Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Dr Adam Lefstein - Keynote 2 - ULearn14 - Teacher professional discourse and learning: what we talk about when we talk about our practice

The second key of ULearn14 note was presented by Dr Adam Lefstein from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.  This is his bio from the ULearn site:

Adam Lefstein is Senior Lecturer in Education at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, where he conducts research and teaches about pedagogy, classroom interaction, teacher learning and educational change. He’s particularly interested in the intersection between research and professional practice, and how to conduct research that is meaningful, rigorous and helpful for educators.
His recently published book, Better than Best Practice: Developing Teaching and Learning through Dialogue (with Julia Snell, published by Routledge), investigates the possibilities, challenges and dilemmas of dialogic teaching and learning, and offers practical tools for using discussion of video-recordings of classroom practice to hone teacher professional judgment.
Previously, Lefstein worked as a teacher and facilitator of teacher learning at the Branco Weiss Institute in Jerusalem, where he also directed the Community of Thinking programme.

You can find out more about Dr Lefstein's book at http://dialogicpedagogy.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @ALefstein as of today.  Click here for the collaborative document from the Keynote.

Below is the Storify of the tweets I and others tweeted during Dr Lefstein's Keynote presentation. 

Sadly Storify has deleted itself from the Social Media landscape and none of my Storifies exist anymore.  😭😭😭😭

A day later (and then several weeks later) I have had a chance to reflect on what we heard from Dr Lefstein yesterday.  Teachers tend to talk a lot.  We talk all day to students, we talk to the parents who we encounter in our day and we talk to our colleagues in meetings, in passing, at lunchtime.  But how often are our conversations with our colleagues of a quality that the participants come away with something they know will improve their practice?

In 2006 I was lucky enough to do the Middle Leadership Course at the Leadership Centre at the University of Waikato.  Murray Fletcher was the facilitator of the course and one of the centre points was active listening.  This keynote gave me pause to go back and reflect on what I learnt in this course and to synthesise what I know already with what I heard yesterday.

I was particularly taken by the comparison of teacher professional discourse being compared with a doctor's medical round.  When doctors do their rounds they have each other to discuss the patient's condition with.  They may consult with the nurses who have a more direct care of the patient.  They toss ideas around and come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan. 

Teachers do do this as well, but not usually as they teach.  It usually happens in the staff room at lunch time or in a meeting to create and IEP.  Because the nature of teaching is generally one teacher in a single cell room with many children, there generally is no other adult for the teacher to confer and work with to solve those problems or take a different tack with teaching the moment that it happens.  Our conversations tend to be reactionary, after the fact, rather than in the moment.

In regards to Rule 1: Don't talk about pedagogical problems, I agree that teachers as a rule are not used to people watching them regularly, to have people come into their classrooms and talk the practice of teaching as the teacher is teaching.  However, I believe that most teachers are pretty good at talking pedagogy, particularly if something is not right - however this doesn't seem to happen in the class... it's always and after thing and mostly focused on solving an issue rather than analysing and celebrating what works and then exploring the possibility of changing that up.  Often our pedagogical conversations are based on putting out a fire rather than preventing the fire.

Teaching is an aspirational vocation.  We all have great plans at being the best teacher we can be, having the most amazing programmes, engaging children in meaningful and inspiring learning.  But we soon realise that we can't juggle all the balls at the same time, if one thing is going well it may be to the expense of another, and there is always a bit more that we can do as teachers.

Which brings me to Rule 2: Don't mind the gap between teaching aspirations and classroom realities.  There will always be the gap between what we what to provide and achieve with our learners compared to what really happens, but even though we may never consistently achieve to meet the standards we (or others) set ourselves as teachers, we should never give up or lessen our expectations.  We need to continue to challenge ourselves and exceed our previous best to keep the passion alive and extend ourselves.  We need to be clear what our leaders expect of us and our leaders need to know what we expect of ourselves as well, which means discussing and planning your aspirations with your team or senior management.

