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Brisbane Writers Festival 2018

Last Friday Ms Sanderson and Ms Smith took a group of 18 Year 8 students to visit the Brisbane Writers Festival for 2018.  Throughout the day students were lucky enough to see Jessica Watson, Cally Black and Veronica Roth present and were also given the opportunity to meet the authors and get their books signed.  Three boys generously volunteered to write about their experiences at the writers festival, below in their own words they explain what the presentations were like.

Jessica Watson by Ben

The excursion had only just begun; fervent ushers and murmurs resounded around the auditorium as everyone waited in frantic anticipation for the speech to commence.  The last few classes from various schools all over QLD flooded in, filling up the last few rows, the methodical, hearty thumping of worn shoes against the carpet could be felt from below.  The whispers increased to a highly active banter, and everyone was tensing up as the atmosphere grew shrill.

Then, silence.  Jessica Watson, the woman of the moment, rose to the stand and the audience went dead quiet.  The focus was completely on her, all spotlights shining directly at the center of attention, the star of the show.  The whole of the audience was entranced; Jessica was about to present.  She began, recounting the childhood experiences that led to her passion for the wondrous allure of fantasy and the beginning of a great, sea bound adventure.; her solo journey around Australia in a sailboat.  After a brief elaboration of her dyslexia and her dear friend who read for her, she talked about the perils and wonderful experiences she had sailing around Australia, all alone.  The fairy, fantasy stories that kept her company on the seas, the tragic failure of her first attempt, after crashing into another ship, the graceful birds that would fly by time and time again and the storms that threatened to halt her progress indefinitely.  But her boat, propelled by not only wind but her sheer determination and grit alone, powered on, and, after a lonesome, soulful journey spanning 210 whole days, she made it home. Welcomed with the adoring embrace of fans, supporters, family, friends, paparazzi and even the Prime Minister himself.  This epic voyage presents itself as an inspirational tail of courage and bravery, the way she powered onward in the face of danger and doubt, and her relentless effort to prove her worth to the world and herself, to become something more than just an afraid little girl in a big, daunting world.  It’s truly remarkable what she achieved out there, and the audacity to have even attempted such a feat and not only hit that milestone but surpass it as the youngest person to have done it, at the age of 16, is nothing short of incredible.

Continuing on, she talked about one of her latest books called Indigo Blue, which features themes of fantasy, sailing and mystical awe.  The influences and passions in her life shaped her emotionally, and with that, they worked their way into her writing.  The experiences do shape the author in incredible ways, after all.  Without the unique lives we lead we wouldn’t have as many exceptional stories, and it’s a miracle that we’re so blessed so as to be able to have readily available accessibility to such wonderful talks and to be able to hear people like Jessica Watson present their life stories to people like us live. Inspiring new generations to do their own thing with the influence of such phenomenal speakers.

Finally, the presentation came to a Q & A session, signalling the final moments. A short, awkward moment of students unsure of what to ask about was quickly broken by an eager, young girl at the front of the auditorium.   As she answered each question, more and more hands shot up, each one from another curios, young learner, yet to start their own grand adventures.  perhaps some ofthe people in this very auditorium will grow up to have thier own remarkable story to tell, either on the pages of a book or live to an audience of newer, younger people, still learning about the world just like us right now.

i have to personally thank Jessica WAtson for doing such a wonderful job at inspiring the local youth of today, and for leaving in us a significant imprint on our minds that surely will help push someone else cloer towards thier goals and help them achieve thier hopes and dreams, so as to continue the cycle of inspiration. With this, i close with a wolesome sentiment, so that may people like Jessica Watson be able to continue to nspire next generations to do thier own special thing, and that you yourself may one day be able to do something great doing the thing you love, just like Jessica Watson.

Cally Black by Ollie

Cally Black is the winner of the 2015 Ampersand Price for her novel In the Dark Spaces.  She describes herself as a sci-fi mastermind and states that you must read widely, feeding your brain with the right ingredients to be able to write well.  Some of her great quotes about this were “you can’t watch one Star Wars and be a science fiction expert”, “you put some bees in your bonnet and shake it up” and “feed your brain with spice”.

Cally inspired the writers in the audiences to think about what drives their characters and to write what they love.  She explained that the author should show the audience what their characters were like and not simply tell them.  She described the process of publishing a story, how the first book is a real labour of love, written over a long time and when it comes to the second book the process is not necessarily easier, in ways it could be more difficult.  In the Dark Spaces was short listed for this years CBCA ‘Book of the Year: Older Readers’, a young adult thriller about a deep space kidnapping, Cally Black is certainly an author to watch.

