Monthly Archives: August 2019

Learning to code and a local Aboriginal language

#WATWB Learning to code and a local Aboriginal language from a robot

On the last Friday of each month We Are the World Blogfest invites bloggers to join together in promoting positive news. I join in as often as I can as we need to look beyond the alarmist headlines and see all the good that is happening in the world. If you would like to join in, please check out the rules and links below.

This year is the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

I have already shared three good news stories that complement the year’s theme:

A mindfulness app for Indigenous communities

Engagement through music and song

New Indigenous Doll to Foster Understanding

This month I am adding another about a small robot named Pink that is being used to help children learn the local Aboriginal language at the same time as they learn to code. Interactions with the robot have been found to involve deep learning of both languages and an understanding of and appreciation for the traditional and new cultures. Many in the community have become involved and a new pride in the traditional culture of the area has developed.

Click to read the whole article: How a robot called Pink helped teach school children an Aboriginal language.

As stated by #WATWB, “There are many an oasis of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world.”

I think we can always do with more good news stories so please join in and share positive stories you have found.

Here are the guidelines for #WATWB:

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar. Some of you have already done so, this is just a gentle reminder for the others.

5. Help us spread the word on social media. Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hashtag to help us trend!

Tweets, Facebook shares, Pins, Instagram, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. We’ll try and follow and share all those who post on the #WATWB hashtag, and we encourage you to do the same.

The co-hosts this month:

Susan Scott

Peter Nena

 Shilpa Garg

 Mary J. Giese

Damyanti Biswas

Please pop over to their blogs to read their stories, comment and share.

Click here to paste the link to your post in the Facebook group. The bigger the #WATWB group each month, the greater the joy!

Thank you blog post

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

Spring into September with lots to celebrate

Spring into September with Lots to Celebrate – readilearn

The beginning of September marks the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere and brings, along with it, many days to celebrate.

Wattle day

Here in Australia, we welcome Spring on 1 September with Wattle Day. The golden wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem.

You could celebrate Wattle Day by:

  • wearing a spray of wattle on your hat
  • writing a poem about wattle flowers and springtime
  • using yellow pom poms to make Happy Wattle Day cards to give to friends and loved ones
  • going for a walk around the school grounds or local neighbourhood to check out the wattle trees in bloom. With nearly one thousand species of wattle in Australia, you are sure to see a variety. Comparing tree bark, leaves and blossoms helps to develop the ability to identify the similarities and differences that support scientific classification.
  • investigating how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use parts of the wattle tree; for example, for food, medicine, fuel, to make rope, fishing lines, string and tools such as boomerangs. Seasonal changes in the wattle trees indicate other changes that occur in the environment.

Father’s Day

This year, Father’s Day coincides with Wattle Day on 1 September. Father’s Day is a day to recognise the important role of fathers and other father figures. You can find suggestions for easy and inexpensive gifts in the Father’s Day resources, including a free list of Father’s Day Activities.

Continue reading: Spring into September with Lots to Celebrate – readilearn

Old World - So Last Century

Old World — So Last Century

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge old world

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an “old world,” return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!

Born mid-way last century and unlikely to see the middle of this, from this angle anyway, I have to admit that I’m of the ‘old world’. The young ones think I’m ancient.

When my daughter, now an adult herself and ‘old’ to younger eyes, was but a child, she often asked me to tell her what life was like ‘in the olden days’ when I was a child. She even asked what the dinosaurs were like!

Although she teased, it has become entrenched in family lore. (Most family members have been obsessed by dinosaurs at some time — perhaps in the hope of locating ancestors?) But perhaps the juxtaposition is not that unlikely if one has not yet developed an understanding of the evolutionary timeline.

I’ve always appreciated the quote, often mistakenly attributed to Einstein, that says the only reason we have time is to prevent everything happening at once. There is another that questions whether, if a tree was to fall in the forest and no one was there to hear it, would it make any sound?

Could it be that for children, until they develop a sense of time, anything that has occurred outside of their memory, prior to their birth, seems to have happened all at once in that long ago, old world time.

The first children to have been born this century are already reaching adult status but it is difficult for them to imagine life before mobile phones, text messaging, iPads, social media, the internet, instant information, streaming and video games, let alone television. Even for some of us who experienced those ‘olden days’, it can be difficult to remember just what it was like.

This video of children reacting to rotary phones may help you recall.

How did we meet up with friends when we didn’t have phones, never mind mobile phones? What did we do when we were waiting for an appointment or an event and we didn’t have our phones for entertainment? What did we do when we wanted to know something and we weren’t at the library, beside a set of encyclopedias, or someone knowledgeable? No wonder our parents answered our questions with statements such as; “Because it is” and admonished us for asking too many questions. No child should ever have their questions shut down now with answers just a button away.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of momentous events such as the Moon Landing, Woodstock, and my final year of school. I may not have roamed with the dinosaurs, but how life has changed since then. My story reflects back on time in that ‘old world’. I hope you like it.

