Australian curriclum

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)

On average we talk to around 200 educators and teachers a day. These discussions could be an introduction to Skwirk, teacher training on our resources, gathering feedback and setting up a new school on their Skwirk adventure.

We talk with Principals, Assistant Principals, Teacher Librarians, Curriculum Coordinators, ICT Coordinators, Heads of Department and Classroom Teachers. One thing which stands out head and shoulders above anything else, it just how little time teachers have. Whether before, during or after school, it amazes us how many extra hours educators put in. This is not new news, but it is something which can be overlooked unless you aFeatured imagectually work with educators.

According to the Teachers Workload Survey, teachers are spending an average of 18 hours a week planning, preparing & marking. When we mentioned this on Skwirk’s Facebook page, the response was mainly, ‘It’s often more’. Some teachers said 20-25 hours a week!!

Where does that time go? Well there is obviously the huge amount of marking on a daily basis. Then there is the time spent searching for relevant resources. These resources can include textbooks, worksheets, DVD’s, apps and online resources. Online resources could be in variety of locations, whether they are free (YouTube, TeacherTube, Wikipedia) or paid subscriptions.

And finally teachers have to put these together into a clear lesson plan. Whether it will be something which is used on Smartboards and projectors at the front of the classroom, or accessed by students in textbooks, worksheets, computers and tablets.

So, it’s not very hard to see where all that time goes!

We took all this feedback on-board at Skwirk, and brainstormed ways we could try and make teachers lives a lot easier. We came up with a new teachers portal which adds three unique areas:

1. Content – All subjects and resource types in one place

One thing we have always done at Skwirk is covered all the major subjects in one online location. But we have now added all the year groups to just one login as well. Through one login, teachers get access to Maths, English, History, Science & Geography content from Years Kindy/Reception – 10. Essentially in one login, teachers get access to over 18,000 resources, including videos, animations, interactive activities, worksheets, games, and more. This means teachers can now assign individual students work from different year levels, using differentiation in mixed-ability classes.  Watch our tutorial on how to assign work to students:

2. Automated Marking

Yes, Skwirk will mark assessments for you. Skwirk contains over 4,000 assessments including Quizzes, Spelling, Grammar and Vocab exams. Plus you can even create your own! When you assign lessons to students through Skwirk you will receive an instant report when they have finished the assessments, with their marks on 1st, 2nd and more attempts, so you can measure progress. You can find out how to access the reports in this tutorial:

3. Lesson Editing & Planning 

Lastly, comes our new lesson planner. We love demonstrating this feature when visiting schools; it shows the teachers the unlimited potential of Skwirk. The new lesson planner and editor gives teachers the ability to take any content on Skwirk and edit it to suit them. So imagine picking up a text-book, taking any page, and then chopping up the content, deleting what is not relevant for your lesson and then bringing in your own resources. You can even bring in your own videos and images, create your own assessments, and then save to our own profile to use and add to year after year. We have also added the ability to share lessons with other teachers in your school. Once again we have created a tutorial to demonstrate this new feature:

These features have been created after gathering feedback from the teachers who use Skwirk. We exist to make teachers lives easier and to try and help claim back some more hours by providing quality and extensive resources which are simple and effective. Join Skwirk today, click here.

Happy Skwirking,

The Skwirk Team