Books on the Bookshelf No.1

Books on the Bookshelf

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Although it is still school holidays our thoughts are starting to turn to the start of school. When we plan the starting point is always the texts. We want to start 2017 sharing some new books from our bookshelf.

Recently we had the pleasure of meeting the author Simon Longstaff at the Ethics Centre in Sydney. Simon wrote this book to encourage students to think about big ideas and ethical issues. His book The Spider’s Song is a text suitable for primary students. Children who enjoy Geronimo Stilton books will recognize a similar layout, coloured text and different fonts. For us there are echoes of Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl. The text is full of rhyme and strange and wonderful creatures created by the Boffin. The messages in the book and there are many, are important and very current for today’s children. Preserving and valuing the natural environment, human values and the hope that we can make things right if things go wrong are the author’s main messages. In the world today it is important as teachers that we give students hope and encourage understanding of others. Next time you are in your favourite bookshop find a copy and have a look.


Communicating and making connections in maths.

At this time of the year we are assessing student achievement as part of reporting to parents. The two work samples from grade 1 students were a result of reading a book about a prince who continually asked for ‘more’. The text didn’t have any explicit mathematical concepts but as we were learning ‘doubles plus one’, it was simple to make a connection. The task was to create a problem based on the concept of ‘more’ and ‘doubles plus one’. During the reflection at the end of the lesson students were asked to check a partners work (peer assessment). One student completed the task correctly, second sample. The first work sample shows knowledge of ‘more’ being an addition problem and working mathematically. During feedback from a peer the student responded positively and was made aware of how to complete the task fully.


Assessing the work based on the syllabus, the students were able to demonstrate all components of working mathematically.

Communicating-They were able to describe, explain and represent their ideas.

Problem Solving-They formulated, modelled and solved their problem.

Reasoning-The students peer assessed a partners work to to check the maths was correct.

Understanding-They adapted and transferred mathematical concepts.

Fluency-They were able to transfer mathematical concepts from a previous lesson and make connections. The students who drew pancakes did not model ‘doubles +1’, however, she did demonstrate her knowledge of facts of ten and simple addition.

Practical tips for casual teachers

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 7.24.22 pmBeginning your teaching career can be daunting. TRIO has put together a practical poster to help new teachers coming into a new school for the first time. It explains what paperwork they need to bring into the school as well a giving some tips on planning and behaviour management. Perhaps you know a teacher who would appreciate these practical tips to ensure their first teaching experiences are positive. View the poster at

App of the week

Math Doodle is an App designed by Daren Carstens. His aim is to make maths fun. Math Doodle has a variety of maths activities which can be played at a variety of levels of difficulty. The children I have shared it with are instantly engrossed and I find them coming back to it again and again. Who wouldn’t be captivated by a clock face where the hand is a fly swat and the correct answer means that the fly gets squashed! Suitable for students from Kindergarten up to adult.

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Talking Chairs

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All young students enjoy sharing their life experiences with the class but at times news can be boring for the audience. To get all students more involved there are two activities you can do using the set of cards above.

1) The cards, today, tomorrow and yesterday are placed on three chairs at the front of the room. One person is chosen to tell their news and three students are picked to sit on the chairs. The student tells their news. Then the students on the chairs retell the news using the word on their chair. This activity encourages students to listen carefully and retell another persons news in a different tense.

2) Distribute the who, what, where, when, how and why, questions to students in the audience. The students listen to the news teller and determines whether the question has been answered. If not, they ask the student saying news their question. This activity encourages students to think about the news they are retelling and the audience to listen carefully.

These activities can be found in this book written by two members of Trio. This set of cards is also available as a free download.



App of the week 3

Explain Everything ™ - MorrisCooke

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Over the last few weeks I have been using this App with my Kindergarten maths group. We have been focussing on number facts. Students have been choosing Lego blocks to make number sentences. The activity is open ended and allows students to choose a number they are comfortable working with. As an assessment we used Explain Everything to record their working out. This App was easy for kindergarten to use, they took a photo of the blocks they chose, inserted the image into the page and then wrote their number sentence with their finger. They could record their process using the microphone. This task allows for differentiation as seen in the images below. Students can work at their level while doing the same task. Explain Everything allows students to reflect on their learning and share with others in the group.

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A magical school canteen


This is the mural around the canteen at Leichhardt P.S. It was designed and painted by an extremely talented parent Selina McGrath.

She has integrated well known book characters with a food theme. The shed appears to be so real that when I came back from the school holidays I thought they had put recycled wood over the metal cage that holds the gardening equipment.

The process of this mural from background, outline and painting was followed with interest by the students. Every lunch and recess students would sit in front of the mural and watch Selina paint. It was an interactive work with students asking questions and making suggestions. One child asked why Alice wasn’t in the picture and Selina took up the suggestion and hid Alice in the mural for the students to find. Watching the process of completing this mural was an educational experience our students are very lucky to have witnessed.

The most amazing thing was that Selina volunteered her time and resources. I wish to thank her on behalf of myself and the students of Leichhardt P.S.

Simple Maths Proforma 1


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Programming for the different learning needs of your students can take a lot of time. Creating a way to plan quickly and cover all the necessary elements was my aim. I made this simple proforma to use when planning for my weekly maths lessons. There are boxes to indicate the modification made for each group. The lesson is aimed at students who are on grade and then changes can be made to the lesson content to meet the needs of other students. The vocabulary box is there to remind me to teach any new vocabulary related to the topic. The assessment box is my reflection or evaluation of the lessons. You might like to give this proforma a try. It is available as a free download.

App of the week 2



    Morris by Moonbot Books

This App is based on the book and short film. “The Fantastic Flying books of Mr  Morris Lessmore” has won many awards including the Academy Award for Animated Short film in 2011.   The book is suitable for all ages as the concepts can be as simple as “a love of reading” or “the transition of time”. I have used this App with grades 2 to grade 6. Students were highly engaged and their reflections on the text were personal, showing they had made a “text to self” connection.

Postcards from London

imageI am in London for Easter.  I have been thinking about students who take extended holidays and what type of journal they should write.  This book is a great model for students.  The characters take a school trip to London and visit all the main attractions and explain the significance of each site.  Students could use this model to talk about the places they go to during their trip.  Also the class could create a book about their school trip using a variety of multimodal texts similar to the ones in the book.  As a response to literature students could create a book ” We completely must go to…” based on their town, city or country.