Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Books Light Up Our World during Book Week

During the last week in May this year, the Middle School celebrated Book Week with the theme ‘Books Light up our World’.  Both the Middle School Library and the Centenary Library were involved in a week full of  fun and exciting activities, and the timetable, which was bursting with a variety of things available to participate in, allowed something for everyone.

‘An Evening with … Brian Falkner’ on the Tuesday night was a great success: Brian talked extremely well and the students enjoyed a Coke-tasting competition at the end, which had everyone engrossed.  Our Book Week Breakfast on Thursday morning with special guest author Michael Gerard Bauer was a fantastic opportunity for the Years 5 & 6 students to have a meal with their parents and teachers, as well as the opportunity to hear the Chamber Choir sing a wonderful rendition of Books Light Up Our World to the tune of the song You Light Up My Life.  Michael told some wonderful stories, in particular a very humorous tale about his older brother and a knitting needle that kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the end.  His son then joined him for a morning session with the Years 5 & 6 students to share his experiences illustrating his father’s books.

The week was a very busy affair with activities in both the Middle and Centenary Libraries running each lunchtime. These included Team Trivia, ‘Pin the Book on the World’, book relays,  making lanterns out of old books and chemical fire experiments run by the Middle School Science teachers.  The lunchtime activities culminated on Friday with ‘The Great Book Swap’  which saw students bringing books that they no longer wanted to swap with someone else.  There were quite a lot of books to choose from and many excited faces filled the room after finding a great new book to read.   Thanks to the students and staff for their enthusiastic participation in the activities during the week, without which it wouldn’t have been so successful and enjoyable.

Books really do light up our world!



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Pin the Book on the Country: Book Week 2015

When Year 7 and 8 boys play their childhood game, blindfolded, there are many winners! This week, we played Pin the Book on the Country as a lunchtime activity to raise awareness to the theme of Books Light up our World.

It had the boys scrambling to the shelves to find a book written in, or with a setting in, a specific country and city. Atlases were consulted to find the right city and authors from other countries were noted. Then, blindfolded, and with plenty of encouragement, the boys pinned a book token onto the world map.

The World map was dotted with book tokens in unusual places across land and sea after plenty of shared conversations about where our books might come from, and what we could expect from their differences of origin. The results were amusing, fun and very competitive!


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Heroes on a Fantasy-Writing Quest

Eight of our top Year 8 writers were given an amazing opportunity at the end of last term: they were invited to participate in a creative writing workshop where they acted out part of the hero’s quest before writing about it. Not only did they experience in some small way what the hero might have felt, but they did this as part of a group of four, each forming a band of heroes with three other students from Terrace, Girls Grammar and All Hallows.

Originally it was intended for the quest day of the workshop to be held in the Roma Street Parklands (The Land of Remorse), however torrential rain in the early morning prevented this from happening, and All Hallows library was quickly transformed into The Land of Remorse instead. While this didn’t give us the realistic atmosphere we had hoped for, it did prove that the workshop could be run in a school environment.

On an introductory afternoon, students met fantasy author Kirilee Barker (the Supreme Sorceress), who handed out group colours and character strengths from a ‘choosing bowl’. Students were also given a journal to record their thoughts and feelings during each of the eight activities the following day – four involving teamwork (The Armoury, The Field of Doom, The Stone Table, and The Cursed Quicksand), and four involving augmented reality or virtual reality apps on iPads (The Epic Citadel, The Enchanted Forest, The Eerie Escarpment and The Tunnel of Terror). Students also used QR codes to watch videos, and the augmented reality app Aurasma to solve a riddle and earn extra powers to defeat the evil power.

On the third day the students worked all day with the Supreme Sorceress, crafting and refining their ideas, with each group developing a shared storyline, setting and characters on a shared wiki. Early this term the group met again for peer and teacher editing, and then a final presentation afternoon was held where the Supreme Sorceress awarded certificates and prizes for many different aspects of the stories. Prizes were also given to those in each group voted by their peers as the best contributors/ workers of the group; we’re very proud that Grammar boys won three of these peer awards.

