This (5 things others wouldn’t know about me) was handed on by Graham Wegner – a local colleague. We’ve presented together here in South Australia. Graham has a professional learning use of blogs approach whereas mine is focussed on student learning – class blogs. Perhaps that’s why Graham is so much more visible and I tend to be more hidden – a lurker? So thanks mate, it’s something I need to work on and here I go.
A (believe me) condensed introduction.
No time to read a few anecdotes? Go straight to number 5 - Cheers, Al
1. I’m a country boy. Born and Bred.
A Thorny Devil by paulyd on flickr
Not embelished just how I remember it … I still consider Warramboo my home town where I lived with my parents and brother and sister over 40 years ago. And temperatures over 40C were never a surprise. Warramboo is in the middle of Eyre Peninsula, in “the driest state in the driest continent of the world” – South Australia … and we’ve just come through the driest winter on record. Mind you there would be many countries with less rainfall but it does get hot e.g. in Jan 2004, the closest weather station just down the road got 49.3C max temp. The town Warramboo was always very small with a larger farming community but is now nearly a ghost town. It had the last operating manual phone exchange in South Australia. A lady at the post office could listen in to our phone calls if she wanted – but we needed her to plug the right cables into the right holes. Our phone number was ‘3’! We once were visited by grey owls but thorny devils were regular pets. Out of curiosity we would tie them to a post with cotton loosely around their neck (near food – ants) and overnight these dangerous looking creatures wouldn’t go anywhere. We would walk through our mallee scrub backyard in bare feet searching for creatures and adventure. I still love the Clear Hot Dry Dusty weather and think anything cold and damp as ‘unnatural’. ‘The West Coast’ (of SA) is where I first gained some understanding of community. People were always there for each other and times went from joyful to tough and tragic. In retrospect, even with that strong sense of solidarity there were still disparate groups and interwoven networks. Once a year we would have a ‘Strawberries and Cream’ fete (brought in from Adelaide in refrigerated trucks) My friends and I would end up sliding around on the hall’s wooden floor in our socks and crashing down when we hit a clump of cream. I remember semi-spontaneous community picnics where my mum would literally take a suitcase (or two) of homemade biscuits and Pavlovas to share. My dad was the headmaster of the very small school. One day we found 14 brown snakes (various sizes) under one classroom and the stump heap (our favourite play time spot) became out of bounds. I remember Mum chopping a snake into about 14 pieces with an axe – they both had a bad day. All of this (straight off the top of my head) could never do justice to my experiences and love for Warramboo and all it represents. Then there is the story of Dad throwing rotten geese eggs at us from on top of a rubbish heap as we ducked and dived to avert the eternal stench if hit … great times. Where do you start, where do you end? …
2. I’ve seen the world on its side.
I finished my primary years education at Clarendon a (then) country town in the Adelaide Hills – then I remember my best friend riding down a particularly steep hill with a magpie beak embedded in his head – now city buses go there and it has become trendy because it really is beautiful. This town was cold and windy (yes, ‘unnatural’) – quite a shock for me but friendship and that community thing again made all that somehow okay. I’ve seen the world on its side. I was in my dad’s class in Year 7 and gazing out the window (engaged in OOT … other-order thinking) I saw 4 or 5 pine trees go horizontally past. “Dad”, I called out (I usually called him Mr Upton) “Dad, trees just went past the window”. It seemed that he didn’t believe me because there was a lull, and then it became gusty again. It was, in fact, a ‘mini cyclone’. Lucky for us because we were meant to be out at recess!
3. I’ve written a book
– ‘South Australia’s First Bushrangers’.
By now I’d moved to the big smoke – I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned any of my experiences when at high school! – gone to uni, been involved in professional (and amateur) theatre, numerous jobs and even worked as a clown. Things probably best left unsaid – mention this at a staff meeting and the next thing you’re coordinating the school production! I was asked to get a script together for a 150th or some such celebration for Stirling – a district in the Adelaide Hills. The research led to a realisation (and my subsequent booklet) that there, in fact, were bushrangers in SA. We are oft quoted as never having any. Well these particular three could have strayed from the eastern states – so there you are, everyone’s happy. Sadly I can’t find my own copy but it does exist.
Speaking of history, Banjo Paterson (bush poet eg ’Walzing Matilda’) is reportedly my ancestor. He’s on our $10 note and so are the lyrics of ‘The Man from Snowy River’.
Banjo Paterson by dmmaus on flickr
4. I was president of the
South Australian Whittlers Club.
