flexible learning

Every parent wants their child to do well at school, so it’s good to know that online learning through Skwirk can help to significantly improve grades in a wide range of academic subjects. Whether your child is struggling to keep up and could do with some extra assistance, or is already doing well but wants to aim high, discover below how Skwirk can help them achieve more in an exciting and appealing manner.

High calibre content

When you opt to use Skwirk, you can be confident of accessing more than 16,000 premium learning resources which are closely aligned to the current Australian curriculum. Subjects covered include English, Maths, Science, History and Geography, enabling students to always find topics that are relevant to their needs. The content is regularly updated, providing excellent materials to inspire and stimulate learning.

Assessment as well as learning

In addition to plenty of fresh, interesting learning material, Skwirk also includes comprehensive assessment material that enables students to consolidate their learning and check their grasp of a particular subject area. Quizzes, questions and tasks can be completed online, or printed off to provide valuable revision material at a later date. Progress updates are generated each week and emailed to parents or teachers, providing useful feedback on what is being achieved and where further assistance may be needed. This ensures that 1-1 teaching time or tutoring can be effectively targeted to where it is most needed.

Engaging formats

Skwirk’s fresh approach to curriculum material engages users and invites them to find out more. Video clips, photos and animation provide a cutting-edge visual experience which many students find absolutely irresistible. The site is easy to navigate, tempting many students to extend their learning to cover new material. The differentiated nature of Skwirk challenges children of all abilities, gently pushing them towards fresh challenges. Children who find it difficult to concentrate in a classroom situation often thrive when they’re able to use Skwirk to enhance their learning.

Focus on problem areas

Often, if a child doesn’t grasp a concept first time round, there’s only limited time during the school day to go over it again or provide the necessary support for the material to be successfully mastered. Because Skwirk can be used independently, students can spend time going over areas of difficulty until they’ve managed them successfully. Skwirk is available anywhere that there is an internet connection, so students can study at home, at the library, on public transport or in a child care setting.

Skwirk not only provides an entertaining and attractive option for learning new material, it also has a powerful part to play in helping students improve on their weaker areas. The close correlation between Skwirk and the curriculum means it’s easy to find relevant material to reinforce what’s being learned at school, providing a seamless learning transition between home and the classroom. Skwirk provides an effective learning aid which can noticeably improve a child’s educational attainment as well as offer an entertaining and attractive online resource.

When a student spends time with a teacher, not a minute should be wasted. A top shelf education should focus on inspiring the student’s imagination and learning important skills. That’s what ‘flipping the classroom’ is all about.

But what, exactly, do those three words mean? No doubt, you’ve heard them bandied about the place for quite a few years now. Flipping the classroom has become a popular concept.

To bring it back to basics, the idea is that when students first encounter new material, this should happen outside the classroom. Their classroom time should then be spent on doing the harder bit – actually absorbing the material into the student’s stock of knowledge and learning the skills associated with it.

This approach to flexible learning has a few major advantages. For a start, it makes sure that when children are exposed to new subject matter, they discover it in the most interesting and inspiring ways possible. It gives them the chance to get lost in stories and to imagine possibilities, instead of immediately thinking about comprehension questions, memorising and textbooks. Imagine trying to read your favourite novel, with a teacher interrupting you every five pages, asking you to answer questions! The spell would soon be broken.

There are loads of options for presenting new material. These include videos, books, interactive software, fun games, recreational activities… the list goes on and on. At Skwirk, we love seeing the positive results that come about when teachers flip the classroom, which is why we stock thousands and thousands of elearning resources, presenting subjects in innovative and exciting ways.

Secondly, once students have developed a personal interest in new material, they are far more likely to be engaged when it comes to classroom time. They’ll be heading to lessons brimming over with questions, ideas and possibilities. And, as we all know, we’re far more likely to remember a lesson if we’ve really enjoyed taking part in it.

Thirdly, when teachers flip the classroom, they have more time for what really matters. After all, a teacher’s job isn’t to press a button on a DVD player or read aloud. A teacher is there to impart higher level skills to their students and provide them with challenges. If students spend their own time familiarising themselves with new material, they can use their lessons to their full advantage – asking questions, synthesising ideas, learning to write essays and compositions, and developing an understanding of how the new material they’ve learnt fits into their wider perspective on the world.

One useful way of thinking about it is through the application of Bloom’s taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy can be displayed in the shape of a pyramid, where skills are placed in order of difficulty. At the bottom is memorising, then understanding, then applying, then analysing, then evaluating, then, finally, creating. All of these are necessary – after all, it’s pretty hard to create anything if you can’t remember anything. But it’s the higher ones that are harder to learn and it’s in mastering them that a student really needs a teacher. When a teacher introduces flexible learning and flips, they make them a priority.

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.

From Movies to Shakespeare

No need to spend hours making PPPT’s or searching for info on film techniques or background to Elizabethan Theatre…How you ask? SKWIRK! It’s done.

As a very busy English teacher I can speak first hand at how Skwirk has saved me hours of time a week. I know longer have to spend time going through my own collection of resources that are from 100’s of different places or creating resources for each topic. Skwirk has it at the touch of a button. I have access to notes on Shakespeare in general, then specific texts like Romeo and Juliet. It doesn’t stop there, I have access to notes, tests and summaries on topics like poetry, film, alliteration, reading and essay skills. There is not only great notes for students to use but animations, tests and interactive activities available as well.

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 15.05.53

Skwirk breaks down English between Skills and Texts. If you are teaching a skill set, like film, where the students need to make notes on something like camera angles. On Skwirk, you click on the link (yes it’s that simple) and at your fingertips you will find content on different techniques with an image to show students exactly what they are looking at, along with animations for elements like camera movement. All the resources are linked to the national curriculum so you know exactly which content descriptors and achievements standards you are covering.

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 15.06.45

Who has time to create notes for half of what we cover? That’s where I found Skwirk beyond helpful! There are notes, which are easy to print or display for students to make their own notes (which you can also personalise to expand or simplify for each class). It allowed me more time for marking and the students loved it! If they missed a class or notes they could login and access without any hassles in their own time. No more digging for notes that a single students missed 2 weeks ago while still trying to prep for the lesson that has already started! I honestly LOVE Skwirk. I cannot wait for new resources they continually add.

Teachers can get 25% off an individual teacher subscription during March with the discount code ‘teaching’. Click here to get going.

Natasha, Secondary English Teacher

‘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.

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: