Category Archives: Traditional schooling

Happy New Year! – Readilearn

Wishing all my readers a very happy New Year with best wishes for peace and joy in 2017.

Thank you for your ongoing support. I’m looking forward to further conversations in 2017.

Click to read the original: Happy New Year! – Readilearn and view the video of inspirational teacher Chen Miller. Once a special needs student herself, Chen is now making a difference to the lives of children she teaches.

Take a gander at this – #early childhood teaching resources

 

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This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write using the word gander as a verb.

Gander, the verb, means to look. Since a gander, a male goose, has a long neck which is, without doubt, suitable for sticking out and into things, the meaning to take a look is probably apt. However, I must say that, until reading Charli’s flash pieces, I was unfamiliar with its use as a verb, and still feel a bit uncomfortable in using it so, but I’ll give it a go – later.

First: What I would love is for people to take a gander at readilearn, a website I have been working on for more years that I care to tally right now.

It is a year since I took the leap and engaged a company to develop the site. It was nine months (not the one month promised) before the site was launched, just over three months ago. To use the nine months analogy of pregnancy; it wasn’t an easy gestation or birth, and we’re still experiencing teething problems and growing pains, including “how to grow?” pains.

Audience wanted

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Marketing, as in attracting, building, and maintaining an audience, is difficult, as any writer knows. It is not just a matter of writing the stuff and hoping an audience finds it. It takes time, effort, and know-how. I’m a bit short on all three, but I’m going to stick my neck out, and ask if you’d be willing to help me a little with the know-how in finding my target audience.

readilearn-home-page

readilearn is a collection early childhood teaching resources. The target audience is teachers of children between 5 and 7 years of age, be they teaching in a school environment, or homeschooling their children. The resources are also suitable or use with children learning English as a second or other language, and with children with special needs.

resources

There are resources for most areas of the curriculum, with suggestions for integrating learning across curriculum areas in a meaningful context.

The materials are Australian (I’m Australian) but are suitable for use internationally.

There are:

  • Digital and interactive resources to access and use online
  • Word and PDF documents to download and print

Including:

  • Original stories
  • estories (digital stories)
  • Teaching ideas and suggestions
  • Lessons plans
  • Readilessons (lessons ready to use)
  • Games
  • Printouts for parents

Features

  • New resources are added almost every week
  • Many resources are free to registered users
  • An annual subscription of less than 50c per week (or less than the cost of 5 cups of coffee a year!) is easily affordable; and that’s Australian dollars – even less for UK and US subscribers! It’s even discounted until the end of 2016!

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So what’s different?

I think that what differentiates readilearn is the integrated resources focusing on purposeful learning in context. The open-ended nature of many of interactive resources allows teachers to adjust the discussion to suit the needs of their students. readilearn is not just bunch of worksheets for repetitive practice of skills in isolation, or endless pretty charts to hang in the room. It is designed to support effective teaching and learning in meaningful contexts.

More than just resources

  • Each Friday I publish a blog post filled with teaching ideas and information, including how to get the most from readilearn resources.
  • I also email users each Friday to inform them of new resources uploaded during the week – no more wondering if there’s anything new or where to find it.
  • The newsletter, published on the last day of each month, includes a summary of blog posts, a list of new resources, and a preview of events in the coming month.

I would very much appreciate it if you could spread the word to any of my target audience in your circles: teachers of children from 5 – 7 years. I’d also love some suggestions for ways of connecting with my audience. Although my audience may differ from yours, what you have learned may also be useful for me.

Maybe you’d like to gift an early childhood teacher their first year’s subscription. It’s easy. Just email hello@readilearn.com.au to find out how.

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Now back to Charli’s challenge to include gander as a verb in a 99-word story. It got me thinking about all the bird words in common use, even when not referring to birds. I decided to incorporate as many as I could into a story while still maintaining a certain amount of sense. I have used over twenty. Can you (bird)spot them all? I hope you think it’s grouse! (Well, maybe just a little bit not too bad. 🙂 )

grouse

Bird (non)sense

Finch’d had an eagle eye on the play all day.

Robin’d been hawking chicken pies. Now sold out, he wandered over to gander with Finch.

Robin craned his neck, just as “He’s out for a duck!” was announced.

