School’s out Friday

Rives is a favourite of mine. This is an oldie (2006), but from Rives, it’s always a goodie. I think Mark Zuckerberg might have been listening to this, because Facebook can pretty much do a lot of things he articulated in this poem when he waxed lyrical about Napstar, Friendster and the other ‘ters’ that were the ‘in things’ in 2006. It makes 2006 seem like an age ago when you realise that many of the sites he referenced don’t exist today. Six years is a lifetime for some Internet start-ups. In six years they can live and die, or if they’re lucky, be consumed by the big guns who reward them grandly, but render them faceless as they improve their offering.

Today, I took my own advice and used 12 minutes of class time to show the subject of yesterday’s post to my Yr 10 students. It was really encouraging to see them laughing along as I did, and taking note of Shawn’s recommendations for rewiring our brains to promote happiness within us. I proposed that we follow his advice for 21 days, and I’m going to start here by listing three things I was grateful for today.

1. Having the opportunity to teach students who have open minds and who are willing to try new things to improve their learning.

2. Laughing with my daughter as we shared stories from our day.

3. Having the opportunity to see live theatre performed, penned by Australian master playwright, David Williamson.

I was thinking I could share what I’m feeling grateful about here, but I’m not sure it’s the right vehicle. I’ll play it by ear I think. What I do want to do is adhere to this, and other recommendations from Shawn Achor, for the 21 days. I want to see if I can rewire my thinking, and look for the positives around me more than the negatives. I know what it’s like when you’re working in an energised state, and I think I need that pick me up right now.

You haven’t heard much about it of late, but my back room renovation is nearly complete! New carpet is laid next week, and by the end of Tuesday night, we should be enjoying a vastly improved back room in our house. I may even include a picture next week!

Enjoy your weekend. Mine will include a visit to the picture theatre to see ‘The Hunger Games’. Can’t wait really.  : )

The Happiness Advantage – need this in your school?

Over the weekend, I wrote a post on the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog called ‘TED in My Classroom‘, with a focus on TED Ed, their latest initiative. I’m still pondering how I might offer something to the project, but I’ll have to mull over it a little more. What they’re looking for is the following:

TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos.

I don’t know if I’m one of the extraordinary educators they’re looking for, but I do think there might be something in my bag of educational tricks that might be worth sharing!

What’s in Shawn Achor’s bag of tricks is well worth your time. He’s a very engaging speaker, talking about what he calls ‘the happiness advantage‘; the effect of positive psychology on our productivity and attitude to life. Here’s some text from the transcript of his talk;

But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed. Which means we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.

Just imagine if our focus in schools was on this instead of Naplan tests and My School comparisons? I’d like to see schools value this kind of research and invest time and effort in helping our students understand how their state of mind can effect their performance.

I’m happy and positive after watching this. In my view, 12 minutes well spent in any classroom you teach in. Think about sharing it around.

School’s out Friday

My number one fan in Texas, Rich Cantrell, sent me the link to this new Improveverywhere video. They call it the spinning beach ball of death, but when I see it appear on my computer, it’s always the colour wheel of death to me. It’s a terrifying sight for those of us Mac users, and usually requires a force quit of an application to get your computer moving again. I’ve always wondered what you do when the colour wheel of death is hovering over your apple symbol in the top left hand corner of your screen. That’s where you can click to shut down your computer. If the colour wheel was hovering there, I always reverted to the ‘press down on the power button until computer shuts down’ method of exit. A student showed me recently that if you hold down ‘option, command, escape’ at the same time, the force quit box opens and you can quit the frozen application. Probably self evident to all of you, but it wasn’t to me. You gotta love it when the kids teach you stuff. : )

Thanks Rich for sending me the link. You saved me a search this week – I’m very grateful.

Time to shut this computer down and spend some time reading ‘The Hunger Games‘. I’ve vowed to read it before the release of the movie next week.

Enjoy whatever comes your way this weekend. Especially you, Rich.  : )

School’s out Friday

Aahh…Taylor Mali. Wouldn’t you just love to be in a class led by Taylor Mali. His vast vocabulary and ability to craft clever, witty sentences would make for a stimulating learning environment. I’m sure a senior English class would benefit from exposure to this lesson about the pitfalls of poor spelling and inadequate proofreading. Think I might use it with my crew sometime in the near future.

It’s a long weekend here in Victoria. Time to catch up on much needed sleep. Couldn’t be happier!

Enjoy your weekend. I hope it treats you well. : )


Australian Curriculum and the General Capabilities – the role of the Teacher Librarian

I delivered this presentation at Marist College in Canberra on Tuesday. You can see it embedded in my wiki, or click this link to view. (Once again, I’m frustrated that it can’t be embedded in this blog) It’s not an earth shaking presentation, but it does condense some information from the following ACARA documents:

The Shape of the Australian Curriculum Version 3

General Capabilities and the Australian Curriculum

I’ve tried to identify where a Teacher Librarian can make an impact with the integration of the General Capabilities into the learning areas. Hopefully, the presentation is useful. Feel free to use it in your schools to help people come to an understanding of what is expected with the Australian Curriculum.

Thanks to Geraldine McNulty for arranging for me to visit Marist College to talk to Teacher-Librarians from Canberra. A quick visit, but a good one!

Kony 2012 – you must watch this and pass it on.

There are good people in this world. People who are trying to make a difference.

Watch Kony 2012. Visit Kony2012 and find out why Joseph Kony should be famous.

Brilliantly, this was sent to me from one of my Yr 10 students who made the link between this and what we are studying in class. I bet we’ll be talking about it next time I see them. You will be too if you invest 30 minutes of your day to watch it.

Do so.


School’s out Friday

If you’re a heavy duty computer user, and you’re the owner of a cat, then I’m sure you’ll relate to the behaviour of Simon’s Cat. I’m frequently tapping the keys over the top of a cat that’s decided my lap is prime real estate they are occupying, whether I like it or not!

Yet another week where I haven’t had time (nor energy) to get a mid week post written. It’s a plight those of us who are busy classroom practitioners face. I’d like nothing more than to set time aside in my working life to tap something out, but the reality of busy school days doesn’t allow it. I’ve been launching student blogs, teaching kids about our Overdrive platform, spreading news about EasyBib, creating Libguides to support our Humanities curriculum, teaching my English class etc, etc. All good stuff, and important too. Sometimes you feel like you’re not achieving much, but when you take stock and think about what you’ve been involved in, you realise these are all small steps in helping your school community make big moves towards understanding new ways of accessing and using information.

Open Day at my school tomorrow. That means working on Saturday. No rest for the wicked, as they say. I think that bottle of wine chilling in my fridge will be under threat tomorrow night!

Enjoy whatever comes your way this weekend. Find some sun and soak in it. : )