Around the campfire

This is sort of what I look like. I left out the wrinkles, of course.

Hi guys!

I love teaching Year 7 students. You are still so young, bright, hard-working and curious.

You may not have seen me around the school because last term I was travelling in Europe with my family. We wanted to see the ancient world, but of course it was often mixed up with the modern one. These two guys were dressed up like Roman soldiers near the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Even though their costumes looked quite authentic, the phone gave them away…

I have left my youth far behind me, but I’m still pretty curious myself. I love a good story and that’s why being a history teacher gives me so much pleasure. Don’t tell the Ministry of Education, but teaching history to Year 7 students is hardly work at all. It’s like sitting around a campfire telling stories. Every now and then I like to ask a few questions as well, just to check that you haven’t fallen asleep in your sleeping bags under the stars.

Then you get to tell some stories too, especially the story of a great person who has somehow made the world a better place. That’s what happens during the Night of Notables, of course: you have your moment on stage, your moment in the bright light of the campfire.

In the meantime, this blog is a way for me to give you things to read, recommend websites, remind you of revision and work due, and ask you for comments and ideas. You can type comments (using your first name only) and ask questions. In a sense this blog is like a little tunnel through cyberspace between you and me.

I hope you like learning to be a historian and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you are historians already.

Kind regards from

Ms Green

Arrangements for the Night of Notables

Commit these details to memory and keep working!

N of N clockDate: Tuesday 26 October

Morning: Students are to bring display materials to school with them (except heavy or expensive items).

After lunch: Students prepare their displays in the rooms surrounding the quadrangle.

2.55p.m: Dismissal as usual

6p.m: Students return to school wearing their costumes and bringing heavy or expensive items for display.

6.30p.m: Presentation in hall to family and friends

7p.m. – 8p.m: Students go to the display rooms where family and friends visit them, ask them questions and admire their displays.

8p.m: End of evening; students take home heavy or expensive items.

Quotable Quotes

Ros cartoon 2008 sepiaSorry I’m away today, 7E. That ankle of mine is black and blue. Work hard on your research for the Night of Notables in my absence. If you are inspired, leave a quotation as a comment below.

One of my former students, Tina of 7F, has kindly added several of her favourite quotations in her comments. This inspired me to write a post about my favourite quotations, in the hope that all of you, as you do your research for the Night of Notables, might like to add some of yours in a comment too. Sam, for instance, must undoubtedly have found many pithy quotations already. He is studying Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Taoism, which has been translated as “The Way” or “The Way of Life”. I’m sure many others in the class will have some ideas too.

Here are some of my favourite quotations:

AV001628Ancora imparo.

I am still learning.

This was evidently Michelangelo’s motto. It inspires me never to stop reading, never to think I know enough.


You can’t know everything in the world. Whatever happens you’ll die a fool.

These are the words of one of my favourite characters in literature, Oleg Kostoglotov from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book, Cancer Ward. That book is also one of my favourites. I love this quotation because it is the converse of the first; no matter how much you think you know, how much you have learned and striven to achieve, you can never hope to know everything. This is a humbling but strangely reassuring thought.


And while I’m on Solzhenitsyn, here’s what he said when he finally accepted his Nobel Prize for literature:

A word of truth shall outweigh the world.

This is evidently a Russian proverb. Solzhenitsyn was a political dissident who was eventually exiled for writing books that were critical of the brutal regime in his country. He exposed the cruelty of Stalin and the horror of the forced labour camps where so many people suffered, starved and died. So you see, this is like a motto for his life work.   


You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

Eleanor Roosevelt, American diplomat and writer


BE060435We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde, English playwright

(But my favourite quotation from this man, whose every word is a joy, is “I can resist everything except temptation”.)


Jane Austen, public domain image drawn by her sister CassandraA COMMENT ON HISTORY: The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — it is very tiresome.

Jane Austen   (You should also read every word she ever wrote.)


The creative adult is the child who has survived.

Ursula Le Guin


Planning your display for the Night of Notables

Night of Notables Display Table Example

One of the useful things you can do as you prepare for the Night of Notables is try to picture your display area and how you plan to fill it. You will need a range of display materials. Here are some suggestions:

A tablecloth is a simple but vital part of your display. For some reason a display with a tablecloth looks far better than one with a bare old laminex table.

Notice that in the picture above, the laptop takes up very little space; students who spend all their time on a Powerpoint, however clever it is, have a very bare table! If you aim for variety you will create a much more appealing display.

