Australian curriculum

A fresh partnership initiative between the Ronald Macdonald Learning Program and Skwirk, a well-known online education provider, is aiming to feed the minds of  Australian children who are missing out on learning due to serious illness or prolonged hospitalisation.

Currently over a thousand students across the country are benefiting from the Program, which enables children who are falling behind at school due to ill-health to access the Australian curriculum through personal tutoring, advocacy and support. The Learning Program is one of a number of initiatives funded by Ronald Macdonald House Charities. Each Learning Program participant receives a full educational assessment, 40 hours one-on-one teaching with a registered teacher, advocacy and the services of an occupational therapist and physiotherapist. Skwirk is donating free access to its comprehensive online education facility to both teachers and students involved in the Program.

Skwirk provides premium learning content across all main subject areas, giving students between the ages of four and 14 immediate access to over 16,000 learning resources. Information is relayed through a selection of engaging media, so children can learn through videos and animation as well as text and pictures. Skwirk combines information with assessment and the system also automatically sends regular progress updates to tutors, enabling them to form an accurate view of progress.

Being able to use Skwirk as part of the bespoke learning experiences which the Ronald Macdonald Learning Program offers allows students continuity of learning whether they’re in hospital or convalescing at home, minimising the disruption which prolonged absence from school can cause. Verity Gobbett, South Australian State Manger of the Learning Program, commented, “For children on the Learning Program, online resources such as Skwirk are fantastic as school absence rates are high due to hospitalisations, treatments and recovery times.”

It’s not just the children who find Skwirk a useful resource. One tutor from the Learning Program said, “Skwirk is great! I can maximise the efficiency of the one hour session with my Learning Program student by pre-planning lesson content.” Skwirk’s appealing format, clear structure and close links to the Australian national curriculum mean that many teachers find it an excellent option to use as part of a lesson plan or to provide valuable reinforcement to learning as a homework resource.

Skwirk remains committed to providing high-calibre educational material in a convenient format that gives every student the opportunity to benefit from an enriching, rewarding learning experience.

For more information, please visit the Skwirk Website

The iPad was introduced in 2010, providing a compact and highly portable, yet accessible, medium through which to reach the internet, as well as a number of other functions. User numbers have grown significantly in recent years, with iPads being employed not only for work and entertainment, but also as an educational tool. This latter application has provoked considerable controversy, with some experts suggesting that screen use is detrimental to academic success, whilst others feel there are significant benefits to e-learning. Take a look at the benefits an iPad can bring to your child’s education, as well as the advantages of ensuring high quality textbooks are readily available as a learning resource.

Fast, portable and convenient

Unfortunately, textbooks can be heavy and cumbersome to transport. Even using a textbook can be time consuming and frustrating, as finding the information you need is frequently a challenge. In comparison, an iPad is light enough for smaller children to carry easily, can be used anywhere and most learners can find the information they need in a few minutes, making it ideal for flexible learning. A single device is all that’s needed to access comprehensive information on a wide range of subjects. Sites such as Skwirk, for example, contain over 16,000 learning resources, covering curriculum material for four to 14 year-olds.

Range of learning mediums

Textbooks contain writing, diagrams and photographs, but little else. This can make learning a dry process and can often deter children from wanting to find out more about a topic. One of the major advantages of e-learning is that in addition to these methods of conveying information, children can also enjoy video clips and animation, adding interest to the learning experience. Different presentations of the same information allow children to find a method which suits them best, enhancing retention and engagement.

Interactive

Textbooks contain plenty of useful facts and figures, but do not present opportunities for interaction. Conversely an iPad can provide numerous tests, quizzes, assessments and puzzles which encourage learners to remain attentive and retain the information they need. For children who have trouble concentrating, an iPad can work wonderfully well as an aid to study.

Appealing

Those of us who remember the pre-digital age will frequently favour textbooks, as they are familiar – a tried and tested method of obtaining high-calibre information when you need it. Whilst this is still the case, it’s important to recognise that premium, interactive content is frequently a more appealing way of learning for young people. The use of iPads doesn’t negate textbook use; rather it offers a route for accessing information which better suits many young people today, complementing more traditional methods.

Textbooks continue to play a major part in many educational experiences, particularly for advanced learners who need to access niche subject matter. For school aged children, an iPad which gives them access to high quality educational material can be of real benefit in enriching their learning experience in a wide range of subjects.

