Monday, September 2, 2013

Unholy Trinity by Denis Ryan

Read the excerpt from the novel below.  It was challenging and confronting, but something I felt compelled to read to better understand the suffering of the people involved and how this situation could possibly occur.  I give it 5/5 stars.

Purchase here: Allen & Unwin

One policeman's desperate and moving account of his decades-long struggle to bring a depraved paedophile priest to justice - only to find himself obstructed by the Catholic Church and betrayed by his own police force.

Monsignor John Day died in 1978. He was arguably Australia's most prolific paedophile. His victims are counted in the hundreds. Yet when Day died, he was feted by Bishop Ronald Mulkearns as having 'faithfully fulfilled his ministry in God's name'.

The Church had been well aware of Day's activities. For years his crimes had been overlooked and tacitly endorsed. Unbelievably, Day had committed his terrible crimes with the knowledge and protection of senior members of the Victoria Police as well as the Clerk of the Courts, the most senior officer of the court in Mildura in the 1960s and '70s. Together the three men cast a shadow over the city that remains today.

Read Across the Universe

Book Week is over for another year.  It was a busy week for the library, but well worth it.  The displays this year in the library have dramatically improved due to the increase in library staff.  The extra set of hands and more time has resulted in better, bigger displays.

We held a dress up day, staff odyssey (drinks and nibbles in the library), hosted Alice Pung, Robert Newton, The Flying Bookworm, Robert Hillman and a library conference run by SCIS focusing on RDA, as well as quizzes and activities in the library each day.

A European Vacation

Is there anything more delightful than learning a language (French) and then travelling to the country of that tongue?  Yes.  Being able to use the language.
I recently journeyed to France with mother and sister in tow, after studying French for near a year, the most I could manage conversationally was "je peux avoir un cafe" to which most would reply in English "anything with your coffee?"
I quickly learnt that my stumbling around the language with a French tutor in Northcote was a far cry from the rapid fire conversational language and I quickly succumbed to fingering through my translation dictionary.
Regardless the holiday was flipping amazing.  In Paris we visited the museums and galleries.   A highlight being Le Louvre and Versailles.  Just Incredible.
We travelled on to Italy.  Visiting Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome.  My highlights were basking in the sun in Monterosso and eating in Rome.  Actually eating everywhere.  We completed the holiday with three nights in Barcelona.  Which was not enough.  I didn't get a real feel for the city or the country and needed more exploring.
It was wonderful to have a three week Summer break in the middle of Winter.  I might even do it again next year!
P.S I took a Kindle on holidays with me.  It was fantastic. If you don't already have a Kindle. Get one.  they are worth every cent.  I managed to read the whole "Tomorrow when the war began series" books 1-7 by John Marsden as well as the follow on Ellie Linton Chronicles series books 1-3.  The battery lasts for months and they are a simple, efficient, wonderful travelling companion.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Digital footprints

I read a book a few weeks ago that has changed my thinking.
It's called Cry Blue Murder and it's by Kim Kane and Marion Roberts.
The book is written in email form, interspersed with occasional police reports, witness statements and newspaper articles.  The story follows the disappearance and murder of two young Melbourne girls and whilst reading the book one becomes increasingly uncomfortable about the safety of one of the girls who is sending emails to another person whom she met via a Facebook group.  

The issues that are raised are so relevant to society today; the impact of one's digital footprint can be both positive and negative, bordering on dangerous, if too much private information is shared.  After reading the book I felt motivated to do something and subsequently prepared and taught a lesson to all Year 6-10 students.  The presentation covered digital footprints, sharing online, keeping private details private and ensuring protection with strong passwords.  By following other teacher librarians on Twitter I had access to a blog post by Jenny Luca and the e-smart website had terrific information, as well as my never fail; youtube.

I used the following clips to illustrate the need for young people to be aware of what they share online, take control of their digital footprint,  ensure they have an excellent online reputation and protect it all with a strong password.

