Monthly Archives: March 2015

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Sharing stories from your community: the power of shared global information

When the Queensland State Library approached the BGS library team and invited us to be part of their new project World War I: Memories for a new Generation for a Historypin World project, we were excited to join. Our task was to develop a dedicated BGS Historypin project for the Q ANZAC 100 hub that would tell the stories of a small selection of our Old Boys who were lost in the Great War. Like any collaborative project, we sought the advice from our BGS experts. With the generous assistance of Chris Price, Head of History and Dr. Alan Barrie, we were allowed access to five selected Old Boys’ stories to share with the world in this way.

The project was closely coordinated between the State Library and BGS Teacher Librarian, Debbie Hunter, through meetings and online collaboration.  The BGS project: “They gave their best, their lives, their all” aimed to capture and represent the extraordinary youth and energy of our Old Boys in their willingness to sacrifice ‘their all’ for their country.

View the Q ANZAC 100 project here:

View our BGS Historypin page here:

Historypin is a web based program that allows anyone to tell their digital story in pictures and maps. Its real value comes, however, when these ‘pins’ are then made available for a global audience to view, or to add comments and depth to the original story.

The First World War Centenary hub can be viewed on the Historypin Home page.


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Somerset Celebration of Literature 2015

On Wednesday the 18th of March, students from both the junior and senior schools showed up bright and early (or bleary and early for some of the senior students), ready to board the bus to the 2015 Somerset Celebration of Literature. It was a bright and sunny day when we departed, but as the bus sped on, clouds in the distance heralded the arrival of heavy rains which got there before we did. This made the trip from bus to the library, where the first talk was being held, somewhat wet, to put it lightly.

The first author we listened to was Dr Kari Gislason, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Literary Studies in the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT.  In 2011 he published  A Promise of Iceland, a memoir of his journey to find his father. He spoke to us about the meaning behind the reasons we write and talked about the incidents in his own life which triggered the setting and events for his latest novel, The Ash Burner.

From there, we ventured out onto the oval, the rain having thankfully cleared. We were there to listen to Sarah Ayoub, who wrote the novel Hate is Such a Strong Word. She gave a very interesting talk on her upbringing as a Lebanese girl in Australia, and how her experiences inspired her to write Hate is Such a Strong Word, the story of a young Lebanese-Australian girl in a similar situation. She also offered some tips for those among the audience interested in becoming authors, ranging from how to write to how to publish.

After a quick bite to eat and a short stop at the bookshop, we headed off to our third session by YA novelist Ellie Marney, where we had a rather more quirky experience than at the other two sessions. A few members of the audience were given bags of confetti, and told to throw a handful in the air whenever the word ‘romance’ was said. The rest of Ellie’s talk was more conventional as she gave a detailed presentation about problems with the representation of romance in novels, and how to do this properly. She also discussed the lack of diversity in said romantic novels, discussing the need in our modern, progressive society for this to change. This was definitely my favourite presentation of the day.

The final author we listened to was Pete Ahern, who wrote the book On the Road… With Kids, the story of how he and his family left their home in Australia to travel through Europe and Asia. On earlier trips, Pete had been “shot at, poisoned, tear-gassed, robbed at gunpoint, locked up in an African jail, and been a passenger in two train derailments,” however the trip with his children was far less eventful!

(by Josh J, Year 11)

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Indigenous Literacy Foundation Book Launch


On Wednesday, 4 March, six boys from Years 7 and 8 were invited to attend a book launch by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation at the State Library. Prior to attending this event, I did not know much about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, just what Ms Ragen had told us – that the Indigenous Literacy Foundation provides books for Indigenous children in remote communities. Without the support from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the children living in some remote communities would not receive any new books. And without the books, it is difficult for the children to learn to love reading which means the children’s literacy levels do not improve at the same rate as ours.

The book launch of The Legends of Moonie Jarl, the 50th anniversary edition was very special, as the Indigenous Literacy Foundation had worked with Butchulla Elder, Glen Miller to ensure Australia’s first Aboriginal children’s book did not go out of print. Glen Miller is the son of the illustrator, Olga Miller, and nephew of the author, Wilf Reeves.

At the book launch, both Glen Miller and the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce, the new Patron of the Indigenous literacy Foundation – although you might know her as Australia’s previous Governor General – spoke about the significance of The Legends of Moonie Jarl, telling us that stories inform who we are, our culture and histories.


We were reminded that many traditional cultures continue to pass on knowledge through storytelling. For the tribal people, the special storyteller is called Moonie Jarl. In the 1960s, Moonie Jarl acknowledged that their stories belonged to all Australian children and shared them beyond the tribes.

And in 1964, The Legends of Moonie Jarl, the first Australian Aboriginal children’s book, was published. It was also the first Aboriginal children’s book in schools at that time.

I really enjoyed this event because I met many interesting people and I learnt how the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation can make a big difference to those living in remote communities.

Here is a short video about the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.


Can you imagine not being able to read a newspaper, a road sign or directions on a bottle of medication?” (ILF website) Unfortunately, this is a reality faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

And it’s not fair. Just because you are born in a remote location, this should not mean you cannot access books at home or in the local library.

This is one of the reasons why the Year 8 Service Committee plans to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation this semester. We want to help children across Australia to have the same opportunities when it comes to reading and writing. We take for granted the opportunity to learn to read and write, and most of us would not have thought about how difficult life would be if we couldn’t read a newspaper, a road sign or directions on a bottle of medication.

Please help us to support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and make a difference in the lives of Indigenous children in remote communities.

