modern classroom

A growing number of teachers across Australia are finding that the internet not only provides a useful medium for accessing relevant information, but helps many students to engage more fully with learning. Skwirk, an online education site that offers premium content on most subjects in the Australian curriculum, is a popular choice for many schools. One of the biggest advantages of Skwirk is its versatility. If you’re new to using IT extensively as part of your lesson delivery, take a look at five ways that other teachers across the country are utilising this exciting resource.

Laptops and PCs

Whether your school has a traditional computer lab or a couple of PC’s in your classroom, Skwirk provides an ideal solution to the problem of providing a single online resource that’s suitable for every pupil in the class. Because information is presented in a number of different ways (text, videos, pictures and animations), differentiation is straight-forward. It’s also ideal for individual learning, enabling each student to enjoy a resource that meets their specific needs.

Interactive whiteboards

A great tool for group learning, whole class teaching and plenary activity, interactive whiteboards can be a forum for using Skwirk resources to bring enrichment into learning. The site is easy to navigate and training for teachers is provided, so there are no worries about wasting time accessing the information you need for smooth lesson delivery.

Worksheets

The clear, relevant worksheets that can be downloaded from Skwirk offer a perfect method of extending and reinforcing whole class learning. The worksheets are ideal as a homework assignment, or can be used for revision. Some teachers prefer to flip the classroom and ask students to research a topic on Skwirk at home, then come to class to discuss their findings and complete a worksheet to reinforce their out of school studies.

iPads and tablets

Whether you want to reward individual learners or provide an engaging small group activity, the use of iPads or tablets in the classroom works well with any pedagogy. Interactive screens are a larger part of many children’s lives, so using them for learning is frequently more effective than more traditional methods. Particularly in core subjects such as numeracy and literacy, Skwirk’s appealing format encourages study, even in children who usually find such tasks a challenge.

Class assignments

As it’s so versatile, Skwirk is a fantastic option for assignments in the classroom or at home. Revision, independent learning, fresh study or reinforcement can all be easily undertaken through the site. Regular emails on pupil progress can let you see whether learning is taking place when online work is set. If you want to add some fresh, exciting options to your repertoire of assignment methods, Skwirk can provide them.

With so many different choices for relevant, flexible and curriculum linked learning, many teachers across Australia and overseas already rely on Skwirk heavily to enrich the learning experience they offer their pupils. Delivering premium educational content that supports the Australian curriculum for four to 14-year olds, Skwirk is the online provider of choice for many successful schools.

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 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​

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.

Early literacy learning in the modern classroom has been redefined with emerging digital technologies and the ease at which information can be accessed. The increasing use of technology in our everyday lives impacts greatly on literacy instruction and the role of the teacher.

Skwirk, the online learning portal which provides educational resources for foundation (kindergarten) to year 10, supports children in developing fundamental early literacy skills in the current digital age. Early literacy skills do not only entail the development of traditional fundamental knowledge and skills of the past print media world, including reading, comprehension, writing, phonemic awareness and spelling. In today’s society, it is critical that children from an early age are taught computer and technology basics to become confident, informed and safe users of technology. Skwirk not only provides opportunity for the development and consolidation of literacy skills with curriculum aligned resources but at the same time, young children are learning important online skills including how to navigate through a site, use a keyboard, mouse and touch screen technology. Skwirk promotes the interrelatedness of literacy learning and is therefore a valuable learning tool for early learners.

There are a number of ways that Skwirk supports the development of early literacy skills.

  1. Skwirk provides a multi-sensory learning experience

The resources in Skwirk for stage 1 (K-2) provide a highly interactive learning experience for young children. There are over 300 dynamic and engaging animations and games in Stage 1 that teach key concepts such as spelling techniques including sounding words out, breaking words down into smaller parts or blending sounds. In the Skwirk English section for stage 1, there are 9 units of essential early literacy concepts covering more 55 topics. In each topic, the animations and games encourage active participation with the use of questioning techniques, simple instructions, rich, meaningful language, engaging graphics, and interactive games, requiring student participation. In addition to the animations and games, there are also ‘read alongs’ which provide the written text or script for each animation. Students, particularly younger ones, enjoy the variety of multi-sensory games Skwirk offers. Skwirk’s resources encourage enjoyment for learning and when a child is engaged, it is well-documented that they are more likely to retain information and grasp a clear understanding.

