Tuesday, January 31, 2012

abortion silent pastors

I think Andrew is one.

Reading an email from a pro-life group about what our church should be doing to stop abortion. It is lengthy. If our church did 20% of them, it would be all that our church did.

One of the final items on the list is for the pastor to get alongside local abortionists and abortion-silent pastors in order to convince them to change their ways. Andrew's only mentioned abortion a couple of times that I can think of. And those mentions were only in passing.

Not sure what the point of this post is. But church isn't a lobby group.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How long does it take to get sick of a good song?

Nine listens. If they all take place in the same 2 hour period.

I had forgotten.

Even if it's a good song and teaches the exact chord/rhythm/whatever that needs to be taught, you still shouldn't do it with every class. 


Normal work day.

I have a timetable.

I get to see kids all day - not just when I can beg their teachers to let me have them.

Yr 6 is learning the joy that is Dm chord. And we're playing Coldplay Princess of China.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Ghost Ship

I'm running a choir for year 2 and 3 kids this year. Looking forward to it. I'm starting with this set of songs.

Thoughts of Home

The Captian's Mate

Friday, January 27, 2012

last ep series 5


When it comes to evil...

... we are ambidextrous.

Micah 7:3.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

watching the West Wing.

Season 4.

On Australia Day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Find Life - John's gospel for kids

I've been working on this for ages.

I'm reasonably happy with it - still a few typos to fix, but this is basically it.

It also comes in a younger kids and little kids version and with drafted scripts etc. But I can't be bothered uploading them right now.

Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

Having fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aussie flag flyers more racist: survey

Aussie flag flyers more racist: survey

Updated January 24, 2012 15:17:27
People who fly Australian flags on their cars have more racist views than the rest of the population, a new study has found.
Many flag flyers also support the now-defunct White Australia Policy and are afraid the Australian culture is under threat, researchers from the University of Western Australia say.
Researchers surveyed 513 revellers among the 300,000 gathered to watch the Australia Day fireworks in Perth last year.
One in five of those surveyed said they had attached Australian flags to their cars.
WA University anthropologist Farida Fozdar says those flying the flags expressed more racist opinions on a number of issues.
"People who had flags on their cars, 43 per cent of them believe the White Australia Policy had saved Australia from problems that other countries had experienced," she said.
"Fifty-six per cent of those with flags on their cars feared their culture and its most important values were in danger compared to 34 per cent of non-flag flyers."
Professor Fozdar says of the people surveyed who do fly flags, the common factor was fear.
"You can't actually ask outright a question about 'do you feel fearful?' I guess the question that I asked that was closest to that was the one about fearing the loss of one's cultures and most important values," she said.
"Certainly 56 per cent of people with car flags agreed with that statement, but there was definitely a feeling of, I guess, being under siege."

Monday, January 23, 2012

back to school!

Yeah. I'm excited.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

10 things I love about this stage of parenting (this stage = minimum effort, maximum reward)

1. They don't take much looking after.

2. They are all very touchy at the moment. Cuddling me and holding my hand when we're out are popular. I like it.

3. They have good taste in music, which makes driving long distance fun. We put 6 cds into player and then take it in turns to choose a song to listen to. Current faves are Cold Play (track 10 Mylo Xyloto), Greenday (Viva la Gloria), and Tim Freedman (You Weren't in Love With Me). When a nice metaphor comes along, we talk about it.

4. They love having me at school with them. I'll teach Nathan and Joel again this year, but not Micah. (He feels a bit left out but is happy that his classroom is closest to mine. How sweet!)

5. They are great to hang out with. Interesting conversationalists etc.

6. We talk quite a lot about the bad-dog-things that our pups gets up to at night after we go to bed. (We know that she goes out places at night because she sleeps most of the day.) She has a thing for casinos and she spends a lot of time at the pokies. We are disappointed that Andrew's Wilke's reforms won't be coming in. Arry's bad-dog habits are getting expensive.

7. Nathan (#1) and Micah (#3) are now sharing a room and finding joy in each other. They talk about sporting trivia, play Ticket To Ride, play backyard cricket, and listen to ABC radio. This delights me.

8. Joel now has his own room. It is his pride and joy. He keeps it perfect and stays on his bed reading for hours a day. Long time readers will rejoice with me in this!

9. I love it when Micah plays cello. I love that I can accompany him.

10.  I'm paying Joel to me origami Ninja Stars to decorate my classroom. 20c per star. I love that he still sees this as a good deal. I need 30-50 stars...

The joys of renting.

My mum bought a steam cleaner and cleaned her 30 year old carpet. It looks amazing.

I borrowed my mum's steam cleaner and cleaned our <30 year old carpet. It looks like damp rental carpet.

I tried.

work work work work work

I've just finished 3 pupil free days at work.