Veronica Roth by Tyler

Veronica Roth spoke passionately of Tim-tams, Vegemite and the Australian wildlife.  In the interview, she was questioned about her almost overnight fame and how she adjusted.  She spoke of writing everyday as a child and devoting most of her free time to reading and writing.  After the popularity of her first novel, she highlighted how her second book Insurgent, was written.  she mentioned that it was beneficial to shut out all influences and speculation and focus on the needs of the book.

Later she was asked about her latest novel, Carve the Mark.  Veronica spoke about the affect a language can have on people.  She spoke of how she was influenced by George Orwell’s 1984 and how limiting ones vocabulary can limit their thoughts and emotions.

Characterisation was also discussed in her interview, flaws were emphasised, and having your characters be interesting was her biggest point.  She was profoundly annoyed at the term “unlikable characters”.  She said that all characters can make mistakes, and you should not hate them fora a small misstep.


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Spring Hill Young Writers 2018

Last Tuesday afternoon a group of Year 7 BGS students visited St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace for their final Spring Hill Young Writers session for 2018. For the past 2 terms this group of boys have been working with students from BGGS, Terrace and All Hallows and author Lance Balchin to create creatures and stories set in the Mechanica world. Meeting four times over the past year students have learnt about Photoshop, how to refine their creative writing, team work and the editing process. Some fantastic work was created both in story form and art work and students had the great experience of forming lasting friendships with students from other schools who shared their interests and skilss.   Congratulations to our very own Jaden who took home the award for Best Writing Craft.  We really do have some budding talented authors here at BGS, we look forward to seeing what they create in the future.


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Banned and Challenged Books

Many books have been banned over many years for a wide variety of reason. Some for challenging a set of a beliefs held by sections of a society, others for concerns for the reader’s virtue or fragile mental health.

Occasionally the comedy writes itself.  For instance, George Orwell’s 1984 was banned in the USA for being pro-communist and in The Soviet Union for being anti-communist.

More recently, The Kite Runner, 13 Reasons Why and George.  For promoting Islam, discussing suicide and depicting a transgender child, respectively.

Banned and challenged books offer an important opportunity to view the world through differing perspectives.  To experience different ways of thinking about the world, and learn from uncomfortable or foreign experiences.  The freedom to read and express controversial ideas are essential elements to an excellent education and a healthy society.

Rebel! Stand up for your right to be amused or offended, frightened or insulted, devastated or exalted.  Read something that someone, somewhere thinks you shouldn’t.

Ray Bradbury once said “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them.”

 


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Library on the Lawn

Excited Year 5 boys donned their book character costumes, grabbed their favourite books and headed to the inaugural Library on the Lawn event recently. The event, held on the Boarders’ Lawn, was planned to provide an opportunity for boys to engage with reading in a different way from our usual Library lessons.

Guest author Samantha Wheeler visited and spoke to the boys about her books which are adventure stories based around an iconic Australian animal. She inspired the audience with her passion for the environment and her desire to help preserve our native animals. She thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet our students and hear about their reading habits and costumes. Samantha said she was impressed with the enthusiasm with which they shared their books.

In addition to listening to Samantha’s address and asking questions, boys took part in a book trivia quiz, shared their chosen stories and ate cupcakes. It was a most successful event and one that will surely be remembered by boys and staff for a long time.

Special mention must be made of the teachers who also got into the spirit and dressed up. Their support for this event was outstanding.


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Year 5 Boys are Savvy Scientists!

Charles Darwin, William Harvey, Galileo and even David Attenborough “visited” the Year 5 classrooms this week as students took on the role of a famous scientist and showcased their learning to proud families. Each boy was eager to share his knowledge of the work and legacy of his particular scientist, and took great delight in finding costumes and props that would best illustrate his/her significant achievements.

The evening followed a lengthy research task which was collaboratively taught by the teacher librarian and the the Year 5 Science teachers. Skills taught included using print materials, navigating Britannica online, identifying relevant information, note-taking and referencing.

While many of the boys found the task challenging, there is no doubt that persistence paid off and they were very proud of their achievements as they were able to field all manner of questions from parents and older brothers who had been a “savvy scientist” themselves.

 

 


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Students Claim Tea Duel Prizes!!

The art of Tea Duelling, ‘an elegant sport for a civilised age’ comes from the realms of Steampunk and involves contestants duelling with biscuits dunked in hot tea, rather than with swords or guns.  This was the third time we have held our Annual Tea Duel and, as always, it was a fun way for the boys to relax after the stress of a week of exams.  Our esteemed Tiffen Master even sported a dashing new red top hat for the occasion!!

This year the School Captains, along with captains of various sports and cultural activities, invited their favourite teachers to duel against them in a riveting series of contests!  Until this year, no-one has been able to match the prowess of the teachers with Mr Timms and Ms Bruerton taking out the Winner’s title in our first two contests but, this year, the teachers didn’t stand a chance.  Despite cooling tea, which necessitated multiple biscuits being called into play, our final two contestants ended up being students with nerves of steel!

Congratulations boys, and enjoy the holidays!!


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Year 7 Storytellers Wow the Judges!

The standard of competition in our Year 8 Poetry Slam is getting stronger each year and now we know why – our Year 7 boys are outstanding storytellers and performers and this is feeding through!

At our second annual Year 7 Story Slam both teachers and judges were astonished, firstly by how well-written the boys’ ballads were; secondly by how well the boys had memorised their ballads, and thirdly by how well they performed them for the audience.

 

Each class had a member represented in the competition who had written their own ballad as part of their English course.  Story Slam representatives were chosen through an in class vote after all students had performed their original ballad to their individual class.   This years ballads featured themes such as kayaking,  the forgotten ANZACs,  school and even talking moles.  7F’s representative Jaden took home the 2018 title with a passionate retelling of an intense Mahjong match against his Aunty.  After such marvelous performances it will be exciting to see what the Year 8 students can create come term 4 during their Poetry Slam.

 

 


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Something Squishy This Way Comes!

Our Year 6 students participated some very squishy lessons recently exploring electrical circuits using play doh, battery packs, insulating material, LEDs, small motors, buzzers and switches.  This has been an awesome way to explore electricity and conductivity in a hands-on and fun way.

In the first lesson Ms Smith guided the students through the basic concepts of electrical circuits, basic safety and how to make simple series and parallel circuits.  The boys followed along with close attention, as they moved though the activities.  Once the basic concepts were clear, the boys were set loose to experiment in creative ways, incorporating these different circuits and insulating material into crazy sculptures.   Trolls with glowing eyes, creatures from the deep with glimmering lures to draw in unwary prey, carrots in sunglasses and planes with whirring propellers were just some of the wonderful creations produced.  In an astonishingly short period of time each class crafted creatures and inventions in a seemingly never-ending stream of creativity and variation.

Students returned to the library for a second session this year involving four different circuit challenges that they needed to complete independently.  They were able to work on their problem solving and resilience in this lesson to understand why their circuit may not have been successful the first time.    Students met these challenges well with some individual experimentation, collaborative effort and the occasional instructor expertise.


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Book Bowling Fun!

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Boys in Year 6 have been brushing up on their catalogue skills. With a lesson on the Dewey Decimal System under their belts, it was time to tackle the issue of how to locate a book they want to read once they have found it in the catalogue. Prac teacher librarian Mrs Lusink and Ms Palmer planned out an informative and fun task. Boys were shown a short clip on how to find a book in the catalogue and then given a title of a book taped onto the side of a wooden skittle. The challenge was to find the book in the catalogue, record the call number information and then retrieve the book from the shelves. This was a timed challenge and  the number of skittles set up to be bowled over depended on the number of books found in the set time. The first four students to present the matching book and skittle were then able to bowl along with the class teacher. The search was repeated and the top Year 6 class won a prize.

This was an incredibly energetic and enthusiastic activity and enjoyed by all. Thanks must go to Anna Zbacnik for her original idea as the activity was found on the A to Z Library blog.


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BGS Plays Host to Fellow Book Lovers

In recent weeks our BGS Book Clubs have been lucky enough to host  book club members from both BGGS and Terrace.  These wonderful opportunities offer the students a chance to engage with books and students of a similar age in a social setting.  The Inside Story Book Club, comprised of students from Years 7 and 8,  meets once a term with boys the same age from Terrace.  This term the boys have been enjoying the intriguing science fiction novel Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card, a story about a boy who can see the paths of others throughout history.  Pathfinder created a lively discussion around time travel, character development, world building and the implication of various story lines being interwoven throughout a novel.

 

Our Year 8 and 9 Book Club boys also enjoyed an animated discussion with Libellum Book Club members from Girls Grammar, exploring the many social issues in the book Liquidator, by Andy Mulligan. The story traces a few days in the lives of students on work experience who discover that a top legal firm is assisting a multi-million dollar soft drink company to cover up the disastrous effects of its fizzy drinks on a young boy  dying from uncontrolled diabetes.

We looked at part of the documentary Dying for Drugs. and comparisons were drawn to the movie The Constant Gardener, based on John Le Carre’s book, where a large drug company is experimenting with a new tuberculosis drug on African villagers suffering from AIDS, and to Erin Brockovich, a movie based on the true story of an environmental activist who takes on the Pacific Gas and Electric Company over its contamination of drinking water with a dangerous chemical.

The harmful effects of too much sugar also provoked some interesting discussion, with reference to the TV programs Super Size Me and Four Corners – Sugar, but the most interest came from this Sugargram Infographic.  We’re looking forward to many more shared book club meetings and compelling discussions.