Rule 3: Dichotomize is about the opposing forces in our classroom, in our teaching, in our own perceptions and realities which are facing off each day as we teach.  This has always happened, and always will.  But good discussion with a trusted colleague will help you to identify those which are really hurting your teaching and holding back students from achieving and will enable you to come away with a bag of tricks to try to change the situation.

Rule 4: Trust your own unique experience - this is important that our experiences shape us as teachers, but we also need to be open to other experiences by our colleagues, because they may spark and idea or a system we can make our own for the betterment of our own teaching and the learning of the students.

Rule 5: No precise professional language is where Dr Lefstein and I have a fundamental difference of opinion.  I find that teaching is littered with teaching language and phrases that people who are not teachers do not understand.  I often find myself translating acronyms like RTLB, explaining what synthesising in reading is, or a number of other things as parents and friends look at me with glazed eyes.  We have plenty of technical teacher talk.

Rule 6: Hyper-criticise Dr Lefstein showed part of a video of Sir Tony Robinson on a show called The Teaching Challenge and this is the blurb for the video:
Sir Tony Robinson, presenter of Time Team and Blackadder, hated school, but has returned to take on a history class at Shireland Language College in Smethwick, Birmingham.
His challenge is to teach a lesson on the worst jobs in history relating to the evolution of public health and hygiene since 1300. He faces not only the pupils, but also the school's formidable head of history, Colin Vigar, who offers a robust critique of Tony's performance. (2005)

And Tony was rigorously critiqued by Colin.  But is a rigorous critique helpful to a teacher receiving feedback?  Personally I don't think so, and neither did the room, nor Dr Lefstein's research.  Feedback needs to be structured, specific and constructive.

Rule 7  - seems to have disappeared during the keynote so we moved on to the next rule.

Rule 8: Focus on what's missing is when the discussion focuses on what did not happen rather than on what did happen.  That can be very down heartening to the teacher who is being observed when they are only told what they haven't done and should have done instead rather than building on what was achieved.

So what did I come away with from this keynote?

  • Professionally discussing our teaching practice is important to helping me be a better teacher.
  • The conversation needs to focus on what actually is happening.
  • We shouldn't ignore our own experiences, but should be open to the experiences of others too.
  • Feedback needs to be structures, specific and constructive - the aim is to build up the teacher to go forward, not tear the teacher down.
  • It would be beneficial to have discussions with another professional as event occur, although in teaching this tends to be hard as we are a single teacher in a single room with a class most of the time.
  • We should talk about the challenges we face and not be staunch.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Twitter as a Personal Learning Network for Teachers

I joined Twitter at the end of ULearn11, the same day as I started this blog.  It was a huge leap, but after three days of attending keynotes and breakouts and hearing about how other educators were using various websites, blogging and Twitter in their classrooms and their own personal learning I thought I'd make the leap.

You can see my first blog ULearn11 - learning, discovering, trying it out for myself to see the beginning of my blogging journey nearly three years ago.

I started off in Twitter very slow.  It was fits and bursts, slowly finding people to follow.  Going to Educamp in early November 2011 helped.  It gave me the opportunity to see how even though we were in the same room we could communicate not only verbally but virtually and with people elsewhere in the country who could not be there, therefore widening the discussion and learning possibilities.

The Rugby World Cup and the elections in 2011 were other opportunities to have a blat on Twitter too.

But that first year, through till ULearn 2012, I felt more of a voyeur than a participant.  At ULearn 2012 I began to use Twitter much more.  During breakouts I would have my laptop with me and this made it easy for me to write my notes directly into my blog, go straight to the websites discussed and so on.  But in the keynotes I struggled with my laptop on my knee in a confined space and was often running short on battery.  I had recently purchased a cheap and nasty tablet, so I started tweeting on that to take notes of the keynote.  That worked a treat.  It meant later that I was able to go back to my tweets (and those of others I had retweeted) to reflect on what was said and blog it as part of my reflections.

