Category Archives: eLearning

observing living thing local environment

readilearn: Observing living things in the local environment – animals – Readilearn

Observing living things in the local environment helps children develop an appreciation for all living things, not just the exotic animals that feature most commonly in picture books and wildlife shows. It also helps them appreciate the diversity of living things in their local area and may stimulate an interest to know more.

Conducted over a week, including a weekend, observations can reveal a surprising number of creatures. If the observations are repeated throughout the year; for example, during different seasons, a greater diversity may be observed.

Be part of a larger project

While observations can be conducted independently as part of the class curriculum, sometimes you can be involved in larger citizen science projects such as these two Australian projects: the Aussie Backyard Bird Count and The Atlas of Living Australia. Data on The Atlas of Living Australia enables you to find out what living things others have observed in your local (Australian) area.

For those living outside Australia, you may find resources specific to your location by searching National Geographic, Scientific American or simply by conducting an internet search.

Books and other resources

While many species observed may be identified through an internet search, particularly using the resource section of your local museums, it is also useful to source books about the wildlife of your area, or to seek out local groups and experts to assist identification and to develop understanding of local habitats and living things.

Circle picture book by Jeannie Baker

Include picture books if possible too. For example, earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of an exhibition of collages created by Australian author and illustrator Jeannie Baker to continue reading

Source: readilearn: Observing living things in the local environment – animals – Readilearn

readilearn Lessons for the interactive whiteboard – Christmas – Readilearn

I loved the addition of the interactive whiteboard to my classroom about ten years ago. I embraced the use of computer technology from when I bought my first home computer in 1985 and first used computers in my classroom in 1986. The interactive whiteboard was a way of making use of the technology inclusive. Instead of one or two children taking a turn on the computer while the rest of the class were engaged in other things, we could all be involved at the same time, if desired.

I used the interactive whiteboard with the whole class for introducing topics, brainstorming ideas and explaining concepts. It was great for modelled writing lessons and collaborative reading. I found it particularly useful for demonstrating the processes to follow in the computer lab.

I used some purchased software, but also spent a lot of time creating activities to teach or practice particular concepts or skills. Versions of many of these lessons are now available here on readilearn.

Continue reading: readilearn Lessons for the interactive whiteboard – Christmas – Readilearn

Getting to know you – Readilearn

getting-to-know-you-2

The beginning of the year is a great time for getting to know each other. Children will feel comfortable and friendly towards each other in a welcoming classroom environment that values and respects individuals; and in which appreciation for our diversity, as well as our commonality, is nurtured.

When children feel safe to be who they are, they are more accepting of others.

While it is important to establish a welcoming environment at the beginning of the school year, it is equally important to maintain the supportive environment throughout the year. It is not something we do to pretty the room and then forget about it. It is a part of who we are, and comes from a firm belief in the value of each individual, of community, of humanity, and of our world.

Source: Getting to know you – Readilearn

Preparing for holidays – Readilearn

At this time of the year, people around the world are preparing to celebrate a variety of holidays. Christmas, celebrated by almost half of the world’s population, is perhaps the biggest holiday of the year. While traditionally a Christian celebration, its focus for many is now more secular than religious and is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians. Even within the Christian community, there are many ways in which the festival is observed.

In addition to Christmas, children in Australia are preparing for the end of the school year and their long summer holidays from approximately mid-December to late January. While not as long as that of some of our northern cousins, the six-week break challenges parents in thinking of ways to keep the children occupied, while ensuring that the achievements of the year are not lost before the new school year begins.

In this post, I share some suggestions and readilearn resources to assist in preparation for both.

Click here to read the original: Preparing for holidays – Readilearn

About Bullfrog’s Billabong

This post is republished from the readilearn blog.

Hi, and welcome again to the readilearn blog. I hope you’ve had a good week. Thank you for your interest in readilearn. I apologise to those who have experienced difficulty in applying the discount coupon codes at the checkout. Know that I will honour the coupon offer with a PayPal discount refund if your subscription goes through with payment in full. I appreciate your persistence and patience while we improve flow with the payment system. Please contact me if you experience any difficulties.

Bullfrog's Billabong - cover

Getting to know readilearn resources

In this post I discuss the Bullfrog’s Billabong suite of resources.

Bullfrog’s Billabong is a cumulative story which takes place at a fictitious Australian Billabong. Bullfrog is the first to arrive at the billabong. He decides it would be a great place to live and makes it his home. Each day, more animals arrive at the billabong. They too think it would be a good home and, after asking permission, decide to stay. Unfortunately, as the billabong becomes more and more crowded, the animals have difficulty in getting along. Their racket attracts another visitor who also sees the potential of the billabong as a home.

