Australian curriculum

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​

After 10 years working for high-profile media organisations, including leading digital education providers in both the UK and Australia, I joined the dynamic Skwirk team to take on the exciting role of Education Content Manager last month.

What a month it’s been and what a fantastic team to work with! Never have I ever worked with such an enthusiastic team, willing and ready to embrace innovation with a commitment to providing digital education resources of the highest quality.

In my mind the quality of a digital education resource can be determined by asking 4 simple questions:

  1. Does it engage me within the first 10 seconds?
  2. Is it suited to the target age range?
  3. Is it factually reliable and therefore a trustworthy resource?
  4. Does it effectively fulfil the learning objective it’s designed to support?

If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’ then it won’t stand up to the level of quality our students deserve. Simple.

My experience in the research and acquisition of educational material has enabled me to develop the ability to quickly identify engaging learning content. Establishing and maintaining high editorial standards has been paramount to success in my career to date, and I am committed to upholding these standards in my role at Skwirk.

Over the coming weeks and months you will see some exciting changes and improvements to Skwirk. To begin with I’ll be working with a number of curriculum specialists to align and organise our current content into new units, topics and chapters to reflect the Australian national curriculum. This will result in schools, teachers and students being able to choose whether they prefer to stick with the current state-based curriculum layout or with the national structure. Throughout this process we will identify gaps where new content is needed and I will research quality content to fill these gaps. When researching new avenues for content acquisition I will approach a wide range of suppliers, from high-profile licensors to small boutique providers. I believe this will result in a very ‘well-rounded’ Skwirk!

Katie Lowson, Education Content Manager, Skwirk

From Movies to Shakespeare

No need to spend hours making PPPT’s or searching for info on film techniques or background to Elizabethan Theatre…How you ask? SKWIRK! It’s done.

As a very busy English teacher I can speak first hand at how Skwirk has saved me hours of time a week. I know longer have to spend time going through my own collection of resources that are from 100’s of different places or creating resources for each topic. Skwirk has it at the touch of a button. I have access to notes on Shakespeare in general, then specific texts like Romeo and Juliet. It doesn’t stop there, I have access to notes, tests and summaries on topics like poetry, film, alliteration, reading and essay skills. There is not only great notes for students to use but animations, tests and interactive activities available as well.

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Skwirk breaks down English between Skills and Texts. If you are teaching a skill set, like film, where the students need to make notes on something like camera angles. On Skwirk, you click on the link (yes it’s that simple) and at your fingertips you will find content on different techniques with an image to show students exactly what they are looking at, along with animations for elements like camera movement. All the resources are linked to the national curriculum so you know exactly which content descriptors and achievements standards you are covering.

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Who has time to create notes for half of what we cover? That’s where I found Skwirk beyond helpful! There are notes, which are easy to print or display for students to make their own notes (which you can also personalise to expand or simplify for each class). It allowed me more time for marking and the students loved it! If they missed a class or notes they could login and access without any hassles in their own time. No more digging for notes that a single students missed 2 weeks ago while still trying to prep for the lesson that has already started! I honestly LOVE Skwirk. I cannot wait for new resources they continually add.

Teachers can get 25% off an individual teacher subscription during March with the discount code ‘teaching’. Click here to get going.

Natasha, Secondary English Teacher

Sacred Heart College is a rural Catholic Secondary College located on the border of Victoria and New South Wales with a total student population of 260 students. In 2010, our College went one to one with Mac laptops and also began integrated curriculum throughout years seven to ten.

After an initial trial of Skwirk, we introduced the website to our students as an additional research method that provided accurate and reliable information on VELS relevant topics.

In year seven, the students are currently studying Ancient Egypt as an integrated unit. With the use of Skwirk, students are able to access information, maps, quizzes, timelines short videos and even podcasts to assist with their research and assessment tasks.

Skwirk enables students of all abilities to achieve success in their studies. Students who have lower literacy levels are able to listen to the podcasts that summarise the topics through iTunes on their Macs, making Skwirk an invaluable classroom tool.

