Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Too tired to write,but this is great!!

Found this wonderful thought provoking slideshare by Scott Elias on how to not use powerpoint. Great work Scott and thanks for the link Patrick Higgins on Chalkdust Catching up on my reader while recovering from chrissy - a really lovely one but I am still cleaning up !!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

A great Presentation by a fifth Grader!!!

Just found this one on Teacher Tube - a presentation by a grade five student based on the novel 'The Giver' By Lois Lowry. What a great effort!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

A Notable Week.

This is a big week at school. One of the cross-curricular programmes I started eight years ago is called Night Of The Notables. It is now run right across the Year 9 programme and 250 kids are presenting this week over two nights. My class were presenting on Tuesday night and they did a fabulous job. It was 37c on the day but thankfully by the evening when it all happens it was cooler - and it isn't even summer yet here in Australia. The range of choices made and the stands done were really impressive. What astounds me each year is how much improvement there is in the standard of work done.The fact it is now an expected part of the year has something to do with the success of the week. It is also about choice as the students select their own notable based on a criteria of actually having done something to benefit the world.They have a range of tasks to complete for three different subjects. It is the most powerful moment to see a student who has been struggling to be engaged all year be galvanised by the ownership of their work and a really positive way to finish the year. For the stronger students it is a chance to really shine and the incidental learning from seeing how others approach the task is huge. Anyway, in the midst of drowning in exam marking, correction and reports, this is a shining moment that reminds me of why I am still doing this job. I cannot recommend the programme highly enough. This link is to the promotional movie made by our IT Co-ordinator for the school tv station and for the introduction of students to the programme . It takes about twenty minutes , but it really captures the evening and the excitement of the planning process. I hope people will watch and give me some feedback. I am so proud of this and the wonderful movie.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Kim Corfino says it so well

Just because this presentation says so much so well, I want to thank Kim Corfino for her great work. This presentation is one she prepared for the teaching It! conference in Singapore 2007 and appears on the Developing The Global Student Wiki Take the time to look and absorb her message if you haven't already seen this .

Sunday, 11 November 2007

And then it all happens at once..

Perhaps I should rename this a blog about gardening and education as so many entries are about my garden and how it occupies so much of my time and thought.I live on the top of Mount Dandenong in a very special environment that is semi rainforest with (generally )high rainfall and extreme fire danger in summer, so keeping the growth under control becomes critical at this time of the year as well as trying to remove huge infestations of weed species- holly, ivy,sycamore etc that have taken over this landscape. We have lyrebirds, wallabies and wombats on the block and are at the head of a stream that becomes a creek. Four acres of ex-rhododendron/camellia/ foliage plant nursery that has grown flat out for twenty years untended! So I spend autumn ,winter and spring trying to clear and replant and summer worrying about bushfires and drought.
Well I have finished my burning off before the fire bans - essential to clear the amount of weeds and planted some fruit trees and reclaimed the forest floor for the lyrebirds of another quarter acre. It is slow work but things are slowly becoming more established and this year has been an absolute joy with the most amazing display from plants that were nearly dead when we arrived here.There is finally starting to be a sense of real achievement after so much backbreaking work as it is all on a hillside.I have been racing home from work to do some gardening as it is now daylight saving and then on the computer when it is dark.Busy busy but sooo beautiful...
Ok enough gardening chat! I have to thank Jo Mcleay who is such an inspiration to me for the amount she does and the breadth of her knowledge, for the lovely review she gave me on her blog. She is so generous in her spreading of the links of new bloggers and a real connector in every sense of the word Thanks Jo !!
As well as Jo's great blog , the most amazing post for me as a newby lately has been the one by Vicki Davis where she describes her most useful blog tools . It is such a comprehensive list and I shall be working through it with care as I am gradually understanding how to make use of these tools. The Victorian Knowledge bank conference (see my previous post) was quite a success and it is all online and used Elluminate very successfully. Great for Australian teachers/bloggers to have a look at the recordings- some very timely resources there.
In class ,thanks to the persistence of a very talented colleague of mine - Debbie-we have started literature circles across six year 8 classes and as we move into second and third sessions it is fantastic to watch the levels of participation and engagement among students of all ability levels.This all relates to the Leading Schools project and our new building starts being construted soon.Year 9s are making their poetry anthologies and getting ready for the big Night Of The Notables on the 20th. First they killed my father is really engaging my boys year 10 class and we are doing reflective diary writing as assessment -next year I hope this will be blogging when we have an economical option to use, but this is definitely a great success. Exams for seniors and report writing, WRAP training and then I might fall over the line to get to Xmas!Next year is looking interesting as I might finally get to use my qualification in Horticulture as a teaching subject in a year 10 small business unit- I'll get to wear overalls at school yay!!!
So that plus a Masters in IT Education sounds like a busy year- and a daughter doing Year 12!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Spring is sprung but where is my spring?

