'Gargoyle Supporting An Ornamental Pillar At 575 Seventh Street, NW (Washington, DC)' photo (c) 2007, takomabibelot - license: there is a strong vision and plan for a school, which has been discussed and negotiated with the school community and actively embraced by the staff,  all staff are able to proceed in their roles with confidence. When this process is led by the Principal who encourages teacher leadership at all levels, having and using this school plan is very important in providing the structures and scaffolds necessary for the freedom entrusted to staff.

Oberg (2006, p.13) suggests that the Principal’s contributions in terms of ” vision building, evolutionary planning, empowering others, resource mobilization, and problem coping and monitoring” are critical in implementing change in schools. Having the support of the Principal, and through her/him the school plan means that the investment of money, time, effort, resources, planning,  and collaborating must have a real pay off in terms of student learning.

For the teacher librarian to have the support of the Principal means that the work done in and through the Library programmes is visible, validated and contributes to the learning outcomes of the whole school.The Principal’s expectations evidenced in the support (in various forms including time for collaborating, focus, prominence of information literacy programs) offers the TL (teacher librarian) opportunities to affect learning in many areas across the school:

  • students
  • classrooms
  • Teacher Professional Learning
  • resourcing
  • committees
  • special interest groups – both Teacher or Student
There are many down sides and difficulties in trying to work effectively as aTL without the active support of the Principal, but I know of  downsides and difficulties in trying to work with TLs who have the support of the Principal but who do not work actively to enhance and support school programs and vision. In the happiest of all worlds, the TL and the Principal would be a formidable team capable of envisioning and enacting change across the school. Bring it on!
Oberg, D. (2006) Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian 33(3). pp. 13-18


When Web2.0 Meets Reading2.0

I think my brain is about to explode!

Today was the third 7 hour, all day workshop that I’ve attended over the past four days – have to make the most of my NECC experience!

A plethora of web2.0 tools were presented enthusiastically as a way of teaching various (and varied) reading skills across the grades. From phonic awareness, to vocabulary, to comprehension, to talking and listening – all apects of reading instruction were comprehensively covered.

Linking assessment  was always stressed and ways and examples were demonstrated. The importance of always ensuring that the use of a tool is based on its relevance to the learning task and outcomes, was also constantly reinforced.

Ideas and examples of teachers and classes using these tools in a variety of ways was really helpful to visualise the use of web2.0 in the reading classroom:


  • Using simple voice recordings (and using Vocaroo to embed on blog or wiki) for multiple purposes – such as identifying rhyming words, syllabification,fluency, reading out loud, oral instructions, books onto a podcast for listening to whenever you like (family members can record books for class to listen to).
  • Making simple word/vocabulary alphabets for class topics and units or basic English words for ESL students using Yodio – where you add voice to digital photos.
  • have lots of games that you can adapt to your class’s needs. There’s a random name picker – try matching rhyming words or homophones or opposites.
  • Some great hands on and practical examples of using Voicethread were also shown to help students develop fluency when reading, to develop critical thinking and responses.
I got a lot of great ideas from this session and it made me realise that even though I know and use most of these tools already, there are any number of new ways of using them with kids in the classroom. It wasn’t the tools that were new – it was the ideas of other teachers that really inspired me this time.
I would also like to explore in my classroom the kids being the ones who are making these resources. In the examples shown today it was mostly the teacher who made the resources for the kids to use. In my classroom I think I would like my students to make the resources as a demonstration of their proficiency in many areas of reading.
Thanks so much to Elizabeth and Shawndra for your work and dedication shown throughout this session – lots of work to be done back in the classroom!


8 Things Using Video


A frenetic paced session where Hall Davidson from Discovery Education  illustrated the many ways that students could demonstrate their learning using video.

I must admit that I haven’t used video as much as I should in my classroom – all of those cords and missing bits and pieces that went with the school video recorder – but it’s just getting easier and easier with video capable cameras and phones – and the FLIP cameras we have now.

Using the tools readily available in classrooms, Hall took us step by step through the technical aspects (usually just click, copy, paste) of the programs and apps he was using.

He shared how easily students were able to control and manage the videoing of their learning and he shared quite a few very interesting and fun projects to try.

Sessions such as this act as a springboard for ideas for teachers who then are able to pass on the excitement, tools and opportunities for their students to use.

Keeping the videos in the hands of the students must remain a priority – to ensure that it’s the students driving their own learning.

I’d hate to be the one in control of the video – that would be taking all of the powerful learning, organizing, planning, rehearsing, delegating and negotiating fun away the people who need to be demonstrating these very skills.

BOSS – Can I book our FLIP video cameras for ALL of next term?? Please???



G’Day to GLOW!

A drive north, to the Aberdeenshire Council GLOW team offices at Inverurie Aademy last Monday was spectacular – clear skies, sunshine and remarkable scenery: ocean, rocky cliffs, hills, fields, forests and plains. Another beautiful part of a truly beautiful country!


