Tag Archives: Literacy

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

Combat Boredom with Board Games

I was over at the Carrot Ranch last week, discussing the benefits of playing board games as a family with the children. Pop over there to see which games I suggest and add your own favourite board games in the comments.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

One of the best ways to have fun while learning, or to learn while having fun, is by playing board games. Playing games together as a family helps to bond family relationships. Adjustments can be made to suit most numbers and ages and rules can be adapted to suit your purposes. While the main thing is to have fun together, there is a lot of learning going on too.

Social Skills

One of the greatest benefits of playing board games is the development of social skills.

Some of the social skills children learn include:

Getting along and taking turns

Playing fair — accept the roll (if dice are used) or draw (if cards are used) for example, and respond accordingly: don’t try to pretend it wasn’t a “proper” roll (e.g. dropped); or attempt to change the count by skipping or counting twice on a square.

Abiding by rules — all…

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keep the children engaged and learning with fun Easter activities

Keep children engaged and learning with fun Easter lessons and activities – #readilearn

Easter is coming in 2020 along with school holidays, school closures and lockdowns. While readilearn lessons and activities are designed with teachers of the first three years of school in mind, perhaps, in these challenging times, parents may also find them useful in supporting their children’s learning while they are out of school.

The collection now numbers over 400 resources and more than 70 of these are interactive lessons and stories. All resources can be accessed with a small annual subscription or purchased individually. Many of the resources are free.

While teachers would normally use the interactive lessons on the interactive whiteboard with the whole class or small group, parents access them on their home computers. Just as teachers would discuss the resources when using them with a class, so too, parents discuss them with their children as they work through them together. The most benefit for children comes from the discussion. They are not designed for children to use independently.

Lessons and activities with an Easter focus

Lessons and activities in the readilearn collection cover a range of topics and curriculum areas. However, the focus of this post is on those with an Easter theme and how they can be used to keep the children thinking and learning while having fun. (Note: All readilearn Easter-themed resources can be found here.)

Continue reading: Keep children engaged and learning with fun Easter lessons and activities – readilearn

On the road with the library cat flashfiction

On the road with the Library Cat #Flashfiction

My passion is education in general with a focus on the education of young children. The development of literacy is a major part of that. Much of one’s success in life depends upon being literate. Literacy is recognised by the United Nations as a basic human right. Anything that impedes a child’s ability to learn to read and write violates that right.

Being literate is not only empowering, it can be a source of joy and escape. A literate population requires access to books of all kinds so that readers can choose materials relevant to interests and purpose.

I fail to see any sense behind decisions to have school libraries without trained teacher-librarians, or indeed, to close school and public libraries. I was incredulous when I learned that new schools were opening without a library, let alone a teacher-librarian. In my opinion, the library should be the hub of the school.  I am happy to say I am not alone in that thought.

But the idea needs more support. Fortunately, there is at least one Australian politician who agrees.

As reported on the SCBWI blog, NSW Member of Parliament David Shoebridge says that “libraries should be the heart of every school and that investment in school libraries is essential!”

In the next sitting of Parliament, he is moving that “every public school student in NSW has access to a quality school library and a qualified teacher librarian.”

If only we could get all MPs in every state to support the same movement for all our children, in every state, in every school.

Last week I wrote a story about a library cat. It was well received so I decided to write another episode this week.

Carrot Ranch - Open Road

Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch made it easy for me with her challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the open road. Where will the trip lead? Who is going, and why? Follow the open road wherever it may lead! I hope you like it.

Looking for Love

Rainbow Cat clawed through the rubble. One by one she pulled out the survivors — Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet, The Gingerbread Man; even Wolf who promised to behave.

“Where are we going?” squealed the Three Little Pigs as they piled onto the bus.

“Where children will love us, like before.”

For many, this was their first time beyond the covers of a book. As the bus roared down the open road, they peered through the windscreen and out the windows, dreaming up new adventures yet untold.

Spontaneously, they burst into a chorus of On the Road Again.