Sometime in early 2013 I discovered #edchatNZ on every second Thursday night, and I started getting involved in Twitter chats.  This is a great chat because it encompasses teachers and non-teachers from all education sectors and really gets some great debate going on a variety of teaching, learning, professional and educationally political matters.

I've also fallen into other chats at various points, but this one I Storified below I accidentally started one Thursday night that wasn't an #edchatNZ night but got people talking:  Sadly Storify has deleted itself from the Social Media landscape and none of my Storifies exist anymore.  😭😭😭😭

The key phrase that has emerged in the last few years has been PLN or Personal Learning Network.  As teachers we are developing these networks, communicating with a range of teachers we may otherwise not have encountered. 

We talk on Twitter, and sometimes Facebook through various networks, and sometimes we meet face to face at Educamps, Eduignite, ULearn, ConnectED, or at some other form of professional development.  Sometimes we meet up because we've actually developed friendships.

And #edchatNZ is actually hosting its first face to face unconference in August.  Check out this poster and go to the BlogSpot for more info or just ask on Twitter using #edchatNZ to find out more:

I talk to a range of primary, intermediate and secondary teachers as well as facilitators on Twitter, principals too, and sometimes BOT members of various schools.  I am unsure how many ECE teachers are engaged, but it would be great to get more involved.

But I also communicate with politicians, sports people, media, comedians, musicians, actors and many other amazingly funny, creative, thought provoking, interesting Twerps and Tweachers.  I may have started off slow, but I am now over 11,000 tweets into this journey and it is amazing.

Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt) said at ULearn12 that Twitter has your back.  I can say that you can put something out to your PLN and they will respond and an amazing conversation will be thrown back to you.  This happened to me in March, accidentally again, when I posted The Classroom Environment - what makes a class attractive?  What followed when I posted that blog up was four hours on a Friday night of people sharing great artwork and project ideas from their classroom walls!!

I saved so many of those pictures for inspiration later on. 

And that is the great thing about a PLN is that they inspire, advise, invigorate, spark new thinking, refocus, give a different point of view - and I can do it from the comfort of my bed in my pjs for free!!!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Changing what is on the walls

Last term I read a blog by Bruce Hammonds called New School Year - what has been achieved? and it started me wondering about how Bruce would view my classroom.  As a result I posted this blog The Classroom Environment - what makes a class attractive?  I posted it on a Friday night, shared it on Twitter, and four hours of teachers sharing photos of what is on the walls of their classrooms currently and in the past began.  It was awesome!!  And Bruce put a link in his next blog post to my blog post!  Bonus!!

There is no disputing that a classroom environment physically needs to be warm and comfortable for students to learn.  I have found over a number of years that the classroom should reflect the learning journey of the children within it.  It should stimulate the children to learn.  It should set the standard for the expected outcome of learning.

In the last few weeks I have read three different versions of an article about a study looking at classroom displays and how they affect student achievement.  This article, Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning in Young Children, According to New Carnegie Mellon Research, was one version of the articles.  I have had the opportunity to engage in discussion and debate on this in three separate forums, one on Twitter through a UK education twerp, and two different teacher groups on Facebook.  This is a topic with a lot of diverse opinions and experiences.

Displaying Student Work  on the Responsive Classroom  website says:   "A classroom filled with the work of children is a delight to be in and sends a message to students that their work and their learning are important."  This post even advocates students create the displays themselves!  And then there is this little pearl of wisdom from a post called Tips for New Teachers: Classroom Displays from the ASCD website: "These days, when I'm visiting many classrooms as an elementary school consultant and coach, I'm more convinced than ever that classroom displays should consist mostly of work students have done themselves."

In New Zealand we place a lot of importance on the classroom reflecting what our students are learning, the classroom space supporting learning and that that space reflects the student's own works.  It is also expected that the work displayed will change regularly to reflect the continual learning opportunities that come along.  I personally believe that you take something down when you have something to put up.  Occasionally I rearrange so that I can still keep up work that I consider needs to stay.

