teacher tips

A lot is changing in education – there are radical ideas (abolishing homework) through to the more subtle (replacing chairs with bouncy balls). So why pay attention to the “flipped classroom” movement? The idea of a “flipped classroom” might sound foreign and even a little silly, but as you delve into the paradigm you will find, just as I did, that it has the most drastic effect on learning.

The idea is simple – set the learning work for homework and the traditional homework as classwork. The first reaction you will think of (and get from your students) is: They call it homework for a reason, Sir!” But the reality of it is that the traditional homework, where students reinforce their learning and most of the times complete higher order thinking activities is being done at home, without teacher help or supervision. A flipped classroom seeks to fix this. Rather than spending your time in class on lower order thinking skills (remembering, understanding, etc) and teaching content or concepts, asks your students to read an article or watch a video. Arm them with the knowledge so that when they get to class, you can get to what matters – the activities that target the higher order thinking skills. So how does this theory apply in the real life classroom?

I implemented this over a six month trial in a Year 9 Mathematics class. These kids had, for the most part, given up on learning maths. Marks were on the low and unhelpful behaviour was on the rise… Here was a typical lesson:

typical-classroom-time-spent.png

When I analysed the activities that my class consisted of, I found that I spent most of my class time on teaching a concept, for example how to find the missing sides of a compound shape. This was a low order skill when classifying it according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The higher order skills (applying, creating) were set for homework (which was either not complete or copied from the answers).

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So I decided to make the change – from the first day of Term 3, I told students what the plan was: their homework was to watch a video before each lesson. The students were confused and even a little fearful, but the effects were immediate. I was not spending any class time on low order skills – the students were instructed to sit down and start the activity on the board (or the worksheet handed out). There was a few flow on effects from this style of teaching:

  1. The “lessons” were differentiated by default – students could take their own time to watch the video and learn the concept. They could stop, start and replay it at will, and if it took them an extra 20 minutes to do it they weren’t slowing anyone else down!
  2. Behaviour issues were down – students didn’t get upset, embarrassed or confused because they understood the content before the class started and their friends were all at the same starting point walking into the room (regardless of how many times they watched the video!)
  3. Students could revise the lessons before exams (or when they felt like they had to revisit an earlier concept)

In my flipped classroom, this is what my lessons looked like now:

flipped-classroom-time-spent.png

And this was the new way that Bloom’s Taxonomy was being prioritised:

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It wasn’t all rosy, though:

  • I custom made the videos, which took about 1 hour per lesson – I could use them next year, but the initial investment was high. Had I known about Skwirk at the time I could have used their content instead!
  • Some students still came to class without preparation – once students realised that they weren’t ready for class and the others were contributing freely, the students picked up the slack and watched the videos they missed.

In all, the flipped classroom was a success. I unfortunately was taken off the class at the end of the year, but students actually begged me to make more videos for them!

I highly enjoyed my flipped classroom experience and I hope that you decide to take the leap.

If you would like to know more about my journey or how you can flip your classroom, feel free to contact us to get an online presentation.

Skwirk provides over 18,000 resources that can form the basis of an engaging and meaningful flipped classroom lesson. Take a trial here and see how Skwirk can help your classroom. Keep in touch – we’d love to hear your experiences with flipped lessons!

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

Everything you need in one convenient location

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

Resources for every learner

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

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

Tools to assess, track progress and report

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

Questions?

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

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

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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.

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.

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.’

Skwirk has been a quality tool for me while training to become a teacher. It is helpful for assignments, studying, and mostly for practicum as it demonstrates practical ways to introduce topics that I may not be completely confident with.

I have used it for assignments in all Key Learning Areas (KLAs) and have found it especially useful for covering English theory when developing lesson plans. Also, it allows me integrate ICT into all KLA’s and this will be an important skill especially in my first year as a teacher when I am learning to manage time and ensure I cover the entire curriculum.

I found that by using Skwirk I could engage all the students and it was a great way to ‘break the ice’ with some of the quieter students

When I walked into the classroom for my first practicum placement it was quite a shock to hear the students talking about and using their iPads and Nintendo DS’s. I was amazed at how second nature the use of technology was to ALL the students, not just the more able ones. I decided to try a lesson on the interactive whiteboard and found that by using Skwirk I could engage all the students and it was a great way to ‘break the ice’ with some of the quieter students.

The high level of interaction and ‘hands-on’ ability of Skwirk made the lessons easier to absorb and found that when using interactive methods such as Skwirk, the students were using their higher order thinking skills and the information I was desperately trying to get across was actually sinking in. The students were confident when using the technology and the general classroom climate had lifted (along with my confidence) because the animations and colour made it feel more like play than a lesson. Not only did the students benefit but so did I as my lesson preparation time was decreased because I wasn’t sitting up all night tracing and cutting out resources for every lesson!

The students are so tech-savvy they are really impressed when a teacher can teach them through a medium they love and understand.

I aspire to be a successful teacher who makes learning as fun and accessible for all my students and Skwirk has shown me that this is achievable.

Stephanie is studying a Bachelor of Education at Macqurie University

To get student trial to Skwirk click here. Put your university name in as your school name.