At the beginning of the year you want the whole school to look just so. Classrooms fresh and bright, grounds clean, everything organised. Not so for us this year. Our main administration building - formally a feature of the school - is without a roof and many of it's walls. There are security fences up to keep the kids (and parents) out of the construction site. There are Q-build guys moving around shifting stuff. Our school hall has been turned into an admin area and staffroom with dividing boards and furniture that doesn't match. Teachers have done a good job in their classrooms but the carpet hasn't been cleaned (no one was allowed on site over the holidays because of the asbestos risk) and there is still a slightly smokey smell hanging around. We had no internet at all until yesterday (and it is still not school-wide (the server room was destroyed)), so everyone's been working off photocopies of photocopies. We start teaching from the national curriculum on Monday, but many are having trouble accessing the resources.

I'm more organised than I've ever been before, but I feel stressed. Just want the kids to arrive so we can get on with it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

holidays over

Back to work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

my current favourite song

Eternal youth is a landscape of a lie
the cracks of my skin can prove
as the years will testify

Viva La Gloria, Green Day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Burnt school

Kids are back next week.

how on earth...

... do I write a set of criteria by which I can select a small group of 10-12 year olds to write a musical with me? I need to be able to show parents that I've been FAIR in choosing some kids over others.

Here's what I'm after:

-Kids who want to do it
-Kids who are willing to work hard and commit to this project
-Kids with fresh ideas
-Kids who understand how metaphor works and who naturally think in metaphors
-Kids who know cliche for the smooth and silent killer that it is. (I'll explain, but not all will understand.)
-Kids who can analyse plots and characters and see connections both within a story and to wider themes in their own experience and that of others.
-Kids who can write - lyric writers and dialogue/narration writers needed.
-Kids who can write music. (Not all kids need to fit this one.)

So how do I phrase my selection criteria so that I get what I'm after?


Okay parents, how do you think I should go about this? It's tough because kids will miss out - including mine - but what I'm trying to do here is give an opportunity to kids who think outside of the box and whose needs aren't being met by regular classroom activities.

Anthony - ideas? You live so far away from the box that you don't even know what it looks like. How would 11 year old you have responded to something like this?

teaching plans

This year I hope to be teaching classroom music to year 4 (4 classes), year 6 (3 classes) and year 7 (2-3 classes). I'll also have some littlies. Year 4 is recorder (delight!) and year 6 and 7 are ukulele. I see each class for half an hour a week. The year 4s I may nab some extra time with.

Here are my plans.

Year 4 Recorder
I'm writing a graded recorder program called Recorder Ninja. Kids will move from Green Star level (easy) to Black Star level (really tricky). The trouble with differentiating kids on recorder is that it is easiest (least painful on the ears) if everyone is at least trying to play the same song. But that would be boring... So here's what I'm going to do.

The bulk of the class will be at the same level. I'll work with them for 2/3 of the lesson then send them away to do the written work for their level. During that time I'll work with the kids who are more advanced - perhaps seeing them briefly individually or in pairs to teach them the new notes etc. They practice at home, record their songs on mum's iPhone and email them to me. I email back with comments and tell them when they are ready for the next level. Similarly with their theory stuff.

The kids who get quite advanced will get a brief lunchtime lesson in composing using Sibelius (a computer program). They'll be given a composition task to work on during class time or whenever they want. Or if they prefer, they can move from descant to treble (alto) recorder and I'll group them and give them duets to play.

Year 6 and 7 Uke
Ukulele is not a difficult instrument to play. Bright kids who practice learn quite quickly and find it satisfying to choose their own songs and work out how to play them. This is all fine and many take what I've taught them in class and advance themselves at home. But what to do in class to push them further? While most of us are learning to play melodies (like Ode to Joy or something similar) I could put them onto the computers and get them to make up an upper or lower harmony part, learn to play it and put it with the class' melody. Sometimes I'll put them on the drum kit or piano to play along with the class while we're practicing our chord progressions.

But I want to do more than this.

Here's my grand plan.

I want to get a group of 6 or so kids in years 6-7 and get them to write a musical. From scratch.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

blogger has just changed the comment form

you can now reply to people's comments specifically.

gifted education

I've spent the last few days reading up on gifted education. I've worked my way through 6 modules of the ed qld pd course at specialisation level so I figure I now know more than most teachers. But I still know precious little.

Here are some thoughts.

- the main issue here is equity. Each child deserves to be taught at a level appropriate to them. Parents spit at the thought of other people's kids getting special treatment because they are bright, but we all need to get over that way of thinking. The aim is that each child works at a level that is challenging (but achievable) for them. This will mean a differentiated curriculum.

- An undifferentiated curriculum will mean significantly worse outcomes for gifted children socially, emotionally and academically.

- Grade advancement is being shown to have great outcomes for gifted kids.

- Many kids who are intellectually advanced are also emotionally and socially advanced - though they may not look it. They may appear to be loners but it is possible that they feel they have nothing in common with children their own age. Different things interest them and they may be looking for a poor-our-hearts-out-to-eachother friend while their peers are really just looking for someone to kick a ball to. It can be really satisfying for gifted kids to hang out with kids a few years older. This should be encouraged.