CYNDI GLEESON is Year 7 Coordinator at Sacred Heart College in Yarrawonga, Victoria.

Grab a free teacher trial to Skwirk, click here.

Our Worldwide Classroom reviews Skwirk for Homeschoolers

Since the school year has already begun I didn’t want to wait any longer to share with you some details about Skwirk.

Not heard of Skwirk?

This is an online, National Curriculum aligned, educational resource centre suitable for learners from Prep all the way through to Year 10.

It offers thousands of activities and lessons covering the subject areas of Mathematics, English, Science, Geography and History.

Skwirk caters to various learning styles through activities such as animations, video clips, colour images, reading passages, worksheets and games. Offering a flexible, easy to navigate learning resource.

Throughout the year I will be sharing with you the various ways in which we are utilising Skwirk in our homeschool. The flexible nature of the site and how my children, aged 6, 10 and 13 use the activities as part of their learning adventures.

We will give you behind the scenes glimpses into the site, an overview of the lessons, the reporting area and even a look at lesson planning.

Already my 6 year old begs to do ‘Skwirk’ at least a few times a day. I love that I can get him logged him, give him access to a learning area and from there he is basically independent.

For example I am currently writing this on a Sunday afternoon. My 6 year old was asking questions about water. I suggested to him that this week we have a look over Skwirk for some activities to do with water. Of course he wanted to jump on and have a go straight away.

Here we have logged into his K – 2 lessons and chosen the Science area. You can see he has already begun working through the first unit and has completed 100% of the first three topics. Next up is seasons and then, look at that, water! Exactly what we wanted.

The screen shot above is showing the lesson on seasons. Each part of the K – 2 area is laid out pretty much the same so the kids quickly get to know how to navigate their way around. The lesson on Seasons has 3 chapters, they simply click on a chapter, watch the animation, then do the game and complete the read along area.

Once finished the lesson, they can go back to see their 100% completion bar is full. My kids love to see that filling up!

In this final screen shot above the kids can easily see what they have yet to complete in their online lessons. So next time my 6 year old logs in and chooses science he will notice straight away that he has a lesson not quite completed. It really is that simple and on a Sunday afternoon, I’m truly loving that flexibility!

Would you like to sign your children up for a year of learning and fun with Skwirk?

The lovely people at  Skwirk have very kindly offered all of you 50% Off a 12 month subscription, simply by using the code – worldwide – on sign up. This won’t last forever though so jump over to Skwirk and register now.

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

Disclosure: Our family has been given a subscription to the Skwirk Website in return for my reviews. All opinions regarding Skwirk are mine (and my children’s).

Singlemum.com.au has a look at Skwirk online, with SingleMum’s own Miss Six taking it for a test drive…

When I first sat down at the computer with my Kindergarten-student daughter to have an introductory look at Skwirk, I had allowed myself some time to help guide her until she felt she was able to navigate it herself – so much for that plan. I was immediately rendered redundant by her squealing “I want to do it myself Mummy, it’s easy!” whilst mugging the computer mouse – another “Skwirker” was born. Wandering off to make myself a consoling mummy-isn’t-entirely-useless-really coffee, I then strayed back to quietly observe just what it was that had her so hooked from the get-go…

Skwirk

Skwirk (pronounced “Schoolwork” said really, really fast, for those of us in the know) is basically, a parents educational-support dream…

An online program that actually follows your child’s Australian school curriculum to a “T”, right through primary and on to secondary school. It’s kind of like your child’s own private online tutor!

The Skwirk system is split into “Stages”, with Stage 1 being Foundation (Kinder) to year 2, Stage 2 covering Year 3 and 4, and so on. Your child’s login-in profile is based upon their educational Year, and the main menu of subjects that they are presented with upon log-in covers all of the main subjects on offer for their Year at school, according to the current Australian curriculum.