Dave the mind reader:

TED talk - electronic tattoos

Protecting reputations online in Plain English

Secure passwords in Plain English

Jenny Luca's blog is always interesting and worth a look:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Unit 7: VICPLN

The following link will take you to a screencast demonstrating how to create a Note in Evernote:


I used JING as I already had an account and found the program easy to use and efficient.

To create my final reflection I used a combination of screenshots taken and edited using SKITCH and ANIMOTO.  I have included a few notes below reflecting on the course.


What are the key things you learned during the course?

  • Evernote
Were there any highlights?

  • Finding some excellent resources on digital footprints (particularly from Jenny Luca's blog)
  • Becoming more active on Twitter
How did you feel during the course – did it change  from trepidation to frustration to joy or vice versa? Or something else completely?

  • I felt comfortable in my capabilities and deepened my knowledge.  
How would you describe the course to someone else? Would you encourage them to do it?
Did anything slow or stop your progress?

  • I would describe this course as easy to follow, enjoyable and thorough.  I would recommend this to someone who is starting out with, or has just dipped their toes in, to the wide world of information literacy and the myriad tools that are part of the experience.  
  • I missed a few of the blackboard collaborative sessions due to after work meetings and commitments.  However, I could easily catch these up in my own time.
Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Unit 6:VIC PLN

Assessing my digital fluency:
I had good digital literacy prior to starting this course.  I use a variety of tools well and have experienced others and selected particular ones for their efficiency, ease and improvement in organisation, management and teaching.  My digital literacy is developing, I think I operate well in digital spaces, however I could replace some methods with digital tools.  For instance (dare I say it) I love my paper diary.  I have tried to convert, but I just keep going back.  I love calendars up on the wall and I still use a scrapbook to cut and paste recipes I like into.  The photos I do have (I dont take many) are in albums and I cant remember where the memory card is to put them on an external hard drive and back up somewhere.  Some habits are just too hard to break!
I found this blog post interesting.  I often find when I try to engage students in school curricula through the use of digital tools, that they regularly engage with outside of the classroom,  the results once achieved using traditional methods are not achieved with the digital tools.  Students dont take it seriously and dont want school curriculum to interfere with their social media.

School are institutions designed to support young people in being successful citizens in society.  This means a curriculum that supports current trends and information.  Therefore schools have a responsibility to prepare students with skills, like the appropriate use of Facebook, to ensure they have every opportunity for success.  

Educators have the ability to act as role models for responsible usage of digital tools.  I dont think this means being Facebook friends (people need a break from their work), however demonstrating through Edmodo, or a Twitter account how to behave online is important.  It depends on how the educator uses the social media and if they are comfortable with being professional in their own behaviour.  It is similar to an AFL player who is a role model in the community.  Teachers who are online, are also role models.

What are the characteristics of an effective learner?
  • High level of organisation
  • Inquisitive
  • Resilient
  • Problem solver
  • Motivated
  • There are a range of digital tools to support these characteristics.  Edmodo, Diigo, Twitter, Google, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest,  The list is endless.
I find it difficult to predict how technology will change the way we learn in the future.  It is an infinite question.  I can only offer a comparison to the change that has occurred through each decade of the last 100 years and say it's going to be HUGE.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Unit 5: VICPLN

Search the Web

Effectiveness of search engines - Topic of search: Shogunate Japan

I found that Google, Bing and Duck Duck Go returned much the same results when a search on Shogunate Japan was completed.  First results included Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica and

I liked the Duck Duck Go interface; it was clear and easy to navigate.  I found Bing and Google too busy for students, however a mature user may enjoy the myriad options that Google provides.

InstaGrok was fantastic.   I liked the Key Facts for quick access and the links to Websites, Videos, Images and a Glossary.  I am a visual person and so I liked the Concept Map.

Website Evaluation

Trusted website:
I knew this was a trusted site for the following reasons:
URL - the URL is a .gov site.  This means it is a government site and administered by people employed in government departments.
Author - the people responsible for this website are working for the National Library of Australia.  This gives them credibility as a Library has many resources and are meticulous in their presentation, their aim is to provide resources to World Wide Web and there is no underlying motive for sales.
Advertising - there is no advertising material on the page.  The site is not attempting to make profit through advertisement which gives credibility to the site.
Date - by clicking on the Site News tab the user can see when the latest updates were made and what they were.   This gives the feeling that the site is regularly updated with current resources.
Functionality - It is important for a site to look and feel professional.  If a site does look and feel professional it is easy and efficient to use.  Trove is clear and easy to find information.

I always tag my tweets and my bookmarks and so it felt natural to tag my blog posts.  I do need to spend some time reflecting on my older posts and tagging - or "labelling" as blogger calls it.

I used Pinterest for a while - but felt I was doubling up and Diigoing resources as well.  I used it more when I had my iPad with me, surfing the Net whilst watching TV.  It is a lot of fun to check other pin boards - I did find some cool stuff.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Unit 4: PLN

First evaluation:
1. Twitter will be the focus of my evaluation today.  It is my favourite and possibly, my most consistently used tool on the Internet.  
2. A clear path to the information pages was available through accessing Settings and Help. Deactivation of the account is available through accessing Settings and Settings.  It is in small font, but coloured red, so I did notice it.  In the Help section there was a huge amount of information, it was organised very efficiently and was easy to understand.  I did read some of the information when I signed up, as I was new to social networking and needed to understand how the service worked.  I originally considered making my tweets private, as the idea of my updates being available through search engines did concern me as it is a permanent record.  I put some thought into my decision, but was swayed when I began following other educators I admire and modelling my behaviour on theirs.  I also wanted to be a full participant in Twitter and not try to control, but connect and create with others.
3. If I chose to, there is an option to Download my Twitter Archive.  Accessed via the settings menu, the instructions were clear and easy to follow.
4. My Twitter account can be easily deactivated and reactivated.  30 days after deactivation it will be permanently deleted.  

From my evaluation I would recommend Twitter.  However, I would inform users that Tweets can be found through Search Engines if they leave their account (default setting) on public.  I would also recommend they think about what they would like their angle to be; education, library, social commentating etc.  I think the most successful Twitter users have a really clear focus and create a strong network following like-minded individuals.  The first time I used Twitter I followed anyone I was remotely interested in and posted on a vast array of topics.  I didn't really achieve much through this approach and was sick of trawling through a myriad tweets that didn't have much purpose for me.  I fine tuned and focused on "library" and have found it far more valuable.

Second evaluation:
From the list of services I have used:
Evernote - Toondoo - GoodReads - Wallwisher - Pinterest - ACMI 15 Second Place - Wikispaces - Glogster - Prezi - Weebly - Popplet - Animoto

I have registered for and I get an email that I rarely read and always delete sent to me weekly.  So I will evaluate so that I can better understand how it works and why it might be of benefit to me!
  • Does the service require a login? If so, what information needs to be provided when signing up for an account? is designed to connect to other social media services.  To sign up for Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin accounts can be used.  An email address and password is all that is required (for free accounts).  If you find an article of interest on the Internet and share it via the service automatically updates to all of your social media (if you choose to connect them).  You can create a feed of interesting topics sent via email and appearing on dashboard.
  • Read through the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of the site (if applicable). Do you see any potential issues for staff or student use?
Children under the age of 13 cannot use the service.  Children between the age of 13 and 18 require parental permission.  When working in school, parents are required to sign permission for their children to utilise the Internet and Web 2.0 tools.  Under 13s would not be able to use this service. reserve all rights to content curated through  This seems fair if the service is used at a basic level; simply scooping articles and posting them.  However where more curation is concerned it differs.  It is a part of using the Internet and its services that we have to understand we stop "owning" our content when we publish it through some online services and that it cannot be deleted (Facebook).

