Noreen Wilcox Award Winner 2015

Noreen Wilcox Award for Excellence in Education

This year,  the Noreen Wilcox Award went to our own HOD Teaching & Learning, Ms Edita Sliskovic. The Australian College of Educators’ website states: “Noreen’s efforts to enhance the opportunities for students through the refinement of teaching practice were a constant focus of Noreen’s life. An exemplary model, Noreen demanded and achieved a high standard from those around her.”  Remind you of anyone?  That’s why we’re very proud of Ms Sliskovic – because these same descriptors apply to her own character, teaching and mentoring practices. I’m sure all her  past Philosophy and History students agree.



End of Year Stocktake

Checking in all school resources is important for many reasons. Of course we want to ensure that we have enough textbooks and library books for everyone in 2016.  But we also need to sight resources so that we can repair them, purchase additional copies if necessary and plan for the coming year. Lastly, we need to reconcile our holdings with our database so that we are not wasting time looking for resources, which cannot be found.  We are asking for the cooperation of students and parents in returning any and all school resources to the Library and Textbook promptly. Our emails and messages have been more urgent than ever, simply because with the inclusion of Yr 7, we have hundreds of extra students to supply with resources in 2016.

All Year 12 resources were due to be handed back Nov 16. Year 11’s and 10’s have until Nov 23rd and Yrs 7-9 can have resources until Dec 4, at the very latest.  Your cooperation in returning textbooks and library books, will save labour both in the library and the office. Please  return your loans BEFORE we spend time sending bills.

Are you a 21st Century Global Citizen?

Whether you are a student, parent, employer or teacher, scroll down this checklist of  12 collaboration skills to see whether you have what it takes to work together to get things done.


26 Questions Every Student Should Be Able To Answer

Also from the Global Digital Citizen website is another interesting list taken originally from an article by Terry Heick. What are the 26 Questions that every student should be able to answer at the beginning of the year? You won’t necessarily be able to respond to all of them off the top of your head, but learning and collaborating to learn will be more directed if you can answer a selection of these questions. Start with these:

1. What do I need to know about you?

2. What do you need from me more than anything else?

5. What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?

12. Are you a picky reader? What are your strengths as a reader?

13. What is your personal philosophy?

19. Where does your inner drive come from?

20. Who are your heroes or role models?

22. What are you good at that nobody knows?

23. What do teachers sometimes misunderstand about you as a learner?

Read the whole list here…

Books to Film

The Dressmaker

Some of our most popular titles have been made into films.  Mr Green seems to be the likely choice of author if one wishes to read the book before seeing the film.  Although, something is generally lost in translation – don’t you think?

This week, we displayed The Dressmaker, screening now at Cairns cinemas and starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving and a whole cast of well-known Australian actors. Upon purchasing a new copy complete with a new “movie” cover, Tilly seemed to be carrying Mrs Robins’ first knee operated Singer Sewing Machines. The antique was still in her loft – so that became the inspiration for the display. We added a dance frock made by Vera Macfarlane in 1929 and Mrs Colgrave’s hat.


New Fiction

Ms Mesner quite enjoyed one of our latest acquisitions. She wrote, “Readers will laugh out loud and sympathise with a heart wrenching story as they enjoy Robin Benway’s, Emmy and Oliver.”  Read more of Ms Mesner’s impressions in her ReadPlus book review.


Infowhelming Internet Stats

Since the mid 90’s the internet,  and what we now term the nosphere, in general,  has grown beyond what could be described as exponential. Andrew Churches, an IT advisory teacher from New Zealand, had these examples at his fingertips when defining “infowhelm”  at his recent seminar in Cairns:

  • 4,230yrs of video is uploaded to youtube each year
  • 3,000,000,000 youtube are viewed per day
  • 300,000,000 photos are uploaded to Instagram each day
  • there are 1.2million ‘apple approved’ apps
  • 500,000 people currently hold ‘app jobs’
  • $5,000,000,000 in revenue made selling the add-ons to just one social media game
  • there are now more mobiles on earth than people
  • 90% of all information was created in the last 2 yrs
  • if we attempted to print out the internet, it would span from here to Pluto 13 times

To learn more about Andrew Churches, download his free IT educational resource.  Or visit his website. 

The book is not Dead

Computer Monitors For Sale

Add a second monitor to your computer. Stretch your desktop for extra space and visibility. We are selling used computer monitors (pictured near Mr Lever below) for only $20 for 45cm  and $10 for 38cm.  Most come with power cord and VGA cable. Try before you buy? At these prices they make very cheap stand-by monitor or desktop extension. All proceeds go back into school IT facilities.  Call us to learn more or call in to the library to select a monitor.  Ph 40584349

Vinyl sign2

Inspirational Messages

Our library is looking very inspirational with the addition of some vinyl signs – reminders of our school-wide habits of mind, explicit teaching and thinking strategies. Mr Lever and Ms Cowell  were each caught in the frame.