Interactive activities are certain to attract people to your display. One of my favourite interactive activities ever was the brainchild of two boys now in Year 10 (I think their names are Aaron and Chris). They had chosen Michelangelo as their notable person and they brought along a hunk of marble and a chisel so that people could try their hand at sculpting. (This is the activity I have shown on the table above.) Another inspirational idea was thought up by Anne (now in Year 9), who had chosen Fred Hollows. She had a special eye-testing activity, which fitted neatly with her notable’s purpose in life of restoring sight to those with preventable blindness.

Excursion Details and Notable Poster Download


Don’t forget that the excursion is on Tuesday 18 August. In class on Monday I’m going to show you a film called “Vesuvius: Deadly Fury”. This should get you in the mood for the Pompeii exhibition. This film details the latest archaeological finds and shows scientists speculating on how long it would have taken, during the full heat of the pyroclastic surge, for a person to dessicate into a skeleton. The answer is, not long. It was a horrible human disaster and to soften it in my mind I like to focus on the people who escaped.

What you need for the excursion:

  • A small bag (not your school bag)
  • A water bottle
  • A snack for morning tea (VERY important – lunch will be late)
  • Lunch or money to buy lunch
  • A note if you wish to be dismissed anywhere other than at school or our closest railway station

Here’s a version of the little handout that I gave you on Thursday to show you what should be on your poster for the Night of Notables. Click on the picture below to download the file. Depending on the speed of your modem and computer, this could take a very long time or be a swift and easy process. If you’re at school on one of our ponderous computers in Room 205, you might have to wait till midway through Year 12 before the file successfully downloads. Sigh.

Poster on notable person

Night of Notables

Absences, Excursions and Work for Today

Pompeii plaster figureHi, 7E! I’m sorry I’ve deserted you yet again. On Monday I was sick, yesterday you were doing that special seminar, and today I’m going to a conference. Tomorrow I promise to meet you face to face once again.

Ros cartoon 2008 with colour and bubbleBy the way, I had a good report from your teacher on Monday, Mr Quinn. He said you worked with a will. It warmed my heart to hear it.

Now be honest. Have you handed in your excursion form? Get moving if you haven’t! The excursion to Pompeii is less than a week away. We really need your forms by this Friday. If you have lost your form, don’t worry, just go to the office and throw yourself on the mercy of the office staff. They’re always kind to me; they’ll happily print you a new one. Then take it home, get it signed and bring it back. Simple!

Did I mention that we’re having lunch at Melbourne Central after the museum visit? You don’t want to miss that. So get your forms in, pronto!

Emit small front shot copyToday you have two choices:

  • Work on your Emit Repoons assignment, or
  • Do some preliminary research on a possible notable person to study for the Night of Notables.

To aid you in this second task, if you choose it, here are some websites to peruse:



See you tomorrow, everyone!

class mummyBy the way, I’m planning the mummification for late next week. Next week is going to be full of hands-on history activities – some more gruesome than others.

Kind regards from

Ms Green.

Notable Possibilities

The first Night of Notables was held at our school in 2003. This means that every student in the school can recall the fun they had in Year 7, dressing up as a famous person and showing their parents and the rest of school how creative and thoughtful they could be. And here’s an amazing thing: older students love to come and see what the new kids on the block are doing for the Night of Notables. Those new kids on the block are YOU! Which notable person will you choose? How will you make the night special and memorable?

Here’s a tip: choose someone that no one else has ever chosen. Choose someone YOU don’t know very much about. That way there will be a mystery for you to solve and many people will be curious to know about the person you have chosen.

So here are some notable people who, despite their great achievements and determination to improve human life, have (at least to my knowledge) never been chosen by students before. I’ve taught Year 7 every year since the Night of Notables was introduced, so I do have a pretty good idea. For each person below, I’ve tried to give a little description or at least include a link to a reputable site that will tell you about the person. I am hankering for someone to choose one of these people, instead of the obvious people who are chosen every year. Be original! Go for it!

PS: You won’t be able to watch any of the You-Tube videos at school, I’m afraid. Our computers crack up when you ask too much of them. But don’t despair: these videos should work at home.

