Celebrate Australia Day!

Each year, when school returns we are immediately plunged into Australia Day celebrations – and at such a busy time of the year!

Below are some terrific resources that require little preparation, so you can grab and go and impress your new class with exciting and informative lessons.

The ABC has a terrific page full of news and information about Australia Day, suitable for high school students, with a special focus on our Australian of the Year. Find out how Australia Day is celebrated, read about what the day means to others, and explore what it is like to be a young Aussie living in a regional area.

2014-01-24_1458Explore with students how they each celebrate Australia Day, and then use the Australia Day website to explore how people across the nation celebrated. This site also features Australian history, teaching resources and digital learning objects for students to complete.


Celebrate by sharing some wonderful Australian literature; this Pinterest board links to a number of titles, for younger and older readers, which would be great to share, as we reflect on our heritage and celebrate all that it is to be Australian. Many of these titles are available to borrow from the ResourceLink library for those who work in Brisbane Catholic Education, or to download from our BCE Digital Library.

Simple printable activities for early years’ students are available for download here. Rather than simply colouring the images in, why not have the students find photos of the flora or fauna online, and try to replicate their colours as closely as they can, or colour, cut out and create simple jigsaw puzzles to test their friends?

Why not search Trove for a fantastic range of photos, articles and digitised resources that show students how Australians have celebrated this day throughout history? A classic example is this photo reported to have been taken on the ‘first Australia Day’ in 1901:

  1. A.N.A. Day 1901. The first Australia Day  Colquhoun, James, fl. 1896-1915, (photographer.)

    A.N.A. Day 1901. The first Australia Day
    Colquhoun, James, fl. 1896-1915, (photographer.)


There are so many ways to explore and celebrate Australia Day – why not share your ideas and experiences in the comments?



A wonderful colleague has alerted me to the fantastic wealth of resources available on the TES Australia website; with links for Primary and Secondary learning activities, video clips such as the one below and links to other resources, it is definitely one to check out.

The ASSISI Experience: Animators for Sustainability

You may be thinking that this article will feature reflections on a recent sojourn to one of Umbria’s most beautiful walled cities, the birthplace of St Francis, the ancient city of Assisi.  As magnificent as that beautiful city is and any pilgrim’s journal will recount, this is a reflection of a similar yet different type of ASSISI experience, an experience that engages with Sustainability.

How might we imagine what sustainability is and how might we go about developing a sustainable future.  Alex Steffen an American futurist and co-founder of World Changing  attempts to see a sustainable future in his TED Education Talk below.

Educators are called to engage students in a conversation about sustainability, a conversation that calls all participants to action.

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using Instaquote

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using Instaquote

Recently, at Santa Theresa Spirituality Centre, Ormiston, Brisbane,  fifteen participants engaged in a four day retreat experience for Animators of Sustainability facilitated by Luke Edwards of Catholic Earthcare Australia and Megan Seneque, an international systems change consultant.   For Catholic Earthcare Australia, the acronym ASSISIA Strategic Systems-based Integrated Sustainability Initiative is used to name their three-day, transformative process for animators and transformative it was.

After experiencing ASSISI, all participants stated freely that they found themselves in a new place of understanding, seeing the world and becoming much more attuned to sustainability from a Catholic Christian perspective.  All animators would agree that it was a capacity building and worthwhile process. Some animators have been moved to write their reflections of this significant experience.

What was the ASSISI experience like for me?

Alex Collins, Manager from Centacare, Rockhampton Diocese:

I can summarise my experience as one of involution, revolution and evolution.   Involution is that the first twelve hours gave my mind and spirit a workout through reflection and in this process I discovered how many patterns within me as a leader were unfit.  By day four I felt all my paradigms and existing behavioural rituals evolutionising, the experience of listening with an open heart, mind and hands taught me in a new way that what is around me is also inside me.  Becoming an animator has placed me in a new evolutionary point, one that is an invitation to shape shift our vision of sustainability as spirit-nourishing and we have the capacity to welcome others into this new system.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread, Fleet and Security Coordinator – Office Services, Brisbane Catholic Education:

ASSISI gave us a chance for listening, conversation, engaging, sharing thought, reflection, challenges, engaging with new concepts and techniques, confusion, U turns, realisations, “ah-ha” moments, new understandings, deep thinking and moving forward.

Dalveen Fletcher, Year 5 Teacher, St Eugene’s College, Burpengary:

Dalveen, with others from the school community, have developed the Eugreenies’ Community Garden.