“He’s out for a duck,” he parroted. “That’s something to crow about.”  One team was swanning around, exuberant as monarchs. The other was as despondent as miners on strike.

Martin was larking around. “Yeah,” he sniped. “The silly goose was distracted by the kite and missed altogether.”

“More like a turkey, I’d say,” Robin reterned swiftly.

“You’re a hoot!” chirped Finch.

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

Books make the #1 best gifts!

The love of reading is gift

I am notorious for gifting books. I’ve written about this before in Guess what you’re getting for Christmas and other posts. It would not surprise me if you are also a notorious gifter of books. Perhaps that could be our super power: The Book Gifters!

Reading is empowering. A book is a gift that continues to give, long after the occasion has past. It’s effects cannot always be measured.

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In this post, I suggest some books you may like to purchase for special people in your life. And why not treat yourself with one or two as well?

Most, but not all, are fairly recent releases. A few are long-time favourites.

Most, but not all, are written by people I know personally or through blogging. You might recognise their names from comments on other of my blog posts. A few are long-time favourites written by people who inspire me.

I have read most. The only two not read (the books of short stories) are very, very recent. However I am happy to recommend them as I am already familiar with some of the stories, and the writers’ work  from their blogs.

Disclaimer: These are books that appeal to me. They may not appeal to you. The important thing in choosing books for others is in finding something that they will like.

The list is not exhaustive. It is just a beginning to provide a few ideas that you may not have considered. There are many other wonderful books that could just as easily have been included.

I have arranged my list in this way:

For children:

Picture books (including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry)

Early chapter books (for readers of about 7 to 12 years)

For adults:

Books of short stories

Novels

Memoirs

Books for teachers and parents

If you follow the links you will be able to discover more about the writers and their other work.

For children:

Picture books – Fiction

picture-books

Lauri Fortino The Peddler’s Bed This heart-warming story demonstrates that a kindness given can encourage kindness in others. You can read a lovely interview with Lauri on the readilearn blog here.

Tara Lazar Little Red Gliding Hood In this fun fractured fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood needs a new pair of skates. The only way she can acquire them is by winning a skating competition. But which fairy tale character will be her partner?

Galvin Scott Davis Daisy Chain This is a beautifully illustrated, animated and interactive, anti-bullying book app, narrated by Kate Winslet.

Non-fiction

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Rebecca Johnson The Insect Series This series of ten little books, each about a different insect, combines both fact and fiction with stunning close-up photographs. You can read a lovely interview with Rebecca on the readilearn blog here.

Sue Fliess The Bug Book This book about bugs is beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs. Written in rhyme, it introduces children to many tiny creatures.

Poetry

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June Perkins Magic Fish Dreaming This gorgeous book of poems with its focus on nature will uplift and inspire you and your children. You can read a lovely interview with June on the readilearn blog here.

Early chapter books (about 7 to 12 years)

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Rebecca Johnson Juliet nearly a Vet This lovely series of books tells of the adventures of ten-year-old Juliet who aspires to be a vet, just like her mother.

Karen Tyrrell Song Bird Superhero This story tells of Rosella Bird and her quest to fly. While she battles the bully at school and at home, she is empowered and discovers the joy of flight when she finds her voice.

Bette A. Stevens Pure Trash: The Story Set in New England in the 1950s, this story tells of a Saturday afternoon adventure of two young boys. The Kindle version is free on Amazon until 29 November (today – be quick!). 

Hazel Edwards & Ozge Alkan Hijabi Girl In this story, when eight-year-old Melek is deciding what to wear to the book parade, she is unable to find a super-hero who wears a hijab, so she creates her own.

Robert Hoge Ugly (a memoir) Robert’s story is one of resilience, of survival against the odds, and of making hard decisions. While coping with difference and bullying, Robert shows that strength of character is a trait of survivors. I have introduced you to Robert previously here and here.

Books of short stories

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Sarah Brentyn Hinting at Shadows This book is a collection of very short stories, each 100 words or less. While each may be a quick read, they will give insight, inspiration, and a greater understanding of what it means to be human.

Hugh Roberts Glimpses Launching on 2 December, available for pre-order “28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.”

