Ready to rap?

There is already activity over on the “Bear & Chook” books rap blog site. This book rap, based on two picture books, “Bear & Chook”, and the newly-released “Bear & Chook by the sea”, is aimed at students in Early Stage 1 (Kinder) and Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2). It officially commences Term 4 Week 2 (26 October, 2009). But please, by all means, drop by and have a look around any time.

Several schools have already introduced themselves, there are some great comments turning up on the Teachers‘ section, and there are already things to look at in the Gallery. This book rap will also feature participation by the author, Lisa Shanahan, and illustrator, Emma Quay. An online video, of Lisa and Emma reading “Bear & Chook by the sea” at Caddies Creek PS, and answering students’ questions, will be an exciting addition to the usual teaching resources. The rap is being coordinated by Jenny Scheffers (TL at Caddies Creek), “Scan” editor Cath Keane, and yours truly. Interstate and international schools are welcome, and there is no cost involved in book rapping.

I’ve had a few questions from first-time teacher book rappers, and people who last did a rap in the previous email listserv format, regarding the whereabouts of the support material (programming and planning, syllabus outcomes and rap sheets) for the “Bear & Chook books rap”. The rap pages on the NSW DET website are still under construction and will be open for viewing from NSW’s Day 1, Term 4. When live, they will be linked from:
The rap itself will commence in Week 2, Term 4, in the week of 26 October 2009.

If you’re trying to visualise the scope of the programming and planning, syllabus outcomes and rap sheets, you might like to check out previous recent raps, such as the 2008 Stage 1 “Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge” book rap, in which the discussion component was also in a blog format:

You can also email for further information about the rap. Have a great holiday and don’t forget the warm honey toast!

Ian McLean
Teacher librarian and rap co-coordinator,
Penrith PS

PSP Regional Initiative IWB Middle Years

The start of a new school term at Penrith PS, and the long-awaited interactive whiteboard (IWB) has arrived!
IWB complete

IWB tigger

Welcome Penrith PS to the 21st century!

In a new message from Michelle Du Ross-Smith, the next meeting for the PSP Regional Initiative IWB Middle Years is on Monday 15th June at 4pm at the Gallery, Mt Druitt Office.

The agenda for the meeting is to discuss how schools are going with their action plans and how have they collected data for the action research question “Does the use of Interactive Whiteboards in the classroom assist with student engagement in their education and therefore improve students’ numeracy, literacy and IT skills?”

Schools may like to share how they have been able to change the teaching pedagogy in the middle years to engage students as active learners through the use of interactive whiteboards. Could you please bring a copy of the schools action plan for the PSP initiative with you. As discusse at the previous meeting it is a requirement that School Plans incorporate the PSP IWB Middle Years Project.

Have Professional Development ideas suggested at previous meeting for staff been utilised or do schools need support to do this? Ideas from last meeting included:

* team teaching with staff members
* visits across project schools, visits to other best-practice schools
* focus on Quality Teaching elements such as higher-order thinking
* sharing resources, websites, creating a blog
* linking with the IWB Primary Project schools on TaLe.

As a network we need to discuss the interim report due to Equity on Friday Week 9, 26th June, relating to project targets and financial accountability requirements. A reminder funds are to be used for the professional development and relief of staff to participate in the project. Resources for the project may be purchased if they total less than 20% of the total allocation.

If you have anything else you would like to discuss at the meeting please let me know and Michelle can add it to the agenda. Please indicate if you will be attending this meeting by Friday 5th June via email or phone.

K-12 Online Conference 2008

This looks interesting/unmissable:

“The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning.

“This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2008 conference theme is Amplifying Possibilities. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 13, 2008. The following two weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three Fireside Chats and a culminating When Night Falls event will be announced.

“Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

“More information about podcast channels and conference web feeds is available here.”

Next network IWB meeting

Hi everyone,

The next network IWB meeting will be held on Wednesday, 15th October 2008, at 3.45pm – 5pm.

The meeting will be at The Gallery, Mt Druitt District Office, unless any network schools have an interactive whiteboard and would like to invite the network.

Please email or phone Michelle Du Ross-Smith, Relieving PSP Consultant, to confirm you are able to attend the meeting.

If you’re finding the concept of “signing up” to edublogs a bit daunting, Scan editor Cath Keane developed this simple visual pathfinder for how to sign up:

I tried emailing invitations from this site to everyone in the group, but the messages bounced back – unless you’d already signed up to Edublogs.

Regards, Ian

Penrith PS

Book raps and travel buddies

I’ve received a question about the current rap, the Beijing Olympic Games and Book Week 2008 rap, which is going to incorporate a wiki activity.

