2011 retrospective – 8 — August

So Jack Vidgen won Australia’s Got Talent. And I spotted the first blossoms of spring.

On 3 August I noted the effect Australia’s Got Talent had had on this blog.

An engagement around the class of 1968 at Cronulla High was developing: 1968:

See Ah, the good old days!; How young we were!; More Cronulla High memories.

Now I find, thanks to Marilyn, that Cronulla High is having a 50th Anniversary Open Day and Dinner on September 17. Someone has published scans of the 1968-69 school magazine, which I edited and no longer have a copy of. I was shanghaied into the job, in fact – and if I recall it was during the summer school holidays on Cronulla Beach that Geoff McCaughan and his associates presented me with their piles of stuff…

I continue in An old soldier remembers The Somme…..

Still on education with Edublogging and I–with an aside on classroom management. After some examples from WAY BACK of my own early attempts —

The site above morphed into English/ESL and eventually moved to WordPress. In 2002 a gig with Year 12 extension led to another go at more interactive edublogging using Diary-X, itself now just a memory. See a copy (minus the interactivity) at Workshop 06 — Year 12 Extension 1: pomo 2002.

Among the many now concerned with using ICT in education are two of my regular blog reads – Darcy Moore and Maximos62. And of course Thomas.

Yesterday I mentioned the ETA Conference – which continues today. Thomas and Mr R had a successful session, it appears, and I was quite chuffed when I was checking something else to stumble on what Thomas has been doing in a Year 10 class at his school. The platform he used is very like WordPress: “Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts – it’s safe, easy and secure.”

Naturally I can’t reveal the address of Thomas’s class blog, but I can say it is a great success and is very well thought through. Even the most conservative critic of computer use in schools would have to be impressed with the potential in what Thomas and his class have been doing.

As an example of thinking things through, here are Thomas’s rules for his students.

This is our blog to develop our knowledge and contribute to our learning. Members of class will be participating in a class blog for the purposes of:

  • Responding to and commenting on curriculum topics and units as we study them;
  • Creating written projects/ media projects and commenting on each other’s work;
  • Reviewing and sharing study strategies before tests and quizzes;
  • Talking about varied points of view on a topic;
  • Discussing current events;
  • Making classroom suggestions, and;

To use the blog, you must agree to the following statements.

  • I will not use any curse words or inappropriate language.
  • I will not use fighting words or provoke anyone.
  • I will avoid the use of chat language.
  • I will try to spell everything correctly.
  • I will only give constructive criticism.
  • I will not use my full name, or the name of my classmates.
  • I will not plagiarize.

He goes on to outline penalties for breaching the rules.

I dips my lid, Thomas. Well done! But such a lot of work to maintain, I would think! Especially if you had one in each of five or six classes.

I did more recently have an active edublog for my coachees – until last year in fact. It still exists. At least one of last year’s coachees still visits it too. The material in his section is obviously continuing to be relevant in Year 12.

7 August was a Busy Sunday in Sydney and More on Sunday’s excursion.  Sirdan’s birthday.

Then a change of topic: Watch this, folks! James Delingpole is hilarious! That’s on one of the dopey conservatives in the UK. Next day I received what I called a “stinking turd” – related to another issue — in my email box: This was meant to be a comment on current affairs….  This is the turd:


Then came all that excitement in the UK. You will see my immediate reaction there.

Quite a few posts in August are like Magic moments and fading memory.  Partly it is weariness, and partly it is appreciation. You be the judge. Perhaps you should also remind yourself what Rhipidura leucophrys is.

13 August and I was Quietly being contentious….

… Meanwhile too I have been carefully reading a contentious history in a field where rational discussion in next to impossible: Israel and Palestine. The book is The Invention of the Jewish People (Hebrew: מתי ואיך הומצא העם היהודי?‎, Matai ve’ech humtza ha’am hayehudi?, literally When and How was the Jewish People Invented?) is a study of the historiography of the Jewish people by Shlomo Sand, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University….

16 August: see Tread warily in the graveyard called Palestine/Israel [I see today yet another leading member/presidential hopeless in the USA has waded in like a dunny man with a full can on his shoulder approaching a hidden sand trap…  Gingrich. Where do these people park their brains? With the chewing gum on the bedpost? So depressing! Even more so if the shit-for-brains is elected! Or maybe he has a brain and is simply unable to achieve any balance or objectivity … No, it seems Gingrich isn’t dumb. It’s worse than that.]

On 18 August From Wollongong Library:

I introduced Mr R to the delights of the Yum Yum Cafe yesterday afternoon. In the course of conversation about books I mentioned Wollongong Library stores my past borrowings. Lately these have been: [Links do not open in new windows.]

