Australian curriclum

As a teacher, I have taught in various high schools for 17 years. I, like my colleagues am constantly evolving my teaching pedagogy, looking for engaging, interesting and fun ways to challenge my students. One approach is getting onto the technology for learning wave! Every teacher knows that technology can be a powerful tool in assisting the content that we are teaching to our students. There are many websites that teachers can direct their students to use to research the content but the list becomes endless!

Every teacher knows that technology can be powerful tool in assisting the content that we are teaching to our students

One such site was Skwirk Interactive Schooling, which was a useful tool for both teaching and learning. The benefit of using Skwirk is that the content is specific to the Australian state-specific syllabus and is written clearly and concisely for students to understand. I came across Skwirk when my school subscribed 2 years ago and was impressed by its clear layout of the units of work the students need to learn. Consequently, I started to incorporate Skwirk into my teaching last year and I would like to take this opportunity to make suggestions on how the learning objects can be used in classroom teaching and learning.

1. Each chapter usually has animations or videos which are designed to help students understand concepts being taught.

These animations can be used to cater to individual learning styles. This may include students who learn better with visual presentation rather than reading the content. Teachers can put together some questions based on the animation that students can answer. The animations are a great way to introduce the concept to the class. A short animation will always gain student attention and after the animation has finished playing the teacher can follow up with a class discussion or learning activities.

2. Students can apply their learning to the content in the chapter with different activities.

For example; a comprehension or worksheet can be designed. The current offerings of worksheets and many more in the pipeline are important learning resources for students to both gauge and apply their learning. Students can also work individually or in groups develop a multimedia presentation such as a PowerPoint, webpage, podcast or a short video. The student laptops issued in public schools enables students in Year 9 or above to make use of voice recording and webcam as well as video editing software. This is a powerful means to enable students to construct and develop knowledge to aid and enhance their learning.

3. Each Skwirk chapter also has a quiz, which consists of 5 or 10 multiple choice questions.

Students can complete the quiz after they have read the chapter. They can complete the quiz as many times as they like until they score 100%. The advantage of the quizzes is that students can go through the course at their own pace while giving the teacher time to assist students one-on-one. At the end of the unit of work, there is a final exam, which can be used as a form of assessment.

I hope this brief article gives teachers some ideas on how Skwirk can be implemented in the classroom as a teaching and learning resource.

‘DANIEL KING is a classroom teacher with extensive experience teaching Commerce.’

‘We home educate our children and use a variety or resources to facilitate learning for our children. Our two oldest children were at school for several years before we commenced our home educating journey. We home educate our three girls (aged 11,9 and 7). Since starting home education we have seen many educational resources come and go, mostly due to the kids not enjoying their work. Skwirk is one of the resources that is here for the long haul and gets the thumbs up from all three girls.

We use Skwirk as part of our daily learning activities. The layout of Skwirk and the entertaining way in which it is designed greatly increases the enjoyment the kids get from using it. Kacey uses Skwirk at grade level 3, Lauren at grade level 5 and Courtney at grade level 7. Each Skwirk level is appropriately designed and aligned with the age of the kids and the curriculum. The kids use all aspects of Skwirk, giving them a more rounded Kid on Skwirkapproach to learning. They read, complete the activity sheets, watch the animations, participate in the animated activities and watch the videos. These different learning approaches capture the attention of all of my kids. Courtney enjoys the reading, Lauren loves the animations and Kacey likes to watch the videos and do the exams.

The structured, progressive approach of Skwirk makes it really easy for me to set activities for our kids, as it does not require lesson planning and design from me. The lessons are already planned, designed and listed in a logical, easy to follow format. This means the kids are doing most of the learning, rather than me doing it all. Because Skwirk is laid out and clearly defined under core curriculum areas it is really easy for me to keep records and comply with the requirements of the NSW Board of Studies. I think Skwirk is also helping the kids to become independent thinkers and learners as they are now familiar with learning without me having to lead them all of the time.’

Homechoolers can get 30% off of Skwirk’s resources during July with the discount code ‘home’.

Join Skwirk as a home educator today, click here to get started.

Being the Content Manager is a huge responsibility when working on a website like Skwirk. Teachers, schools, parents and students need to be able to rely on and trust our resources. We need to constantly think about new ways to supply content. A lot of this comes from feedback and the direction of the Australian Curriculum. Here’s an example of what an average day is like working as he Content Manager on Skwirk…

8:30am – Check overnight emails from the site’s feedback system. The back end of the site functions exactly like the Lesson Editor for teachers, which means I can make modifications to chapters and assessments within minutes of getting some feedback. Our favourite example of this is from the early days of the new site. A teacher emailed us asking if we could update a page of content about local government to show an Australian mayor. We were able to call her back 15 minutes later and show her the new page with a picture of Sydney’s Lord Mayor.

