News Links for the New PM

24 06 2010

We had a historical changing of the guard this morning as Kevin Rudd became the second Australian Prime Minister ever to be ousted by his own cabinet (the other was Bob Hawke in 1991, replaced by Paul Keating.), to be replaced by Australia’s first ever female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.  Here’s some of the major Australian headlines and articles on the event.

The Age

The Australian

ABC News

ABC Youth “The Drum” News

SBS News


Wednesday June 23rd

23 06 2010

Morning all!

I’m blogging from the iPad. Living the dream. It turns out there’s a WordPress App for iPod touch that runs just fine on the bigger screen. Loving it.

Anyway, I suppose you’re wondering what you’re doing today.

ENGLISH – Speech Writing

Coming up on the business end of term means we really need to get these speeches written. I’m going to assume that by this point you’re pretty well informed on your topic, so we can start looking at the steps you’ll need to take in writing the speech itself. Follow this broad format, and you’ll put together something rock-solid.

1. DEFINE YOUR TOPIC: What are you talking about? Don’t pose it as a question – it makes it sound contrived, and like a school debating topic. Talk about it as a free-standing, interesting, relevant issue. Explain your topic in detail. Who is affected by it? What form do those effects take? How long are we as a society likely to feel those effects for? In this section of your speech your goal is to interest and engage your audience, and make them care about your topic.

2. OUTLINE THE PROBLEM: Why is it pertinent to discuss this topic now? What problems are arising through the way it is currently being handled? Feel free to talk this part up to be a little bit bigger than it actually is, as long as you keep things accurate (embellish, don’t invent!!), and you approach the topic from a moderate, balanced, compassionate viewpoint (for example, those talking about legal issues need to be careful not to sound like police at one extreme or criminals at the other, and those talking about population need to be careful not to sound like racists or hippies.)

3: SUGGEST A NEED FOR A NEW APPROACH: Exactly as it sounds. Stress that under current conditions, the situation you describe is heading for disaster.

4: OUTLINE YOUR MODEL: This is where most of your research and thinking come together. How do YOU propose to solve the problem? What systems would you put in place to improve the stare of your topic in the world?

5: SUGGEST AN AMBITIOUS GOAL OR OUTCOME: Give your model something to aim for. Be a little bit more specific than “make the world a better place.”

6: CONCLUDE: Recap the main problems posed by your topic and how your model will help.


Mathletics, y’all. Hit it.

Persuasive Speech

15 06 2010

We looked at these two speeches from renowned persuasive speakers Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama.

Your job now is to find other persuasive speakers.  Look beyond politics – science and innovation are great places to look – start with TED!  Find an example, and post it as a comment right here.

End of Semester Project

14 06 2010


Here’s your planner for the end of semester project.  Strap yourselves in, and open fire!



9 06 2010


You guys have speeches to research and write, no?  Take a look back at Presentation Zen’s TED Commandments to begin thinking about how you might present them, but for now you should still be very much in “inform yourself” mode.  As an extra guideline, you may use the TV or a projector when you present your speech, but you’re not allowed to have ANY text AT ALL.


Your task for the morning is to come up with an innovative way to answer the focus question that you’ll get at the start of the lesson after watching the video.  Think hard about the question, break it down, look at what sub-questions might pop up as a result.


You spent the last lesson researching the intricacies of what causes earthquakes.  This lesson, you’ll need to bottle that down into a sharp, informative podcast.  One hour.  Go!


How’d you go on Mathletics yesterday?  We’ll take a peek at it.

Wednesday, June 9th

9 06 2010


Once again, I’m suffering from a visit from the Illness Fairy.  Remember her from when you were little?  You leave your snotty tissues under your pillow, and she brings you a chest infection.  Delightful.

Anyway, on with today’s proceedings.

“  (That was my cat walking across my keyboard.  Thanks Socksy.)


Since the TED Talk idea didn’t really fly (disappointing…) we’re going to change tack with the persuasive speaking section of the English course this semester.  You’ll need to prepare a “topic report” on a topic that divides opinion, and put together a persuasive speech.  The first step in this is to inform yourself – choose a controversial world topic, take sides, and develop a really sound understanding of it.  Use informational resources, news sites (be careful to make sure you figure out which opinion the news is selling though!) YouTube, TED… whatever resources you need to find out what you need to know.  Beyond that, we’ll look at persuasive speech techniques (TED is a really good source of this to begin with.)