Notable People who have never been N O T A B L E at our School:

IMG_0040_DevilsMarblesKath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) She was an Aboriginal writer and activist who gave back her MBE in protest against the treatment of her people. Influential in winning the vote for Aborigines, she was a writer of great purpose and conviction. For instance, she wrote: “We need help, not exploitation.” One of her saddest poems was about an old man who was the last of his tribe. There was noone left who could speak to him in the language of his people. The poem shows her sense of loss and the desperate isolation of the old man. Oodgeroo Noonuccal wrote many moving poems. She was also partially responsible for gaining the vote for Aboriginal people. Click on this link to read a brief introduction to her life:

  • Harriet Tubman was nicknamed the “Moses of her People” for her role in saving slaves through the so-called Underground Railroad in America.
  • Jane Austen was one of the great authors of the English language. In her novels she described the narrow social world of the English country towns where she lived; she explored the limited social experiences of her characters. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, does it? And yet, and yet…Somehow these stories, set in the early 1800s, have had an abiding impact on her readers. They have inspired many films, discussions and debates. For Austen’s insights into human nature are astounding. This brilliant woman, who never married and who died in her forties, had an acute understanding of human love and cruelty, a sharp wit, a measured cynicism and a power with the English language that few, if any, have been able to match. (***Whoops! Claire tells me her older sister Lizzie chose Jane Austen just last year. So she has been chosen before…Still, she deserves another run and she certainly hasn’t been chosen very often. Sorry, Lizzie!)

  • Emily Bronte was a great author and poet. Her poem “Remembrance” is deeply moving and her novel, “Wuthering Heights”, is one of the great works of English literature. Yet she was writing at a time when women usually had to take the name of a man to have any chance of being published.
  • Vera Brittain was an author and peace activist between the World Wars in Britain. Although she was accused of being disloyal for trying to seek peace, her name was ultimately found on a list of people the Nazis would like to assassinate, which improved her reputation with the English people! Her famous book, “Testament of Youth”, told the tragic story of the young men she loved who died in WWI, including her brother and fiancee.
  • Judy Horacek is an Australian cartoonist who takes a strong feminist stand and is politically astute and cynical, yet with that whimsical edge to her work that many great Australian cartoonists seem to have. A champion of the rights of minority groups and a social commentator, she would be a fine choice for the Night of Notables. Her cartoons can be viewed at the National Library of Australia website. Here is the link:

  • W.E.B. DuBois was an African American activist and writer in the 1920s who spread the story of the murders and lynchings in the south. He tried to promote the right of African Americans in the south to live without persecution, prejudice and arbitrary attacks. In his publications he exposed the cruelty of those who wanted to ensure that, even though the slaves had been freed, they should still be forced to live like slaves. He gave a voice to people who had no voice.
  • Sir Mark Oliphant was a brilliant Australian scientist whose work in nuclear physics was partially responsible for the creation of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was forever regretful at the calamity they had caused, however, and later spoke out against the use of science for immoral ends.

  • William Wilberforce was a campaigner against slavery in Britain in the 19th century. He died just a few days after the bill abolishing slavery succeeded.
  • William Barak was an artist, an activist and a leader of his people, the Wurundjeri clan, who lived in Melbourne before the coming of the Europeans, and whose descendants still live here today. The government continually took land and rights from the Aboriginal people and Barak, despite his growing sense of futility and despair, continued to plead, protest and fight for decency, fairness and equality.

    Sofonisba Anguissola was a great woman painter of the Renaissance. Until the internet came into being I didn’t even know she existed. Woman artists rarely make it into art books. Yet some of her paintings are just lovely. They warm my heart because they show people enjoying life and doing quite ordinary things – even smiling! One of her most famous paintings shows a few young girls playing chess and smiling. This was quite rare in those days. There’s also a self-portrait of the artist at her easel.

    • Golda Meir – Israeli Prime Minister

    A Notable Night

    Get dressed up! Show off your knowledge! Impress your friends and fill your parents with pride and joy! Make your teacher glow with happiness (that’s me)!

    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊

    On the Night of Notables you get to do all this. There are two great points about this project: you choose your own person to study (with conditions) and you choose your working partner (if you want one). This means you have the perfect excuse to have researching weekends with your best friend; and your teacher can’t tell you what to do (but she can influence you, veto your choice and be critical – after all, what are teachers for?).

    ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

    I’m pretty easy-going really!

    ♦ All I ask is that your notable person is admirable and memorable. He or she should have inspired other people and contributed something of value to human life or human beings. That’s not much to ask, is it? 

    ♦ I want no mass murderers, no violent criminals, no brutal dictators and no vicious tyrants: just great people who have given us hope, remedies, knowledge, understanding, music, ideas, new ways of thinking, inventions, plays, books and so on. 

    ♦Your notable person might have saved us too – from poverty, tyranny, injustice, slavery or suffering.

    ♦You could choose a musician, a poet, an inspirational gardener, an environmental campaigner, a great cook or a brave leader who stood up to oppression.

    ♦Don’t forget Australians. Don’t forget women!


    There are some sites below to give you ideas…

    CLICK HERE to go to a site about notable Australians…


    CLICK HERE to go to a site about inspirational people, including great humanitarians:


    CLICK HERE for some inspirational quotations:

    CLICK HERE for more brainy and interesting quotations: