Category Archives: Traditional schooling

Show and tell: a writing and reading experience – Readilearn

A “Show and tell” sharing session is a tradition familiar to many early childhood classrooms across the world.  Children take turns to tell their classmates about an item they have brought in to show, or to relate a recent event in their lives. While the practice introduces children to public speaking, helps to develop confidence and oral communication skills, and encourages them to listen attentively, I consider the learning achieved compared to the time spent to be of dubious value.

Children tend to fidget, rather than listen and, with their minds elsewhere, are generally more interested in talking about themselves than in learning about others. This is a trait not exclusive to children though, and can be noticed in people of all ages.

Although encouraged to ask questions at the conclusion of each talk, children’s questions are often standard, repetitive, and lacking in thought. They may be unrelated to anything the speaker said, or may request information already supplied.  The asking is seen more as an opportunity of talking and of being seen to ask (that is; doing the right thing), than to know more or to participate in genuine discourse.

Believing in the session’s greater potential, I innovated on the basic routine to make it a focussed literacy teaching episode. By incorporating features of approaches such as language experience, modelled writing, and shared book, the session became an avenue for teaching and learning in both reading and writing.

From the first days of school, we wrote our Class News; creating meaningful texts which valued and connected with children’s lives. The jointly constructed texts became our first reading material; richer in interest, content, language, and vocabulary than any first reader. (Though these have their place and were also used.)

Writing and reading Class News: The process

Continue reading: Show and tell: a writing and reading experience – Readilearn

A cheap shot?

Michelle demonstrates through her article what she states in her final paragraph as the benefit of involving children in philosophical enquiry. She says, “We get children thinking critically, rigorously and sceptically, so that they’re less likely to succumb to ill-founded beliefs or be duped by self-deception, spin or rhetoric. We help children develop their reasoning, so that they become more adept at building logical arguments and rationally defending their views. We encourage children to question the assumptions underlying different points of view, enabling them to challenge dogmatic beliefs. And we cultivate deep and deliberative thinking – often neglected in traditional schooling, which tends to focus more on getting ‘the quick right answer’ – so that children have a chance to explore the nuances of complex ideas.”
Who could disagree with that?

The Philosophy Club

The New Yorker has disappointed me again, this time by its recent coverage of a series of children’s philosophy workshops at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Rebecca Mead’s article, ‘When Kids Philosophize’, reports on the Tilt Kids Festival’s philosophy workshops – billed on the Festival website as an opportunity for children, aged 6 – 12, to “explore some of life’s biggest questions” and “engage in deep conversations about … key themes in philosophy” with acclaimed philosopher Simon Critchley and some graduate student guests.

On the face of it, ‘When Kids Philosophize’ offers a light-hearted glimpse of what went on during three of the short workshops. But the article’s mild humour has the unfortunate effect of trivialising the important the task of engaging children in philosophical discussions.

I personally found little to smile about in the volley of random questions, irrelevant observations, unsubstantiated claims and juvenile distractions that were…

View original post 1,471 more words

Making friends – Readilearn

What many children look most forward to about school is playtime with their friends.

Learning how to be a friend, and how to make friends, is an essential ingredient in an early childhood classroom. Children’s socio-emotional development is perhaps more important than any other as their future happiness and success will depend upon it. Happy kids learn more easily than unhappy kids.

The importance of developing a warm, welcoming, supportive, inclusive classroom environment cannot be overstated. Many readilearn classroom management resources assist teachers with this, and I have previously suggested ways of helping children get to know each other, including using class surveys and the Me and my friends worksheets to discover their similarities and differences.

In this post, I suggest strategies that can be used to help children develop friendship skills.

Continue reading: Making friends – Readilearn

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.

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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.

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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. 🙂 )

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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

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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