WINE tasting and story telling

On my birthday, I was taken for a surprise ride. We arrived at the Panton Hill Winery. It was a boutique winery just 38km from the Melbourne CBD and 30 minutes from my home. It was an excellent choice for our family quick getaway.

I had a wine tasting and was happy that I brought my new toy with me. If you know me well, I treat everything, everyone and everyday as an important learning opportunity.

When Dorothy, the director of Panton Hill Winery, started the wine tasting, I thought I cannot let this great opportunity of learning from the Master slipped away. I asked for her permission to film with my action camera.

Next week, I will talk to my capstone project students about preparing their business presentation. I have prepared a previous short clip about story telling technique as part of our workshops next week about using story telling to engage our audience and present our project journey.

When Dorothy started talking, I saw a master presenter in front of me. I can’t wait to show my students her presentation next week. You can tell the depth and breadth of her knowledge and skills, not just about her own business, but her focus on her customer experience at the wine tasting with everyone in front of her.

First of all, she kept the order in a very simple way that will take us on a learning journey. What she did extra was combining our neurological and biological reactions towards the chemistry that takes place between wine and food. She teaches us with technical terms without making us feel like we are sitting in a science lecture.

She built a journey for the wine to dance on our tastes buds while guiding us with clear positive expectations after each tasting.

When one of us choke on the wine, she quickly got some feedback and offered a second try with encouragement without being pushy. Just like how we should feel when we are learning something new.

My words do not justify and showcase how well Dorothy works her magic at the wine tasting table. Please watch the clip and see it yourself.

Thank you very much, Dorothy. I had a pleasant and happy experience (especially with my Verdelho coming home with me) on my birthday.

Our first

Beyblade Tournament – Mania8c vs. Mama

M&M is a space where I explore and develop new things with my little one. Both our first names start with the letter “M”. Hence, M&M.

Last week, we made our first YouTube video clip.

It’s our Beyblade Tournament.

We made the recording together when we played.

We edited the clip and chose the sound clip together

Then, little Mania8c named the clip.

It’s called “Don’t Play Beyblade with Mum, because you can’t beat her”.

See it yourself.

Sound credit:

SKIP to the Career that I want

I love watching movies.

Sometimes, in a movie, I see a girl who knows from a very young age what she wants to be when she grows up. And the movie will go on to show how successful she becomes in her career. I envy her.

Photo by Martin Lopez on

I have written many essays about my ambitions in primary schools. I had many ambitions. I wanted to grow up to be a soldier, teacher, scientist, artist, actress and movie director. But definitely not a dancer, this I knew for sure.

I have considered many options when I was choosing my college major – Japanese language, Mass Communication, Interior Designer and Advertising. The first major that I got accepted for enrolment at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Syracuse University was Architecture. I was taking science subjects including Physics, Chemistry and Biology in my secondary school. I was a science-stream student.

Yes – Architecture. I wanted to be an architect.

Then, the Asian Financial Crisis hit. My mum told me to pick a program that I can finish as fast as I can in case my family ran into financial problems.

At the end, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Financial and Economic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

That’s the journey I took that shapes my career and where I am today.

Looking back, I can see there were four things that influenced my decision.


We are always encouraged to do well when we can feel a sense of achievement, no matter how big or small it is.

When I see a student who is confused with choosing the major that she wants these days, I always ask her to look at her strength. Try something that you are good at. At least, you will be motivated to grow in a field that you are good at, which in turn helps build your confidence to explore further and develop more.


Ask around and find out as much as you can about the career that you are interested in.

Ask your parents, school career adviser, friends, cousins, neighbours or anyone who is working in the fields of your interest. Find out not just about the salary level, but the nature of the work, including the tough and not so pleasant bits. Choose something that you will feel proud to tell others about what you do as well as something that you don’t mind putting in the hard work to achieve. Do as much research as you can and visit the workplaces and see your future career with your own eyes.


Don’t be afraid to be who you are and who you want to be.

Remember, choosing a major is your individual choice. Many people will tell you their opinions and whether they like or hate your choice. Ultimately, it is your decision. Therefore, you must own your choice and walk the journey ahead by doing your best. Be ready to face any challenges and changes as career pathways evolve rapidly, especially in the digital age. The career that you see when you start your tertiary study or vocational training may not be the same when you complete it.


Only passion can sustain your interests in your career in the long journey ahead.

You will struggle to develop a successful career in the long run if you do not have passion in what you do. Choose a pathway that you are passionate about. You will always strive to do well in what you like, no matter how tough the process is.

Perhaps one day when I make a movie about my journey, I will show how I SKIP to the career that I have today.

An old new year

Happy New Year 2021. I feel that this new year is old.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Nothing has changed much. Kids are getting lots of presents and adults are indulging themselves with endless food and wine (if they are the lucky ones). The radio and tv are showing the same news around the world, just with less Trump-news (or maybe I am not paying any more attention). Do I sound depressed?

Maybe, maybe not. I am a realist. I take one day at a time. I do one thing at a time. I try to tackle one challenge at a time. COVID-19 and 2020 have strengthened the realist in me.

I don’t have big dreams going forward. I just have one dream, which is to build a stronger future for my family and the people that I appreciate.

I don’t have big goals for 2021. I just have one goal, which is to improve what I am currently doing.

I don’t have big plans for 2021. I just have one plan, which is to share my knowledge and energy with people who appreciate and respect the same things that I do in life.

And I think this is good enough for 2021. I know it’s going to be just fine.

Happy New Year 2021. 2020 was tough and challenging. I cannot predict what will happened in 2021. All I can say is I will do my best.

Goodbye, 2020. Welcome 2021.

