Category Archives: Education

appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms

Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – reblogged from readilearn

Poetry is a wonderful tool for learning language. When children listen to or recite poetry, they are learning the rhythms and sounds of language, exploring ideas and how to express them, expanding vocabularies, deepening understanding in nuances of meaning, and having fun with thoughts and their expression.

Children are exposed to rhythm and rhyme from their earliest days through nursery rhymes, chants and songs as well as the text of picture books. It is important for children to have opportunities for appreciating and exploring poetry into and throughout their school years. The Australian Curriculum places poetry firmly into the literature strand of English teaching each year. But it is not necessary to relegate poetry just to a poetry unit of work when stipulated by the curriculum. Poetry, rhymes, chants and songs can be easily incorporated into the daily class program.

Michael Rosen, who you may know as the author of Going on a Bear Hunt and who I previously introduced to you in this post, shares some recommendations for teaching poetry on his blog. Although the suggestions were written for a year one teacher, I think the suggestions could be extended out to other years. Following his recommendations would more than cover the expectations of the Australian Curriculum, and what a wonderful way to turn children (and yourself) onto poetry.

I’m only sharing a few of his recommendations here. Please visit his website to read the others.

Michael Rosen’s suggestions for teaching poetry

  • Get as many poetry books into your classroom as possible. Encourage the children in pairs to browse, choose and read.
  • Read poems to them every day, use vids of poets (check out Michael Rosen’s YouTube channel) , use national poetry archive. Writing poems with no poems in your head is too big an ask. Fill their heads with ‘What poetry can do’ ie loads of poems.

Continue reading: Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – readilearn

empowerment through reading instruction

Empowerment through reading instruction – reblogged from readilearn

The importance of reading to children every day is never far from my mind. It comes from a passion for all things literacy as well as the knowledge that reading means empowerment. Reading is the key that unlocks so much that is meaningful in today’s world.

Whether at home or in the classroom, children need to listen to stories read aloud to them every day. It should be non-negotiable and prioritised. I would also add time for independent reading of self-selected material to that non-negotiable list and, in the classroom, time for independent writing on self-chosen topics.

Listening to stories benefits children in many ways; including, but not limited to:

  • Sheer enjoyment
  • Connection with others and other ideas which leads to understanding, respect and empathy
  • Exposure to language and vocabulary which in turns develops language and vocabulary
  • Positive feelings for books as a source of pleasure and information and a stimulus for imagination and creativity
  • A model of fluent and expressive reading behaviour that can be aspired to and emulate
  • A desire to read for oneself.

Keeping in mind that reading aloud to children and making time for their independent reading are non-negotiable and occur in the classroom every day, children also require purposeful instruction in the process of reading.

While some children appear to learn easily and without effort before starting school, as my own two children did, others struggle to understand the marks on the page. Most children fall somewhere on a continuum between, benefitting from instruction along the way.

The readilearn collection of teaching resources for teachers of the first three years of school includes many to support your teaching of reading. Many resources are free, others are available for no more than a few dollars, or you can access all the resources for one low annual subscription of just A$25. (That’s about £13, €15, US$17 or CAN$22) I’m sure you’ll agree that’s great value.

Browse resources now

readilearn supports teachers teaching reading

Reading aloud

As part of our support for reading aloud, on the readilearn blog we regularly conduct interviews with authors and illustrators about their new books. Many of these interviews are available to download free from the Author and Illustrator Spotlight resources.  We also publish free lists of books on different topics for you to download; for example,

multicultural picture book

Continue reading: Empowerment through reading instruction – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

School Days, Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

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 Yvette Prior, a blogger and multi-talented friend. Yvette writes about a wide range of topics and in a variety of genres on her priorhouse blog. I always appreciate her different ways of looking at things and her positive views of the world. Do pop over to take a look. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

It’s probably best I allow Yvette to tell you a little of herself before we get started on the interview:

Yvette Prior is a blogger, author, teacher, psychologist, and researcher. Yvette has been married to Chris for 22 years and they live on the East Coast of Virginia. They have two boys, now adults, and a step-daughter who is expecting her second child next year. Yvette has been teaching — on and off  — elementary students and college level, since the 1990s. In 2018, Yvette became a Certified Higher Education Professional and currently teaches college and works part-time as a work psychologist.

In middle school, Yvette won public speaking awards, which led to the wonderful opportunity of attending a Performing Arts High School.

