers and it could be adapted for other creative text responses.

Screen shot 2010-08-04 at 8.35.55 AM

Many thanks to Donna for sharing this fantastic resource.

Google Lit Trips @ Mooroopna SC

Teacher librarian Rachel Fidock has kindly shared information on how she has been developing Google Lit Trips with her colleagues and students at Mooroopna Secondary College.
Mooroopna 4
Google Earth and Google Lit Trips:
Google Earth provides a tool for students to present oral presentations on their novels (where appropriate (i.e. aspects of the book can be highlighted by Google Earth)). We have low VELS levels in Speaking and Listening, possibly because students are not at ease giving oral presentations (often the way they are assessed for Speaking and Listening). Google Earth helps students to divert the attention from themselves. For example, they can show the class a trip they create that follows the journey taken by the main character in the novel (e.g. Swerve Google Lit Trip Presentation).
There are options to add images (creative commons-licensed images from Flickr), or show pictures that are already on Google Earth. There are so many options in Google Earth that students can make it as in-depth as they wish. The best part is they can record their voice over their journey so they have another option of meeting the requirements of Speaking and Listening. I have put together a guide to using Google Earth for the English staff that highlights how a Google Lit Trip can be used as an alternate assessment item for students to meet the requirements of VELS levels in Speaking and Listening, and created a Google Lit Trip on the novel Swerve as an example of its use.
We are now in the Ultranet training stage and are looking for ways the Library services, particularly our website, can become part of the student’s virtual space.
Rachel has taken the hard work out of learning how to introduce Google Lit Trips to students by providing readers of Bright Ideas with a Guide to Google Earth and Google Lit Trips which includes step by step instructions (including screenshots) for teachers and even assessment rubrics. A brilliant resource for teachers.
The Lit Trip that Rachel has created for Phillip Gwynne’s Swerve is an excellent example of what can be created. Please note that you will need to have Google Earth installed to view Rachel’s fantastic presentation.

Reading 2.0 by Dr Joyce Valenza

The second of Dr Joyce Valenza’s sessions at the  School Library Association of Victoria Make, Share, Do conference held on Friday 30th July focused on the use of social media to promote reading.


View more presentations from joycevalenza.
With so many options and ideas for library staff to use to promote reading, as well as ways to have students create presentations, there is at least one brilliant idea here for every school library to use.
Thanks again to Tania Sheko for her notes from the session. My notes are also available.

National Year of Reading 2012

What brilliant news! A National Year of Reading for 2012 has been announced.

Screen shot 2010-07-28 at 11.12.39 AM

So far the website has only the basics, but will adding much more content for

  • children
  • adults
  • reading professionals
  • events

There are, however, already a number of flyers, logos and videos available to view, use and distribute. A year to celebrate one of the things we love – how exciting!

Readers’ Cup blog

The School Library Association of Victoria has developed a blog to support the running of the Readers’ Cup in Victorian schools.

Screen shot 2010-07-08 at 12.24.47 PM

Featuring details of entry, rules and procedures, the blog also has links to a number of questions and answers for books for students in years 5 & 5, 7 & 8 and 9 & 10.

Sponsored by FUSE, the Readers Cup is an excellent way to enthuse students about reading, as this year’s State Final involves students making films about the selected books.