On Tuesday 29th March I, along with about 150 other people, attended a professional develolpment day hosted by the Penguin Group at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. The day was listed as “a fun and informative day full of special guests, books and resources” and certainly lived up to this. The first presenter was Dr Susan La Marca (amongst other things editor of Viewpoint and SLAV’s FYI) who spoke about the units of work that she has created for the Secondary Classroom (also available to us on CD) based on a number of novels currently available. Susan spoke of four books in particular ‘Thai-riffic’ (more on this later, ‘Big River, Little Fish’, ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ and ‘Between Shades of Grey’ – giving us ideas on themes, activities, focus areas and assessment tasks. The CD contains 36 units of work in total and judging by the information given to us on these four the rest should be just as engaging.
Tony Palmer (author of ‘Break of Day’ and ‘Valley of Blood and Gold’) then chatted about his work as an author, and illustrator prior to this, giving us an insight in his research into background material for his books.
Cam Salton (Pearson’s English publisher and former teacher himself) spoke about “The Australian Curriculum – what does it mean for you?” – directing us to the ACARA website for updates and http://www.pearsonplaces.com.au for a selection of resources.
The fourth presenter of the day was Tye Cattanach, who presented two sessions – “Developing a Reading Culture” and “iPads, E-Readers and Electronic Whiteboards – new technolgies for encouring reading”. Tye is the Library Manager at Manor Lakes P-12 Specialist College where they are fortunate to be part of a number of 1:1 new technology trials through the DEECD. She has also been responsible for implementing the use of iPads and other new technologies to encourage reader engagement at her college and she spoke of this in more detail. Book trailers are used extensively and students are encouraged to create and share their own – sites such as ‘Book trailers for all’ and the ‘Center for digital storytelling’ were some of those mentioned. Tye spoke of how the use of iPads as eReaders were a great choice for engaging students as they could be used for text exploration (dictionary, zoom, notes), changing font settings, etc. catered for student abilities, visually exciting and interactive (student engagement), they are also portable bookshelves. (I did speak further with Tye at the end of the day regarding the iPads in more detail where she explained the downloading issues onto the iPads and also some of the sites she uses to source eBooks – I have collated this information together with information from other sources to be put on the ‘Sharing eLearning at MESC’ wiki.
Oliver Phommavanh (author of ‘Thai-riffic’ mentioned earlier) was our entertaining final presenter of the day. Oliver delighted us all with his stories of growing up as a member of a Thai family in Sydney with many of these antics making it into his first novel. Oliver is not only an author but also a primary school teacher and comedian whose first novel is certainly one to make all students laugh – and me too!