Consequently, this term, a lot has changed in my class on the walls compared to the visual tour I took my readers on in the post mentioned in the first paragraph.

Firstly, my topic wall changed.  Instead of the Tiriti o Waitangi, we started the term with Anzac Day.  This was a mini unit, so this is not the full range of things I could have displayed.  The newspaper articles were brought in by a student.  I go into more about how this display engaged students in my blog post Creating excitement about learning for Anzac Day.

Last term my students and I, for Poem of the Week, read a poem about what was in Grandma's cupboard.  And we created a piece of art about it, which was put up on the wall late in the first term. 

I may have mentioned in the post I wrote last term (link in the first paragraph) that my school had a centennial celebration last term.  Schools tend to create books to celebrate those sorts of things, and we wrote poems about the school to go in the book.  I put these up last term by rearranging the writing we had done about Brendon McCullum and the fish display.  I'm not ready to take this writing down yet, so I squished it up a bit.

To fit my new displays I also moved the fish display this term, because underneath the centennial poems I put our new display about Keeping Ourselves Safe, because we're also working through that this term.  The display is pretty much the children's thinking on the various aspects of the topic as we have gone through it.  (Please excuse the missing e's - I ran out and haven't got to the resource centre as of yet to purchase more).

This was another activity that came from Poem of the Week with a poem called How does the sun rise?  As you can see we painted our own sunrises using water colour paints and we wrote poems and descriptions of the sun rising.

The following week our Poem of the Week was called Autumn Leaves.  So we went out and played in the leaves and wrote some poems and descriptions of autumn leaves.  I also asked the children to collect leaves and do some drawings of them with detail and colour them in and cut them out to add to the display.

To add the writing about sunrises and autumn leaves I had to move our display on the fish, and remove our other writing inspired by calendar pictures.

On Friday it was a lovely sunny day, so I decided art should be done outside.  Bruce talks about close observational sketching of nature in his blog I've linked in the first paragraph, so I thought we really needed this on our walls too.  So out we went for 30 minutes with an A5 piece of cartridge each and after a wee chat the class concentrated their hearts out for that whole 30 minutes (except for the ones distracted by the kitten from the school house that wanted to play), and they came up with their own drawings of a part of a tree they choose to focus on.  Some of the students also really had a go at shading and smudging their pencil to create greater effect.  So proud of them.

To put up the kids drawings I had to squeeze up our similes display a bit.  I also squeezed our similes display down a bit so I could staple up the collection of metaphors some children had researched.  As you can see there is still some wall space above my metaphors.... that's where I need a person with a head for heights to put up something that will stay for a long time...

I still kept my fish from earlier in the year... I just keep moving them to fit with what I am putting up on my wall.

 And this is what my back wall of my class looks like.

There are more changes currently happening.  My topic wall has changed to being about New Zealand native birds, and new stories about rain and accompanying pictures have replaced the flags on the wires.  My class are also currently working on posters about the birds.  Watch the next post on my classroom environment to see my new exciting news....

Sunday, 1 June 2014

My first Skype session with my class.

Ok, sometimes I am a little behind the times.

I confess - I'd never done a Skype session with my class - until last week.

This is how it all came about:

In the term break I purchased this book:

I blogged about it in this post, Anzac Books I am going to use this coming term, and the author of the above book, Peter Millett, commented on my blog.  A short conversation ensued, he said he'd love to talk to my class about the book, I followed Peter on Twitter.

I read The Anzac Puppy to my class and they really enjoyed it.  Of course they wanted to know if it was based on a true story or not.  I said to them that the author wanted to talk with them, so we should ask him questions about the book and being the author.  I split them up into groups of three, and these are the questions they came up with:

The other week I tweeted photos of the questions to Peter.  And eventually we settled on a Skype conversation.

As I said, I was a "Skype in the classroom newbie".  My previous solo Skype conversation was with a mate to help him prepare for an interview, and prior to that it was gate crashing my Mum's conversations with my aunty and some family friends in Aussie.  I'd just never really had a good reason to Skype with a class before.  But Skyping with an author is a very authentic reason.