If you sign up for a plan (not free service) there is more information required and more information gained through UserVoice which collects information through your content and activity.

In comparison to the simplicity and clarity of the Twitter Terms of Services was unhelpful and unclear.  I have struggled to understand; the functions and use of the service is complex and the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy continued this theme.  
  • How could you use this tool in your professional learning? Can you see it being useful to someone else in your organisation? Why?
This is a useful tool for keeping abreast of a range of topics and contacts of interest.  I connect it to my Twitter account only, however for colleagues that utilise a range of social media this could be a great service.  I have also included a button on my blog for my followers to Scoop my articles if they choose.
  • Could this tool be used in an educational setting? What tasks might students complete using the tool? How could it change the tasks students are already doing? Where does it fit in the SAMR model of assessment?
Students could use this to connect to topics and people of interest.  Teachers and students could sign up, follow each other and share resources.  Students could use this as a service for connecting to their social media accounts.  Students could be required to use to create a topic, find articles on the Internet and then submit their URL of curated content.  

Student Task: could be used as part of a research assignment.  The topic could be: Shakespeare, nuclear weapons, global warming etc.  Students would be required to complete research on the Internet by selecting articles and sites that are appropriate and then scooping them to use for the research  on their assignment.  If this involved group work students could check each other's social media where content is posted.

Substitution - using is not a direct substitution for a conventional tool. utilises new technology and new concepts and so does not align to traditional methods.
Augmentation - using is not similar to a conventional tool with improvements.
Modification - using allows for significant task redesign.  If research is assigned, traditionally students would be required to find information and then complete task. allows for students completing a research task to search the Internet, search persons of interest and topics of interest in, "scoop" articles and add to a page with annotations and an independent URL.  Students can work with other students sharing via their social media accounts.
Redefinition - New tasks are available through the use of  
  • Were you able to create something useful with the tool? Is it easy to share what you’ve done by either publishing it online or even embedding it into your own site? If so, share what you created by pasting a link into your blog entry or embedding the item.
This is a convenient tool, not entirely efficient or clear in functionality, but purposeful.  I find I use it in that same way as Diigo.  I find things I am interested in and then want to "tag" them for future reference.  I enjoy receiving the email feed of topics I am interested in, particularly library design, as someone else is doing the work for me.  At this stage I am not sure whether I will use it more, I bookmark sites of interest in Diigo and dont have a lot of time to explore any further.  I could showcase this to staff and students, it has scope and allows another option for content curation.  I would like to see my students using a social bookmarking site, or this type of tool, to share content and tag for future reference.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

VIC PLN - unit 3 post

I am a strong believer in creating online professional learning communities.  Through blogging and Twitter I can:

  • Connect
  • Share Ideas
  • Access Current Information
  • Find Answers
  • & Opportunities
  • Learn
  • Get Support

I think Twitter has myriad roles in education.  I have used it in the past when teaching VCE English classes.  I found students were more likely to read my Tweets as they were short and accessed through a forum they enjoyed using.  I don't have the same teaching load and use Twitter now for my own professional development, particularly regarding Library.  I follow authors, find out about events, connect with librarians, ask questions, get ideas and feel like I am up to date.  My address is @RiaCoffey

I am comfortable and familiar with Facebook, however I am no longer using it.  I found that it was not a positive use of my time and I preferred to connect with people in other mediums.  Facebook was always a more social sphere for me and I just didn't require it anymore.  If I was to reuse Facebook it would need to have a greater purpose than socialising.  At this stage I do not require more than Twitter, blogging and RSS feeds as my professional learning community.

Whilst studying my Masters in Teacher Librarianship I did sign up to Google+.  If I was using Google products more regularly and consistently I think I could see a purpose for Google+.  However, at the moment I just don't have time for more social media.  It is important to recognise what is too much and use one format successfully. 

