In defense of messiness

Children are messy. Their work is messy. Their handwriting is messy. Their thinking is messy.

But their enthusiasm, their joyfulness, their energy is wonderful, and so I am ok with a little messiness if it is produced in a rush of eager creativity.

For instance, I have been reading Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa to one of my Y3 classes, and we finished it this morning. It is utterly charming, and worlds away from anything else we have read recently – the simple language and imaginative story remind me a bit of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, while being totally different in setting and characters!

Anyway, we finished reading it this morning, and everyone enjoyed it, so when I discovered that my other planned activity wouldn’t work I threw in something else I’d been thinking about – writing letters like Giraffe and Penguin! I wrote an example on the board, and invited everyone to write a simple letter, using their own name and giving a clue as to what animal (currently proven to be living on the Earth, so no dinosaurs, Bigfoot or dragons) they were. Letters were hastily written, folded up in a variety of ways, then randomly distributed around the room, to be opened upon the count of three. The most fun part happened next, as students read out the clues and made their guesses, some perfectly accurate and others hilariously off the mark. We ran out of time to read out every single letter, but the boys had so much fun, and so loved the little puzzle and the connection to the book, that I have to say it was one of the best things I’ve done with them this year.

Making Connections

Long time no blog – which is all the more reason to pull some ideas together.

BRAIN HUE Collection by Emilio Garcia 2010; CC licence BY-NC 2.0

It is now Term 4 of 2013, and there is very little left of the Australian school year. This has been a busy year for me, settling back into my school in Hobart, getting up to speed with developments in the Australian National Curriculum, the Australian National Teacher Standards, catching up on developments within my school library: WorldCat, LibGuides, ebooks, and attending plenty of Professional Development.

Professional Development is one of those tricky things, reminds me of a New Year’s Resolution  – you dive in, go hard for two weeks, but then life happens and the Big Plan dribbles away to a faintly guilty stain on your To Do list.



At the end of last month Hobart played host to the ASLA XXIII Biennial National Conference, 3 days of school library-focused ideas and discussions and presentations. I love going to events like this where I can be immersed in information that is so completely relevant to what I do, and meet people who work in the same field and have wonderful experiences to share. I always feel energised and excited and motivated – but then it is all over, and real life returns… My question is how do I make sure that the end of the conference is not the end of my learning? Lately I find myself dropping into social media (like blogs, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook) once or twice a week and just cruising through the links and ideas, seeing what is out there.

Following links has led me to the Global Read Aloud, which has given me a way to connect my two Prep classes with classes on the other side of the world to talk about books by Eric Carle.

Following links this morning led me to a report on how new library spaces were designed, built and are being used in seven Queensland schools – food for thought as I look at how my limited library space is used, and what else I could do to support our library uses.

Following links led me to a blog post about explaining Twitter to others, which had this fabulous video at the end:

This video really prompted me to stop thinking about blogging and get on with it! I have some more ideas to share in the near future…

And then I read a blog post by George Couros about connecting to others, and I really like the way he reframes the basic premise: the goal is not so much to be ‘connected’, (which I think sounds a bit like being permanently plugged into an electrical socket) but to be someone who connects – and as George pointed out, this is a verb, a conscious action on our part. It doesn’t really matter whether we are using a particular social media tool (ahem – this is a blog, is it not?) or going to conferences or speaking up in whole school staff meetings to talk about something happening in our classroom. It is the educational objective that matters, not the tool we use to get there.

By reaching out to connect with others we stretch ourselves.