A big thank you

You come across many people in your life. Some you may not remember their names, but their faces live in your memory. There are a few that you will never forget because their connections with you have changed your life forever.

This blog is dedicated to that special person in my life and the lives of many that have been linked to this remarkable individual.

He is Prof On Kit Tam. He is my PhD supervisor, mentor, research partner and the person who patiently listen to my many crazy ideas. He supports me and is the light and force behind my many successful and failed explorations.

Jing, Helen, myself and Jennifer, among his many PhD graduates, are sharing our thoughts and gratitude to Prof Tam below.

Prof Tam, we wish you a great adventure ahead.


Prof Jing Zhou, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics

Associate Professor Helen Hu, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Monica Jurin, Melbourne Institute of Technology

Ms Jennifer Huang, Graduating PhD Candidate

Why this?

Coming out to share and play

coming out to share and play

For a long time, I have been thinking of starting a blog. But I am not sure why and how.

Here I am. This is an experiment project that I am going to take on to challenge myself. Do you feel sometimes you have an urge or a strong passion to do something but you don’t know why or what for? This is one of those moments.

I have been teaching for over a decade now. I feel that I want to share my experience with more people outside of my classrooms and to learn from everyone. Hence, I am starting this.

To be honest, I haven’t got a clear idea or direction for how this blog is going to be, what content I am going to create, who I have in mind to share my thoughts with. I am just going to take an experimental and entrepreneurial approach to see where this will be going. Maybe you can tell me.

On a sunny Sunday morning in Melbourne, this is my first post. I am happy.

What is coding in early learning education?

Do we know what coding means to our kids?

#coding #earlylearners #learnthroughplay

I co-authored this article with Ms. Felicia Cheah and Dr Emily Chung-Moya last year. We are passionate about our kids and how they learn. We are sharing some pictures of the coding activities that we have run with our kids and their friends and what we have learnt.

What is coding? We asked an early learner. His answer: “Coding, is like… with the Cubetto board, you put chocolate cookies on it, and then you can make Cubetto go!”. He has been exploring coding using a robot called Cubetto which allows off-screen coding. From a professional point of view, his answer will not be technically correct. However, if you tell other early learners, they will resonate with the core concept embedded in this statement – you make a robot move by putting commands on a controlling board. That is the basic concept of coding. Simple and pragmatic. Kids as young as three years old can have a good grasp of this concept, and they want more! However, the approach of teaching young kids how to code could influence and motivate them to continue learning as they grow.

What coding is not?

While there are supporters and opponents of teaching early learners coding, we leave this debate to other forums. What we are going to discuss below is what coding is and is not in early childhood education. We hope to shed some light on coding becoming a curriculum in schools for early childhood educators as well as parents.

Coding is not just about learning a specific programming language. It is strange that some parents enrol their preschool-aged kids in Python-coding classes. Kids at this stage are learning their alphabets. Why do parents expect their kids to be capable of writing word-based programs?

Coding is not about discovering a gifted programming genius. Although there are many gifted children among us, we should not limit our scope of teaching coding to young learners with the focus of one day they will be the greatest coder in the world. We do not teach our kids English and Mathematics expecting everyone to become the next Shakespeare or Albert Einstein.

Coding is not about memorising and copying what others have written up. Classes that merely show young learners existing codes and let them copy and repeat as a learning outcome will deter their creativity. In the long run, these young learners will develop a fixed mind about coding and form the impression that they know it all; and then stop learning altogether about it.

Coding is not just about developing software on a computer. Computer science specialists write software as part of solving a problem. Therefore, without an understanding of a context, one cannot develop useful and effective software. Coding is a problem-solving tool; it is (a part of a) a means to an end, rather than the end in itself.

What is coding?

One can see coding as literacy, similar to English and Mathematics, which helps build a strong foundation for us to achieve specific goals, communicate and collaborate with others, and make rational and informed decisions. What exactly is coding?

Coding is about solving a problem. For every coding task, there is an issue to address or a problem to solve. In early childhood education, this is an integral part of learning. Young learners focus on solving different problems, rather than learning a specific method or programming language. Furthermore, educators and parents should link every coding exercise to things and matters in our daily lives that our kids can make an easy connection with, resulting in more effective learning.

Coding is about developing algorithm thinking. The approach to teaching young learners how to code should involve the development of algorithm thinking. Educators and parents can use story order to motivate kids to think step-by-step how to solve a problem in order to introduce the concept of an algorithm. For example, ask them the order of tasks they perform when they get up in the morning. By building algorithm thinking, kids can approach a problem more effectively.  

Coding is about developing computational thinking. One important aspect about teaching young kids about coding is helping them to achieve one learning block at a time. In learning how to code, we should teach young learners how to break down a problem, identifying patterns, recognising pattern groupings, using data and information, and developing an algorithm. Developing computational thinking is the foundation for solving complex problems and deriving pragmatic solutions in adulthood. Therefore, when young learners can build a strong foundation in computational thinking, they can be effective and independent life-long learners.

Coding is about creativity and innovation. Coding in early childhood education, if taught with the right approach, will promote the building of flexible mind, as coding focuses on problem-solving, development of the algorithm and computational thinking. Allowing young learners to approach every coding exercise in their ways will promote creativity and innovation, which in turn will nurture them to become independent and original thinkers and decision makers.

Back to our early learner’s description about coding. It is not hard to understand that he is free to develop his understanding of coding by linking what he likes in his daily lives, chocolate cookies. Also, we can also imagine from his response that he is exploring coding through play and using tangible (touchable) concepts, such as a robot called Cubetto, some physical command blocks which he likens to chocolate cookies. The concept then concludes with he can control a device by using a board with inputs (chocolate cookies) on them. This just shows how young learners mind’s work!