skwirk

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.

Skwirk came to my School at the beginning of last year, showed everyone in a staff meeting how to use Skwirk. The comments after the meeting were so positive because we were all able to just jump on straight away and not worry about questions we might have had because they were already answered! The presentation didn’t go for long and the members from Skwirk were very enthusiastic about their resource that really does save teachers a lot of time!

I have used Skwirk for just over a year now and it has helped me to differentiate for all of my students. I had a class last year that required more one to one teaching. I really enjoyed it because I could see how much they were benefiting from resources such as Skwirk. I created lessons using the lesson editor; I would copy a Skwirk chapter and add my own questions into the lesson catered to my student’s individual needs. It saved me time because the information is already there, the wording is age appropriate and using the lesson editor makes it so much easier!

One of my students in my class last year was working above and beyond year 5, as I had access to all years of Skwirk I was able to move him up a stage using the calendar tool! By allocating specific content to my students they were able to be at the correct stage of learning. My student was also unaware that he was receiving work above his grade level, I found that this stopped the bullying and stigma created when a child is known to be achieving higher than others. The same thing goes for my students who aren’t up to the year 5 level as well. I had a group of students who I felt were only up to year 4 content so during our lessons they would be working on another part of the topic where they were more comfortable with the content.

My students love Skwirk as they can customise their Avatar, earn points which correlate to their classroom reward and they can use it at home! I find that there is less academic stigma within my class during our computer sessions as everyone has their own work to focus on!

Grab a free teacher trial, click here. For the month of June teachers can get 25% off an individual teacher subscription with the discount code ‘blog‘ (that’s a saving of over $35)! Or request a school wide quote (only $6 per student currently) by emailing the Skwirk team: teachers@redapple.com.au

Find out more about Skwirk:

Ashleigh Graham

Primary Teacher WA​

A homeschool mum discusses how she uses Skwirk’s history content.

During the lead up to ANZAC Day we spent the week exploring the topic further.

I also had the kids jump on to Skwirk and work their way through the appropriate levels for each of them that covered Australian History, looking in particular at the ANZAC topic.

I have children in three different levels of the Skwirk program so I thought I would give you a glimpse inside each of them and how they cover Australian History via screen shots from within the Skwirk program.

**As you all know our family have been given a subscription to Skwirk to be able to give you a peek inside. All opinions expressed from here on in are those of my kids and myself.**

My eldest is currently in the Grade 7/8 Level. 

At this level in the Australian Curriculum, history is mostly world history, but it does contain a full unit on ANZAC day, exactly what we were looking for.

Within each chapter there are reading passages, various images, animations and short video clips.

Each chapter begins with a reading passage.

This is just one of the many images that can be found within the ANZAC Unit.

Several short video clips, are included. Animations are also included within the unit, again a brief view of the conditions in the trenches.

If you like to give your children tests they are also included here.

My middle child is using the Grades 3/4 Level

Skwirk is completely curriculum aligned and in this level Australian History has a focus on Exploration and Communities.

Here you can see the topics covered within the units of work.

This is the next level up from the K – 2nd, which primarily uses animated content for young children. At the 3/4 level it is similar to the upper levels with reading passages such as the one seen here.

Whilst they are shorter and more simple in nature when compared to the 7/8 level I would personally still like to see this level supplemented with animations and many more videos for the children of this age group to watch.

I feel this is the trickiest level when it comes to readers, most kids by this age are reading at some level or another, but whether they want to be reading often remains to be seen.

If there was a way they could still access all of the information but in a video format I think this would make a big difference to this particular level of the program. At least I know it would in our house.

Once again, there are several images all related to the content for the children to view.

Find A Words seem to be the go to game for this particular unit of work. My daughter really enjoys these at the moment so they are a nice bonus.

In some of the units there are also animated activities.

Whilst there are no exams at this level, most of the topics within this unit have worksheets that can be printed. Each worksheet shows the appropriate codes required for outcomes.

My youngest is currently in the K to 2nd Level

Here, as it does with the Australian Curriculum, history has a focus on the family, the child and exploring what history actually is.

The topics for the younger years are primarily animated video concepts, which are relatively engaging for the child to watch.

They generally always have a short game at the end of each video and the information presented is also included in the unit in written form as a read aloud option.

Whilst Skwirk is not our primary resource, I do really like knowing that I always have a curriculum linked product, that is quick and simple to use when we want to supplement what we are currently working on.

WOULD YOU LIKE A HALF PRICE SKWIRK SUBSCRIPTION?

Skwirk have very kindly offered all of you 50% Off a 12 month subscription, simply by using the code – worldwide – on sign up.

This code is only valid until May 31st though so you need to be quick!

Jump over to Skwirk and register now.

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

We have used Skwirk before with Zachery, Nicholas, Cameron and Kyle….a few years back.

Now we are more “Natural Learners” or “Unschoolers” I like to let Cameron and Kyle learn by what they are interested in – what they are passionate about….. that way they are actually learning instead of being forced feed information that they can’t remember.

This time we are having lots of fun because Cameron is now at the age where he can read the information all by himself, and his very into “Science and Technology”  and “History and Geography” – totally his passion!

Kyle is into learning all about Numbers and Skwirk has a wonderful game where he can learn about single digits, double digits and triple digits! The games are keeping Kyle’s attention for periods of time and for an outdoor type of kid that’s a good thing!

Kyle Maths Train

He actually finds this too easy because its only numbers one to 10, when the game goes to the bigger numbers that is when Kyle’s mind is being challenged, which I enjoy watching! At first he could not work  out where to place the trains to have them in order {especially when the number was written in words} but with practice he is getting the idea.

Kyle adding and taking away

The game is teaching Kyle how to add numbers {or take away numbers depending on the game} to reach a target! He has to learn that adding too many numbers at once will go over the Target, and he has 20 moves to complete the game. A huge challenge on many levels.

Using Skwirk at the Library

Kyle find a word

The find a word is perfect for Kyle – he can’t read big words as yet but by adding words here he is starting to recognize and pick out letters that form words.  Such a great way for “Natural Learning” to occur, and such a great boost to Kyle’s reading confidence.

Cameron Maths Game

Cameron is not big on Math’s….its not his strong subject, but this game is starting to get him interested! Yes this game is giving him a Challenge and one he is determined to bet.

Australia Wide is being used

School, Teachers Parents and Students {homeschoolers} Australia Wide are now using Skwirk. Its a learning game, at the same time its an educational game. One that I can see benefit many Children.

Find our more about Skwirk, http://www.skwirk.com.au.

Info of New Life on the Road. We are David and Lisa Wood and have been married for over 15 years. We have five amazing (loud) boys aged 16, 14, 11, 8, 5. For the last three years we have been on a journey looking for more out of  life. A better way of living. A better way of experiencing life – See more at: http://www.newlifeontheroad.com/about/#sthash.zX4jHIK7.dpuf

This month, we discuss the value of using graphic organisers or mind-maps to enhance and improve learning. its use for learning and teaching is limitless. Mind-mapping has the following important uses:

Consolidate learning: At the end of a chapter or topic of learning, recall all the information you have gathered and present it in a mind-map. You will surprised how the process of mind-mapping will help you remember your learning better.

Brainstorm: Stuck for ideas? Got a big project but not sure where to start? Well, mind-mapping allows you to develop ideas quickly and in a logical way. It allows you to change, link, delink ideas as you gather your thoughts and analyse the task on hand.

Keep adding: With a mind-map there is no limit to how much information you can add. The more you read and come across, the more you can add to your mind-map as relevant. Encouraging growth of knowledge, its something you can can keep returning to!

Note-taking: Can’t keep up with your teacher? Mind-mapping offer a quick and easy short hand for developing ideas as your teacher discusses them.

Exam frenzy: Exam jitters outside the exam hall, pull out a piece of paper and create a mind-map of ideas, topics, issues you need to know for the exam. It’s a handy tool for revision and enables visual ease of remembering content!

Don’t forget, find out more about Skwirk, click here.

As a teacher, I know too well just how expensive it can be to purchase quality, relevant resources for my students. If you are fortunate enough to be allocated an allowance by your school for purchasing teaching resources, this budget is usually minimal at best and is often a rare luxury. For most teachers, quality teaching and learning resources are an expensive but necessary part of their occupation, more often than not requiring them to dig into their own pockets to pay for them. For this reason, teachers have many important criteria that they adhere to when selecting quality resources to supplement their teaching practices. This will include but is not limited to: resources that are Australian and curriculum oriented, comprehensive and value for money, easy to read and follow, fast and simple to access, engaging and appealing to students, differentiated and suitable for a range of learning styles and abilities. This is where Skwirk, the online interactive learning platform, is a teacher’s best friend and a highly valuable all-in-one learning tool. So how does Skwirk save teachers and schools money? Here are just a few ways:image2

  • Skwirk’s resources are national curriculum aligned and created by experienced educators

Skwirk currently encompasses over 18000 educational resources across subjects such as Mathematics, English, Science, Geography, History and Commerce. These resources include over 2000 animated ebooks, 1000 educational videos, 1000 interactive activities and thousands of podcasts, images, pop quizzes, exams and printable worksheets. Furthermore, these teaching and learning resources are created by experienced teachers and link to the new Australian curriculum codes. With this comprehensive collection of quality, diversified resources all located in one secure location, it is very cost-effective and saves teachers and schools money by decreasing the need for multiple resources.

  • Skwirk’s resources are accessible across different technologies

10502536_620336494730231_7737354430165643814_nThe Skwirk teaching and learning resources can be accessed anytime from home or in the classroom. They can also be utilized across different technologies, including tablets, laptops, projectors and interactive whiteboards. Being able to incorporate Skwirk’s resources into a variety of lessons at any time is not only really convenient but reduces the cost associated with providing individual print material to each student to support the learning program.

  • Skwirk’s resources can be customized according to student or classroom needs

Teachers have a responsibility to ensure that all students are catered for in their classroom. This involves implementing differentiated content and teaching methods to suit the various learning styles and abilities. Skwirk’s resources are suitable for students from foundation/ kindergarten to year 10 and enable the teacher to select content, games, assessments and other resources from either their class’s own year group or differing year groups to accommodate the diverse learning abilities in a classroom. Teachers can also assign individual students specific work without the student/s realizing that the work is from another year group. In addition, the range of relevant and interactive resources available on Skwirk caters for differing learning styles including the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learner. This means that teachers and schools do not need to purchase additional resources to meet the varying student needs. Skwirk provides a positive, differentiated learning experience for every student.

  • Skwirk listens to feedback to provide quality and comprehensive resources

Not only does Skwirk continually encourage feedback from teachers, parents and students, they use this input to ensure their resources are relevant, up-to-date and in line with educational standards. This means that teachers and schools do not need to continually up date and replace their teaching resources which is often a costly and time-consuming exercise.

Once you spend money on resources covering different subjects and different materials, it can end up costing hundreds of dollars per student. Skwirk offers all subjects and resources at $6 per student! That’s $6 for a student to access Curriclum relevant Maths, English, Science, History and Geography material, all in one place! I can’t think of many better deals then that. For these reasons alone it is evident why Skwirk is one of the leading educational websites and provides great value for money. Grab a free teacher and school trial by clicking here.

Written by Rachael Ingram, primary school teacher K-6

Alternatively email us asking for a quote, teachers@redapple.com.au

 

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.