Debating with Technology

Throughout this term a group of students have participated in a Debating Project.  Each week, up to seven students from five different schools meet in an online meeting room. 

Everyone can see and hear each other using the Polycom TV

At the start of the project we learnt how to speak confidently and to ‘think on our feet.’  That means, we had to think quickly and without any notes. Mr O’Brien, the teacher running the project, gave us some fun activities to help us.

What Good Luck, What Bad Luck

In this activity we worked in a small group to tell a story.  The first person started off with ‘What good luck…’ and the next person jumped in with ‘What bad luck…’ and so on. 

For example: ‘What good luck, it is the weekend’

‘What bad luck, there is a power cut and I can’t watch my favourite show’

What good luck, I’ll watch it online later’ and so on

Rabbit On

We each got a topic and had to ‘rabbit on’ for 30 seconds.  ‘Rabbit on’ is another way of saying talk a lot. 

Time to Debate

Soon it was time to participate in an actual debate.  Students from a different school adjudicated (that’s a debating term for scored) and timed each debate.  Each speaker had one minute to argue their team’s point of view.

Listening to our opposition in Debate 1

Our first debate was TV is a Bad Influence on Children and we were the affirmative team.  Our second topic was Cigarettes Should Be Banned and we had to argue that they should not be banned.  The UPPS Debating Team worked hard to present clear, logical arguments and rebutt the opposition’s points.  After two very close debates against strong opposition sides, we won and made it through into the Grand Final.

The Grand Final is this week.  Each school suggested three possible Grand Final topics which were placed in a hat and one was randomly selected.  We are on the affirmative side and have to argue Children Should NOT Be Kept in Detention Centres.  This topic was suggested by Sam so he is very happy about it.  It is also a topic we have discussed in class after reading Morris Gleitzman’s novels Boy Overboard and Girl Underground.  Wish us luck! 

 What do you think… Should children be kept in detention centres?

If you could pick the Grand Final topic, what would it be?



You may remember that our first Global Project for the year was Miss Leakey’s Postcard Project.  We each wrote a postcard to a class somewhere in the world.  Slowly but surely we started hearing from classes who had received our postcards…and we even heard from Miss Leakey! 


Below are some of the postcards and messages we have received.  Some postcards went on quite an adventure to reach their final destination! We still have our fingers crossed that we receive more replies. 




 If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?  Why?

Have you received anything in the post this week?


A Super Skyping Session with 5/6CS!

Yesterday we Skyped with some very talented artists and ‘origami-ists’ (is that even a word?!) from 5/6CS in Tasmania.  At the start of the term, Mrs S and 5/6CS sent us Artist Trading Cards and we created some for them. The only problem was that we didn’t know how to make the fancy little paper card holders. So, we Skyped with them and they taught us!

Some students in 5/6CS stayed in during their lunch time and showed us how to turn one piece of A4 paper into a card holder with four pockets.  It was easy to follow most instructions but we had to keep on checking to see if we followed them correctly.  Our sound was a bit dodgy to start with but we fixed it by the end of the instructions, just in time for our chat.  We had to ask them to sing the alphabet whilst we tested our sound.  We think they thought it was a strange request!

When we finished we all held up our card holders and 5/6CS cheered and clapped.  We were proud of 5/6CS for their wonderful instructions and proud of ourselves for following them correctly.

After we made our card holders we had a little chat.  Some of us were able to talk to the artists who made the cards we received.  Ideally, you are meant to meet the artist who makes your cards face to face.  However, we need to collect a few more 5 cent coins before we can afford a trip to Tasmania!!  So, Skype was the next best thing.  It was wonderful to talk to the person who created the cards we received.

After our Skype call, we got a little carried away with the card holders.  Some people decorated and made some more using coloured paper.  Most of our card holders are ready to be sent.  We hope to have them in the post by Friday


Have you ever received Artist Trading Cards?

Has anyone taught you anything using Skype?

What type of origami do you know how to make


iPads at Upper Plenty

Upper Plenty P.S now has ten iPads!! We are beyond excited and looking forward to using them in many different ways. The first app we used was Puppet Pals. Puppet Pals is a story telling app for iPhones, iPods and iPads.