Vinyl sign1

Featured Article

The book is not dead.  Not while researchers are proving more and more that we comprehend printed text better than digital text. Not while Time magazine is writing interesting reports like: Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer”.  Sub-titled, “Deep reading is vigorous exercise from the brain and increases our real-life capacity for empathy” the article by Annie Murphy Paul begins:-

Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, reported in studies published in 2006 and 2009 that individuals who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective. This link persisted even after the researchers factored in the possibility that more empathetic individuals might choose to read more novels. A 2010 study by Mar found a similar result in young children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their “theory of mind,” or mental model of other people’s intentions.”   Read more…

NB Students can click on the Time Magazine link during a subject search of our online catalogue to read Time Magazine online via the school subscription.

Featured Book

What better way to develop empathy than through reading literature that focuses on little known historical facts. Works of ‘faction’ can provide alternate or complementary views of history.  Read a review of one of our latest novel purchases suitable for all year levels, “Making Bombs for Hitler” by Marsha Skrypuch.

Smithfield Library in the News

We waited our turn, but eventually Paddy’s article about our super busy August 2015 hit the Cairns Post.  We don’t  get to showcase our Science Week and Book Week displays in the local newspaper every year. Both national networks (National Science Week & Children’s Book Council  chose the theme of the International Year for their inspiration – The International Year of Light. Click on the title of the article to zoom in to read the article.

Post-Ed Article 15 Sept 2015

BW story sept15


Unfortunately, a lovely photo of two of our three volunteers helping Mrs Robins to make an impression with eye-catching replicas of the shortlisted Book Week titles, didn’t make the newspaper. Pictured finishing off their creations are – Tenielle Burdin and Brooke Ryan.


Science & Library Partner to Sparkle


Science Week

August 14-21st was National Science Week around Australia. Our Science department’s display entitled “Ignite your Imagination” fitting the International Year of Light theme, was stunning. Ms Field and Ms Coe erected a darkroom in the middle of the library and their various apparatus generated rainbows and light shows to delight us and ignite our appreciation of physics. A slide show, competition  and videos added educational explanations to the hands-on focus.

Books 2015

Book Week 2015

August 21-18 is Childrens’ Book Council Book Week and with the theme, Books light up the World, we went for the “Big Pineapple” effect.  Brooke Ryan,   Tenielle Burdin  and Sky Ashworth  helped library staff to create giant replicas of the 6 young adult books shortlisted this year. Our display highlights these hard-hitting novels for teenagers and adults.  Australia’s best young adult books are: Nona & Me (Clare Atkins), Intruder (Christine Bongers), Are You Seeing Me? (Darren Groth), The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl (Melissa Keil), The Minnow (Diana Sweeney), The Protected (Claire Zorn).


The rules have changed and EQ now enable us to use our MIS ID login to download our eBooks. You will still need the short four character password generated by the library computer but this makes reading eBooks on our mobile phones and computers much easier. For instance, Bill Brown’s login is bbrow4 and his eBook password is b52j.  See the library staff if you have forgotten your short eBook password or if you need help with downloading BlueFire Reader to your phone/computer.  All details about how to borrow eBooks can be found in the eBooks tab on our our online catalogue.   If more students and staff are downloading these books to read on their portable devices, we will purchase more items. At the moment we have about 250 eBooks.

Mrs Robins ~ Teacher Librarian

Trinity Bay Writer’s Festival Report by Logan Bradshaw 10H

On July 30th & 31st I was fortunate enough to attend a Writers’ Workshop at Trinity Bay High School.

It was very interesting and informative, providing plenty of useful information such as how to correctly structure a story and how to bring your reader into your mind, your world; like through things they understand or relate to (characters, events, landscape etc.).

Talks were given by professional writers such as Melaina Faranda, Richard Harland and Saffron Bryant.

Logan Bradshaw

I found them to be very wise with a great knowledge about what they do and the process with which they do it.

I learnt many techniques to get the story out there and how to make it come across in a clear genre (medieval, alternate timelines, present events or real past events);  also what makes a story better, mainly regarding the world of your story or plot.

I found it to be of a great benefit and it encouraged me to keep my imagination and writing alive.

