Category Archives: eLearning

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.

 

Not lost but found

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I am struggling with a writing task at the moment. Part of the reason is that is has been at the back, rather than the forefront, of my mind as I worked on other tasks, and part of the reason is that it involves self-promotion in a marketing kind of way. It confuses me a little, because haven’t I been self-promoting all the time I have been writing a blog? Surely putting my ideas out there is at least presentation, if not promotion, of said ideas.

With the goal of sharing original early childhood teaching resources and stories for children on a website of my own, I began writing a blog and engaging in social media about two and a half years ago. This was in responses to advice received from attending writing seminars and reading books about website development. Preparation of resources for my website took a back seat for a while as I engaged with other writers in the blogosphere.

Now it is time to turn the focus back onto the website, the launch of which is fast approaching. With an extra effort over the past couple of weeks, I now have sufficient resources to begin. Additional resources will be uploaded at relatively frequent, if irregular, intervals, not unlike adding to my blog.

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I have no issue with ideas for additional resources or blog posts. My stumbling block is the content for my bio and promotional information about the website. It should be easy, I know, but I am struggling to find the answers to these questions:

  • What do people want or need to know about me?
  • How can I promote my resources in an honest way that entices people to sign up to a paid subscription?
  • What is a fair price for subscription?
  • How can I persuade potential subscribers that they will get value for money?
  • How can I ensure that subscribers do not feel let down by the available resources or ripped off by misleading promotion?

These questions arise even before I begin to tackle the really difficult one:

  • How do I connect with my target audience: early childhood teachers?

I know I am not alone with these concerns.

Recently Sarah Brentyn, who blogs at Lemon Shark, questioned the validity of her profile, enflaming my anxiety by stating that “It’s seen by far too many people who judge you by those 10 – 20 words.” The thought to change my blog’s About page, with far more than 10-20 words, hasn’t yet moved beyond that guilt-ridden thought. And while I know it is not suitable as is for my website, perhaps editing or rewriting it is a place to start.

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Throughout the year Anne Goodwin, who blogs at Annecdotal, shared the process of stepping out from under the covers of introversion to promote her debut novel Sugar and Snails.  In her post One huge leap for Anne, one teeny tiny step for womankind, she questioned how to balance celebrating her achievement with the suspicion that many would be unimpressed. In another post on Book pricing: a cautionary tale Anne questioned pricing and value and shared the hope that people wouldn’t feel ripped off. I am fairly confident that Anne’s concern on each of these issues turned out to be unwarranted. Will mine be the same?

Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch Communications also frequently writes about marketing and the importance of finding one’s niche. In September she declared her position saying,

“My intention … (is) to write and publish novels. My intention is to be a successful author. Success to me is publishing books I want to write for readers who want to read them. My secondary goal is to market well enough to eat more than hand-picked dandelions from my yard. Many will say it’s a fool’s dream.”

Charli has expressed it well. Substitute “early childhood teaching resources and stories for children” for novels and it could be me. I hope that neither Charli nor I are dreaming the impossible. Charli at least has a long list of credentials.

I have spent some time looking at other websites which may be considered competitors and looking at bios on others. If there’s one thing I have discovered it is this:

compare - give up

There is a multitude of websites offering early childhood teaching resources. Some websites offer all resources free. Teachers love freebies. There are also many websites with resources available to subscribers. Why would anyone want mine?

However, I’m not going to give up now.

compare - none

I hope there are many early childhood teachers who will see sufficient value in my website to pay the annual subscription. As far as I explored, I have not found anyone offering interactive resources similar to mine. It is possible that they exist and I just haven’t found them. However, I am hoping that teachers see value enough in these alone, and consider the other resources a bonus. Time will tell. If it returns nothing but the pleasure of achievement, then I will consider it my jetski. If it does more than that I will be well pleased.

So, if I am not going to give up, maybe I just need to get on with the task of writing my bio and promotion paragraph. The other day I read a bio that described the website owner as its founder. Hmm. I thought. Maybe that’s a title I could use.

founder of readilearn

I was amused at the thought that I would found something that hadn’t been lost. It just hadn’t been before. I thought about other things, briefly mentioned in other posts, that I had founded:

Create-A-Way, educational sessions for children of before-school-age and their parents.

