The National Year of Reading at our College

Our final event was run this week. It has been a very busy year with the extra emphasis on really highlighting reading, in all its forms, and trying to engage our students in our different activities. I have posted before but this is a summary of the events run this year. The “Hear It” event involved a panel speaking about writing for Young Adults as well as YA books in general. All the speakers were very generous with their time and the whole event was like a conversation that the audience was invited to listen in on. We had supper after and our speakers stayed and talked with our students and their parents. Our students really appreciated the writers talking to them and answering their questions. The authors were Bec Kavanagh, Declan Fay and Tim Pegler and they spoke very highly of our boys and the conversations they had with them. It was a wonderful evening, well-coordinated by one of our TL’s, Catherine Morton, and our Principal welcomed everyone to the event with a very gracious speech.

We gave all the students (and a few parents) “snap bands” with our library blog address. At the beginning of the evening we had indicated to everyone that we would be posting the information from the evening on the blog. The writers kindly gave us their recommendations beforehand so we just had to add anything that came up during the course of the evening. These wristbands have been very popular this year. We gave them out on our Open Day as well as at the “Hear It!” event. There is a photo in my NYR flickr set.

Everyone in the library has been overseeing one of the events and supported by other staff. The whole group has done a fantastic job and raised the profile of the library at our school right across the board.

Libraries, bookshops, publishers and writers were all encouraged to celebrate reading in all its forms, throughout the community. This meant that alongside the traditional books we, at WFC, celebrated the reading of magazines and newspapers, reading in digital formats such as e-books and the many different styles of reading that occur daily, often without anyone realizing they are doing it.

We contributed to our weekly bulletin, the “In Fide”, each week and had the NYR logo prominently displayed as the College community read about some of the activities the students enjoyed.

We began with a very successful launch of the activities during lunchtime early in Term 2 and followed up with many different and successful activities that celebrated and promoted reading throughout the year, with the final event “Hear It” being held during the evening of Tuesday 30 October. This involved a panel of writers discussing reading and writing for teenagers followed by supper.

We were very pleased that quite a number of teachers and students volunteered to be Whitefriars Reading Ambassadors this year. They shared their reading preferences and habits as well as promoted reading to the College community. Their posters have been on display in the Shortis Library and mentioned in “In Fide” as well as on our blog.

A weekly quiz ran with many boys and teachers answering reading-related questions to accumulate points towards becoming the overall winner, who will receive a book of their choice.

“Read It!” was set up to encourage boys to borrow when their English classes visited the library. Every boy who borrowed a book during that class was given a raffle ticket. The raffle was drawn at the end of each fortnight. The canteen vouchers prizes were the favourite choice followed by USBs. Some boys were heard to ask their teachers if the class should come to the library every English period.

“Snap It!” was the photography competition that ran throughout Term 2 and finished on Friday 17 August. We asked students to enter photographs that celebrated reading, including reading in unusual places. This meant that some of the boys used their creativity and Photoshop skills to create some very unusual shots. We had them as part of our display during Book Week as well as on the computers around the library as screen savers. A slide show of the photographs, playing on the big television screen, also ran some lunchtimes.

The photos created quite a talking point with the other students once they were on display and we encouraged all students and staff to vote for the People’s Choice Award. One of the photographs, a panoramic view of the library has been chosen for the banner photo on our intranet pages. We will make use of all the photographs entered to promote reading and the College Library in the future. All the boys should be proud of their efforts. We were supported by our photography teacher Alison Agnew, and assistant Linda Baker, who encouraged the boys to take on the task. Many of the boys appreciate Mrs Agnew’s skill in teaching them how to “see” and observe things as well as the more manual photographic skills.

You can see a slide show of the photos the boys entered on our library blog.

The second National Year of Reading Competition also finished with a voting component. The “Film It!” competition involved students creating short videos that again celebrated books and reading. We had boys enter book trailers and some specific videos about reading. To give the boys some ideas about what direction they might take, we ran some of the internet videos that celebrated reading and books, during lunchtimes throughout Term 2. We also regularly show book trailers to promote the books in the library collection. Our own student videos ran each day during lunchtime during Book Week, with voting taking place both in the library and on-line via our intranet.  The trailers can also be seen on our library blog.

The final lively event was “Hear it!” which involved a panel of writers discussing reading and writing for teenagers, concluding with a supper for parents and students. Our library technician wrote a very good post on our library site about the “Hear It!” evening.

Below are links to some of the posts with some of our Reading Ambassadors:

We were lucky to many who were happy to volunteer or to be asked – we wanted a variety of people in the school so apart from some students we had staff – male and female, teachers who taught in various subject areas and non-teaching personnel from the principal, the chaplain and one of our maintenance (and avid environmentalist) staff.

Below are links to some of the posts with some of our Reading Ambassadors:

Fr Kierce ( former principal and WFC institution); A maths teacher; PE teacherVCE Co-Ordinator;

National Year of Reading – website launch

Yesterday I went to the official launch for the National Year of Reading website. The National Year oif Reading is a great initiative and one that was supported by the recommendations that came from the  Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher-librarians in 21st Century Australia (May 2011).

The event was held at Bialik College (Hawthorn). We began by using various spaces in their spacious new library. The hosts were very gracious and the guest speakers were great ambassadors. Alison Lester, author of ‘Are We There Yet?‘  the book chosen for the NYR 2012, worked with some budding young writers and Hazel Edwards, author of the picture book classic ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’, had story time with a group of wonderful (and very small/young)  students. Thanks

After these sessions, and a group photo, we moved into the theatre to hear from William McInnes, patron for NYR 2012, who spoke about reading to students and guests who came from all sections of the library community.  He was a very amusing speaker and he also agreed to many interviews and photo shoots.  

