teaching resources

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 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

Or get a free school trial, click here.

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.

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

Hello Skwirkers,

As Skwirk moves into it’s 9th year and crosses the 1000 school subscribers mark, I felt this was a good time to reflect on how far we have come.

Rod Salmon - The Founder of Skwirk

Rod Salmon – The Founder of Skwirk

The idea of Skwirk, or the ‘online learning thingy’ as I called it then, first came to me whilst I watched my son playing rugby. He had been struggling with some Maths homework that week which I had sat down and talked him through. Now I am the first to admit that I am no teacher or tutor, but I know my Maths skills are fairly strong, and I helped him through this time. If he had asked me to help him with his English skills it would have been a different story.

I felt like there had to be a better way to do this. Children learn in a variety of different ways including visual, auditory, textual and kinesthetic learning styles. Using learning resources online was nothing new, but I felt like we spent hours trying to find good content, and hardly any of it was Australian. That’s when it came to me, what if parents could go to one website which had all the core subjects for their child’s school year covered using a variety of different learning resources? I thought I have something here.

So I contacted a few colleagues, and before long, we had a number of investors on-board. Online Learning Thingy was a go! To be clear, this was pretty new territory, not just for us, but in the education industry in general. There was no blueprint for a project like this. What we did know was that content was key. And that was the main focus, quality education content.

Within months we had the shell of this idea in place, starting to fill with content such as animations, activities videos, text and worksheets. I had never seen anything like it, with hundreds of resources produced on a weekly basis. The name ‘Skwirk’ came about through an in house competition among the staff, and after someone said ‘school work’ very quickly, the word just stuck. We had a name! Our first ‘promo-video’ highlights how we intended Skwirk to be used. I admit we were a little rusty then:

It was around this time that the team started to think about approaching schools with our resources. That would be a key point in Skwirk’s timeline. I had never intended Skwirk to be a classroom resource. To be honest I didn’t know much about the education industry. But the feedback we were getting from teachers was incredible, and this changed the model of the company considerably.

It has not always been plain sailing. Since those days, the industry has been flooded with competition. Some have lasted the pace (Mathletics, Reading Eggs, Maths Online), whilst others have found it tougher.

Plus you are in an industry which is both stuck in time and constantly evolving. What I mean by that is on one hand you have schools with slower internet connections (this was before any mention of the NBN, which is still not available to everyone today), and out-dated computers and software (of no fault of their own, school budgets are always tight). On the other hand you have other schools starting to adopt tablets and other newer learning technologies and philosophies.

The toughest challenge has always been getting Skwirk in front of educators. Teachers are busy. I mean, really busy. Our processes have been tweaked and changed more times then I care to mention, to evolve with the times and teachers timelines. Bottom line, when we show teachers Skwirk, they get excited.

With all these challenges over the years, I believe it is testament to the Skwirk Team and our product that we are still here and still growing. In fact, we are now growing quicker then ever. We have a loyal customer base and Skwirk is considered valuable with 85% of schools renewing Skwirk every year. Although I love all the new teacher and school tools we have added over the years, I believe that the key to our product was and still is top quality educational content. And we have so much more coming next year.

To finish off, as I look back at the past 9 years, it is with great pride that I can say that we are now used in over 1000 schools in Australia. We are supporting over 20,000 Australian teachers. We are helping over 280,000 Australian children develop their knowledge, enhance their skills and improve their grades. We have now expanded outside Australia, into the UK, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bali, New Zealand and Dubai. But what fills me with pride the most is visiting a school, sitting at the back of the classroom and seeing the teachers and students interact with Skwirk in the classroom. This is where it really matters. And as you can see in the video below, we have come along way since those early days.

I hope this highlights the passion and work that has gone into Skwirk. If any schools or teachers want to find out more, contact us. The Skwirk Team are always happy to help.

Thanks for sharing the journey, and watch this space, there is a long way to go yet.

Happy Skwirking,

Rod Salmon

Chief Skwirker (Director of the online learning thingy)

On average we talk to around 200 educators and teachers a day. These discussions could be an introduction to Skwirk, teacher training on our resources, gathering feedback and setting up a new school on their Skwirk adventure.

We talk with Principals, Assistant Principals, Teacher Librarians, Curriculum Coordinators, ICT Coordinators, Heads of Department and Classroom Teachers. One thing which stands out head and shoulders above anything else, it just how little time teachers have. Whether before, during or after school, it amazes us how many extra hours educators put in. This is not new news, but it is something which can be overlooked unless you aFeatured imagectually work with educators.

According to the Teachers Workload Survey, teachers are spending an average of 18 hours a week planning, preparing & marking. When we mentioned this on Skwirk’s Facebook page, the response was mainly, ‘It’s often more’. Some teachers said 20-25 hours a week!!

Where does that time go? Well there is obviously the huge amount of marking on a daily basis. Then there is the time spent searching for relevant resources. These resources can include textbooks, worksheets, DVD’s, apps and online resources. Online resources could be in variety of locations, whether they are free (YouTube, TeacherTube, Wikipedia) or paid subscriptions.

And finally teachers have to put these together into a clear lesson plan. Whether it will be something which is used on Smartboards and projectors at the front of the classroom, or accessed by students in textbooks, worksheets, computers and tablets.

So, it’s not very hard to see where all that time goes!

We took all this feedback on-board at Skwirk, and brainstormed ways we could try and make teachers lives a lot easier. We came up with a new teachers portal which adds three unique areas:

1. Content – All subjects and resource types in one place

One thing we have always done at Skwirk is covered all the major subjects in one online location. But we have now added all the year groups to just one login as well. Through one login, teachers get access to Maths, English, History, Science & Geography content from Years Kindy/Reception – 10. Essentially in one login, teachers get access to over 18,000 resources, including videos, animations, interactive activities, worksheets, games, and more. This means teachers can now assign individual students work from different year levels, using differentiation in mixed-ability classes.  Watch our tutorial on how to assign work to students:

2. Automated Marking

Yes, Skwirk will mark assessments for you. Skwirk contains over 4,000 assessments including Quizzes, Spelling, Grammar and Vocab exams. Plus you can even create your own! When you assign lessons to students through Skwirk you will receive an instant report when they have finished the assessments, with their marks on 1st, 2nd and more attempts, so you can measure progress. You can find out how to access the reports in this tutorial:

3. Lesson Editing & Planning 

Lastly, comes our new lesson planner. We love demonstrating this feature when visiting schools; it shows the teachers the unlimited potential of Skwirk. The new lesson planner and editor gives teachers the ability to take any content on Skwirk and edit it to suit them. So imagine picking up a text-book, taking any page, and then chopping up the content, deleting what is not relevant for your lesson and then bringing in your own resources. You can even bring in your own videos and images, create your own assessments, and then save to our own profile to use and add to year after year. We have also added the ability to share lessons with other teachers in your school. Once again we have created a tutorial to demonstrate this new feature:

These features have been created after gathering feedback from the teachers who use Skwirk. We exist to make teachers lives easier and to try and help claim back some more hours by providing quality and extensive resources which are simple and effective. Join Skwirk today, click here.

Happy Skwirking,

The Skwirk Team