ANZAC commemoration @MHS

“Two days after being introduced to the trenches, we are quite used to the work and noise … If a shell strikes your portion of the trench you are lucky to get off, but you keep on with your job and hope that the next will not be so near.” These words were written by then Captain Langley who would survive Gallipoli and go on to be principal of Melbourne High School. (Source: The Leader) Melbourne High School old boy, Alan Gregory, has edited Langley’s ANZAC Letters, a complimentary copy of which our students have received today. The book includes letters George Langley wrote to his family about his experience at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli (as stated in the blurb). Catherine Morton captured these beautiful photos of the ANZAC day march. Last week a few students demonstrated how Two-Up works – don’t worry, no gambling, only homemade Anzac biscuits as sustenance.

An invitation to Warrnambool

I was recently invited to speak to teacher librarians and library technicians from schools in the south west region of Victoria. Margaret Sinnott from Emmanuel College, Warrnambool organised and hosted the event.

It was delightful to meet this enthusiastic group who represent both small and big schools, catholic and government, primary and secondary schools. When introducing each other it became apparent some of the issues and concerns were common to all – working with IT, eBooks, changes in staffing, encouraging students to read, noisy libraries or quiet libraries. I wrote notes and tried to address many of these concerns in my presentation. My presentation was around the approach and philosophy at the Melbourne High School library. I showed lots of photos, many of them taken from this blog. Ideas we have tried, those successes and those less successful.

The second half of the morning had two challenges, a discussion around school libraries digital profile and the second around encouraging, some may say pushing, the attendees to committing and trying something new. I gave them four weeks to get back to me with success or not. I wonder how many will. I do hope so I want to hear their stories too.

We often feel quite isolated in our libraries even with the communication offered by the internet. So it is still good to share face to face, or teacup to teacup and have someone else to listen and give advice or encouragement.

Thank you Margaret for the invitation, I really enjoyed the morning, your planning was wonderful. I had to miss the library tour and the visit to the local bookshop but I am sure the conversations and sharing went on all afternoon too.

Sharing ideas

Sharing ideas

Emmanuel College

Emmanuel College

Margaret provided lots of goodies to take away

Margaret provided lots of goodies to take away

Coffee stop pre presentation - love the book nooks

Coffee stop pre-presentation – love the book nooks

Engaging students with Pear Deck in Year 9 Commerce class

Chris Bush, Commerce and English teacher extraordinaire, is using Pear Deck to engage his Year 9 Commerce class. Pear Deck is about formative assessment and student engagement. When Catherine and I accepted Chris’ invitation to observe the Pear Deck experience in his class, we were impressed by how students were completely focused on the learning process and on Chris himself. Far from being a lesson requiring students to concentrate on what the teacher is saying for a long period of time with the occasional hand up to answer a question, Pear Deck involves each student simultaneously, and switches between listening, responding, testing, and immediate feedback. Pear Deck provides the teacher and every student with a screen so that students can follow screen content created and controlled by the teacher. Chris also used some good old fashioned note-taking which I think works well in small doses.  I really did like the mix of technology and old fashioned handwriting – I think this works to focus the students. I always found writing notes helped me think about and understand the notes.

Technology is not a simple solution or pedagogy on its own but Pear Deck provides a platform which can be adapted to suit the needs of the lesson. Of course Chris has also built up a relationship with the class, and has built community too. It’s obvious that his students are happy to be there, and happy to be part of the cohort. This is a perfect partnership – teacher/students relationship and targeted use of technology.

Hipsters of Melbourne – student film

Some of the most enjoyable experiences at school happen when students are actually out of school – don’t you think? At the end of the year we release our year 9s into the city to research an aspect of urban life of their choice. The final result is a presentation of videos created by the student groups. These are seriously informative and entertaining. Here is one of them created by Lachlan Scanlon and his team members. I’m afraid there are some in-jokes here but I think you’ll still enjoy the video.    

Currently I’m working with Lachie to create library tutorial videos. If anyone can make a dry subject entertaining I think it will be Lachie.

We do music like we do sport – full on!

The annual Melbourne High School Choral and Instrumental house competition held in our grand Melbourne Town Hall is possibly the most anticipated and most enjoyed of all school events by students, teachers, parents and past students. It attracts the enthusiasm normally reserved for sporting events – the cheering following student performances needs to be experienced to be believed. Melbourne High School students are privileged to have a whole school choral program throughout their schooling. Singing is taken very seriously, and despite the hectic curricular and co-curricular schedule, it is never cancelled.