In our case with Kinder, the main menu offered the expected Reading and Maths, but also Human Society and It’s Environment and Science too – just as they do at school. Once your child clicks the subject that they like, they are offered a more detailed selection of different topics, which in turn offer options such as “Read Along” (a colourful article-type page with lots of bright cartoon illustrations), an “Animation” (a short cartoon clip) or a game.

Big, easy to read and click buttons make the usability of this program a real winner for the computer-beginner…

with logical, easy-to-follow step by step progression through the subjects, and an encouraging “everybody wins in the end” philosophy for the games and puzzles.

Certainly for the Kindy kids one of the major draw-cards would have to be Skwirk’s cute “Animations” – short tutorials cunningly disguised as cartoons, complete with wacky sounds that engage and entertain. The clever “carrot and stick” format has each Animation ending with the reward of a fun game to play – again with it’s own lesson built in – a double bonus!

Skwirk

For the later-Stage primary kids, there’s still the same winning format of Animations and other features, with additional Quizzes, Projects, Videos and even Exams. A points system provides further incentive to learn, and for the parents a separate log-on reveals a reporting facility that lets you see how your child is progressing along the way.

The Secondary School Stages offer, again, a syllabus-specific variety of subjects. All this within a media-rich learning environment that serves as an excellent resource and support for students as they move towards those most vital of educational years. Here, as in the other Stages, Sqwirk comes into it’s own as a great learning advantage.

All-in-all, Skwirk is a valuable learning tool, and a highly relevant supplement to Australian school curriculum.

Back at Kindy level, it’s easy to see that little kids regard this introduction to online learning as a lot of fun, and that can only be a good thing. It’s hard not to feel smug with your sheer parenting genius (said with tongue firmly in cheek!) as you watch your kids laughing and giggling their way through puzzles and games that can’t help but support them in their school work. Indeed, Skwirk is so valued in our household now, that Miss Six bargains for extra Skwirk time as a treat, and all I can say about that is – nice one, Mummy!

Get a 25% discount to Skwirk in September. Use the discount code ‘education’ when subscribing. Click here to get Skwirking!

The Skwirk program is used by teachers, students and parents Australia-wide. For further information on how you can access Skwirk for your child, you can visit www.Skwirk.com, or telephone Skwirk on (02) 9438 3637.

Skwirk is a fantastic resource for teachers and students alike. It lets students use technology to get a better understanding of the various topics in Maths. They can use it in class with their teacher and classmates. Then each student can go home and work through a chapter individually, at their own pace. Skwirk can reduce the workload on teachers by having their lessons prepared for them, particularly those lessons that use technology. It helps keeps students more focused during lessons and using the computer always makes students more motivated. The Skwirk website is easier to navigate than other sites and it provides a wider range of subjects and resources.

Daniel Willingham is a cognitive scientist who has written a book called Why Students Don’t Like School, which provides practical applications of cognitive science research to education. In his book, he makes the point that thinking is a difficult task and that most of us rely on memory rather than thinking or problem solving. He states that students will enjoy thinking and problem solving when they are presented with “cognitive work that poses moderate challenge”. Students find work that is too difficult or too easy to be unpleasant.

Of course, the challenge is to present material in a way that engages all students, particularly when those students are across a range of abilities. Skwirk lessons, in conjunction with technology such as smart boards, make it easier for a teacher to set work at just the right level for the students in their classroom. The material in each Skwirk chapter contains material that is pertinent to all students. The teacher can leave the content of a chapter on a smartboard or whiteboard. He or she can then set a variety of stimulus materials to meet the needs of each group within the classroom. Bloom’s taxonomy or de Bono’s six thinking hats could provide a scaffold for these stimulus materials. Alternatively, the teacher can prepare a range of questions and activities that are relevant to the content of the lesson.

Paul Larkin, Secondary Maths Teacher

Get your Skwirk teacher trial today, click here.

Find out how teachers are using Skwirk: