david weston

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.

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

We have used Skwirk before with Zachery, Nicholas, Cameron and Kyle….a few years back.

Now we are more “Natural Learners” or “Unschoolers” I like to let Cameron and Kyle learn by what they are interested in – what they are passionate about….. that way they are actually learning instead of being forced feed information that they can’t remember.

This time we are having lots of fun because Cameron is now at the age where he can read the information all by himself, and his very into “Science and Technology”  and “History and Geography” – totally his passion!

Kyle is into learning all about Numbers and Skwirk has a wonderful game where he can learn about single digits, double digits and triple digits! The games are keeping Kyle’s attention for periods of time and for an outdoor type of kid that’s a good thing!

Kyle Maths Train

He actually finds this too easy because its only numbers one to 10, when the game goes to the bigger numbers that is when Kyle’s mind is being challenged, which I enjoy watching! At first he could not work  out where to place the trains to have them in order {especially when the number was written in words} but with practice he is getting the idea.

Kyle adding and taking away

The game is teaching Kyle how to add numbers {or take away numbers depending on the game} to reach a target! He has to learn that adding too many numbers at once will go over the Target, and he has 20 moves to complete the game. A huge challenge on many levels.

Using Skwirk at the Library

Kyle find a word

The find a word is perfect for Kyle – he can’t read big words as yet but by adding words here he is starting to recognize and pick out letters that form words.  Such a great way for “Natural Learning” to occur, and such a great boost to Kyle’s reading confidence.

Cameron Maths Game

Cameron is not big on Math’s….its not his strong subject, but this game is starting to get him interested! Yes this game is giving him a Challenge and one he is determined to bet.

Australia Wide is being used

School, Teachers Parents and Students {homeschoolers} Australia Wide are now using Skwirk. Its a learning game, at the same time its an educational game. One that I can see benefit many Children.

Find our more about Skwirk, http://www.skwirk.com.au.

Info of New Life on the Road. We are David and Lisa Wood and have been married for over 15 years. We have five amazing (loud) boys aged 16, 14, 11, 8, 5. For the last three years we have been on a journey looking for more out of  life. A better way of living. A better way of experiencing life – See more at: http://www.newlifeontheroad.com/about/#sthash.zX4jHIK7.dpuf

As a teacher, I know too well just how expensive it can be to purchase quality, relevant resources for my students. If you are fortunate enough to be allocated an allowance by your school for purchasing teaching resources, this budget is usually minimal at best and is often a rare luxury. For most teachers, quality teaching and learning resources are an expensive but necessary part of their occupation, more often than not requiring them to dig into their own pockets to pay for them. For this reason, teachers have many important criteria that they adhere to when selecting quality resources to supplement their teaching practices. This will include but is not limited to: resources that are Australian and curriculum oriented, comprehensive and value for money, easy to read and follow, fast and simple to access, engaging and appealing to students, differentiated and suitable for a range of learning styles and abilities. This is where Skwirk, the online interactive learning platform, is a teacher’s best friend and a highly valuable all-in-one learning tool. So how does Skwirk save teachers and schools money? Here are just a few ways:image2

  • Skwirk’s resources are national curriculum aligned and created by experienced educators

Skwirk currently encompasses over 18000 educational resources across subjects such as Mathematics, English, Science, Geography, History and Commerce. These resources include over 2000 animated ebooks, 1000 educational videos, 1000 interactive activities and thousands of podcasts, images, pop quizzes, exams and printable worksheets. Furthermore, these teaching and learning resources are created by experienced teachers and link to the new Australian curriculum codes. With this comprehensive collection of quality, diversified resources all located in one secure location, it is very cost-effective and saves teachers and schools money by decreasing the need for multiple resources.

  • Skwirk’s resources are accessible across different technologies

10502536_620336494730231_7737354430165643814_nThe Skwirk teaching and learning resources can be accessed anytime from home or in the classroom. They can also be utilized across different technologies, including tablets, laptops, projectors and interactive whiteboards. Being able to incorporate Skwirk’s resources into a variety of lessons at any time is not only really convenient but reduces the cost associated with providing individual print material to each student to support the learning program.

  • Skwirk’s resources can be customized according to student or classroom needs

Teachers have a responsibility to ensure that all students are catered for in their classroom. This involves implementing differentiated content and teaching methods to suit the various learning styles and abilities. Skwirk’s resources are suitable for students from foundation/ kindergarten to year 10 and enable the teacher to select content, games, assessments and other resources from either their class’s own year group or differing year groups to accommodate the diverse learning abilities in a classroom. Teachers can also assign individual students specific work without the student/s realizing that the work is from another year group. In addition, the range of relevant and interactive resources available on Skwirk caters for differing learning styles including the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learner. This means that teachers and schools do not need to purchase additional resources to meet the varying student needs. Skwirk provides a positive, differentiated learning experience for every student.

  • Skwirk listens to feedback to provide quality and comprehensive resources

Not only does Skwirk continually encourage feedback from teachers, parents and students, they use this input to ensure their resources are relevant, up-to-date and in line with educational standards. This means that teachers and schools do not need to continually up date and replace their teaching resources which is often a costly and time-consuming exercise.

Once you spend money on resources covering different subjects and different materials, it can end up costing hundreds of dollars per student. Skwirk offers all subjects and resources at $6 per student! That’s $6 for a student to access Curriclum relevant Maths, English, Science, History and Geography material, all in one place! I can’t think of many better deals then that. For these reasons alone it is evident why Skwirk is one of the leading educational websites and provides great value for money. Grab a free teacher and school trial by clicking here.

Written by Rachael Ingram, primary school teacher K-6

Alternatively email us asking for a quote, teachers@redapple.com.au

 

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.