Mistake #1:  Not prepping the kids on how to do a Skype session.
Actually, this was the one and only big mistake - I pretty much sprung this on them, by telling them we were doing it after the Year 7 & 8s left for Tech - who wants to miss out after all?  Then, by the time I set up the computer at the end of lunch and got on Skype, Peter was there, so no time to tell the kids what I was expecting.

Now it wasn't a complete disaster.  The children were very excited to see Peter and know that they were going to get the answers to their questions.  They all gathered around and at the beginning were attentive.  But as time went on, they drifted off to be silly while the teacher's back was literally turned.  Some went off to draw pictures.  Any child who wasn't participating wasn't hearing the answers, and certainly wasn't engaged as I expected.

Peter's wife is also a teacher, so while I was embarrassed at the rudeness of some children, he rolled with it and was very understanding indeed, which I was grateful for.  After the conversation ended I did the growling thing with the kids, the one that starts with, "I'm extremely disappointed... why do you think that is?"

Peter was great.  He told the kids something very important: he has loved writing ever since he was a little boy.  He told us about how long it can take to write a book.  He started researching The Anzac Puppy in 2001 and it wasn't published until 2014... that's the longest time it has taken him to write a book.  Peter loves writing for children, and he loves writing stories that will make people laugh.  He also told us about some of the things that inspire him and the book he has just completed that is next to be published - but we were sworn to secrecy.

My class and I have the opportunity to have another Skype conversation with a class in Australia.  So I am thinking we will definitely have to nut out some expectations prior to doing the next chat.  The children are also keen to Skype an ex-teaching colleague of mine who is now working as an advisor on writing in schools, including my school.  I said we would ask her next time she came to the school.

Later that day on Twitter I started a random #edchatNZ chat about personalising learning for teachers (that is for another blog however).  I mentioned my first Skype chat during it, saying how I had done some "just in time learning that day".  As a result, now another teacher is pursuing Peter Millett's books for use in his class and may also do a Skype chat with his class and Peter Millett.  So there is a win out of the day.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Creating excitement about learning for Anzac Day

The other week I put up a new display about Anzac Day. It's a pretty tame one considering all the possible things I could put up. But the main idea is to get the kids thinking and it gives them some independent activities to do.
The following Monday a couple of really cool buzz things happened for me.  One girl had been looking through the local newspapers at the weekend, and when she arrived at school she came over and said, "Look what I found out about Anzac Day in the newspapers!"
I loved the fact that she had cut these  articles out of the local papers off her own bat and brought them into school. So I immediately gave her the pins and asked her to add them to the display.
Later the same day, another girl came to me after silent reading. She had one of the books from my Anzac collection she had been reading during SSR.  "Look Miss D.  That's from the poem we had last week."

She found it in Jackie French's book A Day to Remember - The Story of Anzac Day.
Each week we have a poem of the week and in the first week of this term we did For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon.

This is a pretty full on poem to give to students aged 7, but my current class caters for Years 3-8 in a small two class rural school.  Not only do I have to cater for the younger children in my class, but I need to challenge the more able and older children as well.  So each week there is a different sort of poem, often with a theme I want to explore.

With this poem we looked at the imagery in the poem, new vocabulary, the variety of punctuation, and blends - a new aspect each day.  We also found out a little bit about who Robert Lawrence Binyon was.
Since then, other children have also read this book and recognised the extract from Binyon's poem as well.  It is all about planting that seed and seeing what takes root.
So what else have I got going on in this display?

This is a great poster I got from the Scholastic Book Club a few years ago (why don't they come like they used to anymore?).  This is a great poster to get the kids thinking about the symbols and rituals of Anzac Day.