We travelled north to meet up with Anna Rossvoll and Jonathon Cordiner and were treated to a couple of hours of insightful and passionate discussions around the use of COTS games in classrooms. The ideas and applications within Aberdeenshire were inspiring. We heard first hand from enthusiastic practitioners about the successes, the possiilities and the limitations of the many fantastic projects that Anna and Jonathon were involved with.

From the famous Nintendogs Project, and Crazy Talk, to Myst, to Guitar Hero, to Kororinpa, to Endless Oceans and wii Fit; these two GLOW mentors have done it all!

In trying to find a common thread through all of these different projects, and what made them so popular with students and teachers alike I think ……..

The games all provided a context for the learning that was taking place.

The GLOW mentors provided ideas  – which were put into the hands of teachers to see what the individual teacher could come up with and put into their classrooms.

Control of the project was in the hands of the teacher and class – authentic and real-life tasks usually provided an end point or satisfying conclusion to each project.

Playfulness in the form of active, hands on challenges, activities and tasks, which were child centered, kept enthusiasm and engagement high. 

Anna, Gail & Jonathon @ lunch!



A Warm Welcome

After 2 years of on-line friendship, it was great to meet up with Margaret and her husband Jack over the weekend. It was an interesting experience to finally meet someone you “know” a bit about, for the “first” time.

There was lots of comparing blogging and ICT implementation between Australia and Scotland, explaining how things are done in the two countries, and sharing frustrations regarding filtering, time and top-down expectations.

As well as lots of talking there was ample eating (including my first taste of haggis, neeps and tatties – yum,yum) and celebratory champagne to wash it all down.

Add many photos, a trip to the Falkirk Wheel and promises of meeting up again during the week, and the wonderful afternoon came to an end.

Thanks Margaret and Jack for your hospitality, kindness and welcome to Scotland.









Up and Away!


In under a week I am off to Scotland and England as a result of receiving a 2008 Premier’s English Scholarship. The Premier’s Teaching Scholarships are an initiative of the NSW Government where teachers have the opportunity to undertake further professional development that will benefit them, and most importantly their students. Teachers selected to receive a scholarship can undertake international study tours and visit some of the world’s best schools and centres of education to expand their knowledge and understanding.

 My scholarship area is developing a “games literacy” framework to facilitate writing development through creative use of computer games in the writing classroom K to 12.

 The Annual Speak Up Survey conducted in the USA at the end of 2007 revealed the following information.  Students indicated:

  • 64% K to 12 play games approximately 8 to 10 hours per week.
  • over 50% would like to see educational gaming included in the school curriculum.

Teachers revealed:

  • over 50% would like to learn more about integrating computer games into the curriculum
  • 46% of those would like to see some form of professional development in the use of games.
  • Only 11% were currently using games in instruction.

 From this survey two pieces of information are significant:

1.         Students want computer games to become part of their school curriculum.

2.         Teachers acknowledge computer games need to be integrated into the school curriculum and they need professional development to help make this happen


At my school (Belmore South Public School) computer games are used from Kindergarten onwards. We have found computer games combined with quality teaching practices provide an effective scaffold for working and playing with the language of narrative. Around 95% of our students come from Non English Speaking and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, these students do not need to have control over the entire narrative, they can focus on the language, vocabulary, and sentence structures of different episodes within the game and begin to manipulate, experiment and reflect upon their use of language. The result is students’ language skills have developed as has their desire and ability to effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings.

Digital technologies have impacted on the types of texts our students are interacting with on a daily basis. Our students engage with computer and console games, the internet, instant messaging, texting, and social networking sites. It has been said that our students “power down” when they enter the classroom because of the disparity between what is taught, and how it is taught, inside and outside the school.

The use of computer games in the classroom has a positive effect on the students because of the cultural relevance they provide. Computer games are meaningful and experiential. Students are a part of the game, they have control of the game and a say in what happens. They are motivated and challenged by the computer game and by the story that is an integral part of the game.  The opportunity is here to embrace this positiveness and use computer games to support and enhance literacy learning and provide all the elements of quality teaching,

“When we teach creatively with emergent tools in mind, we stand a better chance of engaging reluctant students by giving what we teach real meaning. Each day is an invitation to examine, play, invent, reinvent, and join in the conversation. “Sarah Kajder (2008) ASCD: Educational Leadership: Reaching the Reluctant Learner

 Image: ‘Northern Australia

Haluz – Creating A Colourful Character!

  In this session we looked at the various characters in the game.We discussed (as we moved through the game, often retracing our steps, or jumping ahead to see/watch/view the particular character we were talking about)

  • the lack of main or “big” characters in Haluz
  • what each character added to the game
  • the personality characteristics that each character had/showed
  • how we knew what the character was like – and what made us think that way
    • background music
    • way the character moved
    • what the character did
  • what the character might have been feeling/ hearing/thinking at different points in the game
    • and how this influenced the characters movements
    • how the words we used to describe  changed according to how the character was feeling/acting

During this session we couldn’t help but act out different ways of moving, of reacting, and of thinking whilst we were “in character”.

The kids then had some time to work on writing about one of the characters. I think they made some great attempts at actually “being” the character …… what do you think?

