listen2learners – "It's just what we do"

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Tara, Emily and Dhugan took part in the listen2learners forum at the Melbourne State Library, on Monday 11th October. This forum was an opportunity for teachers, education department leaders, software designers, business leaders and other interested parties, to listen to learners. I was blown away by the maturity, independence, collaboration, problem solving and confidence which was evident in each of the 12 school groups who spent the day talking to the adults.

Several things impressed me at the forum. The technology savvy students was the first stand out impression, but another fabulous “take away” for me was the genuine interest those attending the forum, actually invested in really listening to these students. This was not just a token forum where innovative projects were show cased. The “listeners” were really listening. They were really interested in what the students had to say, what they were doing, what they were thinking and where they were going.

Another thing I will never forget, is the comment Tara gave in response to a question from one “listener” who asked the students, “so what is e-learning?” For a moment, they said nothing. They did a lot of looking at each other without coming up with an answer. Finally Tara shrugged and replied “it’s just what we do.” The man who had asked the question, grinned broadly and said “yay!”. He went on to explain that as a dinosaur, he had a tag for what it was the students were doing, because it was so different to how he had learnt at school. The fact that our students don’t see it as “using computers”, the fact that they see it as “just what we do” was exactly the response he was seeking.

I came home from this amazing forum with the confirmation that tomorrow’s leaders are indeed in our schools today and that the skills they are developing as collaborators, communicators, innovators and problem solvers can only be further developed if we continue to listen to what they have to say. We need to be less “sage on the stage” and much more “guide on the side” (INTEL Teach to the Future.) We need to let go of the reins and give them the opportunity to lead. We have got to learn to listen!

Read another blog post about the day.
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Students being interviewed and filmed about the Flat Classroom Project.

China Trip 2010


Wow! China 2010 was amazing. 2 staff, 5 students and 4 other adults have just returned from an awesome 13 day visit to China. The trip went like clockwork. All trains, buses and planes connected, the accommodation was great, food was amazing, and the sights, history and people of China combined to give us an unforgettable experience. Highlights included climbing the Great Wall of China, visiting the Terracotta Warriors, the Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, Tiger Hill, The temple of Heaven and cruising down a canal in a traditional dragon boat, in the beautiful city of Sujhou. Speak to Tavish, Emily, Tara, Kimberley, Grace, Mr Webb, Ms Murnane, Mrs Birthisell or Mrs Lee to find out more details of our amazing, unforgettable, completely awesome visit to China. We have thousands of photos between us and heaps of experiences to recount. By the end of our visit, we felt a little like this adorable panda below, but we were exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.

A surprise package………….for Class 9!


Do you recognise these papers and pamphlets? They were sent to Mrs. Barthelomew’s class in UK for a project about Australia. Here is what they wrote on their class blog:

 “Class 9 were extremely excited yesterday to receive a mystery package! We used the clues from the packaging to work out that it had been sent from Australia. On opening the parcel we were thrilled to find local newspapers, leaflets, information cards and a letter all about Australia’s flora and fauna, sport, lifestyle and indigenous people which had been sent by Britt at Hawkesdale college. These will look fab on our class display about Australia along with the many postcards that we have been receiving over the last few weeks. A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to our topic so far!”

Toys from Siberia!


Russian Toys

Grade 5 students are excited about two new toys that they have been sent from their ‘buddy’ school in Siberia. The school in Russia is Abanskaya School. (see how they start the school year!) It is in the town of Aban, which is in the Krasnoyarsk region, right in the middle of Russia. The group that we are working with are from the English speaking group. It is assumed that it is a group of students who do English as an elective. The school, like ours, has students from 5 to 18 years.  Our students are writing to students who range in age from about 8 to 12.

Read the letter that accompanied the toys:-

Dear friends,

Now we have summer holidays. Summer is not very long at our place, so we enjoy our hot days, swimmin and other outdoor activities. We sent you these toys. One of them is a tiger. Its name is Tigrenok. There are a lot of tigers in Russian forests. We hope you will like this little tiger and make friends with it.