I got these words that are in the Vocabulary Expander out of the book Gallipoli Reckless Valour a few years ago.  The point of the Vocabulary Expander is to introduce and extend the vocabulary of the topic to the students and help them create meaning of these words.  The students each choose a word and bags it by writing their name on the back with a dry erase pen.  It the top box they write the word as a title.  On the next lines they record the definition that best fits the context.  They must start with a dictionary first, then if they can not find it, they can Google the definition.  The next set of lines is when they write a sentence of their own using the word.  In the bottom box they draw a picture to illustrate the sentence they wrote, demonstrating the context of the word as well.  This is an independent reading time activity and can also be worked on during topic time.

This set of statistics is a good way to get the students thinking about and discussing the impact of the First World War on a small, young country like New Zealand.

It gets them thinking about women and how they contributed to the war effort.  It makes them think about the contribution of Maori and the people of the Pacific to the New Zealand Armed Forces.  It brings to their attention the fact that there was something called a conscientious objector.

These statistics also brings death and the stark reality of war into focus when you look at how many soldiers did not come back out of the103,000 who served overseas, as well as the ones who came back wounded in some way or another.

And is it not amazing to know that there are approximately 500 civic memorials in New Zealand commemorating these men?

These are for the older students in my class.  I created these a couple of years ago for independent inquiry on a range of aspects of New Zealand's participation in war.  The students choose which one they will do.  Each one has web links and different activities to complete based on De Bono's Thinking Hats or Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. 

The topics I have put out for the small group of students to do this year include:
  • Conscientious Objectors
  • Le Quesnoy and New Zealand
  • Helping the Wounded
  • WWI Memorials
  • Medals
  • Mascots for WW1 & WWII
The tasks may require them to create something on the computer, do a poster, or record the facts in their books. 

One of the first books I read my class this term was The Anzac Puppy  by Peter Millett and illustrated by Trish Bowles.  I blogged about this book during the term break after I bought a fresh collection of stories to share with the class.  Peter Millett somehow really quickly saw my blog and responded to it, saying he'd love to discuss the book with the class.  My class brainstormed questions for Peter (see below) and we're set up to do a Skype session with Peter this week.

In my opinion I can not set up an Anzac Day display without the immortal words of Ataturk, the Turkish commander at Gallipoli and later leader of Turkey:

And it is also good to get some other background on some important Gallipoli knowledge and Anzac traditions:

Finally, I was away the other day and the reliever read the class Ceasar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud and illustrated by Bruce Potter.

 And he drew this for the kids on the board, so I photographed it, printed it and added it to the display:
I love how everyone who enters my class brings yet another little bit extra to what we are learning and carries on the inspiration.

Other really cool books for Anzac Day!

I got a bit of a surprise the other week when I pulled out all the books I have purchased over the last few years in my obsession for great resources for Anzac Day.  The other week I shared some books I had purchased this year, but I thought today would be a good day to share the books I've bought and used previously.

First up is a great book called Solder in the Yellow Socks by Janice Marriott about New Zealand's double Victoria Cross winner Charles Upham and his deeds during World War II.  I love this book, as it combines chapter and pictures, by illustrator Bruce Potter, to tell the story.  It is full of wonderful new interest words, and I have used it as a reading book with my class with lots of great learning.  Last time we even exchanged emails with the author to find out about how she wrote the book.

Grandad's Medals is written by Tracy Duncan and illustrated by Bruce Potter (who does beautiful illustrations).  A lovely, touching story about a young boy and his Grandad.  It talks about his relationship with Grandad and how Grandad marches on Anzac Day with his set of medals.  The young boy is noticing that there are fewer of his Grandad's mates marching this year.

Set on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II, Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer has beautiful pictures.  This is a story of an Australian soldier and a Japanese soldier lying injured together sharing photos and memories of their families back home.  It may bring a tear to your eye.

The book, Wartime Memories, is in an old fashioned magazine style and has lots of tidbits about life during World War II in New Zealand and at the battlefields.

The Donkey Man, by Glyn Harper, is a great book to capture the children's attention about the contribution of animals in the battle field.  I have used this book with a reading group previously.  You can find out more by looking at the post I have published previously.

