lesson planning

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:

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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:

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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!

Roughly I would spend about 60 hours per week preparing lessons for my year 4 students. I spend anywhere between $40-$60 a fortnight on downloadable resources from particular websites, as well as 3 different subscriptions to a Math, English and science platform. The 3 subscriptions would roughly add up to $350 a year alone. All of which are helping me to plan and develop lessons for my students. To keep up with the 21st century learning that has become more and more apparent as I develop as a teacher I find that having some technology based resources has changed the way that I plan for each lesson. I use a program called OneNote to develop lesson ideas and then bring them into the Note Book platform so that there is some interactive application within each lesson. I also have ACARA and BOSTES open on a daily basis as the curriculum is key when planning lessons. These sites can be a little tough to navigate but I am slowly getting the hang of it. When I graduated the new curriculum was only in the planning stage, I became an expert in the old curriculum which is slowly becoming non-existent.

Planning one 40 minute lesson probably takes a good hour and a half… there are a minimum of 6 lessons a day not including the other school based activities which teachers face every day such as assemblies, sport lessons, language lessons and so on! There is a lot that goes in to one lesson… Making sure that it:

  • fits the curriculum
  • engages the students
  • uses different modes of technology
  • differentiated to fit all ability levels within the classroom
  • fun for the students
  • interactive
  • relevant

When I first started teaching this is everything that would go into planning a lesson for my students. Now in my second year of teaching I have discovered an online platform, that not only allows you to create your own lesson but gives you all the resources that are needed to fulfil everything you need to have the perfect lesson ready to go. Skwirk is an online resource that has been around for many years and is continually developing to keep up with today’s technology, curriculum and 21st Century needs. I cannot believe the amount of time that I used to spend planning is almost halved. I now only spend about half an hour gathering resources and about 20 minutes putting it together. The curriculum codes are all linked throughout Skwirk so I don’t need to navigate the tricky sites. During our planning days we decide what points we are going to cover then I just have to put those codes into Skwirk and I find all the resources. They have been able to link chapters, videos, animations, games and worksheets to specific curriculum points making it so much easier to find relevant information.

One thing I know I have saved on is money. I have a yearly subscription to one place that covers all subject areas. Instead of 3 which I don’t always find relevant as a lot of their content is American or English. Skwirk is 100% Australian!

In saving time and money I have found that I can start to enjoy the little things again like a reading a book or going on an afternoon walk, things that a year ago I would have never done. I have been able to manage my time better with Skwirk, I am able to enjoy teaching so much more and be in the moment with my student as they light up with the fun interactive games and videos that they have to offer. Since I have started using Skwirk I have been able to see all the lessons that I have prepared on my account and shared them with other teachers at the school to save them time too!

Save 40% on an Individual Teacher subscription with the discount code ‘textbook’. Join today, click here.

Ashleigh Graham

Bachelor of Education Primary

Get a Skwirk classroom trial today, 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.’

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.

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.

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)