The other is Cheburashka. It is one of the favourite cartoon characters. You can find some information on the Internet. If you press his body, it can speak and sing a song.

girls and toys

Mayors for Peace – Mayor Michael Neoh's visit

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Mayor Michael Neoh, Mayor of the Warrnambool City Council, visited our college this morning to sign the paper work signifying the decision by the Warrnambool City Council, to join the Mayor’s for Peace initiative. Junior school Captains Alannah and Tate, made a short presentation to the Mayor, thanking him and the Councillors, for supporting the student voice at Hawkesdale P12, in sending this strong message to the world, that cities are not targets for nuclear weapons. I would like to express my own appreciation to Mayor Neoh, for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule, to come and visit the students and convey to them, the importance of the invitation they extended to Council, and the importance the Council placed on this decision. Sincere thanks to Mayor Neoh for his visit.
Below is the presentation the students made to Mayor Neoh.

On behalf of the Hawkesdale P12 College community, we would like to thank you – Mayor Michael Neoh and the Councillors of Warrnambool City Council, for joining the Mayors for Peace project.
This project began in 1982 at the United Nations. The Mayor of Hiroshima came up with an idea to promote the message across the world, that cities wanted the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
This project allows cities all over the world, to work together to support the total abolition of Nuclear weapons.
By all the mayors and communities signing up to the Mayors for Peace project, you are helping us to send the message to world leaders, that no one wants to live in a city or community with the threat of nuclear weapons hanging over us.
I think it’s great that us small children can have such a big effect on our future. In signing up, you have helped make our small voices be heard on a global stage. Thank you for signing up to the mayors for peace project and helping us to get rid of the nuclear weapons

Rapping for world peace – Ban the bomb

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Students in years 5, 6 and 7 were lucky to have spent the morning with Cat, Kaso and Madelaine from ICan and Friends of the Earth respectively, who guided our students through the process of writing and recording a rap. The rap has a very strong global peace message which focused on nuclear abolition. There was lots of giggling, team work, brainstorming of ideas and a sharing of a common understanding – that we want to live in a world free of nuclear weapons. At the beginning of the day, we had a group of shy, quiet students who were unsure and uncertain about the world of rap. By the time the 3 girls had finished the morning, we had a group of excited, confident and surprisingly “cool” rappers. Cat, Kaso and Madelaine recorded all the individual groups rapping and are taking it away to put with the soundtrack. They will return early term 4, with the finished product and will spend the day with us, filming the students performing. This was an outstanding activity and one which brought all the artistic and creative talents to the fore.

Valanga Khosa – visiting singer and storyteller

Valanga Khosa

What an exciting finish to Literacy week! On Friday, students from Prep to Year 8 had the opportunity to hear the songs, sounds and stories from Valanga Khosa, who visited us from Melbourne. Valanga is participating in the Port Fairy Book Fair celebrations this weekend and the Moyne Shire Council organised his appearance at Hawkesdale. Valanga was born in South Africa and spent his youth in Alexandra, a black township in Johannesburg, and in rural Transvaal. Growing up in a community where many could neither read or write, music and dance and storytelling were an integral part of the culture of his people. He has written a picture book available at the school library called “Gezani and the tricky baboon” and has toured schools throughout Australia.

Valanga entertained our students with his story of growing up in a very small village with six very tall sisters and three very tall brothers and his grey-haired grandparents. He told us about when his grandparents first suggested he go to school, his first ride in a motor car and his first taste of chewing gum.  Even Year 8 students sat on the floor, fixated for the full fifty minutes, with his story and music from instruments Valanga had made in refugee camps. In the Year 6/7/8 session, Valanga spoke briefly about racism in South Africa and hopefully gave students some understanding of how privileged they are to live in Australia, where the majority of people have easy access to schools, uniforms, equipment and technology. Please revisit this post next week, when I will have uploaded the video of his period 5 performance, including music, stories and songs.