Logan Bradshaw 10H

Books Light up Our World


Book Week

Between the 21st of August and the 28th of August, Smithfield State High School on O’Brien road is hosting a book week display to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Childrens’ Book Council Book Week. With a theme of “Books light up  Our world”, Smithfield State High seniors Brooke Ryan, Tenielle Burdin and Sky Ashworth worked hard to paint giant replicas of the si young adult books that were shortlisted in the “Younger Reader” category earlier this year. “The Protected” by Claire Zorn is centre stage because it was selected as Book of the Year. Honour books were “Nona & Me” by Clare Atkins and “Intruder”by Christine Bongers.

The Library is also holding competitions with book vouchers valued at twenty dollars each for lucky entrants in the Older Reader Quiz or for simply downloading an Ebook to our mobile phones.

Coincidently,  Science week and the theme of light were so popular the week before for National Science Week August 14 – 21, it will run for two weeks by popular demand. In addition to the light spectrum apparatus, a plasma ball displays electrical energy conducting through our fingertips. “We’ve put the display together to inspire students to get excited about science, particularly physics.” said Ms Holly Field in response to questions about the Science week display put together by science staff.  Whether it be for the Science displays or for the books, Smithfield students are sure to love the electrifying Smithfield High School Library.


Liam Cahill (Yr 12)


Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.”  []

In keeping with SSHS priorities, including catering to students as individuals, we provide a couple of different avenues of learning for our gifted and talented students.

Reader’s Cup

Reader’s Cup is an annual event for keen readers to pit their reading comprehension skills against literateurs from other high schools in the region. The district challenge is usually held in Malanda, the workplace of the organizer. However since Mrs Sellars’ transfer to Cairns High this year, our team of Year 7 students didn’t have nearly so far to travel.  Congratulations to all the team who were excellent ambassadors for Smithfield High on the day.  Read all about it…

On 5th June, Jack Chapman, Anika Weremchuk, Hamish Howieson, Josh Rueben and Hollie Culleton went to the Reader’s Cup. Even though only four formally participated, everyone enjoyed the interaction with the other schools. We especially loved the food that was brought! There were ten questions on each of the six books we were required to read. Spot questions were organised to win books for our schools and we won a futuristic book for the whole school to enjoy. Afterwards we feasted like kings, and were able to purchase books from the  Cairns Books stall. A special thanks must be given to our District organizer, Mrs Sellars school organiser, Mrs Robins, and all the other volunteers and organisations that donated the books, funds and organised the event. Thank you!  [Anika Weremchuk]

It was a Friday morning and Jack, Hamish, Anika, Josh and I were going to the reader’s cup to compete.  I was the reserve but I knew that they were all pressured.  The last 13 was the hardest book that we had to do. We were all relieved after 2 books to be coming 4th in the progressive scores. We scored 58 points, just 18 points from the winner coming 7th overall out of 17 teams competing.  Everyone did a great job. It was fun and we were happy with the result.  [Hollie Culleton]

L2R Hamish Josh Anika Jack

Trinity Bay Writer’s Festival ~ Focus on Fantasy ~ July 30th-31st.

Annually, our best creative writers are invited to this worthwhile festival for aspiring writers. This year, Mrs White, T’Bay Teacher Librarian, is bringing a stellar line up of Fantasy authors to Cairns, including:  Melaina Faranda, Martin Chaterton, Saffron Bryant and Richard Harland.  The Focus on Fantasy workshops, will enable teenage writers to learn tips and tricks from professional fantasy writers and inspire participants to become published authors.

We encourage all students with an interest in creative writing, to register their interest at our SSHS library as soon as possible, preferably this term, because places are limited. At a cost of only $25 for two whole days of interaction with professional writers, this learning opportunity is not to be missed.

Lastly, research on memory & learning is reported by Glenn Whitman. He demonstrates by argument and by linking to John Cage’s famous composition  by the same name, that our brains need 4 mins and 33 seconds of silence each day, to process what we have learned.  Why not incorporate it into our lessons?  However, judging by the disrespect the MCG crowd showed Wed night at the State of Origin match when asked to participate in a minute’s silence in memory of Ron Clarke, I wonder if we have the self-control?

Deb Robins – Teacher Librarian

100 Years of Anzacs


We’re getting busier

The past month has only allowed us a smidgen over 2 weeks of school time, during which we had 8,299 visitors and circulated 533 loans. Our Textbook Room circulated 2,032 textbooks during the same period.

CGBF Grant Work Complete

Over the holiday break, all of our fans and lights were replaced, halving our energy footprint into the future. Thank you to Paul Stevens, our local Electrician from TWT Electrics, for working many lonely days to minimize disruption to teaching and learning.

100 Years of Anzac

Australia-wide there is heightened interest in Anzac Day because of the 100th anniversary. Our multimedia display includes digital images,  primary resources, posters, books and the educational Courier-Mail Anzac Coin Collection. Students may use the lectern to scan personal accounts of diggers or quietly reflect on the lounges.