Brisbane Grammar School also featured extremely well in the line-up of awards, with the following being presented to our boys:

  • Best Opening – Runner-Up
  • Most Exciting Sequence – Runner-Up
  • Best Description – Runner-Up
  • Best Character Development – Winner
  • Best Group Setting – Runner-Up:  Group Atreyu
  • Best Group Setting – Winner:   Group Eragon
  • Best Group Plot – Runner-Up:  Group Dumbledore
  • Best Group Plot – Winner:  Group Excalibur
  • Best Individual Story – Runner-Up
  • Best Individual Story – Winner

Our boys very much enjoyed the whole experience, with one of them commenting:

“When I was granted the opportunity to be able to work with other Spring Hill school students to develop and model a fantasy story with a group of three others from Girls Grammar, All Hallows and Terrace, how could I refuse the offer? I honestly believe this experience, working with Kirilee Barker, has enriched our writing skills, which will definitely assist us in years to come exploring literature. I value this course, as the staff didn’t just leave you to write a story without any assistance – they placed us in our characters’ shoes in a range of situations and explained to us how to write and compose a successful piece of work from another perspective. Thank you to the teachers running this course, and to Grammar, Terrace, Girls Grammar and All Hallows for making this experience possible and all the more enjoyable.”

Resources used for this workshop, and student feedback videos, can be found at

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‘Stories from the Inside’ with Mr Webb

Mr Webb was the star of our first ‘Stories from the Inside’ for this year, a lunchtime session where one of our staff members talks to the boys about something interesting or unusual in their past or current life outside of school.

Mr Webb spoke about his grandfather, a member of the 1st Commando Company holding off the Japanese invasion above New Guinea during WWII. After his grandfather was shipwrecked off Kavieng, he went missing for 8 months, for much of that time lost in the New Guinea jungle.

His unit was the precursor of the Z Special Force, an elite company of commandos who were involved in Operation Jaywick on the MV Krait. In this covert and highly dangerous mission, six of the Australian commandos rowed into Singapore harbour in canoes at night-time, and attached mines to the hulls of Japanese ships.  The first time they did this, disguised as Japanese fishermen, they got away with it, but the second time they were not so lucky and all of them died.

About 60 boys listened to Mr Webb, and were sobered by the realisation of how many men put their lives on the line to protect Australia and our way of life. Sebastian, one of our Year 8 students, reflected on Mr Webb’s talk: “Last Friday Mr Webb gave an intriguing and insightful look into the tragic story of his Grandfather’s role in WWII. Everyone was captivated by his presentation, and all of us learned more about the role of Australian soldiers during the war. Mr Webb gave the boys a new perspective on war and how tragic it really was.”

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Year 5 Literature Circles


As part of their English program, Year 5 students are currently undertaking their first Literature Circles activity. The books relate mostly to the period of Australian history that the boys are learning about in History. This strong correlation of the two subject areas allows the boys to immerse themselves in the time frame more thoroughly than would be possible if restricted to History lessons only. The books allow the boys to really experience the time period as they follow the stories of their characters living in early colonial Australia.

As the weeks progress, each boys will prepare a role sheet to bring to the discussion. Class time is devoted to the sharing of ideas about the book and learning from each other.  This is also a great opportunity for the class teachers and teacher librarian to collaborate.


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Year 8 Form Senior ‘READ’ Posters

Over the past few weeks the Year 8 Form Seniors have been making their way to the Centenary Library to be photographed by Mr Russell with one of their favourite books from when they were in Year 8.  These photos have then been transformed by Mr Russell into fantastic, eye-catching ‘READ’ posters which will be displayed around the walls of our 7/8 Library, with another copy sent to each of their Year 8 classrooms.

As well as looking awesome, these posters are a wonderful way to promote reading amongst the Year 8s, as the older boys model what great reading choices look like. Hopefully, these will also stimulate conversations about the value of books and reading throughout school and into their future lives. In the next few weeks, students and staff can also look forward to the Year 7 Form Seniors’ favourite books as they, too, pose for their ‘READ’ posters.