Monthly Archives: January 2015

“If you want intelligent children, give them a book …”

If-you-want-intelligent children

These words piqued* my interest as they wafted to my ears from the TV set in the other room.

Who is that?” I called out.

Jackie French,” he replied.

I jumped up, eager to see and hear more.

Jackie French is a well-known Australian author and advocate for literacy and the environment. She is currently the Australian Children’s Laureate with the task of promoting “the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians”.

I was delighted to find that Jackie’s speech was in acceptance of an Australian of the Year Award.

The media announcement released by the Minister for Social Services explains that Jackie was recognised for her “long and distinguished career as a beloved children’s writer, earning more than 60 literary prizes for her books.”

 “Jackie embodies this commitment (to changing lives in our community) and I’d like thank her for the work she continues to do sharing the power of reading and story-telling for young Australians, and her work in conservation.” 

Here is Jackie, Senior Australian of the Year 2015, accepting her award.



In this next video Jackie talks about her book “Hitler’s Daughter”. You don’t have to have read the book to glean much of interest from the interview. In the discussion Jackie shares her thoughts about reading and writing. She questions how the ‘world’ in which one is, influences thoughts about good and evil and decisions that are made. She discusses how the need for evil to be resolved in a work of fiction differs between children and adults. She talks about whether it is necessary for a child to apologise for the sins of the previous generation, and how still controversial issues can be dealt with in an historical situation. It is worth listening to if you simply want something to ponder over.

Being an early childhood teacher I am more familiar with Jackie’s picture books such as

Diary of a Wombat, Baby Wombat’s Week, and Josephine Wants to Dance, which are delightful.


Here is a video of Jackie reading Diary of a Wombat.

I have just discovered that Hitler’s Daughter is available as an audiobook, so it is going onto my list!


I congratulate Jackie on her award and thank her for the contribution she is making to the lives of so many and the future of our planet.





In this sentence, I am using the word “piqued” to mean “stimulated or aroused my interest”.

How can one word be used to express opposite meanings? I don’t know how anyone is expected to learn or understand the nuances of this language we call English!

When I checked with my thesaurus to ensure I had chosen the correct word, this is what I found:

piqued 1         piqued 2

How many other words do you know that could almost be listed as its antonym?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

In their own time

This quote by Albert Einstein is one of my favourites:

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

Without the addition of a date to signify, I would find it difficult to separate out the memories and distinguish how far apart events occurred or in which sequence.

If the “The only reason for time“ was applied to the school situation, it might be quite different, for example,

“The only reason for time is to ensure that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time.”


school cropped

In previous posts I have talked about the importance of having a growth mindset and the power of ‘not yet’ thinking. Most respondents to these posts agreed on a preference for thinking about their own goals as not yet achieved, rather than as failed to achieve. Much like for a twelve month old child who is not yet walking, ‘not yet’ implies no failure, just steps in the right direction, an expectation of success, when the time is right and the child is ready.

For many things we do in life there is no hard and fast rule about when they should be achieved. Most developmental milestones are presented as an average, a range of ages during which time most will achieve. But the edges are blurred and, unless attainment falls way beyond the guide, there is generally no cause for concern.

When it comes to school learning there is much more anxiety about achievement and reaching particular benchmarks by certain ages. Anne Goodwin hinted at this is her comment on my post Reading is out of this world. Anne said,

“we need to create the conditions in which children want to learn to read and to continue reading regularly. Sadly, I think some kids are put off by attempts to teach them to read before they are ready, which just gives the message that it’s hard or boring or both.”

She said that we need ways to “get them in their own time, to where they need to be.”

Anne is right. Children may be put off reading by attempting to teach them before they are ready; just as often, I would add, by inappropriate methods that present reading as a series of unrelated skills devoid of context, meaning and enjoyment.

Children may come to reading at various ages and in various ways. Some read early. Mem Fox says that, if she were queen of the world, “children would learn to read easily, long before they came to school”, like my two did.  Others suggest a “better late than early” approach or not hurrying the child.

I think it is important to recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach has no place in education. I would love Mem Fox to be queen of the world and for all children to learn to read easily and with joy before school age, but there is much to do for that ideal situation to exist. David Elkind says that no one believes in hurrying children but parents, educators and legislators can always find a reason to do so.

