teacher resources

Hi Skwirkers! Coming up on the 26th of January is Australia Day. Skwirk explores Australia Day to help develop students’ understanding of its history and customs.

Jump on to the Skwirk Facebook page to tell us about your favourite Australia Day classroom activities.

History

Australia day commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove on the 26th January, 1788. The First Fleet arrived on 11 ships, with about 1000 people on board. The fleet was sent to Australia to start a colony. This colony was made up primarily of prisoners. These prisoners committed mostly petty crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread or fraud.

The first ‘official’ Australia Day was held in 1801 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to mark 30 years of European settlement.

How do people celebrate?

Australia Day is a nationwide public holiday. It is celebrated across the country with official and unofficial events and firework displays. Some people host barbeques, others play a round of cricket and others go to the beach. A lot of people also like to dress up on Australia Day with clothes that have the Australian flag on them.

Australia Day or Invasion Day?

When Captain Cook landed in Australia he declared the land ‘Terra Nullius’, which means land belonging to no one. Cook decided that because of the way the Aboriginal people lived it was not their land. The Aboriginal people did not show their ownership with fences or markers, like people in Europe. Cook decided that the British could colonise. This decision led to Australia’s Indigenous people losing all their rights to the land. The fight for land rights is still going on today. This is why some Aboriginal people chose not to celebrate Australia day as it was the day the Europeans took their land. A lot of them see the say as ‘Invasion Day’ or ‘Survival Day’.

Useful teaching and learning resources

Free downloadable resources

Simply click on the links below to access the free resources we have created on our TeachersPayTeachers account.

Skwirk resources

Log into Skwirk to get access to online resources (don’t have an account? Subscribe now or start a free trial). Once you have logged in, click on the links below to access each chapter.

Great Australia Day books

Check your local library or book shop to find the following books, hand-picked by Skwirk teachers.

  • An Aussie Year: Twelve Months in the life of Australian Kids – Tania McCartney
  • A is for Australia – Frane Lessac
  • Why I Love Australia – Bronwyn Bancroft
  • Are We There Yet? – Alison Lester
  • My Place – Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlin
  • Meet Captain Cook – Rae Murdie
  • Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo – Alison Lester
  • Wombat Stew – Marcia Vaughan
  • Possum Magic – Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
  • Waltzing Matilda – A.B (Banjo) Paterson
  • The Rainbow Serpent – Dick Roughsey
  • My Country – Dorothea Mackellar
  • Where the Forest Meets the Sea – Jeanie Baker

Engaging Videos

Students love watching videos! The following videos on Australia Day are engaging and educational.

Are you confused by the NAPLAN test and its purpose, how to assist students in getting through without undue anxiety, or are you hunting for information on student preparation and resources? This time of year we get a lot of questions from teachers, parents and even students so we thought we would put together a quick guide to prepare you in the lead up to the 2016 NAPLAN.

You may have already entered the labyrinthine NAPLAN website, only to become completely disoriented and emerge much later feeling frustrated, dazed, and none the wiser. There really is so much helpful information there, but sifting through it can be very time-consuming and ultimately, somewhat overwhelming. NAPLAN, though, is here to stay for the foreseeable future, so we might as well become familiar with it, like it or not, for the sake of our students. Hopefully, this will help to clarify a few significant details for you, including whether or not NAPLAN tests can, or should, be studied for.

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What is NAPLAN?

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

Every May since 2008, around a million school students in years three, five, seven and nine, have gathered their collective nerve and poured into exam rooms across Australia to sit our biggest standardised test of literacy and numeracy – NAPLAN. The tests are divided into Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy.

Put simply, this test measures what students have been learning already in school. There is no pass or fail grade, but given the subject matter is very broad many students worry about meeting the challenge when they have no idea what to expect or how to prepare for the tests. There is no actual course of study for it and according to the NAPLAN website, there is no benefit to be gained by trying to study for it by drills or too much targeted practice, because of the purpose of the test.

What NAPLAN Is For and How Results Can Be Used

In a nutshell, the test is designed to identify strengths and weaknesses in students’ abilities, so that parents and teachers can respond individually and the government can act on any apparent problem areas, by addressing them in the curriculum. The marking criteria are available on the NAPLAN website so you can see what features are under scrutiny, if you have a bent for grammar, literacy and maths.