We also have a quick staff meeting every morning. Sometimes this is about what kinds of deals we’d like to offer parents and teachers; sometimes a member of the team has seen a news article that means I can update a chapter with interesting new information.

10:15am – Around recess we hit the phones to catch up with teachers across Australia who are current trialling the website. This is a really valuable process as we can get feedback from educators who are in their first weeks of learning about the site and how it can help them plan their lessons. We often use this time to give teachers a quick walkthrough of the site’s features in terms of building lessons and searching for content using Australian Curriculum codes. Our consultants have gotten lightning-fast at this – we’ve clocked one walkthrough at 12 minutes!

11:30am – Time to review content and media for whichever sections of the site we’re working on. Recently this has included updating Secondary Maths content, making additions to Primary English content, and adding Shakespeare to the English Texts section. I’m very proud of the way we can both commission new content for the site from great professional teachers from around Australia whilst making use of Public Domain and Creative Commons media from across the internet. I also take the time to review what other sites we love and respect are working on. There’s no right or wrong way to use Skwirk, which includes matching it with resources from places like the ABC Splash website.

1:00pm – Lunchtime! Being an information junkie I usually spend my lunchtimes walking the local neighbourhood listening to podcasts. I usually get back to the office with at least one new idea for a chapter or resource.

2:00pm – Back in the saddle to keep working on the site and take calls from teachers and parents. As Skwirk is used by parents and homeschoolers as well as teachers we always take the time to speak with parents who are interested in using the site to help their children get the best possible education. This is also the time of day when I’ll chat with team leaders about what kinds of questions and comments they’ve been getting from teachers as they trial and subscribe to the site. We have an excellent relationship with the schools who subscribe to us and many of the resources we develop are based on the discussions we have with our partner schools.

5:00pm – Done for the day!

It’s been a busy period for Skwirk. Highlights over the past few years have included helping the site take on a bold new form with amazing features, aligning our thousands of resources with the Australian Curriculum, and making great connections with educators from all over the country. Remember we are always looking for new ideas for content. Please contact us with any information you have on Skwirk. Contact the team, (02) 94383637 or email us, teachers@skwirk.com.au

Happy Skwirking!

  • Bill Cohen

With school off for 6 weeks, the Professor decided to take a holiday after a ground breaking year, by indulging in his passion for history by exploring from Kelly Country to the Grenfell Goldfields.

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour. A must do for anyone with an interest in Australian Military History

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour.
A must do for anyone with an interest in Australian Military History

After spending the day wandering around Seymour on the Heritage Walk, at the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park and the Vietnam Veteran’s Commemorative Walk, the first night found the Professor staying at the Harvest Home Boutique Hotel in Avenel. This rather nice hotel has beautiful gardens, Damian the landlord is an absolute champion and the pizza shop next door is arguably one of the best in Australia, they even slice the prosciutto fresh!

Any fan of Ned Kelly needs to visit Avenel, as it was here that Ned saved the life of Richard Shelton, went to school and his father passed away. The green silk sash that the 12 year old Ned was awarded by the Shelton family for his act of bravery in saving Richard’s life, was worn under his armour many years later at Glenrowan. Hughes Creek, in which Richard was drowning, is classed as a fugitive waterway (not a pun at what Ned became). A fugitive waterway constantly shifts course and the amount of flow through the seasons, which is why it looks so empty and small in our picture! The professor then continued the Kelly country exploration with a visit to Glenrowan. It was here that Ned was captured by the police after the siege and the other members of the Kelly Gang were killed.

profsummer2

The Harvest Home Boutique Hotel in Avenel. Exquisite gardens, beautiful rooms and next door to the best pizza!

Moving north and keeping on the bushranger theme, Professor Skwirk decided to relax at a farm stay near Caragabal, in the Central-West of NSW. The farm actually occupies what was part of Ben Hall’s station of Sandy Creek, of which the police inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger burnt down Ben’s house, and is quite close to the Wheogo range of hills where it is believed Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and the gang divvied up the loot from the Escort Robbery at Eugowra.

Grenfell, just 40 kilometres from where this all happened, is probably best known for being the birthplace of Henry Lawson (as an aside, it is also where Stan McCabe, the Australian Cricket Legend, grew up). The Professor spent plenty of time checking out O’Brien’s Lookout, which still has some of the original mines and crushing equipment from what was once the richest Goldfields in the colony. He also visited the birthplace of Henry Lawson, spent time with the brand new statue of Henry in the main street and took a walk up to Ben Halls Cave and the historic Seaton’s farm.

The spot that Ned was captured at in  Glenrowan

The spot that Ned was captured at in Glenrowan

The Professor chats to Henry Lawson, in the main street of Grenfell.

