My mum

Prompt number 24 of the #Edublogsclub asks us to write a post about parents.

My mum passed away 27 years ago, 2 weeks after her 49th birthday.

My mum

My Mum has always been an inspiration, even though most of the time she drove me crazy. She always seemed to know everything about what was happening in my life as a kid. I couldn’t understand it. It felt like I couldn’t do anything without her finding out. I must admit, I wasn’t a terrible teen – but having been raised in a very strict Italian household even talking with boys who were not family was frowned upon back then. In the end after many tantrums, when I wasn’t allowed to go to parties or go out with my friends, in general, I soon gave it up and just made excuses to my peers to avoid the embarrassment. I just had to accept that this was how it was and that there was no use trying to get away with it. As an adult – I think I finally realised just how my mum always knew in the times before social media…

Image: pinterest.com

That aside, my mum was the best in many ways. She always supported our learning, both my brother and I were encouraged to go that extra mile with our studies. My mum always attended parent/teacher meetings and made sure we were on top of things. We are the first lot to go through post-compulsory studies and gain university degrees. If you follow my blog you’ll also know I’m currently chewing through a PhD. I love learning and so did my mum. She was the only one of her 7 siblings who finished school and if it wasn’t for the antiquated thinking by my maternal grandfather, she would have gone onto university. But alas, ‘there were things to do other than filling your brain with useless knowledge’ as he used to say.

At 20 she migrated to Australia, learning English on the boat, she landed with at least some idea of what awaited her. Mind you, she never really gave herself away, choosing to just blend into the already growing community of Italian migrants in and around Melbourne. She joined her big brother and his family, along with her 2 sisters and together they formed a new extended family. She worked and lived as they all did to make a better life for themselves. She learned heaps on this journey, though she never boasted at how much she understood English – choosing instead, to blend into the Italian community.

In 1963 she married my father, an Italian migrant, her brother’s friend and together with my dad’s two sisters and their husbands, they moved to the house in which I am currently writing this blog. My own family now live in this wonderful house – though it has been extended and refurbished over the years. Still, it holds all my childhood memories and will forever be my sanctuary.

Wedding Day, 1963

I remember my mum always used to say she wanted to be a social worker. She was a great listener and problem solver. She supported many people and often as a child there were many friends who came by to have a chat – little did I know that they were actually seeking out my mum’s for advice on all manner of things – but mostly about relationships. My mum loved having people over and organising wonderful dinner parties. Our extended family always gathered to celebrate everything and anything. My childhood and young adulthood were a stream of parties, dinners, celebrations with family and friends.  She was an avid church goer and loved being part of the Italian Community. Many can attest that they met their partners at some ‘do’ that mum helped organise for the community.

My mum loved learning and so do I. She is and always will be my inspiration to continue my work in education. I hope to make a difference, to make trouble, to unsettle, to challenge and encourage others to think, to take risks, to go beyond that which they think possible. I owe it to my mum and I owe it to myself.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ma & Pa Kettle and other mathematical dilemmas

This week’s #edublogsclub prompt 12 asks us to embed something into a post.

No problems!

One of my favourite videos that I use in many of my workshops to do with differentiation and non-funded special needs is Ma & Pa Kettle’s most convincing lesson in mathematics.

The problem: How many times does 5 go into 25?

I bet you said 5 …

Can you think of any other numbers that can be manipulated to do the same?

No?

How about

13×7=?

Watch the video below. Costello (Albert and Costello fame) is pretty convincing…

Why are they so convincing?

I’ve used the Ma & Pa video in the past and asked students to convince me otherwise.

I would also imagine an open ended problem solving session where students explore the possibility that there may be other numbers for which we can present a similar argument.

How could you use these videos in your classes?

Feel free to share your ideas below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

My learning spaces – everything, in every place

Prompt 2 of my newest challenge, a blog a week for the #edublogsclubs is all about our work environments. Since I am not in any one school and juggle quite a number of ‘different’ work, my learning spaces vary dramatically depending on the tasks at hand.

In any one week, I can go from a secondary school classroom, a boardroom, a meeting room, a conference centre, my dining room table, my home office space, a favourite coffee shop, university grounds, and even in my spa! I love the freedom of moving around for different learning activities. You see, as I mentioned in my first challenge post, there is learning in everything and I’ll add now – in every place.

Coffee shop treat while reading on critical pedagogy

In my final year of high school, many, many years ago, each of my subjects was allotted to a different study area in the house (much to my mum’s disgust!). It was almost like a switch on, switch off ritual while I was studying and as each exam was completed so the books and study guides disappeared from each place (to my mum’s relief!).

As an Education Consultant, my learning spaces vary from staffrooms to auditoriums, from conference centres to classrooms and school libraries. My audience numbers vary dramatically for 4-5 and up to 300 at national conferences so my learning space has to work accordingly. I like to do a lot of hands-on and movement activities with my participants, but I also need them to sit quietly and reflect, or to work more collaboratively on certain tasks.