After a wonderful two weeks of holidays I have returned for the final term of the year and things have been busy. My gardening- an ongoing saga for I have a four acre block that is on a hillside and full of weeds - has been keeping me busy and absorbed as I try to create an orchard or even some thing resembling permaculture.The weeds and the piles for burning grow faster than I can cope and so I have been 'away' from my keyboard.
The other reason is something that has been on my mind about how isolated I feel at my work in terms of people who I can talk about what I am reading about. It has been so frustrating to have ideas and then be up against such a weight of the system being unable to change.The potential is so exciting, but so huge is the onslaught of ideas, podcasts , twitters, tags, gadgets and general ruminations that I sometimes just give up. The K-12 conference is on at the moment but I have had trouble finding the times for Oz. The other conference coming up is the Knowledge Bank Online Conference which features Marco Torres as the keynote speaker is also approaching,as is an IT Innovations conference in Sydney. So many things and no-one to bounce ideas off. I am also wondering about doing a Masters in IT education.Ah well, usually these overload situations create their own solution and I can find the path I am looking for.
At school lots happening, starting Literature circles with six year 8 classes doing the mystery unit, writing folio responses to the Crucible at Year 11, 'First they Killed my Father'with year 10 - first time - and Year 9 have finished City Zines and are doing Notables and poetry. Having fun with Facebook!Busy, busy... and husband in Italy for two weeks !

Monday, 1 October 2007

What's in a name?

I'm now in the second week of our September break and the Grand Final day is over and the world still goes on! Finally I am having a moment to think about what want to write about and have been spending probably far too many hours trying to catch up on the blogs of other teachers and get on their wavelength about what they are doing. I am looking forward to seeing what the K-12 conference will have to offer and so many writers are excited because of last year's one being so good. So many online meetings are happening that I read about, but most are in the wee small hours for us downunder so I hope that the conference will be available for me to digest in small bites.
Spring is wonderful this year and I have been doing lots in my big garden and when it rains I come in and read blogs. Jane Nicholls has posted about this problem of our virtual selves taking over and lately I feel this is something that is so true as I spend so much time clicking and reading and playing with new programmes.That leads me to what I wanted to write about- why I chose this name for my blog. I didn't want it to sound like the usual carping voice but more like me when I find someone who has the patience to listen to me when I start talking about my discoveries online. It is always 'and another thing I found was...' Am I driving my friends,colleagues and family crazy by this behaviour? This is such an exciting and exhausting journey and I feel I am only just hanging on to the ends of threads. I really want to be more involved, but how real is all this virtual communication? To me it is the first time I have explored my passions in teaching with others and though they may not be aware they are talking to me, what they are saying is giving me such a sense of community even though I have only met a few of them in ' real time'. And to think I didn't keep going with my second life avatar!!Maybe I could have a second life after all? Oh the possibilities, but now I'll do my marking!
My two final very belated blog day reviews are for Everyone learns a blog by Mike Muir at the University of Maine in where he writes about a school that is trying to provide success for underachieving kids using a programme called Project Foundry which is project based learning. His writing explore the issues and assumptions related to what school is and should be for students and is definitely worth a read.
My second blog of note is Jane's E-learning pick of the Day. For those who are into gadgets and great new things to waste time on - which probably explains my current state of mind- this is a blog with a new thing everyday. How does she do it? It is a wonderful resource and though I don't get to look into everything she has lead me to some great new programmes and silly stuff too.This is the latest Elearning showcase Now I am subscribing to a book chapter a day.Ahh where does the time go?

