Saturday, 30 July 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre units posted.

I posted my Pride and Prejudice and bonus Jane Eyre unit today onto TPT.

Go to this site to own for $5.00

Movies on YouTube

Go to YouTube to watch some video clips about Glen Park PS ( links below) which I've included on the Learning With Literature Facebook page ( dedicated entirely to posts about the literature work we are doing at Glen Park.)
Also check out our new look web page:


We found some scented candles in a Ballarat gift shop which had classic author themes. We bought the Edgar Allan Poe one.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Parent visit

We had a visit from s prospective enrolment for 2017 today. It's always enjoyable to show off the school to interested parents. Hopefully we will get an enrolment from it. We have a big week next week with students finishing off units and starting new ones. I hoped to get into our veggie garden today but it was too drizzly and cold ( great for the cows) 
So after the visit I just cleaned and organised for next week. 
My grade 3 student only has a little work to do to finish her Gigantor and Jimmy Sparks.

Finishing off Jane Eyre

I got a new display organised for the BFG today. My grade 3 girl will finish her anime unit and will start on a mini BFG unit for two weeks starting next week.

The grade 6 kids have a few tasks to complete for Jane Eyre next week but today they finished their popular characters pop- up graph. I'll post my Pride and Prejudice unit on TPT on the weekend. The kids watched a version of Jane Eyre on DVD today but found the flashbacks in it a bit confusing.Pity I couldn't find the old Orson Wells version .

What will Birmingham do?

A well-connected young Liberal has set up companies that sell diploma courses and harvest job seekers' data for the scandal-plagued taxpayer-funded vocational education sector.

The Melbourne Grammar graduate, Jake Foster, previously owned a business which was accused of targeting vulnerable students and selling them courses at Australia's largest vocational education network.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham recently pledged to take a "leading role" in cracking down on the sector's integrity, but new evidence shows members of his own party are beneficiaries of the booming 

On Thursday, he issued a blunt warning to the sector: "Anyone found to be rorting the system will be held to account."

The company responsible for selling job seekers' data, Spot Distributors, is run by the 23-year-old Victorian Young Liberal Mr Foster and, until May, was also owned by his best friend and Scotch College alumnus Paul Mitchell.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


We went to Werribee Mansion and Point Cook RAAF museum. These were follow ups for Jane Eyre ( Victorian era stately home ) and Carrie's War ( vintage aircraft from WW1 and 2) 


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

This comes as a surprise?

Evidence in Victoria shows boosting access to training has cut the Government's crime costs, a Melbourne economist says.

Drug crime plummets 13 per cent, when vocational education enrolments went up
Study examines explosion of TAFE and training course enrolments in Victoria between 2010-2013
Victorian reforms allowed students access to any course uncapped
When vocational education enrolments jumped up three years ago in Victoria, drug crime plummeted by 13 per cent.

Assaults and property crime also went down, and researchers said the drop was largely because it gave would-be criminals a new path in life.

The new study, A Pathway to the Straight and Narrow, has examined the explosion of TAFE and training course enrolments in Victoria between 2010 and 2013.

Dr Cain Polidano, a research fellow at Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, who conducted the study, said access to training helped people who were out of work, or had limited job prospects, get back into the labour force.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Second Network day

Network meeting
Moreshead Park Ballarat
( South Network)

We viewed a clip about LookOut (or were supposed too) and heard from Melinda Williams about the work they do supporting children in out of home care. ( Only court ordered out of home care) Nikki Foy also talked about supporting Koorie students and the history of aboriginal loss of identity due to past Government actions. Most students are foster and kinship cared students.They work a lot with DHHS ( which seems to be largely unavailable) Co-ordination between DHHS and Education lacking and many children don't have a child protection worker allocated with them.
DHHS is like a parent who have a legal responsibility but other organisations are the day to day Carers. Melinda thinks they are an organisation in crisis.Discussion from the floor about frustrations at dealing with DHHS on a daily basis. Pressure from LookOut can help. Student movement is an issue. (Reunification orders mean guardian's have 12 months to support troubled families which should mean that children won't move so often.)
I will talk to Melinda about using Glen Park to support some students who would be a 'good fit' for our set up. Melinda talked about the potential for providing Trauma support training for teachers and principals.Small schools need a considerable amount of extra support which was acknowledged by Melinda.

Announcements of visits, AP vacancies, celebrations across our networks. etc.
Discussion about NAPLAN online being rolled out next year.

Parent complaints
Schools require a local parent complaint policy. Parents are complaining that there is no complaint policy!

Child safe standards concerns .The declaration aspect of it ( stat declaration to be signed by September) Secondary Principals suggest we sign as partial completion only. There is no follow-up about signing another stat dec.
Advice from the Area Director was to sign off as partially complete. (To be completed by September 1st.)

Parent Payments have a new template to follow and we are required to stick to that policy.

New OHS support for schools.( Andrew Laverick)

Meeting protocols discussed.

The Department has a vision that we work together as schools to achieve statewide targets. Principals in isolation can struggle but collegiate support could help to achieve improvement in our schools. We need to provide a common front against private schools rather than competing against each other.In small groups and as networks we looked at the teaching /learning aspect of our current AIP. They envision meeting in school sized groups at future network meetings.( communities of practice)

Lunch at 1:00 pm.

Trip to the Melbourne Zoo

We have an excursion to a zoo every year. This year we went to the Melbourne Zoo.
We saw quite a few animals that are often hard to find like the cassowary and tiger.
We also saw some very colourful birds, monkeys, zebra, tapir, giraffe, penguins, seals, baby hippo, lions and elephants.
 The kids had a great time and were knowledgeable and engaged. They took lots of photos with their iPads for a project back at school.( some want to make PowerPoints including video which sounds great.) Thanks to parents Kylie and Mick who came along. It was overcast and cold but not as bad as back in Ballarat today.
Next year it is Healesville Sanctuary's turn.

Monday, 25 July 2016


I love these Sylvia Duckworth posters
Hooray 80000 views. I never thought I'd get this far! 

From a primary school library ( names covered protect the innocent)

This would never occur at the Glen Park school the books!


My grade 3 girl started painting her Gigantor today. We have an excursion tomorrow so she should be able to finish it on Wednesdsy. Already looking great.

Finished Jane Eyre today. You have to feel sorry for Mrs Rochester! On Wednesday we'll start our 'ruined Thornfields.'

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The problem with writing in UK schools

From Secret Teacher in the Guardian

Sir, can you read my story?”

It’s a request that fills me with dread, because I know what will follow.

I will read the story and delight at how well developed the characters are, how effectively suspense has been built up and how great the 

But none of that matters. All that matters in year 6 are the interim teacher assessment frameworks. These make it clear that writing an engaging story is of secondary importance – what really counts is being able to use the passive voice, chuck in a modal verb, employ cohesive devices and throw in some semi-colons.

I read the story. It’s good and the author is rightly proud. However, it doesn’t have many sentences starting with conjunctions and it is lacking colons and semi-colons. According the government-devised scheme for judging writing, this child is not working at the expected standard.

I have no choice but to convey some of this in the hope that this pupil will include some more fronted adverbials next time and please the powers that be. There is no room for discretion or negotiation in the framework.

This approach to assessment is supposed to be raising standards, but I do not see how. The children in my class have not become better writers this year. They haven’t had as many opportunities to be creative. They haven’t been able to focus on good story writing.

They have, however, become more technically proficient – but is this really what matters? When we read a brilliant story, do we exclaim: “I loved how Charles Dickens used that semi-colon to separate two independent clauses” or “I like Roald Dahl but I wish he had used the passive voice a little more often”?

No. Instead we delight in falling in love with the characters or feeling the tension as they get into difficulty. The assessment frameworks tell our children that creativity and exciting plots are not important. They encourage children to see technical aspects as the central requirement of good writing.

The frameworks are also largely useless in providing helpful information to secondary schools. Take two children, Ali and Grace. Ali can do almost everything mentioned in the interim frameworks for the expected standard. In fact, he can also do some things which indicate that he is “working at a greater depth within the expected standard”. But he is missing one thing: he has not used a single hyphen in his work. This means Ali is below the expected standard for writing. 

Grace, on the other hand, has used a hyphen in addition to jumping through all of the other hoops, so she is at the expected standard. And so secondary schools will be told that Grace is a better writer, on the basis of one hyphen.

At least under the best-fit model, in the bygone age of levels, there was some rationale for one child being a 3a and another a 4c. The blunt interim frameworks essentially make the assessment information meaningless for our secondary colleagues – and the impact will be felt by the children in the longer term, as they deal with inaccurate targets. The irony is that the government’s relentless drive for higher standards may actually end up damaging aspirations.

Teachers hoped that the huge flaws in these frameworks would mean that they were scrapped quickly. We hoped that the government would listen when we said the standards were too focused on grammar. We hoped that common sense would prevail. No such luck. It was recently announced that they would stay in place for the 2017 assessment cycle. And so another group of children will have their creativity suppressed in favour of technical box-ticking.

What they need – what we all need – is a system that ensures children can write good stories, letters, arguments and reports. This system must be realistic about the punctuation and grammatical features that 11-year-olds can be expected to use. This system could actually give useful information to parents and teachers.

It is not too late to save a generation of children from drowning in a sea of technical proficiency. But we must act now to save our future authors.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Spelling conundrum

I think the educator that comes up with the 'perfect spelling' program will make a fortune. I have tried everything over the last 32 years including making my own spelling lists ( like the author writes below) but I have been using a spelling program ( text book) by RIC books which uses a combination of high frequency words, word families and spelling rules for lists and some varied and engaging activities to for every list. I have always taught phonics sometimes up to grade 4 if required. I have never met a teacher who doesn't teach phonics although if you listen to conservative commentators you would think none of us teach it.
This approach seems to work for me but there is no doubt that some kids are better spellers than others and some approaches work for some and not others.

Personal reflection from Teacher Park

When we were first told that we would no longer be using spelling books with our students, I thought our principal was kidding... I almost laughed out loud. Good thing I didn't. because he was serious.. We were all stunned then almost fell off our chairs when he announced the following.

As of today, you will create your spelling lists as a team and add content words from your science, social studies and math classes.

We weren't happy but that could be another post that I may do later.

Teachers are having to create their own spelling lists these days. In the past, we had spelling books that reinforced word "families" and often had vowel and consonant sounds, the "ei, ie" rules and much more.

In my opinion, those spelling books were as an important as cherries on a NY style cheesecake. :)

They reinforced spelling patterns, sounds, blends and even definitions. Each unit spiraled to the next and all had review pages of the earlier taught units.

I decided that if we weren't allowed to use those lovely little spelling books, I would create activities to accompany spelling lists I assigned to my students.

My packet has 24 different worksheets that can be used with any spelling list and yes, my activities reinforce much needed spelling rules, vowels sounds, etc. 

Take a few minutes to ask your students what a long and short "A" sounds like. Or better yet, ask them what a soft and hard "g" sound like. EVEN better ask them to tell you what a digraph is or to name a three letter 
consonant blend! 

Ask them to explain the spelling rule "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking". I had a student tell me that it's like when his mom and dad go for a walk... His mother never stops talking. I could barely keep a straight face.

I can almost guess that many of your students' responses will be puzzled looks, almost like you're speaking a foreign language...We need to bring back those important little spelling books!

Plibersek takes on education

Mr Shorten said Tanya Plibersek would form part of an education "dream team" that also includes Kate Ellis, who takes responsibility for early childhood and vocational education. Although a demotion for Ellis and Carr who loses Vocational Training, Plibersek was arguably Labor's best performer in the election campaign.

"Education ... is a first order economic and social priority for Labor in the 45th parliament. Investing in education is the key to Australia's prosperity," Mr Shorten said in Canberra on Saturday.

Paying back those loans come hell or high water!

From the Age Facebook page.

The change, described by the respected Grattan Institute as "radical", would see part-time workers or graduates who take time out of the workforce forced to pay back their loans if they have a wealthy partner.

The Turnbull government has called for submissions on the future of Australia's higher education system after releasing a policy options paper alongside the May budget. It went to the election without a set higher education policy, but has ruled out fully deregulating fees.

As well as recovering HECS from deceased estates and introducing a new family income test, the paper proposed the creation of a new tier of deregulated "flagship courses" that would allow universities to set their own fees.

But the RUN - representing Central Queensland University, Federation University, the University of Southern Queensland, Southern Cross University, the University of New England and the University of the Sunshine Coast - said it does not support flagship courses.

"RUN is of the view that flagship courses as proposed in the discussion paper could not work to any significant extent in regional universities," its submission says. 

"Such a scheme may be viable for a few, high demand courses, particularly in elite universities.

Regional Universities Network executive director Caroline Perkins said, in the context of a tight budget, it was ...
"However, in an environment where there is a significant reduction in Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) funding, and no other source of funding to replace this, regional universities would not be able to recoup significant funds via flagships."

A 20 per cent cut to university funding - originally included in the 2014 budget - remains baked into the budget despite being universally opposed by universities.

Fairfax Media revealed earlier this year that the Turnbull government was considering collecting student debts from the dead as it seeks to find higher education savings.

Former education minister Christopher Pyne backed the idea of recovering HECS from deceased estates two years ago, but was quickly shut down by then prime minister Tony Abbott to avoid a scare campaign on the sensitive issue.

RUN executive director Caroline Perkins said, in the context of a tight budget, it was "reasonable" for HECS debts to be recovered from deceased estates.

"Most other debt is not forgiven when someone dies," she said, pointing to mortgage and credit card debt.

She said it makes sense to tie HECS repayments to family income given some graduates earning below the repayment threshold have partners earning very high incomes.

Fairfax Media understands there is broad support for such changes across the higher education sector, which sees tightening up HECS as preferable to cuts to research and teaching funding. 

Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton has said it would be complicated, but fair, to tie HECS repayments to household income.

"They have a partner and many live in reasonable affluence," he said of many graduates not repaying their debts. 

"For many of them, their partner's income explains why theirs is below the threshold: they do not need to earn more to maintain high living standards".

He said a family income test would only include a couple's joint income and would not be targeted at graduates living with their parents. 

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office projects the total value of the student loans program will balloon from around $60 billion now to $180 billion by 2026.

The regional universities urged the government to be cautious on its proposal to reduce the HECS repayment threshold from around an annual income of $54,000 currently to $40,000-$45,000.

"Many students at RUN universities are mature-aged and part-time, and care needs to be taken that the threshold isn't so low that it is triggered while students are studying," its submission says.

The universities also call for an overhaul of government-supported postgraduate places to focus on areas of skills shortages and expanded support for diploma places at universities. 

Friday, 22 July 2016


As promised my Moonfleet unit goes up on TPT today for $5.00
Next week I should be able to add my updated Roald Dahl unit, Gigantor and Pride and Prejudice (with bonus Jane Eyre) units.

About the unit:  Blooms taxonomy literature unit for the classic tale of smugglers, curses and hidden treasure... 'Moonfleet' by J.M. Falkner.
This unit includes creative writing ideas, English tasks, reading tasks, graphic organisers, art ideas and more. Complete with Black line masters and photos of student work samples in fact all you need (except the book) to study this book for 2-3 weeks. Ideal for grade 4-6 students and home schoolers. This unit has been road tested on real kids and works.

New display

Weird weather up at work this morning. One minute it was sunny and the next sleeting. I cleaned and organised for a very busy week next week and changed the Jane Eyre table display for one for The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

Our bulbs are popping out. Hope it's not too cold for them.