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Jigsaw Puzzles in the Senior Library

Due to the popularity of our jigsaw puzzles in the Centenary Library, we decided to put one out in the Senior Library as well.  Since the first puzzle was put out, there were always boys, and even teachers, busily working away on it.  In fact, as soon as the first one, a beautiful but challenging picture of the Mexican city of  Guanajuato, was finished, everyone was very keen to start on the next one.

The current puzzle the Senior boys are working on features fireworks over Sydney Harbour. Ms Palmer and Ms Oxley recently purchased another ten 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, so this should keep the boys occupied for a few more weeks! It has been surprising but rewarding to see so many different people coming together to work on the same project.

photo 1

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Academic Support

Academic support is a wonderful service performed by some of our year 12 boys.  They generously give up their own time to assist other students in their studies.  Today it was a privilege to witness these boys helping younger students in different areas of study.  Not only were the boys being helpful but they were setting a wonderful example for their younger peers.  It certainly is a great opportunity for the younger students to not only access support, but to get to know these year 12 boys.  Academic support is on offer in all three of the libraries at Brisbane Grammar.


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Author Mark Greenwood visits Year 6

On Monday our Year 6 boys were lucky to attend a session with Australian author Mark Greenwood. Mark is passionate about stories and history and has the ability to blend the two together into great picture books. He told the boys how he enjoys really getting into the stories he writes, so much so that he has a replica of Ned Kelly’s armour that he wore for a while as he was writing Ned Kelly and the Green Sash. He journeyed to remote areas of the Kimberleys with Terry Denton and braved crocodile infested waters to explore the story of Jandamurra and bring it to life for contemporary readers. It was a wonderful opportunity for our boys to learn about how a small artefact can lead to an entire picture book.

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Year 8 Sci-Fi Story – The Watertower

As part of our Science Fiction library lessons, our Year 8s were introduced to the picture book The Watertower by Gary Crew and Steve Woolman, along with its sequel Beneath the Surface. The story is set in a small outback Australian town where two boys go swimming in the water tower one scorchingly hot day. But something happens that day which changes both boys forever.

The Year 8s were fascinated by the concept of aliens controlling the town’s population through the water supply, and intrigued by the symbols they realised could be found on every page; suddenly it became a race to see who could find them all! Some boys didn’t want to leave because they kept finding more and more symbols and imagery on each page! Each class expected Beneath the Surface to provide answers to all the questions they had about The Watertower, but instead it raises even more questions, leading to some lively discussions!

This year, to make the whole experience even more engaging and fun, we gave each boy a plastic cup of green cordial as they left, representing the green slime in the water tower – but drawn onto the bottom of each cup was ‘the symbol’, leaving the boys with wry smiles as they realised they had been ‘contaminated’ as well!

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Before School in the Senior Library

We are constantly amazed at the number of boys who use our Senior Library, particularly in the mornings and at lunchtime. In 2013 our Senior Library averaged 1,100 visits per day; this climbed to 1,400 visits per day in 2014. Recently on one day we had 1,900 visits as this was a day when all year 11 and 12 utility classes were held. The boys obviously feel very comfortable in the space and consider it an excellent socialising and academic space.

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The Lunchbox Club

“Makerspaces provide libraries with the opportunities to create, experiment, and acquire or perfect new skills. In school libraries, the process of making demonstrates desired outcomes for 21st century learners and for learning as an overall process.

Makers are able to contribute, communicate, and collaborate as they connect, curate, and create. Makerspaces adapt with a constantly changing world and are at the forefront of a new culture of participatory learning.” (Wong, T. (2013). Makerspaces take libraries by storm. Library Media Connection, 34-38)

The library team is always exploring new ways to nurture opportunities for the boys to learn. For The Lunchbox Club, a connection to curriculum is made through design thinking and a good dose of creativity. Sharing and experimentation are thrown in. Our slogan is: “What’s in your Lunchbox today?” and it could be anything and everything all at once every week.

Maker Spaces are global. Through the Maker Faire, or a hacker space Meetup event, they challenge us to think, and make us want to solve problems. Together.

School libraries have been identified as great places to begin such an activity, and at Brisbane Grammar, we have adopted a model that is working for the Year 7 and 8 students, in the Centenary Library.

The Lunchbox Club projects come from the interest and curiosity of the students. We meet weekly, and offer an array of tinkering and crafty choices. While we are still in the early stages, we are gathering gadgets, learning, and developing the program based on what skills the boys wish to develop and share. There is always choice, and an opportunity to try something new each week.

The Club offers a taster of basic Electronics equipment in a variety of kits, and a range of required ability to achieve success. Makey Makey kits, Squishy Circuit kits, a Lilypad kit for future sewing projects and Arduino kits with breadboards and instruction sheets encourage the boys to share their knowledge and skills. There are plenty of extra batteries and LED’s and tubs of Play Dough to enhance the action. That’s our Tinkering table, and is always available.

Additionally, each week we offer a focused skill to learn. Interested boys are currently learning about Geocaching. The ethics, the rules and the global connections that this activity can offer. Online, we are the Lunchboxclubbers, and the boys share our membership. Together we are logging our caches and managing the activated tags we have already developed.

Each tag has been given a digital story that the boys have written, and a group ‘Mission’ to send it on its way around the world. Our oldest tag, a ‘Wandering Wombat’, has already travelled to New Zealand, and is already exploring Europe. We map its course, and solve any problems.

What’s next in the program?

A look at 3D printing concepts and possibilities, and testing a 3Doodler pen. We will look at computer programming language choices using the Scratch website, and compare our findings with our own Dot and Dash robots, programmed using an App on the iPad, and some essential creative craft making.

The choices are endless as we continue to develop this new Club venture. Follow the activities on our Club website in MyGrammar