This experience for me was very daunting initially.  I felt rather out of my depth, mostly because I’d assumed that everyone else had a far greater understanding of what was being spoken about.  As the days progressed I felt myself at a turning point in my thinking, taking a U-turn as per lots of the diagrams we had investigated in relation to animating change within my own organization.  At the conclusion of our time together I felt re-energised, valued and ready to move forward using many of the new strategies we had talked about.

Dalveen at work in the Eugreenies’ Community Garden

Jenifer Fowler at work in the Eugreenies’ Community Garden

What new learning did you experience?

Dalveen Fletcher:

I learnt far more than I could possibly remember or follow up on without revisiting all the documents we were given.  However, what has stayed very much in my mind is a diagram we looked at, yet another big U that focused on ‘letting go’ and ‘letting come’ as the turning point in animating change.  This has been invaluable in far more situations than I thought possible and I do see a new ‘me’ emerging.  Let’s hope this is also sustainable.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

New concepts, heightened understanding of my role and those of others across the organization.

Kerry Rush, Senior Education Officer Brisbane Catholic Education Office:  Dutton Park:

I learnt many things, but one of my biggest learnings was that transformative change is best brought about by a holistic approach that engages a group or groups towards integrated solutions instead of using a fragmented, pushing through, driving to solution approach that is frequently supported with “so called” consultation processes that arrive at preconceived solutions.   Holistic transformative approaches to change can look like this:  a group or groups of people engaging in generative conversations, appreciative inquiry, attentive listening, that fosters rich and authentic dialogue to co-plan and collaborative act.  Such groups that are working in this way will get to a point of realizing that they know what they don’t know and will freely draw on multi-disciplined knowledge, skills interests and capacities of others to join and support the groups’ initiatives. A holistic notion of sustainability underpins Assisi.   This understanding of sustainability is one that incorporates human, social (cultural/economic/political) and environmental sustainability.  It is not just about caring for the environment, it is about caring for and sustaining all of God’s creation.  In light of this new understanding I was able to self-reflect and critique my own successes and failures to lead sustainable change over the years.

A very accessible text that is pre-requisite reading for the ASSISI program is Denis Edwards’ book, “Jesus in the Natural World”.  It has so many gems about ecological conversion.  Paraphrased from the book’s blurb, ecological conversion requires a radical change of mind and heart.  Such a conversion will lead to a deeper love and respect for all of creation.  This involves moving towards sustainable lifestyle, patterns of production and consumption, economic and political choices.

Watch an interview with Denis Edwards regarding his book “Jesus in the Natural World” below.

Would you recommend the program to anyone else?

Dalveen Fletcher:

I would highly recommend this program to others who are striving to make changes within their own work places.  However, I believe it is best to have others from your own work place with you to complete action plans and start from the same understandings explored during the time together.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread and Kerry Rush:

Absolutely, most definitely!

What does being an ASSISI animator now mean to you?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Being an ASSISI animator means a great deal to me at this time.  The term ‘animator’ means, to me, facilitating changes, not having to make these changes happen all by myself.  I see the role as a person on a journey of change with many like-minded individuals and communities working together to achieve success.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

Communicating from the heart to spread the word about sustainability.

Kerry Rush:

Being an animator for me, still mean having energy for or inspiring energy for something.  It’s also about trusting people, promoting participation and letting go of the way you want things to go.  Also I think the idea of Denis Edwards of seeing things properly with the eyes of wisdom is terrific challenge for animators to aspire to and practise.  This requires seeing all things as loved by God, eyes that listen and connect:  seeing things with loving eyes beyond arrogant, valuing stares and prejudice, beyond the ignorant, blinkered view and position.  Seeing the world in this way is a big challenge.  If only we could buy glasses that enhanced our capacity for eyes of wisdom.

What new processes will you adopt?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Click on the icon above to learn more about this text.

Click on the icon above to learn more about this text.

I have begun to adopt a number of new processes within my school simply by sharing what my time with ASSISI was all about.  I have personally invited many to come to our garden to share the experience and am hopeful that this direct, personal approach will be effective.  I will be using the EATING process but need a much better understand of all areas of this before getting any further that the ‘E’ and the ‘A’!

The EATING approach comes from ‘Kitchen Table Sustainability’ by Wendy Sarkissian et al.  It is an approach that can be used to foster community engagement for sustainability. It is an acronym for Education, Action, Trust, Inclusion, Nourishment and Governance.

Find out about additional resources being used by the team at ResourceLink here.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

U Theory and being aware of “Who am I being, that their eyes are not shining?”

