April Reading – A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly


I hope everyone had a restful holiday and managed to fit in some fantastic reading.  I certainly did.

I wanted to tell you about one of the best books I read these holidays which was “A Long Way Home,” by Saroo Brierly.

This is the remarkable true story of Saroo who, at the age of five, was lost on a train in India.

After some hair raising adventures surviving on the streets of Calcutta and being detained in some poor sometimes violent institutions, Saroo was eventually adopted by an Australian couple and grew up in Tasmania in a very loving family.

While very much loved, Saroo never gave up hope of one day finding his home and reuniting with his family.  With the help of modern technology and Google Earth that’s what he actually did and it is a truly inspiring journey.

Saroo makes his remarkable journey home and reveals the love of his two families. His story celebrates our human spirit and the importance of finding the courage to persist even in the face of incredible odds.

If you like heartwarming stories about real people facing amazing challenges then you might want to look out for this one.

Some of you might have caught the movie.  It was called “Lion.” I didn’t, unfortunately, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have no hesitation in recommending it and give it a 10/10.

We have a few copies with the original title “A Long Way Home” and some movie tie ins with the title of “Lion”.  Look out for these in term 2, 2017.

2016 Premiers’ Reading Challenge

Hope everyone is pumped and ready to go for the Premiers’ Reading Challenge in 2016!
loginhere-imageRemember to visit the site and record all of the books you have read from the start of the year.  You can find out everything about the challenge and book lists to inspire you.

Still stuck for ideas about what  to read next?

Silver_longlisted_nobkgndWhy not try The 2016 Inky Award Longlist? There are 10 Australian books up for the Gold Inky Award and 10 international books competing for the Siliver Inky Award. The books were selected by teens and will be judged by teens.  Why not try them out and see what you think?


I read one of the internationals on the holidays and loved it:


The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness – All Mikey wants to do is graduate, have a last summer with friends and go to college but a lot of strange things are happening.  First he has to live through the  whatever is bombing and snatching young people and of course struggle with his own personal demons and his feelings for Henna.  There are fantasy elements and mature relationship themes so use your own discretion. If you enjoy John Green books, try this one.  Ness is an award winning author and on a winner here too!

My Rating:  ***** 5 stars – I want my friend to be the God of mountain lions too.  How cool!!!

Good luck on the Premiers’ Reading Challenge in 2016!

Join the Summer Reading Club

I found our visit to Greater Dandenong very inspiring, especially the wonderful book sorter and the lift dedicated to books.  How awesome and thrilling??!!

In the end I walked with 9 groups to the public library and apart from having very sore feet was really impressed by the students’ and teachers’ positive attitude and the wonderful resources and programs available to everyone for free over the summer.  So if you haven’t become a registered member of Greater Dandenong why not plan a visit with a parent, guardian or older brother and sister to sign up?

Congratulations also to everyone who participated in the Premiers’ Reading Challenge.  Your certificates have landed.

Looking for a new challenge?

The Summer Reading Club is now open and I recommend that you get started.  You do need an ID card with Greater Dandenong to sign up.

Of course if you have no overdues you can start borrowing books from the LRC and get started today.  Books that you borrow now will be due back in Week 3 of Term 1, 2016.

Here is the start of my personal reading wish list:

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  2. Heaven by Angela Johnson
  3. The Graveyard Book Vol 1 (Graphic Novel) by Neil Gaiman

A book I recently enjoyed was:

I am currently reading:

What are you reading?  Or planning to read?

Post about something you enjoyed this year:

  • your visit to Greater Dandenong.
  • an author visit.
  • a book you enjoyed.
  • your reading wishlist.
  • books you would recommend to other students.

Join NaNoWriMo YWP in 2015

It stands for National Novel Writing Month and we start planning in October and write in November.  We only count the words that we write in November.

It is an international writing program but we have been running it at our school for 4 years.

It doesn’t replace English but it is intended to get you writing regularly and overcome writers’ block.  I don’t correct your work or publish your story but you might want to check Wattpad if you want to publish your story.

You can write about anything, your life or it can be totally imaginary.  If you are stuck for ideas come to our lunchtime sessions and we will try to help you and show you where you can find ideas.

I am really excited that we have over 100 students joining our community of writers this year.

Let me know if you want to sign up to the program.  Remember a participation certificate is 33.33333 words a day.  Everyone can do that.  Sign up with me to participate.  You are welcome to write in the Fiction Room at lunchtime and bring your lunch too.  We will launch NaNoWrimo YWP with a special treasure hunt this year.