I  am a big believer in not 'blocking' social media in schools.  Students can access anything they want on their personal devices and need to be taught how to access these sites and use them responsibly.  I cannot access Twitter from school and it is very annoying.  We should not get too hung up on the tool, because it is only a matter of time until it is replaced.  
"Tools come and go. The concepts they represent are much more important than that" (VICPLN).  Schools have blocked Facebook, however there are many chat rooms, photo blogs and social media that students can access.  

Students enjoy using social media and it is easy and accessible.  Most schools have developed their own systems, wikis and forums to use that engage students within a safe platform but are student friendly like Edmodo.  I think Edmodo has fantastic features and would consider using this with students.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

VIC PLN - 2nd post

  • What are your current techniques for keeping your work organised, keeping track of resources and sharing these resources with others? How do you imagine the tools covered in this unit will change your workflow?

I have used Diigo for a number of years to catalogue websites.  I haven't used the group share function as yet and look forward to viewing the sites members of VICPLN find interesting.  Diigo is an excellent and efficient tool to use and it is currently in my tool kit.

Google Chrome is excellent, I hadn't used this before and have really enjoyed having a play around with it.  I have been thinking a lot lately about the greater need for synchronicity across devices, as I am getting an iPad and this will join my devices; home computer, school Macbook and iPhone, as an essential tool. 

Question to find an answer for:
Can I change the browser on my iPhone/iPad to Google Chrome?  Or is there an app?  

I have been meaning to create an Evernote account for years and so I was thrilled to have to do it as part of the process for completion of VIC PLN Unit 2.  I know of colleagues who use it with great success.  I need some more time using it and have bookmarked the Web Clipper function on my other devices to encourage this.   I am guilty of making notes on Word docs. and having too many files saved on my computer and Evernote will help me move away from this towards Cloud computing.

  • Is teaching workflow and organisation techniques to students an important task? What have you noticed about the workflow and organisational strategies of students?

At school we have a system called SIMON.  Staff and students have access to this and all documentation is stored within this system.  It is difficult to get students to sign up for other systems of organisation as there are age limits, the need for itunes accounts and the overall need to encourage students to use the school system.  Teaching students and staff about these wonderful Web 2.0 tools has to be very relevant, easy and accessible through the school internet (things are often blocked).  I will be discussing Google Chrome with the IT staff and considering how Evernote and Diigo could be implemented.  

I don't like the term 'digital natives' and believe that it is wrongly assumed that young people are fluent in the use of IT.  From what I have seen young people are fluent in taking photos of themselves and uploading them to social media with an improved filter.  Young people require just as much tuition as their older counterparts - but the difference is they are not scared of it and are willing to have a go, make mistakes, create and discover without PD.  I think that most students, in deed most people, would benefit from an introduction to a range of organisational and work flow Web 2.0 tools, the important thing is choosing the best fit for you and using it efficiently and consistently.

  • How have digital technologies and internet access changed the way we organise ourselves?

Access to digital technologies has provided us with the ability to have information at our fingertips in myriad locations.  We no longer need to lug around folders of paper, or even our laptops as we can easily login from one device; at work or at home, even on the tram, and access our information.   The ability to catalogue, tag, stack etc. our information has added another layer to the organisation ensuring greater efficiency in retrieval and the ability to share with the public.
Here is the link to the note I created using Evernote:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

VIC PLN - 1st entry

  • Who are you and what is your history as an educator?
My name is Ria Coffey, I have worked in education since completing my Bachelor degree in 2004.  I worked in both Primary and Secondary schools and recently I completed my Masters in Teacher Librarianship through Charles Sturt University.  This year I have an interesting role; I am working as a teacher librarian, coordinating a reading program across two campuses, I am also Head of English faculty and Literacy Coordinator Year 7-12.

