Tag Archives: education

Out of the fire comes hope

fireweed Charli Mills Carrot Ranch flash fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about fireweed. She describes it thus:

“the purple and pink flower that grows like a tall spear in a tribe of flower warriors. After a forest fire, mining reclamation, road grading or any kind of soil disturbance, fireweed grows back first from seeds born of despair. It’s a phoenix flower, a soil nourisher, a defier of the odds when life is bleakest.”

She then went on to challenge writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write.

I don’t know of Charli’s fireweed, but I do know that Australia is home to a great variety of plants that are dependent on fire for regeneration. While large tracts of land destroyed by bushfires is devastating, a return to traditional land management practices of the indigenous peoples may see an  improved system.

There is an oft-repeated quote by German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

While that may be true of Charli’s fireweed and much of Australia’s flora, I’m never convinced of the applicability of the saying to every situation, or of its power to lift one up when feeling personally devastated. What does not kill may require a good dose of determination and strength for it not to annihilate the spirit.

While thoughts of how to approach Charli’s challenge were swirling around in my head, notification of a new post by The Wordy Wizard popped into my inbox. At the top of the post was this quote by  J.K. Rowling from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

 “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

The addition of these words of J.K. Rowling to those of Friedrich Nietzsche, for me, complete the thought. Without acceptance there is denial and an inability to move on, with acceptance we can begin to repair and renew.

Intermittently, over the past four years while I have been responding to Charli’s flash challenges, I have written about Marnie, an abused child who was able, with determination and support of caring others, to overcome the impact of her dysfunctional upbringing and make a better life for herself.

Just as we look for green shoots of hope in the blackness of a bushfire’s destruction, we must look for signs of hope and renewal in those who have suffered.

Bono quote about why he's a megalomaniac

While at times the negatives of children “burnt” by dysfunctional home lives, poverty, poor nutrition, lack of mental stimulation, and other factors that appear to obliterate potential can seem overwhelming and insurmountable, it is important to see within every child that seed of unlimited possibility and hope that needs to be nurtured.

Marnie’s teacher Miss R. saw it in her. In one story, “Miss R. handed her a rose from the vase saying, “You are that rose. You may be surrounded by thorns, but the beauty of the rose is inside you. Remember that always. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Perhaps it would be just as apt to describe her as fireweed, “a defier of the odds when life is bleakest”. This is where Charli’s challenge took me this time:

Burning with hope

Miss R. avoided the staffroom’s negativity, popping in, like today, only if necessary. When she glanced over instinctively on hearing her name, regret flooded immediately.

“Annette, we were just talking about you and that weed–from that noxious family–you know, Marnie-“

She bristled, failing to withhold the words that exploded, singeing all with their ferocity.

“Just look at yourselves. If Marnie’s a weed, she’s fireweed. Better than you will ever be. She’ll beat her odds and succeed, despite your belittling words and unhelpful opinions.”

She left the silenced room, believing in her heart that her words were true.

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Note: The feature image after the bushfire by freeaussiestock.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

 

 

poised on the edge of the future

Poised on the edge of the future

Every morning we wake up to a new day and step into the future. The past is gone, in memories of yesterday and soon to be forgotten. How we approach each day–with excitement, fear, anticipation, dread, joy or boredom, lulled by repetitious acceptance devoid of creativity–is our choice. We can accept the mundane or jump into the unknown, feet first.

This week Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads.

I jumped straight in and wrote my 99-word response in one go. Normally I mull it over for days, struggling to find threads of meaning to tie together post and story.

Last week in response to Charli’s “boots” prompt, I wrote about Grandma’s sparkly storytelling boots. I was pleased so many of you confirmed it was a great idea for a story. I had already decided to work on it and submit it to my critique group this week. You could say, I jumped into that abyss–boots first. Wearing grandma’s sparkly boots, I’m sure to fly.

It’s funny when you write a post that connects with people in unexpected ways. I was surprised, delighted, honoured and extremely grateful this week when three of my favourite bloggers, whose work I admire shared my post on their blogs:

Jennie Fitzkee–an inspiring early childhood teacher who, like me, expounds the benefits of respect for children, story reading and telling–blogs at A Teacher’s Reflections. If you haven’t visited her blog yet, I recommend you do. Every post delights.

Dayne Sislen–an illustrator of children’s picture books who shares information about illustrating books and also writes about the importance of reading to children–blogs at Dayne Sislen Illustration. Her love of children’s picture books and illustration is obvious. In her post last week How to extend the attention span of your children, Dayne discussed the importance of reading to children. It was a wonderful match for mine about storytelling. You can find out more about Dayne on her blog or website.