So Last Century

“What did you play on the iPad when you were little, Grandma?”

“There weren’t any iPads when I was little.”

“What?”

“We didn’t even have computers.”

“What? How did you watch movies? On your phone?”

Grandma laughed. “No, we couldn’t watch movies on our phones. They didn’t have screens. And we couldn’t carry them in our pockets either. We went to the cinema to watch movies. When I was really little, we didn’t even have television.”

“Wow! What did you do then?”

“Lots — played games, read books, made our own fun.”

“Can we play a game?”

“Of course, love.”

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days, Reminiscences of Pete Springer

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Pete Springer, teacher, author and blogger. Pete joined in these conversations about school days right from the beginning. Like me, he is a passionate educator and has spent many years in the classroom changing lives.

Although he is no longer in the classroom, his passion for education remains strong. He has established a Facebook page to support teachers and has written a book sharing his experience as a teacher with the intention of supporting other teachers, especially those just starting their journey.

He titled his book They Call Me Mom. What a fabulous title. As a teacher, I was called Mum (or even Dad, sometimes) many times. I always considered it a lovely testimony to our respectful relationship. As a parent, I was also sometimes called Mrs x and was just as honoured. I’m sure that, as you read through Pete’s bio and interview, you will be impressed by his ongoing contribution to education and our world.

But, before we get into Pete’s interview, I’ll allow him to tell you a little of himself:

I taught elementary school (grades 2-6) for thirty-one years in California.  I loved everything about being a teacher.  I loved my students as if they were my own, and I follow their progress today even though I’ve been retired for three years. I’ve been invited to many extracurricular events (I tried to attend one each for all of my students during the year), birthday, graduations, weddings, and even a housewarming party.  One of my funniest memories was being invited (I obviously didn’t go) to a sleepover party thrown by one of my second graders.

I don’t like to make a big deal about it, but I was chosen for the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. This award is presented annually to ten of the top teachers in the County each year.

My favorite thing to do in school on a daily basis was to read to kids, and I decided that if I ever got the opportunity that I would try writing books for children when I retired.  I got sidetracked by another project first.  I decided to write a combination memoir/advice book, They Call Me Mom for future teachers.  The title of the book was inspired by the fact that elementary children consistently refer to their teachers as mom (by accident).  I took this as the ultimate compliment because moms are pretty great! I have spoken to college students at my alma mater, Humboldt St. who are studying to become teachers.  I was most touched when one of my former Superintendents purchased my book for all of the new teachers in his district. 

I am now following my dream and attempting to write books for middle grades that deal with the issues that kids deal with at home and at school.  I’ve joined a critique group (one of the members is my former principal, Nancy Wheeler, who is one of my biggest role models in education serving as one of my master teachers and then as my principal.  (She is 81 and still volunteers in schools, and I couldn’t have a better role model.) My wife, Debbie, was also a career educator, serving as a preschool teacher and then Director.

In addition, as an advocate for literacy, I joined the Humboldt County Author’s Festival Committee which brings twenty-five children’s authors from across the country to our local schools biennially.  (I someday would love to be one of the presenters.)  I also volunteer for an organization called the Society for the Blind.  This organization helps people who are visually impaired. Once a week I read our local newspaper and send in the articles (using voice memos on my cellphone) where they can be accessed by those who are blind or have low vision. 

Having been a master teacher for four student teachers, I try to always be an advocate for education, children, and teachers.  I started a Facebook group about eighteen months ago called Supporters of Teachers to highlight positive things that are happening in education. 

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Welcome, Pete.

Let’s talk about school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended school for thirteen years (K-12) in the United States.  I then attended Humboldt St. (California) where I graduated and went on to earn my teaching credential.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All of the school I attended were government (public) schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

The highest level of education I achieved was a Bachelor’s Degree from Humboldt St.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I come from a family of teachers, but I think school also influenced my career path because I was inspired by some of the teachers I had. I never planned on becoming a teacher, but I fell into an education job as a one on one aid to a boy who had muscular dystrophy.  I fell in love with working with children from that moment on.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory of school was attending preschool.  One of the other kids in the class ate a purple crayon and threw it up a few minutes later.  The poor teacher had to deal with the mess.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

What do you remember of learning to read, Pete Springer

I remember loving to read from an early age.  I was read to a lot when I was a child, and I developed an appreciation for books then. I remember reading all of the books in the Hardy Boys series when I was in elementary school.  One of my favorite things to do as a dad was to read with my own son who has gone on to earn his Master’s Degree in education. I still read every night before I go to bed.  John Grisham is my favorite author.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I recall writing stories at a young age.  When I got to high school I became much more self-conscious about having my work read aloud.  When I became a teacher, I often wrote plays that my class and I performed.

