Professional Development Days in Sydney

In June we held two Professional Development Days at the State Library in Sydney.  Being based in Melbourne, we always relish the chance to meet and chat to teachers in other states and we were delighted to have over 150 teachers and librarians attend over the two days.

The event for Primary teachers had a bit of a rocky start when the Melbourne Penguins were unable to fly to Sydney due to the ash cloud. Lucky for us, the Sydney Penguins were able to take over and run the day with great success.  Special thanks should go to Judith Ridge who was able to step in and conduct sessions on our behalf at the last minute.  As well as presenting on ‘Creating a Reading Culture’, Judith, with a little help from Tohby Riddle, presented a session on Visual Literacy as well.  As we all know, visual literacy is becoming an increasingly important part of the school curriculum, and with everything from picture books to graphic novels and illustrated novels, there has never been a better time to start exploring it with your students.

Tohby Riddle and Ursula Dubosarsky provided their always entertaining and insightful presentation on The Word Spy.  Exploring grammar and language has never been so much fun.  For a look inside the illustrations provided by Tohby Riddle, you can view his presentation to Victorian teachers here.

For the last few years, the NSW Premiers Reading Challenge has been inspiring teachers and students alike to encourage a love of reading within their school.  Amanda Brummell, from the Department of Education, was kind enough to come along and present the many resources available to those schools who take part.

During the Secondary day, the focus was slightly different as we opened with a look at some new books that now have units of work available. Teachers received copies of Oliver Phommavanh’s Thai-riffic!, Belinda Jeffrey’s Big River Little Fish, Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray and Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist, and their accompanying units of work, to take away with them.  We now have 36 units of work available, which you can download here.

As well as another of Judith’s presentations, Victor Davidson, from Birrong Girls’ High School, presented a funny and thought-provoking session on iPads and eReaders and why they should be embraced in schools.  If you are interested in more on this topic, you can view Tye Cattanach’s presentation in Melbourne here.

Belinda Jeffrey, author of Brown Skin Blue and Big River Little Fish, flew down from Brisbane for the afternoon to share some childhood stories of Polynesian dancing and holidays on the Murray River.  A wonderful insight into her strong male characters and the origins of their stories.

Finally, the very funny Oliver Phommavanh treated both Primary and Secondary teachers to a riotous half hour where he shared his love of comedy, his stint in teaching, and his dedication to capturing reluctant readers through humour.  Oliver is already spending much of 2011 visiting schools to talk to kids and he certainly left both days with many more invitations.

Overall feedback from teachers who attended the events has been very positive.  We aimed to provide teachers and librarians with a range of enjoyable sessions and resources they could take back to their schools and use with their colleagues and students.  We always welcome suggestions so if you have particular areas of interest that you would like to see presented, please let us know (

We aim to be able to run similar events in other states and if you would like to make sure you receive an invitation, sign up to our newsletter here.

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