Planes, Trains and Conferences Part II – SLAQ 2012 and SLAV Global eLiteracy

Well, a plane did get me to sunny Cairns, and there was a conference there, but no sign of any trains! Like I said in my ISTE post, it sounded like a good name for a blog post!

If you’re going to present at a conference in Australia in July, there’s no nicer place than Cairns to do so. The weather is just wonderful there at this time of year. A stark contrast to the southern states. It wasn’t just the weather that made this conference such a wonderful experience; there were a wonderful group of women behind the scenes organising the SLAQ 2012 Biennial Conference who made me feel very welcome and really looked after me up there. I’d like to thank all of you for such care and consideration.

My presentation was well received and you can view it on the wikispace I maintain. Essentially, my message was that as Teacher-Librarians we need to recognise the opportunities that exist now to cement our positions in schools. We can do this well if we respond positively to change and skill ourselves to a level that will enable us to support the Australian Curriculum. I outlined the steps the library team have taken at Toorak College to try and ensure that our students will leave our school with a skill set that prepares them for the knowledge economy they are entering.

I shared the work our library staff have done on an Information Fluency Program to support the development of skills. We’re not suggesting this scope and sequence document is perfect, but we do think it provides a framework for moving closer to providing opportunities within curriculum to address the General Capabilities and give our students (and teachers) the chance to develop their skills. We consulted with our Principal, Mrs. Helen Carmody, who agreed to share this work under a Creative Commons attribution, share alike, non-commercial licence. This has been done in the spirit of sharing, acknowledging that our profession should be supportive of one another and embrace some of the ideals expressed in Australian Curriculum documentation. This program can be accessed by clicking here. Please be mindful of the terms of the licence should you choose to use it within your school setting.

Mandy Lupton, from Queensland University of Technology, presented a really interesting session about Inquiry Learning and the role of the Teacher-Librarian in helping to facilitate this in their schools. Mandy has just launched a blog called ‘Inquiry Learning and Information Literacy‘ to share her research and learning with others. I recommend you take a look and start to find ways you can apply this thinking to curriculum in your schools.

It was a great conference. I met many committed Teacher-Librarians open to ideas and I hope to forge many ongoing connections from this experience in Cairns.

My message was very similar at the School Library of Victoria Conference held at the MCG last Friday. (The presentation is embedded here.) Again, the audience was receptive, or seemed to be at least. You never really know when you’re presenting, unless people tell you otherwise. I can only base things on the feedback I received, and that was positive. The Bright Ideas Blog compiled a Storify of tweets from the day that includes many links to presentations and resources shared on the day. Judy O’Connell, from Charles Sturt University, keynoted the day with a presentation entitled ‘Leading the Learning Revolution‘ looking at what’s on the scene and what we need to be looking out for in the digital landscape. Judy also launched the site at the conference. The site has been established to provide tools, resources and connections for information professionals in Australian schools and beyond. One to keep your eye on.

There was a sharing session at the conference where people led participants to an understanding of tools they might not otherwise had a chance to experience. Although it was hectic, it was rewarding for participants. I led the groups interested in Storify, and others discussed wikis, twitter, screencasting, facebook, eBook authoring, and quite a few others. After lunch, John Pearce discussed iPad apps, Di Ruffles outlined Libguides, Cam Hocking talked about the value of Personal Learning Networks and David Feighan talked about strategies for placing your library in a positive position in your school. All great presentations that advanced the knowledge base of participants.

There’s no rest for the wicked. Later this week I’m off to Coffs Harbour to deliver a Keynote address at the Teacher Education Dialogue Conference being held at Southern Cross University.  A different kind of audience for me this time. Should be very interesting. I’ll keep you posted.


A teachable moment…

Tomorrow, this will start my Year 10 English lesson. It’s a teachable moment, taken from the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. These are the words of Danny Boyle, the Artistic Director, explaining what motivated and inspired what was, in my book, a brilliant insight into Britain’s impact on the modern world. There is much in these words that our students can benefit from. Think about using them in a classroom sometime this week.

