australian education

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

With the 2015 school year kicking off in just a few days the Skwirk team wants all of our teachers and parents to know what we’ve got for them to start the year right! Here’s a few reminders of recent additions along with the freshest content:

*          Dream a little dream of Shakespeare – Are your students bored by the Bard? A reminder that Skwirk offers the full text, analysis and full-cast podcast performances of four of the most popular Shakespeare texts for Year 7-10 students: Romeo and JulietJulius CaesarMacbeth and our latest addition – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

*          More in-depth Maths for Secondary students – our qualified and experienced Maths teachers are continuing to add more to 7-10 Maths. We’re offering more detailed explanations, animations with worked examples, and more than doubling the number of practise questions for every chapter, including both multiple choice and short answer options.

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*       Make mine interactive – here’s a HUGE announcement that we’ve been working on for some time. ALL of our Maths and Science units for Years 3,4, 5 and 6 now have interactive activities for accompany the quizzes, videos, worksheets and images. Want something to help your students understand basic Chemistry? There’s an activity for that! How about basic algebra? Yup, we’ve got that covered as well! Biology? Check! Geometry? Check! These are just a few examples of the huge variety of activities we have on offer to make learning engaging and fun. And using the bookmarking tool you can save ANY of these activites to your personal folder for later use.

Kid on tablet

*       Tablet Ready Content – Tablets have become a key classroom tool in the past few years. With the introduction of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) into many schools, making content available across multiple platforms is extremely important. Over the past few months Skwirk has been working on converting our content to make them mobile ready. In the next few months, most of our animations across the site will be available across all devices, with Skwirk being 90% mobile ready within a few months. Not only that, but all new activities and games will be developed to ensure they work across these devices as well. Check out our Boomerang Maths game as an example, click here.
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2015 is shaping up to be a HUGE year for Skwirk. We now have over 18,000 educational resources available all in one online location. And there will be even more coming your way. We are looking forward to it and are delighted to have so many schools, teachers, parents and students along for the ride with us. Strap yourself in – this is going to be amazing!

If you are interested in getting Skwirk into your school or home this year, contact the Skwirk Team via phone (02) 94383637 or email teachers@skwirk.com.au or find our more information at http://www.skwirk.com.au

Happy Skwirking,

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.

With school off for 6 weeks, the Professor decided to take a holiday after a ground breaking year, by indulging in his passion for history by exploring from Kelly Country to the Grenfell Goldfields.

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour. A must do for anyone with an interest in Australian Military History

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour.
A must do for anyone with an interest in Australian Military History

After spending the day wandering around Seymour on the Heritage Walk, at the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park and the Vietnam Veteran’s Commemorative Walk, the first night found the Professor staying at the Harvest Home Boutique Hotel in Avenel. This rather nice hotel has beautiful gardens, Damian the landlord is an absolute champion and the pizza shop next door is arguably one of the best in Australia, they even slice the prosciutto fresh!

Any fan of Ned Kelly needs to visit Avenel, as it was here that Ned saved the life of Richard Shelton, went to school and his father passed away. The green silk sash that the 12 year old Ned was awarded by the Shelton family for his act of bravery in saving Richard’s life, was worn under his armour many years later at Glenrowan. Hughes Creek, in which Richard was drowning, is classed as a fugitive waterway (not a pun at what Ned became). A fugitive waterway constantly shifts course and the amount of flow through the seasons, which is why it looks so empty and small in our picture! The professor then continued the Kelly country exploration with a visit to Glenrowan. It was here that Ned was captured by the police after the siege and the other members of the Kelly Gang were killed.

profsummer2

The Harvest Home Boutique Hotel in Avenel. Exquisite gardens, beautiful rooms and next door to the best pizza!

Moving north and keeping on the bushranger theme, Professor Skwirk decided to relax at a farm stay near Caragabal, in the Central-West of NSW. The farm actually occupies what was part of Ben Hall’s station of Sandy Creek, of which the police inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger burnt down Ben’s house, and is quite close to the Wheogo range of hills where it is believed Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and the gang divvied up the loot from the Escort Robbery at Eugowra.

Grenfell, just 40 kilometres from where this all happened, is probably best known for being the birthplace of Henry Lawson (as an aside, it is also where Stan McCabe, the Australian Cricket Legend, grew up). The Professor spent plenty of time checking out O’Brien’s Lookout, which still has some of the original mines and crushing equipment from what was once the richest Goldfields in the colony. He also visited the birthplace of Henry Lawson, spent time with the brand new statue of Henry in the main street and took a walk up to Ben Halls Cave and the historic Seaton’s farm.

The spot that Ned was captured at in  Glenrowan

The spot that Ned was captured at in Glenrowan

The Professor chats to Henry Lawson, in the main street of Grenfell.

The Professor chats to Henry Lawson, in the main street of Grenfell.

“You were born on Grenfell goldfield – and you can’t get over that.”

Said Grenfell to My Spirit, Henry Lawson, 1911

The summer holidays over, the professor is now back at work ready to help.

Checking out the plinth marking Henry Lawson birthplace. The sugar gum in the background was planted by Henry’s Daughter, Bertha.

Checking out the plinth marking Henry Lawson birthplace. The sugar gum in the background was planted by Henry’s Daughter, Bertha

The Glenrowan Inn burned down when police set it alight to get the Kelly Gang

The Glenrowan Inn burned down when police set it alight to get the Kelly Gang