Being out of step with peers can be a great cause of anxiety; and anxiety begets anxiety which further impedes learning, as shown in this presentation by Heidi Lyneham.

To improve the situation for learners we need to recognise that

  • Learners learn in their own time. We need more flexible timeframes that honour each child’s development and learning journey.
  • Learners learn in ways that are as individual as they are. However there are conditions which improve the chances of learning occurring, such as these conditions for literacy learning  as proposed by Brian Cambourne.

In her comment on my post Reading is out of this world, Nicole Hewes indicated support for this view by describing how she assisted a student’s learning by providing books about whales, a topic the student was greatly interested in.

Along with the recognition of different timeframes, there must be recognition of and value placed upon the time required by students to develop the skills; and time and opportunity must be provided for that development.

Just when I was writing this post, Bec, who loves to look after my reading and learning needs, sent me a link to this article by Pernille Ripp who asks,

“Why do we forget that time to read is the one thing readers need the most to become better readers?”

And then Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch posted her flash fiction challenge for this week: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a 2 a.m. story.

Time: everything was pointing in the same direction.

Thinking of a learner’s timing being out of sync with that of others made me think about waking up in the middle of the night (say 2am) and not being able to get back to sleep; knowing that one should be asleep; that everyone else is asleep; that one needs to be asleep because there’s a “big” day head. And all the while the anxiety grows as quickly as the ability to sleep fades. Maybe you can identify?


One moment deep asleep. Next, upright; breath still; ears intent; staining to hear above her pounding heart.

Nothing. Just the familiar: fan whirring, palm frond swishing against the house.

Must investigate: bravely, fearfully.

With limbs trembling, palms sweating and mouth dry, she eases her legs out of the bed, puts her feet on the floor, pushes herself up and pads to the window.

Peeking out she scans the yard, illuminated by the full moon.

Nothing. A dream?

She pads back to bed. 2am.

“Ooh! Only three hours!” She closes her eyes, wishing hopelessly for sleep until morning’s liberation.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

Reading is out of this world!


Reading is a wonderful pastime. Since you are reading this blog I am sure you will agree.

People read for many different reasons, including:

  • for information e.g. about world events or something of interest, to find out what’s on offer, how to do something, or the time and place to catch a bus,
  • to be challenged e.g. by philosophical or ethical arguments and viewpoints
  • to stay in touch e.g. through letters, emails, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media
  • to be enthralled by a story or delighted by poetic words and imagery
  • to escape the everyday.

I am certain you could add to the list in breadth and specificity without too much trouble.

Robert 2

Developing a lifelong habit, if not love, of reading is important to fully function in society. The “bug” is more easily caught in early childhood but can be developed at any stage throughout life when its rewards become apparent.

Nor and Bec readingI have previously shared ideas about the importance of talking with and reading to young children, including here and here.

Another highly influential factor in creating readers is for children to see adults engaged in reading for real purposes, for information and pleasure; and having the opportunity to discuss the purposes of, and ways of reading, different material e.g. the way we read a menu is different from the way we read a story or a newspaper.


Additionally, it is useful for children to realise that the importance of reading extends beyond the home. There may be opportunities for them to observe people reading in the workplace or to discuss the need for reading in different roles.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Another important aspect of reading that I have previously discussed, using ”The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle as an example here, is critical literacy, the ability to interrogate the veracity of the information, its source and author.

I recently read discussions about difficulty experienced incorporating non-fiction material, especially science information, into classroom reading programs. I was a bit blown away by this because I believe that children will be interested in anything and everything if it is presented in an interesting way.

An information book doesn’t have to be read all at once, from cover to cover in any particular order. It can be dipped into, pored over, or explored bit by bit.

Sometimes information can be found in a work of fiction, but it is important, as cautioned with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, to check the source and the “facts”.

