Archive for May, 2011

Chat to Hemingway 0.5

Having the best time right now chatting to Simon Groth’s chat bot.

Hemmingway 0.5 is a chat bot based on the character in the eponymous short story. You can chat to him about anything you like.

Simon is a real find.  Made getting up today totally worth it!

Simon Groth is a writer and editor whose first two novels were shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and whose short fiction has been published in Australia and the United States. His co-edited collection Off The Record: 25 Years of Music Street Press (with Sean Sennett), was published in 2010.

Simon is the manager of if:book Australia, exploring digital futures for authors, readers, and publishers.

Do yourself a favour and go browse his site:

At least go and chat to Hemmingway.

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Evolution of storytelling

I just came across this excellent illustration posted by Dan Sellars of the way that storytelling traditions  have evlolved over time to reflect and utilise the technology available:

If you like that, you will no doubt also like another image he posted (in 2009) ‘Characters for an Epic Tale’.  Check it out!



Inquiry based learning

The more I delve into curriculum materials in Queensland, the more I find references to ‘inquiry based curriculum‘.

Does anyone have any materials that outline the relationship between (evolution from?) constructivism as a learning theory, inquiry based learning as a general pedagogic approach, and more specific approaches such as project based and games based learning?

Or did using the terms ‘learning theory’, ‘general pedagogy’ and ‘specific pedagogy’ just then pretty much do the job?

I desperately want to explain these ideas to students next semester, but am wary of leading them to believe that newer ideas are intended to replace the older ones, when my message is rather that they should be building a complex pedagogy.

Or is this wrong too…connectivism, anyone?

(This definitely needs some kind of graphic representation eh? Anyone up for a prezi collab?)

Inquiry based curriculum model: developing deep knowledge and understanding

Adopting an inquiry approach ensures that students have the opportunity to examine concepts, issues and information in a range of ways, and from various perspectives.

The inquiry approach values the skills of creative and critical thinking, informed decision-making, hypothesis building and problem-solving. As our society becomes increasingly complex and the role of the citizen becomes even more vital, these skills provide the foundation for discerning citizenship.

Students are encouraged to become active investigators by identifying a range of information, understanding the sources of information and looking for bias in it. They are thus better able to evaluate data and to draw meaningful conclusions which are supported by evidence. Rather than examining an issue from any one perspective, students are challenged to explore other possibilities by applying higher order thinking skills in their decision-making endeavours.

(QLD DET, 2008, ‘Implementing the QCAR: Curriculum‘ accessed today)

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Global Poetry Project

This tweet came across the screen tonight and I just thought: YES.

Now I’ve joined the Global Poetry Project Ning.  I figured tonight was as good a time as any to post a poem in a new place and this one promises ‘a space for members to expand upon their cultural views through the writing and reading of poetry’.

I penned this poem last week.  I’ve been reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and that’s where the title and some of the inspiration came from.

The project aims to provide “a safe and open atmosphere for all visitors and contributors alike” and has many student contributers.  So if sharing your poems and reading the work of others in a supportive environment appeals to you, why not consider joining the project, friending me and adding a poem of your own!

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Sociolinguistics: language and cultures

I found this excellent set of definitions in the text Language and Literacy in the Early Years 0-7 by Marian Whitehead.  Thought it worth posting here.

My hope is that this post marks the start of a new category on this blog – ‘Lit_Review‘ – for posts that contain material of the kind you just know you’re going to want to find again later when you’re doing that review of research literature…

Language Variety – Summary

  • Language variety is reflected in the different language of the world but it is also a feature within apparently uniform language communities.
  • Two major aspects of variety within a language are accent and dialect.  Accent refers solely to differences in pronunciation – the sounds of a spoken language.  Dialect is a variety of a language with distinctive variations in syntax and vocabulary, as well as pronunciation.
  • Standard English is the high-status dialect of English that is used in the written form of the language.  It is also used widely in business and professional circles, the media, education and the teaching of English as a foreign language.  Standard English dialect may be spoken with any accent.
  • Received Pronunciation is a prestigious non-regional accent associated with higher education and, traditionally, the private school system in the UK and Oxford and Cambridge universities (Oxbridge).
  • Variety is also found within every individual’s linguistic repertoire because we all switch registers, changing the degrees of formality in our language, according to the social context.  Individuals use a variety of other forms, including other dialects, slang and jargon.  We all develop a unique idiolect that makes our voices and language styles instantly recognisable.

Whitehead, M. (2010) Language and Literacy in the Early Years 0-7 (4th Ed.) Sage Publication: London. p.25

Neat summary eh? Pass it on!


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Building the game layer

Thanks Andrew Jessup for showing me the work of Seth Priebatsch, who as it turns out has a lot of material covering the exact topic that has been bugging me.

How do I integrate Games Based Learning, or GBL, into my pedagogy without disrupting or contradicting my current approach to learning and teaching?

I think the idea of ‘the game layer’ is the answer.  I think it’s also a great concept for me to use in thinking further about the role of motivation and learning theory in explaining the success of teachers who ‘gamify’ their teaching.

Seth is the Cheif Ninja at SCVNGR and the use of the popular game meme here did make me chuckle.  Playful right down to the business card eh?  I like it!  Especially as I’ve been characterising myself in class as the ‘Cheif Pirate’.  I wonder who that is in Seth’s camp, and what they do?

I highly recommend a watch.  He has quite a few talks online now but this TED talk (above) gave a great overview of four key elements that build a successful game.

Watch the video and your reward will be to find out what they are 😉

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Extra Credits: Gamifying Education

Thanks to @Gwimbo for sharing this kick-ass video with me today!

by Extracredits, 6 May 2011 2:00 am
Vodpod videos no longer available.

NB: Was interested to look over this related comment thread.  It struck me that, while people tend to agree with me to my face when I talk to them about Games Based Learning, that many (some? all?) also will walk away still thinking this in the back of their mind:

I think this is bullshit, the reason why people are addicted to facebook and videogames is not because they want to be awarded achievements and level-ups it because it beats work, its more about poor work ethic and lack of discipline and the way society fosters such values rather than anything else.

So, where do you stand on that?

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Banned books

From a recent article at by Alison Flood:

From Suzanne Collins’s post-apocalyptic hit The Hunger Games to Stephenie Meyer’s vampire bestseller Twilight, American parents have been making it their mission to complain about some of the most popular books published in recent years.

So…how many of these have you read?

1. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

3. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

4. “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins

5. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

6. “Lush” by Natasha Friend

7. “What My Mother Doesn’t Know” by Sonya Sones

8. “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America” by Barbara Ehrenreich

9. “Revolutionary Voices” edited by Amy Sonnie

10. “Twilight” by  Stephenie Meyer

For more information on book challenges and censorship, please visit the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Week Web site at


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Say Cheese


Does anyone else look at this picture and mostly see material for Lie To Me?

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An Introduction to the CLDR Project

Children’s Literature Digital Resources.

Australian schools can now access the full texts in this online resource.

Others can access the Auslit resource through university and other library databases.

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