In college, she changed her major a few times before finally discovering the Education department.

Right after graduating, she decided to put her career to the side in order to stay home and raise her children. While doing so, she still worked part-time, which included teaching science education and five years of teaching elementary art.

As her children grew, she had the chance to go back to school and earn advanced degrees in psychology. While finishing up her dissertation, she healed from an invasive fungal infection, which was a challenging nightmare, but then also had positive outcomes. She now has a stronger bioterrian and continues to feel empowered by knowing alternative medicine and by remembering how precious life is. She is not a religious person, but she is a woman of faith and gives God all the glory for any and every success.

Yvette Prior and books

Welcome, Yvette.

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

Buffalo, New York.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Yvette Prior early school days

I started off at private for preschool and kindergarten. My mother became a Presbyterian and we withdrew from private Catholic and went to public. I went to a public “magnet” school for high school where I majored in performing arts.

What is the highest level of education you achieved? 

I earned my Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

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

Yvette Prior working life

As noted in the intro, after earning my undergrad in Education, I stayed home with children. I worked part-time (to stay fresh and bring in some money) and at first worked in a restaurant, where I was promoted to management and it was becoming a career. However, we then moved coast to coast, twice, and I taught at the Youth Science Institute of California and the Science Museum of Virginia. I then taught elementary art at two different private schools. I currently teach college and work part-time as a psychologist. In the next few years, I hope to do more research about work rewards and motivation and also hope to finish up some writing projects. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

An early memory from school was when my 4th grade, silver-haired teacher, said she was, “flabbergasted” with me. She had left the room and a few of us started dancing around. When she returned, she scolded everyone, but then got close to my face and said, “I am especially flabbergasted with you, Yvette.” I went home and asked my mother what it meant… and then she found out about it. That word always reminds me of that teacher.

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember reading stations and recall the teacher using a jumbo book and audio recording to teach us words.

What memories do you have of learning to write? 

My 6th grade English teacher, Mr. Calderelli, taught me to write. However, on the second day of school, he threw an eraser towards my desk because a few of us were still talking. I cannot recall all the details, but he apologized and I was moved to the front of the room. We then connected and he became my favorite teacher. I had perfect attendance and won little awards. He published my writing in Buffalo’s “Our Best” – a short piece arguing against the death penalty. In hindsight, I see how that eraser event could have had a different outcome, and I am grateful it was a catalyst for bonding.

I have a post on my blog dedicated to Mr. C here.

(Norah’s note: If you haven’t yet read that post, or even if you have, I recommend you visit it and have a read. It is a fine example of Yvette’s work.)

What do you remember about math classes? 

I recall Mr. Smyth, in 7th grade honors math, showing us newspaper ads and having us figure out sale prices using percentages. I sometimes think of him when I see holiday ads.

What do you remember about history classes?

Yvette Prior on quality teaching

My 8th grade teacher gave fun assignments for extra credit. Sometimes a little extra credit allows more students to “win” and attain that sense of success with a better grade. Recently, I heard a teacher brag about how “tough” she was, but I think she is missing out on what makes a great teacher. Quality teaching is not defined by toughness, or being the sage on the stage; instead, the goal is to engage diverse learners and help them effectively meet course objectives. And sometimes – a little extra credit option can breathe needed motivation into students 

What was your favourite subject?

Yvette Prior favourite subject

My favorite subject was Trigonometry in high school. I started off by blowing off class. However, midway through the year, school became important to me and I buckled down and got caught up on my own. I studied hard using Barron’s review books — and even skipped a few parties to study. I finished the class well, but the best takeaways were discovering that self-learning mode and finding such a fun area of math. 

What did you like best about school? 

I liked the structure.  I also liked when teachers were nice to students – like Mrs. Short and Mrs. George.

What did you like least about school?  

My least favorite part about schools is that teachers (and the system) can sometimes be too harsh. There are mean teachers and sometimes the punishment for small infractions are overly punitive. This means students do not always connect the punishment with the behavior and so instead of behavior change – we have hurt students. Sometimes teachers are “too concerned about tasks” and not “concerned enough with the learner.”

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

Today’s schools are culturally sensitive, still improving, but they have come a long way over the last 40 years. I like the work of Ruby Payne with regards to culture and economic differences.