Saturday, 15 September 2007

My first Voice Thread

Thanks to Clarence Fisher for the great idea of how to use this programme. He has a lovely voicethread on his site about winter in Snow Lake and it has been so nice to hear the voices of people whose blogs I read. I have talked about my classroom, the space I spend so much of my life in and how I have gradually built up the space so now, in a huge school of 1200 + students, I have the use of this room and in fact it is often shown to visitors. I didn't have that as the intention- I guess I have always followed my gut instinct that asking kids to write beautiful creative work in a sterile dull environment was crazy, so I try to make the room interesting and stimulating and displays are changed regularly.It also gives the kids a buzz seeing their work on display - something that often hasn't happened since primary school. They also respect the room and very little damage or graffiti happens here. What would be great is to see how other people use their space and in particular high school classrooms.Well anyway I would love to hear from others on my voicethread -so comment away and perhaps a few more of you can show and tell about our work spaces!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Its Raining !!

The rain is falling again and suddenly I have some energy!Jo McLeay has posted about using Myspace as an assessment tool when asking students to write on character and it is a really brave and (when you think about it it)incredibly obvious way of engaging the kids where their heads are already at and applying their skills more broadly. Great idea Jo and I will be applying it myself, probably with year 9.
At the moment the work which is catching my interest the most is something I found on a website which asked students to nominate six items which would be put in a museum display to represent these times. I raised the idea with year 11s as they finished their work on Freedom of the City by Brian Friel, and we had some really great discussions where students who rarely speak in class actually were really engaged and contributed.
After starting with the obvious of mobile phones and ipods we moved to fibre optics,and then the digital divide. I spoke about my blogging and how Web 2.0 has changed the control of information flow and how we are now increasingly producers of our own content. We discussed climate issues, terrorism, fear, poverty, body image, obesity, drugs -wow all in one lesson! The kids left the room -eventually- buzzing and still coming up with more ideas. They then came to the next class after their assessment on the play, ready to produce an argument for six objects or symbols and are now making powerpoints to present an argument to the class. Hopefully I will include some when they are done as examples.
This has been quite galvanising after the issues raised by the play and they have been making connections back to work done in first semester on the Bruce Dawe poetry in Sometimes Gladness by themselves- yippee -and pointing them out to me. For example sport as a religion - Life Cycle. I have included some of the really excellent images about global warming that some of them have found. I await the presentations with excitement- they are talking about their own worlds and their own understanding of what is happening.
The second thing I am excited about is that I am getting the Year 9s to write about their week in the city by creating a Zine. They will do a paper one this time till I can find some appropriate non blocked software for us to do E-zines.The students had a fantastic time and I am getting them to work in pairs to produce their own reflection on the week with the audience of other students as their target. Should be quite a challenge for some of them and I hope to include one here when they are done. I have been to Sticky a small alternative shop in the laneway under Flinders Street between the station and Degraves St and bought some examples from them. These are alternative independently produced short run magazines with really interesting layouts and articles. The shop is the centre for the group which does art in the arcade there and performances. The whole area is a hive of interesting shops and young designers and artists trying to make a statement in a very individual and independent way.
I am still deciding which sites I want to write about for my last two reviews as I have found some terrific ones lately, but it is also reporting time and I have lots of marking so that might have to wait till the holidays!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

A city Experience
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Here is my first effort on Smilebox after the Year 9 City Experience. Thanks to Helen Marotta for the link!

Blog Review No.3 Adventures in Educational Blogging

Ok today's little gem is Adventures in Educational Blogging a serious title for quite a fun blog. Obviously there is a widget on the page for a Star Wars personality test which naturally widget queen here had to try , but I have to confess I haven't watched any of the newer Star Wars movies so it is wasted on me-why couldn't I be Princess Leia?
Susan Sedro writes from Singapore about her Technology use in school and it is lovely entertaining writing, but she seems to be having a summer holiday as her last post was in July. I should like to follow up on her discussion of Blackboard and it seems that it is another programme like Studywiz and Scholaris, both of which we are investigating for school at the moment. She raise a number of problems with the programme which are important ones we are discussing- maybe a more recent version would deal with some of these issues? She also mentions Kim Cofino's blog and a few of her entries. I hope Susan starts writing again soon!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Blog Review No2 Mr B-G's English

Ok now I'm getting into this Blogday caper and I have found a wonderful blog which is about my passion High School English teaching. Mr B-G's Blog is full of resources and enthusiasm for teaching and exploring web 2.0. These sites are like gold as so much of what we are doing in our classrooms id solitary and we don't get to see others ideas and inspirations.