 

  1. Skwirk supports a range of learning styles

Skwirk caters for a wide range of learning styles by encompassing a variety of methods to suit different learners. Younger students are more visual learners requiring colourful, eye-catching images and entertaining sound. Skwirk recognises this and uses bright, quirky characters and funny sound effects to engage their young audience. These multi-sensory educational games/ activities stimulate learning by engaging students on many levels, helping them to learn by using more than one sense. Unlike traditional teacher instruction which typically only engages two senses: sight (visual) and hearing (auditory), Skwirk accommodates the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (touch) learning styles. With the kinaesthetic learner, they prefer to ‘move and do’ in order to learn. They perform best in a learning environment where they can interact. Skwirk’s incorporation of interactive technology such as flash animations, interactive buttons, and drag and drop technology appeals to the kinaesthetic learner. For example, stage 1 students can develop their literacy skills by using the mouse or their finger to hover over a word to hear it read, click on a noun or verb, drag sentences to place them in order, clicking on the initial or end sounds in a word. Early learning of essential literacy skills is more effective when all three learning styles are engaged.

 

  1. Skwirk encourages a self-directed and self-paced

Skwirk allows children to complete games and move through the resources at their own pace and according to their individual needs. Within a classroom, there is a vast range of abilities and needs in literacy learning , particularly in the early school years when children enter formal education with such substantial variation of prior knowledge and skills in reading, phonemic awareness and writing. With Skwirk resources, the learning is individualised. Students are able to select literacy concepts or topics they would like further practice in and attempt these until they have master them. By allowing students to select games and work at their own pace, Skwirk encourages children to have ownership and can take responsibility for their learning.

With the multi-sensory learning experience, the range of learning styles and individual needs Skwirk caters for and the curriculum aligned interactive resources, Skwirk is a powerful online learning tool that can foster the development of early literacy skills and provide a positive learning experience for young children.

Teachers you can get 20% off Individual Teacher access until the end of March with the discount code ‘literacy’. Click Here to get started!  

Teachers/schools/parents, get a free trial to Skwirk by clicking here. 

Written by Rachael Ingram, primary school teacher K-6

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.’

Newspapers are all around us yet few of us may think of it as a handy teaching or learning tool in the classroom. The newspaper has many features that can be capitalized upon as shown in the mind-map. Because of its many features, newspapers can be used by all subjects in many different and interesting ways.

READING Newspapers are great for reading and many schools locally and internationally have newspaper reading programmes. Students are encouraged to read the articles and improve not just on language but also knowledge of current affairs, making them more aware as citizens of an evolving world. To encourage a spirit of collaboration and shared learning, students can be given opportunities to share the insight and knowledge gained through reading the articles with the rest of their classmates. This is a strategy that many teachers use to start a lesson – often the first five to ten minutes of classroom time. Such shared learning goes a long way to ignite passion in reading and keep young minds connected to local and world affairs.

CLOSED IN Newspapers are a great way to widen an individual’s scope on the world beyond their own immediate locale. One way is to bring in articles from foreign newspapers (these are often readily available through online newspapers) and get students to compare the news – in particular, similar issues and how each country or region manages or responds to issues and events as they happen. This can be a useful teaching and learning point. Learning about such similarities and/or differences can offer important insight into political, cultural and social contexts around the world and can be a platform to provide multidisciplinary teaching.

CASES Newspapers are also great storehouses of real case studies. With real events, phenomenon and people covered, it is a great way to get students to apply and visualize theory in action. From Geography to Science to Economics, the newspapers present a number of case studies that can be picked up and continually added to.

MEDIA FRENZY Because newspapers are multimodal, they are also a great tool to study aspects of media, for example print advertising or even the text type of newspapers or how stories and elements are laid out to aid reading and draw readers’ attention. This is especially important in studies and understanding of popular, everyday discourses which can have a powerful influence on readers and their worldview. So, pull out the newspapers and start learning all the inside tricks of publishing and printing to influence!

There is no end to the possibilities presented in the newspaper as a useful teaching and learning tool. A simple document that is often sidelined, yet it holds within it a treasure trove of teaching-learning opportunities.

So get to the news-stand and get yourself a copy today!

Find out more about Skwirk, click here.