Also included in the day  was an announcement by Mary Delahunty of the winners of the Adult Learners’ Week short story writing competition. Some of the writers were also present on the day and I had a chance to speak to them and their love of writing and reading was very evident. You can find the winners and their stories here.

The National Year of Reading gives all of us some great opportunities to celebrate reading and most of us don’t need much of an excuse to do that. Have a look at the site for ideas, events and projects. There are many things on the site already and more will be added.

Thank you to the Sue McKerracher and the NYR 2012 team for the organising such a great day of celebration and fun, and also David Feighan and his staff at Bialik College for hosting this event especially in their new BER school library.

Encouraging students to write about Melbourne

Today Melbourne looked lovely. Every one was in a very relaxed mood and enjoying their public holiday. Many of us who did not go to the races at Flemington, were found meeting friends or with families walking through the parks and leafy streets. I was in Camberwell, having a coffee, realised just how well the city was looking. I am often in Camberwell or Hawthorn. It is a good place to meet up with friends, for a coffee, meal or to go shopping. I have also been to Frankston  and Mount Eliza, where I first worked after completing my university course, Northcote, Carlton and the inner city itself in the past 2 weeks. Each area has its own distinct personality and history. Whilst I was waiting in the coffee shop I glanced through one of the daily newspapers, and found in the “Learn section” 3 pieces written by local authors describing what Melbourne means to them. They were very different but each so descriptive and well written so as to capture the readers imagination. I could easily envisage each of the Melbournes they wrote about. This was to advertise, and encourage entrants to, a writing competition being for students. It also asks students to really look at a place that they a part of everyday and think about what is unique, comfortable, challenging about Melbourne. It also an opportunity to use the tremendous resources offered by the State Library of Victoria.

From an article on October 28, 2008

WHAT do you think of when you think of Melbourne? Is it the MCG, the Arts Centre spire, Yarra River, Federation Square and trams, or is it your suburban street, your school or the people in your community.

Now think of Melbourne as a City of Literature. That honour has been bestowed on Victoria’s capital by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and to celebrate the Herald Sun and State Government invite all Victorian students from year 3 to 10 to enter a $10,000 writing competition.Students can write up to 300 words as an essay, poetry, story, or any other form of written English on the topic “My Melbourne”.

Author Morris Gleitzman says that though you might think a city of literature is all about books and libraries and bookshops, to him it’s about people. “It’s people who make literature — people write it, people read it, people fight to have libraries funded and people work in bookshops for long hours for not much money and, most importantly, people read books and they tell each other about them,” he says.

Judge Kirsty Murray says students can think of Melbourne beyond its buildings and geography. “Think about not just your relationship to the city, but the world of the book,” she says.Murray says she’ll be looking for authentic writing, that offers a fresh and original view, that is also true to someone’s own experience.

Regional and rural students who have never visited Melbourne can consider what they know of the city or what they imagine it to be like.

There is the option of researching and doing an essay about Melbourne. Perhaps there is someone in your family or neighbourhood who has lived in Melbourne and you can interview them and incorporate their experiences into your own.

The Herald Sun and State Government encourage all Victorian year 3 to 10 students to give it a go and enjoy the chance to write well.

Using Wordle in schools

The idea of creating Tag clouds is not new or unique but the Wordle application offers those in schools with a uniquely visual way to view and/or analyse some text. It is very simple to use and the results are created quickly. The style can be changed easily, if required, and easily saved. 

With greater prominence given to words that are used more frequently, it allows for a piece of text to be analysed in a visual way. The text could be a letter, discussion piece or an essay that is put into the Wordle text box. Wordle instantly reveals the central points or overused words. The text could then be analysed, revisited and/or improved.


We used this aspect in the library this week when we made a Wordle using a number of lists of banned books. The authors, the titles and types of books were entered into the text box. Overwhelmingly the word “novel” stood out. A second Wordle on banned authors had William Shakespeare and George Orwell as the standouts. This could form part of a greater discussion about the reason for this and we intend to give the issues of banned books and censorship a wider focus at a later date, perhaps as part of Social Justice Week, run at our school each year.


We are also using Wordles as the basis for one of the competitions for Book Week. We created Wordles of synopses of various well known books (taking out any references too unique to the book) and printed out copies. One of the library staff members had fun playing with the colours and formats. We did one for “Bryan Strauchan: my story” and made it black and white. (Bryan Strauchan is a fictional character who plays for a football team that happens to have team colours of black and white.) Another book involving animals was done making the Wordle resemble tiger stripes. The Wordles look great laminated and I will also be putting up digital versions on the library website.

Wordles could be made from many forms of text, song lyrics, poems or words relating to specific topics and then made/used as competitions, to get discussions started or to focus minds on a topic/issue. I’m sure that others are using Wordles in ways I haven’t thought of.

I want to introduce this little tool to more of the teachers in our school. I have shown one or two but my next step would be to introduce it to a larger group in a technology segment, perhaps a faculty meeting. I don’t see the use of this tool being solely in the English faculty, although any area that studies words and language is the most obvious.

Celebrating Book Week

Our  Book Week Poster

Our Book Week Poster

This is a poster created by one of our talented library staff members. The library staff have come up with a number of activities for Book Week using some of the Web2.0 tools that we learnt about whilst completing the SLAV program from term 2.

We thought we would run some competitions that first involved us creating some items using Wordle and a Mosaic tool (one of a Flickr tools set) as well as activities that will have students creating their own podcasts and Glogs to promote books. Theses and other activities will run for the week or over one lunchtime, depending which activity it is. We are looking forward to it being a busy but fun week, hopefully with lots of student activity. Continue reading