Click to view my Personality Profile page He also has done these personality tests so being hopelessly addicted to widgets or any kind of thingy I can add to my page I have added mine.
I also like his bookshelf and the list of publishing and resource sites he has linked to. A recent post 'movie moaner' is an interesting exploration of his student management ideas. I wonder where his school is?hhe also has a terrific post about student physical comfort in class -something dear to my heart with the old B12 classroom armchairs, posters, plants ,flags etc I include his thoughts
Options: When students were working individually (reading or writing) or meeting in revision groups, they always had options for where to do that work. They could stay in their desks, or they could use the cushions, mats, or couch and could take the cushions and mats into the hallway to have more space and reduce noise.
Breaks: Most educators know that the brain needs pretty regular breaks in order to process the new information it’s gathering. I tried to stop every 15-20 minutes throughout our 85 minute periods to allow students to stretch, walk around, get a drink of water, etc.
Refreshments: I kept a water-cooler in my classroom that gave cold and hot water. Students were always welcome to get a cup of water or to make a cup of tea. I also kept a basket full of mints (helpful for group work). Students could bring in additional food or drink to share (we kept a small refrigerator, too.) I had a “Scooby fund” (a Scooby-Doo doll with a pocket in front) for students to contribute change to help cover the expenses. They policed the sharing themselves.
Environment: My classroom had no windows, so getting things to grow was difficult. I had two tough little plants that survived “the dungeon” and a few other fake ones. I also used a number of lamps so that I could turn off the glaring fluorescent lights. We put up posters and student artwork on the walls. I played music throughout the day when appropriate, and students could bring in their own selections.

What a positive attitude and I would love to read more of his thoughts.I will try and add a picture of my room at the moment because it is bursting with lovely displays and it is fun to go into it.The personality tests are found here if you want to do your own I'm not so sure about the Engineer bit- maybe I should do it again?

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Blog Review No.1 Teachers Improving Learning Through Technology is Teachers Improving Learning Through Technology - a blog produced by an absolute whiz called Danny Maas.Not only does he produce downloadable presentations which explain how to do a huge range of different activities , he also has the links necessary and even the rubrics on the site as well. I am going to use the one about Multimedia storybooks in Powerpoint. It is a really practical presentation for Year 7 classes but the basic idea gives me some ideas and I am thinking about using Desktop Author as the media for this work. Some of the other presentations are excellent and although they seem to be more focussed on junior classes, they are great as a starting point for people who want to have things explained easily.Well I have left a message for Danny and I hope that he gets some new readers as he is doing a terrific job!

Friday, 31 August 2007

Blog Day 2007

These are Paul Harrington's instructions for what to do on Blog day so I will attempt to follow them and find some new blogs. I don't know how to link with them properly yet but I will try to do the right thing

BlogDay posting instructions:

1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting
2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending them as part of BlogDay 2007
3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs
4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link: and a link to the BlogDay web site at
So I wont get it done today but I will try !!

Also here is the link for my first effort on Animoto

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Ok this is getting addictive...

72%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Dating Site

Ok so thanks to Paul Harrington's Blog, I took the test and found that I am 72% addicted to blogging. Well I have been reading around the edges for a year and now finally having a go and really it is just taking up so much of my time and I think my conversations (sorry family and friends) but it is like someone has lifted a veil on a whole new world . Oh stop exaggerating Sue -nah it is quite like that. Well I added myself to the support Blogging wiki and that was a first today as was Jo putting me in her blog! Thanks Jo.All this is a welcome direction for my energies at the moment .. ok I am hooked,

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Connected Classroom and Dylan!