To join the actual rap, go to and follow the prompts. The rap blog itself, where you enter your class responses, is over at

There’s still time to join, do jointly-constructed introductions and then Rap Point 1.

I’ve also been asked about one of my school’s Stage 1 teachers’ “Cranky the crocodile” project. This is like a “Travel buddies” set-up, but just for the one class to share. Cranky is a stuffed class mascot/puppet, who goes home with a different selected student each weekend. That child is responsible for documenting the adventure with photos, stories, drawings and small, flat souvenirs (such as cinema ticket stubs).

The teacher took Cranky home the first weekend, then Cranky went home with the most able students first, so there were some good model examples in the first few pages of scrapbook. This set a high standard.

Another school ran a “Travel buddies” project to complement the NSW DET’s “Possum Magic” book rap a few years ago. Grandma Poss and Hush – and their bicycle! – were posted off to numerous schools who’d signed up, and Grandma Poss collected photos, postcards, souvenirs and diary entries along the way.

Details on “Travel Buddies” is at

When all our schools have their IWBs, I’d love to do something similar and maybe send a stuffed animal from school to school. I have a great flying fox toy the students have named Phoenix. currently, he’s helping the Stage 2 students with the new rap.

Here’s the wiki page we’ve set up.

More learning, growing and achieving

The most difficult aspect of most presentations? What bits do I leave out?

My “Early Years Conference” co-presenter, Cath Keane, had prepared eleven of our PowerPoint pages, I’d added my own hyperlinks to the twelfth and last slide, and we only had 50 minutes or so to fill anyway. We also had plenty of time before our session, “Young rappers”, to play on the interactive whiteboard (IWB), test our hyperlinks and cache all our web pages that we were planning to visit. We also knew in advance that we had about twenty people signed up to hear our talk. Everything worked in the rehearsal and off we went to the first keynote event of Day 2 of this conference.

Before we knew it, Cath and I were deep into our presentation on book raps, blogs, wikis and Circle Time. Our only hitch was that our computer connection, which had worked so perfectly in rehearsal, had been lost for the presentation. A tech person came in and got us back online most efficiently, but our live connection to the Wilfrid rap blog (on Edublogs) was no longer working. Luckily, our PowerPoint had lots of frame grabs from the site, and the links to the Departmental website and my school’s wiki pages were still viable, so we carried on regardless. We finished off with a reading of my Kinder students’ “Zebra with spots” fable of 2007, and a walk-through of selected pages from my school’s wiki pages.

I hope our presentation has encouraged more schools to start dabbling in wikis and blogs. It was great to have Michele Hedge in the audience, too!

After lunch, I attended two more workshops, both of which (again) ably demonstrated the amazing array of teaching and learning strategies that interactive whiteboards are bringing to classrooms in the 21st century. I guess that’s the main thing I’m taking from this conference: that most of today’s students are already citizens of the digital world of Web 2.0. The sooner their teachers and parents play catch-up the better. Every presentation I went to was using IWBs as part of their presentation – even my presentation, and today was the first time I’d actually been able to use one! Knowing that a little knowledge is dangerous, I can’t wait to get my hands on an IWB as part of my school library’s facilities and let my imagination run wild. Or wilder.

This conference left its delegates with so much food for thought (and delicious food for the body – the Novotel, Brighton-le-Lands always does well in that regard), great ideas we can start using on Monday (first day back of Term Three), and some wonderful memories of networking with colleagues, old and new. Synthesising all the learning into our daily lives will take time, but I’m glad I gave up two days of my vacation to absorb it all. I’m also grateful for the very handsome, gold-embossed “Presenter” pens, which Cath and I received for doing our workshop.

Roll on Term Three…

Learning, Growing, Achieving in the Early Years, Day 1

Tomorrow I’m speaking at Day 2 of the 2008 Early Years Conference: Learning, Growing, Achieving, presented by NSW DET. Day 1 was held today, but my talk session – co-presented with current Scan editor, Cath Keane, isn’t until tomorrow.

Cath has put together a PowerPoint presentation about our recent ventures into the world of Web 2.0 – online book raps for Stage 1, and related blogs and wikis, and I’ll also be talking about my school wiki pages, using some of the material I prepared (on fable writing for Early Stage 1) for the School libraries leading learning conference I did earlier this year. My conference notes are still online, revamped a little to incorporate some recent reflections. Since that last conference, I’ve also worked on some other relevent projects: a wiki page for the Arthur Simultaneous Reading event and some great Nursery Rhyme matrices, which I used in Term One this year with Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 classes.