The Professor chats to Henry Lawson, in the main street of Grenfell.

“You were born on Grenfell goldfield – and you can’t get over that.”

Said Grenfell to My Spirit, Henry Lawson, 1911

The summer holidays over, the professor is now back at work ready to help.

Checking out the plinth marking Henry Lawson birthplace. The sugar gum in the background was planted by Henry’s Daughter, Bertha.

Checking out the plinth marking Henry Lawson birthplace. The sugar gum in the background was planted by Henry’s Daughter, Bertha

The Glenrowan Inn burned down when police set it alight to get the Kelly Gang

The Glenrowan Inn burned down when police set it alight to get the Kelly Gang

Why We Love Skwirk at Charlestown East Public School

Skwirk was brought to our school after a presentation by a local school who showed us how the resources had not only transformed their teaching and learning program, but more importantly, how engaging and relevant the content is for all students.

As a result, Charlestown East purchased Skwirk and it is now used on a daily basis with our interactive Smartboards and computers (Kindergarten to Year 6) to explore, explain, and engage students, so they can understand key concepts in depth.

Drew Janetzki using Skwirk in the classroom

All of the major KLAs (Key Learning Areas) are covered including Literacy, Numeracy, Human Society and It’s Environment as well as Science and Technology. A unique feature of Skwirk is the Australian voices, as well as the depth of content of all of the above mentioned KLA’s. This was not the only appealing aspect to the program; it was also the excitement students experience from Skwirk.

Students love Skwirk; whether it is playing a game, reading along or playing an animation. Skwirk has cleverly created an educational product that is relevant and meets syllabus outcomes. It is also highly engaging and appealing to all of our students.

Within the English section, students are exposed to highly engaging videos that relate to every strand of the curriculum. Spelling, text types, writing, grammar, reading, handwriting, computer skills, talking and listening, as well as language, are all covered under Skwirk.

The Numeracy section features highly engaging videos that relate to the curriculum. Measurement, Space and Geometry as well as Numbers are all covered.

The choice of animation, the ability to choose an activity, and the option to read along is very appealing to all forms of learners.

Within HSIE, our students in Stage 1 are currently investigating Workers in the Community and in Stage 2, they are exploring Machines. Our Stage 3 students are exploring Global Connections.

All of these concepts have become more engaging thanks to Skwirk.

The unique aspect of Skwirk to our teaching staff, is that all of the units are aligned to syllabus outcomes. This re-assuring aspect ensures that there is no guess work or re-programming for any staff member. It is almost fool proof for any teacher, including those with limited ICT knowledge. From our experience as teachers, there are only one or two clicks and you have the exact content your students require to start their lesson or enhance their learning.

With the introduction of portable tablet computing, Skwirk is being used at the touch of a finger and allows all of our students to follow up on concepts being taught.

With Skwirk being in the palm of our students hands, it has changed the way they learn, engage and interact with technology. Our school librarian has been over the moon because of Skwirk’s vast eBook range, which features over 2, 000 animations that cover all stages.

Luke Dunford, one of our Year 6 leaders and Minister for Technology thinks Skwirk is

“a great classroom asset and is one of the most educational websites that helps me learn.”

Our teacher/ librarian, Mrs. Donna Reinhard, uses Skwirk to target specific Stage 1 outcomes in the strand of Measurement. Mrs Reinhard believes that , “Skwirk is a very enriching and engaging program for all of our students”, and regularly uses Skwirk in library lessons.

Thankyou Skwirk for bringing back the fun to learning for our students at Charlestown East Public School.

Drew Janetzki
Assistant Principal – Charlestown East Public School

Find our more about Skwirk, click this link to get a free trial. 

Check out our teacher tour below:

As a homeschooling mum, finding the right curriculum for our children is a top priority. Skwirk, an online curriculum, is aligned with the Australian curriculum and is loved by kids. It is a program that encourages independent learning in Maths, English, Science, Geography and History for all grades from foundation to Year 10.

Skwirk has been having an overhaul and added an awesome option purely for homeschoolers. Now, homeschooling parents have access to all the tools, all the year groups, all the subjects on Skwirk, everything that is available to teachers. I particularly love that I am now able to access the National Curriculum code search and lesson planning functions.

My boys are currently completing Grades 2 and 4. The K-2 lessons are animation based, which our boy loved. The videos are bright, colourful and easy to watch and understand. After watching the video, there are interactive activities to complete. After completing these activities, there are games that can be played.

The lessons for Grades 3-10, include content that is to be read, a short animation, and activity and a worksheet which is all completed before taking the assessment.

