Monthly Archives: December 2008



I thought I’d try out PicLits: inspired picture writing. is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.

I wasn’t that pleased with my first effort, so I tried another one.


Well, unless I’ve missed something, the list of words is limited. Then again, I haven’t read the instructions, just had a go.  I think there’s something to be said for adding text to a picture from a limited supply. The challenge is to work with what you’ve got, thinking about the position of the words, whether you want a sparse message or story, or whether you want a more crowded and descriptive text. 

Definitely much to play with either in English, foreign language or English as a Second Language classes.

I almost forgot to thank Tom Barrett for this application, and if you go to this post you’ll find 9 other digital writing opportunities.


Filed under art, creativity, language, photos, play, technology, Web 2.0, writing

Christmas carols wordle quiz

I thought a wordle quiz with a Christmas carol theme might be fun. Try to guess these 10 traditional carols.























I think this may be a fun end of year activity for students of all ages.

Can you guess these Christmas carols?


Filed under creativity, play, Web 2.0

A limerick for all occasions, but in a dictionary?


In the spirit of holidays, I thought I’d tone down the intensity of my posts – seriousness interfering with the holiday spirit…

Reading through Articulate, I found The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form (OEDILF).

The goal of The OEDILF, our online limerictionary, is to write at least one limerick for each and every meaning of each and every word in the English language. Our best limericks will clearly define their words in a humorous or interesting way, although some may provide more entertainment than definition, or vice versa.

Look up a word, browse by author or topic/genre, or join the project to submit original limericks.

There’s an impressive list of topics/genres.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

If you look up the word anticlimactic, you find this limerick:

In picking up women, my tactic?

I promise adventures galactic

We watch Lost in space

When we’re back at my place

Which they find to be anticlimactic


Here is one result for genres: science fiction:  

asphyxiate by mephistopheles (Limerick #8004)

Though you’re weightless and moving with grace,

You’ll asphyxiate here, out in space.

Is your very best pal

a computer named Hal?

You could die here and leave not a trace.


And some background is included:  In Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1968 film, 2001, a Space Odyssey, an astronaut, Dave, was famously locked out of the spaceship by a malfunctioning computer named Hal. If Dave had not succeeded in getting back onto the ship, he would have died when he ran out of air.

Lots of possibilties with this dictionary, both educational and recreational. For the sake of holidays I’ll abstain from the usual heavy-handed instructions.

One more under ‘ballet’

Her willowy arms flutter slightly,
Her feathered white head drops down lightly.
Alas for Odette,
Men who love soon forget.
Thus, she’s dying in Swan Lake once nightly.
…Except on Mondays, and twice on matinees.



Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, Education, humour, play, poetry, writing

Winding down


The school year is over for me. I know that many poor souls are still fronting up until the end of this week (is there a point?) but for me it’s the long stretch ahead, the one I’ve been waiting for. Time to wind down.

It’s been a strange end to the year for me in that I missed the last 4 days, and am now recovering from spectacular oral surgery, looking less like a hamster every day, and still turning sickly shades of yellow and blue (wish I had less yellow, more blue) down my face and neck. And now that the fear of losing feeling in the lip has been put to rest, I can think about the year, looking both back in time at events and learning, and forward to next year, planning new projects for 2009.

Funny how you don’t realise the extent of change until you stop to measure it. It was only May this year that I began this blog as part of a State Library of Victoria Web 2.0 PD initiative. During the course of the following 6 or so months I’ve learned many things – lots of how-tos and bits of technology – and I’ve acquired an online presence on Facebook, Twitter and NINGs.  Most  importantly, I’ve learned what it’s like to be part of a community of learners and educators, a community that never sleeps, always on the lookout for new ways of thinking, doing and sharing.


So, winding down…

Well, actually, it’s easier said than done. I know that I’m not as tired as many teachers, having escaped report writing (as a teacher librarian), and not having the exhausting face-to-face of constant classes, and that may be one of the reasons I’m not finding the winding down easy to do. Although, I think the main reason is the feeling of excitement which comes from new discoveries, possibilities and connections. Already I’m thinking about what I want to do next year (and I’m lucky to be co-teaching with two wonderful teachers), already I’m planning new ways of doing things in class, ways of engaging and challenging students, using technologies which will inspire creativity and authentic learning. And I’m reading, reading, reading other people’s ideas and experiences.

The best thing about holidays – if you still have any energy or brain capacity left, and amongst all the Christmas and New Year bustle – is the unregimented  time for exploration. The joy of investigating new blogs,  discovering people, and making connections, branching out and connecting those connections around the world, until gradually the world starts to shrink as your map is filled with people you know  and relationships amongst these. How can you wind down when people ‘out there’ are posting great links, new ideas and articles which inspire and challenge?

Yesterday, I started looking at the Edublogs Awards 2008, and here are the categories for nomination:

1. Best individual blog

2. Best group blog

3. Best new blog

4. Best resource sharing blog

5. Most influential blog post

6. Best teacher blog

7. Best librarian / library blog

8. Best educational tech support blog

9. Best elearning / corporate education blog

10. Best educational use of audio

11. Best educational use of video / visual

12. Best educational wiki

13. Best educational use of a social networking service

14. Best educational use of a virtual world

15. Best class blog

16. Lifetime achievement

As you  browse those 16 categories, you’ll come to know a group of people you’ll admire and want to keep in touch with. These people have spent the time making transparent their learning journeys and acquired skills, not keeping these things to themselves but sharing with the world. I’m having difficulty in unwinding because there’s so much to read and enjoy!

Merry Christmas to all. Happy, safe holidays, good family and friend times, and take the time to do what nourishes you.


