September 17, 2009
What an exciting time we are having! We are in preparation for the Consult and Collaborate Joint Conference 2009 at the Brisbane Conference Centre on the 18th and 19th September and we are almost leaping and squealing with excitement! It is our honour to be satchel sponsors – but what we are exceptionally excited about is the launch of our In the Garden Literacy Package!
Filled with innovative and exciting resources for teachers, this package is not just the culmination of hard work, but an absolute celebration of the value of dedicated and committed professionals collaborating to create a resource of best practice across so many domains. We will be thanking the wonderful people who have collaborated with us – from Sarah Amies (Author and illustrator), Anne-Maree Garcia (Multi-media guru), Patrick Mitchell (narrator and story-teller), Tina Kriedemann (The Purple Jam Studio / Brisbane), Angie Sublime (Sublime Music Studio/ Brisbane) and Iris Wesling (St. Eugene Catholic College, Burpengary), these people have given blood, sweat and tears to make this launch on Friday a spectacular success.
The Literacy Package consists of 7 in the Garden student texts, a Big Book, some visual processing Mystery Sheets, a CD of music suitable for assembly items (and tapping into another sensory learning pathway), a DVD of supported reading modes, and a teacher resource book, jam-packed with black-line masters, strategies and activities suitable for develping higher-order thinking. What can I say? We are justifiably proud of it, and hope many of you are able to join us at the launch.
Hopefully we will also see many of you at the conference – we are just so excited about being there and renewing friendships with those who attended the last conference – and meeting new conference participants.
October 20, 2008
One of the birthday gifts was a whale watching experience, and it does not matter how old the child, the enjoyment of the whales was there for all of us. And by the way, there was much hilarity as the crew of the catamaran brought out the birthday cake and candles!
However, in a moment of reflection watching their silent forms sliding past our catamaran, I thought about the good sense of these creatures of the deep, as the captain informed us that the mother and calf were usually escorted by an elderly aunt or experienced whale. If only we as humans had that same level of assistance on our journey through the oceans of life – how fortunate it would have been if I had an older aunt to assist me when my children were younger!
The picture is of the baby calf leaping into the air. What you don’t see is mother and aunt immediately swimming up close, to make sure he/she was between them yet again. What utterly sensible creatures the whales are… and what a good time I had with my children. Some things don’t change, despite the age of the child.
October 20, 2008
Alex and I have been so fortunate over the past month. During the school term break, we facilitated the training of another five teachers and a speech pathologist who are engaging with our 5energies vision of helping children with learning delays. These astute and intelligent women put in a tiring but highly rewarding three days of basic training, but as with any excellent training, Alex and I also engaged in our own learning journey too, learning as much from the participants as I think they learned from us. These newly trained 5energies people have already returned to their workplaces and the stories that we are already hearing about their successes is phenomenal.
Four of the teachers have engaged immediately in screening in their school, along with a previously trained facilitator, and with a limited amount of assistance from Mel, our talented Occupational Therapist, Alex, our brilliant Speech Pathologist and me, they have successfully discovered the capabilities of some 88 children. We had a planning day today where they are catering intrinisically for the individual needs of these children, and have planned a targeted, focussed program for the majority of these learner, to be implemented over the next term. Congratulations to all of these teachers for their willingness to engage in the process, their high expertise and their sense of humour!
Another facilitator in a different school reported that her school too is doing very well, and providing targeted programs of intervention, and that three words in particular sum up the parent comments about 5energies: caring and compassion with a sense of humour. What a lovely comment to receive.
September 29, 2008
One of our team members Anne – Maree, had a baby boy a couple of weeks ago, so we offer congratulations to Anne-Maree, Patrick and their daughter Alannah, on the safe and healthy birth of their ‘little prince’ (who, at 3.6 kg, was a very healthy weight!!). We hope to go and see the new addition to our extended 5energies family sometime this week. Welcome to the world, little man.
Many of you might not know that Anne-Maree is our technical guru, and has volunteered her services in the development of our promotional DVD, and in a major project that we have underway, to tell the stories of our ‘In the Garden’ series of books. We at 5energies are so exceptionally blessed with the people who assist us in so many ways – and Anne-Maree’s skills are so extensive, and we so appreciate what she does for us.
we also have so many other team members who assist us, and we would like to thank some of them for their contributions as well. Sarah Amies, our talented author, wrote the ‘In the Garden’ stories, Von edited and desktop published them in preparation for printing and Patrick has kindly volunteered to use his skills as actor and raconteur to tell the stories in a variety of ways. A package, with hard-copy stories, DVD of the story told in several different ways for different levels of learners will also be accompanied by lesson notes for teacher use in the classroom as well as some fabulous songs and music, to go with each of the animals. The very talented Angie and Tina are helping us to get that aspect underway – wait till you see Patrick in action, and the songs created by Angie and Tina! Graeme, our IT guru, is also hard at work streamlining the FILTA, and getting it to a computerised state of being: wait till you see how easy it is to use then!