Today there were some excellent and thought-provoking keynote speeches from Professor Scott Paris, of University of Michigan, (“Teaching and assessing comprehension right from the start”) and Tracey Simpson (“Honest talk, shared language: connectedness for success in the early years”). Both keynotes emphasised the importance of teachers making full use of evidence-based practice, both reading the results of others’ research, and using one’s own to inform future teaching. I enjoyed these sessions, took lots of notes – which I promise to synthesis and report back about.

As I await my school’s first interactive whiteboard (IWB), it was interesting to note that many (most?) workshop presenters are now using them as standard equipment. I attended excellent and flashy sessions on “Student learning in a digital age” and “COGs: raising the bar in the early years”. In the main room, there was also a “Regional showcase” of the Best Start assessment tools project from the Sydney Region.

In summing up the regional showcase, Rob Randall reminded us of an excellent earlier quote and many people jotted this down as one of their last comments on their notepads. The new emphasis for the schools involved in Best Start has become “… shorter teaching episodes with fluid groups of students”.

Not an entirely new thought for those of us with plenty of experience in PSP (Priority Schools Program) schools, eh? – but no doubt quite a new concept for others.

Tomorrow – Day 2! Wish me luck!

Identity: Sharing Our Stories rap

The NSW DET rap, Identity: Sharing Our Stories for Stages 3 and 4 is underway, the second such rap to be presented in a blog format (hosted by the School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit via Edublogs) rather than the traditional email and listserv arrangement.

It’s not too late to sign up a class group. Even if your school is not planning to participate, I would like to urge members of this IWB2 group to drop by the rap and have a look at what I believe is going to be a great learning experience – for students, teachers, teacher librarians, AEOs (Aboriginal Education Officers) and community members. A range of excellent resources is available, including: programming and planning, proformas, music, and online factual texts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People sharing their personal stories about what has formed their identities and has made them strong. Several of the participating schools have already posted their introductory, jointly-constructed, blog entries (see the section called “Intro”).

Many teachers complain they find it difficult to make sure they properly address Aboriginal perspectives in their programs, and to find relevant resources. The rap is also a great way to develop a familiarity with blogging as an educational tool. How I wish I had my interactive whiteboard already; at my school we are making do with a regular computer, and the students are highly motivated to rap together, and to read the posts from other schools.

Last term’s completed Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge book rap, also in blog format, is still available for comparison purposes. The “Teacher” section contains many “Frequently Asked Questions” about blogging. Also worth a look!

Next meeting – update

Just a reminder to everyone in IWB2 about the date we set aside for our Professional Learning afternoon for our IWB project. Michele has organised some teachers from last year’s group to come and show us what they have been doing. The Principal from Dawson PS, Belinda Davies, will talk about the journey so far and talk about the changes that have occurred within her school through the use of the boards. I can update us on our Wiki – and the Identity rap currently running – and we’ll also look at some of the Maths resources to support CMIT.

If you could encourage your staff who are showing an interest in using the IWBs to attend this will be an inspirational session to get everybody going.

The Professional Learning afternoon will be held on Wednesday 11th June at St Marys PS from 4-5pm. RSVP to Michele. Afternoon tea will be provided.

Simultaneously split loyalties

Sometimes you just can’t be in several places at the same time! (Even when uploading posts; it should have still been 21st May when I posted this!)
For our very successful Simultaneous Reading of the picture book Arthur, the teachers had voted to do the readings in three sections and three locations, but I wasn’t able to stretch myself sufficiently to get to all three places. As agreed, Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students and teachers (and lots of parents) gathered in the assembly hall with a big book version of Arthur, an official Arthur finger puppet, and a large, fluffy dog hand puppet, which had a striking resemblance to the title star. Stage 2 came to the library and had orgainsed selected students to reading passage. Stage 3 went to the old upstairs hall, and used an online version of the book, enlarged onto a big screen via the data projector. (That was the group I couldn’t get to, but the students seemed to enjoy their experience.)

Speaking of split loyalties, I had realised a few days ago that we had so much on today (the above-mentioned reading; our first Stage 3 sessions of a new book rap; the Greatest Morning Tea charity fundraiser; a mufti day for a belated Loud Shirt Day; and a canned drink collection to prepare for our upcoming, annual Pedlars’ Fair), I didn’t have the heart to abandon it all for the local district teacher-librarians’ professional development day. Drat. (I wonder if the T-Ls, too, ended up reading Arthur at 11 am?)

Every day is different; I wouldn’t have it any other way. And somehow I must find time to squeeze in a great little wiki activity, to follow-up Arthur. Although our school doesn’t have an interactive whiteboard (yet), I do find myself reconfiguring lessons so they’ll work well with the IWB (next time) when it does arrive.