Novels

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Anne Goodwin Sugar and Snails In this mid-life coming-of-age story, Diana Dodsworth has some tough decisions to make as she comes to terms with who she really is. Anne has previously talked about her book on my blog here and here.

Geoff Le Pard Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle This story about nineteen-year-old Harry Spittle, who is home from university for the hottest of hot holidays, will have you laughing out loud at his misadventures.

Terry Tyler Best Seller This intriguing novella is about three writers, all of whom wish to write a best seller. One does; but which one?

Memoirs

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Robert Hoge Ugly (a biography) Robert’s inspirational story is one of resilience, of survival against the odds, and of making hard decisions. While coping with difference and bullying, Robert shows that strength of character is a trait of survivors. I have introduced you to Robert previously here and here.

Lesley and Tammy Williams Not Just Black and White Told as a conversation between mother and daughter, this inspirational story tells of the importance of family, of difficulties experienced by many Indigenous Australians in relatively current times, with a drive to ensure that history is neither forgotten nor repeated.

Malala Yousafzai Malala The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Changed the World The story of Malala, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is one of courage and of the difference that one person can make in the world. I have previously written about Malala here.

Magda Szubanski Reckoning: A Memoir With a Polish father, a Scottish mother and an Australian childhood, Magda’s story is complex, courageous, compassionate, and inspirational.

Books for teachers and parents

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Mem Fox Reading Magic This book provides lots of practical advice and support for parents in developing a love of reading in their children. I have introduced you to Mem many times previously, including here and here.

Michael Rosen Good Ideas: How to be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher This very readable book is packed full of suggestions for encouraging curiosity and learning in children (and you!) I have previously introduced you to Michael here and here.

Vivian Kirkfield Show Me How Vivian passion’s for picture books and her understanding of the importance of literacy are obvious in this book that provides great ideas for reading and extending the learning experience associated with many picture books.

Or, for a special early childhood educator, gift a subscription to readilearn, a collection of teaching resources that can be used throughout the year.

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It’s easy. Simply send an email to hello@readilearn.com.au, arrange payment for the currently discounted subscription, and you will be emailed a voucher with a coupon code, unique to your special teacher. Print the voucher and personalise it with your own message before presenting your gift.

Note: The subscription is for 12 months from date of activation, not purchase: a gift that will go on giving all year long.

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I hope there is something in this list that you can add to your gift list.

Thank you

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

 

 

 

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

Early childhood resources for celebrating friendship – Readilearn

Republished from readilearn

In this post I suggest ways of helping children develop friendship skills, and describe some readilearn resources for celebrating friendship.

Developing a welcoming, happy, supportive classroom environment, a place where children want to be, is essential for learners of all ages, but especially so in early childhood. These classrooms are the first that children experience and influence lifelong attitudes to school and learning. It is important to establish strong foundations with positive attitudes, respect, and friendship.

Making friends doesn’t come easily to everyone. Simply being put with a whole bunch of other children of similar ages doesn’t ensure friendships will be established, or that children will be accepting of, and respectful to, others.

Strategies for helping children develop effective social skills need to be interwoven throughout the curriculum. Respect, kindness, and empathy need to be modelled and taught. It is especially important for children who have had limited experience mixing with others, or for those who respond to others in inappropriate or unkind ways.

Some useful strategies include:

  • Develop a vocabulary of words used to describe feelings. Words

Source: Early childhood resources for celebrating friendship – Readilearn

It’s not what you see

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This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills is talking about the effect of changing a lens on how things are viewed. She says,

 “No matter what lens we apply, there is something to be seen in each of us that is worthy.

Perhaps if we focus differently, we might actually achieve peace.”

This is true too of children. Sadly, I think too often children are seen for what they are not yet, rather than appreciated for what they are. Childhood is all too fleeting, and with the current focus on assessment and teaching-to-the-test in many educational systems, it is becoming almost non-existent. Recess and free-play times are being eroded to cram in more cramming time.

I recently read an article in the Washington Post that told of children in a US school having to walk laps during a 20-minute recess. The supposed intention was to get the children active. However, most children would be naturally active if allowed the freedom to run and play. The benefits of free-play activities for health, well-being, and social development would be far greater than that of walking laps.

