Author Archives: jenniferbutler2014

A bit of inspiration for my last post of 2014


Students finish today so I am doing my last post for 2014 – finishing on a high, I reckon.

This morning I watched a short video from an African environmental activist called Wangari Maathai and the story she shares fits in well with the future path of our school.

To explain, next year we are embarking on the journey to becoming a PYP school.

From the IB website…

What is the Primary Years Programme?

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is defined by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

An important part of any PYP inquiry is the ‘taking action’ by the student, using knowledge gained in their inquiry. For example, the year 6 currently get involved in a unit about humans and their effect on the environment. The difference with a PYP way, would be, I think, that there is an expectation that the students, during their inquiry take some action to effect their environment, or make a difference somehow. But when the topic is something as big as climate change, or deforestation, how can 1 student make a difference?

This is where this story comes in – and I have added it to the Libguide I created as well.

 Happy Christmas and I’ll be back in early February 2015.

Getting in the Christmas spirit!


With our school year finishing in 1 1/2 weeks, we have started to put out Christmas books for the kids to borrow. So I thought I would see what I could find in terms of Christmas resources to share.

If I end up having enough time, I put on ‘The Polar Express’ movie for our last library lesson (or 2). I just love the story, even though it is set when there is snow and cold, the opposite of here…although it has been a bit cold lately! Typical Melbourne weather!

This is my favorite scene.


Plus I love ‘How the The Grinch Stole Christmas’ cartoon version, as the Jim Carrey one is PG, which we can’t show without parental permission. And it gives you a chance to highlight Dr Seuss books, always a winner.


Here are a couple of Christmas theme short videos..

one about how pleasurable it is to give gifts to others (rather than focus on me, me, me, which Christmas can be for children)

And this most amazing one – The Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky played on the top of glasses!

I have decided to do 1 more post this year and then have a break until late January 2015, when I resume back at work.



Have you been introduced to your wise advocate?


I would like to share this presentation I have just watched by Dr Jeffrey Schwartz entitled ‘You are not Your Brain’. Wow – it has some real insights into ideas that the mind and the brain are separate and where you give your attention (your mind) actually can change the way that your brain thinks.

The wise advocate, as Schwartz explains it, is the aspect of your attentive mind that knows what you are thinking, can see the deceptive brain messages for what they are and understands how you feel. The wise advocate wants the best for you, it loves and cares for you, so it encourages you to value yourself and make  decisions in a rational manner that are in your overall best interests.

From the video link….

You are not your brain
• How does the brain work? What happens in an overactive brain circuit?
• Why do we so often feel besieged by bad brain wiring?
• Is it possible to free ourselves from destructive thoughts and actions and to change bad habits for good?
• How to identify and work with negative brain impulses
• Making your brain work for you — the 4-Step solution for changing bad habits, ending unhealthy thinking, and taking control of your life
Dr Jeffrey M Schwartz, leading neuroplasticity researcher and coauthor of the just released You Are Not Your Brain and the groundbreaking books Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain; Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine, USA

Change – it’s in the air at the end of the 2014 school year


At the end of the school year, there is change aplenty, both at school and at home. Next Monday is our ‘change to 2015 class’ morning, during which the students get to experience their classroom for 2015, their classmates and their new class teacher. Plus reports are due in the next few weeks so there is lots of assessment and reflection about 2014.

On the home front, I am moving in to my new home the first day of holidays – 15th December, so am madly packing and organizing quote from removalists.

So change –

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

Hermit Crab shell changes – usually done in secret
A Forest Year
Rubbish being recycled


Yobbos Do Yoga


Yesterday I shared a picture book called “Yobbos Do Yoga’ by Phillip Gwynne and Andrew Joyner  with a year 2 class.

It is the story of a little girl and her dad, who have ‘yobbos’ move in next door (for non-Australians, yobbos are usually young men, generally uncouth, prone to swearing and constant use of Aussie vernacular. A Yobbo is a heavy drinker, who places mateship above all else and lives for those wild memorable moments that are unforgettable.)

And the dad is a lover of peace and calm, and spends his day doing different yoga poses, so he is not pleased to have new neighbours. But Tubby, Ferret and King Wally Kahuna turn out to be very decent blokes,enjoying loud parties and music but including everyone and  are also willing to lend a hand and try out new things eg yoga!

yobbos do yoga 2



yobbos do yoga 1

Last year, when my colleague and I were considering what integrated units the library could support and complement during library classes, the year 2 unit of Healthy Living came up. The classroom focus is very much on healthy eating and exercising and we saw an obvious gap to us,  as there was no discussion about a healthy mind and ways to keep it healthy. So, in our limited class time with them, (45 minutes once a fortnight), I have begun to introduce the idea of a healthy mind and encouraging them to think about how something like meditation (of which yoga is a form)  can help to train the mind to be healthy and calm and positive, not re-hashing old and self- limiting ideas.

It is an area I would be interested in getting some training in as, for myself, doing a short meditation each morning before I get up, helps me set the tone for the day ahead…being one of calm and being able to observe those recurring thought patterns that don’t help me.

I have a teacher resource called ‘Meditation Capsules – A Mindfulness Program for Children’ by Janet Etty-Leal.She has done extensive work at Geelong Grammar , as well as other schools, as their ‘meditation’ consultant (2009) , pioneering well being for student’s through Positive Education. As my school has identified well-being for students and staff as being a priority for 2015 and beyond, this course and way of thinking of meditation as a life skill, fits in very well.

So I feel things aligning for me to delve deeper into teaching meditation to children.

Doesn’t music enrich our lives?


For the last couple of weeks, I have been reminded hos much music enriches our lives. I have been to a ukelele workshop with a musician called Mike Jackson, whose voice I recognized, but couldn’t remember where from. Then it dawned on me, he sang a song called ‘Jollity Farm’ on a CD I used to play in the car when my kids were little. I hadn’t actually played a ukelele before but it was actually really good to go back to being a student and trying to learn something new in a big group. Reflecting on it, I took the whole thing very seriously – I realise I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things ‘right’. Sure lots of kids do the same.

This afternoon, I went to see a dress rehearsal of ‘High School – I enjoyed watching the faces of the year 4’s I went with and the embarrassment of some as the main boy and girl sang to one another. Stories in musical form …stories in written form…stories in visual form…we all love a good story.

From one of my favorite sites to find great video, The Kid Should See This, here is a video that I watched this morning putting technology and music together, called SIGNAL STRENGTH. It is an amazing concept.




To Dewey or not to Dewey – that is the question…..


after an absence of a few months, it is time for me to start blogging again and in the process, reflecting on what I am mulling over. This week, as we finish our last big hurrah for the year – Book fair – my mind turns to collection management. Di, my library technician, ran off data showing which collection gets borrowed most and I was surprised to see it is the non-fiction this year. And with the Australian curriculum coming in in full force, integrated units are being tweaked and our library collection needs to reflect that. Plus I was contacted by Michelle, from another P-12 independent school about their idea to get rid of Dewey all together in their primary school library. So you can see, all paths are converging in the non-fiction at this time. Michelle is visiting next week so we can share our approach here to the way non-fiction is organised for a primary school audience, for people ages 4-12. My over-riding consideration is how will the students find what they are looking for most easily? and I reckon it is by putting the sorts of things we know they enjoy borrowing together under 1 DDC number. So yes, we do use Dewey, but our simplified version of it. Don’t think this is rocket science or anything new, but it seems to be working here, and maybe the increased borrowing from the non-fiction is partly a reflection of that. will have to see the stats to infer …..Also, I think as we are a P-12 school and share our catalogue not only with 2 secondary campuses, but with another primary campus, doing away with Dewey would not be a feasible option – too much mucking up of a shared system, (and some people are rather precious about ‘their’ catalogue!!!) So, for example, animals is an area heavily borrowed by children. So we have grouped them sort of by the groups we already had – endangered animals is now all 591.68, Australian animals – 591.994, Minibeasts(insects) – 595.7, ocean animals – 597, mammals – 599 and reptiles and amphibians – 597.9. So all the books about reptiles and amphibians are on the same shelf with a label underneath, making it easier for kids to find. Plus if they are obsessed with sharks, they know which shelf to go to to find books about sharks – with the ocean animals.

To finish off with, the above thinking and pondering I find very interesting, but if you are not a library person, I have been starting my year 1 library classes with a youtube about an ocean animal, as they are studying sea creatures in class. A great reminder I get regularly is posts from ‘The Kid Should See This’ blog, which I have mentioned before. Here is an amazing one about the biggest school of manta rays on the planet + one showing the 2nd biggest aquarium in the world.
I’m putting out there that my goal for the rest of this school year (5 more weeks) is to get back into posting once a week…..

The Eye of the Falcon – 3rd in Gods and Warriors series – Michelle Paver


The Eye of the FalconThe Eye of the Falcon by Michelle Paver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michelle Paver keeps me involved and interested in her stories always. I have read all the Wolf Brother series and loved them and now here is another series this time set after Wolf Brother in the Bronze Age. In this 3rd book of the series, we get to find out what happened to Pirra, after she was forced back to Keftui by Hylas, who did it to protect her. Also we see what happened to the lion cub Havoc, who was on the ship with Pirra, going to Keftui. And we meet Echo, the baby falcon, who seems to have a link with Pirra. At the end, you are left with more questions as Pirra's slave, Userref leaves for Egypt, taking the dagger of Koronos with him to destroy.

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Dandelion Fire – 2nd book in 100 Cupboards series by ND Wilson


Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards, #2)Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Henry York's life threatening adventures continue from his bedroom with the 100 doors that lead to different lands. He really doesn't want to go back to his 'parents' particularly now he knows they are not his real parents. But it seems there is no choice, unless he goes through one of the doors....and he wants to know where he has come from, who his family are. Following that trail leads him into all sorts of trouble, and cousin Henrietta goes off as well, leaving her dad behind to work out what to do and how to find these 2 lost children.

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