elearning

This month, we discuss the value of using graphic organisers or mind-maps to enhance and improve learning. its use for learning and teaching is limitless. Mind-mapping has the following important uses:

Consolidate learning: At the end of a chapter or topic of learning, recall all the information you have gathered and present it in a mind-map. You will surprised how the process of mind-mapping will help you remember your learning better.

Brainstorm: Stuck for ideas? Got a big project but not sure where to start? Well, mind-mapping allows you to develop ideas quickly and in a logical way. It allows you to change, link, delink ideas as you gather your thoughts and analyse the task on hand.

Keep adding: With a mind-map there is no limit to how much information you can add. The more you read and come across, the more you can add to your mind-map as relevant. Encouraging growth of knowledge, its something you can can keep returning to!

Note-taking: Can’t keep up with your teacher? Mind-mapping offer a quick and easy short hand for developing ideas as your teacher discusses them.

Exam frenzy: Exam jitters outside the exam hall, pull out a piece of paper and create a mind-map of ideas, topics, issues you need to know for the exam. It’s a handy tool for revision and enables visual ease of remembering content!

Don’t forget, find out more about Skwirk, click here.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5:00pm – Done for the day!

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

Happy Skwirking!

  • Bill Cohen

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:

When we first launched the new Skwirk upgrade over 12 months ago (how time flies) we were met with an overwhelming positive response from teachers. After all we had taken their feedback and handed teachers an enormous amount of power and freedom to use our content any they wanted.

Flexible Learning and differentiation are key terms being mentioned frequently in the education world at the moment. They come up frequently when we talk to teachers. There is a need to be able to provide an environment for students to learn at their own pace, making sure they are neither held back or rushed. Catering to mixed ability classes shows how far we have come in our understanding of how children learn.

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Classrooms can have mixed ability levels.

But at Skwirk we believe that to encourage flexible learning, you need to provide as much flexibility to teachers as possible. This philosophy did not come to us over night; it came from feedback we have received over the years. We knew our content was doing what it needed to do (otherwise schools wouldn’t be subscribing and renewing each year), but we felt that we had to provide more for teachers.

Setting different work to different students in your classroom is far from an easy process. In place of planning for a class of 30, you may have to now plan for 3 classes of 10 students within the same room. How do you go about this? Would it be 3 different resources (or more) aimed at three different learning abilities? Would the students be aware that they are studying a higher or lower level then other students in their class.

To provide different resources means more research for a teacher, which means more lesson preparation and planning. Then how are you going provide that content? Will it be in textbooks, worksheets, computer accessed resources, iPads, Smartboards or projectors. And of course it would inevitably also lead to more marking.

We now feel that we have tackled a lot of these teacher issues in Skwirk’s teacher portal.

Firstly. We give teacher access to multiple year groups and subjects from one log in on Skwirk. This means teachers can assign students work from different year levels, and this stays between the students and the teachers. So you could essentially assign every student in your class a different piece of work on Skwirk, encouraging that differentiation.

Secondly. Our new Skwirk lesson editor gives you the ability to edit, delete and add to our resources. This is a hugely powerful tool. How often have you wanted to edit a textbook, or merge two textbooks together? Skwirk have given teachers this ability. You could even bring in you own multimedia and images & create your own assessments (which our system marks). Editing educational content to suit the class or student you want to assign it to is the ultimate tool when it comes to flexibility in the classroom.

Thirdly. Tracking student progress is vital to this system. With different students completing different tasks in the same room, you need to make sure you monitor their progress. If they are struggling with concepts, the sooner you know the better. That’s why we have a live Skwirk reporting system, which will show you how students are performing with assessments whilst they are doing them in the classroom. Or you can of course receive updates if they complete the work for homework.

Lastly, you can access Skwirk across different platforms. You can use interactive whiteboards, iPads, computers, and even print off our worksheets, chapters or lessons you have created.

So there you have it. Teachers can use Skwirk any way they see fit. As we say to all our teachers, ‘there is no right or wrong way to use Skwirk. Dive in, create, and most of all, make your life easier. Get a free trial today and let us know what you think: Click Here to get started.

The Skwirk Team is also on hand to show you how to use these tools, (the tutorial takes 15 minutes, it’s that simple!). Check out our teacher tour below:

If you have any suggestions on what we can add to the site, please let us know. It really does help us set our priorities.

Happy Skwirking

David Weston

General Skwirker

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+.