Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Here is a scanned photo of my beautiful daughter doing her "modern expressive" solo at a recent eisteddfod. She dances to Show me Heaven by Maria McKee.
Anyway, I think I may be a contender for the Most Embarrassing Mum ever. I always suspected that I would excel in this area, after all, my own mother was very embarrassing when I was a teenager!
At the eisteddfod, we were sitting quite close to the adjudicator. When it came time for the competitors in the classical ballet improvisation to listen to the music that they would have to dance to, I did a little classical-ballet-in-my-seat in time to the music. Just having fun! The adjudicator turned to me and said, "You've got the right idea! I hope some of the competitors dance like that!" It sounds all very tongue-in-cheek, but actually I'm sure that she was complimenting me on my excellent interpretive skills! I came back with, "Yes, next year I'm going to enter." To which she replied, "I'll lend you a tutu!" A lovely little exchange.
So, after the classical ballet improvisation competition was finished, it was time for the adjudicator to announce the winner. Before that though, she recounted the tale of how a mother that was sitting right near her had the right idea, and that this mother might even enter next year wearing a borrowed tutu!
My daughter turned to her father, and, with a roll of her eyes said very dryly, "That was Mum."
"I thought so." he replied.
So, are any of you guys contenders too?
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Here are the roses that my hubby bought me "just because". Isn't he a sweetheart? They are in a blue vase which you can't really see because I took the photo from above (standing on a chair). The background is the checkered tablecloth on my dining room table.
My final assignment for the semester is very close to finished. It is so very tempting to just submit it now so I don't have to look at it anymore. That's why I'm taking a little break; so I can resist the temptation and take a little more time to read over it and make sure that I'm super happy with what I've written.
Think I will make myself a cuppa and visit some blogs for a while...
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Here is my beautiful daughter performing her classical ballet solo at a recent eisteddfod. My apologies about the scanned image, but I had to buy copies of the photos taken by the official eisteddfod photographer. They arrived in the mail yesterday.
Doesn't she look gorgeous!
At present she is watching the latest New Moon updates on YouTube. Of course, she should be doing her science project, or practising the piano...Much like I should be working on my uni assignment!
Only a few days to go, and all my assessment tasks for this semester will be finished!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I'm struggling a bit with the second part of my ETL504 assignment, the bit where I need to discuss how my learning in a particular area has developed. I do get to choose which area I talk about, (from a list including 'quality management', 'innovation and change', 'conflict resolution'...) but I'm not sure that I have enough to say about any one of the choices! This is the part when I stop and think - so, what exactly did I learn? And it's all a bit of a blur...
I'm supposed to use my learning journal (this blog) to guide my discussion. I've been reading through my posts labelled ETL504, and I do say a lot! But can I demonstrate any real development of thought on any one topic? I feel that we have had so much to cover that it's been a bit like one of those tours where they say, "If it's Monday, then this must be Paris!". Except I'm saying, "If it's week 5 this must be 'negotiation'!".
I hope that you see my point. I'm saying that we have moved so quickly through so many different topics, that I'm finding it hard to chart my development on any particular topic.
I'm sure that I must have learned something! I just have to capture that learning and get it down onto paper.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
My son got 3rd place (bronze medal) in Level 2 Mens Short Track Tumbling at the NSW Gymnastics Country Championships!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The bad news is I have no time for clever, witty blog posts.
The good news is my pathfinder is finished!
The bad news is I am over my word limit.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I had a lovely break from the angst of uni assignments today. I had a lunch date with some girls that I went to high school with (we finished 20 years ago!), their husbands, and children. We had lunch in a nice, upmarket hotel not far from where we grew up. It has been updated quite a bit since our high school days of underage drinking! Now it has a lovely family-friendly bistro with an indoor play area for kids.
It's always great to catch up with the girls, we make sure that we "do lunch" about four times a year. But it had been ages since we'd caught up with all the kids. Of course everyone sees their own kids every day, and doesn't always realise just how much they've grown since the others saw them last. But with cries of "look how big they are!", we all admired each other's children!
Josh was thrilled not to be overrun with girls for once (he has lots of girl cousins!), at five boys to three girls the boys were in the majority. We hardly saw him all afternoon - the play area and the other boys kept him occupied. It was a little bit harder for Alana, at eleven she was the oldest child, and officially too old for the play area (designated for children up to 10). She did go in a few times with the younger girls, but couldn't quite stand up inside it and had to stoop a little! Poor thing!
Now I'm back home and back to work. I feel like the last couple of readings that I'm plowing through are finally getting to the heart of the matter. ETL504 is called "Teacher Librarian as Leader", and I finally feel like I'm understanding what this subject is getting at. Better late than never. I just hope that I can translate what I'm learning into assignment gold!
Lambert, L. (1998). What is Leadership Capacity? In Building Leadership Capacity in Schools (pp. 1-9). Alexandra: ASCD.
This article adds to the ideas explored in the last one by Hargreaves & Fink. It too, is concerned with how to maintain the momentum of change and improvement in schools beyond the tenure of any particular leader. It too explores the idea of leadership being shared among the school community rather than residing in one person.
Lambert explores the idea that a school must create its own internal responsibility for direction in order to maintain momentum and stay afloat. A significant number of teachers (presumably ideally all of them) should understand and be committed to the shared vision and central work of the school. This understanding will involve more than just knowledge about the innovation or program, but also leadership skills including the ability to capture the imagination of colleagues, negotiate changes and tackle conflicts.
This broadens the traditional concept of leadership into a shared endeavour of a community as they work towards a shared purpose. It is about learning together and creating shared meaning, generating ideas together, reflecting and having conversations. These conversations will lead to plans, strategies, responsibilities and continuous feedback and improvement.
Lambert suggests that it is important to use action research to generate information about how well students are learning. Then it is important to compare beliefs and expectations with the results of the research. This comparison is where a dialogue begins to work out strategies for the implementation of innovations. And once implementation is underway, the talking shouldn't stop. Teachers should continually tie what they are doing in the classroom to the shared purpose of the school.
These conversations can only take place in an environment of trusting relationships.
Now what, you may ask, does the picture at the top of this post have to do with the content?
"the vast majority of educational change that deepens learning and allows everyone to benefit from it neither spreads nor lasts." (Hargreaves & Fink, 2003, p. 694)
Sad, but true.
What makes educational improvement sustainable?
Friday, October 9, 2009
I am a very bad person. I am struggling to complete two uni assignments, offloading my children to my parents to be entertained for the holidays, not doing any housework...but still I manage to read Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris.
Book 6 in the Southern Vampires or Sookie Stackhouse series, and still loving it. From the inside cover notes:
"...Sookie Stackhouse...her cousin Hadley - a consort of the vampire queen of New Orleans...as unexpected heir to Hadley's estate, Sookie discovers the inheritance definitely comes with a risk. Someone doesn't want Sooke looking too deeply into Hadley's past..."
In this instalment, Sookie heads to New Orleans to settle her cousin's estate and meet with the vampire queen to hammer out the details of her attendance at the upcoming vampire summit. What seems like a relatively simple assignment quickly becomes more complicated. Sookie and her date (you'll have to read it to find out who!) are attacked by newly bitten weres after a pleasant night at the theatre. A half demon is killed in Sookie's yard while attempting to deliver a message from the queen's legal representative. And the dead body in Hadley's apartment closet turns out to be not so dead, when he rises for the first time as a newborn vampire as night falls.
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode in the Sookie Stackhouse series. The love interest (read it to find out who!) was satisfying! And I'm loving Amelia, a young witch who becomes friends with Sookie and helps her solve the mystery of the newborn vampire.
I also liked the way Harris wrapped up some loose ends that had been dangling for the last couple of books, like "What brought Bill to Bon Temps?" and "Will the Pelts ever give up looking for Debbie?".
I'm definitely looking forward to the next book All Together Dead. I'll try to wait until my assignments are submitted...