Richard Gill, who has worked as a musician, teacher, conductor and music director,  , has been a passionate campaigner for music for all students for over 50 years.

Music doesn’t describe, narrate or tell stories. What it does best is evoke, suggest and imply. It can open up the mind of a child in extraordinary ways. The abstraction of music allows them into a special world and a unique way of thinking. And that’s why they should make their own, preferably via singing.

While reading about Richard Gill in this ABC article online, I was pleasantly surprised to see a comment by a past student who fondly remembers his musical experiences at Melbourne High School in the 60s.

I attended Melbourne High School in the 1960s, and still have vivid memories of singing experiences there – from small choirs and the annual Gilbert & Sullivan operetta to the entire school singing at speech nights at Melbourne Town Hall and in the annual inter-house choral competitions. Since then I’ve continued singing, in choirs, opera companies and choruses. For the past 20 years I’ve sung with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Chorus, a non-professional group associated with a fine professional orchestra. We’re privileged to perform at a high standard under a wide range of internationally-renowned conductors. One of the highlights for the Chorus was the TSO’s performances of “Messiah” conducted by Richard Gill in December 2007. (Tony M.)

Some of our students attend the compulsory singing reluctantly – of course, not everyone loves singing – but by the end of the Choral and Instrumental competition the obvious enthusiasm shared by students in applauding performers or singing as members of their house choir is testament to the value of our commitment towards music for everyone. Listen to Richard Gill’s dedication and passion as he delivers a TED talk on the value of music education.

We host inner city schools curriculum day: differentiation

Last Friday Melbourne High School staff and those from the inner city (‘City Edge’) – namely, Mac.Robertson Girls’, University High School, Melbourne Girls’, Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, Princes Hill Secondary College and Albert Park College – came together for a curriculum day focusing on differentiation. We gathered in our faculty groups. How lovely to meet with the inner city libraries again – this time in our library.

We started the day with croissants and strawberries – very civilised. The icebreaker name tags were a bit of fun and helped creative juices flow. How lovely to meet with librarians from our neighbouring schools, to exchange ideas and discuss how we differentiate in the library. Differentiation is intrinsic to school libraries since we cater for different age groups, mixed abilities and learning styles, and the whole curriculum, not to mention information and digital literacy skills. We talked about how we provide differentiation in our collection development, databases, and in our online resources. As an introduction to differentiation and to remind us of the diversity of ways in which people perceive things, learn and think, we watched the well known TED talk by Temple Grandin, who has increased the world’s understanding of the condition of autism with personal immediacy and who is revered by animal rights groups and members of autistic community, perhaps because in both regards she is a voice for those who are sometimes challenged to make themselves heard. Grandin designs humane handling systems for half the cattle-processing facilities in the US, and speaks about how the world needs different kinds of minds to work together (Source). A big thanks to Kat Frame, Liaison Librarian with the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education, who joined us to talk about the work she and her colleagues do to support students and staff. Kat has created 31 library guides (Libguides) for the School of Education. How valuable it is to develop our relationship with the tertiary sector and bridge the gap between secondary and higher education libraries. This comic is part of Kat’s Libguide on referencing. Denise gave our visitors a taste of Tea Duelling – so much fun always. Jess from The Little Bookroom visited us with a tantalising selection of books we could browse and order.

In the afternoon, Pam had organised for us to visit 3 libraries: The Library at The Dock, Southbank Library, and East Melbourne Library. We are privileged to be able to take time out to connect with our neighbouring schools in person, and also to visit public libraries for ideas on spaces, service and everything in between. Thanks to Pam and everyone organising the day.

The library is full of words and they don’t all live inside books

Words tell a story. You’re thinking about stories in books, aren’t you? What about the words that are free-floating – on walls, shelves, boxes? Some have been created recently while others have lived in the library longer than the current library staff. Many of these are forgotten, invisible – not worthy even of a fleeting glance. All tell a story we are too busy to notice.

Awaiting. Sense the anticipation experienced by the inanimate objects.

Not working.

“Entertains with a friendly personality”.

The popular whiteboard with renewable problem solving attracts thinking and small crowds.

Ah yes, IBM…

Very scary.

How old is this radio?

The library is like a rock pool. You need to bend down and peer in, stay there for a while to see everything. The library is a time capsule where people and objects live together harmoniously, blending past and present.