Meet Me at the Moontree by Shivaun Plozza – Ideas for Classrooms by Prue Bon

For those of you who attended the October 26 Reading Forum, you may understand why I was eager to read Shivaun Plozza’s latest young adult novel, “Meet Me at the Moon Tree”. We were privileged to be able to hear Shivaun speak about her inspiration for this novel, and I have to honestly say that I was excited about the potential for including this text in the curriculum.

Meet Me at the Moon Tree” is a beautiful exploration of grief and relationships: how grief can present differently in everyone, and how important all types of relationships are to being able to manage one’s grief. When Carina’s father dies from cancer, her mother moves the family to the Otway Ranges as both a fresh start and a way of remembering their patriarch. Carina has made a promise to her father, to search for the Moon Tree that he has told her will be in the forest behind their new home. But Carina’s family are struggling in the face of their grief – her mother and brother are angry, Carina is lonely and her Grandpa is doing his best to help them all.

This is a special title for a Teacher Librarian, because there is just so much in it that can be used to support teaching and learning, and the more I searched through the curriculum, the more I was able to find. With a focus on ‘healthy relationships’ and also how grief can affect everyone differently, it’s an obvious choice to match some of the Health curriculum. However, Carina’s passion for dendrology, and her scientific approach to finding the Moon Tree also makes it suitable for some areas of Science. It covers off the Personal and Social General Capability, and it works well for an exploration of Sustainability, under the Cross Curriculum Priorities. Check out the table below for some ideas as to how you could use excerpts of this wonderful novel in your curriculum planning. You can also find teacher’s notes on the UQP website (

This novel would be suitable for students in Years 5-8. It should come with a box of tissues – for students who have experienced the loss of a loved one, they may find themselves connecting closely with Carina, and perhaps shedding a few tears. However, this a truly beautiful story, with some incredible messages about friendship and never giving up hope.


Curriculum area Matching plot and curriculum Possible activities
Level 5 & 6 Science



Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment



The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment


The plot is based around the ‘moon tree’ – an experiment from 1971 when hundreds of tree seeds were sent into space in order to understand how being in zero gravity might affect them once they were planted back on Earth.



Students can research the original experiment and present their findings.


Students could identify a range of environmental conditions that may affect the growth of seedlings. They could then replicate the experiment based on their own hypothesis and observe the growth of their own seedling (for example, how might heating or cooling a seedling affect its growth?)

Level 7 & 8 Science



There are differences within and between groups of organisms; classification helps organise this diversity


Carina refers to herself as a ‘dendrologist’ and conducts a logical experiment to classify all of the trees that she finds in the forest while searching for the moon tree. Students could reproduce Carina’s experiment within an area of the school yard, searching for a specific tree and identifying and classifying others that they come across in their search.
Level 7 & 8 Health



Investigate and select strategies to promote health, safety and wellbeing


Carina’s family are dealing with the grief that results from the death of her father, from cancer.

Carina’s grandpa has also moved in with the family due to his diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Students can research and present their findings on the services available for managing grief, dealing with a diagnosis, specifically considering cancer or Parkinson’s. They could evaluate which options are most appropriate for Carina’s family.
Level 5 & 6 Health



Examine the influence of emotional responses on behaviour, relationships and health and wellbeing


Each member of Carina’s family attempts to manage their grief in different ways – Carina remains positive and wants to create ‘memory seeds’ of her father, her mother withdraws and her brother becomes angry.


Students can examine the differences in each character’s reactions and how they affect the family dynamics. Through a series of hypothetical scenarios, students could identify how the individual behaviours affect others, and their own wellbeing and present ideas of how each character could be better supported.
Level 7 & 8 Health



Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing



Analyse factors that influence emotions, and develop strategies to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity



Carina is concerned about making friends after she has moved. She recalls her ‘old’ friends, and how the relationship changes due to distance. When she meets a new friend, she is worried that Betty will be bored by Carina’s interest in trees. Grandpa helps Carina to see that friendships can be a bit like ‘companion planting’ in a garden and that you just need to find the companion that works best for you. Students can explore the relationships that occur throughout the novel, creating a mind map that identifies the different relationships.

They could explore the idea of ‘companion planting’ and analyse how that could relate to their own lives, helping them to make appropriate connections between their own relationships.