Filed under 21st century learning, Education, networking, Teacher librarians, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

Life is One Big Top Ten 2008

I’m up for a challenge, especially one which allows me to reflect on my learning for this year as we near the end of 2008. Paul C. of Quoteflections has set a challenge to share a top ten list for 2008. It’s a great idea because it makes you think about and evaluate your findings for the year. Now that I’ve stopped to think, I realise that this year has jet-propelled me into a whole new way of learning and connecting. In May I started my blog, slowly connecting to many other bloggers through reading and commenting. This year I have also joined, as part of my school team, the Powerful Learning Practice cohort led by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. I’m only beginning to realise the depth and breadth of the  experiences within this learning network.

I would have no hesitation in saying that my most powerful ‘lesson’ this year has been that people are our most valuable resource, and so I’ve chosen as my Top Ten 2008 List:

Links to sites that demonstrate that we are better through sharing.


1.  Histografica: Picture the past

This site allows you to find and share historical photos of places around the world. You could discover photos of your old hometown or places you’ve been to. It’s a site that develops its archives as people share their photos. Only a few countries have been represented so far, but I’m sure the collection will grow.

2.  LIFE’s photo archive on view Google. Read about it here.

It’s one of the most magnificent photo archives of the past century and it’s now available on Google. It’s the Life magazine collection, some 10 million images altogether, and after the deal between Google and the keepers of the Life archive, a vast chunk is now at Google Image Search.

3. Phrasr allows you to create a visual phrase. The words in your phrase are matched with flickr images which you can choose for your picture phrase. The sharing part is the archive you can browse, and you can share your own visual phrases.

Here is my blog post about Phrasr.

4.  Flickr tools

Mentalaxis has a comprehensive list of flickr tools so that you can creatively share your photos. For example, Travelr lets you display your flickr photos geographically on a world map.

5.  280 slides

As it says on the website, create beautiful presentations, access them from anywhere, and share them with the world. With 280 Slides, there’s no software to download and nothing to pay for – and when you’re done building your presentation you can share it any way you like.

6.  Capzles

Capzles is a new way to combine videos, photos and mp3s into rich, multimedia storytelling. Read about it in my blog post.

7.   A picture’s worth  is a wonderful site where people are encouraged to write about the meaning or story behind a personal photograph. As the site says, “A Picture’s Worth” provides a haven for people to truly “show and tell”.

You can read more about it in my blog post.

8.  Larry Ferlazzo’s websites of the day

This is not a tool or website, but I’ve included Larry’s blog because I believe people are the best source of information and sharing on the web. Larry was nominated as a finalist in the Best Resource-Sharing Blogs category of the Edublogs Awards in 2007 and again this year, and here he shares a list of education blogs that generously share resources and links.

A list of resource-sharing blogs nominated for the Edublogs award 2008 is definitely worth a look.

9.  Us Now is a film project about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet. Have a look at the ‘Your videos’ page, still in its early stages. Here’s a video called ‘Video republic’:

Read Clay Shirky’s  transcript of this clip.

10. I wrote a post about YouTube Symphony Orchestra a little while ago. This will be the first ever collaborative online orchestra.

We invite musicians from around the world to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Your video entries will be combined into the first ever collaborative virtual performance, and the world will select the best of you to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

This one tops the list for me. It’s collaborative, it’s global, it’s a celebration of talent, it’s inviting the world to make music together.

As suggested by Paul, I’ve tagged the following esteemed bloggers:

Marie Salinger at Just in time; Sue Tapp at And another thing; Allanah King at Life’s not a race to be first finished; Jenny Luca at Lucacept; and Rhonda Powling at Rhondda’s reflections: wandering around the web.




Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, internet, networking, Web 2.0

Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas story

A beautiful collection of art accompanying the Christmas story is to be found on this Metropolitan Museum of Art website.



Filed under art

Life photo archive of Christmas


At the risk of appearing obsessive, I’m also adding the LIFE photo archive of Christmas images hosted by Google.

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Filed under art

Mahalo searches Christmas stamps


Mahalo has a unique search result which is quite satisfying and neatly packaged.

Here is another list of results for Christmas stamps and holiday stamps.

I wonder if there are any sites displaying more unusual Christmas stamps?

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Filed under art

Christmas stamps

Reading through Art Blog by Bob I came across a  poll for Christmas stamps from different countries.  Which stamps would you vote for?



Filed under art

Different kinds of reading – internet and literature


 Photo courtesy of imago2007

I’m aware that my reading behaviour on the internet is different from when I read a book, in particular fiction. In addition, I think that my book reading focus has altered since I’ve discovered hyperlinked online reading.

I’ve included a paragraph from a piece written by Sven Birkerts on Britannica blog, Reading in the open-ended information zone called cyberspace.

Again, I’m not saying good or bad, I’m just saying. When I am online I am perpetually aware of open-endedness, of potentiality, and psychologically I am fragmented. I make my way forward through whatever text is in front of me factoring in not just the indeterminacy of whatever is next on the page, I am also alert, even if subliminally, to the idea of the whole, the adjacency of all information. However determined I am to focus on the task at hand, I am haunted by this idea of the whole. Which is different than what I might experience sitting in a library chair knowing that I’m in the midst of three floors of stacks. The difference has to do with permeability, with the imminence of linkage, and it is decisive.

 Here is the complete article.

I’d like to explore this topic to gain an understanding of something that affects our students and us as teachers.

What do others think about the author’s views? What are your thoughts about the different kinds of reading? Do you think our generation of online students are affected, and is this positive or negative?


Filed under 21st century learning, learning, Literature, reading, teaching, technology, Web 2.0