Tag Archives: holidays

The end of the year is nigh

Nigh? What kind of language do I think I’m speaking? I blame end of year debilitating virus for that.


…it’s a strange time of the year when you jump off the spinning School Wheel and onto the Christmas Shopping and Everything Else Wheel.

I love this time of year in Edublogland when the Edublog Award winners are announced in all the delectably diverse categories. It’s a time to revere winners, to rejoice with friends, to expand the old Google Reader with more blogs, to bookmark best podcasts, virtual worlds, social networks and PLNs. It’s a time when you wish you had more time to explore, and a magical way of keeping up with everything.

I’m proud that our Australian educators have made the Edublogs honours list: @brightideasblog @edtechcrew @mrrobbo. Congratulations!

The end of the school year, I think some would agree, is a bitter-sweet time of letting go and refocusing on the multi-faceted holiday period.

I try to balance the stresses of everyday life with things of beauty. I need things of beauty; I think we all do. Sometimes music, sometimes art, sometimes literature. Today I’m sharing a beautiful Russian animation, The Seasons, by Yuri Norstein. Despite all his awards for animation, he was fired from Soyuzmultfilm in 1985 for working too slowly on his latest film, a  feature-length adaptation of Gogol‘s Overcoat.


I was interested in reading about the technique which enables him to evoke such ‘magical’ landscapes:

Norshteyn uses a special technique in his animation, involving multiple glass planes to give his animation a three-dimensional look. The camera is placed at the top looking down on a series of glass planes about a meter deep (one every 25–30 cm). The individual glass planes can move horizontally as well as toward and away from the camera (to give the effect of a character moving closer or further away). (from Wikipedia)

Best wishes to everyone for the holiday period; stay healthy and productive, focus on what’s essential, and I’ll save my Christmas wishes closer to the date.

Rest, recharge, and ready for another term!

National Gallery of Victoria (Städel exhibition)

I don’t know how non-teachers survive with so few holidays.  I’m not feeling guilty about teaching holidays though because that’s what I do, and I work hard, so if you’re not a teacher and feeling resentful, why don’t you do a teaching degree?


Teaching is one of the most satisfying careers. Yes, it can be frustrating, infuriating, depressing, tiring, all-consuming – but it’s definitely a privilege to have a hand in shaping young minds, the shapers of our future.

For me, working with people who love shaping those young minds is more than satisfying. Some of these educators are at my school, and many are elsewhere, and I’m grateful to them wherever they are.

Photo courtesy of Jane Hewitt on Flickr (Great quotes about learning and change)

I’ve really enjoyed these two weeks of holiday, and  balanced a nice mix of everything I need to recharge – enjoying the company of good friends, catching up with news and exchanging stories and ideas; going out into various parts of Melbourne in the winter (Melbourne has its own Winter style which I really like); appointments(!); domestic chores (not fun, but inevitable); reading and thinking, reflection and re-evaluating, shifting perspective, gathering strength and resolve, making plans for the new term ….

Amazing that I managed to pack in so much in the two weeks, including (possibly too many) musical concerts, for example, the Goodbye Hamer Hall concert in which my younger son played in the Melbourne Youth Music orchestra, the Tim Burton exhibition at ACMI, and I also went to see the European Masters from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. AND I still had a lot of me-alone-time.

I finished reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson – a young adult novel written by John Green and David Levithan about two separate Will Graysons whose chance meeting changes their lives – and I’ve also started Seth Godin’s Linchpin (incidentally, Seth has just shared a free e-book) and Ali Shaw’s The girl with glass feet. I hope the reading doesn’t stop but somehow school projects always spill into the evenings and reading only begins just before my eyelids glue themselves shut.

The Tim Burton exhibition made me want to drag all the students out so they could be inspired by Tim’s prolific and imaginative illustrations. I could see so much potential for students writing, drawing, animation, sculpture, photostory, film-making – so many possibilities. I think the exhibition inspires because it shows early work back as far as school, and makes you want to have a go at all that zany creativity yourself.

So, what is my direction for third term? Well, apart from existing partnerships with classes, I want to trial more of my Writing Prompts. I want to give Howard Rheingold’s expert crap detection program a go, as well as teach some serious critical thinking.

Apart from stuffing my literature blog with new reviews by different members of my community, I’d like to take some of the ideas from Joyce Valenza’s Reading Wiki and run with them. There’s so much in this reading wiki too, and this one is bursting at the seams with resources for teacher librarians.

Plenty to do, and I’m even starting to get a little excited. I hope that you all have a great term, and for those of you in the middle of things, be inspired and re-inspired!

Winding down


The school year is over for me. I know that many poor souls are still fronting up until the end of this week (is there a point?) but for me it’s the long stretch ahead, the one I’ve been waiting for. Time to wind down.

It’s been a strange end to the year for me in that I missed the last 4 days, and am now recovering from spectacular oral surgery, looking less like a hamster every day, and still turning sickly shades of yellow and blue (wish I had less yellow, more blue) down my face and neck. And now that the fear of losing feeling in the lip has been put to rest, I can think about the year, looking both back in time at events and learning, and forward to next year, planning new projects for 2009.

Funny how you don’t realise the extent of change until you stop to measure it. It was only May this year that I began this blog as part of a State Library of Victoria Web 2.0 PD initiative. During the course of the following 6 or so months I’ve learned many things – lots of how-tos and bits of technology – and I’ve acquired an online presence on Facebook, Twitter and NINGs.  Most  importantly, I’ve learned what it’s like to be part of a community of learners and educators, a community that never sleeps, always on the lookout for new ways of thinking, doing and sharing.


So, winding down…

Well, actually, it’s easier said than done. I know that I’m not as tired as many teachers, having escaped report writing (as a teacher librarian), and not having the exhausting face-to-face of constant classes, and that may be one of the reasons I’m not finding the winding down easy to do. Although, I think the main reason is the feeling of excitement which comes from new discoveries, possibilities and connections. Already I’m thinking about what I want to do next year (and I’m lucky to be co-teaching with two wonderful teachers), already I’m planning new ways of doing things in class, ways of engaging and challenging students, using technologies which will inspire creativity and authentic learning. And I’m reading, reading, reading other people’s ideas and experiences.

The best thing about holidays – if you still have any energy or brain capacity left, and amongst all the Christmas and New Year bustle – is the unregimented  time for exploration. The joy of investigating new blogs,  discovering people, and making connections, branching out and connecting those connections around the world, until gradually the world starts to shrink as your map is filled with people you know  and relationships amongst these. How can you wind down when people ‘out there’ are posting great links, new ideas and articles which inspire and challenge?

Yesterday, I started looking at the Edublogs Awards 2008, and here are the categories for nomination:

1. Best individual blog

2. Best group blog

3. Best new blog

4. Best resource sharing blog

5. Most influential blog post

6. Best teacher blog

7. Best librarian / library blog

8. Best educational tech support blog

9. Best elearning / corporate education blog

10. Best educational use of audio

11. Best educational use of video / visual

12. Best educational wiki

13. Best educational use of a social networking service

14. Best educational use of a virtual world

15. Best class blog

16. Lifetime achievement

As you  browse those 16 categories, you’ll come to know a group of people you’ll admire and want to keep in touch with. These people have spent the time making transparent their learning journeys and acquired skills, not keeping these things to themselves but sharing with the world. I’m having difficulty in unwinding because there’s so much to read and enjoy!

Merry Christmas to all. Happy, safe holidays, good family and friend times, and take the time to do what nourishes you.