What do you remember about math classes?

Math came easy to me.  I was always good with numbers and teachers were very impressed with my mental math abilities.  Math was such an intuitive concept to me—I loved it until geometry reared its ugly head.

What was your favourite subject?

What was your favourite subject, Pete Springer

I liked pretty much all subjects, but I would say math because It made me feel smart.

What did you like best about school?

I liked the elementary and middle school years because I had a lot of friends.  High school was my least favorite time. I would say that college was my happiest time because I could be myself, and I liked the opportunity for free thinking.

What did you like least about school?

My least favorite thing about school was my high school years because it was so cliquish.  We moved to a new place when I was starting high school, and I didn’t have the self-confidence that I possess today.  I tended to withdraw instead of putting myself out there. If I could have one do-over in my life, it would be those years because it was the one time in my life that I wasn’t happy.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Pete Springer on how schools have changed

I think I’m very qualified to answer questions about schools.  One way that schools have changed today is the greater emphasis on technology.  I certainly am a proponent of the basics, but you have to play to your audience as well.  Kids love technology, and we live in a technological society.  Another change is the great emphasis that schools put on state testing.  That is quite unfortunate because it takes the joy out of learning for students and teachers.  While there are always going to be great kids in a school, there is a higher percentage of students with anger and mental health issues.  It makes the job harder to be a teacher and a student in a hostile environment.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I think schools generally give kids a well-rounded education.  One of the things schools are getting better at recognizing is that not every student is bound for college.  They are providing a path for students who will learn a trade.  There are still plenty of educators who recognize how important it is to keep the arts alive in schools, but I worry about cuts in this area.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Pete Springer on how schools could be improved

Besides de-emphasizing state testing, schools have an increasingly challenging job of dealing with bullying.  Violence is prevalent in our culture, and schools have increasing numbers of violent students who are dealing with mental health issues. The school has to be a safe place for kids; a place that they can learn in a nonthreatening environment with role models who inspire them.  Teaching educators how to equip themselves with firearms is not the answer!

 

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Pete. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I always love meeting other educators, especially those who are as passionate about children and learning as I am. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been a teacher can ever understand the passion and dedication we have for our roles as life changers.

Find out more about Pete Springer

on his blog:  Pete Springer Author

Connect with him on social media

Facebook: Pete Springer Author

Twitter: Pete Springer

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Purchase your own copy of They Call Me Mom

from Amazon

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Balroop Singh

Thank you blog post

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

 

celebrating three years of readilearn

Celebrating Three Years of readilearn with a Gift for You – readilearn

This week, readilearn celebrates three years of supporting teachers and parents of children in their first three years of school.

In recognition of this milestone, we are offering, until the end of the month, a 50% discount on any readilearn resource, including subscription. To take advantage of this offer, simply enter the code *birthday* at the checkout.

Continue reading: Celebrating Three Years of readilearn with a Gift for You – readilearn

Sweet Strawberry Jam flash fiction

Sweet Strawberry Jam

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge Sweet Jam

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sweet jam. It can take you to the kitchen or the smokey room of a back-alley bar. What makes it sweet? Go where the prompt leads you!

Although my mother was a great one for preserving and making jams from surplus fruits and vegetables, I never followed her example. I recall her pressure cooker filled to the brim with sweet sticky concoctions which were then sealed into Vacola jars for storage and future use.

Mulberry, fig, quince and tomato are just a few of the jams I remember her making. They were always a favourite heaped onto fresh white bread. Sometimes so much jam was applied, someone would sarcastically ask, “Would you like bread with that?” to which the only appropriate answer was, “Only if I have to.”

But we didn’t just spread jam on bread. Mum would use jam in some of her favourite sweet recipes including a coconut tart, raspberry slice and jam drops, all of which we children devoured as quickly as she could make them.

Although I didn’t take up the challenge of making jam, I’ve always enjoyed a word challenge. Even at school, I liked being asked to write a sentence to show the different meanings of the same word; for example, ‘bow’. I much preferred the creative aspect of such activities to simply filling in a missing word which usually had only one right answer and was a no-brainer.

The word jam and its variety of uses appealed to me in this way and I’ve jammed a few into my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Sweet Strawberry Jam

Overhearing a conversation about the jam session at Lorna’s that night, Ailsa assumed the email was buried in spam which had jammed her inbox recently. She collected her Vacola jars and headed for the motorway. Discovering the traffic jam too late, she had no choice but to wait. The jam drops prepared for supper eased the monotony. At Lorna’s, she jammed her car into a tight spot and rushed inside. The living room was jam-packed, and music indicated a different kind of jamming. Setting down her Vacola jars, she leaned against the door jamb. “Sweet strawberry jam!” she breathed.

And how could I not have a post about jam without a reference to that Newbeats’ hit of the ‘60s I Like Bread and Butter.

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days, Reminiscences of Pamela Wight

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Pamela Wight, author, blogger and creative writing teacher. It seems that Pamela and I have known each other forever. I enjoy reading her blog Roughwighting where she muses on life and amuses with her short stories. Although I enjoyed her romance novel The Right Wrong Man – a fun story that I couldn’t put down – I was delighted when she published her first picture book Birds of Paradise, so delighted that I interviewed her about it on readilearn. I am very excited to hear that she has a new picture book Molly Finds her Purr coming out next month.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Pam to tell you a little of herself:

            Pamela Wight writes romantic suspense (The Right Wrong Man, Twin Desires) and is also the author of an illustrated children’s book, Birds of Paradise, a finalist in the International Book Awards, and the up-coming picture book Molly Finds Her Purr.  All of Wight’s page-turning novels are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as paperbacks or e-books. Birds of Paradise (and Molly Finds Her Purr in September 2019) can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as hardbacks.

            Pamela earned her MA in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco. She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her third novel, As Lovely as a Lie. Wight speaks to book clubs and teaches creative writing classes in both locations. Many readers enjoy her “weekly blog on daily living” called Roughwighting. (www.roughwighting.net)

Pamela Wight and her books

Welcome, Pamela.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended elementary, middle, and high school in a small New Jersey town called Pitman. We only had about 400 students in the (non-private) high school. I couldn’t wait to leave Pitman and move on to bigger and better things. Now as an adult, I appreciate the wonderful aspects of small town living. 

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I received my B.A. in English Lit from a small Pennsylvania college with excellent professor-to student-relationships. My professors gave me a paid internship when I was a senior to teach their small college Freshman English classes. With that experience, I got a full scholarship for graduate school near New York City, where I earned a Masters in English Literature.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I worked as an editor and writer for a small feminist newspaper. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

Kindergarten! I was so excited that the teacher had a corner full of costumes, where we could dress up and be anyone we wanted. I choose “Superwoman.”

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember a stream of sunlight in my living room when I was young – before Kindergarten – and taking out the picture books on the bottom bookshelf and making up stories from the pictures. That’s when I first started to “read.”

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Pamela Wight learning to write

What I remember as a child is writing birthday and holiday cards to my family, many of them poems; this is how I first discovered my love of writing.

What do you remember about math classes?

How much I hated them. Math didn’t make sense to me; stories did.

What was your favourite subject? 

English.

What did you like best about school?

what Pamela Wight liked best about school

I loved going to my English and Drama (and even Latin) classes, because we were assigned stories and novels, and then discussed the characters and the setting and the plot in school: Fahrenheit 451 (where I began my love for Ray Bradbury’s writing), 1984 (dystopian!), Of Mice and Men (first book that made me sob), Invisible Man (awakened my social consciousness); Pride and Prejudice (romance with wit!). I woke up and grew up as I read these books.

What did you like least about school?

Biology and geometry. The worst? Dissecting frogs. I protested animal cruelty, but the teacher still made me do it.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Pamela Wight and granddaughter

I think my kids (and now my grandkids) are given a wider variety of subjects to learn in each class, even elementary. One of my 6-year-old grandchildren has explained to me the metamorphosis of a butterfly; a 5-year-old grandson has showed me his yogic postures of down dog and plow that he learned in Kindergarten; and my granddaughter recited a speech by John Adams in 4th grade and played the role of John Lennon on “Biography Day” in 5th grade. When I was in school during those grades, we just “followed the lines” in every subject.  Also, special education has improved so much from my school time (when basically there was no “special” education) to my children’s time, to my grandchildren’s, where there’s now much more focus on helping those with different learning abilities.

What do you think schools (in general) do well? 

Open up a child’s intellect and curiosity about many subjects, and allow each child to thrive while learning.

Pamela Wight reading Birds of Paradise to children

How do you think schools could be improved?

I think schools should focus on the importance of empathy and compassion for all living beings, as well as the importance of learning a subject. Open up more lessons on diversity and how we each learn from each other. Additionally, we need more/better high school classes on ‘daily life’ activities like budgeting and nutrition.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Pamela. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I totally agree that we should focus more on the importance of empathy and compassion, and the ability to learn from each other.

Find out more about Pamela

Visit her blog: www.roughwighting.net

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12334429-pamela

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: http://facebook.com/roughwighting

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelawight

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pamelawight

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pam94920

Pamela Wight and her books

Purchase your own copy of

The Right Wrong Man

Twin Desires

Birds of Paradise

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Pete Springer

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

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