Skwirk is one of Australia’s biggest providers of online education resources. Following detailed study of the National Australian Curriculum, we have developed more than 18,000 useful tools, including education videos, iPad resources and interactive whiteboard resources. We cover English, mathematics, science, history, geography and commerce, from kindergarten level through to year 10.

Everything you need in one convenient location

For Australian principals looking to provide their students with outstanding resources, but without breaking the bank, Skwirk can save both money and time. For a start, Skwirk’s easy-to-navigate site means that all resources are found in one, convenient location. Even when accessing teacher resources across a range of subject areas, principals can take care of the job in one fell swoop. There’s no need to waste time trawling through hundreds of different sites, trying to work out which you can and can’t trust. Skwirk’s resources are all designed to meet the Australian curriculum – from the English curriculum to the science curriculum.

Resources for every learner

We’re well aware that students have various learning needs. While some are visual learners, others benefit from kinaesthetic learning. We also believe that students learn best when they’re inspired and interested in their lessons, rather than feeling like they’re a chore.

So we’ve worked hard to develop resources to suit every educational context – and every individual student – from animations that bring the history curriculum to life to sports-themed arithmetic games that ensure your students are learning the maths curriculum without even realising it. Not only does Skwirk make education much more affordable, it also makes it much more relevant, fun and inspiring.

Tools to assess, track progress and report

As much as we believe education should be fun, we’re also serious about it. It’s important for students to have a great time while they’re learning, but it’s equally important for them to make solid progress. So, to accompany our thousands of learning resources, we provide you with efficient, accurate tools for assessment. Once students have completed units, you can use Skwirk to find out exactly what they’ve learnt – and what they need to revise. For schools and principals, this means even further savings; there’s no need to spend extra money on assessment resources created by independent bodies. You’ll have everything you need at your fingertips, once you’ve signed up to Skwirk.

Questions?

Would you like to know more about Skwirk? Are you wondering what we can do for your school? Please feel free to contact us at a time that suits you. We look forward to bringing high-quality, affordable teacher resources to you.

Get a quote for your school, email: teachers@redapple.com.au

Or get a free school trial, click here.

Long gone are the dreary days of ‘chalk and talk’. We now know that the limited teaching strategies of old simply don’t work for all students. To instil a life-long love of learning in students, we need to introduce subject matter in a way that’s vibrant, interesting, inspiring and interactive. What’s more, each student’s particular needs and learning style must be taken into consideration – whether they’re learning the English curriculum or the science curriculum.

Teaching to inspire

That said, it’s one thing to acknowledge that modern students need exciting learning experiences; it’s quite another to make it happen. So how does a teacher make sure that students are not only learning, but also enjoying it?

Well, for a start, it’s crucial to find a point of real-life interest. Say, for example, a student is struggling with learning the maths curriculum. For many people, rows of abstract numbers don’t mean much. But put them into a context – whether that be counting money, for those interested in shopping, or counting waves, for those who love the beach, and the entire picture changes.

That’s why, here at Skwirk, we’ve put time and effort into developing online education resources that appeal to students at their points of interest. We’ve created more than 18,000 teaching tools that make sure students are engaged and that learning is a joy – rather than a gruelling task.

Meeting a range of learning needs

There’s been ample research to prove that there’s more than one way of learning. Some students remember facts, ideas and skills best when they’re presented visually. Others learn best by getting active. We know that simply giving kids textbooks and asking them to read, take notes and memorise, doesn’t work for everyone. So, in addition to making sure students are interested, teachers must give them access to a variety of learning strategies.

Again, this is where Skwirk comes in. Name an education tool – such as iPad resources, interactive whiteboard resources and education videos – and you’ll find it on the Skwirk site. What’s more, all teacher resources are produced with the Australian curriculum in mind. Skwirk covers every aspect of the national curriculum, from the history curriculum to the science curriculum.

Aside from working with curriculum specialists to align our content to the Australian National Curriculum, our Content Team has been busy adding new content to Skwirk to inform, engage and inspire!
Our team has been focusing on ensuring we have content to support events and observations such as the ANZAC Centenary and Reconciliation Week. Our chapters on these topics now showcase 10 videos from the State Library of Queensland and 4 from Reconciliation Australia.