As for topics, here’s some ideas, but it’s by no means a complete list.  If you think of something different and interesting you’re free to explore and use it, but it should be a topic as big and far-reaching as these ones.  Discussions of the legality of bike helmets, abolishing homework, and 4-day school weeks are a bit limited.

  • Genetic Modification
  • Renewable Energy Sources
  • Nuclear Power
  • Space Exploration
  • Anthropogenic Climate Change
  • Capital Punishment
  • Human Cloning
  • Commercially Patenting Genetic Information


We’re going to start taking a step beyond fractions & decimals into converting parts of a group or number into percentages.  Log into Mathletics, I’ve set up 5 activities (it worked this time!) to get you rolling.  Use the Help button if you get stuck, and we’ll take a closer look when I get back.

Have a good day, I’ll see you all soon!

Tuesday June 8th

8 06 2010

Morning all!  I’ve come down with a pretty obnoxious case of the… let’s just say a fairly impressive virus got colonial inside my head and chest.


Your music compositions and your CD cover art needs finishing!  Take this first hour to lock that stuff down.  Here’s your list of objectives for both sides of the project:


  • Song structure finalised
  • Words written
  • All instruments in time, and all loops beginning at the start of a bar
  • All melodic instruments playing parts using the Pentatonic Scale
  • Volume levels mixed tastefully.

Packaging (If you’re missing a template, grab the Large Hole CD/DVD template from here. You may need to resize it once it’s in Pages.

  • Cover art booklet designed
  • Text inserted, including credits, copyright, and appropriate titling/tracklisting
  • Back CD tray design completed, including both spines of the case displaying artist & title
  • Print for the disc itself
  • All of the above formatted to the templates provided.


With all the great progress you’ve made on this project, it’s time to start looking at the process underneath it.  Remember your Research & Development processes?  You’ll need to map the stages of this project to that.  In case you forgot the headings, here they are:

  • Concept (The Big Idea)
  • Research (In this section you might talk about musical style, scales, and timing.)
  • Concept Sketches/Proof of Concept (this one’s more for the cover & packaging, but have a think about what sound you were going for with the music.)
  • Process (How have you actually gone about producing this piece of work?)


Your story synopses for your reworked, modern-day take on Lord of the Flies should be well and truly finished, leaving only your storyboard for the movie trailer to complete.  Here’s a great YouTube clip from Indymogul, a brilliant DIY/independent filmmaker website.  It’s got some excellent down-to-earth advice on constructing a storyboard.


Earthquakes.  Iceland gave us the excuse to take a good look at their overly-dramatic cousins the Volcanoes, so now we need to skip our minds back a bit further in time, and 6500km to the south-west to Haiti, and dig up that zombie of an earthquake that tore Port-au-Prince in Haiti apart.

First of all, have a look at the Pacific Earthquake section in here.  Read the article to take a look at the possible effects of a large quake on a major developed-world city, and some of the implications surrounding prediction and damage prevention.   Then I need you to read the interactive map.  It gives two readings for each quake that it’s marked for 2010.  One for magnitude, and one for depth.

Your job:  Find out how we measure magnitude and depth of an earthquake, and what they each look like.  What’s the difference between a high magnitude quake and a low magnitude one?  How do quakes of different depths look on the surface?  From this… what causes earthquakes?


Use Keynote to construct a Climograph.  Use the build Inspector to construct that climograph one component at a time.  Narrate it and turn it into a short video.  Make sure you include the following, and a CLEAR, DETAILED description of what they are there for:

  • Horizontal axis
  • Two vertical axes
  • Line graph
  • Bar graph
  • Numbering & labelling on each axis
  • ALSO Include an explanation of what a Climograph is, what it’s used for, and what the data on it tells us.  If you’re not sure, talk to each other, and read up on it.  The resources I uploaded last week are a great place to start looking.

This is a simple task – you can get it done and dusted inside one class lesson.  I look forward to seeing them during the next S&E class we have.