Charles French–who I came to know through Jennie reposting his series of inspiring quotes–blogs at Charles French Words Reading and Writing. How delightful to know that he also enjoyed my post enough to share with his readers. This is just one of his posts of quotations that spoke to me: Quotations on teaching. 😊 I suggest you pop over to visit Charles as well to share in his words of wisdom.

children hold hands going into the future

Those of you who write YA or adults novels, memoir or non-fiction, may wonder what we early childhood teachers and writers and illustrators of children’s picture books have that could be of interest to you. Let me tell you, we have everything. We have the key. We are the ones who create the readers of tomorrow, the future readers of your books. We turn the children onto reading as we take their hands and lead them to the edge of tomorrow when they leap into the unknown worlds of books.

In case you haven’t yet read my response to Charli’s “edge” prompt, this is it. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with my previous statement but starting anything new can push us to the edge and we don’t really know just what will happen until we give it a try. I wish you all many joyous flights.

The edge

She stood at the edge of the abyss and wondered what would happen should she jump – would she fly, or would she plummet to the bottom and rest, fractured and alone, forgotten and abandoned, with all the others who dared to try but failed. It was fear that held her back, chained her to the ledge. But there was nowhere else to go. She’d tried all other paths. This was all that remained. Could she stay there forever. Would there be a point? What if she fell? But what if she flew? She inhaled, closed her eyes, and jumped…

Thank you blog post

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readilearn: Meet Sofia Goodsoul author of Nian the Lunar Dragon – Readilearn

This week I am very excited to be interviewing Australian author Sofia Goodsoul about her picture book Nian the Lunar Dragon, illustrated by Marina Kite. With Multicultural Children’s Book Day coming up on 27 January (see previous post I am Australian) and Chinese New Year on 16 February, the time is just right.

Before we begin the interview, let me provide you with a little information about Sofia.

 Sofia Goodsoul is an author, emergency kindergarten teacher and indie-publisher. Her poetry writing has grown from a hobby into a great passion. Now she can’t live a day without writing poems, riddles and stories for young children. The children give themes and inspiration for her books.

 Sofia lives in Melbourne with her family and pets. She loves going to Zumba classes and taking long walks with her husband and family dog Mack.  Sofia dedicates all her spare time to her writing and publishing career.

multicultural children's book diversity Chinese New Year

Nian the Lunar Dragon, an entertaining and beautifully illustrated rhyming narrative for young readers, is Sofia’s second picture book in collaboration with Marina Kite. The book is about the legend behind the traditions and celebrations of Chinese New Year, sometimes called Lunar New Year. According to the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year commences with the new moon at the beginning of spring.

A long time ago, the dragon named Nian lived in the deep ocean to the east of China. Nian was a strong and ferocious dragon, which no creature could defeat. Once a year, Nian climbed ashore to hunt for cattle and human prey. The people of the nearby villages and towns lived in terror, and each New Year’s Eve they had to leave their homes to save themselves. One day, a monk came to the village. He knew a well-kept secret about how to scare Nian away and free the Chinese people from the danger and their fear.

Welcome to readilearn, Sofia. We are looking forward to getting to know you a little better.

Thanks for inviting me!

Sofia, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t remember capturing that specific moment, but my grandmother was a children’s book illustrator and I often stayed with her

Continue reading: readilearn: Meet Sofia Goodsoul author of Nian the Lunar Dragon – Readilearn

Thank you blog post

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

Grandma's books - the magic of storytelling

The magic of storytelling

Guiding parents in play sessions for parents and children.

Telling stories to and with young children has many benefits. Including other things, it helps to develop:

  • relationships with the storyteller and other listeners
  • language – vocabulary, language structure, imagery
  • understanding of narrative structure as it applies to fiction and non-fiction accounts
  • curiosity about one’s family, the immediate environment, and other places
  • empathy for others
  • interest in books and reading
  • imagination

There is something very special about telling, as opposed to reading, stories. The telling can be more fluid, more interactive, and change with the mood and with input from teller and listener. The distinction between teller and listener can blur and roles can change as the story flows.

Sometimes it is the routine and the relationships that are more important and more memorable than any one story. For example, a parent telling stories as part of the bedtime ritual, stories told by a visiting grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even stories told in the classroom. Jennie Fitzkee often tells us about the magic effect of her storytelling sessions in her preschool classroom on her blog A Teacher’s Reflections.

What were the dinosaurs like?

Story telling doesn’t require any special talents, or even an especially exciting story. When my daughter was young she would often ask for a story about my childhood. (She loved hearing about the dinosaurs!) Stories such as these can occur at any time during the day, though storytelling times may need to be scheduled in a school day. A special treat for me as a young child was when, after dinner, Dad would sing us the story song asking, “Who made Little Boy Blue?”

