Possum Magic


This past weekend I spent time with my fellow Rotarians at Echuca and Moama which are twin towns on either side of our mighty Murray River. The Murray  forms the border of the States of  Victoria and New South Wales. We stayed  in cabins at the attractive Murray River Resort. After dark we found a Brush Tailed Possum in the trees near our cabin. Since we are talking about and drawing Australian animals in Art this Term I was fortunate to be able to get up close enough to take some phootgraphs of these shy creatures. This one is a female and because Possums are marsupials, if you look carefully, you will see her pouch on her underbelly.

Graeme Base – Thank You for the Magic

Our Grade 5 and  6 students are looking at the writing and illustrations of  Graeme Base. They were impressed by the fact that as a 10 year old Graeme’s love of drawing was encouraged by his Grade 5 teacher in Box Hill in suburban Melbourne. His teacher, Max, bought his dragon drawing for $15 which sent him on the path towards Art as a career. Graeme’s fantastic website has a Challenge for his latest book “The Golden Snail”. Our students have thoroughly enjoyed finding the  28 hidden snail and crossbones symbols and then holding the back of the book in front of the webcam in order to see the “magic”. In an act of Augmented Reality the snail appears in a cloud and sails about according to how the book is moved. We hope that you get the chance to try and enjoy it  too.


Hey, Hey, Blinky Bill.

Blinky Bill CaitlynIMG_6471

Our Grade One and Two students are looking at the Blinky Bill stories of Australian Author and Illustrator Dorothy Wall. Published in 1933, the stories still capture the interest of our students who are more familiar with the characters because they have seen them on ABC TV  here in Australia. I bought the DVD  from an ABC Shop and played them a little of it on our Big Screen TV. I cropped these photos because we need parent approval to publish their faces and that has to be obtained anew each year.The looks of concentration and enjoyment on their faces  go a long way towards “assessment” of their progress in Art. It seems a shame that more subjects are not assessed in that way which would leave more time for “doing” and hence “understanding”. Caitlin has the pink art smock and Ryder has the red one. Beautiful Painting Grade 1. Dorothy Wall would surely be as proud as I am.

What’s your Passion?


Last night I attended my regular Monday evening Rotary Meeting where two young girls spoke of their experiences in Rotary Youth programs. Emily , who is 20, spoke about RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) and Yolanda who is in Year 12 at Lowther Hall spoke of NYSF (National Youth Science Forum). Both are week long camps which foster self development. Emily told us that the thing she gained most was that the students were given time to speak with no interuptions about the topics they were passionate about and they we also given “me ” time to just think about their passions and dreams. She now knows clearly what her passions are.Yolanda spoke of the fear she had prior to attending the Science based camp that she would not measure up academically and that she mightn’t make friends easily like she did at school. She found that her fear was  completely unfounded. All the 150 students mixed together well and had an enormous range of interest besides Science.
Besides my family I am passionate about Art, Learning, ICT and Rotary. Besides your family what are your passions?

Big Screen TV vs Interactive White Board



Two years ago fellow Art Specialist teacher Glenys Vella and I convinced our Principal that we needed an IWB or a Big Sceen TV for the Visual Arts Room. Fortunately there wasn’t enough money available for an IWB so we ended up with our 42 inch Sanyo TV. We use it as a monitor for our one computer but for now, for us,  it is “just right”. I say that because the picture is SO clear and the sound is of a high standard. Our students can see the screen easily in our well lit room unlike the IWB’s around the school which struggle to show a clear picture in our bright classrooms. The use of this technology and, more particulary, the use of our Visual Arts Blog as a  teaching and learning tool has transformed the way we teach Art. We don’t spend too long each session looking at the TV screen as the students are eager to become”hands on” with their art work. Our Early Finishers like to play  the Art Games from our Blog. We find the use of such technology has broadened our horizons and made us a part of the Global learning community. The students often ask to go to the Cluster Map to see how many visitors we’ve had. Even our youngest students love watching the Revolver Map. We can thoroughly recommend the Big Screen TV.

We Welcome Sweet Caroline


Taylors Lakes Primary School is fortunate to have  multi talented Caroline Le Sueur as one of  our Music Teachers.  This year Caroline, who plays  Percussion in the South Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Kew Band and sings and plays in a  duo entitled “A Little Bit Professional”, has been asked to take three  Visual Arts Lessons . As  one of her mentors I felt that it was necessary to get Caroline into the right frame of mind by taking her Art Shopping. We travelled to ZART in Box Hill where an “art supermarket” was at our fingertips.The  Zart staff were very helpful and  told  us about an upcoming  3 day  practical Back to Basics Workshop  at Zart for beginning Art Teachers. Our Principal, Chris Sevior, gave us the OK and Caroline  participated, learning  a lot. We welcome Caroline to the Visual Arts team and hope to exhibit some of her students’ work here soon.

A Blank Canvas



My first classes arrive in our Visual Arts Room tomorrow so  last week Mrs Vella and I spent some time reorganizing the  work tables, Reading Corner, supply tables etc  into a new arrangement.The Teacher Challenge had asked that we visit other Blogs and  in doing so I discovered The Teaching Palette where I got some great Art Room tips which I put into action. Photographing the room I felt  its bare appearance  and likened it to a blank canvas.Tomorrow we start the 2011 year with some drawing related to Initial letters and Graeme Base’s illustrations. The Art Room has no soul without the students’  creative ideas and  their colourful work displayed. Soon our Room will be a work of Art again. Whether it will be a masterpiece will be up to us all. Welcome back everyone.

Still Reflecting


The 2011 School year has begun for teachers in Victoria, Australia, with three Pupil-Free days of Professional Development before the students arrive tomorrow.These sessions are often a good opportunity for us to reflect on what it is like to be a student in a large class. On the first day the emphasis was on Literacy and we are pleased to welcome a new Literacy Coach, Sue Costelloe, from New Zealand. I’m hoping to convince her of the value of Class and Individual Blogs as valuable learning tools for  all the Literacy areas. The school’s wireless network refused to work yesterday leaving us without a good portion of our Ultranet instruction. The warm up games were fun  in the Performance and Development Culture session  and the Anaphylaxis Training was very thought provoking and practical.Today’s Maths sessions should be practical and leave teachers feeling ready for the students tomorrow. Meanwhile I’m still reflecting on my holidays and learning in general. I took this  photo on the Murray River at Barmah, NSW.The paddle boat seems to be abandoned.