Many schools also do a great job at educating a large number of students at one time.  I know an art teacher who provides art lessons to 2,000 students a week – and she says it is awesome.

I also think schools do well with “certain” students (the ones that conform, right-handed girls, etc.).

How do you think schools could be improved? 

I think schools could be improved if teachers were better trained with behavioral conditioning strategies and learned more about the powerful use of reinforcements. Teachers also need to make sure they are in tune with cognitive factors of learning (free will, moods, thoughts, and feelings) and the biological changes that growing children go through on their educational journey. Also, we need to sometimes give students a little power, along with rules and structure, but we need to empower more – especially for breeding leaders.

Classrooms need less sitting and more physical activity. Not just PE, but we need to let students move more.

Schools can also be improved if we taught emotion management at earlier ages and target the five Emotional Intelligence domains before middle school.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school, Yvette, then and now. It seems education is as much a part of your life as it is of mine. I appreciate your suggestions for improving schools and agree with what you say about the system. It is always good to hear from an educator and how their early experiences being schooled affect their attitudes to learning and teaching. Thank you for contributing your voice to this series.

Thank you, Norah, for inviting me to share in this series. And thanks to all the teachers out there who give so much of their lives to invest in students and help them on their educational journey.

 Find out more about Yvette Prior on her blog.
Find out more about Yvette’s books here.

To purchase your own copy of her books, click on the book title or image.

Lady by the River (stories of perseverance and self-help resources)

Avian Friends (Poems about nature, faith, appreciating life, and coping with grief)

Conversate (Tips for Parenting Teens)

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here and here.

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

Thank you blog post

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

 

Trio recognised for reducing poverty for 60 million people

#WATWB Trio recognised for reducing poverty for 60 million people

It’s the end of the month again, so time to share good news and spread some joy throughout the world with the We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB).

This month I am sharing the news of three US economists who were awarded the 2019 Nobel Economics prize for their work in fighting poverty. The three economists are Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer. In the 50-year history of the Economics prize, Esther Duflo is the youngest, and only the second female, to be awarded the prize.

The focus of the work for which the prize was awarded is education and healthcare. Over 60 Million children in Africa and India have benefited from the work.

Read the whole story here.

Click here to read more good news stories shared by other #WATWB bloggers.

If you like to spread good news, you can join in too and help us make critical mass.

As founders of #WATWB say, our newsfeeds often overflow with disasters and tragedies of all sizes, from large to small, that may overwhelm us with feelings of hopelessness and a loss of faith in the goodness of humanity. WATWB aims to combat those feelings with good news stories. They say, “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.”

If you would like to join in with #WATWB, here are the guidelines:

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.

  1. 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 for this month are:

Sylvia McGrathLizbeth HartzShilpa GargMary Giese, and Belinda Witzenhausen.

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

Click here to join in and enter your link on the Facebook page. 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.

teaching critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning in the classroom

Teaching critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning in the classroom – readilearn

Need ideas for teaching critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning in the classroom? Find out how thinkdrive can support your teaching.

We are all aware of the importance of teaching critical and creative thinking and of providing opportunities for cooperative learning in the classroom. We know that critical and creative thinking are considered essential for life in the 21st century and, for this reason, form one of the general capabilities embedded in the Australian Curriculum. The ability to contribute productively to a team effort is also considered a highly desirable skill. These abilities are often more highly regarded by employers than academic achievement.

However, in a busy classroom with content to be taught and tests to be administered, timetables to be followed and schedules to be kept, and with ever-increasing standards to be achieved, planning for lessons developing critical and creative thinking that engage children in cooperative learning can be the item on the list that rolls over from week to week.

I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Help is close at hand with thinkdrive. If you are not already familiar with itc thinkdrive, I recommend you take a look.

itc thinkdrive

Continue reading: Teaching critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning in the classroom – readilearn

School Days, Reminiscences of Kevin Cooper

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my author and blogger friends share reminiscences of their school days.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Kevin Cooper, author, songwriter and blogger. Kevin took a keen interest in the reminiscences previously shared by others and I am delighted that he agreed to share his own.

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

Kevin Cooper is an Author & Songwriter. After years of studying, and even more, years working in education, and management in the US, he returned to his hometown in England where he finally settled down to focus on his writing and music. He has since authored several works and recorded/released his first full music album.

