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.

Screen shot 2010-07-08 at 11.54.36 AM

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.

Screen shot 2010-07-08 at 11.55.41 AM

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.

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.

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.

Feature blog – Whitefriars College – Fiction is like a box of chocolates

Web 2.0 dynamo Tania Sheko has developed a fiction blog for the students at Whitefriars College. Tania explains the reasoning behind the blog’s development:

Why I started to write ‘Fiction is like a box of chocolates’ – I wanted to do more than just talk about books. My aim was to present information about fiction in an informal way, providing hyperlinks to further information, but without cramming it into a half-hour talk. Blogging allows me to include images of books covers or authors, videos of interviews, book and movie trailers, or videos produced by the authors themselves. My idea was that people would browse what they wanted and when they wanted to. Students will always go to the videos; they’re raised on multimedia.

Fiction is like a box of chocolates

The blog is deliberately informal in tone, and invites comments and discussion. Initially I started a webpage which was too static, then an internal school blog, which I couldn’t share outside the school, and finally moved to a WordPress blog which has an unlimited audience. Sharing in this way has resulted in wonderful connections with people from all over the world, and a chance to exchange ideas and information. I think that blog commenting is still foreign to our students, and needs to be learned. If English teachers integrated fiction blogs into their classes, it would be just like reading the newspaper for news, only it would be browsing the blog for information about books and authors. In the same way that we teach students to find facts in newspapers and other traditional media, we should teach them to engage with opinions and ideas in newer media such as blogs.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

I don’t apologize for including as much audiovisual content as I can, as well as featuring books which have been made into films. I think the ubiquitous crossover between books and films should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing, as young people who don’t read voluntarily may come back to the book after enjoying the film. The media isn’t the most important thing, it’s the engagement with ideas and stories.

Thanks and well done again Tania. It’s great for students to be able to revisit what you have discussed at school or read about books you don’t have time to fit into your book talks. The incorporation of multimedia is a great idea and will lead more and more students back to books. Which is what we all want!

Feature blog – Round Reading @ Lowther Hall

 Glenys Lowden, Head of Lowther Hall AGS’s LRC has developed a well-used blog for her students. A previous post explained how Glenys used a wiki for this topic, but on reflection of practicalities, she decided to change over to a blog. Glenys explains:

Lowther hall blog

The program is called Round Reading.  It was originally on a wiki, however I found I actually preferred the discussion aspect of the blog and I had successfully used this method in a Year 7 blog.  Students are divided into groups depending on the novel they chose.  They had a couple of weeks to read the novel and then are to post responses to questions which are outlined on each page.

Lowther hall blog 22

As you can see by the number and extent of student responses, this is a widely used blog which gives students a forum to discuss their thoughts on books studied. Well done Glenys!