Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Unpacking the Greatest Gift - Comparatively Speaking

Unpacking the greatest gift — comparatively speaking

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - greatest gift

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

 

 

 

 

As usual, my mind jumps all over the place trying to find somewhere solid to land.

For example:

Do you remember learning the comparative and superlative at school?

great                    greater                 greatest

But what could be described as the greatest, indeed the greatest gift?

Muhammad Ali had no trouble in declaring that he was the greatest.

And ever since reading Charli’s post, I haven’t been able to get Whitney Houston out of my head.

According to liveaboutdotcom, Whitney Houston“has been cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the most awarded female performer of all time.” It appears that those awards were not enough. Perhaps had she been able to find that love, it would have been her greatest gift

Then there’s a chant I used to hear in the playground. A group of girls would gather and one would call out, “I am the greatest”. Others would respond, “No you’re not.” Then everyone would do a handstand. And so, it would repeat. I think whoever held the handstand the longest was entitled to call, “I am the greatest.” If only it were that easy.

I am the greatest - playground game

If one was to be the greatest at anything, would that be the greatest gift?

I’ve often said that a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child.

the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child

It is one of the greatest gifts not only for the joy that reading can give, but even more because the ability to read is empowering. It enables one to fully participate in what societies have to offer, to navigate one’s way through our complex environments and seek knowledge for oneself.

If it is but one of the greatest gifts, what are the others, and is there one that is greatest of them all? Is it the gift of life? Of unconditional love? Of being accepted as you are? The most expensive car? The biggest house? The largest inheritance?

Was winning the World Heavyweight Championship the greatest gift for Muhammad Ali? The greatest number of awards wasn’t the greatest gift for Whitney Houston.

I think it’s too difficult to intellectualise. I’ve gone back to the concrete thinking of six-year-olds for my answer.

The Greatest Gift

The class was aflame with a mix of sadness and excitement.

“She’s is leaving.”

“She’s gunna have a baby.”

“I’m gunna bring her a gift.”

“I am too.”

On her final day, the children jostled to give first, hopeful she’d love their gift the best.

“Mine’s bigger than yours.”

“Mine’s better.”

“Mine’s the greatest.”

The children gloated and nudged each other as the teacher opened the gifts.

“How perfect.”

“This is great.”

“Thank you, everyone.”

Finally, Tommy edged forward. His hands were empty. He looked shyly into his teacher’s eyes and whispered, “I’ll miss you, Miss. You’re the best.”

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

The Student Blogging Challenge - How you can be involved

The Student Blogging Challenge — How you can be involved – readilearn

The Student Blogging Challenge is a project that encourages students around the world to create a blog and experience the benefits of publishing online including:

  • developing digital writing skills
  • becoming aware of the possibilities and responsibilities of digital citizenship
  • writing for and developing an authentic audience
  • making connections with others around the world.

Founded in 2008 by Sue Wyatt, who I had the pleasure of meeting up with in Hobart a few years ago, the challenge has been held twice a year since then in March and October. The next Challenge, hosted by Kathleen Morris and Sue Waters, begins on 6 October and runs for eight weeks. A different blogging task is to be completed each week. Students can join in as part of a class group or individually. Participation is free.

Who can be involved?

The challenge is open to students from K–12 around the world. However, organisers suggest that it is most suited to students from 8–16 years.

There are three ways to participate:

As a teacher, you can register your class.

Students can register individually.

As an adult, you can register as a commenter on the student blogs.

I joined in as a commenter for the first time in the March Challenge this year and have this lovely certificate to prove it.

Continue reading: The Student Blogging Challenge — How you can be involved – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences -- Some Data

School Days Reminiscences — Some Data

School days and their impact on our lives has been a major topic of discussion here over the past six months when authors and bloggers have shared their reminiscences. (You can catch up on any reminiscences you missed here.)With no one else quite ready to share just yet, I thought it would be interesting to have a look over some aspects of the reviews.

The first questions I asked were related to where schools had been attended and whether the schools were government, private or independent.

Where did the interviewees attend school?

A total of twelve countries were listed:

  • USA (8)
  • England (7)
  • Canada (3)
  • South Africa (3)
  • India (1)
  • Wales (1)
  • Australia (1)
  • Malaysia (1)
  • Singapore (1)
  • New Zealand (1)
  • Malta (1)
  • Zimbabwe (1)
  • And the British Colony of Hong Kong (1)

Three interviewees attended schools in two or more countries (two attended in three).

This gives us quite an international flavour to the interviews.

Were the schools government, private or independent?

This one is a little more difficult to summarise as the systems seem to be classed differently from country to country. However, the majority of interviewees appear to have attended government schools, with a smattering attending private or independent schools, and some a mixture of both.

Was there an overall favourite subject?

graph - what was your favourite subject

Discussions on the posts indicated that there might have been a trend towards a liking for English and a dislike of physical education and maths. I think the trend away from PE and maths especially may have emerged through the discussions themselves, as when I went back through the posts, it wasn’t so obvious. However, I didn’t specifically ask which subject was most disliked.

English with its related subjects like reading and writing was definitely the overall favourite with eleven listing it as such.

The list of favourites includes:

  • English (11)
  • History (4)
  • Music (2)
  • Geography (2)
  • Social Studies (2)
  • French (1)
  • PE (1)
  • Art (1)
  • Humanities (1)
  • Maths (1)
  • Drama (1)

(Note: If people listed more than one, I may have included it.)

What aspect of school was most disliked?

As I didn’t ask the question about subjects that were disliked, but what was most disliked about school, I received a variety of responses.

PE did figure in the responses of six respondents, but the social aspect of fitting in and making friends, including when changing schools was listed by seven. Subjects such as maths, physics, geography, biology and geometry rated only one mention each. Other dislikes included disruption due to war, rules, long distances to and from school, and being picked out to answer questions. Others said that there was nothing they had disliked about school.

It is interesting that the social aspect of school and physical education ranked so highly. I wonder how much of the dislike for physical education was related to the social aspect of it.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

What's grit got to do with it flash fiction

What’s Grit Got to Do with It?

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - true grit

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows true grit. You can use the phrase or embody the theme. Who or what has true grit? Go where the prompt leads you!

Grit is a combination of many things including perseverance, determination, resilience, persistence, doggedness. It’s an ability to overcome the small obstacles that litter life’s path without allowing them to overwhelm and prevent a way forward.

Teaching requires grit. Along with the enormous expectations and responsibilities of the role, there are the needs of many little people to be met. Most days teachers cope admirably, but some days can offer a little more challenge.

One of our roles as teachers is to help children develop grit, to have a go, persevere, be persistent and resilient. In any class, there will be children with varying degrees of grit. There will be those who are just a little more needy, requiring a little more encouragement and support. Most days they might cope admirably, other days may offer a little more challenge.

As John Denver sang, “Some Days are Diamonds. Some Days are Stones.”

Some days may be just a little grittier than others and we might need a whole bucketful of grit to make it through.

A Bucketful of Grit - flash fiction

A Bucketful of Grit

“Miss, Jimmie’s crying.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Susan,” she smiled through gritted teeth.

What now? Couldn’t she just finish her tea for once? Something trivial, no doubt. Better go see, just in case.

She met a small posse escorting Jimmie across the playground. Their imploring eyes begged her sympathy.

“What’s wrong, Jimmie?”

“I, I —”

“He got grit in his eye, Miss.”

“Let’s see. Ah, yes. Better take him to First Aid.”

The children moved off as one, except George. He turned and held out a bucket.

“What’s that?”

“You told Jimmie to find some grit. Here ‘tis!”

Thank you blog post

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

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

School Days, Reminiscences — the first 25

Every Sunday evening for the past twenty-five weeks, I have been sharing the school reminiscences of members of my blogging community. As well as being a way of thanking them for their support, it was a way to get to know them a little better and of letting you know about their services and publications.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that have developed around each individual’s reminiscences and I think, it is fair to say, we have learned much from each other. It is pleasing to see that new friendships have formed and the interest in each others’ work has grown.

