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LeeRichardsonZooR.jpgYear 9 Science had a wonderful experience with scientist Whitney Buchman, from the Lee Richardon Zoo in Kansas. The girls are studying endangered species as part of their topic Global Issues and Whitney discussed some these and even brought them into the studio from the zoo to show the girls. He spoke to the girls, answered their questions, used a green screen to show them diagrams and videos and, most successfully, he picked up live animals from his zoo and showed them as they were discussed.

The chinchilla, which lives in the Andes mountains of South America, was a particular favourite as he had a little one in his studio. He discussed the dangers of poaching and the girls were stunned to hear that one fur coat is made of more than 300 chinchillas. The black-footed ferret, North America’s most endangered animal, was also popular and the girls discussed reasons for it becoming endangered such as habitat loss, disease and hunting, while looking at some of the ferrets at the zoo. He also used a green screen to look at maps, such as one of the fragmented habitat of the endangered orangutan of Indonesia. The armadillo was also fascinating and the girls had a lot of questions that they were able to ask while looking at it running around and being held by Whitney.

Overall the girls were thrilled to see these unfamiliar animals that they may not be able to see at home and hear from an expert who could provide extra insight into the global issues they are studying in class.

20140820_084101.jpgLast week saw an exciting event for the new Abbotsleigh Art Gallery – the Grace Cossington Smith Gallery - as we delivered a session to the Junior School via video conferencing. Mary Faith, the Director of the Gallery and an experienced Art teacher, ran a session with 6D on the HSC exhibition that started on the 19th August. Mary walked around the Gallery and talked about the exhibition, via video conferencing. She also had two guest appearances from Year 12 students who discussed their art with the Year 6 girls. Year 6 students were fascinated to talk to the artists and asked them questions, both about their techniques and inspiration but also about their studies and experience as a student. Video conferencing allowed them to view the artworks in detail, stroll through the gallery to get a feel for the exhibition, as well as talk to the Director of the Gallery and have a discussion about what they could see.

It was a wonderful experience for the Junior School girls to be connected to the Gallery and artists from their normal classroom and the beginning of an exciting journey for the Art Gallery as a Content Provider.
speakers_bureauR2.jpgVideo conferencing has been used by students and teachers at Abbotsleigh to set up global connections and ongoing relationships that add invaluable insights for students. One such relationship is an ongoing connection we have had for the past few years with holocaust survivors from the NY Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center. 

Last week Year 10 classes talked to Mordechai Miller and an educator at the Museum who provided the class with such a unique insight into the Holocaust. The girls were incredibly moved by his story and appreciative of his generosity in sharing it. They wrote to him and outlined how the video conference had made a difference to their studies of the Holocaust and their understanding of the world.

Here are some comments from students:

Your story of recounting the years you spent in hiding in the ghetto and running was so moving for me. I cannot believe how lucky you were when that bullet nearly hit you but instead hit your suitcase! I enjoyed the video conference so much and admire greatly your obligation to retell your story on behalf of your mother.

Thank you for talking to our class about your personal Holocaust experience. We have been truly privileged to listen to you. Your story was very interesting and helped me understand more about the Holocaust for history.

Thank you so much Mr Miller! We appreciate the time you have taken to tell us your courageous story. It is really interesting to hear it from a survivor. You story taught us a lot and helped us with our understanding of the Holocaust. We know you have gone through a lot – thank you again.

Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine what life would have been like. I hope that the events like World War II stay in the past and never happen again.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School IT Integrator
skelligR.jpgYear 7 and their teachers enjoyed a video conference with David Almond from the UK last week, a connection that grew from the Abbotsleigh Literary Festival. The students have been studying Skellig for a few weeks now and had some questions they wanted to ask him, including:
  • What inspired you to bring William Blake into the story – what do you value about his work?
  • Since you have given a very vivid description of Michael’s house, garage and garden, has this scene been based on a place that you have visited or lived in?
  • Do you see yourself in Michael?
  • Why are there so many different covers for Skellig publications?
  • Were any characters in Skellig based on members of your family?
  • If you met Skellig, what is the first question you would ask him and why? 
The questions were asked by representatives from the 7 classes and teachers saw them prompt some interesting reflection. The girls were fascinated when he leaned back to his shelves and showed the girls his messy drafts. This was such an incredibly enriching and valuable learning experience for Year 7 and one that shows how video conferencing can allow for connections to be made across the globe.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School ICT Integrator

VidConR.jpgOver the school holidays, Abbotsleigh was delighted to learn that it had gained second place in the second annual AARNet Excellence Awards that were announced at QUESTnet 2014.

The awards recognise the innovative leadership and expertise of the Australian research and education community for using AARNet’s high speed network and services in new ways to support collaboration, online learning or interactive teaching environments.

Chris Hancock, AARNet CEO said, The scope and quality of projects entered was impressive, making the outcome of the judging a close call. It is very rewarding to see our network and services supporting innovation within our community.

Abbotsleigh was recognised as a pioneer in the use of videoconferencing in the classroom since connecting to AARNet  several years ago, and more particularly for their Virtual Composer in Residence Program.

This program is unique because the relationship between Abbotsleigh and the Cleveland School of Music is ongoing. Through the program students have access to a level of expertise unconstrained by geographical boundaries, expertise that is not usually available to students at a secondary level, said Warwick Noble, Director of Technology at Abbotsleigh. Click here to read more.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School ICT Integrator