Level 5 & 6 Personal & Social Capability



Explore the links between their emotions and their behaviour



Describe what it means to be confident, adaptable and persistent and why these attributes are important in dealing with new or challenging situations



Describe the characteristics of respectful relationships and suggest ways that respectful relationships can be achieved.



Carina and her family have a number of ‘every day’ situations that need to be managed, and many of their decisions are influenced by their grief.

–       Moving house

–       Making new friends

–       Managing anger & grief

–       Staying resilient in the face of surrounding negativity

–       Over protective parents

–       Getting lost in a forest in the middle of a storm

–       Looking after a pet

–       Being brave and speaking up



Students can be presented with the range of different scenarios that occur throughout the novel, and examine how each of the character’s deal with those situations, and how their actions affect the others around them.


They can evaluate which responses work and which don’t and identify a range of ways that they may be able to apply those reactions to their own lives.


They could write their own scenarios and identify how they think their ‘characters’ should behave.


Blogging in the classroom – resources by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

If you have ever thought about introducing blogs into your classroom or school library, it’s well worth looking at Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s blog Langwitches (@langwitches on Twitter).

Recent posts look at how blogging is fundamentally different to simply writing using a computer and how visible thinking routines can get students to reflect and develop metacognitive skills.


Here are a few posts providing strategies and resources for using blogs with students:

To read more great posts about engaging students in blogging, follow the tag ‘Blogging’ on her site.

School library blog making connections

Kim Yeomans is the teacher librarian (TL) at St Martin of Tours, Rosanna, Melbourne, where she has been full-time in the LRC (Library Resource Centre) for the past 11 years. Kim teaches 21 classes each week and considers it a privilege to be part of every student’s reading and learning journey. Kim believes it is an exciting time to be a TL and she is regularly searching for new ways to use both books and technology to inspire her students. Kim began the LRC Blog in 2009 and below tells us how the blog is being used to make connections, and inspire students.

At our Library Resource Centre we say “The LRC is the place to be” and these days that is both physical and virtual.

During 2008 my eyes were opened to the world of Web 2.0 when I completed the “SLAV Re-imagine” course. As a result, our LRC Blog was created in February 2009 with high hopes of using it as a means of connecting with our students, the wider school community and eventually the global community. Today I cannot imagine having a library without a blog as it is such a vital conduit between the LRC and our school community, particularly our students that I only teach weekly for 45 minutes. It has also provided a means for me to connect professionally and share ideas with other blogging TLs which is invaluable when you are the only TL at your school. Since I have started blogging I have spoken at TL Networks about the benefits of a school library blog and actively encouraged and mentored teachers in my school to create their own classroom blogs.

When I began the LRC blog I started small, had a clear purpose and made a commitment to write a weekly post (except on holidays) and to reply to every comment. It is important to promote your blog and I regularly link to posts in the school newsletter and introduce it to new parents at Prep Orientation. I also show the latest blog post to relevant classes at the beginning of lessons and students can follow up in their own time. We now have a number of students and parents who subscribe to our blog.

Over the past five years the LRC blog has been a wonderful vehicle to promote books and reading and share our work. It has also connected us to some of our favourite authors. Some of our boys met Jeff Kinney after I posted details of his visit. There was also great excitement when Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton left us comments about our 124 Flavour Icecream and Andy recently answered a letter sent by one of our Year Three students. Our blog has allowed me to promote many events for participation by students. These include Book Week, Premiers’ Reading Challenge, Melbourne Writers Festival, The Children’s Book Festival, National Year of Reading, The Reading Hour as well as our Book Fair, and challenges for Book Week including our Reading Minutes and Shelfies this year.

Our LRC blog documented the building of our new LRC (unfortunately some of our PhotoPeach slideshows are missing). It also conveyed the news of our Christmas Day Flood in 2011 and demonstrated the global connections we have made when Julie Hembree our blogging buddy in Seattle, Washington. Compassionately Julie came to our aid via her Bulldog Readers Blog and parcels of books arrived from library friends both overseas and local. Our blog has in turn also allowed us to reach out to others in Japan and Bangladesh.

As the LRC Blog has evolved students have written guest posts and new pages have been added as I discovered new things to share. One of my favourite pages is the LRC Snapshots page which is linked to a Tumblr blog. I always keep my camera handy to take photos of students who have shared something with me or incidental moments in the LRC before and after school or during lunchtimes – these are a collection of the precious connections you make as a teacher librarian.