Kevin Cooper obtained an M.Ed in Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University.  He also did some post-graduate studies in Christian Counselling and Psychopathology at Asbury Theological Seminary. He completed his baccalaureate studies in Psychology with a minor in Classical Greek from Asbury College after devoting his first two years to studying Music Composition, and Religion at Western Kentucky University.

Welcome, Kevin.

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

I went to school in England and left high school at 16 years of age with only three CSE’s. (Now called GCSE’s) After I turned 21, I emigrated to the USA and started studying again.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In England, all the schools I attended were government schools which were very much under the influence of the ‘social class’ system back then. I also attended a state school in Kentucky after moving to the US and studied for GED to pave my way into university. I attended one state university: WKU for two years and then transferred to Asbury College. After graduating, I attended Asbury Theological Seminary for two years before moving again and enrolling in The Grand Canyon University where I received a fellowship.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

M.Ed in Secondary Education. My teaching subject is English.

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

I started out as a class tutor after being approached by a couple of professors. Later I did some private tutoring and substitute teaching. I obtained a part-time position as a music teacher for a short while then went into management for a Fortune 500 company and also obtained a part-time lecturer position for general studies. While I look back upon my years as an educator with fondness, I never set out, nor intended to become an educator. My passion was to become a clinical psychologist, but I allowed myself to be steered away from it.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Singing, All Things Bright and Beautiful in assembly at Marfleet Primary School. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and learned it quickly as it resonated with me as I played in my grandma’s gardens.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Reading Dick and Jane books with Spot the dog.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Graduating from printing words to joining the letters of the alphabet while writing. I found it intriguing.

What do you remember about math classes?

I hated math. The only time I enjoyed it was when we were given a project to take note of the different kinds of vehicles that passed us on the road and create a chart.

What was your favourite subject?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

 History. I became entranced with the stories of inventors. Especially those like George Stephenson who were from poor families and told they would never amount to anything as a child.

What did you like best about school?

As a child, getting away from home. As an adult, I couldn’t get enough of learning new things.

What did you like least about school?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

As a child, being bullied even though upon reflection this was short-lived for me because I began to fight back after a while. Even so, it still had a profound influence on my mental state which was already a mess from being part of a dysfunctional family. As an adult, studying for exams. I loved research projects and writing term papers, but hated standardised exams with multiple choice and true/false questions.

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

I think here in England there is more equality and less of a social class stigma these days. Although looking upon it almost as an outsider having lived in the USA the good part of 20 years, I could be mistaken.

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

I think schools follow curricula activities very well, unfortunately, these are not always mandated by the schools.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

First, there needs to be a far larger budget for schools in England. Class sizes need to be reduced and all teachers should have at least one assistant.

There needs to be some kind of weekly after-school mandate for parents and teachers to educate and address current/ongoing issues that affect learning.  Schools should have specially assigned social workers in the schools that teachers can go to for advice and support as they are not equipped to deal with some issues. Schools also need to have a school psychologist on site.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Kevin. I agree with your thoughts about the budget for education, class sizes and assistants for teachers. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sure others have enjoyed learning about you as much as I have.

Find out more about Kevin Cooper

On his blog:

https://authorkevincooper.com/

On his author page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Connect with him on social media

https://www.facebook.com/authorkevcooper

https://twitter.com/KevinCo34737852

Purchase Kevin’s Books:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-books/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Purchase Kevin’s Music:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-music/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf2xhbZpatTr4NwhxZwWN7Q

https://soundcloud.com/user-17880724

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here: School Days Reminiscences – the first 25.

You can also read some data drawn from the posts here, and some suggestions for how schools could be improved, as suggested by the contributors, here.

Any new interviews will be posted here on a Sunday evening AEST as they are received.

Thank you blog post

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

 

Library For All - a Force for Equality through Literacy

Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

What is Library For All?

Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world. The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas.

Who can access Library For All?

Library For All found that, even in “communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge”, many children have access to mobile phones, e-tablets and readers. Recognising this, the digital library was created which allows children anywhere to freely access reading material through the app, available in the Google Play Store on any Android device.

Teachers can also use the app with children in their classrooms. What a great way of accessing a range of culturally diverse books from simple beginning stories to chapter books.

In addition to their availability on locally owned smart phones and tablets, through the support of development organisations around the world, the books are available to many schools and communities in developing countries and remote areas through the Spark Digital Library Kits.

Continue reading: Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn