Slam Poetry finals at Deakin Edge

What a privilege and joy to hear finalists from 5 schools (Casey Grammar, Charles La Trobe College, Melbourne High School, Northcote High, The John Monash Science School) perform at the Out Loud Poetry Slam finals at #MWF17.

Our year 9 boys from Mr Mahoney ‘s English class (9L), Ivan and Yi Ming, treated us to a powerful performance. The standard was incredibly high for all competitors and we were extremely proud of our students.

Congratulations to the John Monash Science School who won for the second year running.

Lucky students from 9L (and the 2 MHS runners-up) who attended the performance. They have witnessed the power of performance poetry and may never be the same again.
#OutLoud17 #mwf17 #performancepoetry #slampoetry

The inimitable slam poet, Emilie Zoey Baker!

Our students enjoying the performances

They are all winners!

A happy year 9 cohort! Who knew poetry could be so exhiliarating?! Well done to all the student teams!



Feast on writing – MWF16

You could hear the pens scratching in the air. It’s the Melbourne Writers Festival 2016. There is a mix of writers; professional, emerging and students.



Oliver, Year 12, shares his notes on Adam Curley, writer and musician:

The world of music magazines is filled with people interested in writing and music, but also gives you an opportunity to be published, and get feedback.

Song lyrics sit in a strange place – harder to study with less of a history – less a form of writing, differing styles between different writers. Began as storytelling, branches out.

For Adam, he is a vocalist, and lyricist, collaborating with his band Gold Class to write songs collectively.

Usually starts with a catalyst, a beat or rhythm in what his band members are writing – always has a notebook or his phone ready writing ideas, words, phrases, that could be used.

Melody can craft lyrics, and lyrics and melody. Inspiration – can be found anywhere! For his inspiration, Adam tends to look inside for his inspiration, taking from his feelings on issues, world or personal. However, other writers he knows write third person narratives, long abstract phrases, really it can be anything.

Style – impressionistic language surrounding a key idea or feeling.

Songs don’t have to follow on line by line, don’t have to be linear narratives.


Reagan, Year 11, reflects on Meg Rosoff:

“Creating Great Characters” conducted by Meg Rosoff was perhaps the highlight of the Writers Festival. When entering the presentation, most of us witnessed Meg lounging about comfortably on the couch with her interviewer, giving little hint of the brilliant personality that lurked beneath. Excited chatter gave way to enraptured silence, broken only by the open laughter which greeted every deprecating remark she made of herself.

Meg spent the entire workshop detailing her own troubles with writing and rowdy dogs, her anecdote of the years she spent bluffing a book to her editor reducing the audience to a laughing wreck. Throughout the workshop, there was never a dull moment, the presentation being refreshing in that she genuinely downplayed all of her own achievements and awards. Meeting her afterwards, I could not help but purchase one of her books simply for a chance to meet her. Throughout her question session, she never made a single attempt to promote her works, but her warm and sincere thanks when I brought the book to be signed revealed more than a witty and humorous speaker, it exposed her as a writer with a true connection to her readers.


Ayush, Year 9, shares his thoughts:

At the Melbourne Writers Festival 2016 we had the chance to see and listen to many writers and authors. One in particular stood out. Meg Rosoff, the author of How I Live Now, was a particularly interesting and entertaining person to listen to. She was a very funny person and her thoughts and ideas always caused the audience to chuckle. She was very fun and open as well which always kept the audiences attention. She was also very willing to talk about herself with a group of relative strangers which helped us understand her and her books in greater depth. Out of all the authors we watched and listened to this was, in my opinion, the best as she had intriguing ideas and stories and wasn’t afraid to put herself out there.

Noah, Year 11, writes:

One of the highlights of our day at the Melbourne Writers Festival was hearing author Meg Rossof talk about her writing process and how she worked on characters. Hearing her reminisce about her friend helping her with crucial plot points, how the characters got away from her with minds of their own at times, and how her story about characterising animals went off onto a long tangent about her own dog were all delightful, and her dry sense of humour punctuated every piece of advice or story, making it all the more enjoyable. I am certainly looking forward to reading some of her work, and I’ll be taking her advice on characters to heart. I must say, her admission that she often didn’t know where the book was going to go when she sat down took a weight off, and contrasted with the over-planning toted by many other writers. I would recommend the Writers Festival to anyone, especially with panels like this one!