As a parent, you are able to create your own lessons from the lessons provided and by adding your own images or YouTube videos and assign these lessons to your children. You are also able to assign your child lessons from the database as well. You are also able to print out any worksheets or design your own quizzes, which I think is very useful for homeschoolers.

Progress reports are available weekly and are easy to print out. These are great for showing assessors how your child has been learning.

We have found Skwirk to be a great supplement to our lessons, so if you are looking for a new online program for 2015, why not try Skwirk today? Click this link to get Skwirking.

Stacey is a homeschooling mum of two energetic boys. Due to her hubby’s shift hours, they decided it would be better for her to stay home and homeschool the boys.  She has homeschooled their two boys from the start. Her blog, A Moment In our World, was started as a way to share their homeschooling journey with their family and friends, who nearly all live far away. Now it is a fabulous resource for everyone, comprising of fun activities, crafts, lots of free printables and yummy recipes.

Connect with her via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+.

Hello Skwirkers,

As Skwirk moves into it’s 9th year and crosses the 1000 school subscribers mark, I felt this was a good time to reflect on how far we have come.

Rod Salmon - The Founder of Skwirk

Rod Salmon – The Founder of Skwirk

The idea of Skwirk, or the ‘online learning thingy’ as I called it then, first came to me whilst I watched my son playing rugby. He had been struggling with some Maths homework that week which I had sat down and talked him through. Now I am the first to admit that I am no teacher or tutor, but I know my Maths skills are fairly strong, and I helped him through this time. If he had asked me to help him with his English skills it would have been a different story.

I felt like there had to be a better way to do this. Children learn in a variety of different ways including visual, auditory, textual and kinesthetic learning styles. Using learning resources online was nothing new, but I felt like we spent hours trying to find good content, and hardly any of it was Australian. That’s when it came to me, what if parents could go to one website which had all the core subjects for their child’s school year covered using a variety of different learning resources? I thought I have something here.

So I contacted a few colleagues, and before long, we had a number of investors on-board. Online Learning Thingy was a go! To be clear, this was pretty new territory, not just for us, but in the education industry in general. There was no blueprint for a project like this. What we did know was that content was key. And that was the main focus, quality education content.

Within months we had the shell of this idea in place, starting to fill with content such as animations, activities videos, text and worksheets. I had never seen anything like it, with hundreds of resources produced on a weekly basis. The name ‘Skwirk’ came about through an in house competition among the staff, and after someone said ‘school work’ very quickly, the word just stuck. We had a name! Our first ‘promo-video’ highlights how we intended Skwirk to be used. I admit we were a little rusty then:

It was around this time that the team started to think about approaching schools with our resources. That would be a key point in Skwirk’s timeline. I had never intended Skwirk to be a classroom resource. To be honest I didn’t know much about the education industry. But the feedback we were getting from teachers was incredible, and this changed the model of the company considerably.

It has not always been plain sailing. Since those days, the industry has been flooded with competition. Some have lasted the pace (Mathletics, Reading Eggs, Maths Online), whilst others have found it tougher.

Plus you are in an industry which is both stuck in time and constantly evolving. What I mean by that is on one hand you have schools with slower internet connections (this was before any mention of the NBN, which is still not available to everyone today), and out-dated computers and software (of no fault of their own, school budgets are always tight). On the other hand you have other schools starting to adopt tablets and other newer learning technologies and philosophies.

The toughest challenge has always been getting Skwirk in front of educators. Teachers are busy. I mean, really busy. Our processes have been tweaked and changed more times then I care to mention, to evolve with the times and teachers timelines. Bottom line, when we show teachers Skwirk, they get excited.

With all these challenges over the years, I believe it is testament to the Skwirk Team and our product that we are still here and still growing. In fact, we are now growing quicker then ever. We have a loyal customer base and Skwirk is considered valuable with 85% of schools renewing Skwirk every year. Although I love all the new teacher and school tools we have added over the years, I believe that the key to our product was and still is top quality educational content. And we have so much more coming next year.

To finish off, as I look back at the past 9 years, it is with great pride that I can say that we are now used in over 1000 schools in Australia. We are supporting over 20,000 Australian teachers. We are helping over 280,000 Australian children develop their knowledge, enhance their skills and improve their grades. We have now expanded outside Australia, into the UK, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bali, New Zealand and Dubai. But what fills me with pride the most is visiting a school, sitting at the back of the classroom and seeing the teachers and students interact with Skwirk in the classroom. This is where it really matters. And as you can see in the video below, we have come along way since those early days.

I hope this highlights the passion and work that has gone into Skwirk. If any schools or teachers want to find out more, contact us. The Skwirk Team are always happy to help.

Thanks for sharing the journey, and watch this space, there is a long way to go yet.

Happy Skwirking,

Rod Salmon

Chief Skwirker (Director of the online learning thingy)