So to tie together the elements discussed above, these are important elements for motivating children to read:

  • Talking with them about things of interest to them
  • Reading to them
  • Modelling and discussing positive reading habits
  • Demonstrating the importance of reading
  • Discussing the importance of not believing everything that is read and of evaluating the source of the information and the intent of the author

In my exploration this week of one of my favourite educational websites, edutopia, I discovered through a post written by Ben Johnson and called When Astronauts Read Aloud Children’s Stories – From Space! a site that met many of the above criteria: Story Time From Space

Story Time From Space features astronauts on the space station reading story books to children. At the moment there is one story available, but more are planned, as are teaching suggestions and activities, including experiments.

The story, Max Goes to the International Space Station is the first of a series of five stories written by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett who describes himself as “an astronomer by training and a teacher by trade, but currently spend most of my time as a writer.”

In his post, Johnson expands on that, describing Bennett as “a research associate at the University of Colorado Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, … (who) has worked at the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratories and NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.” He goes on to say that “Dr. Bennett strives to write books that are factually correct, fun, and interesting for students to read.” The experiments that the astronauts do will correspond to those in the books.



While parts of the Story Time From Space site are still “coming”, I think this project has great potential for motivating children to read and for inspiring an interest in the world and beyond. Being read a story by an astronaut isn’t something that happens every day!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

Magnum opus – life in a flash




Discussions in response to my most recent posts have been in-depth and involved a bit of back and forth and exchange of ideas about optimism, pessimism, meliorism and the meaning of life, including achieving goals and the idea of ‘not yet’. I am grateful to everyone who has joined in the conversation, got me thinking and contributed to my learnacy. Please may it long continue!

This week at the new-look Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills continues to challenge writers with her 99 word flash prompt to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a life span.

I decided to lighten up a bit this week, and simply respond to the challenge.

Magnum opus

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Thank you



Talking the way out

Recently I met up with some teacher friends and, as always happens with teachers, the discussion turned to school, teaching and children. There was talk about the crowdedness and inappropriateness of many aspects of the curriculum, of resources that were ambiguous and poorly written, of time spent practising and preparing for tests, of (other) teachers who were ill-equipped to teach and not interested in professional learning.

It made me sad. It has always made me sad. Sad and frustrated with the inappropriateness of so much that happens in schools and the effect it has on diminishing our most precious resource: the ability to think, learn, innovate and create.

The fact that I am unable to do anything about this situation at times overwhelms me and I just want to curl up in a ball in the corner and cry. That I have spent almost my entire adult life swimming against the tide trying, through a variety of means, to make a positive difference through education with an effect as insignificant as a grain of salt in the ocean, makes my efforts seem futile and worthless. A waste of time and energy. I should just give up.

But, foolishly maybe, I haven’t and don’t. Here I am writing a blog about education. One more way to try; with a website on the way as well. What effect will they have? Probably very little, but at least I am doing something that is important to me; something that gives my life meaning; even if it has no real value beyond that.

I have been out of the classroom now for three years. I escaped before the introduction of new programs which I would have found philosophically and pedagogically impossible to implement. It had always been a balancing act, doing what my employer expected of me and what I believed to be best for the children and their learning. (Of course there is no saying that what I thought was better. The value of my thinking may well have been just in my head!)

Five times before I had left the classroom, only twice for reasons unrelated to dissatisfaction (the birth of children). But I could never shake off my belief that education delivery could be improved. I read widely, seeking alternative ways of making a positive difference but, although I had vowed at each departure to never return, something always drew me back.

Rather than allowing the situation to overwhelm me by accepting that there was nothing I could do; rather than throwing my hands in the air, walking away and admitting that it’s all too hard, I didn’t let go. Perhaps it was foolhardy. Maybe I should. Maybe one day I will. But not yet.

Instead I choose to focus on the good things I see happening; the parents, teachers, nannies and child care workers who strive to make a positive difference. We know we can’t change the whole world. We can’t rid it of all the injustices, inequalities, violence and other wrongdoings against humanity and the Earth. But we can make a difference in our own little corner; and my own little corner has always been my focus. If I can make a difference with something as simple as a smile or sharing a positive thought then I will do it. If I can do more than that then I will, but I will focus on what I can rather than what I can’t.

So for my little bit of positivity today, I am sharing some of what I think are great things that are happening, making a positive contribution to education and children’s lives; some things that make my heart sing and confirm my belief that if we want to, we can make a difference.

marshmallow 5

I have previously shared some thoughts that stimulated great discussion about the famous Marshmallow Test conducted by Professor Walter Mischel.