I've also used Nicolas Brasch's book Gallipoli Reckless Valour with a reading group.  It is well set out with wonderful photos, maps and copies of posters and advertising from World War I.

My Marine is written by Phyllis Johnston about when the US Marines came to her community during WWII when she was a child.  She became jealous of her sister going to the local dances with the Marines and wanted a Marine of her own.  We've just finished reading the book Black Boots and Buttonhooks as a shared novel by Phyllis about her mother, May, as a child, so my class was amazed to find the link that May was the mother in this story.

This book, A Day to Remember, goes back to the first Anzac rememberance ceremony after the Gallipoli campaign and how Anzac Day has been commemorated in the years since.  Jackie French has included parts of the ceremony such as the piece from the poem For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon, which my students recognised as they read the book because we used it for Poem of the Week.  Mark Wilson's illustrations are poignant.

Animals have been an important part of battlefield events throughout history.  Only a Donkey demonstrates animals paying tribute to their peers on the battlefield.  Celeste Walters writes from the point of view of the animals.  Patricia Mullins creates wonderful illustrations. 

A little girl's father is away at war and she makes Anzac Biscuits for him.  Phil Cummings, the author of Anzac Biscuits, writes the experience of making the biscuits in tandem with the experience of being in the trenches.  The muted pictures by Owen Swan bring a gravity to the father's situation, but highlight the innocence of childhood.

Le Quesnoy - The story of the town New Zealand saved is also written by Glyn Harper.  It is beautifully illustrated and tells the tale of one of the final actions of WWI when New Zealand soldiers liberated the French town of Le Quesnoy from the German army.  Jenny Coopers simple, colourful pictures bring to life the experiences of the soldiers of both sides and the towns people.

This is the story written by Feana Tu'akoi of an Anzac Day through the eyes of young Tyson who doesn't understand why Mum and Poppa would want to celebrate anything as stupid as war at the Dawn Parade.  Lest We Forget brings to life the tandem extremes of why we remember:  the futility of war verses the honouring of sacrifice by brave (and scared) men.  Elspeth Alix Batt's haunting illustrations of the Dawn Service contrast with the warmness of the family home.

This is a great reference book for primary school students on the facts of Gallipoli.  The Anzacs at Gallipoli has lots of good photos in it, clear headings and little side bars of information.  Some of the photos are confronting, but are presented in an understated way.  It also sets out each of the major battles that happened during the campaign.

Anzac Day Parade by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen is based on a veteran of Crete talking with a young boy about the aerial invasion of German para-troops and the battle that followed.  The language is colloquial and in short, haunting passages.  The illustrations are a mixture of the present time and the old veteran's memories.

Caesar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud is beautifully illustrated by Bruce Potter.  It is a great picture book for older primary school students as there is a lot of text on each page, but can be shared with younger students over several days.  It tells the story of one of our more heroic animals who went to war and did his part to help the soldiers.

Philippa Werry wrote Anzac Day the New Zealand Story so that students could have a one stop book on what happened at Gallipoli, the Western Front, why we have Anzac Day and how we commemorate it in New Zealand.  It covers the people the places, cenotaph, where the idea of poppies come from, the origins of the word 'digger', relevant websites, things to do, paintings, poems, abstracts from diaries and letters, photos....

Written by David Hill (My Brother's War, Brave Company) and illustrated by Fifi Coston (I remember her doing arty crafty stuff on tv after school when I was a kid!), this gorgeous, touching book, The Red Poppy, also includes a CD with a song called Little Red Poppy by Rob Kennedy.  This story is about a young soldier, Jim, possibly his first time in the trenches, getting ready to go over the top in an attack.  He is wounded and ends up in a shell crater with a wounded German soldier, Karl, and they are found by Nipper the messenger dog. 

Don't forget about other great books such as The Bantam and the Soldier  and Lotte: the Gallipoli Nurse as well.  The My Story collection also has some brilliant novels for the independent readers of the older students.