Marvel at our universe with over 20 new videos from leading global astronomy organisations such as the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project (e.g. Australian SKA Fly-through).
You will find this exciting content in our science chapters on outer space across years 3-10, designed to support the Australian national curriculum
Encourage your young ones to chant and count along with the animation; one of over 20 fun and informative literacy and numeracy videos from ELF Learning across years F-2. Find an example video below:
Lastly but certainly not least are our exciting new games designed for students in years 3&4.
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Test your identifying shapes skills with shape Sky Dive, click here. There are many games yet to come; look out for Maths Rally and Asteroid Blaster, all coming soon.
In addition to fantastic new content, over the coming months you will see many exciting changes to Skwirk including new website features that you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get regular updates!
Feedback is always appreciated – let us know what you’d like to see more of on Skwirk! Email us at info@skwirk.com.au.

Recently I was introduced to the new (and helpful!) features that Skwirk has incorporated into its users’ experiences.

In the past, I’ve been an avid user of Skwirk as a reliable and engaging source of information. Any secondary teacher would agree that trawling the internet for ‘hubs’ of relevant information for students is a time consuming task. That’s where Skwirk, for me, came in handy. It was a place where information had been aligned to the NSW syllabus subjects (for me, junior history) and I could rely on it to be accessible for students of varying levels while also being thorough enough to be a launching pad for further work with varying classes.

Now, with their new features and tools, I find that Skwirk is now even more of a time saver! While still being a hub of information, the ability to manipulate the content to better suit my classes and their needs has made the whole process of preparing a lesson even easier.

Broadly, and simply, the Skwirk tools that I find myself using to the students’ (and my own) advantage (and which help me save time in my preparation and teaching) fall under these three areas:

  1. Engagement through multimedia
  2. Catering content to students’ needs
  3. Explicitly addressing the syllabus/curriculum

Generally when one comes up with a list, it helps to go through them one-by-one, so I’ll start with …

Engagement through Multimedia

Skwirk has always stood out in my mind as being one of (if not the) first Australian-based education website that has effectively and meaningfully integrated multimedia elements into their content. I distinctly remember using animations for junior history topics in the ‘old curriculum’ to really help provide more than just a written/text-based experience for students. Visual learners could understand how causes lead to effects, how Federation came about, and how World War One affected Australia and Australians.

What was also extremely helpful was the fact that these animations and the multimedia elements were already there and designed to address the syllabus and curriculum areas that I was aiming to cover (more on that later). I didn’t need to modify or take time in a lesson to bridge the content – I was saving time both in and out of the lesson!

Now with the changes to Skwirk, the new features that have been integrated into the users’ experiences allow for the teacher to develop more engaging and more meaningful lessons without taking any time away from those other important areas of our work.

Everyone’s pressed for time these days – teachers (arguably) more than most. In between exams and marking, reports and interviews, administration and paperwork, the fundamentals of lesson planning and resource development sometimes can be pushed to the back-burner. That’s certainly not to say that teachers are neglecting their classes or not putting in their best – they are.

Yet I’ve often found that engagement in a lesson is one of those things that takes the most effort. A well designed lesson with relevant and connected content, combined with the genuine learning experiences, all work towards creating those engaging lesson.

Now, on top of the already great multimedia and animations that Skwirk has had in the past, teachers can now develop class-specific pages that combines the Skwirk content and additional content of their own choosing.

This is what I love most about the changes: I can now integrate all those disparate sources of information – like YouTube videos, like images I’ve randomly saved, like audio clips and other animations – to create the engaging and interactive lesson that I need without taking more time!

I’m saving time and making genuine learning experiences for students.

I’ll describe the in’s and out’s generally here and if it sounds complicated don’t worry: It’s infinitely easier when you’re working on the dashboard when you have a subscription.

So let’s say I’ve started the year, and I’ve got a year 7 history class (which isn’t far from the truth right now!). I want them to be excited about history, to develop a passion for the content and the skills, and to really want to come to my classes because they know they will be learning for the long term. Rather than piling up the textbooks onto the cart and wheeling them in, or firing up the photocopier (all of which require time and resources that – as any teacher knows – sometimes we don’t have), I log onto Skwirk.

My school has a subscription, so I can easily get online and start to generate the first lesson. I navigate my way through the vast resources and content that Skwirk (all easily organised under the national curriculum topics and dot-points) until I find the first area year 7 is going to look at: Investigating History – What does history do for us?

The content that the students need is all there, but I know that, in the past, I found a couple of great YouTube videos that are great lesson starters and finishers (a YouTube search for ‘Why is history important?’ and looking for the video by the user Mr. Corwin will do you no wrong) and a few images that really provoke student discussion (quotes from historians that describe why they think history if important).

From the ease of my own computer, I can begin to edit that content that Skwirk has made available to me and integrate the videos and images that I want to include. It takes a few seconds to link to each of the resources, a few minutes arranging the structure of the page, and in no time I’ve got the bulk of that first lesson ready!

I can save that page (as it is) to my own dashboard so that when I walk into class I can have it all up for the kids on my data projector in class or they can access it themselves on the computer room I’ve booked for them. We/they work their way through the content there, being able to watch the videos, discuss what they think, and engage with the content in a way that textbooks and reams of photocopying just doesn’t allow.

Let’s face it: A 21st century kid almost expects there to be a video to accompany whatever it is you’re talking about! Not only can we meet their expectations of an engaging lesson with Skwirk, we can actually exceed it – and it’s quicker to do than ever before!

It might sound simple, but that’s because it really is. I’ve found I’m saving enough time with preparing for each lesson that I’m able to prepare more lessons in each of my ‘planning sessions’ (code for: Late night preparation) and get ahead faster, freeing up time in-school to complete the more time-sensitive and immediate tasks. I am able to give my students more attention.

But, what’s just as helpful: If your school keeps that subscription for the next year, all your material is ready to go day one, term one! There’s no reinventing the wheel or scrambling to find that worksheet that worked last year. It’s all there, saved online, ready to go.

I know I’ll be thanking my past self next year when I have even less initial work to do and am able to focus my efforts on refining and improving my material from last year based on my reflections of the lessons.

I can’t throw my support behind Skwirk enough with their new changes. They are an absolute time saver in terms of preparation – both in the short and long term. You won’t go wrong, no matter your technical level and experience with Skwirk in the past. Find out more below:

Get 25% off an Individual Teacher Skwirk Subscription today with the discount code ‘teaching’. Click here to get started.

Thomas Elley is in his sixth year of teaching, having attained a Bachelor of Education with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in History and English) from the University of Sydney. I currently teach junior and senior history in a government NSW school.

Skwirk came to my School at the beginning of last year, showed everyone in a staff meeting how to use Skwirk. The comments after the meeting were so positive because we were all able to just jump on straight away and not worry about questions we might have had because they were already answered! The presentation didn’t go for long and the members from Skwirk were very enthusiastic about their resource that really does save teachers a lot of time!

I have used Skwirk for just over a year now and it has helped me to differentiate for all of my students. I had a class last year that required more one to one teaching. I really enjoyed it because I could see how much they were benefiting from resources such as Skwirk. I created lessons using the lesson editor; I would copy a Skwirk chapter and add my own questions into the lesson catered to my student’s individual needs. It saved me time because the information is already there, the wording is age appropriate and using the lesson editor makes it so much easier!

One of my students in my class last year was working above and beyond year 5, as I had access to all years of Skwirk I was able to move him up a stage using the calendar tool! By allocating specific content to my students they were able to be at the correct stage of learning. My student was also unaware that he was receiving work above his grade level, I found that this stopped the bullying and stigma created when a child is known to be achieving higher than others. The same thing goes for my students who aren’t up to the year 5 level as well. I had a group of students who I felt were only up to year 4 content so during our lessons they would be working on another part of the topic where they were more comfortable with the content.

My students love Skwirk as they can customise their Avatar, earn points which correlate to their classroom reward and they can use it at home! I find that there is less academic stigma within my class during our computer sessions as everyone has their own work to focus on!

Grab a free teacher trial, click here. For the month of June teachers can get 25% off an individual teacher subscription with the discount code ‘blog‘ (that’s a saving of over $35)! Or request a school wide quote (only $6 per student currently) by emailing the Skwirk team: teachers@redapple.com.au

Find out more about Skwirk:

Ashleigh Graham

Primary Teacher WA​