Developing coaching relationships

The learning spaces for workshops with teachers may vary but there is nothing like a nice round table where teachers and learning support staff can collaborate to make learning for students with special needs and indeed all students, more accessible.

Collaborating

When teaching and learning with students the spaces outside of the classrooms are just as enticing and so again the learning spaces change. Last year I really loved how my tutorial room had whiteboard walls!! Visual Art spaces are also enticing and prompt creativity even in everyday manual tools which are an artform in themselves.

Paintbrushes

As a part-time PhD student, I do much of my study and writing at home – and this is where I still tend to move around depending on what I’m attempting to do on the day. We have a very large dining room table and even swapping chairs along and around it help me to focus within the space. It is also a good excuse when my desk cannot be seen for the papers, books and stationery it sometimes holds.

My desk area

Dining room table

And of course, there’s also that learning space inside our heads – thinking! As an A grade procrastinator, I actually do much of my thinking while cleaning, cooking, driving and, yes, even while enjoying the spa -though this presents a problem when trying to write things down in my notebooks!

Ahhhhh…spa!

Finally, I’d like to also add that for me learning spaces are not only the physical places one inhabits but they can also be found within the pages of a lovely notebook or scrappy bits of paper, on a computer screen or in a painting.

Travel diary

There is learning in everything; in every place.

Thanks for reading 🙂

My Blog Story

I’ve just joined a new little family #Edublogsclub and set myself yet another challenge of writing a weekly blog based on a prompt (just don’t tell my PhD supervisor!).

I began blogging about 4 years ago as part of my new adventure out in the big wide world. I wanted to try my hand as an education consultant after 30 years in schools. Consulting wasn’t new to me. I had been representing my schools at conferences and through a number of professional learning education agencies for years. I just felt I could do more as a free agent. So along with other social media platforms including twitter (@JoPrestia) I started this blog.

My twitter page

I like to think out loud through writing so thought this could be a great way to do it. I blog about everything educational including adventures in the classroom, relief teaching, conferences, coaching, consulting work in schools and with teachers, teaching and learning with pre-service teachers, my PhD & family and friends.

There is learning in everything.

I’m proud to say I have a little following and every now and then I get feedback. However, I don’t write to get comments or praise (though it is nice!). I just write because I like it. It helps me think – in writing.

I also love reading other blogs, mainly educational, including fellow PhDs and a myriad of great teachers who provoke my thinking. I love the Thesis Whisperer and Pat Thomson for my PhD advice, and others I enjoy reading, including @debsnet, Chris Munroe, Mark Weston, Jon Harper to name but just a few. I don’t always read posts immediately. Instead, I have long binge sessions regularly where I try to catch up. I also stumble on many great blog posts via twitter and my facebook page.

Bed chat

I try to use my time wisely though I am an A grade procrastinator! Sometimes I’m even shocked at how I get everything done! Even now I’m sitting in a nail salon waiting… so taking the opportunity to begin composing this blog on my iPhone. When it rains…

So that’s my blog story… never ending…

(What you have just read was finalised in the comfort of my own work space at home and my trusty mac!).

Thanks for reading 🙂

So what if the beach was a whiteboard?

In today’s classrooms on at least one wall, there exists a whiteboard – used to be a blackboard but those days are long gone. I’m wondering then if maybe it’s almost time to sign off on whiteboards. Yes, I know we have those interactive numbers in many schools but even so…I’m not convinced they are being used to capacity.

Since it’s supposed to be summer in Melbourne – I say ‘supposed to be’, cause I’m currently at the beach in a lovely new house on holiday, just a few minutes walk from the beach, and it’s freezing… aside from that… what if the beach was a whiteboard? What might this look like?

This post was initially prompted and began swirling in my head by a couple of photos sent to me in November when most kids were busy studying for upcoming exams. It was cemented in me last night when walking along the beach here and happening upon some wonderful sand drawings.

sand drawing

What prompts children (and adults) to write and draw in wet sand? Have you ever thought about it?

I bet you’ve done it.

Thomas was prompted to write in the sand while studying for his English exam. Yes, really. He scraped out quotes from his novel as a way to remember them. Funny. No one encouraged him to do it, in fact, he was on his own down at the beach and then…he picked up a stick.

He tells me he actually planned to walk down to the beach so he could write them in the sand.

Thomas’ sand quotes

Why?

“I didn’t have a whiteboard. I usually write them on a whiteboard, rub them out and write them again.” At the beach, he didn’t need to rub them out. It was expansive enough to just move on to another space and repeat.

Really?

Thomas purposefully adapted his preference for learning and used his immediate access to the sand in order to learn.

As he stands back to admire his writing, passers-by are curious.

“It’s okay,” says Thomas, “I’m just revising for my English exam.”

Clever.

Really?

Is that what it is?

Clever?

Thomas doesn’t think so – for him, he was just studying, thinking, adapting to his environment, taking advantage of what he had – a stick, a voglia, (desire) to explore learning, sand, prior knowledge and experience.

So what if the beach was a whiteboard?

How might you use it for learning?

Thanks for reading 🙂