At some point in their histories, most nations experience a revolution that changes everything about them. The United Kingdom had a revolution that changed the whole of human existence. In 1709 Abraham Darby smelted iron in a blast furnace, using coke. And so began the Industrial Revolution. Out of Abraham’s Shropshire furnace flowed molten metal. Out of his genius flowed the mills, looms, engines, weapons, railways, ships, cities, conflicts and prosperity that built the world we live in. It was a revolution that filled the world with noise, smoke, prosperity, pain and possibility.

In November 1990 another Briton sparked another revolution – equally far-reaching – a revolution we’re still living through. Tim Berners – Lee invented the World Wide Web, and built the world’s first website. He took no money for his invention. This, he said, is for everyone.

Just like the Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution is turning the world upside down, taking music, books,shopping, conversation, information to places that they never went before.

But flickering in the smoke and noise and excitement, you can sometimes glimpse a single golden thread of purpose – the idea of Jerusalem – of the better world, the world of real freedom and true equality, a world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication. A belief that we can build Jerusalem.

And that it will be for everyone.

Danny Boyle

Artistic Director

London 2012 Olympic Games

Opening Ceremony

Another thing I liked – an Olympic opening ceremony featuring great contemporary artists like the Artic Monkeys.

Arctic Monkeys – London Olympic Games 2012 from Arctic Monkeys France on Vimeo.

One for the history books, or eBooks, as they may be. Lessons for us all can be found in that ceremony.

School’s out Friday

Take a few minutes to watch the Improv Everywhere team make a game of mini golf into world championship stuff. Very endearing.

I really hate it when I see the only posts here over the last few weeks being School’s out Friday posts. My reality has been that the last 5 weeks have been quite manic. Finding time to post here about what I’ve been involved in has been too difficult because I’m planning the next thing as soon as I’ve finished the last!

Today I presented at the SLAV Conference at the MCG here in Melbourne. It was a great day and I really felt like a lot of people in the room were open to ideas I was presenting. I could be wrong about that; it can be quite difficult to gauge when you’re the presenter. I’ll try and do the day justice by writing about it, and numerous other events, over this weekend.

It’s early to bed for me now so that I can awaken at 5.30am to see the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games. I love a good opening ceremony so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype. Even if it doesn’t, I like to pay due respect to major events like that by setting my alarm clock to meet the action in the time zone of whatever country is the host. My Olympic Games Opening Ceremony memories extend back to Moscow in 1980, when it seemed that the Russians had used their enormous population to great effect to impress us all with crowd participation. Here’s a trip down memory lane for you.

Have a great weekend. Looks like a rainy one for Melbourne. Hope the forecast is looking better wherever it is you may be. 🙂

School’s out Friday

Last night, I presented my talk at TEDxMelbourne Education Leadership. I’m not going into detail about that here, other than to say that it was very well received and I’m very humbled by the kind words that have come my way over the last 24 hours.  A post over the weekend will be coming. Right now, I’m totally exhausted and will be heading to bed as soon as I press publish here.

In the meantime, you can utilise 19 minutes or so watching the incredibly gifted Neil Gaiman deliver a speech that will stay with you long after you’ve watched it. I used this in my Yr 10 English class earlier this year and my students took so much away from it that they can apply to their own learning. They thought it was well worth the time invested watching it. Lucky Neil, he had a lecturn and notes to refer to!

Enjoy your weekend. I hope the sun will be shining where you are. Sleep beckons!

School’s out Friday

This the the 2012 version of ‘Where the hell is Matt?‘. This time, he has varied the dance moves and tried to be in keeping with more traditional dances from the countries he visits. David Pogue interviewed Matt this week; if you’re interested in the background details about the creation of the video, take a read. Matt’s also released the outtakes video, and I think I prefer it- there’s something really touching about people from all differing nationalities joined together in the spirit of doing something fun.

It feels a bit to me like ‘Where the hell is Jenny’ at the moment. I’ve been on the move for the last few weeks with conferences and a family holiday. I’m very happy to report that tonight I landed back in my home town of Melbourne and am very happy to be writing this post from the warmth of my bed! Travelling is exciting, but the old adage, ‘There’s no place like home’, starts to ring true when you’ve been away for awhile.