On All Our Words I recently read a report of an address made by Mischel to the team at All Our Kin.

In that address, Mischel is quoted as saying,

“When a child grows up in a high-poverty, extremely unpredictable environment – in which anything can happen, in which danger is constantly present, in which chaos is always possible – it affects him at a biological level. Those experiences turn into chronic stress, or toxic stress, and they actually change his brain. They limit the potential of the cool system to make long-term plans and be patient and work for a distant goal.”

The author of the article, Christina Nelson writes

“Fighting against the biology of disadvantage requires a sustained effort that begins at birth, or even earlier, which is why creating high quality early care and education is so important for vulnerable children.”

Mischel’s address further supports that view and congratulates the team at All our Kin for their work, saying

“By providing a sense of trust, a sense that the rewards are attainable, that promises will be kept, that life doesn’t have to be chaotic and unpredictable, you folks are providing exactly the basis for the development of the cool system, and for the regulation of the hot system. The kids who have that when they are two years old are the same kids who are successful at the marshmallow test at five.”

The praise from Mischel would not have been given lightly. I’m impressed with what I have read about All Our Kin, including this from their mission statement:

“. . . children, regardless of where they live, their racial or ethnic background, or how much money their parents earn, will begin their lives with all the advantages, tools, and experiences that we, as a society, are capable of giving them.”


The Talking is Teaching program, which was launched by Hillary Clinton as part of the Too Small to Fail initiative, in Oakland aims to reduce educational (and life) disadvantages by teaching parents the importance of talking to their children from birth.

Thanks to my friend Anne Goodwin and daughter Bec I was also alerted to an article in the New Yorker The Talking Cure which described a program in Providence that also encourages low-income parents to talk more with their children.

The author of the article, Margaret Talbot says that “The way you converse with your child is one of the most intimate aspects of parenting, shaped both by your personality and by cultural habits so deep that they can feel automatic. Changing how low-income parents interact with their children is a delicate matter”. The aim of the program is to support parents in non-threatening ways to support their children.

I have previously mentioned a recent publication by Michael Rosen entitled Good Ideas: How to Be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher. This book provides wonderful support for parents of children of any age. In very readable, accessible language, Rosen’s book is packed full of simple, inexpensive, fun and powerful ways for parents to support their children’s learning, effectively but unobtrusively, in their everyday lives. I think this book should be supplied to all parents on the birth of their children.

Closer to home here in Australia are Community Hubs  and other programs such as Learning for Life run by the Smith Family and Acting Early, Changing Lives by the Benevolent Society.

These are but a few of the good things that are happening. I have focussed on community programs rather than individuals (except for Michael Rosen’s book) in this post. I know there are many more great programs, and individual teachers doing amazing work. I’d love to hear about some that you admire.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.






Finding meaning

Always look on the bright side of life’ is a philosophy to which I aspire. Many think I have achieved it but they don’t know how hard I struggle. I do try to find the good in people and situations, but it’s not always my first and instinctive reaction. When I realise I’ve reacted negatively I try to change or hide my negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. But it’s not always easy to convince myself, regardless of whether I convince anyone else or not.

It reminds me of a quote on a laundry bag which has stayed with me in eight different homes in three different states and for well more than thirty years. After all this support I have finally thought to seek out the source of the wisdom and found it to be UK poet and playwright Christopher Fry.


I feel the quote represents me quite well; doing what I can to hold it all together and keeping those negative instincts in check by ‘nipping them in the bud’, all the while fearful of one day just losing it and letting it all out in one mighty swoosh. I guess the expectation of fewer years remaining in which I will need to keep myself contained makes me a little optimistic. (Always look on the bright side!)

I like to think I’m more of a hopeful realist than either a Pollyanna or a negative realistic. A discussion about optimism and pessimism followed a previous post in which I asked How much of a meliorist are you?  But meliorism is more a belief that the world can be improved by the actions of humans than an optimistic or pessimistic expectation of the outcome.