- Gifted kids who aren't adequately catered for in the school system have a much greater chance of depression etc later on. And gifted teenagers are already likely candidates for depression.

- Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse. Need I say more?

- Identifying gifted kids can be tricky. Some models say kids with IQs in the top 15% are gifted (but then introduce categories of gifted within this - mildly gifted, gifted, ? gifted, profoundly gifted...), others limit it to the top 3%. I'd be happy to run with either model if kids arrived at school with IQ scores... The trouble is that gifted kids often go under the radar. Some perfectionist types decide early on that's it's safer to go undercover and bludge their way through school. Other kids' abilities are masked by disabilities (these kids are called 'twice exceptional' and basically, no one knows what to do with them!), or by anxieties.

- Most teachers (according to studies) are profoundly uncomfortable with giftedness. They would prefer to teach students more like themselves, who think in a straightforward way, who won't challenge them. Gifted children sense this and learn very early on not to share the fact that the theme in x children's book was developed much more interestingly in Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy.

- If my classroom is to be a place where gifted kids can work and thrive, I need to make changes. In another post I'll outline my plans.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

To Do List on kids' iPod

1. Go to computer
2. Press power button
3. Click start
4. Go on minecraft
5. Poison creeper
6. Have fun

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christian encouragement

Al is thinking about encouragement. I think his sermon series needs a graphic like this.

Yes. I know.

Two posts down. Pity party.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's worth blogging about.

My friend, who would dearly love to join us and become a blogger, just asked how I choose what to blog about. Here's the careful process I go through to select blogging fodder for you, beloved reader.

1. Wake up computer
2. Click on my blog
3. Hit 'new post'
4. Start typing
5. Ask myself if what I've written is worth posting
6. Hit 'publish' anyway.

Basically, if I'm thinking about something, I'll blog about it.

Whether it's worth reading or not, is another question.

Just do it, Chris. Blog.


We've spent the last 4 days with our friends who are leaving town. Saturday and Sunday we spent unpacking boxes at their new house. Yesterday and today and tomorrow they are staying with us while cleaning up their Brisbane house.  Their kids are melting here with ours.

Moving sucks in so many ways: the filth you find under the fridge, the earth destroying amount of stuff you have to put into boxes at one end and then pull out of boxes at the other end, the sweat of lifting, the heartbreak of unpacking one house, then having to go back to he old house to clean up, the endless, horrible goodbyes, the long hours without a proper internet connection, the emotional upheaval, the exhaustion...

All this for the (probably short lived) buzz of a new situation.

The only thing worse than moving is being the ones that stay put. All the pain*, no buzz.

*Can't complain too much though. I haven't had to go without internet. 

It is just too hot

Building projects

Treehouse and A-frame doghouse.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What I read on the holidays (post Janette Oke)

Twilight - vampires + aliens = I Am Number Four and The Power of Six.

A young guy (alien), coming into his legacies (alien adolescence when super powers develop), getting his first girl-friend, leaning to control his legacies (stop his hands from glowing when he's excited), dealing with school yard bullies AND saving the world.

YA Sci Fi. I love this stuff.

Part 3 isn't released until September. How will I survive till then?

Yep. Back from holidays.

Let 2012 begin.

7 thoughts on parenting

Anyone who knows me and my kids knows that I'm no expert. My children misbehave in Sunday School, get occasional detentions at school and yell and sulk as much as the anyone else's. But I've been reflecting on parenting lately. Here are some thoughts. What do you think?

1. There's a fine line between assuming right responsibility for raising our kids and feeling overly responsible. If we cross the line we'll soon become disheartened, proud or controlling. (There's also a line in the other direction separating irresponsible parenting from appropriately responsibility parenting. Let's talk about the issues on that end of the continuum some other time.) 

2. Our children are separate human beings to us. Just like we can't change our spouses or our friends, we can't change our children.

3. The nature vs nurture debate has been raging for decades, but everyone concedes that genetics plays a very large role in things. Much of ourselves is set from conception.

4. The best parents I've seen in action are great parents because they embrace their children for who they are. Their bookish kid is a bookish kid who they love - and they help their bookish kid to work out how he can be a bookish kid who loves Jesus and lives for him.... not trying to make him less of a bookish kid in the process.

5. Troubles can come when we try to live through our kids - either by giving them opportunities that we didn't have or didn't exploit (imagine the worst ballet mum) or by trying to re-write our own history and personality through them (we see in them bits of ourselves that we hate and try to beat it out of them.)

6. After the age of... maybe 7? ... on the spot kiddy discipline doesn't really cut it anymore. Smacks, naughty chairs, electronics media restrictions... The child will still be unrepentantly angry/defiant/disobedient etc until they choose not to be. We need to ask what is really going on and address that.

7. Our best allies in helping our child overcome their weaknesses (through the holy spirit, of course!) can be their strengths.