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There’s nothing like a good competition to spur students interest and enthusiasm for learning and exploring.

 

The National History Challenge, promoted by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia (HTAA), is open to Year 1 to Year 12 students across Australia.  As noted on their website:

The National History Challenge ….. is an exciting contest that encourages students to use research and inquiry-based learning to discover more about the past. Students are the historians. They can investigate their community, explore their own and their family’s past and consider ideas throughout history. The NHC encourages the use of primary and secondary sources and offers a variety of presentation styles. It rewards students with generous cash prizes and travel opportunities.

Complete registration details online to get an Information Kit and encourage students to start thinking now about a suitable project.

Keep an eye on the Key Dates page though, as closing dates are not yet available.

I’m a sucker for good ideas!!

I just saw one on Kickstarter, a website which aims to help bring creative projects to life.

The idea of developing a gadget that can rock a baby while it’s lying in its car seat, commonly referred to as a baby capsule here in Australia, is such a simple idea that you have to wonder why it hasn’t been invented before now!

Developed in Germany and available for distribution worldwide, BOBBY is a simple little device which can be placed underneath the edge of the baby capsule to gently and smoothly rock the capsule.  Marketed as safe, smart, portable and fully automated, this great idea was generated by a group of parents.

Read details about this snazzy gadget on their Kickstarter page: BOBBY | Turn your baby car seat into a baby bouncer or watch this video to get a good idea of how it works.

If you’re really enthusiastic, become one of their supporters by selecting the ‘back this project’ tab.

 

This is the first post in a series I intend to publish on NovaNews.  For ease of access over time, these posts will be listed on a separate page – see page tabs above.

The idea to incorporate Stop-Look-Learn on NovaNews is born from the notion that visuals – especially when used to inspire and educate senior students – is a very powerful tool.

The many videos/thought ideas that are to be included on this page are powerful and beautiful.  They provide stimulation to think outside the box.  They provide inspiration to see our world differently.  They provide opportunity to think about topics that may otherwise pass us by.

While I discovered some a few years ago, others are more recent discoveries.  The common theme of them all is that they contribute to my personal mantra of constantly

Experimenting, discovering, lifelong learning …..

Check out this, the first in this new series.   May it inspire you as much as it has inspired me!

 

Ideas push the world forward

Even though this is an ad published in 2016 for the new MacBook Pro, the video encapsulates some of the most revolutionary ideas that have been developed by man.

How many revolutionary ideas can you spot?!

 

 

Really? No school library?!

Fortitude Valley State Secondary College, Brisbane’s first new school in 50 years, has just opened its doors for the 2020 academic year.

You may have heard about it or read the publicity surrounding it’s grand opening at the start of this year.  On hand for the opening was Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, who informed the waiting press that the $100,000,000 school would be an exciting place of learning for the 140 new Year 7 students who were to start school that day.

Designed by COX Architecture in collaboration with ThomsonAdsett, a leading Australian International architecture and design firm and built by Hutchinson Builders, the Fortitude Valley State Secondary School also has the honour of being the first vertical school in Brisbane.  Clearly proud of this new landmark, these three companies have feature articles on their webpages: COX: A First in Fifty Years: The New Fortitude Valley State Secondary College Opens, ThomsonAdsett: Vertical schools on the rise – Fortitude Valley State Secondary College and Hutchinson Builders: Fortitude Valley State Secondary College.

It is in the ThomsonAdsett article however, that an incidental fact about the process is gleaned from the article which is included in the news section of their website:

We closely collaborated with the Principal (who was appointed after the design phase) to adapt the original design to better suit the management and operations of the school.

Having worked in schools for so many years where I have witnessed the creation of a great many new purpose built buildings, I have always been amazed at the logic of employing a school head, in this case the Principal, or the Head of Department after design plans have been created.