Ok this one is via the digital chalkie wiki of videos and some of it is a bit dated but still a good conversation starter when people come and ask me about what I am doing, so in it goes. It seems that is taking more of my time - talking about what web 2.0 means to me and that is great as it makes me clarify my ideas. Went to the Pixar exhibition today and came away so inspired - might dust off the materials I have on claymation and think about that and I will definitely do some work on digital storytelling with both year 8s and 9s. Maybe we can do a digital Tall story!!! Also went to Bob Dylan on Friday night and it was a fabulous concert Was our twentieth anniversary present to ourselves- oh how ironic but still a sweet note to end on. I sat there taking photos on my phone sending them to Jo who couldn't come and getting photos to keep for myself. Felt very digital native for a while there and we realised we should have recorded it on the ipod. What a change since our last Dylan in 1986!
On Friday I announced that I would be doing some e-whiteboard work if anyone was interested and seven people came on a Friday arvo when we had a function on as well! So that was promising and Euan is now going to start offering IT training more often so that should be great.What else - well I am also looking at a site called 'We are teachers imagine' which is looking at providing a platform for teachers. It all seems to be growing so fast that it must be so pleasing for those who have worked at this since the start and tried to promote the web.Yay you guys - we are reaping the benefits of your persistence!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Darren Draper superstar!

Darren Draper is so far ahead of me that I just need to keep track of where he is and use his fabulous presentations as a starting point for discussions. Thanks Darren for such wonderful inspiration!!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

E-learning rocks

Have just returned from a day inservice on designing the schools E-learning plan at Glen Waverley Sec College. While they are in a unique position in so many ways they are also struggling to make the most of limited resources and provide a rich curriculum. We had a tour of all their areas and what they are doing is outstanding and a credit to them.The Intranet they have developed has answered many of the issues which we have about record keeping but doesn't cover some of the issues which Studywiz does address. Got to meet lots of interesting IT people from different schools. The Balwyn High School PD plan does seem to be excellent approaching the issue of getting staff on board from a very practical way and I would like to get a copy of what was presented. The physical aspects of the school were really wonderful -so many aspects of what a learning community can be! How all this will translate this back into what happens at school will be interesting, but I did enjoy being part of the process and the discussion. I also met Lorraine who was the winner of Teacher of the Year the year I was Runner up and we talked about what she did with her prize. She went to the USA and visited a school doing environmental education. She is still at Whittlesea Sec College and has applied what she learnt over there so it sounds like a place to visit and catch up with her more. Soo.... a stimulating day!!!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Jonathan Harris- how do we feel?

It seems Sunday is the day I get to read and find things and this talk from the TED website was discussed by Chris Betch and I just wanted to make sure I could keep it for further thought Thanks Chris

Another Sunday but another life...

Well its a week since my last post and things at home are changed so that has been fairly difficult all round. I am pressing on as this is important and the week has been equally as busy at school.We have a demonstration session of Studywiz at school this week and that I hope has initiated some thought among those who attended. Several people have said that Scholaris appears to have more features so I shall have a look at that one too. On Monday we had a meeting regarding the possibility of an Upwey High TV channel and there is a follow up meeting tomorrow so that will be interesting. It sounds terrific with channels for faculties and the kids and we would be a pilot school so that would be great. As for me I haven't got any editing/ media skills yet so that makes it tricky for me and a challenge I should get into. I am also going to a day conference on the school's e-learning plan - strange how I have jumped from just a user to a planner so quickly huh! That should be interesting and I guess that is how I get change to happen. the other area of interest is the Teacher Summer School announcement from the Minister which most peole were fairly cynical about but it may be just what I need to keep me busy in what may be a very slow time this year. I will wait and see but it could be good to apply. I have been trying new things in classes and am quite interested in giving digital storytelling a go so have found lots of great sites to help me with this. We had our third WRAP session on Thursday night and that was great because it finally started to make sense with me and I will really start to make an effort with it and also do the second Spalding course so I acn use it. We had a conversation about allotments and courses for next year and are needing to get some things in place soon for things to happen. Pam has some great ideas for the Festival related to making it an Election related one- speaking out about issues and a focus on oral skills so that is all happening and we are sorting out how our Night Of The Notables will work as we have more classes and less space! In clas I had a go with getting Year 9 to make motivational posters- read optimism here- for putting up around the school and year 11s are doing Inspiration maps of the play and I am going to get them to do life size character profiles using -yes the teacher's friend - butcher's paper. I have done my first presentation for the electronic whiteboard as a starting point for them so I think I have sorted out the handwriting recognition issue. The boy's Year 10 class are really getting into R&J the game is working but I have been using lollies to help the enthusiasm- amazing how 'reluctant' learners will do stuff when a reward is involved. At least it has been fun for us all! I have been teaching some of the others how to use the whiteboard so we can hopefully get a group of users developing the materials to make use of it. Year 9s are using epals and actually sending off letters some are really getting into the idea What I want is a lab attached to/in my room and ...... I think that I am getting excited about where this can all go. Thank goodness there is something good at the moment. Here's my favourite current lolcat from my cheezburger site. Really this is me learning how to do links but this one is delightful.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