The story includes mathematical concepts including counting, growing patterns and days of the week.

The repetitive structure supports children’s reading and encourages them to make predictions based upon obvious patterns involving counting and days of the week. Their knowledge of narrative structure encourages prediction of possible events and conclusion. The end may surprise some children and they may or may not approve of the author’s choice. A discussion of alternative ways to conclude the story could lead to some interesting writing, and an understanding that what happens in stories is a choice made by the author.

While the animals will be familiar to Australian children, the story provides a great opportunity for children from other countries to find out about them too.

I hope you and your children enjoy reading the story and using the resources.

The suite of existing resources includes:

Bullfrog’s Billabong – an estory (The story can be displayed on the whiteboard for reading to, with, or by the children.)

Bullfrog’s Billabong – Covered cloze (This interactive resource for use on the whiteboard is great for teaching effective reading strategies. For best effect, it should be used before any other Bullfrog’s Billabong resources.)

Bullfrog’s Billabong – Cloze – How to use this resource  (Refer to this resource for suggested use of the covered cloze interactive resource. For more information about covered cloze as a teaching strategy, refer to Covered Cloze – teaching effective reading strategies)

Bullfrog’s Billabong – Covered cloze Sampler (This is a free one-page sneak peek at how the interactivity works before making a commitment to purchase a subscription.)

 Look what's new

What’s new – uploaded this week!

I have been working on new resources to support and complement the existing Bullfrog’s Billabong resources.

This week I have added three new resources to the collection:

Bullfrog’s Billabong – The facts (This information sheet explains what a billabong is and verifies that all the story’s animals may live in a billabong, though possibly not the same one.)

Bullfrog’s Billabong – the next chapter (Children draw and write what they think happens next on this printable sheet.)

Bullfrog’s Billabong – Days of the week (Use these three sets of printable cards when teaching or revising the days of the week. There are A5 cards for use with the whole class, and smaller cards for use by individuals or small groups.)

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

I am working on other resources to add to the suite, including presentation of the story as a play. There is also a set of animals to print that can be used to make pop stick puppets for a performance. Watch for these, and others, coming soon.

I hope you and your children enjoy using these resources. I had fun making them and thinking about the responses of children.

Please contact me if you have any questions. I welcome your feedback, especially suggestions for improvements to existing resources and ideas for new ones.

Introductory discount

Remember, if you haven’t yet subscribed, an introductory discount of 20% is available to all who subscribe this year. Just use the coupon code welcome2 at the checkout to receive your discount.

ncblog welcome2

I’ll see you next week. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.

Thank you

Thank you for reading.

Happy teaching and learning,

Norah

 

You can contact me:

via email hello@readilearn.com.au

via the Contact page

on Twitter @readilearn or @NorahColvin

on Facebook @readilearnteachingresources

on my other blog NorahColvin.com

I invite you to rate and review any resources you use, and to share information about readilearn on social media.

 

Delivering a sneak peek for Easter

Launching soon - readilearn2

For the past few years I have been preparing early childhood teaching resources for a website that I hoped would be up and running by now. Unfortunately, there have been some delays with the developer. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a resource with an Easter theme to give you a free taste test. This will be of interest mainly to early childhood teachers or parents of young children. Everyone else is excused.

The resource, called “Easter Delivery”, is a story about twin bilbies, Benny and Belinda, who get to deliver eggs to the families of some friends for the first time. It incorporates addition concepts and is suitable for use with the whole class on the interactive white board.

The story involves the children in helping Benny and Belinda work out how many eggs they need to deliver to each family and the combination of packs they could choose. The maths concepts are probably most suitable to year one students but teachers may use their discretion about how much maths to include.

Included is an information sheet about the resource and three printable follow-up activities:

  • Benny and Belinda’s Easter Activity – children record the number of people in their own family and draw and calculate the number of eggs Benny and Belinda would deliver
  • A Happy Easter Card from the Bilbies – a card with a picture to colour and blank inside for children’s own messages
  • The Bilbies’ Easter Colouring Page

The resource is available clicking on the image until Thursday 24 March 2016. Hopefully it will be available on my website for Easter 2017!

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

Yes. It is a bit of shameless promotion but it is also a gift for you to use if you would like to in the lead-up to Easter. The resource is not downloadable, but I am happy for the link to be shared with your early childhood teaching friends and colleagues. While it is not a requirement of use, I’d really appreciate some feedback. Please use the poll or share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Thank you

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

Are we finished?

