Conference Cinderella and Fairy Nuff

There I was crying into the washing up water (every…drop…counts) and thinking of the ways that situations are resolved in great works of fiction.

I need the cavalry to arrive, I thought, or the fairy godmother. Where are fairy godmothers when you need them?

The tears resolved from shimmering blobs into two small shimmering figures. One was slim and neat and perky a la Tinkerbelle and the other was rather dumpy and crumpled looking from too many nights sleeping under pillows.

“You called?” said the dumpy one. This must be my fairy godmother! “What do you wish for?”

The slender one started bouncing up and down, face beaming and sparkles cascading in all directions. “Ask for an end to poverty and famine” she said. “Oh and Wooooorld Peeeeeeace” she added, sounding just like Miss Congeniality.

“We can’t grant that” said the dumpy one. “It’s not in the FGM job description. We only do personal wish stuff.”

“So what are your problems?”

“Well there’s the house…”

“What’s wrong with the house? It looks very nice to me”

“The fence and  gate need to be fixed and the back yard and BBQ and…”

“That’s easily fixed – we’ll call in Burke’s Backyard or Better Homes and Gardens”

“No that’s not the real problem” I said. “We really need this house to be sold very soon.”

“Oh that’s easy to fix too,” said Dumpy (who I had decided by now was called Fairy Nuff – hey, she’s my FGM – I get to name her!) “We’ll do a pamphlet drop! All the postcodes from 3134 to 3138 and a few in the CBD, coz that’s where the wealthy guys hang out.”

“You can’t DO that these days, grandma!” said Slender “It’s called littering. You can only do it for parades for politicians and sports stars” (Nice to see my grandson’s FGM is environmentally aware and is concerned about the big world issues)

“Well … what else are you wishing ? Well..Wishing. Wellwishing. Wishing Well. Get it?” Dumpy started rolling around laughing at her own lame jokes until the tears ran down her face and the fat rolls on her stomach jiggled. Slender looked heavenwards and rolled her eyes.

“I would like to go to the Conference”, I said.

Now Fairy Nuff was on more familiar ground.
“You can’t go looking like that”, she said. “Bibbity bobbity boo!” and POOF! I was wearing a beautiful ball dress.

“Oh yuk, Grandma! That’s so sixties! 1460s!” said Slender.

“It’s very nice, thank you,” I said “but not exactly what we wear to Conferences”. I was thinking to myself that I might get curtains or at least a tablecloth out of the material.

“And you would have to get there. Do you have a pumpkin?”

I produced the half butternut pumpkin from the fridge.

“It’s not very big” she said. “I don’t think I’d get a coach out of that – maybe a motor scooter. Where did you say this Conference is?”

“Fremantle, Western Australia”

“Great. I’ll make you a coracle. If you start paddling now…..”

“She might get there in ten years. She needs an aeroplane,” said Slender.

“It would take a HUGE pumpkin to make a plane” said Dumpy. “Lucky the Royal Melbourne Show is on – we could get a giant one there. We’ll be back!”

Several hours later as the street lights were coming on, one yellow circle resolved into a truly huge golden pumpkin with a tiny shimmering figure on either side holding it. They were right above the road outside the kitchen window. I could hear them exhorting each other.

“Come on! We’re nearly there!”

“It’s so heavy!”

“How will we get it in the door?”

“We should make it outside.”

“What? In the middle of the road?”

“No we really should take it to the airport”

“Lilydale’s closer. There’s an aerodrome for small planes there. We could get MAF Air to give it a safety check before she flies it”

“Why didn’t you think of that before?”

“It’s SO heavy!”

“Come on. Nearly there!”

“It’s slipping…..”

“Hang on to it!”

It is a mystery why fish fall from the sky – but I now know why giant pumpkins fall!