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This practice contrasts with one described in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. Children in Finland have fifteen minutes of mandatory outdoor play every hour, whatever the weather. “Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning.”

Each of these practices recognises the importance of activity, but each has a different way of providing for it, and only one is effective. I wonder why those with the power to make positive changes in education, fail to see the damage being done by didactic and test-driven practices that rob children of any love for or joy in learning. It seems to matter little what lens is used, they are unable to focus clearly on what matters most.

In this TEDx talk, Nancy Carlsson-Paige explains what happens When Education Goes Wrong: Taking the Creativity and Play out of Learning.

Towards the end of the talk, beginning at 12:45, Nancy says,

 “The difference between understanding concepts and reciting facts is very important for us to understand right now, because it captures the essence of what is happening in education today. There is a gross misunderstanding of what education is that has swept across the country, and the unfortunate belief is that you can direct teach, and you can measure and you can quantify learning; but the truth is, it is only the most superficial and the most mechanical aspects of learning that can be reduced to numbers. Unfortunately, this mistaken idea about the nature of education has pushed down to our youngest children. “

She says that when we “drill and grill” kids, we not only lose the power of the learning experience, we lose all the amazing capacities that children bring to us in education:

  • initiative
  • creativity
  • the ability to define and solve their own problems
  • originality of thought
  • invention of new ideas
  • perseverance
  • cooperation.

She says that when we take those capacities out, we take away the love of and joy in learning, not only from the children but from teachers too.

These are themes that are familiar to regular readers of my blog, and the most influential when I decided to leave the classroom. More than thirty years ago I wrote a poem to describe the differences between what often is, and what could be.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

Sadly, I cannot say that nothing has changed. It has. The differences have become more stark.

Here is my response to Charli’s prompt to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using a lens. It can be literal, like looking at the world through rose-colored lenses or the need for spectacles.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my rose-coloured glasses.

What you see

They saw him for what he wasn’t and what he lacked, not for what he was and what he could be. Their ill-fitting garments failed to clothe, and their unpalatable diet failed to nourish. If only they’d zoomed in upon his potential. Instead the wide-angled lens showed a panorama of disadvantage: an excuse for failure to fulfil his needs or enable his possibilities. A lens in proper focus may have seen a burning curiosity, a rich imagination, a wisdom older than time, and a heart in harmony with the universe. Instead they considered the negatives not worthy of development.

Thank you

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

Caps off for maths!

This post is republished from the readilearn blog.

Hi, and welcome again to the readilearn blog. I hope you’ve had a good week.

Rarely, when the costs of education are being calculated, is the contribution made by teachers from their own pockets acknowledged. It is not very well publicised that many teachers spend a lot of their own money resourcing their classrooms, which would be far less interesting places if teachers refused to contribute in this way.

Today I demonstrate that not all resources need be expensive. A versatile, free, and readily available resource is the humble bottle cap or lid, which  is often discarded, but can fulfill a number of functions in the classroom.

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It doesn’t take long to gather an extensive collection of lids even on your own. But ask your children to bring in lids from home and the collection builds even quicker.

Lids have many uses.

Children can, for example:

Sort by colour or size

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Order according to size – diameter or height

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Make patterns – repeating or growing

growing-pattern repeating-ab-pattern

Count – by ones, twos or fives

count-in-onescount-in-2s count-in-5s

Learn to subitise, and discover conservation of number

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Compare, add, substract and share

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Measure length and mass

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Use for collage or craft, or as tokens when playing games

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These are just a few ideas. What other uses have you found for lids? Please share in the comments below.

Look what's new

What’s new – Uploaded this week!

These ideas and others are  now available in a free maths resource Caps off for maths.

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have-you-used

Getting to know readilearn resources

Snakes and Ladders is a popular game and great for maths groups. With some guidance from an adult, the game can be used to stimulate mathematical thinking alongside practice of computations. The readilearn resource Snakes and Ladders – An activity for maths groups provides suggestions that can be given to an assistant to maximise learning opportunities while playing the game.

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

Remember, if you haven’t yet subscribed, an introductory discount of 20% is available to all who subscribe during 2016. Just use the coupon code welcome1 at the checkout to receive your discount.

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.

All images in this post are copyright Norah Colvin.