I thought this was a good time to pause and reflect on the journeys of those we’ve met so far. If you haven’t yet and would like to join in by sharing your school days reminiscences, please let me know in the comments and I’ll send you the questions.

If you missed reading any of the first 25 reminiscences, click on the photos to check them out. The interviews contain links to the writers’ blogs, website and/or publications. Enjoy!

Charli Mills reminiscences about school days

School Days reminiscences of Sally Cronin

School Days Reminiscences of Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard's reminiscences of school days

school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

Pauline King reminiscences of school days

School days, reminiscences of JulesPaige

School Days Reminiscences of D. Avery

School Days Reminiscences of Christy Birmingham

School days reminiscences of Miriam Hurdle

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

School Days Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

School Days Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

 

Thank you blog post

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

 

visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson

Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

This week I’m visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson to chat about her latest book Sarah’s Two Nativities written by Janine M Fraser and published by Black Dog Books. The book is due for release this month with a launch scheduled for the 21st.

About Helene

I first introduced you to Helene in 2017 when she chatted about her process of illustrating, especially as it related to the beautiful book of poetry Magic Fish Dreaming written by June Perkins. You can read that interview here.

Since the publication of Magic Fish Dreaming, Helene has illustrated a number of other books and now has eleven published books in her portfolio, with more on the way. I am not surprised that Helene is sought after as an illustrator. I think you’d have to agree that her, mainly watercolour, illustrations are exquisite and possess an almost magical quality.

Although Helene now calls Australia home, she has lived in countries all over the world, including Africa, France, and India. That her travels both inspire and enrich her work is obvious in her delightful illustrations that perfectly complement Janine Fraser’s story Sarah’s Two Nativities.

About Sarah’s Two Nativities

From the publisher:

‘Sarah loves her two grandmas – Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. Grandmother Azar tells Sarah stories from the Holy Koran, while Grandmother Maria tells her stories from the Bible. At Christmas time, Sarah snuggles in each of her grandmothers’ laps and listens to two nativities stories about the birth of baby Jesus. They are the same in some ways, and different in others … but both can be Sarah’s favourite.’

Continue reading: Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

Flash fiction What does your daddy do

What does your daddy do?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - safebreaker's daughter

In her post, Charli linked to the song The Safebreaker’s Daughter. After taking us on a deep mapping journey around the streets of her home, Charli contemplated what might occur should the safebreaker’s daughter turn up on one of those streets and wrote 99 words to share her thoughts. Please pop over and read if you would like to respond to her challenge as well.

As I have spent most of my life in the classroom, as usual, and not surprisingly, that’s where the prompt took me.

As teachers in public schools, we work with children from many different backgrounds, family configurations and status. The children of parents who ‘earn’ their living by not-so-honest means must also attend school. Unless those parents are the ‘wealthier’ white-collar criminals and seemingly respectable until caught out, many of the children attend public schools. Most teachers, at some time, will have worked with children whose parents engaged in practices outside the law or may have even been incarcerated. Sometimes we know. Sometimes we suspect. Sometimes we have no idea.

It is more than likely that the safebreaker’s daughter would have attended school and at some stage, as most children do, written about her parents and their work as part of her social studies. As we’ve just celebrated Father’s Day here in Australia, I decided to place the safebreaker’s daughter in a class writing about their father’s employment.

What Does Your Daddy Do?

The children drew portraits and wrote profiles of their fathers’ work. Some had accompanied their father to work and related first-hand knowledge of laying bricks, wearing a fireman’s helmet, sitting in the manager’s chair, or distributing medication to patients. Then it was Patsy’s turn. She read:

“My Dad

My dad goes to work at night. He is a cleaner. He works when everyone else is sleeping. He wears black jeans, a black shirt and a black hat. He wears gloves so he doesn’t leave fingerprints where he has cleaned. He usually cleans up banks and jewellery stores.

The end.”

 

My Dad - a childish story

Note: The burglar illustrating Patsy story is an alteration of an Image by Joe Alfaraby from Pixabay.

Thank you blog post

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