Thursday, 25 May 2017

NAIDOC Week classroom ideas

NAIDOC Week is held in the first week of July and is a fantastic time to explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements. It's also the perfect opportunity to introduce young students to the key symbols and meanings in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. 

I'd like to take you through the NAIDOC Week Activity Pack by TechTeacherPto3 and explore its connection to the Australian Curriculum. 

Inside this pack there is something for all grades, with nearly 30 pages of activities for bringing NAIDOC Week into your classroom.

Finding meaning in acronyms such as NAIDOC Week.

Explore the meaning behind the acronym with this full colour classroom poster and fill in the NAIDOC Week Flip Book when undertaking research on who, what, when and why of this special celebration.

Examining symbolism in flags.

Explore the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, their symbols and their meaning with these activity sheets and then create your own classroom flags.

Recognising 'Welcome to Country' at ceremonies and events.

Often 'Welcome to Country' is said at important gatherings but do your students know what it means? Explore the vocabulary in 'Welcome to Country' and discuss how people might feel during NAIDOC Week with these easy to use activity sheets.

Recognising the significance of days and weeks that are celebrated in Australia such as NAIDOC Week.

Throughout the HASS curriculum there is an element of exploring and recognising community celebrations both within Australia and in other countries. In this pack you will find useful word wall vocabulary cards on key words, word search, posters and colouring pages so you can create a fantastic classroom display!

Want to explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture further?
Click the links below to see other products by TechTeacherPto3

Friday, 12 May 2017

4 Ways to write a good report on that bad student

Let's face it. Writing report cards suck! They take valuable time away from family life and frankly tell little lies. Let's be honest.. Little Johnny does not struggle to "...make the correct choices in class sometimes", he's a total pain in the butt 99% of the time! But there are no bad students - just little daily challenges...right? Sadly, what you really want to say to parents you're unable to and frankly they don't want to hear it either. You could write all day about that perfect student but the difficult ones are often another matter.

Report cards must be done. So what to write and how do you say what you want to say in a positive non-offensive way?

Listed below are my all time favourite report card comments for... that difficult child in your class (you know THE one).

1. The student that talks all the time.

This child could talk underwater, or so its seems. Doesn't matter where you move them in the classroom, they will always find somebody else to talk to. Heck they will even talk to themselves if they have to!

The key words to use: "is learning to"

What to write:

[Student] is learning to manage their time more efficiently in class....
[Student] is learning to follow the classroom rules and is developing good self-regulating skills...
[Student] sometimes needs a rule reminder to stay on task but is learning to listen to others...

2. The student who is always off task.

Doesn't matter which subject or activity they are supposed to be doing. They are off doing something else on the other side of the room or are disrupting other students.

The key words to use: "with support"

With support [Student] is developing self-monitoring skills to enable them to stay on task....
With support [Student] is beginning to stay on task with activities until completed....
With support [Student] is learning to complete tasks in a timely manner and to an acceptable standard...

3. The student that doesn't want to work in groups.

You take a great deal of effort to place this child in the correct group. The right number of boys/girls, at least one high achieving student, differentiated in all the right places - and they refuse to work in the group. They won't even work in a pair unless cajoled for hours.

The key words to use: "finds it difficult"

[Student] finds it difficult to participate in group work and prefers to work alone...
[Student] finds it very difficult to work with others and prefers to work alone...

4. The student that has messy work/desk or is always disorganised.

This student loses the letter home within moments of getting it. They lost their library book the first week and haven't been able to borrow for a whole semester. Their desk looks like a rubbish dump and their writing is atrocious.

The key words to use: "goal/s"

[Student] could work on the goal of improving the presentation of their written work...
[Student] sometimes presents their work in a tidy manner but could work on the goal of keeping their work area tidy...

No matter what you say, always end on a positive note.

A Student: [Student]'s commitment to their work and positive attitude are reflected in their marks.
B Student: [Student] has worked hard this year and this is evident in their academic achievements.
C Student: However, [Student] has shown great improvements in their academic work.
D Student: [Student] is beginning to develop sound academic skills.
E Student: With support, [Student] is learning to work towards academic goals.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Building student engagement with Whole Brain Teaching

If you've never heard of Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) then let me introduce you to the best way I've found to hold students' attention while learning.

I stumbled upon WBT in 2014 and immediately tried it out with my students. I was so excited to find an interactive and fun way to keep them engaged in learning while I was teaching. WBT is a certified training course you can undertake and there are levels of attainment you can work towards, of which I have done none. However, there are some simple tricks WBT has that are super easy to use in your classroom today to keep students engaged.

Let me show you a few of my favourite techniques...

One: Get their attention

This is the first technique I used with WBT on my students and you're probably familiar with call outs and call backs when you want to get their attention. I use:

T: class, class, class
S: yes, yes, yes

and you can funk that up a bit sometimes to:

T: classity, class, class
S: yesity, yes, yes

and so on... the point is to train them to stop and repeat. If you aren't already using this system of ' 'attention getting' you should start now - it really works and you can use it anywhere. The key is to keep the students' attention.