“Sendrick the snake had never heard music before, so he hastily pulled himself out of his basket when the strange music began playing”  Sarah.

“Zaffa the hungry snake ferociously swallowed the cute furry mouse like a racing car going at great speed” Moustapha.

“Watching the mouse as carefully as a shark spying on it’s prey, Valisa, the suspicious snake waited for the mouse to peek out of the tiny hole” Momtahina.

“George excitedly popped out from his basket when he heard the beautiful music”  Steven.

“I stomped outside to see what was going on. Even though a vulture-like predator had my satellite dish I couldn’t help but smile. I was about to embark on a miraculous quest …” Timothy.

“Peeping out of the ancient box, one eye after the other, I rise carefully with caution, to the roof of the slimy lizard’s mouth. Jerking upwards towards the lizard’s dirty, disgusting tongue, I shake my head sideways and bump into the lizard’s throat, giving him a constantly sore throat” Naomi.

“Carelessly, I sprang out of the straw basket swaying to the music, not thinking of what I was doing. Only one thought was on my mind, “sway to the music” for I had not heard the marvellous music that I was swaying to right now for what felt like a hundred years”  Natalie

haluz-bird-rocket.jpg       bird-on-roof.jpg   

PE? No, it’s PWii!

My class has just started to work out how we will use our brand new Wii in the classroom this term. The first thing decided upon was to change our regular PE (physical education) lessons to PWii (physical Wii) lessons, as the kids decided that PE was obviously the curriculum area that would be ideal to start with.

We held discussions about which games to play and how to organise sessions and a number of ideas were put forward:

  • Each group of students would tackle a different game and teach the others to play
  • Combining inside games on the Wii with outside games
  • Integrating skills based lessons outside with Wii sessions inside.

After much discussion (using our De Bono’s Thinking Hats) we decided on looking at Tennis first up. This was primarily due to the fact that the skills in tennis fit most closely with NSW Curriculum requirements.

The class group will do some initial research on tennis – history, equipment, terminology and rules – and then smaller groups will research individual skills. Each small group ( of 2 or 3 students) will then take the lead in outdoor skills sessions in our regular PE times.

After some initial reading and sharing, we were able to come up with enough specific tennis skills, and more general movement skills, so that every group would have an area in which they could teach the rest of the class.

Each group is responsible for:

  • Identifying and defining their skill
  • Demonstrating the skill – including correct body placement
  • Prepare basic activities for teaching the skill including:
    • Warm up
    • Activity
    • Cool down

The class also thought it would be interesting to investigate various body systems – skeletal system, muscular system, respiratory system, digestive system, circulatory system – in science to help understand how the body works. We will also be drawing on Maths skills in graphing and data collection on pulse levels as well as skill levels.

The Wii will fit into these plans by being the “real-life” application of the new skills being taught in PE lessons. Students do not have access to tennis courts (either within  or out of school) so the Wii will be set up in the room, with groups in a rotating timetable to use it whenever we have the time, as well as at set times during the week. Not sure how much work will get done by those not on the Wii 🙁  – we will have to see how this goes 🙂  .

We will be doing some basic pre testing of the kids fitness levels before they start and at the end of the unit.

What do you think?

Have we left anything out?

Derek playing Wii tennis Derek playing Wii tennis at the LTS Consolarium
Gail playing a Wii game of tennis at the Consolarium  Gail playing Wii tennis

What are these kids learning?










Problem solving








and that is just in setting up the PS2 on the iWB!

This morning my students worked together to set up our new PS2 in the computer room – we had to make sure that it would work on the iWB successfully before it goes to the Kinder/Stage 1 classroom. The kids worked together beautifully (noisily, excitedly but as a team) and it was interesting to sit back and watch how they organised themselves, thought out what had to be done, and relayed information and tips to each other.

Then they got to “familiarize” themselves with the eye-toy (for purely academic reasons – they are going to buddy up with the little kids and use the eye-toy with them) and the activities and games that are a part of the package. Even though just three students were actually photographed on the screen, everyone else simply had to help run, jump, and move their arms around wildly to catch fish!

After a good 15 minutes of hilarious huffing and puffing there were calls for this to be part of our Fridays Sports activities, and a comment that “I’ve never got a stitch from playing a computer game before!” The kids came up with the skills they had used in this impromptu PE lesson:







Running (on the spot)



The PS2 is a very new purchase that we made after visiting Learning Teaching Scotland’s Consolarium in Dundee earlier this month. Derek Robertson, who is Chief -Game -Player at the Consolarium, presented a thoroughly logical, exciting and inspiring case for using game consoles ( such as Ps2, DS Lites, Wii) in the Primary classroom. So here we are at the very beginning of our play with Console Games, and gosh is it fun!

PS We pick up our Wii and PS2 Dance Mat on Friday!


I am a Primary School teacher from Sydney, Australia. I have been teaching for over twenty years and am really excited about the possibilities that Web 2.0 offers students, classrooms and teachers. There’s no way that I would describe myself as a techno teacher – but I do want to move with technology to explore learning, education and teaching with my students.