An Arts Centre at one Independent School I worked at, involved the faculty staff and their Head of Department only at the end stage after construction was completed.  Three of the school libraries I have worked in over the years have been designed and built by ‘experts’ that excluded both the Head of Library or the Library Staff.   At another Independent School at which I have worked, the professional insights, experience and opinions of the library staff were neither sought nor considered in plans to revamp the existing school library space.  Instead, a wide cross section of school staff were appointed as the reference group to guide, advise and determine features that should be incorporated.  There is no intention to appoint a Head of Library until after designs are set in place.

If anyone is able to elucidate the logic behind the notion of excluding library staff from having input into the design and construction of its new school library, I would be very pleased to listen ….. and learn.

Apologies though.  I have digressed, venting perhaps a little too much …..

Fortitude Valley State Secondary College does indeed appear to be a wonderful new facility, BUT some, OK, quite a number, have taken to Twitter to express their horror, dismay and disbelief that this new facility designed to operate as a 21st Century school, is to be completely paperless and will not have a library.

Lessons have begun at Queensland’s only highrise school where learning will be paperless. There’ll be no textbooks and no libraries at the state-of-the-art Fortitude Valley facility.

7NEWS Brisbane

Take a couple of minutes to view the video shot at the opening and then have a read of the many Tweets, which so aptly and succinctly sum up the feelings of the many of us who work in school libraries who understand only too well just what  a school library equipped with qualified and experienced library staff can offer to students, school staff and indeed the entire school community!

It’s hard to fathom the thinking behind making schools paperless.  It’s even harder to understand the logic behind getting rid of the school library.

Sadly, Fortitude Valley State Secondary School is not the only school taking up this trend.  Other schools, such as Siena College in Melbourne has replaced the school library with a “learning centre” where students can discuss ideas and learn technology, such as 3D printers and robotics.  Librarians have been replaced with ‘change adopters’. (The Age: Schools that excel: No detentions, no libraries, no problems for this girls’ school March 25, 2019) And in New South Wales, the new $225 million Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, has 17 floors but no library.   As reported:

Rather than dedicating a room to the school’s books and research resources in the form of a traditional library, the new Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, which opened this week, will have so-called iHubs for each year level on different floors.

Each iHub will have digital resources and some hard copy books, while “students can access other parts of the school’s collection through the librarian,” said a spokesman for the NSW Department of Education.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney’s new $225 million school has 17 floors, but no library January 31, 2020

It’s great to see that a movement to promote the value of school libraries is gaining traction in educational circles and among parents.  Students Need School Libraries has become the voice for those of us working in school libraries, promoting not just the value of school libraries and all that they offer students, teachers and the extended school community, but the importance of staffing school libraries with qualified and experienced teacher librarians.

KidsNews: a great resource!

The internet is an endless reservoir of resources.  Wading through what is current, valuable and relevant though can be an exhaustive and laborious process for many, most especially our students.

KidsNews, a resource designed to be informative and appealing to students, presents current and reliable news sourced from a wide range of News Corp publications. The content is written in child appropriate language and is filtered to remove inappropriate content or imagery.  Pitched to students from Year 3 to Year 8, a colour coding system is used to identify age appropriate content and comprehension levels:

  • Green – Simple to medium vocabulary, story content easily understood, accessible to all readers (especially with audio option)
  • Orange – medium level of vocabulary, story content a little more complex but still able to be read and understood at middle to senior primary level (audio option and glossary to assist)
  • Red – contains complex vocabulary and content that is of a higher level, suited to more able readers, requires teacher scaffolding for less capable readers.

Three new articles, divided into two main categories, are added each school day:

  • News — covering current affairs, key curriculum topics, interesting stories about people, animals and things
  • Sport — Australian and international sports events and people.

Aiming to be a quality resource for teachers, KidsNews has been developed as a literary resource for teachers using current daily news stories suitable for students.  The classification of content can be sourced by selecting the ‘Key Topics’ tab from the top menu:

The recent gathering of leaders from over 40 countries worldwide to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the World War II concentration camp Auschwitz is just one of the recent subjects highlighted on this website.  By integrating photographs taken by The Duchess of Cambridge into the KidsNews article Photos a moving tribute to Holocaust survivors this webpage incorporates an explanation of the Duchess of Cambridge’s photographs, a brief explanation of The Holocaust, a glossary of key vocabulary, two extra reading articles, a quick quiz, an audio in which the article is read, a number of classroom activities and finally an opportunity for readers to leave a comment. A clear statement at the start of the article indicates to teachers that the article relates to the Key Topic of Humanities and that both the text and content are pitched at a red – more able –  reading level.