There’s no rest for the wicked though (cliches flying thick and fast tonight!). Next Thursday night is TEDxMelbourne: Education Leadership, and I’m one of three speakers presenting there. For the next six days, that’s my focus. I’ll be fine tuning my talk and hoping I can deliver it with passion. I’m very honoured to have been asked to speak and want to do the event justice. I’ll certainly be sharing my thoughts on the process here, so keep an eye out for a post or two over the next week.

Enjoy the weekend everyone. Let’s hope the sun shines for us. 🙂


Planes, Trains and Conferences – Part 1: ISTE 2012

(Sorry, late getting to some reflective posts about recent conferences. I’m holidaying with the family, and have decided that they deserve more of my focus than this space. A good call, in my opinion!)

Planes:  Did you know it’s illegal for groups of 3 or more to congregate in the aisles of planes flying over American air space? I didn’t, but was enlightened when this was announced on my flight to Los Angeles en route to the ISTE 2012 conference. I have to admit to entertaining the idea of amassing a crowd just to see what would happen. Would some air space tracking system notify authorities? Would an air marshall make him or herself known and disperse the offending party? Sensibly, I pushed the radical thought to the back recesses of my mind and settled down to view a film called 50/50. I was a sobbing wreck by the end of that one, and drew enough attention to myself that way, nullifying any need to create a scene by congregating with others in the aisles!

Trains: Well, it sounded like a good title for a post, but a trolley car in San Diego doesn’t quite qualify for a train. I caught one of those with Ashleigh, a teacher from Sydney who accompanied me to the mecca that is Seaworld. See my previous post for a review of that experience.

Conferences: Aahhh. The true intention of this post. ISTE 2012. My first ISTE Conference was Denver, 2010, so I had an idea of what to expect. A massive convention centre with thousands of educators congregating and an almost indecipherable conference program to make sense of. After re-reading my 2010 ISTE reflection, I note that I’d identified the need to scrutinise the conference program carefully and select sessions early. #FAIL on my behalf. Once again, I was rushed off my feet getting my ISTE conference presentation prepared as well as correction and end of term report writing before boarding the plane. But, I did make a better go of getting to more sessions this time around. Last time, I found myself locked out of sessions I’d wanted to attend. This time, I got to sessions earlier and had booked some when registering for the conference. That doesn’t always mean you’ve made the right selection though. It’s kind of frustrating watching the twitter stream and being envious of the folks who are tweeting from a session you didn’t even know was on offer. I suppose that’s the issue with a conference of these dimensions. There are often 30 or so sessions running concurrently, and you can’t be in more than one place at a time!

Why I was there

Well, my real purpose for attending was to present about the work we have been doing at Toorak College to scale change beyond the classrooms of the few to the classrooms of many, and hence ensure all of our students are exposed to a skill set that prepares them for life in a knowledge economy. Here’s the premise I was working toward:

At Toorak College (Victoria, Australia) our Library Media Specialists have introduced an Information Fluency initiative to help both our teaching staff and students garner skills in keeping with the digital age we live in. We have introduced the TPACK model and the SAMR model to our teaching staff, and are working on re-envisioning curriculum with these models in mind. We have used the ISTE Students NETS curriculum planning tool to help us create Information Fluency Certificates at Yrs 7, 8 and 9 that embody a skill set we desire our students to acquire. Our Library Media specialists are working in a co-teaching capacity in classrooms to assist our teachers to help our students acquire these skills. We have introduced an edublogs platform and every student from Yrs 7 -10 has a blog they are using as their ePortfolio. It is our aim to have our students demonstrate their acquisition of skills, develop their own digital literacy understandings through use of a public web platform, and develop a positive digital footprint for themselves that they can share with their families, potential employers and University admissions officers. We are looking for whole school systemic adoption of a much needed skill set for the world our students are living in and the world they will find themselves working in.

You can find the presentation on my wikispaces site. (Once again, I’m frustrated that my Sliderocket presentation won’t embed here). My Principal, Mrs. Helen Carmody, agreed that, as educators, in the spirit of sharing, we should publish the Information Fluency Scope and Sequence document under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike  license. We’re not suggesting it’s perfect, but it may help other educators get a start on scaling change beyond teachers’ individual classrooms. It’s also embedded on the wikispaces page. I encourage you to visit and take a look. It would be great to get some feedback on it too. Leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

Some highlights

Yong Zhao’s keynote was fantastic. The guy just makes sense. Don’t take my word for it. Watch it yourself.

The keynote on the final day was also worth attending. So many attendees leave the conference early, and it’s a shame they missed this. Dr. Willie Smits discussed the collaborative work being done with educators to combat the decimation of the rainforest in Borneo and the resultant threats to the Orangutan population. Brisbane teacher Christopher Gauthier joined him later in the presentation to explain how his students had become ‘Earthwatchers‘ as part of the DeforestAction campaign. His passion for his work was palpable; this was exactly the kind of keynote that should have opened the conference, when attendance was at a premium. Take a look, it’s worth it – you’ll have to fast forward to get to the start of Willie Smits’ presentation so let things load and fast track through.

Doug Johnson, a Teacher-Librarian from Minnesota, never disappoints. He writes The Blue Skunk Blog, and he is an excellent presenter. He infuses humour and practical advice into his sessions. This session was about Bricks and mortar libraries, and what is necessary to ensure school libraries remain relevant in schools today. His wiki page supporting this session with links to posts he has written is accessible here. If you’re not already reading Doug’s blog, then you should be.

Ewan McIntosh delivered a presentation about Data Visualisation. This is a topic I’m very much interested in. I think teaching students how to work with data and present their findings in interesting, accessible ways is something we need to be exploring in schools today. Ewan introduced me to the work of David McCandless. I’ve since discovered the TED talk he delivered that encapsulates many of his visualisations and what they tell us. Again, best you take a look yourself.

The real highlight

Honestly, the real highlight of any conference like this is connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Getting to see Lisa Parisi and Diana Laufenberg again was just great. Lisa made a special effort to meet me in New York on a previous visit (Forever grateful for that Lisa) and I met Diana at Educon a couple of years ago. We’ve since met up in Melbourne and shared a night out together when she was presenting here. Seeing Sheryl Nussbaum Beach again was another highlight- a very good friend now thanks to our PLP time together. Getting to meet Ann Michaelson from Norway was fabulous- we both write for the PLP Voices blog and have now organised to connect our classrooms together in September. I was more than thrilled to get the opportunity to finally meet Carolyn Foote, a Teacher-Librarian from Texas. Carolyn and I have been twitter friends for a long time now, going back to 2008, so it was wonderful to finally meet face to face. There were many more catch ups with educators from all over, but I’d be writing for the next three hours if I tried to mention them all.

What was really wonderful about this conference, and what made it a special experience for me, was catching up with some Australian educators, and meeting some for the first time. Weird really, that you have to travel so far to meet people who live in the State next door (New South Welshman!). Cameron Paterson, Stacey Taylor, Maurice Cummins, Leanne Windsor, Tom Lee, Mike Wheadon, Angela Thomas – thanks for sharing some really fun times, and for being such a supportive Aussie contingent at my presentation. I hope we get to meet up together again sometime and share a meal together – you made my time in San Diego one full of friendship and laughter. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing, but I found myself gravitating to Australians at both Denver and San Diego ISTE conferences. Maybe there’s comfort in sharing common ground, or maybe it’s just that the people I’ve hung out with are just great people. I’d like to think the latter. 🙂


It still perplexes me how much time is spent discussing hardware at conferences like this.  A number of sessions focused on the idea of Bring your own technology and iPad rollouts. To my way of thinking, the discussion needs to centre around why you’d want to roll out the hardware – what is it our kids need to be doing with it to make the learning better? The other thing that struck me was how the tools based sessions had educators spilling out the doors. It seems like we haven’t gotten past people needing to be taught how to use a tool. Hand holding still seems necessary rather than people taking it on board to self direct their own learning. Heads up people – YouTube is full of screencasts explaining pretty much most things these days – take a visit, you might like what you see.