So you think you've got talent? – Hawkesdale's answer to the X Factor

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This afternoon, students from year 8G staged a talent show in the stadium, for students in years Prep – 8. Wow! Have we got some talent! Apart from a fairly annoying sound glitch, the show went off without a hitch. We were entertained with singing, dancing, jokes, poems, gymnastics, karate and Trev and his amazing abs of steel. We laughed and clapped and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was nearly moved to tears, when our youngest performer stood on that stage in her sweet little costume and sang like an angel. I am sooooooooo very proud firstly, of the talented students we have here at school, and secondly, of the 8G students (and Jack) who planned, organised and staged this successful event. I wish we could have bottled the enthusiasm, the excitement and the energy of today’s event. It was really very special.

Melbourne Camp – Year 5

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Congratulations to the students in year 5, on their fabulous behaviour on this week’s 3 day school camp to Melbourne. We had a great time because everyone was so willing to cooperate, do the right thing and make this a fabulously fun experience. We went to the brilliant Melbourne Icehouse where 20 students started off shakily on iceskates, and ended up speed racing each other by the end of the 2 hours. A special mention to Mrs Butters who lasted way longer than Mrs Brown or Ms Murnane, and who actually made it across the ice with only one fall. We then went on a one hour cruise down the Yarra River, followed by a really interesting tour around the MCG. We finished off that night with a visit to Laser Skirmish where the teachers were well and truly silenced by cheeky children who were determined to make sure our laser lives were short. A game of 10 pin bowling and an icecream at Southbank, finished off a fun first day. Both the laser skirmish and the 10 Pin Bowling are located in the Galactic Circus, the largest indoor interactive theme park in Australia.

On the remaining 2 days, we saw a brilliant 3D movie at IMAX called Ghosts of the Abyss.This movie is about the TITANIC and movie director James Cameron’s dive to the bottom of the ocean, some 3.8kms deep, on an adventure back to the final grave of this beautiful ship, almost a century ago. “In this unprecedented motion picture event, made especially for IMAX 3D Theatres, Cameron and his team bring audiences to sights not seen since the sinking 98 years ago and explore why the landmark vessel – more than any shipwreck – continues to intrigue and fascinate the public.”

We then took part in a role play at the Old Melbourne Gaol, called a Courtroom Drama, followed by a really interesting tour of the Gaol itself. This included lots of information and a couple of ghost stories which made the hair stand up on the back of our necks. During the afternoon, we visited the Melbourne Zoo where we managed to see Mali, the baby elephant, still playing with his mum. Dinner that evening was at Universal Pizza in the famous Lygon St in Carlton, where we enjoyed pizza and pasta – all you can eat. (Ask Paddy how many slices of pizza he managed to eat!) We finished day 2 with a trip to the top of the Eureka Tower, which includes a very fast trip up in the elevator, which covers 8 metres per second!

Our final day was spent at the Melbourne Museum, seeing the Titanic Exhibition. “This fascinating exhibition features over 280 real artefacts recovered from the ocean floor along with room re creations and personal stories; each highlighting a different chapter in the compelling story of Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912.” An hour and a half at the Queen Victoria Market, completed our awesome visit to Melbourne and we arrived home after a 3 hour train trip, to the Warrnambool Railway Station. This trip was an awesome experience and thanks must go to Mrs Butters who did the bulk of the organisation and to the beautifully behaved students who allowed us to have so much fun.

Grade 4 skype a person who has MS

Student asking their question
Student asking their question

Grade 4 after their magnificent fundraising effort for the MS readathon drew up some questions and were able to skype a person who has multiple sclerosis and ask him directly, their questions. Skype was used for its videoconferencing facilities. Here are some of their questions:-

  1. When did you first find out that you had MS? How old were you then? How long have you had it for?
  2. How did you and your family react when you found out that you had MS?
  3. What did Doctors do to work out that you had MS?
  4. What Symptoms do you have?
  5. Many people with MS have trouble walking. Do you have trouble?
  6. Do you have trouble with your eyesight?
  7. Have they (The symptoms) made it hard or more difficult to do everyday things?
  8. What do you do for work? Have you had to change things since you got MS?  
  9. Do you have to take medication to help with your symptoms? What medication?Is your medication expensive?

What a fantastic outcome and great use of skype! Well done, Ms Vize and grade 4.

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