Reader’s Cup

Our small team vying for a place in Smithfield’s district readers’ cup team started reading prior to the holidays and are making good progress. They are meeting once a week, to swap and discuss books and of course, quiz each other in the hope of blitzing this literary quiz competition. The six titles selected for 2015 are: The Rat Catcher’s Daughter by Paula Rushby  (Historical), Night Vision by Ella West (Mystery and suspense), Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks (Adventure) , A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin (Fantasy), The Last 13 – Book 1 by James Phelan (Action), One Minute’s Silence by David Metzenthen (Picture Book).

Cairns Public Library

Research is a large part of secondary school. Locating quality resources is crucial to becoming an expert in your topic -able to formulate a thesis and argue it effectively. The wealth of online resources and databases available through an ordinary membership of the local pubic library, appears to be a well-kept secret.  All our students would benefit from membership and we  would like to urge families to join the  local library, even if you don’t intend to visit the building or borrow print resources.  Without leaving home, students can access dozens of useful databases each brimming with useful information. The same login will enable you to read the world’s newspapers for free every morning and obtain homework help most evenings  between 3pm & 10pm with a qualified tutor.

Search our Information Portal  to scan our printed collection and various databases, which give you the edge. Struggling to complete your assignment?  Brush up on the ISP (Information Search Process)  and affirm that you are mean to feel anxious and vague. That’s the first stage of the Combined ISP.


Cairns Anzac Day Services


March Magazine Madness


Magazines and Newspapers

Magazines and newspapers contain good quick, current grabs of information and statistics. Our library holds a little collection of cultural magazines including: Time, Cosmos, New Scientist, Empire, Health & Fitness, Vogue, New Internationalist, House & Garden. You can also browse daily print editions of The Cairns Post, The Courier-Mail and The Australian.  Our March Madness promotion puts everyone who borrows a magazine this month into a prize draw.  Newspapers and magazines can also be read online, if you can’t work out from our information portal, how to access Time, New Scientist and Cosmos online, please ask the library staff.  We can also help you read any newspaper in the world for free, using your public library card – see Mrs Robins if you have trouble figuring that out.

The rest of  this blog, we’ll devote to statistics and snippets of information about the differences between online and printed mediums.  The Washington Post recently ran a story about how digital natives still prefer to read in print.  Co-founder of the internet Vint Cerf, is worried that, a lot of what we have saved only in a digital format has already been lost. He urges everyone to keep a print copy (e.g. photos) because the operating systems of the future will not necessarily enable us to access our old files. Lastly, a new study has found that recall is better from a book than from a Kindle.  This is my favourite- a recent article in the Brisbane Times arguing that reading can make you more successful on many levels.

Top 25 sites in Australia (March 2015) 2. 3. Facebook 4. YouTube 5. Yahoo 6. eBay 7. Wikipedia 8. Linkedin 9. Twitter 10. 11. Amazon 12. 13. Paypal 14. Bing 15. Gumtree 16. Commbank 17. 18. 19. 20. Reddit 21. Pinterest 22. Instagram 23. 24. 25. Westpac.

Yet, our SSHS portal has heaps more functionality than all these sites – a Google search is included by default in every search, in addition to simultaneous searching of many functional educational databases.


According Australian Multi-Screen Report (Nielsen Report Dec 2014) TV is still the centrepiece of viewing; Australians watch nearly 97 hrs per month of TV; internet is in 80% of homes; smartphones are the most common internet-connected devices in homes (91%) – tablets (60%); 74% of people aged 16+ own a smartphone; 45% of homes own tablets; 13.377 million watch some video on the internet each month (7h30m per month).

 Australian e-Generation Report (Nielsen Report Feb 2015)

2-15 yr olds spend an average of 11h12m online each week; 13-15 yr olds = 18.7 hrs/wk. Children go online at an increasingly younger age due to tablets, apps and smartphones; younger children use tablets; teens have all devices; 9 in 10 homes own laptops; 6 in 10 have wifi; 7 in 10 own tablets.

Passwords – choose something unique for your own good.

Web security firm SplashData analyses several million leaked passwords each year. Most popular in 2014 and 2013 was  ‘123456’ (in 2012, ‘password’ won). Other favourites; ‘qwerty’; ‘trustno1’; ‘letmein’; ‘abc123’. If ‘123456’ is too short, just add ’78’. Eventually we’ll see the end of passwords. The Fujitsu Purse Wallet identifies the vein patterns on your hand and the Bionym Nymi wristband uses your heartbeat as a password.