html lesson #1

size 100 text
ugly colour

heres a random post of a nit of html i was teaching my mum(sue)

lots of new things mum doesnt know...just a few basics to get her started! up is jump links...when she does a longer blog i guess
and heres a link for her to learn more on with out me.


as you can see i dont follow in her "english" foot steps

Sunday, sunday

Well this week has been full of things I have done the second week of the Spalding WRAP course and that has been challenging trying to learn the syllables for teaching or re-teaching reading and handwriting. It is all hard to absorb when my brain is so preoccupied with what I am reading at night on these blogs and where they are leading me. We had an inservice about teaching thinking and then I had a moment to show Greg what I was fiddling with which was good. I am also trying to learn how to use the electric whiteboard and get others excited about it so it gets used. We also had an external review of the Leading Schools project which focussed my mind more on what the project can be. As well as all this and teaching my five classes, we went to Brighton Sec College to see their Year 9 learning centre and Matt, Debbie Marty, Emily and I had lots to discuss on the way home! No wonder I am feeling a bit brain dead when I read all that is happening. The thing is that it all seems to flow in the same direction and makes me have to really sort through all my ideas.The things that I need to note are studywiz which we are having a trial of this week. It is being used at a number of Victorian Govt School so it may work with Cases. Ok so what has been good in class this week? Well using the whiteboard to take notes on the students Soapbox issues, getting them to take photos for Cedar B. Hartley work on items out of place in Nature, getting year 9s to write letters for jobs and then do Epals and do photos for motivational posters and the reading of Freedom of the City in Year 11 - kids getting really fired up- and starting R&J with the boys in Year 10. Another thing which is tickling my brain is the presentation about optimism which the speaker from Geelong Grammar made at our inservice day. Very thought provoking. I hope that writing my thoughts down -which is always such a struggle for me -will help me record the things I need to develop and improve more effectively

Monday, 30 July 2007

widget obsession

Ok so now I am being silly but these are all such fun. Th other news for today is that katie has been named as runner up in the National Youth week design competition.
This is the page and you can see her wonderful design. She has won $1000 and will get herself an slr camera for even more amazing work . What a clever girl

Widget Heaven - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
So now i am practising how to load up graphics and bits and pieces. I found this one in which has lots of fun generator items and gives me lots of options for doing some interesting things with classes. Hope it works . Small joke!
This movie is one posted by Lucy Gray on the Global education ning- what is a ning I am yet to have found a definition for this one- and it is so beautiful and so thought provoking about how women have been idealised and drawn over 150 years that I wanted to make sure I had a copy of it. I love it!!!

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Posted by Picasa

Ok this is one of the posters from the English festival and I have been seeing what the tools in Picasa can actually do. Doesn't our pammie look adorable?

Monday, 23 July 2007 Sue's site is here


This is my favourite new site for silly photos as they are about cats -two of which rule my life -red point siamese. Hope you find them amusing too!!!

Starting Again

After a pleasant morning we are exploring the joys of blogging and how to use blogspot. The difficulty in posting a picture on this page is surprising and i hope that I can sort that one .Michael's blog is so I hope this works as i am just learning to use links. The possibilities are great for blogging so i hope that this works for lots of people who are here Oliver's blog is let's see if this works.