The U theory comes form the work of Otto Sharmer. It is a theory that assists people to move from reactive quick fixes to generative responses that address the systemic root issues.  It is journey to change that is particularly helpful to those leading change. It is one path with five movements:

  1. Co-initiating: building common intent,
  2. Co-sensing: observe, observe, observe
  3. Presencing: connecting to the common will,
  4. Co-creating: Prototyping the new
  5. Co-evolving: Embody the New ecosystems.

What did you discover about others roles and journeys toward sustainability?

Dalveen Fletcher:

I discovered that other teachers have had a similar journey as me.  I found I am very much not alone in feeling frustrated and not valued for what we have been trying to achieve.  I have importantly discovered that Brisbane Catholic Education is very much on board with striving towards creating a sustainable workplace and that those who attended from the Brisbane Catholic Education Officer are very much valuing the work that is tirelessly being done in schools.  I’ve also just re-read some notes about two different models – one driven by answers and the more favourable one guided by questions.  This is very worthwhile.

How would you do things differently after the ASSISI program?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Perhaps if I had done the ASSISI program years ago before attempting and continuing many sustainability initiatives, I would not have felt so much despair along the way!  I would have found others to come on board and work together to animate many desperately needed changes in our school.  However, having already started the journey, I will take to heart many of the learning experiences we shared.  In particular, I will stop speaking from a place of ‘lack’ and work with who and what we do have.

In what way was the ASSISI experience transformational?

Dalveen Fletcher:

The ASSISI experience has been transformational in creating what I hope is the start of a new and much improved version of ‘me’.  Everything else in going to flow from there!

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink, using Instaquote

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink, using Instaquote

What dreams, preferred futures imaginings did you have or hear articulated at the end of the program?

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

I’d like to see more connections within and between schools.  Networks for the dedicated, creative people with “like minds” across the organization and ecouraging local conversations to start the ball rolling.

Dalveen Fletcher:

Moving forward in a positive manner.  Hoping to achieve my dreamed vision for 2016 where all memebers of the St Eugenes’s College community are at some point and in some way egaging with the understanding of what they are achieving.  Celebrating the achievements and community importance of the Eugreenies’ Community Garden, the profile an value of the project will be further fostered.

Kerry Rush:

Working with groups of people within Brisbane Catholic Educatione and beyond towards (AStrategic Systems based Integrated Sustainability Initiatives, developing great relationships with others, having fun and doing our bit together to educate, inform and enact sustainability the ASSISI way.

What words of wisdom or experiences will you remember?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Authentic! Heritage! Legacy!

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

“Life can be framed by the conversations you don’t have”.  The phases of U Theory.  Create communities of co-creation.

Kerry Rush:

Let go and see all of Creation with eyes of wisdom.

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using WordFoto.

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using WordFoto.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Building a Disaster Resilient Australia – A meeting of minds for a great cause

Australian Emergency Management Institute

For the last two days I had the privilege of meeting with an amazing group of people who form the newly established Disaster Resilient Australia School Education Network, at the Australian Emergency Management Institute in Mt Macedon, Victoria.

The aim of the meeting was to establish a cross-sectoral group to examine current resourcing of educational programs that support this area, and to identify partnerships and ways to work together to construct resources that span across the range of emergency services, to promote a strong shared message of how to prevent, prepare, respond and recover (PPRR) when facing  hazards such as  Bushfires, Climate Change, CyclonesDroughts, Earthquakes, Floods, Heatwaves, Landslides, Pandemics, Severe Storms, Tsunami or Volcanoes.

Meeting with representatives from diverse groups, including those immediately involved with emergency management such as the Country Fire Authority, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of WA, Save the Children, Red Cross, Green Cross and the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as educational representatives from the Geography and Science Teachers Associations and experts in the field of Psychology,  Human Services  and Disaster Research was a rich example of the value of sharing multiple perspectives.

Australia is a wild and unpredictable country, and the importance of a strong educational program cannot be understated. Listening to Professor Kevin Ronan speak on the first morning on why disaster resilience education is so important, it became clear that although many people know they should prepare for a possible disaster, many don’t. Professor Ronan shared that when asked, 90% of respondents in one study agreed that preparedness was important, however less than 50% had a plan, and even less, it is likely, had practiced it.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by electricnerve

Focusing on providing school education is vital. Part of Professor Ronan’s presentation, which was also supported by the research conducted by Dr Briony Towers, is that children are aware of, and are afraid of disasters; in a media saturated world, even events that occur on the other side of the world feel frightening. One of the best ways of addressing this fear is to establish what children know, what their misconceptions might be, and to empower them with strategies that will help them cope should a disaster befall them. Educating children is also a way of indirectly influencing families and communities – children are a motivational reservoir, encouraging their family members to act, and connecting families with community. With well educated students, the foundation is laid for a community of future adults who have a resilient mindset to risk and stressors – which is one of the major goals of disaster resilience education.