In addition to the content are a range of classroom activities – three per news article – written by teachers for teachers that are linked directly to the Australian curriculum.  As noted on the KidsNews website:

The activities vary each day and are specific to the article. Each activity also includes an extension for higher students. The types of activities include:

  • Written projects for literacy, comprehension and storytelling
  • Art projects
  • Geography
  • Speech writing
  • Persuasive text
  • Maths etc.

Explore many more features available on this fabulous website by selecting the How to Use tab at the bottom of the webpage or spend a few minutes watching the video incorporated on this page:

Just last week, a friend sent me this magnificent stop-motion animation created by Charlotte Arene which, using the imagery of a bedroom, depicts the changing moods of the ocean as it shifts from evening dusk, through a fierce and angry night and finally becomes calm as dawn claims the day.

Captivating…..  Mesmerizing…..  Beautiful…..

It is not just that the sleeping woman bears an uncanny resemblance to someone I know and love which captivates me, but the deeper meaning that I see and feel each time I view this animation.

This young woman is at the mercy of the ocean as she slithers up and down the bed.  Life has a cycle.  The ocean has a cycle.  Man and nature are entwined.  Indeed we are all one with nature – dependent on the environment as it determines our lives, our survival and our ability to shift through the moods that shroud our days.

Some life decisions are made for us.  Events and situations that present themselves dictate the path we follow.  As I’ve written before …..

Life is so unpredictable, full of twists and turns we can never anticipate. Challenges crop up and hit us seemingly out of left field.  Unexpected and unplanned events, circumstances and situations can so quickly take over.  Value judgements can be upturned in an instant.  Days that quickly run into weeks and months take us in a different direction.  When it happens though, it’s easy to decide what is important. It’s easy to decide where attention must be focused.

Other life decisions however, are made consciously.

At the end of a passionate blog post I published late last year – Literacy, libraries and school reading culture – I was forthright in stating that I had recently resigned my position as a Teacher Librarian.  My decision has brought to a close a significant chapter of my life – one that I have thoroughly enjoyed and savoured.

For the moment, I am ‘between jobs’ as I take a break and search for another role in which I can meaningfully contribute to our collective drive to ensure that school libraries remain in the forefront of education.  The value and importance of reading is something I have continually espoused here on my blog NovaNews for nearly ten years!  As oft stated, I passionately believe that

Reading is the cornerstone of all education!

With a wealth of experience, I know I have much to offer others.  The many literary programs, events and ideas I have initiated and staged over the years in a number of different schools speak for themselves.  The advice I have shared with work colleagues to nurture and encourage a school wide reading culture have been well received.

As I wander through this ‘between jobs’ stage of life, I welcome the opportunity to assist others in devising ways to cement the role of the school library as a central location in the school, exploring ways to engage reluctant readers or those coming to English as a second language, developing ideas to encourage others to appreciate the power and importance of reading or advising on how best to develop and expand a positive school reading culture.

Available for either a once off consultation or for a short-term contract, I can be contacted at any of my cyberspace nooks – to chat about how we could work together to achieve your goals to devise and develop a program for your school.

Twitter:      @novanews19
Email:         bev.novak@gmail.com
LinkedIn:    Bev Novak

I did have a smile when I saw this one!!

Schools in Australia finish up this week, so I will be offline over the summer.

May we all have a restful and happy break and take some time to smell the roses, wander though cyberspace at leisure and get stuck into the never ending pile of books that forever accumulate on our bedside tables!!

In between all that I will, for sure, be indulging in the pleasures derived from sharing with my husband and friends our regular stops for