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes boots. Whose boots are they, where do they go and what is their significance? Go where the prompt leads.

I immediately thought of a Grandmother, a storytelling expert, whose boots signified when a magical storytelling session was about to begin. I hope you like where the story leads. In fact, it can lead wherever you wish–

Grandma’s boots

Jess peered out, waiting, hoping, to glimpse Grandma arrive. Rainbow stars exploded outside her window just as the doorbell chimed–missed it again. Disappointment faded as she flung herself into Grandma’s enveloping arms. Grandma’s soft kisses promised secrets through scents of far-off places and unfamiliar things. Grandma’s boots sparkled, announcing story time. Jess and Grandma snuggled into their special chair. Clasping hands, they whispered their story-time chant. The chair shuddered and lifted off the floor. The roof opened and, quick as a wink, Jess and Grandma were whooshing across the sky to somewhere, “Once upon a time and faraway…”

Thank you blog post

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

 

multicultural Australia

readilearn: I am Australian – Readilearn

Australia is a continent populated mostly by immigrants or their descendants. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Australia was less than 3 per cent of the population. This means that over 97 have ancestors who were born elsewhere, though most will feel the influence of no more than two previous generations and consider themselves firmly Australian. In fact, the number of Australians born overseas is still increasing and was over 28 per cent in 2016.

What this means for teachers in Australia, is that the composition of their classes will include children from a great diversity of cultural backgrounds. Possibly it is the same for you.

This proxy Australian anthem I Am Australian, written by Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton, is a moving song that honours the diversity of cultures in Australia, from the First Australians to more recent immigrants. It is often sung in schools to help develop an understanding of and appreciation for the richness of the Australian peoples.

It is important to teach children acceptance of and appreciation for each other and their traditions. A supportive classroom will value each child’s contribution and heritage. Getting to know each other at the beginning of a school year provides the perfect opportunity for learning about the traditions of others. However, it can be done at any time of the year.

readilearn resources that assist you do this are: Continue reading.

Source: readilearn: I am Australian  – Readilearn

Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives – What You Don’t Know by Norah Colvin

I have the very great honour of being featured among the lovely Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives series on Sally’s Cronin‘s blog. Sally has graciously shared one of my earlier posts What you don’t know.
Thank you, Sally, I am delighted to be featured on your blog.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

We begin a series of posts by educator Norah Colvin who shares her thoughts on our approach to learning as individuals… we have all heard the expressions that ‘ignorance is bliss’ ‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you’ but shouldn’t we be the judge of that. The desire to learn and keep learning whatever age you are, is a gift that is not offered to everyone. Are we making the most of that gift?

What You Don’t Know by Norah Colvin

 One of my favourite quotes is that of Manuel in the BBC television series Fawlty Towers: “I know nothing.” I love quoting this but, just like Manuel, I too am learning. And what a wonderful gift it is to be able to learn.

Recently I read a post  This time it’s Personal by Tony Burkinshaw on his blog.

He explained unconscious incompetence in the following way: “

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#WATWB The Teacher Helping Hurricane Harvey’s Youngest Victims – And How You Can Help / A Mighty Girl | A Mighty Girl

On the last Friday of each month in the We Are The World Blogfest, bloggers post positive news items that demonstrate that “love, humanity, and brotherhood” still exist in a world where negative news items seem to proliferate. They encourage as many bloggers as possible to join in and share good news stories.

I’m a bit late joining in this week, but I wanted to ensure you heard this wonderful news about teachers and children helping out those affected by the recent devastating hurricanes  – education of the heart.

Books, children, reading, children helping children, teachers, compassion, empathy. Great ingredients for a better world.

If you would like to join in, click Here to enter their link . As they say, “Bigger the #WATWB group each month, more the joy!”

The cohosts for this month are: Michelle Wallace , Shilpa GargAndrea MichaelsPeter NenaEmerald Barnes. Check out their posts, and others, for stories to warm your heart.

This is the story I share with you as part of the Blogfest this month:

When Hurricane Harvey struck this week, second grade teacher Kathryn Butler Mills of Katy, Texas quickly learned how many of her students were affected. In photos on social media, she saw “several of my students, past and present, sitting under staircases, in bathrooms, and in pantries, waiting out tornado watches and warnings.” She wanted to find a way to “bring a little normal to them in very not normal circumstances.” After seeing a number of kids pictured with books in hand, she hit on the idea of creating an online boo

Source: The Teacher Helping Hurricane Harvey’s Youngest Victims – And How You Can Help / A Mighty Girl | A Mighty Girl