Fortunately fantastic resources already exist, and more thanks to this network will be on the way. Here are a selection of just some freely available online:

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  • Smiling Mind modern meditation for young people. It’s a simple tool that gives a sense of calm, clarity and contentment. It is a unique web and App-based program developed by a team of psychologists with expertise in youth and adolescent therapy, Mindfulness Meditation and web-based wellness programs.
  • Emergency 2.0 a free global resource for using social media and new technologies in emergencies
  • Stormwatchers a 3D interactive web based game which allows children to choose the state in which they live to create their own cyclone experience by working through one of 5 ‘true-to-life’ cyclone scenarios with one of the game’s characters. The game provides children with the skills to enable them to be better prepared in a real cyclone situation.
  • Emergency Management for Schools a comprehensive emergency management resource for Australian students and teachers.
  • Triple Zero Kids Challenge kids learn about getting help by playing games and solving mysteries. They’ll learn about safety messages and hear what happens when you call Triple Zero.
  • After the Emergency the After the emergency mp3s and website were developed after the 2009 Victorian bushfires. They are intended to be distributed immediately after a disaster, but may also serve as long-term resources for young people (aged 12-25 years) affected by crisis.
  • Harden Up developed to help you understand the history of severe weather in your suburb and get prepared. Once you understand more about what’s happened in the past, we hope you will take practical steps to get prepared.
  • Beachsafe current information and conditions for the beach you would like to visit, hazards you might find and services available to assist in your beach choice to let you relax and enjoy your activities during your stay. Games and educational resources as well as first aid info and more.

There is great work being done in this field, and it is so important. When you are planning for 2013, why not include an inquiry into emergency management – it might just save hundreds of lives…

Copyright and Copyleft…read all about it!

The world of copyright can be a confusing and complex place…therefore ResourceLink has created a ‘one stop shop’ intended to provide educators and students with a simple to understand overview of Copyright, Creative Commons and other licences that exist, as well as resources to locate materials and information on how to correctly attribute these resources once they have been used.

The wiki is called Copyright and Copyleft.
Access it here, or by clicking on the image on the left hand side.

The site also provides access to printable posters, multimedia, learning objects and handouts collected from a variety of sources that can be reproduced (with correct attribution!) or used straight from the site.

The majority of the site has simply been curated from a wide variety of sites currently online – the aim of the site is to provide quick and easy access to the most useful materials.

The reason for this resource is clear; as technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace, the area of copyright has moved into focus for all educators.

A ‘perfect storm’ has hit education – never before has it been so easy to reproduce images, music and text, and never before have students and teachers been able to publish to such a public audience – the entire world. Students and teachers can remix, reuse and repurpose materials in innumerable ways.

Whereas previously students may have displayed their work in the classroom,  they now publish to YouTube, to blogs, to their own websites…and therefore to audiences well beyond the classroom. Teachers also share their lessons and resources publicly, via their own blogs or through their personal learning networks on Twitter or Facebook.

This is  why education is in such an exciting space right now – however it also means that teachers and students need to be aware of the rights of the owners of works that they may be incorporating into their own works, and also need to know where they can access material that they are free to reuse and remix.

Using this resource, it is hoped that teachers and students will feel confident to navigate this area, empowered with knowledge that they can pass on to others.

If you wish to learn more about Copyright, Creative Commons or the Open Source and CopyLeft movements, the following websites will be of interest to you:

We hope you enjoy using this resource and find it useful – we’d love your feedback!

Successful Searching – an update to a valuable resource

The Successful Searching wiki has now been updated!

This useful resource has been designed for teachers and students, and aims to provide easy access to a range of strategies, information and tips about how to search effectively.

Why is such a resource important?

We live in a world of information overload. Whereas once students needed to attend school in order to access knowledge, they now have every fact and every source in their pockets via their smart phone.

Simply entering a word into Google does not guarantee a good search result. Students need skills in creating effective search terms, they need to be aware of the range of search tools available and the types of information these tools provide, and they also need to know how to then critically evaluate and reformulate what they find in order to solve the problem at hand.

This wiki will provide a starting point on this journey. It is hoped that complementar resources exploring the development of critical literacy and effective ways to search for re-usable, Creative Commons licensed materials will be available in the near future.

Successful Searching

The wiki is divided into four parts:

Searching Library Catalogues and Databases

Searching the Internet using Google – Google Tips and Tricks

Going beyond Google – Search Engines, Directories, the Invisible Web & More

Additional Information and Printable Resources


The skills to conduct successful searches is a literacy that all students must develop in order to manage information effectively. As CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt could be said to know something about searching, and he sums it up thus:

Search is so highly personal that searching is empowering for humans like nothing else; it is about self-empowerment; it is the antithesis of being told or taught. It is empowering individuals to do what they think best with the information they want. It is very different from anything  else that preceded it. Radio was one-to-many. TV was one-to-many. The telephone was one-to-one. Search is the ultimate expression of the power of the individual; using a computer, looking at the world and finding exactly what they want, everyone is different when it comes to that (Friedman, 2005, p.156).

Take a look at our site, and let us know how you might use it in your teaching context!

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: a brief history of the twenty-first century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.









Metamorphosis: the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival

The theme of Metamorphosis captured in the festival advertisement was adopted, as a symbol of the power of film to change us on a deep and somewhat primal level and also inspired ResourceLink to review and refresh the way the festival was structured and delivered, in particularly the way in which we engaged participants in their professional learning.  Adopting a project based approach to replace a traditional model of professional learning about film making and engaging with new media sources to share and reflect about film.  This post will review the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival sharing the successes and learning’s from the journey.

This title is available through Curriculum Press. It is a fabulous resource for all educators. Click the image to purchase or find out more.

While the Film Festival has always been about promoting the use of film in education, an increasingly important part of the program is the student produced films section. This is in recognition of the fact that students now live in a multimodal world, where economic, social, cultural, global and technological changes have reconstructed concepts of literacy, reading, writing and text (Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.1).

If we adopt the definition of literacy put forward by Luke and Freebody in 2009, we see that

‘Literacy is the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with the texts of traditional and new communications technologies via spoken, print and multimedia’ (p.9, cited in Anstey and Bull, 2011). Therefore, in order to be considered ‘literate’ in the 21st century, students must be able to access a range of resources, including knowledge of

  • text and context
  • multimedia and technology, and the semiotic systems they employ
  • aesthetics and design
  • social and cultural diversity
  • critical literacy

(Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.8).

Involving students in the planning, scripting, filming, editing and producing of their own films provides many opportunities for each of these resources to be developed.

Students proudly walked the red carpet to present their films.

Traditionally the film festival has hosted a two day course on short film making in conjunction with a screening of student produced short films.  This year the ResourceLink team asked the question how might the student produced films be enhanced through ‘on the job’ professional training and support?  What was found was a significant level of diversity and creativity was shown through the films and more so allowed students and teachers to achieve beyond their own expectations.

Working with teachers and students the team of ResourceLink supported the development of seven short films from three schools.  Our support was three fold: engaging and extending the pre-production phase of film making, supporting filming and providing support in post-production.


This phase began by exposing teachers and students to as many diverse films, reflecting on the stories and messages and examining the technical aspects of the film such as, camera angles, music, costuming and editing techniques.  It was in this phase that students engaged in critical reflection and discussion.  After grounding students in some film theory, students could then begin unpacking the theme in great depth and begin to develop the concepts of their own films.  This for the most part was done without much support from ResourceLink.  Once students had landed their concept it was time for the students to develop a script and to begin storyboarding.  Constantly reviewing and adapting their work until they were ready to film.


Supporting participants as they tackle this phase was perhaps the most fun and tiring phase of the project.  This saw participants to reflect and adapt on the fly as they encountered problems such as poor weather, absent actors, and malfunctioning equipment.  This saw many participants to consider quite creative and clever solutions.

Post Production:

Again supporting participants through this process the team from ResourceLink supported the production teams as they sourced creative commons materials to add the extra professional touches to their works.

The students were thrilled to receive an award acknowledging their movie-making, and also enjoyed a creative activity that saw them create their own origami butterfly, which they labelled with one word or a phrase to describe how the movie making process had changed them. These butterflies formed part of the decoration for the teacher film festival to be held later that afternoon.

As the teachers arrived to a delicious afternoon tea provided by Spoon Deli, they were delighted to see our theme of metamorphosis depicted in the hundreds of origami butterflies that decorated the room. During the evening screening session, we were very lucky to have secured Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor, who provided us with commentary and insight from a non-educational perspective.

During the evening, the teachers were invited to share their thoughts and opinions of the films, and how they might use these or similar short films in their classroom via a BackChannel established using TodaysMeet. The teachers also had the opportunity to post their thoughts to a broader audience via Twitter, using the hash tag #morph2012.