Centre of Learning Opportunities, envisioning an alternative way of educating.

Perhaps I can now add another to my list. I just need to get the bio written.

What advice do you have for me? What should I include? What should I leave out? What is the most important thing of which I need to be mindful?

Thank you

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

 

Ignorance is bliss … Learning to be explicit

My Dad used to say that what I didn’t know wouldn’t do me any harm. He was not impressed when a brother wrote in my autograph book when I was in my early teens that what I didn’t know wouldn’t do me much good either!

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

I’m torn between the two. I have come to realise that the more I know, the more there is to learn.

the more I know the more there is to learn

This learning journey never ceases. Each step is just one further into the unknown. I seem to know less now, or need to know more now, than I ever have before. How can that be?

There are those around me who are content with who they are, with where they are, with what they are doing, and wake up to each day wanting no more than it brings. I strive to achieve that contentment, and practice the joy of being in the present moment, believing strongly in its rewards. But at the same time I strive to do more, to learn more, to achieve more. The doing and learning is joy in the present moment, for me. It is both exhilarating and disheartening to realise that the learning journey stretches so far ahead.

Learning about learning

I have spent almost my entire life thinking and learning about learning and education, particularly literacy education and the education of young children. Though the journey has been long, my knowledge is narrow and small, and of absolutely no use in a trivia quiz, unless the question happens to be about a nursery rhyme, and then don’t ask me too much about its “real” or original meaning.

When I set upon my journey to create a website of teaching resources that I had made, I thought it was an easy thing. I had many resources already made. I just needed to get some illustrations done and put them on a website. What could be simpler than that?

Simple?

Every step I take drives me deeper into complexity, into the unknown. Unravelling the complexity demands that I be explicit, that I see and describe each minute step.

Being explicit

I always considered the ability to be explicit, to see and understand each step, essential to effective teaching in an early childhood classroom. If one was unable to see the exact spot where a child was going wrong, where a misunderstanding had been formed, or a misconception learned, or the potential for its occurrence, it was difficult to either prevent or repair it. I considered that ability to be one of my strengths as a teacher.

Over the past few years when I have been giving art briefs to illustrators, my need to be explicit was stretched anew. I had to describe in precise detail exactly what I wanted. It was no use saying I wanted a castle on a hill and expect that the artist would be able to fill in all the details I could see in my mind. I had to explicitly describe it in detail:  did it need a moat or a drawbridge, was the drawbridge to be up or down, were there turrets or flags, and if there were flags, what colour and design they would have, how many windows, how many people, and what were they doing and how were they dressed …

© Norah Colvin Artwork by Kari Rocher Jones

© Norah Colvin Artwork by Kari Rocher Jones

Then it was time to start thinking more specifically about what I required of the website … More complexity to unravel!

Oh for a journey across the seas rather than deeper into complexity!

It is said that it is darkest before the dawn. How much darker will it get?

A recent comment by Sarah Brentyn of Lemon Shark alerted me to the fact that although I have mentioned my website in previous posts, I had not made it clear that the purpose of the website is to make my resources available through subscription i.e. to sell my resources. While some will be available without subscription, many will be available only by paid subscription. I have received a quote for establishing the website, which I am considering. I have previously referred to it being my jetski. I think I was fairly explicit about my requirements in discussions with the designer.

However, I want some of my resources to be interactive, not downloadable, used only on the website by paid subscribers. It appears that creating the types of interactivity I have in mind will be more problematic, but they are what I consider will be my point of difference. I have had to learn to explain, very explicitly, the types of interactions I require. I even made videos demonstrating the interactions in the hope of achieving greater clarity.

However, it was while being explicit about these steps that I realised I had omitted something from my website brief that will be necessary for the interactions to be used effectively, if they can be made at all.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

And so I go in my merry dance – up the ladders and down the snakes, hoping to fall into a pool of clarity rather than a puddle of complexity.

Thank you for allowing me to express my muddle through writing in an attempt to make sense of it all.

Thank you

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