The LRC Blog has ensured our library is no longer confined to four walls and is open 24/7, though recently I have found I needed other ways to provide for our students’ needs and interests. Last year I used a Wiki to create a page of links for Authors and Illustrators to link to the LRC blog. This year I discovered Weebly and began our LRC Website which is also linked to our blog. I have begun adding links to Search Engines and Creative Commons websites that I teach in class and students can access when needed from school or home. The LRC blog is now morphing into our online library hub.

This has been a great opportunity to reflect on our LRC Blog and I am amazed at how much of our library journey over the past five years has been recorded there. As you can see I could not function without it! Today the LRC Blog is embedded in both our library and school and has regular local and global visitors searching for how to draw Greg Heffley, Anzac Day resources or simply reading the latest post. The day I heard two of our Year 6 students telling prospective parents on a school tour “Our library even has its own blog” I knew I was on the right track!

My dilemma now is what will happen to the LRC Blog while I take leave for 2014…

Kim’s creation on an ‘online library hub’ that is making connections through the school community and beyond is inspiring. For further information and ideas from Kim, visit Kim’s Corner.




danah boyd: debating privacy

danah boyd, academic and senior researcher at Microsoft, recently posted her responses to a Wall Street Journal interview on privacy and social media.

danah boyd blog

Some of the ideas she discusses include how people (particularly teens) use complex strategies to maintain their privacy when it matters to them. They’re still public but are deliberately ambiguous so they can control who understands their meaning. Will Richardson in a commentary piece on danah’s post talks about how these skills are a kind of literacy educators need to think about.

There’s also some discussion of how social media environments are easily as complex as day to day social interactions and require the same sophisticated skills we use to make sure our behaviour suits the situations and people we’re with.

danah boyd’s blog is definitely one to follow if you’re interested in social media, privacy and how communication is changing in an online world.

Library of Congress: education blog

Library of Congress blogs

The Library of Congress has a range of great blogs looking at collection highlights and how to use primary sources in the classroom.

Some recent posts of interest from the education blog include:

What makes a primary source a primary source?

Looking harder: inspiring close observation

Selecting questions to increase student engagement

For similar posts, take a look at the Teaching strategies page. Their Teachers’ section also has useful templates and lesson ideas to help students engage with primary  and secondary source material.

The Library of Congress also has a photographic collection bloglegal collection blog and a science, business and technology blog.

Guest post: Barkly College Libraries: Connecting, encouraging, blogging

The staff of Barkly College Libraries have created a wonderful blog, Barkly College Libraries, to connect the Barkly District, the College, and the Libraries, and to foster a love of reading and learning. Shelagh Walsh, Library Technician at Barkly College Secondary, has been kind enough to write a guest post about the creation of the blog, and how it is being used to encourage learning in the community. 

Barkly College Libraries have been asked to write a guest article for this amazing blog and we feel very privileged to do so.

To put us into perspective – we are situated in the middle of the Northern Territory – about 500kms north of Alice Springs and 1000kms south of Darwin. We are classed as a remote location, and because of this, we have many challenges that other suburban schools may not have. Our student base is majority indigenous with over half of these students being ESL (English as a Second Language) students.  As you could appreciate, libraries and reading are not high on their agendas.

We wanted something that, we hoped, would catch their attention – and, it should be said, that of the staff as well.  Something to make it easy to keep people updated with anything that was happening in the library – an easier way to promote books and to bring new books to everyone’s attention – something we could use to promote our college and the Libraries.  Another aspect of the creation of our blog was the fact that we, ourselves, were interested in learning and using the Web 2.0 tools.  This seemed a way of combining both wants or needs into one – so to speak.  Having tossed the idea around for a while, we sought approval from the Director of the College to go ahead.

After that, came the fun part.  We started by researching a number of Library Blogs to get an idea of what others had done and what hosting site they were using.  It appeared that Blogspot seemed to be the most commonly used, and was an attractive layout as well. 

To give you an idea of the ease of setting up the blog – we did it in an afternoon at home with a laptop – while bathing my dogs.  It was a snap.  The hardest part was the first post – blank looks at each other – now we are here what do we want to say?

Barkly College Libraries 

Our aims are simple – we want our students and staff to know what is happening in the Library world – and importantly, to feel a part of it.  We are campaigning for book reviews by students – whether by themselves or as part of a class.  Our kids love trivia and all that sort of thing, and so the Worthless Wisdom post was conceived.  We have asked them for suggestions as well – if they feel an ownership, then hopefully they will use it.  Currently there is an article posted from one of the year 7 classes after we spent a lesson showing them how a library works and how to find things.  More lessons will involve research skills and evaluating websites.  We have developed various ‘games’ and activities to get the message across without lots of talking and writing as we are an Indigenous ESL school and this seems to work well.

 Barkly College Libraries


We are fairly passionate about reading and books and, I believe, have been reasonably successful in getting kids and books together, especially the senior students.  So somewhere to review books, to be able to comment and discuss the books they had read seemed to be worth a try.  Get them reading, we are halfway to getting them into learning as well was our thought – and if they don’t realise it is a sneaky attack on the flank, so much the better!

It is early days yet and we know that it is going to take a lot of effort and promotion to get this running the way we envisage.  Setting up the blog is the easy part – it is getting everyone on board and using it, along with keeping it continually up to date with interesting posts that will keep us on our toes.  But we are optimistic that it will become an important part of our schools – and meanwhile we, ourselves are learning lots and having fun.  Who could ask for more than that?

I really didn’t realize that librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group … They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.”

Michael Moore.

Thankyou, Shelagh, for this wonderful look at how you are using a web 2.0 tool to foster learning, and well done to you and the Barkly College Libraries team on your great blog.

Guest post: Junior M’s blogging and global collaboration, by Michelle Scott

Michelle Scott is a teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, Blackburn South, Victoria. Michelle has developed a bright, engaging blog with her junior class called Junior M’s Learning Journey that showcases their learning using web 2.0 technology. The class is also involved in a wonderful exchange activity that is connecting them globally. Michelle explains below:

In 2010 I completed the SLAV Web 2.0 course along with several other teachers at St Luke’s. At this time a blog was started for our two grade 1/2 classes – Junior’s Jig. My level partner Verona maintained the blog with my class chipping in posts every now and then. This year my class Junior M have the very own blog (we signed with blogger after much unsuccessful wrangling with wordpress), Junior M’s Learning Journey. My aim for the blog is to provide the St Luke’s community (parents, families and friends) and a gradually developing group of global friends (through twitter), an insight into the learning Junior M is engaged with most weeks.

Junior M's Learning Journey

Recently, my students made a significant connection with a school in Ontario, Canada with whom we are twitter-friends. After we posted questions on twitter to the Gill_Villeans they asked us if we’d like to host their class mascot, Gill the goldfish, and to add photos etc., of his adventures at St Lukes on their wiki. Their teacher is using this as a platform to further engage her students in writing.

Gill the goldfish goes global

Over the term holidays we will send our class mascot, Ella the echidna, to Canada. Students in Junior are fascinated with the process of receiving a package from overseas and have many ideas for how to host our visitor, which they actively implement.

I feel this process of blogging and commenting on blog posts extends the children, from enriching their thinking both laterally and critically, to exposing them to a world beyond their classroom. This in turn shows them how much in common we have with people around the world.

The understanding of differences and similarities that comes from global collaboration is priceless. Thankyou, Michelle, for sharing your teaching and learning with us. All the best to Ella on her big trip.

Guest post: Kleinspiration – technology treasures for today’s teachers, by Erin Klein

Erin KleinErin Klein is a middle school teacher in southern Michigan with her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Erin has created a fantastic resource for educators in her blog Kleinspiration, showcasing web 2.0 resources that can be used as tools to enhance teaching and learning. Below is more information about Erin and Kleinspiration:

Kleinspiration, a newly created educational blog, brings readers technology treasures for today’s teachers. Classroom teacher, Erin Klein, showcases a rich display of web 2.0 sites for grade levels K-12 and all content areas. Klein states that her focus for selecting sites is based on three main factors: free sites that encourage student collaboration and project based learning, parent-friendly sites that support the student’s studies, and websites that spark higher-level thinking in a manner that is engaging for both teacher and student.


Klein has extensive training in reading intervention programs and roots her style in Dr. Spencer Kagan’s Cooperative Learning Structures to infuse natural collaboration within her classroom and increase active engagement so that all students’ learning potential is maximized. Klein decided to pursue her passion for technology integration when she realized how much her own children were becoming acclimated to technology, and learning so much from it, all at such a young developmental and cognitive learning age. She knew this was their world, and she should embrace it. Times have changed; sadly, classrooms haven’t. Thus, Klein began networking with other teachers and developed ways to comfortably embrace technology.

Klein has worked with teachers across the state of Michigan to help develop creative ways for technology integration into the classroom. Though Klein firmly believes in preparing students for a global society, she continuously reinforces that technology is simply a tool to support and enhance instruction – the teacher and the students drive the learning. Those who have worked with Klein state that the most surprising aspect they walk away with is seeing how truly motivated the students become. Not only are her resources beneficial, but her enthusiastic approach is contagious as she works with fellow educators and students.

Oftentimes, the Internet can become cumbersome for those who only have a brief moment to utilize its full potential. Though most of us would love to include more technology into our lesson planning, we find that we simply run out of time. We run out of time when planning (as there are so many sites to choose from), and we run out of time covering content within the classroom (as there are so many weekly disruptions). Kleinspiration provides a spot where teachers can browse the newest technology finds, while still being reminded of quality sites that have been around, read comments/reviews other professionals/parents have made about a particular site, and peek directly into Klein’s middle school classroom as she shares her own lessons and student product examples. Furthermore, Klein has a contact page where she welcomes questions and opportunities to work together through conferences and workshops. 

Kleinspiration - project learning

Kleinspiration provides inspiration to students looking for the ‘just right way’ to present an upcoming project, the parent at home wishing for support to assist with homework, and the teacher who is searching for the perfect gem to jazz up his or her lesson.

Thankyou, Erin, for sharing your wonderful blog with the readers of Bright Ideas. If any readers would like more information, or would like to work with Erin, visit Kleinspiration.

Guest Post: Integrating Australian Curriculum into units of work, by Lisa Hill

Lisa Hill, teacher librarian at Mossgiel Park Primary School, is integrating the new Australian Curriculum into her existing literature units of work. Lisa outlines this work on her fantastic blog LisaHillSchoolStuff’s Weblog, and is willing to share the four units of work when she has completed them. On behalf of many primary school educators out there, thankyou Lisa!

LisaHillSchoolStuff's Weblog

Guest post: Class blog ‘Learning Together’ by Marie Kennedy

Marie Kennedy is a prep teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, Blackburn South, Victoria. Marie and her prep students’s class blog, Learning Together, is a wonderful example of how web 2.0 tools can be used to support and extend teaching and learning, and as a way to make connections:

Learning Together

I started my class blog following the SLAV Personal Learning Network PD I was a part of early in 2010, where I had learnt so much about Web 2.0 tools and the many benefits of blogging for Learning and Teaching. I was excited about the potential for local and global collaboration and creating strong links between home and school. I had always used ‘myclasses’ as a way to communicate with parents about what was happening in the classroom however I could see the enormous potential of creating a class blog.

As a Prep teacher I spend a lot of time modelling how to use a blog. Through this modelling the students are learning important protocols and safe behaviours when navigating the online world.  I am responsible for posting photos, writing most of the posts and moderating comments. My students take part by sharing reflections on their learning using tools such as voicethread, wallwisher and videos. I share their writing, reading, maths and art through slideshows. My students also become involved in commenting. I model the process and at this early stage of the year I type their thoughts and ideas. My students are articulating to a global community what they have discovered helping them to consolidate and deepen their understandings. Many visitors to our blog ask interesting questions that extends the students thinking and challenges them to consider new perspectives. These are some of the powerful advantages of blogging.

Learning Together -Science

While we have had success reaching out to the global community one of the challenges of blogging is involving our parent community. My major aim for developing a class blog was to connect with parents and families. To provide a springboard for conversation at home about what is happening at school and how the students are thinking and learning. While some parents do visit and comment I have had limited success with this. As a school we are hoping to provide a parent night on blogging to address this issue.

Learning Together - Better Buddies

Blogging allows for authentic and rich conversation both within and beyond our school community.

Thankyou, Marie, for sharing your fantastic work, and the work of your students. I particularly like how visually appealing Learning Together is, with the images of your students and their work. Your adopted pet Freddie, the spider, is a cute extra on the blog and a good way to create interest in any blog (e.g. name the virtual pet or avatar). Learning Together provides uses of web 2.0 tools that will offer inspiration to many.