I believe that humans have an amazing potential for improving our world (i.e. every aspect of it). That makes me a meliorist. Recognising what is happening in the world now makes me a realist. A belief that human actions will make improvements in the future makes me an optimist, but not one without some pessimistic fears. While stories of terrorism, climate change and violence fuel the fears, stories like this TED talk by Tasso Azevedo show that improvements can be, and are being, made.

I am an education meliorist. I believe that education is a powerful agent for change and has an enormous potential for improving lives. My optimism that education will impact positively upon individual lives as well as the collective human situation outweighs my pessimism about the outcomes I see in current systemic trends and leads me to seek out educators, like Ken Robinson, Chris Lehmann , Michael Rosen, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young and Rita Pierson who share my vision of what could be.

A quest to improve my own life and the lives of others through education has been a long time passion. Ensuring that my own children experienced the benefits of learnacy, though I hadn’t heard of the term at the time, as well as literacy and numeracy was of great importance to me. I encouraged them to question, to create, to think critically, to read, to learn, to wonder . . .  There is so much we teach our children the list goes on. It is very rewarding for me to see that they have a love of learning and are passing that same love on to the next generation.

Having, sharing and fostering a lifelong love of learning perhaps in some ways contributes to giving meaning to my life. But it also leads me to question life and its purpose in ways that many others don’t.  This questioning can lead to a sense of unease, of lacking fulfilment, of needing to do and achieve more. I know others who better accept the way things are, accept each day as it comes, and are content in their existence. Sometimes I envy their complacency.  Other times I want to shake them and make them realise that there is more to life than this.

But am I wrong? Is there actually less to life than this? It is sometimes said that there is no point in accumulating wealth and possessions as you can’t take them with you when you go. But is there any point in accumulating a lot of learning and knowledge? After all, you can’t take it with you when you go either; but like wealth and possessions, you can leave it behind for future generations. If we lived only for what we could take with us, would there be a point?

I guess what matters is what helps each of us reach that level of contentment, of being here and now in the present moment because, after all, it is all we ever have.

I often think about life, existence, why we are here and the purpose of it all, constantly wavering between seeing a point and not. A recent discussion with a friend about her feelings of emptiness and needing to find more purpose and meaning in life disturbed my approaching, but elusive, equilibrium again. Will I ever reach that blissful and enviable state of contentment: knowing and accepting who I am, where I am, where I am going and how I am going to get there? Who knows? But I can have fun figuring it out. I am determined to enjoy the journey. I don’t think there will be much joy at the end!

Which is all very timely with the current flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch who talks about actions that we take to reach our goals and challenges writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that describes a moment of being.

I hope you enjoy my response.

Being, positive

“It’s positive,” he said.

She smiled. She knew. She only needed official confirmation.

He wanted dates. She supplied.

But she knew the very moment an unexpected but welcome spark enlivened her being with its playful announcement, “Surprise! I’m here!”

She’d carried the secret joy within her for weeks, never letting on, keeping it to herself, waiting. No one would have believed her without proof. But with her whole being she knew.

Finally, after nine inseparable months, she held the child, distinct and individual. She marvelled at the tiny creation whose existence breathed purpose and meaning into hers.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post and flash fiction.

I’m learnerate and loving it!

In my previous post I can do this – one step at a time! I shared two words that I had just learned: illearnerate and learnacy*. I was excited by the power of their meaning and proudly declared myself to be learnerate.

But it wasn’t always that way. Like the students Guy Claxton described in his article Learning to learn: a key goal in a 21st century curriculum, I had been schooled to be illearnerate. Over time, with the opportunity to take control of my learning and follow my interests, I developed a passion for learning, especially learning about learning, and became learnerate. Enthusing others about learning has been a life-long ambition and journey.

Included in that post were two videos in which I demonstrated ways I use PowerPoint. I found out immediately after publishing that the ways I demonstrated weren’t the most efficient. I am grateful to Bec for informing me of a better way of saving PowerPoint slides as images; and also for the consideration she showed by informing me away from my blog in order to reduce the chances of my feeling  embarrassment about having  my “primitive” method pointed out (my words, not hers).