Using a tool such as TodaysMeet allowed the viewers to share their thoughts at the moment that they had them, rather than try to save them until a plenary session after the screenings. By posting to the TodaysMeet stream, teachers were also more willing to add their thoughts, as they did not have to stand up and publicly share them to the large group.  A selection of the TodaysMeet stream can be seen on the right.

The films selected this year were based not only on the theme ‘Metamorphosis’, but also were selected to showcase a variety of film formats and delivery methods. As an encouragement to teachers to consider the quality multimedia available on YouTube, the evening began with the showing of a selection of short films from the Tropfest Short Film Festival YouTube channel. These ranged from the humourous (Boo), to the reflective (My Constellation), from the challenging (RGB) to the inspiring (One Thing).

These short films were followed by another inspiring short film, The Butterfly Circus. Winner of several international awards, including the Clint Eastwood Filmmaker Award, The Butterfly Circus is a beautiful story of how a young man with what seems to be overwhelming disabilities (he has no limbs) is given the opportunity to dream of a future he thought would never be possible.

The possibilities for the way this film could be used in the classroom are endless. As teachers observed, it could be seen as a re-interpretation of the Easter Story, and the role of the Showman could be seen as a Jesus figure, taking those who had been cast off by society and showing them their beauty and their worth. The direct links to the theme Metamorphosis were unmistakeable, even to the point of the presence of a butterfly making its transformation just as the human characters did also.

After a delicious hot meal from AbFab Catering and great discussion over dinner, the teachers returned to the lolly buffet to stock up on readiness for the final movie.

The feature film of the night, We Bought a Zoo tells the true story of a family who bought and rebuilt a rundown zoo. Although the Hollywood treatment neglects some of the real life challenges of such a purchase (in the film, the decision to buy is made on the spot, whereas in real life, the process of purchasing took over 2 years), the film does focus on the metamorphosis of the family, as they move from a place of darkness and grief into a new life full of possibility.

 The film was then reviewed in a ‘Margaret and David’ style (from ABC’s At the Movies), as Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor discussed the themes of the movie. Of note was the use of the soundtrack, and the way that movie and music can sometimes be used to engage students in areas where more direct approaches might fail. Also discussed was how rich, quality media is available in many forms, some of which are listed below.

The evening was wrapped up by our Senior Education Officer, Kerry Rush. A great day, a fun evening and a lot of learning sums up the Film Festival once more for another year.


Bull, Geoff, and Michele Anstey. Evolving pedagogies: reading and writing in a multimodal world. Carlton South, Vic.: Education Services Australia, 2010. Print.

Powerhouse of Leaders – Student Leadership and Faith Formation

Last week Brisbane Catholic Education hosted the Powerhouse of Leaders event at the Brisbane Powerhouse.Powerhouse of Leaders

It was the third time we had run this event, and by far the best. It aims to inspire our Year 12 school leaders to not only connect with the Catholic Church and experience quality liturgy and celebration, but also to engage them with how they can use their roles as school leaders to empower their fellow students. Throughout the day, the students, who come from across the Brisbane Archdiocese, are challenged to explore their potential.

This year, after an atmostpheric Welcome to Country, the students and teachers participated in a liturgy led by our new Archbishop, His Grace Mark Coleridge, in his first official event in his new role.  His Grace told the group of Year 12’s that they are not just the church of the future, but the church now – and that one of the things God is asking is that young people provide leadership in the Church. This leadership is what he saw at the World Youth Day gathering. Archbishop Coleridge went on to say that just as we refresh the screen on our computers, the Church sometimes requires refreshing also, and that young people are the ‘refresh button’ that will enable the church to remain new.  He also spent time explaining to the students that as Digital Natives, the Year 12 leaders would be able to lead the Church into the future, and be missionaries in this new Digital Continent that Pope Benedict has spoken of.

We had the amazing gospel singing of  Vocal Rush, supporting talented students from our schools lifting the liturgy with their magical voices, and first class multimedia produced by Smoke Creative.

After this, the students and teachers laughed and cried along with the two keynote speakers, Khoa Doh and Robyn Moore.

Khoa recounted his fascinating life story, and shared with the students his irrepressible optimism and passion for helping others. His determination to succeed and to share this success with his family and with others who also face obstacles in their lives inspired the students, who shared their thoughts using Twitter and Todays Meet in an activity after he spoke.

Lunchtime saw the students party with Bang Crash Tap, and just chill out and enjoy the beautiful weather in New Farm Park, meeting new friends from across the Archdiocese.

In the afternoon, Robyn Moore captured the student’s imaginations, and the awe and delighted surprise that was palpable when she revealed to them that she was the voice of Blinky Bill was incredible. Using warmth, humour and plain old common sense, Robyn gave the students many ways to deal with the ‘Crap’ life can deal any of us, and her passion for her work was obvious.

