Without a doubt, education and my love for learning changed the course of my life for the better on more than one occasion. This is why it gives me an immense pleasure to introduce you Norah Colvin, whose passion for learning shines through on her blog, and now also through her early learning resources she shares through readilearn.
Hi Norah, Welcome to my blog.
Thank you for inviting me. I am delighted to be here.
Norah, congratulations on the recent launch of your website. Tell us a little about readilearn.
Thank you. I am very excited about my new website. readilearn is a collection of early childhood teaching resources that I have written. Many of the resources I used, trialled if you like, in my own classroom. I had always thought about sharing them with others but, when I was teaching full time, didn’t have the time to present them professionally or even think about marketing them.
Norah, what makes your resources different? Why would people choose readilearn resources?
Many of my resources provide a context, and integrate learning across the curriculum. They are designed for teachers who wish to support children’s learning through discussion, and provide opportunities for additional practice in small groups or individually.
There is a variety of resources including estories for developing reading strategies, mathematical understanding, and problem solving skills. There are interactive activities that can be used on the white board with the whole class or small groups. There are many of what I call readilessons, lessons that are ready for teachers to use to support children’s learning. While there are worksheets, they do not involve practice of skills in isolation. They add to the learning initiated in other resources. There are also handouts to provide parents with ideas of how they can support their children’s learning.
Norah, tell me a little about the name readilearn. Where did that come from?
That one’s easy. I love reading, and I love learning. I guess if I could have worked writing into the word somehow, it would have been perfect. The ‘i’ in the centre puts the focus on the individual. I wanted the name of my website to show the importance of reading and learning to individual growth and empowerment. However, when I say the name, I pronounce it “ready learn”. This refers to an individual’s innate readiness to learn, as well as to the resources which are ready for teachers to use in their support of learners.
How long have you been working on readilearn?
I could say that I’ve been working on it all my life. Reading, writing, and teaching have been an integral part of my life since the early days. My mother used to delight in telling me that when a brother, who is four years younger than I, was a toddler, I proudly announced that I would teach him. She said that I had taught him very well; but not necessarily the things she wished him to learn!
From when I could first read and write, I wrote constantly: stories, poems, songs, and plays. At age ten I decided I wanted to be a teacher. My interest in education and how we learn has never wavered, but only increased over the years.
I particularly enjoy watching young children learn. They are amazing; creating their own opportunities for learning, developing their own hypotheses about the world, and repeatedly testing them (often to parents’ dismay), until they are satisfied with their understanding. They are driven by a need to know and find out. If we encourage and support that, rather than hinder it with imposed content, their learning is limitless.
Observing and participating in the development of my own (now adult) children and my grandchildren is wonderful. I have always considered it a privilege to be able to share in the learning journey of other children through my role as a teacher. Their excitement for learning is energising.
I’m sorry, perhaps I’ve wandered a bit off the track, but it’s true too. Throughout all those years, in my many different roles as learner and teacher, I was also writing and creating. I have always said that I loved the opportunity for creativity that teaching provided – writing stories and making resources to enhance learning; thinking up fun ways of engaging children in learning so that their love of learning was maintained, rather than crushed by the imposition of content set by others, as mine had been crushed.
When a change in curriculum meant that the balancing act I had performed throughout my career – staying true to what I knew about children’s learning while meeting the expectations of my employer – became just too difficult, I decided it was time to start publishing the resources that I’d been developing for years.
Why did you decide to self-publish through your own website rather than go with a traditional educational publisher?
There are many educational publishers in the field, publishing a wide variety of material. Some publish excellent resources. Others are of questionable value. I have previously written for educational publishers, some excellent and some a little less so. However, what I now offer on readilearn doesn’t fit neatly into the requirements of established publishers, and I didn’t want to attempt to force it. I also wanted to make my interactive resources available and I have not been able to find anywhere else to do that. My own website seemed to be the best solution. It could be what I wanted it to be, and not the dictate of someone else.
Norah, what is your wish for readilearn?
I love the opportunity of working on my own website, publishing my own materials. If they make a difference to one teacher’s day, to one teacher’s workload, and one child’s enjoyment of learning, then I will be happy that I have made a difference. I see readilearn as an extension of my own classroom, reaching out to teachers and children across the world.
on my other blog NorahColvin.com