Frank, Year 11, writes:

At the Writers Festival is where I met Meg Rosoff, an accomplished author winning both the Guardian Prize as well as the Printz Award. She was one of the most inspiring writers, possessing great wit and was always charming. Yet despite winning prestigious awards, she was charming and incredibly down to earth.

She began the workshop of ‘Creating Great Characters’, by professing her love of dogs. She told us that “writers don’t have a sociable lives, that’s why I love dogs.” In her book Jonathan Unleashed (2016), all of the central character’s many problems, are all curiously resolved through two dogs. Although she laughingly admitted that dogs seldom solve the problems we experience in real life, “Dogs make good characters in books because you can make them into whatever you like.”

She then proceeded to give insight into the often-enigmatic writing process of an author. For one, there is no one definite way of writing, and that writing habits tend to differ from person to person. For Meg, she uses her ‘unconscious mind’, where a lot of the writing comes from the place in the brain responsible for dreaming. Where the conscious mind is compared to as a horse rider, the unconscious is mind is the horse itself, and sometimes, it may be better to let the horse lead for a change.

Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the day, her unique advice in combination with her wonderful sense of humour really inspired us, hopefully, to take step towards a future filled with a little bit of creativity, and a little bit of writing.



Daniel, Year 9, captures John Marsden’s creative writing session:

“In fourteen words we wrote our story. Without one vowel we described our view.”


 Our pens will certainly be writing furiously following these inspiring sessions.


Engaging Young Adults in the library – Outside the Lines Unconference #getotlau

What makes a successful (un)conference? If at the end of the day participants are buzzing with ideas, happy with new connections – add to that a gorgeous location, beautifully designed new library with water views and perfect weather – you have a winning event. Thank you to the organisers of Outside the Lines: Third Biennial Youth Unconference 2015, for such a day.

It is your chance to gain insight into what young adults are interested in, how libraries can support and collaborate with them and how we can broaden our thinking about young people into a more creative, flexible and innovative framework that will take libraries outside the lines.

By participating you will have the opportunity to: Hear first-hand from young people and their experiences with the library and community organisations.

Here is the link to most of my tweets and those of others at the unconference. I think you’ll get a good idea of what the day was about through this Storify and the photos included.

In the afternoon we had a chance to take part in activities such as making zines, playing around with virtual reality and learning about 3D printing. We are keen to start some sort of Makerspace at MHS. Catherine and I loved the zines and would like to try a session at school. I have some photos of the zines displayed but it’s late now so I’ll keep them for another post.

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.

Words, poetry, action!

The Immigration Museum was the venue for our select group of students attending the  Melbourne Writers Festival writing workshop. The Museum has wonderful stories from people all over the world who have migrated to Australia. With it’s outdoor memorial area and fascinating exhibitions, it’s certainly worth a visit.

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15057356342_3b7f20234a_zWe explored the exhibition Identity: yours, mine, ours – who we are and who others think we are…….






…… and added a wish for our future life to the Japanese wishing tree.



Then the workshop with author Arnold Zable began! Our task was to interview him and compile an interesting report. Questions from the group included ‘What is your heritage? What inspires you to write? Was it hard for you when you came to Australia?’




Some of our really interesting notes from the interview ……


…. and Andre’s writing, which Arnold termed Painting with words.



Thanks to Arnold for his inspiration and the Immigration Museum for hosting the workshop.


Our next stop was Federation Square where we joined other students at the Poetry Slam finals. Congratulations to Melbourne Girls College for being The greatest poets in all the land!!







Librarians have left the building (again) – Visit to Melbourne University libraries

Yesterday we visited several Melbourne University libraries as well as the University College library. We are fortunate to have CJ temporarily on our team; CJ is College Librarian at the University College Library.

As a library servicing a highly academic cohort of students at Melbourne High School, we are interested in liaising with university librarians so that we can assist students with their transition to university. This includes so many things, such as the way we could use spaces to facilitate the variety of student needs when they come to the library; embedding literacy and research skills into assignments and essays; teaching students about bibliographies and in-text citation; teaching them how to navigate online resources and manage information – in short, everything they need to be independent learners at the tertiary level.

We had already developed a partnership with the Melbourne University librarians in terms of shared online content – the Melbourne Uni librarians have kindly allowed us to use and modify their excellent Libguide about research. In turn, we have shared our Libguide for mobile apps in education.