The university days are also somewhat censored but one day a mate and I had a bet to see who could get into the Advertiser next (the most predominant SA newspaper) – name and picture the only criteria. I rang up a journalist asking if they were interested in doing an article on my passion … whittling. She came around and I explained the techniques I personally used (I’d read a book), showed a few rough beginnings (alright they were my finest attempts begun a couple of weeks before), made up a story about why there were no finished pieces to be viewed and explained that to join you first had to prove your ability by whittling down a match to the thinnest width possible – to be judged by other members … who didn’t exist. The piece was published, I won the bet, I felt somewhat ashamed and, to this day, I long to enter that wonderful world of whittling, carving, lathing and creating with wood. Cheeses and Single Malted Whiskies also feature on this list.
5. My focus needs filters.
My family (my beautiful wife and nearly 19 year old daughter) are my main focus but as far as ICTs in Education go … “My focus is catering to busy teachers with time commitments, crowded curricula and often elusive lives of their own.”
I quote this on
my class blog http://alupton.wordpress.com/
(‘Al Upton and the miniLegends’ in 2007 http://alupton.edublogs.org/),
http://ccclearning.edublogs.org/ my blog for educational dialogue when I can get to it, and http://connect.edublogs.org/ my attempt to provide a simple opportunity for busy (often hesitant) teachers to get started, create a class blog, find their own answers to questions like “Why are online methodologies important to my students’ learning anyway?” and “How can I get started without adding anything new to my workload … and gain some confidence?” It’s also an opportunity to encourage my colleagues to connect with other classes and educators … hence the name ‘Create, Connect – Blog’. [BTW I’ve tried to be ‘innovative’ (in the context of the rarity of web2.0 usage in SA) from within a government initiative whilst keeping the ‘event’ open and free to all comers.] It’s certainly early days but if you know of any class blogs and/or relevant resources please add them via the comments – go to the ‘blog’ page. Thanks in anticipation.
So ‘My focus needs filters’?? As a class teacher, being an LTI coach (Learning and Teaching with the Internet) and a District eTeacher at the Technology School of the Future, entering into post grad studies, spending big bucks to get to global summits and anything else I can attend/present at, having been recognised for my efforts – it’s nice to be valued, … blah, blah, blah … I just have to look after myself and those to whom I try to cater. How? By not spending time increasing my own online presence and profile, not exploring all the Web2.0 apps and services that so excite me, not maintaining the conversations to the depth I’d like, only occasionally dabbling my toes in the wisdom and inspiration of all you edubloggers out there. I need to filter out so many exciting tangents and opportunities in order to find this balance. And that, I find that so very hard. So although I’ve certainly added my voice to unblocking filters at our govt schools, I need my own self imposed ones to really focus … with student learning nestled at the heart of it all.
It’s been a happy indulgence throwing this together - it takes a while ‘though and there are many, many posts this size. It was my choice just to tap away and see what appeared – you could just write a five simple sentences and it would be equally valid.
And who knows, perhaps something will come of the http://connect.edublogs.org/ idea.
Here are a few others who have been hit by the ’5 Things’ meme
No special order and apologies to those I’ve missed – a random sample but don’t they read well?
Their 5 Things Their Blog
Mark Ahlness Mark’s edtechblog (Mark is planning to do with his Year 3 kids roomtwelve.com what I’ve planned to do with my Year 3′s when we begin school in 2007 – the ’5 Things’ meme. It would be wonderful to connect our classes with this idea :)
I will try to find time to comment on their posts and perhaps you could as well.
And If you are a ‘newbie’ what a great place to start!
I invite the following to have a shot of the ’5 Things’ meme.
And please – No obligation whatsoever.
Also – in the interests of inclusivity ANYONE who wants to join in, have fun
Josie Fraser Kim Pericles Mike Seyfang Bill Kerr Sandaig Otters
(It would be great to also connect with a class in Scotland using this meme as a starting point – any takers? Or other countries - the miniLegends are Year 3- 8 and 9 year olds)
BTW I’m surprised by how many drum kits feature in the above. My one and only kit was a ‘Dandy’ no less. I got it after my first job, Santa’s helper – rocking Nipper and Nimble at the Magic Cave.
Technorati Tags: Josie Fraser Kim Pericles Mike Seyfang Bill Kerr Sandaig Otters Mark Ahlness John Connell John Johnston Ewan McIntosh Mark Oehlert Will Richardson Albert Ip Christopher Sessums Doug Belshaw Brian Crosby Doug Noon Vicki Davis Graham Wegner Al Upton Thorny Devil cyclone bushrangers Banjo Paterson wood cheese whisky drum kit Santa create connect blog 5 things meme