Here is the summary of my story:

The Codex

A troubled orphan lives with the Smeelies, his foster family of last resort. But trouble, in the form of fire always seems to break out and cause havoc at every new placement and family he is sent to live with. His case worker Helen warns George that if he doesn’t make it work with the Smeelies he could very well find himself in a correctional facility for delinquent teens. Unfortunately, George doesn’t know why fires erupt around him and more recently why unusual things have been happening that defy explanation. At school, George’s hideout is the Library where everything is peaceful, calm and orderly. Although he is worried about the combustible nature of books, a fire has never broken out in any of his school libraries so far. On an excursion to the State Library of Victoria with the Library Monitors, an explosion rocks the Lost Byzantium Medieval Exhibition. Through the ripped walls and clouds of dust, George witnesses a murder that no one else sees and the dying man who falls through the cavity gives him a strange untitled little book covered in brown dusty vellum that fits into the palm of his hand. When he opens the book it is like the words are speaking to him and the writing disappears as soon as he reads the message. George is instructed to protect the book that will lead him to safety and that he must urgently step through the breached walls to seek the bear trainer at the Hippodrome. George has no idea what a Hippodrome is and wonders if it is like a zoo but has no choice but to leap through the wall when masked anti-terror agents charge after him. And so begins George’s adventure…

What’s your story?

Legend by Marie Lu

I read a lot of books on the holidays but this is one I can definitely recommend to all teens.  Legend is the first in an epic trilogy and it doesn’t disappoint.

June is looking for her brother’s killer and Day is trying to save his family.  The two are irresistibly drawn in a thrilling adventure.

A compelling read.  If you love the Divergent, Hunger Games or Maze Runner series try this one too.

Holiday reading

In the next two weeks, I would encourage everyone to organise their holiday reading.

Some of the books I am reading and plan to finish reading on the holidays are:

  • The Spiderwick ChroniclesThe Completely Fantastical Edition by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
  • Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke






Term 3 – Let’s get blogging

A blog is a website that can be anything you want it to be.  A class blog can show the world all of the amazing learning that you are accomplishing at school and inspire others to learn and grow too.

On a school blog you can:

  • share your ideas
  • find a larger audience than just your class
  • get feedback in the form of comments
  • showcase your learning
  • reflect on your learning
  • see how much you have learnt over time
  • and much much more…

But before you rush to write your first post we would like you to pause and consider another important thing about blogging and that is the opportunity to be part of a bigger community and as such you will be:

Commenting and giving feedback to bloggers in our school community not just students in your own House

It might feel strange at first but what we are doing is building a larger community of learners.  The fantastic thing about the internet is that you can access a wider audience. There is an opportunity to receive and give lots of feedback and comments to and from lots of different people. Constructive feedback can help you grow enormously but hurtful comments and bullying can set you back.  So the plan is to build a supportive community of learners at Dandenong High School before we take on the world.  A community that is based on respect.

Remember that as learners we need to have some guidelines and an etiquette that we follow in order to respect everyone online just as we do in real life. Go to the Blogging 101 page.   At school we have rules but online we have to be super careful and also protect our own and each other’s privacy and safety.

We also need to be resilient and learn to be stronger individuals that learn from mistakes and challenges and be prepared to take risks by putting our work out there.  We can only do that confidently if we know that our community is a supportive one that doesn’t judge us but helps us learn.


Discussion Activity:  In your table groups you will do a scenario activity to help you think about posting appropriate comments, cybersafety, digital citizenship and your digital thumbprint.    How do you think you should respond to the issue based on the class blogging regulations (see Blogging 101)?  Elect a speaker in your group who reports back to the class.

Blogging Activity: Explore and read some of the student work on the 8D Class blog.  You can find a link to their class blog on the right hand side of this blog.  Students in 8D have been blogging for nearly a year now.  Practise by making suitable comments and giving feedback to these students.  Have a look at some of the reminders below before proceeding.


Knowthenet presents Manners Matter

Knowthenet presents Manners Matter the online Netiquette Do’s and Don’ts infographic.

Term 2 – Hunger Games Review

One of my favorite genres is dystopian literature and this is the second time I have read ‘The Hunger Games’.

I love Katniss! She is a strong female character who lives in a very grim corrupt world set in the future. Young people from each of the twelve districts are selected and expected to participate in a violent sport to the death until one person remains standing alive at the end. I’m buoyed by the fact that Katniss, even though she is sixteen, never despairs or loses her humanity.  She is not superficial or concerned with outward appearances, unlike the people from the Capitol who control the games as a sign of their power over the other districts.

Katniss volunteers during the reaping to protect her younger sister from harm and willingly sacrifices her own safety.

Peeta is the boy selected from her district and her feelings towards him become complicated.

The odds are not in the favor of competitors who come from poorer districts but Katniss is a survivor who demonstrates great intelligence and skill.

In the arena, she transfers her feelings for her sister towards a younger girl, Rue, also from a poor district who she tries to protect.