Bec’s consideration for my feelings as a learner was in great contrast to school experiences in which humiliation and ridicule seemed the preferred way of dealing with any inadequacy, real or imagined.  Whenever a lack of knowledge or skill was revealed, rather than being perceived as an opportunity for learning, it was seen as an opportunity to be singled out, chastised and embarrassed in front of as many others as possible.


One particular instance stands out in my memory.  I was in year eight. History tests had been marked and handed back; all except mine.  I tentatively raised my hand and told the teacher. Wrong move. The teacher made a big show of looking for my paper, finally “finding” it in a stack of papers on the desk and announcing to the class that it had been set aside as it was such poor work and I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself.

Over the years I have come to realise that there is no shame in not knowing, or not being able to do something. It simply indicates an opportunity for learning. It is rare that someone will intentionally do less than the best they know how. If there is a better way, they need to be shown. Thank you, Bec, for showing me.

My intention for this post was, and still is, to share my recipe for Pinwheel sandwiches. At the time of making the videos used in the previous post, I had already made the PowerPoint but had not made each slide into an image for uploading to my blog. How lucky was I that Bec told me a much more efficient way before I had done so! Instead of saving as a PDF, and then snipping and saving an image of each individual slide as I had demonstrated, all I had to do was click “Save As” and select “PNG” as the file type and every slide was saved as an individual image. Simple: very quick and easy, as I demonstrate in this 90 second video!


And now for my pinwheel sandwiches. They also are simple, very quick and easy; very popular and just as tasty as they look!




*Think of the terms illiterate and literacy and apply them to learning and you will have a good idea of the meaning.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

I can do this – one step at a time!

Confidence, the willingness to have a go and to get up and try again after an unsuccessful attempt, is crucial to learning.

Attached to real confidence, as opposed to false bravado, are certain types of knowledge:

  • of the desired outcome
  • of possible steps to achieving the outcome
  • of what is needed to achieve the outcome
  • of where and how to find the knowledge or support necessary to achieve the outcome

and an openness to possibilities.

Knowing what one doesn’t know is just as important as knowing what one does!

Caroline Lodge expressed a similar view on her blog just this week, confessing that she didn’t know how to go about revising her novel, but that she did know what to do about not knowing: she enrolled in an online editing course. She attributed the view of intelligence as “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do to the educationalist Guy Claxton.

I wasn’t aware of Claxton but he sounded like my sort of educationalist so I decided to investigate further.


A Google search brought up this result:

Claxton - Google

Hmm – seems like, according to Claxton, that definition of intelligence is first attributed to Jean Piaget. I’d better read his article: Learning to learn: a key goal in a 21st century curriculum.

I didn’t have to read far into the article before I knew that Caroline had sent me in the direction of another great educator (thanks Caroline).

In the introduction Claxton says,

“The well-rehearsed economic argument says that knowledge is changing so fast that we cannot give young people what they will need to know, because we do not know what it will be. Instead we should be helping them to develop supple and nimble minds, so that they will be able to learn whatever they need to. If we can achieve that, we will have a world-class workforce comprising people who are innovative and resourceful. The personal argument reaches the same conclusion.”

I have expressed similar views previously on this blog, including here, here and here.

A little further into the article Claxton introduces a new (to me) term: illearnerate. He described students not thinking of themselves as effective real-life learners. He says,

“They think that school has not only failed to give them what they need, it has actually compounded the problem.”

The term is new, but the thinking is not!

He goes on to say that,

“More fundamental even than the concern with literacy and numeracy is the need to protect and develop young people’s learnacy.”

What great terms, illearnerate and learnacy, I have added to my vocabulary today!

The steps I am taking are definitely enhancing my learning. I think I am learnerate.

However, I digress. I was looking for the attribution to Piaget and, a little further into the article, there it was:

Claxton - Piaget

I looked further online for confirmation of the quote and found this on goodreads:

Good Reads - Piaget

I think there is a subtle difference in the interpretation given by Claxton and would say that intelligence is not so much defined by, but incorporatesknowing what to do when you don’t know what to do”.

A few weeks ago I used images in my post Bring a plate that prompted Geoff Le Pard to ask,

“How do you do the images? Adding the captions?”

I said that I used PowerPoint and would post some instructions if he thought it could be useful. He said that it would be, and Anne Goodwin agreed.

For some time I had been wanting to create an instructional video using a capture of what I was doing onscreen. However it hadn’t reached the top of my to-do list. This seemed the perfect opportunity to put it there and do the learning required.

In response to Geoff’s request I made this video demonstrating how to insert pictures and text in PowerPoint, then group and save them as one image.

For my first attempt I was fairly pleased with the result, though I fear the video may be a bit long at 10 minutes. Maybe I should have started with a simpler image – one picture and one text box may have been enough for the demonstration to be effective. I’d be pleased to know what you think.

After I had finished the video it occurred to me that I may not have addressed Geoff’s question at all, that the combination of image and caption that Geoff was referring to may have been the image of the whole PowerPoint slide, like this one:

Rice salad 2

If so, then my first video would be of no use to Geoff.

There is a saying attributed to George Bernard Shaw:

“Those who can do, and those who can’t teach.”

I both agree and disagree with the statement for different reasons. Teaching is an incredibly important profession and not everyone can do it. Looking beyond the profession to simply teaching someone a skill is also something that not everyone can do. Sometimes I think that the one most capable of teaching a skill is the one who struggled to learn it; not the one who was able to do it effortlessly and almost by intuition.

The ability to teach requires knowledge of each step or each component and how they work together. This knowledge helps the teacher understand where a learner is confused or what the learner needs to know.

So just as teachers in classrooms provide resources and strategies to cater for a range of needs and abilities, I have produced a second video demonstrating how to make an image of a PowerPoint slide. This shorter (five minute) video explains how to create images using three different methods: Snagit, Snipping Tool, and printscreen function. I hope I have explained the steps for each clearly.

Important update: Do not do this at home. Do not follow the procedures in this video.

Since viewing this post and videos my daughter Bec has told me of a much easier way to create an image of a PowerPoint slide, or of every slide in a presentation. Maybe you know of it too.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on the slide you wish to make an image of, or any slide if you wish to make images of all slides in the presentation
  2. Go to file, save as
  3. Choose Save as type: PNG
  4. Click Save – you will be asked which slides you wish to export: all or just this one
  5. Selecting all saves every slide as a separate image to a new folder with the file name you choose; selecting just this one saves only the slide selected.

How easy is that? Thanks Bec. 🙂 And I don’t mind that I found out after making the video. I wanted to learn how to do that anyway, and now I have learned something else as well. Great steps in learning. I’m learnerate!

The discussion of steps to learning tied in very nicely with the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about steps, stairs or a staircase.

This is my response:

If only

She collapsed, exhausted. Stairs led up and stairs led down; some steep, some wide, some narrow, most dark. Her head spun and vision blurred. Which way now? Which way had she come? Had she been going up and down these stairs forever?  Going around in circles?  They all now looked the same. She didn’t even know if she’d been in this place before.

“I’m trapped,” she thought. “Stuck here forever.”

She closed her eyes, surrendering to despair.

Outside birds heralded the rising sun. She was lost, oblivious of its promise.

If only she had recognised the door.


Thank you


Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post, including the videos and flash fiction.

The Power of Not Yet by @TeacherToolkit

Some of my most popular posts of 2014 were those that discussed praise, growth mindset, assessment and failure.
My final post for the year included thoughts about failure and the need to reflect and refine to move forward.
It is fitting to begin 2015 with a post that revisits and extends those themes. I’m sharing a post about The Power of Not Yet I read on @TeacherToolkit’s blog. The post includes a video of Carol Dweck explaining that

“if (students) didn’t pass a course, they got the grade “Not Yet.” And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.”

I would much rather consider that I have not yet achieved my writing goals, than think I failed to achieve them in 2014. Not yet means I am making progress, and will continue to do so in 2015 and beyond.
In the video Dweck shares research showing a difference that having a growth ‘not yet’ mindset can make to student effort and achievement.
For me, her most powerful statement is that at the end of the talk:

“Once we know that abilities are capable of such growth it becomes a basic human right for children, all children, to live in places that create that growth, to live in places filled with yet.”

It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike. There is no failure, just stages of growth in ability.

I hope you enjoy the article, and especially, Carol Dweck’s video.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.