Thursday, October 8, 2009
"Vision becomes the life blood of leadership when it is shared." (Henri, 1994, p.12)
Today I am using this picture of a comet in a desperate attempt to lift my spirits. I'm trying hard to think of all the beauty and wonder in the world.
As you can tell, the resentment of my uni assignments has degenerated further into a blue funk.
So, time to turn it around and practice gratitude and positivity.
1. My wonderful, generous parents are taking my kids to see Up! at the movies today. My parents are always available to my siblings and I, whenever we need them. In fact, they make themselves available even if they're really not. So far this is the third day in a row that they're entertaining my kids for me so that I can work.
2. I have everything I need. This is not just a positive statement of fact, but kind of like a mantra. The more I say it, and remember it, the more it is true for me. I have enough. There is no need for me to grasp or desperately want. I am complete and whole.
3. I will do my best with my uni assignments, and guess what? My best is enough.
Ok, so you've been privvy to the inner workings of my mind for a few minutes. Now I'm ready to get on with my day. What wonderful things will I achieve? What marvellous progress will I make with my assignments?
Hope you enjoy your day.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm feeling a bit grumpy today, so have decided to try to cheer myself up with a cute puppy picture! Aaaaawww! Why am I feeling grumpy? I'm starting to resent my uni assignments.
The sun is shining today, and I'm shipping off my children to the caravan park to be entertained by my parents, so I can get on with work. So I'm feeling a little bit resentful of my assignments, which are not cooperating. They are complex, difficult, multi-part affairs, which are difficult to define and even more difficult to complete. Trying to squash all my thoughts, and everything that I'm learning, into the required form is doing my head in.
The assignment forums have been running hot with questions from students and responses from both other students that are trying to be helpful, and the lecturers who sometimes seem just a little bit frustrated by our ignorance! Don't get me wrong, they answer our questions with great patience, I just detect on occasion an undertone of exasperation! We ask all sorts of things, from the the mundane but necessary such as referencing, to the more existential. "What is the purpose of this part of the assignment? You seem to be asking such and such, but I think I'd rather talk about thus and so, which I think better meets the purpose." You guessed it, I am guilty of a few of those more curly questions. But you know what? I actually trying to learn something here, not just pass assignments. (Though I would really, really like to pass as well!)
Anyway, back to work for me. First I will swing by the forum to see if I have any answers yet...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
- Glue individual lash extensions to Alana's eyelashes. Yes, you read that right! Eleven year old girls who compete in ballet eisteddfods do so in full makeup, including false eyelashes.
- Sew ribbons on Alana's ballet shoes - with dental floss! Apparently, the wax on the floss makes it easier when sewing, as the floss glides easily through the ballet slipper. Then, when you're done, the warmth of the foot inside the shoe warms and softens the wax so that the ribbons stay sewn on tight. What will they think of next!
- Spray paint Alana's ballet shoes to bring back that "brand new pink".
Please don't let me get started on the costumes, hair-do's, music CD's etc that I will be wrangling tomorrow and Monday. I might accidently start to whinge!
Yesterday was the last day of school for the term, I now have the kids at home with me for the next two weeks. Along with Alana's eisteddfod, Josh has a gymnastics competition, Chris and I are attending a nephew's wedding, and we're getting together with some friends that I went to school with and their families for a BBQ. My parents are having a week at a caravan park with a fantastic swimming pool not far from here (great for the kids!), what a pity the forecast is for rain all week! Josh already has one sleepover organised, I have to make time to get together with a friend of mine who I haven't seen for weeks, and I promised Alana that I'd take her and some friends shopping.
And did I mention that I have two more uni assignments due within the next three weeks!!!
One day at a time. One step at a time. One foot in front of the other.
Attitude of gratitude.
Accentuate the positive.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
- Lists of resources/Dewey numbers can be provided for particular topics.
- Online reference sources (databases, encyclopaedies, dictionaries...) can be gathered on one page for easy access.
- Lists of links to web sites can be provided for particular topics.
- Pathfinders can be written for topics, combining lists of print resources with links to online reference sources and web sites.
- Webquests can be written for topics, which take the student on an interactive adventure in which a particular task (the quest) is undertaken.
For the purposes of this subject, we are concentrating on Pathfinders, and have to write one for a topic of our choice as our next assignment.
There are plenty of example pathfinders and webquests (which contain a similar combination of resources) already on the net, as well as websites designed to provide teachers and students with lists of resources by topic. Why re-invent the wheel, when you can get great ideas and links from others? It's just a matter of finding them...I'm now a fairly experienced internet searcher; I know to try different search (or meta-search) engines, use Boolean logic, quotation marks and the like! So I'm finding that I can lose hours and hours hopping from site to site checking out possible resources for my pathfinder. There's so much out there, and you can only really evaluate any resource's usefulness by looking at it. As well as electronic resources, I must include print ones too. I have been trawling through library catalogues and bookstore websites, but often the sort abstract or review provided is just not enough to help me to decide whether or not to list the resource. So I've also been visiting libraries and bookstores in person. Very time-consuming.
A little voice inside me is wondering whether I'm supposed to be so thorough? Is everyone taking pains to make sure that the books and websites that they list are helpful and relevant? At first glance the obvious answer is YES, but I'm not so sure...let me explain...
Topic I have chosen is from the Stage 4 (Years 7 & 8) Science Syllabus, and concerns the water cycle etc. Now I am not a science teacher. We can expect that not a lot of teacher librarians are science teachers. But in completing this assignment, I am educating myself on the water cycle enough that I can make an educated assessment of the value of resources. I need to know what must be covered in order to know whether or not the resource covers it. Now is everyone going to such pains? (Or have they chosen topics that they already know like the back of their hands? Or are they just assuming that their general knowledge is enough?)
I think that this issue raises a very important point about the necessity for collaboration between teachers and teacher librarians. Unless they work together, the results will not be satisfactory. Heaven help the teacher librarian that is creating a pathfinder for Stage 6 (Years 11 & 12) physics students on wave mechanics! They will certainly not have enough time in their day to educate themselves to the point where they can adequately select resources. The teacher's input will be vital.
The problem for me, in terms of this assignment, is that I don't have a science teacher to collaborate with! I think this highlights a bigger problem - that I'm trying to learn how to be a teacher librarian without being in a school (or a library). Challenging! I think it's why I tend to do better with my more theoretical assignments rather than the practical ones. (Either that, or I'm just a bit strange, and prefer thinking about things to actually doing them!)
So, if the teacher is a vital component to the making of a topic specific pathfinder, what does the teacher librarian bring to the table? Firstly, the librarian can make sure that information literacy skills are integrated into the pathfinder. Secondly, the librarian can coordinate pathfinders from all the different subjects and stages in the school, making sure that they have a consistent format, and are easily accessible to students. Thirdly, they can make sure that they regularly check pathfinders for dead links, and update the lists of electronic and print resources as needed.
Doesn't this lavendar farm look gorgeous? Imagine the smell! I'm burning some lavendar and jasmine in my oil burner at the moment, trying to relax and lift my mood. I've been struggling a bit. This time of year is always busy, it seems from now until Christmas the pressure builds and builds. This year I'm studying as well as the usual business of family life and work, so I'm feeling the pinch.
As usual, when I feel stressed, it only takes one thing to tip me over the edge. Today it was receiving my first assignment results for the semester. Disappointing. Not what I needed today. Now that I've had a chance to think it through, I realise that I took a calculated risk with this assignment. I weighed up several factors, including the fact that it was only worth 30% of my final mark for the subject, and went ahead and submitted it despite knowing that I had strayed from the set task. Foolish? Perhaps so. We have been told to make sure that we read the requirements carefully. Fair enough. But to be honest, I really believed that the assignment I wrote was better than what I would have done by sticking strictly to the task. Being an optimist, I even thought that what I'd written demonstrated original thought and I really hoped that the marker would think it was fantastic! Oh well.
We live and learn. We make mistakes. We get back up and try again. We are not defined by our failures. My next assignments are going to be fabulous (and I'm going to stick to the task definition like glue!).