Coach Carole Ramblings

Celtic, Mythical and More …

Reflections on e-Portfolios

Whilst preparing for the presentation on Maintaining Lifelong E-portfolios I revisited my e-portfolios online. This process enabled me to once again reflect on achievements, but more importantly on the learning that I had experienced.

In my e-portfolio about the deMOOC experience (designing e-learning massive open online course) from 2013 I had kept my reflections during the planning and development stages and shared those with other e-learning designers. I had not updated this reflective piece since that time and something was missing … I had not included my own reflections on the facilitation of the course, in the e-portfolio. However, I did have access to the deMOOC course where I could locate many postings that would give me some insight into how I learned to facilitate the course collaboratively. These can now be included to ’round out’ my reflections – useful for other e-learning designers.

In my e-portfolio about my Toastmasters experience I thought I had kept my artefacts up-to-date, but no, there was a missing piece yet to be recorded. The recent achievements within my own home club in Albury Wodonga were still to be added and I had not even mentioned my new role as Area Director for TM clubs in the Northern region of Victoria. This prompted me to start my preparations for those updates and to use that information in my presentation for eCoP. These can now be included to complete my Toastmaster Journey – useful for other Toastmasters.

The key to ‘maintaining a lifelong e-portfolio’ is to remind yourself to reflect and update frequently. One tool that you can use is the Penzu Online Journal which is simple and quick to use and provides a built in reminder system. You choose the day and time when Penzu will send you a reminder email.

What will you use for your e-portfolio maintenance reminder system?

Reflections on Leadership

Leadership is a selected pathway for me in Toastmasters International, an educational organization I have been participating in for 13 years. You might think that this is a long time for learning leadership! “Surely you’ve got the gist of it by now?”, I hear you ask. There is more to it than just learning about leadership – it is necessary to practice and share your leadership vision with others.

My recent Competent Leadership (CL) Certificate in Toastmasters is the second one of these that I have achieved. To obtain a CL in the Toastmasters Educational program you must complete these projects:

CL Progress 1 Some of these tasks are quite simple to do – just requiring completion of a meeting role such as Toastmaster of the Day or Grammarian.Each one focusses on a different but complementary competency such as Listening, Critical Thinking, Giving Feedback, Time Management, Planning and Implementation.

By repeating these projects I have learned to improve my skills in these competencies.

CL Progress 2Others are much more complex such as being the chairman of a PR campaign, organising a Membership campaign or operating as the Club Webmaster. The focus for the latter projects includes competencies such as: organising and delegating, facilitating, motivating, mentoring and team building.

I would recommend repeating the CL manual projects to advanced Toastmasters to polish their deeper leadership skills.

Anonymous Rewrite

Draft Two

Well bless my lucky keys. I see you’ve created another blog post, at last! I was beginning to get my drives in a twist thinking you weren’t ever coming back. Spending time with her again I see. At least I don’t give you the pre-emptive text headaches that she does. I know you like to carry her with you, and I am too big for that now, but really, could we have an agreement about the time you spend with me. Please?

If anyone knows you well, it is I. We’ve been through many brick walls together. Let’s get this creative writing project happening. Shall we?

I was so pleased to see that you enrolled in that course – your tutor Robert, seems to be pleased with your writing efforts. When you opened up his reply to your latest piece, yesterday, I was so proud of you. I don’t think he hands out distinctions at the drop of a hat! He thinks he is beginning to know you better – I could tell him a thing or two!

By the way, I would like to remind you that you promised to reflect on your creative writing course in one of your blogs. You made a start back in February, a good start. Let’s see if we can schedule those reflections a bit more often shall we? Okay I know that you are really busy these days, Google Calendar told me about those commitments, why not add your writing tasks there too. These are just as important you know!

Today I would like to offer some advice about getting an audience for your writing. Your blogs are great, don’t get me wrong, I love reading about your Celtic Family History, the Short Story you’ve begun and your own reflections. However, I think that you need to start building a larger group of subscribers. You need to entice your readers to engage; to write a comment or to share with others. What we need here are incentives! We need some words that leap off the screen and draw your readers in. We need to make it worthwhile for your readers to stop and read the pages. Keep posting in your Facebook page and give them the direct link to your blogs and stories. Tell them that you want them to give you feedback.

What about using that GRIN formula that Robert gave you? Grab ‘em with that attention getting first sentence. Build that Rapport with your readers – you want them to continue reading. Give them Information but keep it light; keep it entertaining and keep it short. And for the Now part, how you wrap up your article is important—try to tie up the ends neatly; relate the end to the beginning. I know these were the tips for non-fiction writing assignment you did, but there is wisdom here and could be used in your Facebook posts.

What about some catchy titles for your blog posts! Try this. Imagine you are standing in front of Newsagency stand, scanning the magazines. Which ones appeal to you? Look for the ‘teasers’ the words used to capture your attention. Now go and read those magazine articles and look for the ‘hooks’ in their lead paragraphs; look for the words that create the mood or the scene; and look for the dialogue. I got these from Student Workbook 2 in your course – did you read those thoroughly?

Finally I just want to say how thrilled I am that you decided to join that local Creative Writing group in Albury; I know that you will be able to bounce some ideas off them.

Keep writing – plan to write every day – I’ll be here waiting for you with an open Keyboard!


Fantastic! At last we have a new posting. Did you see that one? Let me help you find it.

Was it about a new ancestor, or more about one of her favourites?

Her Mum. I was getting depressed again when nothing happened for a few weeks. Last time she posted it was March, and here we are in May already.

The one about her Dad in March was quite good, a great ANZAC reminder.
This one remembering her Mum is not too bad, but she could really do with some extra help when it comes to finding a hook for her readers.

Yes, she needs words that leap off the page and draw the reader in. She should make it worthwhile for readers to stop and read our pages. None of her readers are leaving any comments! She needs some serious help with that.

Come to think of it, who are her readers?
I don’t think she spends enough time creating an audience for her Celtic ramblings or family history writings.

Absolutely, if you are going to self-publish, then you need to have readers. Start building a following now.

Well, back in March I suggested that she promotes her posts with one of our friends.
I know that Facebook has helped increase her followers. She got 10 likes on the latest post today and 8 on the March post.

Good work. Now she needs to entice her readers to engage, write a comment or leave an email.
Give them an incentive.

I know she had some really clever advice from a writer in the United States, just last month. She said that you need to build your credibility as a writer amongst your network. Then when you really get serious about writing and you want them to ‘buy’ your e-book, they’ll be more willing.

Yes, great advice and very generous in sharing; that Skype friend also sent one of her new stories, but she has not even read that one yet. Looks like too many things on her calendar. I had a look at that piece after she downloaded it. It’s unique – she could learn from it.

Okay, I know she’s busy, just look what she has on her calendar – for different groups – with diverse writing purposes.
She spends hours at her computer.

I think if she could consolidate and amalgamate her writing in one place instead all over the place, she’d have more success.

Ah yes, but when you get to know her a little better, you’ll realise that now she has more time on her hands, she’ll be more organised!

The Whirram Way

Scenes from the Whirram Way

These are the beginnings of scenes for book one of the Whirram Way an anthology of my ramblings about white witches and their journeys to the otherworld. Characters include Mary Anne, Lettice and Elizabeth (Lisbet) – a family of women with the knowing – the White Witches of Treffgarne. Mary Anne my great grandmother was born in 1833; her mother, Lettice was born in 1808; and her mother Elizabeth was born in 1786. 

Story begins with Mary in 1840:

”You are needed, your way begins, Look inward, the gateway is open”….

Mary first heard these words on the wind waking her from sleep – the night of the raging storm. When Mary stirred, rain was in the air, but not yet here – just that familiar metal smell and the rushing of the wind through the trees in the woods. She slipped quietly from her bed, her bare feet flinching on hard cold slate, and tip toed to the window. She unlatched the window shutter without a second thought of fear and pushed the window wide. Gazing out she searched for her moon! Was it there? Yes! The moon glided into view from beneath the blackened swollen clouds, and she smiled. She shivered there in the cold waiting for the moon to rise and the rain to begin its rattling on the roof. She did not know where the gateway was waiting and why she was needed, but she knew she was ready.

Continue reading

Travel blog Stage Two: Classic River Cruise

Budapest to Passau – we’ve been here before!

Boarding the MS Johann Strauss for the first time was so exciting – we were at the first cross road of our journey the start of our Danube Cruise! We had done a smaller cruise from Passau to Budapest a few years ago and loved it – and declared our intention to do it again. Different company this time APT / TraveMarvel – and what a delight it was to find this 4 star accommodation floating home!

We located room 214 and quickly settled in – what a relief to finally unpack our suitcases. Some quick explorations and comparing notes with our Italian Treasures buddies and we immediately felt pampered and well catered for. The sumptuous breakfasts, lunches and dinners (not to mention the afternoon teas and late night suppers) were to prove a major source of our satisfaction with APT Travel Tours!

Our on board Tour Director, Cherie, is an Australian ex-patriot living and working in Europe, and proves to be the second source of our satisfaction of the ship organisation, the tours on shore, the briefings and commentaries! She is the best we have experienced to date!

We had two days to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the city of Budapest – one of our favourite European capitals. Lovely city with tragic history -Hungarians did it tough especially in the uprising of 1956! Different culture here, different currency to the rest of Europe, different food but great tasting. Hungarian musicians on board to entertain us!

Then we began our cruise through Austria and Germany! We sail several kilometres every day and evening except when we moor at a famous town for extended stays, Passau, Vienna, and then shorter stops at Durnstein, Melk, Bamburg, Wurzburg, a bus tour across to Rothenburg, Wertheim (Wet time) and finally a whole day and night to Rudesheim!

Currently I am in the Lounge of the MS Johann Strauss, enjoying the Happy Hour, 476th Bitburger bier and whiskey and dry before dinner at 7pm. Louis is at the piano and its raining outside! perfect relaxing day today!

Pictures later! Having too much fun!

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Travel Blog #1: Preparing for Italian Treasures

Count down to our ‘big trip’ is now providing the adrenalin rush for me to finalise all preparations and ‘hit the road’.

We have our passports sorted with appropriate VISA for re-entry – required of British Citizens – and now have those safely stored and details copied electronically in case of theft or loss.

We have our itinerary and e-tickets for flights, tours and cruise. I am really glad that we upgraded to Stateroom with French Balcony on the MS Johann Strauss – a little extra luxury – we’ll be on Opera Deck close to Foyer and Fitness Centre – and immediately below the Restaurant on Waltz Deck.

But first we will be escorted on a 10 day tour of Italian Treasures including the art, architecture, cathedrals and sculptures of Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre and Venice. (I’m inspired by Dan Brown’s descriptions of Florence in his new book Inferno – so looking forward to this Florentine adventure.)

Then we head into the second of the six countries of Europe we will pass through on our Danube River cruise – Austria – and stay one night in Graz to admire the snow-capped peaks surrounding the medieval town.

On the cruise we will pass through Hungary, Slovakia, Germany and the Netherlands. Starting at Budapest (where we have visited once before) we embark ship and travel to Vienna, Durnstein, Melk, Linz, Passau, Regensburg, Nuremburg, Bamberg, Kitsingen, Wurberg, Wertheim, Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cologne and finally Amsterdam.

Once we’ve disembarked ship in Amsterdam we fly to England and then travel by car across the counties to Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and finally to Wales. My home country is calling me again and this time I will be able to visit the towns of my ancestors to complete some of my genealogy studies for our Celtic Family History.

toastmaster mag July 113My plan is to post frequently (at least when an Internet connection is available) to keep a record of this adventure.

I plan to post an image of the places on our itinerary and including me with my Toastmaster Magazine.

Wish me luck, Bon Voyage or just provide some comments on my posts using the Comments facility.

I’ll be back in the Spring!