So, thank you to everyone who is working so hard on our behalf, and another welcome to the newest 5energies team member!
*** Keep posted for launch date of the In the Garden package! The dates will be on our calendar.
September 13, 2008
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (4221.0 Schools Australia, 2007) results there are some 428074 primary aged students in Queensland. The news reports from yesterday indicated that approximately 12% of those students did not achieve benchmark in literacy and numeracy. While the testing occurs in selected grades, it is safe to assume that in between the testing grades, those students are likely to be experiencing ongoing learning difficulties. To put a face to those students, that 12% who were BELOW the benchmark equates to some 51360 young people who are struggling with their learning.
Unless there is investigation into why these children are not able to access the curriculum, unless there is some in-depth knowledge about the factors underpinning their learning capabilities, it is going to be difficult for these children to become functionally literate and numerate, even if offered the $750 per student in additional tutoring. It isn’t just five or ten children; it is 51360 children, and their lives being affected… Some of these children will be identified as children with learning disabilities, but the bulk of them are children of normal cognitive and operational function who are trying exceptionally hard to achieve. It seems completely logical to 5energies staff that the focus – politically and educationally - should be to identify these children early, early, early and to do that by screening each child in the key areas underpinning learning from a developmental perspective. The relatively small amount of money poured into finding out WHY they are unable to access learning in the same way as their peers, and then into intervention programs that actually assist them long -term, seems a good investment in the future of Australia.
How can we help these 51360 children further? Who do we need to contact politically to ensure these children have both advocates and a ‘voice’ in demanding a change of focus, funding and assistance?
August 23, 2008
On Wednesday, another successful professional learning session took place! The PD on untangling the learning pathways, an exploration of the role that perceptual motor or sensory motor skill development plays in the acquisition of literacy and numeracy, was a wonderful experience (according to feedback). Again, lots of laughter and learning, lots of fabulous people, wonderful presenters and excellent food (thanks again Rochelle). Our aim with these sessions is to tap into what participants know, but to extend those understandings and share our knowledge. Alexandra (Alex) is a speech pathologist with an explicit understanding of the classroom, Lisa is teacher extraordinaire and Melinda (Mel or ‘M’), with her dual degrees in Occupational Therapy and Education, has such a unique pespective on the classroom as well. Additionally the participants of this PD were wonderful, contributing so much to the success of this interactive PD.
The picture shows one of the activities, where participants are untangling learning pathways! What can I say? If you want more information, please check the website for the next PD session!
August 19, 2008
Quite a number of years ago, while team-teaching at an inner suburban school with an amazingly intuitive teacher Kate C, we had sixty five year old children between the two classes. These children were as all five years olds are: enthusiastic, full of energy, bubbly, determined and fun to teach. Kate was (and probably still is) such a great teacher that each day was an adventure for all of us. However, we were having difficulties when it came to writing, with at least half the class beginning on the right side instead of the left, with some children writing straight down the middle of the page, and some even from bottom to top. Despite the best of modelling, reminders, huge ‘X’ at the left hand side, the whole exercise was getting to the anxiety stage – for us as teachers!!
Fortunately a friend had introduced me to the joys of perceptual motor programs, and we began a fortnight of ‘right’ activities. Everything, from foot placement, to throwing activities, to dance sessions, to using musical instruments, everything began with the right hand or foot. Within a fortnight, every single child knew immediately what we were talking about if we said to find the right hand, foot or side of the body. Seems too logical doesn’t it? Sometimes the best journeys begin with a magical ‘aha!’ moment, don’t they?
Long story short, we then took a look at other areas, and began a structured perceptual motor program for every child in that dual class – and the results were astonishing. By the end of the year, there were few children wtih learning difficulties, and if they were still identifiable, and had been referred to professionals for specialist attention, they were deemed as very minor delays, and to continue our program of assessment, focussed activities and extension in a remarkably fun environment.
*** Please note: Our introduction to ‘Untanging the Learning Pathways: Perceptual Motor Skills’ is taking bookings now. At 5energies, we are all converts to the importance of finding out what each child’s learning pathways are doing from a sensory perspective: if you want an excellent introduction, please give us a ring to book in for this workshop.