This is a great book for those who love stories that contain a lot of action but the book also challenges our values so I would certainly recommend it to students who enjoy an action book with some depth and substance.

If you have read or watched the movie come to our Hunger Games Trivia Lunchtime Event on Tuesday 16th June.  Come with your friends and make a table.  Winning tables will receive great prizes.  BYO lunch but there will be yummy treats to share.

Please comment and tell me about a book you love!


Term 1 Reading

Just discovered this delightful video featuring Anne of Green Gables re-imagined for our times.  What a fantastic way to enjoy the text anew and a great creative way to respond to a classic.



Exploring Jackie French books

This term I have had a lot of fun dipping into some Jackie French books.

The first one which I have finished is called Hitler’s Daughter.  Imagine if Hitler had a daughter.  That’s what a bunch of Aussie country kids did as they waited for their bus to arrive on the way to school.  A great way to learn about the past and ponder some of the moral questions of this awful time.

The other book I am currently reading is called, The Goat Who Sailed the World and for this one we are aboard Cook’s Endeavour.  The journey is told through the eyes of Isaac, a twelve year old boy who is an apprentice and has to make his way in the world because he is not the eldest son. We also get the perspective of Captain’s Cook grumpy goat.  It’s not only a fun way to learn about history but geography and science as well as one of the main purposes of the expedition was to travel to Tahiti and measure the transit of Venus.  Discovering Australia was only a bonus!

I would recommend both books to any year 7 and 8 student.

Some of the books on my To Read List include:

Wonder by R J Palacio

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield

Remember good readers always have the next book ready.



Welcome Back in 2015

I’d like to welcome new students and returning students to what will hopefully be a great school year in 2015.

On the holidays, I broke my wrist which meant I had a lot of time for reading.

One of the conditions of this class is that we are all readers and we are expected to read this year and share information about good books we have read.

Now I wouldn’t recommend breaking your arm to get your reading done but here are some books that I managed to read on the holidays :

1.  ‘Anne of Green Gables’ – This is a wonderful classic by L M Montgomery that I would recommend to everyone.  Anne is an irrepressible orphan with an incredible imagination who endears herself to the Cuthberts.  Originally, the quirky middle aged brother and sister were looking to adopt a boy to help on their magnificent farm but never looked back after Anne came to stay and won their hearts even though she has her own way of doing things that gets her into trouble.  This is one I’m going to add to the Book Draws.

2.  ‘Paper Towns’  – is by John Green the same author who wrote ‘The Fault in Our Stars’.  Quentin and Margo discovered a dead man when they were 9 and this experience unites them in a special way.  Margo has quite a troubled life but before she goes missing she enlists Quentin’s help to seek vengeance from people who have wronged her.  Quentin with the help of his friends follows clues and tries to find out what happened to Margo who he has not stopped loving since childhood.  This is a young adult book and recommended to students who enjoy mature themes and books about relationships and self discovery.  This is another book I will add to the Book Draw.

3.  ‘All The Truth That’s In Me’ by Julie Berry is also for students who enjoy dramatic love stories.  The society in this novel is puritanical and backward.  Judith, the main character, and her friend go missing but two years later only Judith returns unable to speak about what happened.  She is blamed for what happened to her friend and lives as a virtual outcast by her family and society. Ultimately, it is a love story told in the second person with Judith relating her story in a sincere voice to Lucas the boy she has not stopped loving.

4.  ‘Dead Dog in the Still of the Night’ by Archimede Fusillo.  I read this book because the author is visiting our school to speak to year 9 students.  It’s a great story about growing up and captures the colors and voices of multicultural Australia.  Life’s tough for Primo who is trying to finish year 12, help his brother with his marriage, deal with problems with his girlfriend and also with the little problem that he has damaged his father’s antique car.  There’s some interesting fight scene action with shady characters and of course a dead dog features in the story.  Read the story to find out where and how.

Other books I read:

The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do and how to change’ – by Charles Duhigg – Yes it is possible to change.  I read this book to help me understand how to help students make reading a habit.

‘Notebook Connections – Strategies for the Reader’s Notebook’ by Aimee Buckner –  I read this one to help me teach better and help students with their reading.

‘Making Connections with Blogging – Authentic Learning for Today’s Classrooms’.  I read this one because I think blogging is fun and would like to help students learn how to do this.

‘The Twelve’ by Justin Cronin – This is an adult futuristic vampire book and the sequel to The Passage by the same author.  I read this one for fun.

‘Shy: A Memoir’ by Sian Prior – This is the true story of a journalist who has led a very public career and who shares personal insights about what it is like to suffer from shyness.  Also the author shares a good deal of interesting research on the topic of shyness.