We all agreed that yesterday’s visit and our visit to The Library at the Docks last week are an invaluable form of PD for us all – rich, relevant, ongoing and inspiring.
Here are a few photos:
The newly redesigned library and IT help desk at Giblin Eunson Library, University of Melbourne
Interesting, transparent way of separating the quiet zones
Reception and residential rooms at University College, Melbourne University.
I thought I’d throw in a couple of sights around the area
Can you guess the location of these?


Visit to The Library at the Dock

We took the opportunity to visit The Library at the Dock on a report writing day when our library was being used for the GAT in the morning. What a beautifully designed community building on a site with impressive views from all angles.

From the City of Melbourne website:

Library at The Dock is a three-storey building, 55.3 metres long by 18.1 metres wide, and is made from engineered timber and reclaimed hardwood.

Read about the building’s sustainability features (PDF, 600kb).

As well as a traditional library collection, the library and community centre offers an interactive learning environment and a state-of-the-art digital collection, multi-purpose community spaces and a performance venue that holds 120 people. Connections to Docklands’ rich maritime and Aboriginal heritage is embraced and celebrated with facilities to support local historical research and educational experiences.

Apparently the building was pre-fabricated in Austria and put together in 60 days on site by 6 carpenters. I hope I remembered that information correctly.

I took photos from all angles. As you can see, the library has plenty of space and light, glass everywhere, beautiful wooden surfaces and tasteful furnishings.

Image Image (1) Image (2) Image (3) Image (4) Image (5) Image (6) Image (7) Image (8) Image (9) Image (10) Image (11) Image (12) Image (13) Image (14) Image (15) Image (17) Image (18) Image (19) Image (20) Image (21) Image (22) Image (23) Image (24) Image (25) The returns sorter –


Image (26) Image (27) Image (28) Image (29) Image (30) Image (31) Image (32) Image (33) Image (34) Image (35) Image (36)There is a Makerspace! and of course a 3D printer –
Image (38) Image (39) Image (40) Image (41) Image (42) Image (43) Image (44) Image (45) Image (46) Image (47) Image (48) Image (49) Image (50) Image (51) The children’s section was so much fun! Image (52) Image (53) Image (54) Image (55) Image (56) Image (57) Image (58) Image (59)


Obviously this library is completely out of our financial range, but it’s always good to take some ideas from well designed spaces.

Visit to Nossal High School Information Resource Centre

All Melbourne High School staff travelled to Nossal High School in Berwick today for a professional meetup with the selective schools which also included MacRobertson High School and Suzanne Cory. Well done to Nossal for organising an enjoyable and valuable day. Speakers were good, food was fantastic, faculty meetings were an excellent opportunity to socialise and compare notes, think about big picture education as well as talk about the details.

The library staff were treated to Nossal’s beautiful, new Information Resource Centre. A welcoming and colourful space enthusiastically supporting the teaching and learning at the school. We appreciated the opportunity to catch up and talk about what we all do. Thanks Kamla for the warm welcome.

Naturally I took photos.

We met Eoin Colfer

On Tuesday Maggie and I had the pleasure of taking a small group of keen students (the reading kind) to meet Eoin Colfer at the Melbourne Convention Centre. What a miserable morning it was!! Greyness, drizzle… who’s idea was this anyway?

This is how the day looked in the early morning as I made my way through Melbourne’s laneways.

It was nice to take refuge inside. While we were waiting, our boys were approached by the crew of ABC3 and a couple of them were interviewed. We’re famous!

Most of our boys were pumped before the event. A couple took advantage of the wait for a power nap.

I’m not sure if anyone knew what to expect with Eoin Colfer, but I imagined he might talk about his plots, characters and such. In fact, he was more of a stand-up comic – entertaining us with stories of his family who were apparently fodder for books. In fact, only at the end of his talk did he overtly advise would-be authors to read, read and read, and to write a little every day, not allowing the little stories which happened every day to slip from memory. According to Eoin Colfer, all the material he needed for his books had come from his family and friends.

The signing was well organised and schools were called out one by one. Meanwhile a duo of talented actors kept everyone in stitches with organised role play and word games.

Leon won a graphic novel by the author for his contribution to one of the games.

It was obvious that the boys really enjoyed meeting their long-time favourite author, Eoin Colfer, and were happy to have him sign their books and new copies purchased for the library. A memorable day for all!

And guess what? When we walked out of the building, the day looked like this –

As you can imagine, Maggie and I were reluctant to leave this idyllic outdoor environment and return to the library – but return we did!