Schools and teachers may get a clearer indication of the effectiveness of their teaching strategies and make whatever adjustments they deem necessary to lesson content and methods to improve students’ learning opportunities and outcomes. That means, scrutinising which errors were made by a particular student, then working on areas of weakness, as well as locating strengths and extending them to a higher level. Individual student’s scores are ranked nationally, so teachers, students and their carers, are free to compare their placing with those of others.

Are test results connected to in-school assessments and grading?

NAPLAN results do not impact upon your students’ school grades or class placement. Individual schools conduct their own assessments for those and NAPLAN is completely unrelated.

What’s Included:

For the Writing component, students will be given the same ‘writing stimulus’ from which to complete their task, and to date, they have always been directed to write one of two text-types, either a Narrative or a Persuasive text. These forms might sound daunting, but children use them all the time. ‘Narrative’ simply means ‘story’, and what child hasn’t used persuasive language when engaging in pester power, or listening to a politician or radio advertisement.

These two genres (Narrative and Persuasive writing) are selected because they are the most suitable for showing what skills and ability a student has and they are deemed essential for successful communication at a higher level, thus improving the students’ opportunities in life.

It’s important to give your students ample learning opportunities for both of these different text-types in order that they can be familiar with the standard format and conventions required for satisfying the task requirements.

The numeracy component assesses problem-solving ability and reasoning across three key learning areas: numbers and algebra; statistics and probability and measurement and geometry.

Preparing for NAPLAN

Students do not need to study for the test but ideally they should be prepared for it. That means, engaging in everyday practice in the areas that will be tested, (literacy and numeracy), and becoming familiar with the test format. The knowledge being tested is developed over time, so it’s simply impossible to ‘cram’ for a NAPLAN test. Completing practice tests beforehand makes it easier for students to go in with an understanding of the format and the kinds of tasks they will be asked to do. Most schools now offer students a practice test, (usually just the test from the previous year) within the fortnight prior to testing.

You could buy expensive sample practice-test packages online and books full of NAPLAN study tasks, but the highest advantage is most likely gained by focusing on everyday curriculum requirements and using the free test samples available on the NAPLAN website via the following link:

According to the education specialists who manage NAPLAN, the best way you can assist your child to prepare for the test is to support them well in gaining and increasing their literacy and numeracy skills. The links included above and those below, are for Australian websites that aim to do just that:

Another valuable resource is the online learning platform, Skwirk, which is used in homes and schools. Skwirk offers an enormous opportunity for students supporting literacy and numeracy across the board, while catering to different student’s individual learning styles. Although it does not specifically target NAPLAN, the underlying learning principles are the same as those sought in the testing and students are able to easily access engaging content across all areas of the NAPLAN testing components.

What is the worst thing that can happen if a student fares poorly in a NAPLAN test?

Some significant areas of difficulty have been pinpointed, enabling parents and educators to assist them towards clarification, understanding and move towards a fully functional use of those areas. And remember, the test scores don’t only indicate what a child can’t do, but show us what they have mastered, and provide records of their ongoing progress.

Felicity Wright has taught High School English and English Language for fourteen years, during which, she worked extensively on the range of state and national skills tests including NAPLAN. Now, Felicity works as a freelance writer.

Currently teachers, parents and home educators can subscribe to Skwirk using the discount code NAPLAN for a 20% discount off all individual subscriptions. Offer ends 12th May.

The reason why Skwirk has become one of the most popular and well-respected education companies in Australia is that it combines fun and inspiration with real learning. In addition to providing teachers, home educators and students with more than 18,000 educational resources, Skwirk has also developed an array of powerful reporting and assessment tools for all levels. These tools support student-led learning and a flexible classroom, while making sure that concrete progress is being made.

Where inspiration meets progress

It’s no secret that Skwirk works hard to inspire students. That’s why over 25% of schools in New South Wales benefit from a subscription.

However, the expert Skwirk team knows that all the inspiration in the world doesn’t equate to progress, without accountability. It’s easy enough to see if a student is enjoying their lessons. You can tell, just by watching them and talking to them. But it’s not so easy to see from the outside if they’re really absorbing what they’re learning. That’s where reporting and assessment are absolutely crucial.