Thank you blog post

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

classroom Christmas lessons and activities

Classroom Christmas lessons and activities – reblogged from readilearn

It’s almost Christmas again and here in Australia we’re on the countdown to the end of the school year and our long summer holidays. Whether you’ll be enjoying a long break or a shorter break over the festive season, here at readilearn we’ve got many ready-to-teach lessons and activities to support your teaching in the lead-up to Christmas.

Get an early start with these lessons and activities

You will get most benefit from some activities if you begin them a few weeks before the finish of term.

Friendship Trees, one of readilearn’s most popular Christmas activities is best begun three to four weeks before school closes for Christmas. Children make their own friendship trees which are then placed on display in the classroom.

Each day children write anonymous messages of affirmation or friendship to each other and place them in the trees. At the end of term, children take their trees home and read the positive messages contained within.

The trees help to develop self-esteem, confidence and friendship skills and are perfect for those last few weeks when temperatures soar and children can become edgy with excitement for the holidays.

A 3D Christmas tree makes a beautiful focal point of the classroom Christmas display. Children cooperatively construct the tree by contributing leaves made by tracing or printing their hands. It is a visible recognition of the value of teamwork and will be admired (and envied) by many. It makes a beautiful background for photographs of individual children to be given as gifts to parents or other loved ones.

Continue reading: Classroom Christmas lessons and activities – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

School Days, Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Yvette Prior, a blogger and multi-talented friend. Yvette writes about a wide range of topics and in a variety of genres on her priorhouse blog. I always appreciate her different ways of looking at things and her positive views of the world. Do pop over to take a look. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

It’s probably best I allow Yvette to tell you a little of herself before we get started on the interview:

Yvette Prior is a blogger, author, teacher, psychologist, and researcher. Yvette has been married to Chris for 22 years and they live on the East Coast of Virginia. They have two boys, now adults, and a step-daughter who is expecting her second child next year. Yvette has been teaching — on and off  — elementary students and college level, since the 1990s. In 2018, Yvette became a Certified Higher Education Professional and currently teaches college and works part-time as a work psychologist.

In middle school, Yvette won public speaking awards, which led to the wonderful opportunity of attending a Performing Arts High School.

In college, she changed her major a few times before finally discovering the Education department.

Right after graduating, she decided to put her career to the side in order to stay home and raise her children. While doing so, she still worked part-time, which included teaching science education and five years of teaching elementary art.

As her children grew, she had the chance to go back to school and earn advanced degrees in psychology. While finishing up her dissertation, she healed from an invasive fungal infection, which was a challenging nightmare, but then also had positive outcomes. She now has a stronger bioterrian and continues to feel empowered by knowing alternative medicine and by remembering how precious life is. She is not a religious person, but she is a woman of faith and gives God all the glory for any and every success.

Yvette Prior and books

Welcome, Yvette.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

Buffalo, New York.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Yvette Prior early school days

I started off at private for preschool and kindergarten. My mother became a Presbyterian and we withdrew from private Catholic and went to public. I went to a public “magnet” school for high school where I majored in performing arts.

What is the highest level of education you achieved? 

I earned my Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

Yvette Prior working life

As noted in the intro, after earning my undergrad in Education, I stayed home with children. I worked part-time (to stay fresh and bring in some money) and at first worked in a restaurant, where I was promoted to management and it was becoming a career. However, we then moved coast to coast, twice, and I taught at the Youth Science Institute of California and the Science Museum of Virginia. I then taught elementary art at two different private schools. I currently teach college and work part-time as a psychologist. In the next few years, I hope to do more research about work rewards and motivation and also hope to finish up some writing projects. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

An early memory from school was when my 4th grade, silver-haired teacher, said she was, “flabbergasted” with me. She had left the room and a few of us started dancing around. When she returned, she scolded everyone, but then got close to my face and said, “I am especially flabbergasted with you, Yvette.” I went home and asked my mother what it meant… and then she found out about it. That word always reminds me of that teacher.

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember reading stations and recall the teacher using a jumbo book and audio recording to teach us words.

What memories do you have of learning to write? 