Maslow, Dabrowski, Beatitudes and me

A friend used to describe the thing which concerns you most at the present moment as being on the front burner causing all other concerns to be relegated to the back burners.
The thing which is currently on my front burner is the situation with our home – see Rental lament below

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
states that the physiological needs take first precedence closely followed by needs for safety and security. If these needs are not being met other needs will be deprioritised.
At the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Triangle
see diagram at
is self actualization and spiritual needs

Dabrowski rejected Maslow’s theory and instead posited the Theory of Positive Disintegration
For Dabrowski actualization is not a developmental outcome but the need to become aware of the different levels of self and inhibit the influences of the base instinctual aspects of the self and actively choose and assemble higher elements into a new unique self. The more actualised the self, the more it becomes altruistic and pure.

In the Beatitudes and other aspects of the Sermon on the Mount
Jesus outlines conditions for happiness and blessedness which are independant of material possessions.
We are extolled not to be overly concerned with food, clothing and shelter as God will supply our needs as attested by the lillies of the field and the birds.

SO – Maslow says it is only natural that my concern about the house is on my front burner. Dabrowski says I should actively push the concern to the back burner and get on and think about things which will be beneficial to others. And Jesus promises that I do not need to have the concern on the front burner and I will have my socks blessed off if I put someone else’s concern on my front burner.

Rental lament

Sometimes I really hate renting!

We have been in this home for a whole two months and now the landlord is selling this house. We have a one year contract. When we were signing for this place we made it very clear that we would only sign if we would be able to stay for at least 3-5 years until the children had finished uni studies and were financially ready to move out; at which time we would be looking for a small place for just the two of us.

We needed this assurance as the last two places we rented were sold out from under us. We were assured that this place was a long term proposition. We would not have even considered signing if there had been any doubt.

We were told that the fence which encloses the back courtyard would be replaced before we moved in. It was not and still has not been. We have had to tie the fence and gate up with tie wire to prevent it falling over. This means the gate is sealed shut and we have no access to the back yard from the outside.

There is no garage or garden shed so we have the contents of the large garage we had at the previous house stored in the rumpus room. We have not been able to unpack properly and can only use a corner of the rumpus room. A friend was going to sell us a shed; but do we need it now?

Very shortly after we moved in the real estate agent came to value the house. We were told not to worry – the landlord just wanted to know how much the place was worth. Then agents from another real estate firm came to value the house. When I queried it with the rental department they claimed to not even know that the sales department of their own company had come.

Two days later on a Sunday afternoon the lady from sales phoned  and said that our landlord wanted to sell and the whole sales team would be coming to inspect the place on Tuesday. She said that as the landlord was the one breaking the contract he would pay for our relocation.

A phone call to the rental department on the Monday morning dispelled that reassurance. The head of rentals told me very sternly that we could not be put out until next July and in the meantime we just had to sit put and cope with all the Open for Inspections etc., that if we moved earlier we would be the ones breaking the contract and liable for extra expenses. When I told her we had signed on the understanding that we would be there more than one year, she said “Tenants only have the right to expect exactly what the contract says – no more!”

Since then we have been on a roller coaster of tears, glimpses of hope, frustration and insecurity. We were 2/3 of the way to being unpacked. Should we keep unpacking or start repacking?  Where will we be for Christmas?

There are two possible scenarios which would be OK for us
1. Another investor buys the property who is prepared to make the required repairs, appreciates having excellent long term tenants and we stay on happily for several years
2. The house is sold very quickly and we are given notice to leave and therefore relocated to a property of similar size and rental rate at the owner’s expense.

The worst case scenario is that it takes a long time to sell, taking us right up to the end of our one year contract and we are forced to move at our own expense, having put up with countless instances of Open for Inspections and private showings. We really cannot afford to move at our own expense at this time (or even in a year for that matter)

The advertisement has gone up on the Internet with no mention of the house being suitable for an investor and having long term tenants installed.
So far in our two months here there have been evaluation inspections, a full sales team inspection, a photo session, a private showing and one Saturday afternoon Open for Inspection. On each occasion I have done extra cleaning and moving of furniture and fittings.
And we have ensured that someone was home as we are not prepared to have our home entered while we are not here. Does this constitute quiet enjoyment of our home? I think not!

So please pray that this can be speedily and amicably settled.






JUNE 30 & JULY 1 2006
Welcome to a special extra Gifted Resources Email Newsletter. Here very belatedly is the report I have been promising to write on the Tasmanian Conference.
On FRIDAY 30 June evening there was a presentation by the keynote speaker Dr Diana Whitton, Senior lecturer in education at the University of Western Sydney.
What works: Parents and teachers as partners in gifted education.
For the successful education of gifted students parents and teachers must work in harmony to understand the needs of the student. Through a careful examination of the parents’ knowledge and the three facets of education, parents and teachers will develop an understanding of how to assist their child in school. The three facets are the academic, social and organisational elements to teaching and learning.
Diana is a Senior lecturer in education at the University of Western Sydney.She has worked in gifted education for the last 20 years undertaking graduate study at the Universities of Charles Sturt and Connecticut. She has published in journals and books on gifted education as well as presenting at international, national and local conferences. She
is currently working on an e-learning project with Department of Education and Training (NSW) for gifted students and a mentoring program for teachers of gifted.

This was a very interesting and informative session and we were given our handout notes in the form of a little 8 page booklet which we had fun folding ourselves. The booklet contained the diagram which Diana expounded on further during the Saturday keynote session and several of her ‘top ten’ lists such as Advice for new parents, Advice on academic aspects of giftedness, Organizational development of gifted children, Advice on Social development and parenting, 10 authors on gifted education and 10 of Diana’s current favourite books’just to read’

After supper Judy Travers from CELO gave an insight into the role of CELO in gifted education in Tasmania

TITLE: About CELO – The Centre for Extended Learning Opportunities
Tasmania is very fortunate to have CELO which offers many excellent initiatives. I was so impressed with the session and with talking to the representatives from CELO during the evening that I attended their session on the Saturday as well.

On SATURDAY 1 July after a welcome from Jane Beattie, President of TAG Inc and Sharyn Gill, Principal of Campbell St Primary School the Conference was opened by Lin Thorp.

Dr DIANA WHITTON then gave the Keynote Address : Doorways to Achievement: Opening teaching and learning to gifted students
When considering planning differentiated curriculum for gifted students the four layers of planning need to be considered. These are the context, students, differentiation strategies and teaching cycle. If these layers are considered from the lowest level we start with the Context, which comprises the community, school, year/grade level and the class. A sound knowledge of the school and community will assist the teachers in knowing the types of students and parent group they will be working with.
The second layer is the Facets of the students. To be considered are the students’ academic background and ability, their physical development, social/emotional development and their spiritual well being. The spiritual wellbeing may relate to a particular religious group or to the uniqueness of the student, which closely relates to their understandings and beliefs on a wider level.
Above the student layer is the Differentiation layer which includes the four areas of the curriculum that need to be addressed to ensure the curriculum is differentiated for gifted students. This includes the content to be taught, the processes used in teaching and learning, the creative products that the students will make, and the environment in which the teaching and learning will take place.
The top layer is the actual Teaching and Learning process – knowledge of students and self, leads into the planning, implementation and evaluation of the teaching and learning cycle.
Overarching all the layers are the Philosophy and Policies of each school on meeting the needs of gifted students.
This framework underpinning the planning and preparation for gifted students will be analysed in light of the Essentials for Learning.

These were my choices for the elective workshops
Session 2.B Sue Urban
TITLE: Open the door to The Learning Federation Learning Objects … what, why and how?
What are Learning Objects from the Learning Federation? Why have they been produced and how can I use them in teaching and learning? The Learning Objects are available FREE to all schools, through their sector representative, and they are AUSTRALIAN.
This presentation will highlight learning objects and the digital assets and how they are a useful resource in enriching content available to our students….in a fun way!
Learning Objects are small self contained interactive online resources which are suitable for use with interactive whiteboards. They do need guidance from the teacher to prevent the students getting so involved in the games that they miss the learning. Sue has written worksheets for use with learning objects which provides this guidance.

Session 3.A Betty Smith, Christopher Waterhouse & Amanda Lear
TITLE: Strategies for Success for Gifted and Gifted/Learning Disabled Students
Three speakers will provide stimulating information and strategies from separate points of view-Amanda Lear speaks as a Gifted/Dyslexic who holds 2 university degrees. She is a dynamic speaker who describes the strategies she utilised to achieve her goals-2 university degrees. She already works at executive level and is passionate about early intervention and identification for the next generation.
Christopher Waterhouse is a Gifted, Award winning Tasmanian with a diverse background in Public Speaking, Radio, Music and Theatre. He will present an entertaining presentation from his experiences with teasing and bullying issues.
Betty Smith will introduce important aspects of her Award winning book, “Success Stories-In Spite of Early Learning Problems” which provides inspiring, motivating and practical strategies for effective learning outcomes for parents, teachers and students.

This was an absoulutely inspirational session. Amanda and Christopher were both brilliant speakers. Betty’s book is on my ‘to read’ list!

Session 4.B Angela Cook & Wendy Fletcher
TITLE: Online Learning – a doorway for highly able / gifted students4.
The Centre for Extended Learning Opportunities (CELO) was set up in late 2004 as part of the major restructuring that followed the implementation of the Essential Learnings. The primary focus of CELO is provision for highly able/ gifted students. This provision includes assessment and other guidance officer services, resources, face to face extension programs including the KidzED holiday program, planning and education program assistance for schools, links with the University of Tasmania and the supported delivery of online extension programs.
Online learning provides a doorway to the engaging, stimulating and challenging programs and subject matter that is so pivotal to the education of students who are highly able / gifted. This is particularly important in the Tasmanian context as student numbers may be small and so working in ability groups may not be possible.
Research supports the provision of online learning, identifying many areas in which benefits are gained by students who are highly able / gifted. This paper looks at those benefits, and what they may mean for students who are highly able / gifted, their classrooms, teachers and parents.

For all the details of the services offered by CELO click here

Session 5.C Jenny Tayler
TITLE: The Essential Learning’s and your gifted child: Maximising opportunities
The model of concept-based instruction which underpins the Essential Learnings framework is strongly supported by the research findings into both brain-based learning and the preferred learning styles of highly able and gifted individuals. This presentation will spend some time looking at the potential within the Essential Learnings to cater for the needs of bright students, and give some suggestions and clues to positive conversations with parents and teachers about curriculum.
Session 6.C Jo Freitag
TITLE: Gifted Resources -Signposts to Cheetah Portals
This presentation describes how the non profit information service, Gifted Resources, attempts to disseminate information relating to the concepts and realities of care for the gifted and point the direction to doors of opportunity for achievement
Based on the analogies of the cheetah to a gifted person (Is it a cheetah? by Stephanie Tolan c.1996 and the signpost to Gifted Resources, this presentation will discuss the methods used to meet the information and resource needs of teachers, parents and service providers who care for gifted students. Acting as a signpost to sources of information and service provision, Gifted Resources functions as a library, bookshop, news service and service locater. Utilising a website and email newsletter it assists in communication and networking between those involved with the care of gifted students and publicise the doors of opportunity that are available.Through the presentation of seminars, guest speakers and film discussions, Gifted Resources acts as an educator on topics related to giftedness and seek to help increase knowledge and dispel myths.Gifted Resources also endeavors to provide a point of contact and encouragement for those who care for the gifted.To see my Presentation go to then About Us then click on Read Jo Freitag’s Presentation Signposts to Cheetah Portals.
Session 7.C Kate Tucker
TITLE: Pathways to Understanding the Social and Emotional needs of Gifted Students.
What expectations do we as parents and teachers have of our highly able/gifted students? How can we better understand their social and emotional needs? During this session we will explore the myths and realities surrounding these issues to gain a better understanding of the uniqueness of growing up gifted…


The Twitter Tree

I have two additional entries for the register of trees – the Twitter Tree and the Bird Leaf Tree

The Twitter Tree is a tree in which a large colony of birds nestle for the night. At dusk, although no birds can be seen, they all twitter as they settle down for the night; giving the impression to an observer that the tree itself is singing.

The Bird Leaf Tree, conversely, has a complete covering of birds by day feasting on the fruit or flowers of the tree; giving the impression to an observer that the tree has a foliage of birds.

Ah I feel a whole teaching unit coming on – watch out for it on my personal website under the heading Lesson Plans 

Kind regards, Jo