  1. The lost and forgotten languages of Shanghai fascinating
  2. Ninth square ordinary
  3. Back to Bologna very funny – Aurelio Zen mystery.
  4. The invention of the Jewish people provocative, important, fascinating, challenging
  5. Two sons in a war zone : Afghanistan : the true story of a father’s conflict for its content rather than style
  6. A taste for death P D James. What can you say?
  7. God of speed Oz writer Luke Davies on Howard Hughes – very good novel.
  8. Blood moon by Gary Disher – Oz crime fiction. Good plot, sometimes a bit heavy-handed politically.
  9. The lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot : a new look at betrayer and betrayed – scholarly
  10. Devil’s peak by Deon Meyer – excellent South African crime fiction which also gives quite an insight into the  country now.
  11. White riot – excellent British thriller – very topical, in retrospect.
  12. When pigeons fly to nowhere “ Stefan Raicu was born and educated in communist Romania. As a teenager and young adult, he experienced the hardship of life behind the Iron Curtain. He completed an Economics Honours degree in 1978 and then together with his wife and young son, migrated to Australia in 1983. He currently works as a freelance Accountant, Finance and Business Adviser in south-western Sydney.”
  13. Rattle his bones : a Daisy Dalrymple mystery amusing
  14. Around Africa on my bicycle – Riaan  Manser – good, but I didn’t finish it!
  15. The Atlantic Ocean : essays on Britain and America by Andrew O’Hagen – this is a wonderful collection of essays.
  16. A case of two cities – Qiu Xiaolong  — Excellent!

Currently I have out:

My grumpiness grew in Green idiots are no better than climate change denialists… – and I am not backing off now either. Balanced it a bit with Counting our blessings (while reading “The Weekend Oz”). I was then very happy to note I’m feeling justified in the matter of David Hicks – and I still am!

22 August had a slightly misleading heading: Steel City no more! The item is about Bluescope deciding not to export steel any more and reducing Port Kembla to just one blast furnace. It is slightly misleading because The Gong hasn’t really been a steel city for a couple of decades now… Serious news though: Naturally the local news outweighs most things this morning, It’s spring in Port Kembla… and Here’s a bit of outrage from the local scene.

We had had a TV feast too with 50 Years of “4 Corners”. Excellent. Led me to reflect on that same time frame.

A bit of family history in Wollongong is relevant to the current woes of the local steel industry: The woman I thought was my aunt’s maid.

Bessie Foskett, then, was what we would now call PA to Sir Cecil Hoskins, one of the bigwigs in the history of industry in this country and especially in this area. She lived for as long as I can remember with my aunt and uncle, Ella and George Moon, in Wollongong. Because it was so often Bessie who appeared to be in the kitchen I made my erroneous judgement about her role, even asking my mother once if Bessie was Aunt Ella’s maid. There was much laughter about that…

30 August: Wikis and weblogs and trolls, oh my!

Such a good title! A student of secondary teaching at Melbourne University has just started an edublog with that name.

No matter how fancy or whizz-bang our teaching presentations or animations of enzymes are, if we can’t get the kids listening and engaged we may as well try can-can dancing up and down the classroom with sparklers in our hair.

I am currently teaching two rather rowdy classes in Year 8 and Year 9, and have been learning the fundamental lesson that no matter what wonderful things you have planned to teach, you can’t actually teach them if you can’t effectively manage classroom dynamics. As my Year 7s and Year 11s last semester were much more manageable, this is my first real test of my behaviour management techniques, and it’s a bit of a learning curve.

Kristy’s first post led me to Teaching the iGeneration by Larry Rosen.

Studying generational similarities and differences can be tricky; no individual completely fits the profile of a particular generation. But research suggests that the majority of people born between a rough set of dates actually do share many characteristics (see Strauss & Howe, 1991).

Those born between about 1925 and 1946 are often called the Traditional or Silent generation. Growing up through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, they are characterized by a belief in common goals and respect for authority. The Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, tends to be optimistic, idealistic, and communicative and to value education and consumer goods. The next generation, born between 1965 and 1979, were defined by Douglas Coupland (1991) as Generation X in his book of the same name; the label X signifies that, compared with the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers are not as easily categorized.

With the 1980s and the birth of the World Wide Web, the power of cyberspace came to the masses and a new generation of web surfers, very different from their predecessors, was born. The most common label for this generation is Generation Y, simply meaning the generation after X. Some people stretch this generation past 1999 and refer to its members as Millennials. To me, these names are an insult to our first true cyber generation. This generation should not be defined by the next letter in the alphabet or by the turn of the century. I believe that Don Tapscott’s (1999) term—the Net Generation—better reflects the impact of the Internet on the lives of its members.

On the basis of our research with thousands of teenagers and their parents, my colleagues and I have identified a separate generation, born in the 1990s and beyond, which we label the i Generation. The i represents both the types of digital technologies popular with children and adolescents (iPhone, iPod, Wii, iTunes, and so on) and the highly individualized activities that these technologies make possible. Children and youth in this new generation are defined by their technology and media use, their love of electronic communication, and their need to multitask.

Parenthetically, we are just starting to examine a separate minigeneration of kids like Mikey and Brittani, who not only are facile with individualized mobile technologies, but also have the expectation that if they conceive of something, they should be able to make it happen. If an app doesn’t exist for something they want to do on a smartphone, they just assume that nobody has created it yet and that it should be a piece of cake to do so. All in all, a fascinating minigeneration.

Good stuff, but one can’t help wondering at the odd parochialism in such things. All I have to do to see that is talk to M who was born in Shanghai in 1962!