Two: Mirror Words

Teach students 'mirror words' by using a hand gesture or movement whenever those words are said. Watch the video below and notice that this is a student who has been trained in this technique already. She repeats the chant learnt in class and uses the mirror words, the students in the class chant it back and use the same movements with their hands. This reinforces their memory of these concepts by using a different part of the brain (i.e. using their whole brain). Notice how, as the camera pans around the room, every single child in that class is doing the actions. Nobody is gazing out the window and behaviour is completely focused on repeating the chant with the actions.

Tip: If you have hearing impaired students in your room you might like to try and learn some sign language and use this. When I taught in classes with hearing impaired students I would take the time to learn the necessary signs and use these instead as it also teaches the other students in the room some basic signs they can use as well!

Three: Teach, Okay

This is my favourite part of WBT, getting the students to teach each other! You know yourself, there is no quicker way to learn something than when you have to teach it to somebody else! Students are the same. The minute they are asked to teach key concepts to another student they suddenly become the 'teacher' and they all love that! It's important to state the objective very clearly once they are paired up (the old fashioned term might be 'think, pair, share' however this is slightly different as there is no sharing at the end). 

T: class, class, class
S: yes, yes, yes

T: find a partner and hold their hand up when you're ready

T: today we have been learning that a noun is a person, place or thing. I want you to tell your partner what a noun is and give them 5 examples, then switch - *claps hands three times* teach
S: *clap hands three times* okay!

This is when WBT becomes a better strategy than 'think, pair, share' because the teacher can then walk around the room and listen. Listen to what students are saying. Are they on task? Are they correct in their examples? It's a perfect way to gain instant feedback for a strategy you have just taught and guess what, they are teaching themselves so they are not just listening to your voice all the time!

Hint: For higher level students I will often listen and then give them an extension activity such as 'Okay, now I want you to use those nouns in a compound sentence'. Lower students will benefit from some one-on-one you'll be free to give them during this time and you can even pair with them.

This video below shows the Teach, Okay technique (btw how cute is the little girl at the front who turns around and sees the teacher with the camera in her hand 'what are you doing?'!)

There are many more advanced techniques but these are the three that I really love and are quick to train students in. Try them next time you teach and come back and tell me how the lesson went. I'd love to know!

To finish here is my favourite WBT video as it's such a great example of WBT in practice. Enjoy.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

5 Quick and Easy Ideas for Celebrating Mother's Day in the classroom.

It's often difficult to squeeze in Mother's Day activities into an already crowded curriculum but there is real value in making time to recognise seasonal celebrations.

Listed below are 5 of my favourite ways to bring Mother's Day into my classroom.

1 Mother's Day is a cultural celebration - what is a celebration and how have mothers' roles changed over the years?

The study of celebrations are the basis for most History, Geography or Civics studies as an understanding of cultural celebrations, their purpose and their impact on the lives of people around them has deep meaning for countries and cultures.

In Foundation Year HASS, students explore the purpose of Celebrations and sequence these events.

In Year 1 HASS, students explore family structures and roles. It is especially interesting to look at the mother's role in the family and how this may have changed over the years.

In Year 2 HASS, students explore changes in technology and think about Then and Now of items such a clothing (shown below). What technology around the house does your mother use now compared to the past? Has it changed your mother's life? How does your mother's dress compare to mothers in the past?

And in Year 3 HASS, students examine ways in which a celebration is different to a commemoration. What makes Mother's Day a celebration? How is it symbolised in society?

2. Read a Mother's Day picture book and explore some of the key vocabulary connected with mothers. What do mothers do? How do other people celebrate Mother's Day?

3. Mother's Day craft - there is never a more perfect time in the school calendar than Mother's Day to get funky with some fun hands on craft ideas.

This Mother's Day Flower Card is so easy to make - download the template here.

4. Create some Mother's Day Gift Coupons/Vouchers

While making connections to chores that are done around the house (see Year 1 HASS: History) it is a great way to discuss what chores they could offer to do for their mother on Mother's Day.

These come with coupons (US) or vouchers (UK/Aust) that can be quickly made up and placed inside any decorative card and voila! Instant Mother's Day gift that any mother will appreciate! 

5. Make some Mother's Day cookies.

What's a celebration without something delicious? Check out these adorable cookies for Mother's Day (these could be done in a snap in your classroom) or browse the Mother's Day Pinterest board for some ideas to bring your classroom to life with hands on activities!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Win a HASS History and Geography Mega Bundle!

As an author of educational resources, I strive to provide the best quality teaching materials to meet your needs. 

All of TechTeacherPto3's products are aligned to the Australian Curriculum. HASS (History and Geography) products for Foundation Year to Year 3 are already available from TechTeacherPto3 store. 