As the students ended their day with a closing liturgy and a boogie along with the Rush band, it was clear to see from their faces that they had participated in what was for them, a transformational event.


For those who may have missed it, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has spoken about his vision for the Brisbane Archdiocese in his Press Conference with Apostolic Administrator Geoffrey Jarrett at Wynberg, Brisbane, Queensland, 4 April, 2012. View it here: http://vimeo.com/catholicbrisbane/review/39750949/bca9ce40bd

What’s the fuss about Google Plus?

Google's Long History in Social Media

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Google Plus is Google’s 6th attempt to enter the Social Networking market. Even in those dark ages before Facebook (was there even such a time?) Google was experimenting with varying success in this space.

First, there was Orkut, which was released a month before Facebook, and which is still in use in Brazil and India. Then Google purchased Dodgeball, which was essentially an early version of Foursquare. They also acquired Jaiku, which was similar to Twitter – but that didn’t take off either. Google Wave only lasted 2 months after its public release, being just too convoluted for most people to even understand why it existed; and Buzz, which still exists, but hardly anyone seems to use.

The importance of this history is to put into context Google Plus, and to highlight the extremely fine line tools walk between being huge (think Facebook, with over 845 million regular users) and being a complete flop.

Google Plus, however may just last the distance. Despite the fact that it is nowhere near Facebook in popularity, with around 90 Million users, it is the fastest growing social network, and it has a number of features that make it just perfect for use in the area of education.

So…what’s the fuss?? Here’s the skinny on Google Plus:

Google Plus is very similar to Facebook in concept, although a little different in execution. For those familiar with Facebook and Twitter, this table may help you with the new terminology.

However you don’t need to be a social media expert to understand how Google Plus might fit into your classroom. Just explaining the different aspects of Google Plus, as I have below, brings to mind numerous ways this network may be used with students.

The Stream: This is similar to Facebook’s News Feed, and is where updates, posts and information shared by others that you follow will appear. You can easily manipulate what information appears in the feed by identifying  the groups or individuals whose posts you wish to view. You can view all posts, or just the posts from certain people or individuals. This control allows users to reduce the ‘noise’ (distracting posts that distracts you from your current purpose). The great thing about having this control is that you can post directly to groups of students, or view just what particular students are saying; perfect for assigning tasks for specific groups, or communicating to parent groups (e.g. Fete organisation committee, Parents and Friends committee, the whole parent body etc).

Profile: Your profile is the way you represent yourself on Google products and across the web. With your profile, you can manage the information that people see — such as your bio, contact details, and links to other sites about you or created by you. In an education setting, your profile could be as class teacher, or simply your class, using a gmail email account.

Important things to note about your profile:

  •   Changing your name in your profile changes your name in your Google Account as well. This change will be reflected in other Google products you sign in to with your account, like Gmail and Docs.
  •     Deleting your profile won’t delete your Google Account.
  •     People who have your email address could see a link to the profile that’s associated with that email address.
  •     If you have a website, you can add a personal badge linking to your Google Profile. With just a couple of clicks, visitors can find your profile or add you to their circles directly from your site.

Circles: Circles are the major advantage Google Plus has over Facebook when considering its use in education. While Facebook does offer the ability to group ‘friends’ in different lists, it is an unwieldy and complicated process. Google Plus allows users to allocate people to different circles, easily allowing content and communications to be directed to specific groups of people. By grouping students in circles, teachers can easily communicate specific information to specific groups of students, and follow the posts of those particular groups of students easily.

Photos: Google always had an online photo sharing site, known as Picasa. When you sign up for Google+, you can see and share all of your Picasa Web albums in Google+.  Your albums will be visible on your Google+ photos homepage and the new Photos and Videos tabs on your Google+ profile. Security remains the same; you are in control of your photos. Google does try to make this easier to manage, however, by  ensuring that you can see and change the sharing settings for all of your albums in one place. It also makes it easier to control who can see your photos, which is important when working with photos of students; it does this by allowing you to Post to Google+ circles – like ‘Year 5’ , ‘Maths A’ or ‘Book club’ – directly from Picasa Web Albums. Another bonus for school users is that photos you upload to Google+ will be automatically resized to 2048 pixels and stored for free. Like Picasa Web, video uploads 15 minutes or shorter are free. This is terrific for removing the load from school servers, which are usually full of images and video files.

Hangouts: Google+ Hangouts allow you to have an audio-only or audio-and-video conversation with other users in a similar way to Skype. The advantage of using Google Plus over Skype is that Hangouts allow for up to 10 simultaneous users in a single room. The potential here for group discussions with authors, students in other schools or for intraschool moderation is enormous.

The feature is free and easy to use (once you download and install a browser plug-in, you’re all set). You can invite specific people to join a Hangout with you where you can chat, perform, demo, or watch YouTube videos together. (It’s worth noting that anyone who joins can in turn share the Hangout’s URL and invite others. As being in a Hangout appears in all the participants’ Streams, it does mean that these are public gatherings.)

Hangouts have many possible uses in education:

  • Live practical demonstrations – cooking, science experiments, art and craft…
  • Conducting a Q and A with guest speakers/authors/subject matter experts.
  •  After hours homework help.
  • Remote music lessons. Live sessions can be a great way to showcase practice but teachers can also prerecord lessons for students, schedule multi-student lessons, or even hold online workshops to improve specific skills.
  • Foreign language learning. One of the best ways to improve language skills when you’re learning a foreign language is by having conversations with native speakers.
  •  Book Clubs
  • Collaborative projects – students can collaborate in school hours via a Google Doc, and then meet in a hangout to continue working together in the evenings or on weekends.
  •  Parent Teacher interviews if a parent is out of town or to provide interview times beyond those you might be able to normally; e.g. work from home in the evenings rather than having to be in a dark empty school.

Google Plus may not be the Facebook killer its creators are dreaming of. However, its features do lend themselves to innovative uses for teachers – if you have dabbled in Google Plus, leave a comment – we’d love to hear about your experience!

More information…

The presentation:


Watch the videos:

Read the Articles:

Google Hangouts: Now with Google Docs Integration, Now Even Better for Edu – easy to read article, with links to posts about other aspects of Google Plus

Teaching with Google+ – A great post, with ideas for beginners, intermediate and advanced users

Understanding And Using Google+ In The Classroom And Beyond – a terrific live binder, full of information and ideas

Have a laugh!

Could your students make a real difference? Take part in a world first!

ITU Telecom is part of the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications. ITU Telecom organizes global events for the governments, industry leaders and regulators that form part of the world’s ICT community. The first ITU Telecom event was held in 1971 and marks its 40th anniversary in 2011. The next ITU Telecom World event, will take place from 24 to 27 October 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ITU Telecom World 11 MetaConference [http://world2011.us] is all about seeing how young people think technology might solve some of the world’s greatest problems. You can sign up to get involved right now in this project brought to you by the United Nations agency responsible for ICT: http://world2011.us/get-involved/

ITU Telecom World 2011 [http://world2011.itu.int] is the MetaConference’s physical event in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together thousands of influential delegates from the telecommunications and technology industries to discuss what steps need to be taken to get more of the world connected. It’s the world’s most important ICT event, where big decisions are taken on how technology can be used to solve some of our biggest problems.

And they need the help of your students!

By asking your students how they would go about solving problems running through seven major themes, you are not just covering content that is almost certainly in your curriculum – you’re offering a global stage for the ideas in front of the very people making the decisions for all our futures.


Conference organisers are  inviting 10,000 global school children (8-18)  to design the innovations that could make a real difference to their world, and submit their videos, blog posts, photographs and sketches, through you, to http://world2011.us/get-involved/

We want them to tell us how technology could be harnessed to:

•        alleviate poverty and hunger

•        improve education for all

•        address gender inequality

•        make sure everyone has access to health care

•        protect our environment

•        make disabled people’s lives easier

•        close the gap between the developed and developing world


Ideas and prototypes will be shown to delegates at the World 2011 event in Geneva, Switzerland on October 25-27. In addition,  all students will be encouraged to send in their ideas live during the event, with the event’s expert panels answering their questions and points.


There are  some brief online lesson starters and project ideas to help you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your students [http://world2011.us/category/inspiration/]. There’s also a collaborative space to share your own teaching and learning approaches, as well as upload video, audio, photographic or written content from your students’ work.


This is YOUR chance to be part of a world-first experiment, to have YOUR voice heard on a   global platform, to have YOUR ideas seen by the very people who make the decisions that affect our everyday lives. How can technology make our world happier, safer and smarter? How can people from different countries work together to make our world more sustainable


Once you’ve registered [http://world2011.us/get-involved/], you can share your ideas and prototypes with each other. Your ideas will also form a significant part of World 2011’s Manifesto for Change; a blueprint for using technology to make a real difference. 

This challenge comes to you from the International Telecommunication Union http://www.itu.int

Sign up today: http://world2011.us/get-involved/

It is amazing what kids can achieve: