Need to get info to parents overseas – try Skype!

Tonight we had a parent information evening for our Yr 9 and 10 students. A parent was not in the country and wanted to listen to the presentation. I decided to have a go at using ustream or mogulus (I have channels on both) to stream the presentation. I was going to direct the parent to the URL so that he could tune in. Tried to set things up this afternoon and discovered school filters were preventing me from doing so. Grrrrr – filters are such a pain.

So, what to next. Rang the parent to see if he was on Skype. He was. I added him as a contact, he added me and I arranged to ring him later in the evening. Rocked up at the info night with my webcam and made the call. He could hear and see the presentation.  Winners all round I figure. Great for the parent who wants to be involved in his child’s life despite distance. Great for the school – it’s probably won a few brownie points in a PR sense for facilitating this for the parent. Great all round. This is one way schools with international students can help to have their parent body feel more connected to the lives of their children while they are boarding.  

This is the way of the future. We can communicate via a variety of means. It’s not difficult and can make a marked difference to the experiences of many. People just have to think outside the square a bit until this type of communication becomes standard practice across the board. I’m sure this is how business operates now -schools are going to have to follow the lead.

We did it! Project Global Cooling concert a reality.

(Finally back online- problems last night with provider and couldn’t post)


It’s probably been the busiest 8 weeks I’ve ever had. For that matter, I think the last three and a bit months have been the busiest of my life. Trying to juggle a family, a job, writing a blog and then joining up with Project Global Cooling has meant that I have been wired (literally) to my computer making connections with an incredible group of educators who share my passion for making our classrooms connected to enhance learning opportunities for our students.


Tonight, I want to be posting about our concert yesterday. I want to be able to tell you how incredible my students were, how they rose to the challenge and pulled off something that I thought was unimaginable only 8 weeks ago. This was a concert that had no budget and came together through generous donations of people’s time and sponsorship the girls had managed to acquire through a barrage of emails and phone calls. I want to tell you all this but I have no internet access! My provider has had an outage which I discovered after waiting for 82 minutes on the phone. This is the first time this has happened since I started writing this blog and it feels like someone has cut my arm off. I’m writing this in Word and will have to cut and paste it into the blog in the morning. This is so frustrating because their efforts deserve attention and I feel like not getting this online is preventing me from acknowledging their effort in the right way.


Anyway, back to their magnificent effort. There were a few technical problems along the way and two of the bands and the MC turned up late, but it eventually turned out OK. People turned up and the girls were happy with the response. They got their message across and this was the most important part of the day. All of them contributed in some way and worked tirelessly to ensure the day ran as well as it possibly could. The ustream worked but we weren’t able to contribute to the chat because of limited network access in the school hall and firewall problems!!  (I’ll try and work out how to embed the ustream tomorrow!) I know that there were up to 20 viewers at one stage and I have a couple of twitter folks to thank for that. Grace Kat saw my tweet alerting people to the concert, tuned in and sent out tweets encouraging people to watch. I checked previous Twitter pages and noted tweets saying ‘just saw Jenny Luca and her Yr 9 students at their project Global Cooling concert’. The inspirational Carolyn Foote wrote a post about the concert!! Imagine the effect this will have on my students when they realise that their message has been relayed all the way to Texas!


One of the concert highlights was the performance by Tessa,  a student from our school who wrote a song for the event. It was called ‘An Inconvenient Spoof’ and was absolutely brilliant. Tessa is a girl going places.


Thanks Clay for setting the challenge. It’s been hard work but ultimately rewarding for all involved. It doesn’t end here. We asked for a gold coin donation for entry and manage to raise over $600.00. (Quite a few people gave much more than a gold coin)

Now we have to see how this money can be used to further the cause and make changes within our school. 



Update: today I sent an email to all the students involved with a link to Carolyn Foote’s blog post – I saw some of them at recess and they were thrilled that they’d had an impact in Texas. Thanks Carolyn- you’ve made an impact here! 


Watch this incredibly funny video from Melbourne comedian Sammy J. One of the students contacted him and he recorded this message as an  endorsement for the concert. Brilliant work Sammy J – enjoyed by all on the day. 






School’s out Friday – but not this week

Yes, today is Friday and time for the customary school’s out post. This week it’s different, because school is definitely on for me and my students tomorrow as we stage our Project Global Cooling concert. Tune in to ustream (streaming live 3.00pm to 5.00pm Melbourne, Aust. timezone) to see the result of my student’s efforts. The concert has been organised with a budget of zero; our students have convinced artists to appear for free and many people in our school and wider community have given their time and donated goods to ensure that the concert can take place. The students are pumped – one has even just posted a comment on this blog to let me know how excited she is. Today we received an email from Peter Garrett, environment minister for our Australian Labor Party (current party holding government) and former lead singer of Australian iconic band Midnight Oil. Here’s what he had to say to us;

Congratulations to Year 9 students at Toorak College for your work with Project Global Cooling.

I am delighted that you are combining two of my great passions – the environment and music. Your positive aim to spread the word about the challenges of climate change that we all face, from Mt.Eliza to the world, is very important. Music is a great way to communicate, inspire and unite people towards this common goal.

Have a great day. Enjoy the music. And once again, congratulations on your good work.

Peter Garrett AM MP

Federal Member for Kingsford Smith

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. 

 Brooke. one of the students involved in the project, had sent him an email a few weeks ago and thought nothing was going to come of it. She was over the moon today when she walked through the school reception area and was told that Peter Garrett’s ministerial office had just phoned the school to let her know that an email had been sent. One of the artists appearing tomorrow is Mark Seymour. He used to front Hunters and Collectors, a very well known band here in Australia. His brother is Nick Seymour from Crowded House, a band that international readers would be familiar with. This is Mark singing ‘Throw your arms around me’ – enjoy.

On a different note, I was reading the comments thread in Clay Burell’s post about the efforts of schools around the world to stage concerts to raise awareness about global warming and the future of this planet when I saw this comment from Stephen Downes.  

This has bothered me about this sort initiative for a while…

If this is such an “international” collaboration, why do all the participants have names that sound like they were raised in Iowa?

This was my response that I posted in the comment thread;

@Stephen Downes. I’m sorry that it bothers you so much that the participants in Project Global Cooling sound like they come from Iowa. I. in fact, hail from Melbourne, Australia, and it bothers me that your focus seems to be on our common language rather than the incredible efforts of the students involved and their desire to make a difference in their world. My students have worked tirelessly for the last six weeks and are thrilled to be contributing to a global project. Much has been made of their efforts within our school community and I think it fair to say that the entire school is embracing the need for a determined approach to the reduction of our carbon footprint as a result of our involvement in the project. Please recognise the genuine desire of the students involved to make change a reality, rather than focus on your criticisms of what you consider to be a skewed international involvement.

Jenny Luca. Toorak College, Melbourne, Australia.

Enjoy your weekend. I know that tomorrow I will be basking in the energy and enthusiasm emanating from a wonderful group of girls who have worked very hard to make Project Global cooling a reality in our school, our community and the world.    

Hitting the wall.

Tonight, I’ve had it. I’ve been working myself into the ground helping guide our students to get a fully fledged concert organised for Project Global Cooling and I can tell you that it’s taking its toll. I’m physically exhausted. After taking my son to his drum lesson I curled up on the couch and slept heavily for an hour. Gotta get to bed early tonight -need more than the usual 6 hours!

I sent an email to the international teachers (and Lindsea in Hawaii) this afternoon to let them know the link for our ustream channel so that they could tune in on Saturday (if possible). I hope some do – two of our students are going to be commenting in the backchannel and I know all the girls will be thrilled to know that an international audience tuned in. Beijing are ustreaming their concert from 1.00-4.00pm and I hope that we’ll be able to get a look at what they’re doing as well. In writing the email, I realised that it was exactly six weeks ago that we launched this project with our Yr 9 students with a Skype conversation with Lindsea, Chris Watson and Clay Burell. They’ve managed to pull off what I thought was near impossible, and did so with a two week holiday in the middle of this. They really are amazing kids and I’ve loved every moment of getting to know them so much better over the last six weeks. All of them have exemplified incredible leadership qualities and I think they themselves have been surprised at what they are capable of achieving when they set their mind to it.

Gotta go – sleep beckons.

School’s out Friday

Are you looking forward to the weekend? Do you need something to lighten your spirits at the end of a tiring working week? I do. Especially after staying up until 1.30am last night watching Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s keynote address at a conference in the US via ustream. You’ve got to love the fact that you can do PD these days from the comfort of your own bed! Loved the backchannel discussion as well – a great way to establish networks. 

Time for the fun. Home grown aussie talent this time. A couple of weeks ago I featured an Australian comedy program, The Chaser’s War on Everthing, and their Life is a Musical routine in a Bunnings store. Today’s post is from Joel Gilmore, who very cleverly chased the chasers and enacted his own ‘Life is a Musical’ routine at a book signing the Chaser’s team were appearing at. Funny stuff. Thanks for the laugh Joel.

Ustream – catch Wired Wednesdays

In my last post I highlighted the great work being done by Justin Medved and Dennis Harter at the International School of Bangkok. One of the proactive things they are doing for their staff and the wider world is an initiative called Wired Wednesdays. In their words, Wired Wednesday is, “a discussion based session around the philosophy and direction of education, technology, and learning. Usually inspired by a video (think mwesch), we then just talk and then hopefully redirect the conversation into the blogosphere and classrooms.”  The wider world can participate as they broadcast on Ustream. Wired Wednesdays broadcast from 2.15pm Bangkok time. If you can’t tune in you can catch up with the rerun on their Ustream channel.

We are currently investigating how best we videotape lectures that occur in the school. Perhaps Ustream is worth a look.   

With Ustream you can create your own show. Here’s how you do it (from the Ustream site);

Create your own broadcast! It takes just minutes…

1. Create Your Ustream Account

Sign Up!

2. Log in, then select “My Shows”

3. Type in the name of your show, and just click Broadcast Now!

4. Plug in your cam

5. When asked, “allow” the broadcast widget to access your video camera or webcam.
    You are now LIVE!