However, I want to know what you would like next?

I've had requests for Year 4 History and Year 6 Geography... what do YOU need in YOUR classroom to help YOU teach your subjects in line with the curriculum?

I'm giving away 1 x copy of the HASS Mega Bundle which contains over 450 pages of materials for teaching Foundation, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 Geography and History and is valued at $40.

To enter all you have to do is:
  1. Click this link to the Survey here.
  2. Tell me what you think in the survey.
  3. Give your email address at the end so you can enter the draw (entries are subscribed to the Foundation into First mailing list if you are not already subscribed).
  4. Check back on the TechTeacherPto3 Facebook Page, Instagram Account or back here on the blog to see the winner announced on the 1st May.

One entry per person,
Competition runs from 1st April until 30th April 2017.
Winner will be announced on all of TechTeacherPto3's social platforms 1st May 2017 and the winner will be notified by email with their downloadable product attached.

UPDATE 1st MAY 2017
and the winner is...

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Exploring ANZAC Day in Early Primary

Discussing ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Day) can be difficult with young students due to its possibly distressing content of war and death. However, it's essential that young students understand the importance of this commemoration on the 25th April every year for both Australia and New Zealand. In this blog post you will find some suggestions for introducing the big concepts around ANZAC Day into your early years classroom in a sensitive and appropriate manner. As I am an Australian teacher I have only covered the ANZAC Day concepts from the Australian perspective. However, feel free to leave some links to resources for New Zealand teachers in the comments section below.

Gallipoli was a long way to travel.
This is a difficult concepts for very young students to grasp but it is an important one to cover. Young men were sent a long way away from their families to a place they had never been to. Some never came home - this is why we remember them. 

The example below is from the ANZAC Day Activity Pack where students can locate Gallipoli on the map and consider its distance from Australia. 

What does ANZAC Day mean to you?
A good writing activity after your lesson on the ANZACs, is to have students write a response about what ANZAC Day means to them. Try this craft (pictured below) from the ANZAC Day Activity Pack where students can place their writing for a wall display in the classroom.

ANZAC Day is a commemoration not a celebration.
Do your students understand the difference between a commemoration and a celebration? This is a big concept to cover when discussing ANZAC Day but another important one. How we behave during a celebration is different to a commemoration, however, there are some similarities. This is a great activity to use when discussing the ways in which ANZAC Day is commemorated and is covered in detail in the HASS Year 3 History Unit (seen below). 

Bake some ANZAC Day biscuits.
Discussing life in the trenches is hard but this book by Phil Cummings and Owen Swan called ANZAC Biscuits is a lovely tale of a little girl and her father's life in the trenches. She bakes some cookies for him and her life in the warmth of the home is compared to the life her father is having at the same time in the trenches. 

You can also bring in or bake some ANZAC biscuits and this can form the basis of your study of method or sequencing. A method recount and recipe can be found in the ANZAC Day Activity Pack.

Discuss the concept of bravery.
What does it mean to be brave? What does bravery look like? Explore the concept of bravery with this lovely book by Jane Barclay called Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion. It is a very touching book where animals display the qualities service men display either in battle or after war. It's also a great book for exploring what it means to be proud, both key concepts when discussing ANZAC Day.

Read a book with an ANZAC theme
Listed below are some of my students' favourite books on ANZAC Day and World War 1.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

4 easy ways to celebrate Harmony Day in the classroom

“Everyone belongs” is a great message of inclusivity in the classroom. It’s also the message for Harmony Day, a fantastic celebration for the whole community recognising diversity as a positive aspect of children’s lives. In fact, with the current state of the world, Harmony Day is a very powerful message to send to students young and old that all races, colours and beliefs can live in harmony. 

What is Harmony Day?
Harmony Day is a nationally recognised day for acknowledging the diversity in our society and celebrating it. 

When is Harmony Day held?
21st March each year.

What is the aim of Harmony Day?
To celebrate diversity and promote inclusion in society. Everyone belongs – is the message used to promote Harmony Day.

When did Harmony Day begin?
The very first Harmony Day began in 1999 and coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

How is Harmony Day celebrated?
Schools often hold a whole school assembly with significant people from the community as representatives. Other community organisations hold morning teas or lunches to celebrate. The colour orange is used with Harmony Day to show support for the day through the wearing of orange t-shirts, ribbons or other decorations. 

How can I bring this celebration into my classroom?

1. The Harmony Day Activity Pack is full of colour posters, map activities, worksheets and display materials to help you discuss this special day in your classroom.

2. You might like to create some art work that shows the diversity within your classroom.

3. You could read a book about diversity.

4. Finally, it’s always fun to bring some lovely treats into the classroom (it is a celebration after all) – don’t forget the orange theme!

However you choose to celebrate – have a great Harmony Day!