We like using Puppet Pals because it is:

  • Super easy to use
  • Perfect for all year levels
  • Used collaboratively or individually
  • Links to AUSVELS across curriculum areas
  • It’s FUN!

You can create a story with puppet characters or your own photos.  Choose from the backgrounds provided or use your own.



You get to move the characters around, change their size,  change your backgrounds and narrate the show.





Hopefully, we will be able to put some of our Puppet Pals creations on our blog soon!


Why do you like learning with technology?

What are some of your favourite apps? 


Dragons at Safeway!

Today something really exciting happened!  Marc McBride, the illustrator of Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest novels, visited a local shopping centre.  He spoke about what it is like to be an artist and showed us how he creates his masterpieces. 

It was really interesting to see how Marc uses contact when he is working.  He places contact on a sheet of paper where he does not want the paint to go.  He didn’t show us this step but it’s likely that he puts contact on the whole sheet, sketches the outline of the drawing and then peels off the contact inside the drawing.  In the photo below, there is a dragon in the centre and contact all around.


Contact – the secret ingredient!


Marc does a lot of his work on computers. However, today he showed us how he uses an airbrush to paint pictures. Did you know, that sometimes it takes a whole week to do one picture? 


Time to use an airbrush to bring the dragon to life.


He said that it’s impossible to make a mistake and that is why he likes painting. Some other tips Marc shared with the audience were to use opposite colours to make things stand out, start with light colours and then use darker ones and if you are using a pattern make sure it is all the same shape. 


Stencils are handy tools for artists.


Marc peeling off the contact from around the dragon.


Contact removed. Ready for a background.


Once the contact is removed it is time to work on the background. You can use stencils to help create the background and use dark colours to create shadows.  Marc did this on the dragon’s legs and joints.


The finished product.

It was a terrific opportunity to see and hear how an illustrator works.  Thank you to the local library for organising such a wonderful guest to entertain us during the school holidays.


What types of things do you like to draw?

Who is your favourite illustrator or artist?  Why?



Afghanistan; Our Questions Answered

It started with a Morris Gleitzman book and ended with a Skype call to a retired Air Force Corporal. Morris’ book, Boy Overboard, really made us think about the lives we lead in Australia compared with the lives of the book’s main characters, Jamal and Bibi.

The book is fiction yet it is based on interviews Morris has conducted with people who have experience of Afghanistan.  Therefore, some parts are very close to what it is like to live in Afghanistan as a kid.  We were surprised to read that Jamal and Bibi were playing near landmines and that Bibi wasn’t allowed outside by herself.  It was also strange to read that the Government had pulled the ribbon out of cassette tapes and thrown it up on to power poles.  Reading that Jamal and Bibi’s house got blown up because their Mum had been running a school in it was so different to how we get to go to school.

All of this made us want to find out more about Afghanistan.  We did some research online at school but we also wished that we could talk to someone.

Our wish came true yesterday when we Skyped with Richard to find out information about Afghanistan. Richard worked in the air-force as an Avionics Technician on the Hercules Aircraft for seven years.  He was deployed to the Middle East for the first time in 2007 and then again in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

We asked Richard LOTS of questions and got LOTS of information.   We’ve summarised what we found out…

In Boy Overboard, Jamal and Bibi were always playing soccer.  We found out that Afghani people not only play soccer, but they like flying kites as well. We learnt that the temperature can reach 40 – 50 degrees!  It can get as high as 60 degrees in an un-air-conditioned aeroplane.  We thought 40 degrees was hot!  It also snows in Afghanistan in winter.  The terrain is very rocky, hilly, dry and dusty.  Jamal played soccer in the desert but there was no mention of snow in the book.  It must have been set in summer time.  We wonder if they have a wet season or not?



We liked seeing the pictures, especially the helicopter and planes.  A Hercules can carry 128 passengers or 92 troops.  Sometimes it carried animals.  Can you imagine the smell after animals had been in the plane for two hours on a hot day?

It was surprising to find out what their currency looks like. It was also interesting to learn that Richard used American dollars when he was there.

He has earned four really cool badges. He has an Iraq Campaign medal, an Afghanistan Campaign medal, Australian Defence medal and a Return from Active Service medal.  He also showed us his badges…. the Bob the Builder one amused us most!

Boy Overboard didn’t talk about food in Afghanistan much.  We found out that Richard ate mostly on the base.  One base even set up its own McDonald’s!

Jamal and Bibi didn’t have any pets.  But, other people in Afghanistan do.  There are lots of goats, chickens, dogs, donkeys and camels.  If you have a donkey you are fairly rich.  It’s like us driving a Rolls Royce!

You can read the full transcript of our call below. Click on the bottom right hand corner to make it full screen.



We really enjoyed our chat with Richard and are very happy that he gave up his time to talk to us.  Thanks Richard!

Do you know anything more about Afghanistan?

Have you ever been overseas?

Do you know anyone that has been to Afghanistan?


This afternoon we logged on to a safe social network called Skooville.  Skooville is the new SuperClubs PLUS.  It’s had a bit of a make over and ‘grown up’ since we last visited. 

Skooville is one tool we will be using to make sure that we learn how to be safe and responsible online.  It is also a site that will help us to develop our digital literacy skills.  We will be doing both of these important things and having lots of fun along the way.  We can’t wait!

This afternoon we created an avatar to represent us online.  It tells people a bit about us but doesn’t give away too much – like a photo would.  Our avatars appear on our own individual pages, along with lots of cool other stuff. 

Skooville is a big place and we will be exploring it over the coming weeks and months.  Stay tuned!

What do you like about Skooville?

How do you stay safe online?

Do you use another website to help you learn about being smart online?

We’re Loving Literacy!

Last week we finished reading our first class novel for the year, Morris Gleitzman’s ‘Boy Overboard’. It was an addictive read and one that made us laugh, almost cry and most definitely think about issues from a different perspective.

As we start to set up our ‘Writer’s Notebooks’ for 2013 we will be searching for quality seeds such as Boy Overboard.  A seed is something that makes you think, touches your heart and makes you feel and gets hold of your imagination and makes you wonder.  Seeds come in all shapes and sizes.  They can be photos, newspaper headlines, song lyrics, quotes, artifacts, experiences and many other things.

What books have you read that really made you think?

What are some things that make you think, feel and/or wonder?



“Tag what?” you say.  Tagxedo (pronounced tag – SEE – doh) is a website that turns a list of ordinary words into a shape cloud.  Once you load your words you can choose the shape, colour and theme that suits the topic best. 


Click on the bottom right hand corner to view our Tagxedo creations full screen.



What cloud shape best represents your personality?

What ten words would you use to describe yourself?



The Postcard Project

Today we started learning about writing transactional texts.  Letters, invites, cards, postcards, notes, emails and blog comments are all transactional texts because you are sending or receiving information (transacting) to or from  someone.

A few years ago, Miss Leakey set up The Postcard Project, whilst she was teaching in New Zealand.  Teachers and students have been busy writing, sending and receiving postcards around the globe.  In the past, some of us  participated in the project and enjoyed it.  Today we all wrote a postcard to a class somewhere in the world.

Here are some important things we learnt about writing a postcard:

* There’s only a small space, so you have to prioritise your message, write neatly and clearly.

* Use a greeting and a closing.  For example, Hello, G’day or Dear and Bye, Best wishes, From

* Introduce yourself briefly.  For example, I’m from 5/6JC at Upper Plenty in Victoria, Australia.

* Include information and questions.  Make it interesting.

* Write a return address if you want a reply!

* Write the address.  Usually you need to use a new line for the name of the class, school, street, suburb, state & postcode and country.

* Proofread for meaning, punctuation and spelling.

We wrote postcards to schools in Australia, England, USA, Iceland, Thailand, Canada, Hawaii, Italy and Germany.  They will begin their journeys tomorrow and hopefully arrive at their destinations within a fortnight.  We can’t wait to see who writes back!

What transactional texts have you written?

Have you received a postcard before?  Where was it from?

Can you find out when the first postcard was sent?