My 6th grade English teacher, Mr. Calderelli, taught me to write. However, on the second day of school, he threw an eraser towards my desk because a few of us were still talking. I cannot recall all the details, but he apologized and I was moved to the front of the room. We then connected and he became my favorite teacher. I had perfect attendance and won little awards. He published my writing in Buffalo’s “Our Best” – a short piece arguing against the death penalty. In hindsight, I see how that eraser event could have had a different outcome, and I am grateful it was a catalyst for bonding.

I have a post on my blog dedicated to Mr. C here.

(Norah’s note: If you haven’t yet read that post, or even if you have, I recommend you visit it and have a read. It is a fine example of Yvette’s work.)

What do you remember about math classes? 

I recall Mr. Smyth, in 7th grade honors math, showing us newspaper ads and having us figure out sale prices using percentages. I sometimes think of him when I see holiday ads.

What do you remember about history classes?

Yvette Prior on quality teaching

My 8th grade teacher gave fun assignments for extra credit. Sometimes a little extra credit allows more students to “win” and attain that sense of success with a better grade. Recently, I heard a teacher brag about how “tough” she was, but I think she is missing out on what makes a great teacher. Quality teaching is not defined by toughness, or being the sage on the stage; instead, the goal is to engage diverse learners and help them effectively meet course objectives. And sometimes – a little extra credit option can breathe needed motivation into students 

What was your favourite subject?

Yvette Prior favourite subject

My favorite subject was Trigonometry in high school. I started off by blowing off class. However, midway through the year, school became important to me and I buckled down and got caught up on my own. I studied hard using Barron’s review books — and even skipped a few parties to study. I finished the class well, but the best takeaways were discovering that self-learning mode and finding such a fun area of math. 

What did you like best about school? 

I liked the structure.  I also liked when teachers were nice to students – like Mrs. Short and Mrs. George.

What did you like least about school?  

My least favorite part about schools is that teachers (and the system) can sometimes be too harsh. There are mean teachers and sometimes the punishment for small infractions are overly punitive. This means students do not always connect the punishment with the behavior and so instead of behavior change – we have hurt students. Sometimes teachers are “too concerned about tasks” and not “concerned enough with the learner.”

What do you think schools (in general) do well? 

Today’s schools are culturally sensitive, still improving, but they have come a long way over the last 40 years. I like the work of Ruby Payne with regards to culture and economic differences.

Many schools also do a great job at educating a large number of students at one time.  I know an art teacher who provides art lessons to 2,000 students a week – and she says it is awesome.

I also think schools do well with “certain” students (the ones that conform, right-handed girls, etc.).

How do you think schools could be improved? 

I think schools could be improved if teachers were better trained with behavioral conditioning strategies and learned more about the powerful use of reinforcements. Teachers also need to make sure they are in tune with cognitive factors of learning (free will, moods, thoughts, and feelings) and the biological changes that growing children go through on their educational journey. Also, we need to sometimes give students a little power, along with rules and structure, but we need to empower more – especially for breeding leaders.

Classrooms need less sitting and more physical activity. Not just PE, but we need to let students move more.

Schools can also be improved if we taught emotion management at earlier ages and target the five Emotional Intelligence domains before middle school.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school, Yvette, then and now. It seems education is as much a part of your life as it is of mine. I appreciate your suggestions for improving schools and agree with what you say about the system. It is always good to hear from an educator and how their early experiences being schooled affect their attitudes to learning and teaching. Thank you for contributing your voice to this series.

Thank you, Norah, for inviting me to share in this series. And thanks to all the teachers out there who give so much of their lives to invest in students and help them on their educational journey.

 Find out more about Yvette Prior on her blog.
Find out more about Yvette’s books here.

To purchase your own copy of her books, click on the book title or image.

Lady by the River (stories of perseverance and self-help resources)

Avian Friends (Poems about nature, faith, appreciating life, and coping with grief)

Conversate (Tips for Parenting Teens)

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here and here.

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

School Days, Reminiscences — the first 25

Every Sunday evening for the past twenty-five weeks, I have been sharing the school reminiscences of members of my blogging community. As well as being a way of thanking them for their support, it was a way to get to know them a little better and of letting you know about their services and publications.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that have developed around each individual’s reminiscences and I think, it is fair to say, we have learned much from each other. It is pleasing to see that new friendships have formed and the interest in each others’ work has grown.

I thought this was a good time to pause and reflect on the journeys of those we’ve met so far. If you haven’t yet and would like to join in by sharing your school days reminiscences, please let me know in the comments and I’ll send you the questions.

If you missed reading any of the first 25 reminiscences, click on the photos to check them out. The interviews contain links to the writers’ blogs, website and/or publications. Enjoy!

Charli Mills reminiscences about school days

School Days reminiscences of Sally Cronin

School Days Reminiscences of Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard's reminiscences of school days

school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

Pauline King reminiscences of school days

School days, reminiscences of JulesPaige

School Days Reminiscences of D. Avery

School Days Reminiscences of Christy Birmingham

School days reminiscences of Miriam Hurdle

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

School Days Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

School Days Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

 

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

School Days, Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Balroop Singh, poet, writer, blogger and teacher. On her blog and in her poetry, Balroop speaks deep truths about life, relationships and emotions. Wherever you are, whatever your stage in life, I’m sure you’ll be able to connect with Balroop’s wisdom.

When responding to other interviews in this series, Balroop commented, “I have some interesting memories of school, very different from the ones shared here”. How could I not invite her to join in too? I’m sure that, as you read her interview, you will see not only the differences but the similarities, between Balroop’s school days and those of others.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Balroop to tell you a little of herself:

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing.  She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will!

She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life and  Emerging From Shadows and Timeless Echoes. Her latest release is Moments We Love.

She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Allow Yourself to be a Better Person.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Welcome, Balroop.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended various schools in India, all of them in my hometown Ludhiana, (Punjab, a state in Northern India.) 

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In India, private schools are called public schools, which are managed by an organization or an independent authority. I attended both. I was sent to a Government School after 8th grade. It was traumatic for me because the atmosphere and standard was much lower than the Public School I had attended till then but I adjusted quite well and made some loving friends.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I got a Master’s degree in English from Punjab University. Later on I also got a Bachelor’s degree in Education and became the topper of Punjab University.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

The first job that I picked up was that of a lecturer in a college. I was proud of myself that I got the first job I had applied for! At that time earning some money for my family was the main inspiration but I was married off soon and I quit this job just after one year to join my husband in New Delhi. After 6 six years of hiatus, I joined a public school and became a high school teacher. 

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

What is your earliest memory of school?

I must be in Kindergarten or class – 1, the teacher told us to learn a story and narrate it. I was beaten for not learning or failing to recite. The memory is hazy but I remember the cane falling on my legs even today.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences 

This one is from the school I liked the best. Language teachers were so kind that I developed a love for reading all the three languages we were taught.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Good handwriting was nurtured and emphasized upon. Initial lessons were given on slate, which was like a small blackboard. We had to write on a wooden slate, which was washed and plastered everyday with a special material. We used a wooden pen and the ink, which could only be used for a wooden slate. This was done at home everyday.

What do you remember about math classes?

I didn’t like Math class and got punished, probably for talking and disturbing others. Learning multiplication tables was the initial dislike that grew into larger proportions.

What was your favourite subject? 

English. I admired my English teachers and always got the highest marks in this subject, which further boosted my interest. They praised my handwriting and my papers were shown to other students to exemplify neatness. 

What did you like best about school? 

In middle school, I learnt self-discipline, which was taught by the Headmistress in a novice manner. She didn’t believe in corporal punishment. She had her own ways of convincing the students that hard work is a matter of habit.

She had a number of black conical caps, which were placed in one corner of her room. All those students who didn’t do their homework were brought to her room. She didn’t need to say a word! All of them knew they had to wear those caps, one by one and go single file, out of her room. Nobody accompanied these students, they knew that they had to go into each class, hang their head, stand for a minute and go out. Nobody dared to laugh at them! Nobody wished to repeat this act. Every student learnt a lesson after wearing that conical black cap! The magical cap!

You may call this a harsh punishment but it carved a deep impact on the students. At least at me! I could never think of neglecting my homework.

What did you like least about school?  

I didn’t like PE (Physical Education) classes, as no real training was given about sports. I never played any random games, as I was scared of falling and getting hurt!

How do you think schools have changed since your school days? 

There is a sea change! Schools nurture social and emotional development, respect the students and teach them with the latest techniques. Corporal punishment has been abolished. Creativity, cultural awareness, freedom of expression and sports training is encouraged at all stages of schooling. Public schools compete with each other to produce best academic results. Some schools encourage competitive spirit by placing the top scorers in an ability section.

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

How do you think schools could be improved?

First, recruitment of qualified teachers who feel inspired to take the responsibility of teaching the next generation is essential. Second, they have to be paid at par with others to attract intellect and talent to this profession. Number of students in a class needs to be reduced and value-based education with flexible curriculum could be helpful for those students who want to pursue higher studies.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Balroop. It’s been wonderful to have you here. Although there may be differences in your school days, there are familiar threads that seem to run through them too. 

Find out more about Balroop Singh on

her blog: Emotional Shadows

her Goodreads author page: Balroop Singh

her Amazon author page: Balroop Singh

Connect with her on social media

Twitter: @BalroopShado

Facebook: Emotional Shadows

Pinterest: Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Purchase your own copy of books by Balroop Singh

From Amazon

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

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

 

Spring into September with lots to celebrate

Spring into September with Lots to Celebrate – readilearn

The beginning of September marks the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere and brings, along with it, many days to celebrate.

Wattle day

Here in Australia, we welcome Spring on 1 September with Wattle Day. The golden wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem.

You could celebrate Wattle Day by:

  • wearing a spray of wattle on your hat
  • writing a poem about wattle flowers and springtime
  • using yellow pom poms to make Happy Wattle Day cards to give to friends and loved ones
  • going for a walk around the school grounds or local neighbourhood to check out the wattle trees in bloom. With nearly one thousand species of wattle in Australia, you are sure to see a variety. Comparing tree bark, leaves and blossoms helps to develop the ability to identify the similarities and differences that support scientific classification.
  • investigating how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use parts of the wattle tree; for example, for food, medicine, fuel, to make rope, fishing lines, string and tools such as boomerangs. Seasonal changes in the wattle trees indicate other changes that occur in the environment.

Father’s Day

This year, Father’s Day coincides with Wattle Day on 1 September. Father’s Day is a day to recognise the important role of fathers and other father figures. You can find suggestions for easy and inexpensive gifts in the Father’s Day resources, including a free list of Father’s Day Activities.

Continue reading: Spring into September with Lots to Celebrate – readilearn

celebrating three years of readilearn

Celebrating Three Years of readilearn with a Gift for You – readilearn

This week, readilearn celebrates three years of supporting teachers and parents of children in their first three years of school.

In recognition of this milestone, we are offering, until the end of the month, a 50% discount on any readilearn resource, including subscription. To take advantage of this offer, simply enter the code *birthday* at the checkout.

Continue reading: Celebrating Three Years of readilearn with a Gift for You – readilearn

great app for teaching reading - Word Zoo

Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo | Ask a Tech Teacher – readilearn

This week I am pleased to share with you information about a new reading app, Word Zoo, reviewed by Jacqui Murray on her website Ask a Tech Teacher. If you need to know anything about using technology in the classroom, Jacqui will be able to help you out.

Over to you, Jacqui:

Reading is defined as “the action or skill of absorbing written or printed matter silently or aloud.” Sounds dry, maybe even boring, but the ability to read has been credited with exercising the mind, saving lives, bringing people together, and predicting success in school. It alleviates boredom in the bits of free time that pop up between soccer and dinner and it can be done alone or in a group.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends…”
― Charles William Eliot

So when I find an app that organically encourages reading, I get excited. But I’m fussy. Here’s what I look for–the red answers are how this mystery ready app sized up:

Continue reading: Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo | Ask a Tech Teacher – readilearn