  • Where are you at currently in terms of your skills and experience with Web 2.0 tools? Are you just getting around to using them, or are you an avid user?
I am fairly comfortable with Web 2.0 tools and have used them to engage, teach and learn with for a number of years.  There is always room for improvement and learning and I'm looking forward to sharing ideas.  Here is a list of some of the tools I use:
Newspaper generator
Comic Life
My Fakebook

  • Describe your current Personal Learning Network. What organisations, people and networks do you support and in return support you? Where do you get information now? Conferences? Newsletters? Associations? Blogs? Colleagues? Staff meetings?
I am an avid user of Twitter, I find it exceptionally good for professional development and networking.  I began using Twitter a few years ago and in the beginning was following a few celebrities and not getting much out of it.  Then I changed my approach, I stopped following quite a few people and began using the tool to follow current news issues and fellow teacher librarians from all around the world.  I tweet about good books and information literacy and enjoy learning from others.
I enjoy being a part of the School Library Association of Victoria and the Secondary Literacy Network and the PD and networking opportunities that these provide.  I read the Penguin, SCIS, Magpies, Reading Time and FYI magazines and follow the blogs of, to name a few, Jenny Luca, Librarian in Black, Creative Library Displays, Joyce Valenza and Buffy Hamilton.  I already have a google reader account with subscriptions to these and others, so there is always something to read.

  • What are your goals in terms of this program? What would you like to achieve this term? What would you like to achieve by the end of the year?
My goals for this program are to keep learning and challenging myself to try new things. 
I would like to find more librarians in Melbourne to connect with.
I would like to increase my participation in Twitter and blogging spheres and so need to have more to offer.

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 school year

The 2013 school year is well underway.  The library has had a reasonably smooth start.   I have created a list of start of year procedures as I have found that organising the newspaper subscriptions is not only time consuming but it takes a lot of processing time. We are still awaiting our daily Herald Sun delivery.  I have some great photos to put up of our library displays; Cybersmart, Ancient Egypt, World War 2 and ANZAC day.

I'm under the air-conditioner reading 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel - it's hot out!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Summer Holiday Reading

I love an opportunity to read uninterrupted and for hours at a time.  These holidays I got my chance and devoured these reads:

  • The Other Life by Susan Winnacker - this was a fast moving action packed teen novel.  I'm looking forward to the sequel.
  • I'll Tell You Mine by Pip Harry - boarding school setting (which I love), teenage girl, family problems... things young adults can relate to.  The main character was believable.
  • Snakes and Ladders by Maryanne Scott - another boarding school setting, teenage boy, family problems... set in New Zealand which was nice for a change.
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan - this was haunting and has stayed with me since completion.  It was slow moving at the beginning and I think more of an adult read than teen fiction.
  • Shift by Em Bailey - I can't wait to recommend this to my Year 9 girls.  It was a bit of a thriller, shocking and enthralling.  I loved this and will check out what else Bailey has written.
  • Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood - I laughed so much throughout this read.  The main character is so so likeable.  Great teen fiction.
  • Love-Shy by Lili Wilkinson - my first impressions were that this would be a bit of a soft read - it wasn't - it packed a real punch.  Dealt with some big themes very very well.
  • Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak - I love this book - I love the whole Wolfe family.  Zusak is an incredible talent.  This book is on our Year 9 booklist.
  • The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick - I always enjoy Herrick's work and this was not an exception.  A sweet main character and a good story line written in poetic form.  It works beautifully.
The following aren't from my school library, they are off my own bookshelf:
  • Love's Executioner by Irvin Yalom - this is a masterpiece - I loved the arrogance of the narrator, the varied stories of the patients and delving into their headspace, all the time guided by an expert psychotherapist. 
  • The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper - I'm about to start this - it's been recommended to me and I heard an interview on ABC radio with the author whilst touring Tasmania on a little holiday.
Speaking of holidays... these have been lovely; I feel relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for a new year.