Reporting and assessment – up to the minute

Skwirk’s thousands of resources, all developed to meet the Australian curriculum, are impeccably organised according to year level, learning outcomes and topic areas. So, even if a student is using resources independently, and is engaged in student-led learning, the teacher or parent can tell exactly what level they’re working at and how their learning fits into the curriculum. There’s never any need to be stabbing about in the dark.

Skwirk’s up to the minute assessment tools provide you with this kind of specific information, so you can direct student-led learning and organise your flexible classroom accordingly. Without accurate assessment and reporting, you risk repeating content unnecessarily, which can lead to student boredom. After all, who wants to revise an area in which they already feel confident? The focus should be on teaching students new skills and knowledge, so they are constantly developing, growing and maintaining their enthusiasm for learning.

Questions?

Would you like to know more about Skwirk’s up to the minute learning and assessment tools? Are you wondering if a Skwirk subscription is right for your school or home? Our friendly, passionate, expert team would love to talk to you at a time that suits you. Why not get in touch with us today? Take a free trial, click here.

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

It’s no secret that Australian public schools are under-funded and under-resourced. Hard working teachers and principals all over the country work to bring a high-quality education to millions of students, despite the lack of support. What’s more, teachers are coming under increasing pressure to meet a diverse range of learning needs and styles, deliver innovative lessons and prepare students for complex jobs. Even the most hard-working, talented, experienced teachers can find themselves under extreme stress.

Why reinvent the wheel?

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Teachers are using Skwirk across multiple platforms.

That’s where Skwirk comes in. We know that, between delivering lessons, marking, assessments and keeping parents happy, teachers and principals have their work cut out for them. So we thought we might help. We’ve developed a truly enormous range of online education tools and teacher resources, in order to help Australia’s educators save both money and time. Our site contains more than 18,000 classroom-ready resources – from iPad resources to interactive whiteboard resources to education videos. Literally years and years of educational expertise and experience have gone into their development.

Teaching the Australian curriculum

All the main subject areas of the Australian curriculum are covered – from the English curriculum and the history curriculum to the maths curriculum and the science curriculum. Students of all ages – from kindergarten level to Year 10 – are taken care of.

Thousands of resources in one location

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Boomerang Maths – One of over 1000 interactive games.

Whether you’re a secondary principal who wants to help teachers across a range of faculties or a primary teacher who needs to address numerous subject areas every day, Skwirk can come in really handy. Rather than having to subscribe to several different sites, you only need one account, and you’ll find everything you need at your fingertips.

All resources are well organised, not only according to subject areas, but according to topics, too. Whether teachers need to explain the intricate details of the Australian federal parliament or how to categorise the country’s native flora and fauna, there are complete unit plans available. Lessons are supplemented with rigorous assessment and reporting tools, so teachers can keep a close eye on students’ progress and provide supplementary lessons whenever necessary.

Meeting a range of teaching and learning strategies

We know that students learn in a variety of ways. And that’s why Skwirk has resources covering a range of strategies – whether pupils learn best visually or kinaesthetically, there are plenty of options for them, from amazing animations to interactive games. Teachers can mix and match a range of activity styles to best meet the needs of their classes.

Get a Skwirk trial today: Click here

Alternatively get a quote for your school. Email us: teachers@skwirk.com.au

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.

Aside from working with curriculum specialists to align our content to the Australian National Curriculum, our Content Team has been busy adding new content to Skwirk to inform, engage and inspire!
Our team has been focusing on ensuring we have content to support events and observations such as the ANZAC Centenary and Reconciliation Week. Our chapters on these topics now showcase 10 videos from the State Library of Queensland and 4 from Reconciliation Australia.

Marvel at our universe with over 20 new videos from leading global astronomy organisations such as the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project (e.g. Australian SKA Fly-through).
You will find this exciting content in our science chapters on outer space across years 3-10, designed to support the Australian national curriculum
Encourage your young ones to chant and count along with the animation; one of over 20 fun and informative literacy and numeracy videos from ELF Learning across years F-2. Find an example video below:
Lastly but certainly not least are our exciting new games designed for students in years 3&4.
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Test your identifying shapes skills with shape Sky Dive, click here. There are many games yet to come; look out for Maths Rally and Asteroid Blaster, all coming soon.
In addition to fantastic new content, over the coming months you will see many exciting changes to Skwirk including new website features that you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get regular updates!
Feedback is always appreciated – let us know what you’d like to see more of on Skwirk! Email us at info@skwirk.com.au.