Like last time, I’ve come away from ISTE feeling like Australia is in pretty good shape. Even Alan November was telling participants in his session that they’d be at an advantage if they were sitting next to an Australian. We might bemoan our systems at times, but at least we’ve seen our Government recognise the need to build capacity within our population to meet the needs of a global economy head on. Perhaps it is still our tyranny of distance that makes us look outwards and try to find ways to link ourselves to the rest of the world. Maybe ISTE should be looking to us for guidance? They are running a study tour visiting our shores later this year. It would be interesting to hear from participants on that to see their impressions of our education system here.

San Diego- thanks for putting on a great show. Those clear blue skies in the middle of a freezing cold Melbourne winter really helped quell the seasonal affective disorder!

School’s out Friday

You could be mistaken for thinking that I’d fallen off the planet given my lack of posts of late. I’m still here, but have just been incredibly busy. In the last two weeks I’ve attended and presented at the ISTE conference in San Diego, returned home for three days, and then headed to Cairns where I was a Keynote presenter at the SLAQ conference. Right now, I’m on the Gold Coast holidaying with my family. It’s been a tad full on to say the least. Next up is the TedxMelbourne: Education Leadership talk on July 19th. That’s occupying much of my thinking space right now, so apologies for the neglect here.

I do intend to write follow up posts reflecting on the two conferences I’ve just attended. Hopefully there’ll be some reflective time over the next few days to allow me to get to this space to share my thoughts.

In the meantime, I’m feeling a bit like a Sea World tragic. While in San Diego, I ventured out to Sea World with Ashleigh, a teacher from Sydney. If you are of my vintage, you probably grew up on a diet of American television, where plenty of sit-com families ventured to the Mecca that was Sea World to see Shamu the Killer Whale. I’ve always wanted to see the Killer Whales there, and I was pretty happy when Ashleigh said she’d join me. I told her I’d always wanted to see the Orcas and Shamu and she seemed just as keen. When we got there, we headed straight for the area housing Shamu (they call the show ‘Shamu’ even though the whales have different names). You could go to the underwater viewing area and the whale was a sight to behold. Incredibly huge. A real OMG moment. Even more so for Ashleigh, who until the moment when she laid eyes on it, had apparently no idea what she was going there to see! I’d been babbling on about Shamu and Orcas, and she told me she had no idea what a ‘Shamu’ was!

We got ourselves seats in the ‘soak zone’ for the show featuring the Orcas, wondering just how wet we could possibly get. Well, let me tell you, they don’t call it the soak zone for nothing. The whales back up to the crowd, splash their tails in the water, and you get the full force of hundreds of liters of water coming at you with all the pressure of a fire hose. We were soaked through and through. I was filming with a flip camera right through this; needless to say, I haven’t seen the footage because the flip camera has packed up as a result! It was a pretty spectacular show, but you do come away thinking that it’s unnecessarily cruel to keep such magnificent creatures confined in such small spaces. Little wonder there’s been some terrible incidents over the years involving Orcas and trainers, with the most recent in 2010 leading to the death of a trainer. The trainers no longer go into the water with the Orcas during the shows. I’m using the BlogPress app to write this post and can’t embed a video it seems, but you can see what the show was like by following this link.

My Sea World tragic tale continues, because right now my family and I are staying at the Sea World resort in Queensland on our family holiday. While a theme park holiday is not exactly my idea of fun, my kids and husband are pretty happy with it, and I’m pleased to be spending time with them. Wish me luck, as I mind the bags while they live it up on rides that give me that nauseous feeling that I consider abhorrent. I’ll check the twitter stream while I wait. That’ll keep me happy!

It’s not exactly the warmest weather up here on the Gold Coast, but it beats what’s being served up in Melbourne at the moment. I hope you find a sunny spot over the weekend sometime and enjoy it with a beverage of your choosing. Have a good one. 🙂