I am a work in progress. I reflect on the past, predict the future, and live in the present moment. Nearly everything I do is a work in progress. Some things just make more progress than others!

Over the past few years I have been preparing resources for my readilearn website. It’s slow going, slower than I expected, but I’m getting … somewhere. Even when the website launches it will be a work in progress as I update old and add new resources.

Launching soon - readilearn2

In a flurry of activity, with the intention of completing additional resources as development of the website nears completion, I experimented with making a product promotional video. My intention is to make a number of these, possibly explaining the use of each interactive resource. Doing so is far more time consuming that I had expected.

Below is my first attempt. But please don’t let that word “first” mislead you into mistakenly thinking it was my only attempt. I lost count of the number of takes and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to utter just a few short sentences. While I am sharing it, please consider it a work in progress. Making promotional videos for my products is something I need much more practice with.

My purpose in sharing the video is to illustrate the importance of being a lifelong learner, which involves a combination of persistence, resilience and confidence, including:

  • a willingness to make mistakes and repeated attempts
  • a growth mindset without an expectation of immediate success
  • confidence to say “I haven’t got it yet, but I’m working on it”
  • belief in the ability to succeed, either independently or with support
  • an ability to adjust future attempts according to feedback provided from the past.

I learned a lot in making this video, perhaps more about what doesn’t work than what does. But eliminating what doesn’t work is crucial in finding out what does. For example, I learned after repeated attempts on both, that selfie videos recorded with phone or iPad just weren’t going to be good enough. I learned that neither of the software programs for making videos I owned would allow me to achieve what I wanted on its own. I needed to combine recordings from each. After many trials I finally made something that at least has the semblance of an attempt.

Included in my passion for learning is a passion for learning about learning: how we learn, why we learn and the conditions that contribute to our learning. I am fascinated by learning that occurs at all ages, but particularly during early childhood.

In the process of repeated attempts described above, I responded constantly to feedback provided, and adjusted each new attempt accordingly. Feedback is necessary for learning. But perhaps more important than the feedback is the response to it.

Hopeful of getting some other feedback, I shared the video with my family on the weekend. They made some helpful suggestions. But perhaps the most interesting feedback, about feedback, was that given by my four-year-old granddaughter, G2.

G2 watched the video with her mother and immediately wanted to play the game. I was delighted, of course, and opened the resource on the iPad for her to use. She had no trouble manipulating the objects to make the ice creams and quickly made a few combinations. When I asked if a mango with strawberry on the top was the same as, or different from, a strawberry with mango on the top, she confidently explained that they were different because “this one’s got the strawberry on the top and this one’s got the mango on the top”. She went on making combinations.

icecreams

© Norah Colvin

After she’d made about ten combinations she asked, “Are we finished yet?” I said, “We can finish whenever you like.” I wasn’t using it as a “teaching episode”, simply as something fun for her to do. She asked again, “But are we finished? You know –“ and she indicated for something to happen on the screen showing that we had finished.

Suddenly I realised that she was wanting feedback from the program to tell her that she was finished, that she was successful; perhaps some bells, whistles or fireworks. Because I designed the resource as an open-ended teaching episode, for use by a teacher with a class rather than by individual children, the resource does not have any inbuilt feedback. The feedback occurs in the discussion between teacher and students.

What I intended as a teaching episode became, for me, a learning episode; thinking and learning about feedback.

  • G2 expected to receive feedback about completion, and
  • she wished to continue until she received that feedback.

However,

  • she doesn’t’ require feedback about completion from all apps, for example, drawing programs: she decides when she is finished, and
  • during play she decides which activity she will take up and when she will finish.

G2 has a good balance of activities with home and Kindy; indoor and outdoor with a variety self-selected and self-directed imaginative play mixed with cooperative activities including reading, board games and screen time with a variety of apps.

With such variety she receives feedback from many sources including self and others, as well as from manipulation with real and electronic objects. I think her question “Are we finished yet?” was related to use of the specific device and type of activity (game to her), not indicative of a generalised need for feedback from outside.

But what of children who are more engaged with electronic games, have less time for self-directed activity, and fewer opportunities to engage with others? Will the need for feedback from an outside source overtake the ability to provide feedback for self? I hope not. I believe the abilities to self-monitor, self-regulate and self-determine to be extremely important to life-long learning. What do you think?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. It is important to me! Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.