TRIO on tour


TRIO is excited about the range of courses we are presenting in 2017 with the Centre for Professional Learning. CPL is the professional learning arm of the NSW Teachers Federation. We value the CPL desire to provide professional learning  for teachers not just in city areas but in regional NSW as well. During the year we will be visiting: Tamworth and Newcastle in Term 2: Parkes, Wagga Wagga and Coffs Harbour in Term 3 and Queanbeyan in Term 4. For a full list of courses, venues and registration go to:

Below are the  courses TRIO is conducting with CPL in Term One.

Wednesday 1st March: Implementing a Daily English Block using the English K-6 Syllabus at Surry Hills

Thursday 2nd March:  Improving your pedagogy with Assessment in English K-6 at Surry Hills

Wednesday 8th March: Effective Programming using the English K-6 Syllabus at Blacktown

Thursday 9th March: The Essentials of Teaching Mathematics K-6 at Blacktown

Wednesday 15th March: Teaching Reading, Comprehension and Critical Thinking using the English Syllabus at Surry Hills

Thursday 16th March: Teaching Students to Write Imaginative, Informative and Persuasive Texts using the English Syllabus at Surry Hills

Monday 20th March: The Essentials of Teaching Mathematics K-6 at Surry Hills

Tuesday 21st March: Effective Programming using the English K-6 Syllabus at Surry Hills

Wednesday 29th March: Teaching Students to Write Imaginative, Informative and Persuasive Texts using the English Syllabus at Blacktown

Thursday 30th March: Teaching Visual literacy K-6 at Surry Hills

Monday 3rd April: Implementing a Daily English Block using the English K-6 Syllabus at Blacktown

SDD at Bungendore PS

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Two TRIO presenters were lucky enough to visit Bungendore PS for the first day of 2017 school term. We were thrilled that teachers arrived happily for a whole day on the effective teaching of grammar! This might not sound like an easy start to the year but teachers volunteered to be parts of a sentence, or adjectives in a cline and their enthusiasm saw the day pass quickly. We love to spend time with teachers and be a part of their learning journey and the teachers at Bungendore PS were an enthusiastic audience. I am sure that their grammar lessons this year will be very lively. A final word to the school canteen lady who organised lunch and morning tea. The TRIO award for best catering goes to her. You can’t beat home cooked scones with jam and cream for recess unless it is chicken satay pie for lunch.  Thank you to Bungendore PS for their hospitality and involvement in our SDD course.

Books on the Bookshelf No. 2

Women book

How could anyone resist a book with the title: Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World. This book by Kate Pankhurst looks at a very diverse range of women from Frida Kahlo, Anne Frank, Coco Chanel  to Mary Anning. Some you will know and some you may not have heard of before. The characteristics that connect this diverse group of women are,  in the words of the author, ” They achieved extraordinary things simply by following their hearts, talents and dreams.” If you are wanting to explore perseverance, this text will be useful. I was drawn to it as I am thinking about encouraging students to produce  informative texts in a variety of ways. I am exploring any format that is NOT an ‘information report.’ This book provides great characters to research, interview and film. Use this book as a mentor text and examine the layout. Use this layout  to produce your class book on great people who came from your local area or are our heroes or achieved something significant in 2016. The options to compose a written, digital or multimodal text using this book as a model are endless.



Books on the bookshelf No. 3

Planet kindergarten

Planet Kindergarten‘ by Sue Ganz-Schmitt is a book worth looking  at regardless of what primary grade you teach. This book is an extended metaphor comparing space exploration to starting school.  In this story the new student enters a new world as he begins school on planet Kindergarten : a place where ‘gravity works differently… We have to try hard to stay in our seats.’ The colours are bright and the layout is interesting. There is a message for all students beginning a new adventure. This story is funny and reassuring at the same time. I am looking forward to sharing this book with class soon.


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.


Hurray for holidays!


At last the 2016 school year draws to a close and teachers all across the state are contemplating a well earned rest and a happy holiday season. I  don’t know about you but I know that as I relax I also reflect on the past year. Maybe the holidays are a time to catch up on some of the professional reading you have been meaning to do? What about some ‘research’ in a bookshop. I would choose a bookshop with coffee options close by and spend a few pleasant minutes opening up the covers of some books you haven’t seen before. For the sake of our work TRIO are dedicated bookshop wanderers and it is amazing what you find. Finding some new books to use in the next school year as well as enjoying a coffee makes the trip worthwhile. I will also be chatting to all the children in my life over Christmas about what they are reading and enjoying. This keeps me up to date with what kids are enjoying at the current moment.

Let me share our newest find with you. You may already be familiar with the author Brendan Wenzel from the book, The Three Pigs. The book They all saw a cat is about point of view and how perspective shapes what we see. I can see endless possibilities for using this text with a range of different classes. If you have a bookshop moment why not share your finds with us.

For the love of language, teach poetry


I have been thinking about all things poetry over the past few weeks as I prepared a full day course on teaching poetry for the Centre for Professional Learning. Teaching  lessons about poetry and writing poems with a number of students has refreshed my love of poetry. Poetry is the perfect text to explore in any classroom. Why? Poems come in all shapes and sizes. Think about songs, raps, riddles, tongue twisters, bush ballads: there is a type of poem for every student to enjoy. Many poems are quite short but packed with ideas and emotion. This means they are accessible even for reluctant readers. Explore using poems in guided reading and literature circles. The poems above were written with two of my grandchildren and remind me of the value of choice. Allowing students to write about what they choose promotes ownership of the text. Parker isn’t at school yet so his diamante poem came from a conversation we had about his favourite animal. As he is currently interested in animals he brought lots of ideas to writing about his favourite animal. I just asked questions and scribed his answers. So if you have avoided poetry, my suggestion is give it a go and have some fun in your classroom!

Digital Storytelling and resources for History

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 1.37.55 pmVirtual reality and history… who knew it was so easy! We are very excited about a course we are contributing to in the first week of Term 3. The daughter of a TRIO member is in Australia for a short time and has agreed to share her expertise in digital storytelling and resources for History with teachers through this CPL course. Clare is a historian currently working at Warwick University in England. Just the planning has been eye opening to us and shown us resources that are amazing and will be useful for English as well as history. The course is being offered at Surry Hills in week one of term 3 on Wednesday 20th July.  This course will be  presented jointly by Dr. Clare Rowan and Kate Cameron.  Kate is one of the writers of the NSW History Syllabus so we will really be working with the experts!

Story telling is fundamental to history and digital story telling equips students to use 21st century skills to communicate their understanding of the past. Digital storytelling is a highly motivating way to address a range of syllabus outcomes. The course will focus on the middle years, Stages 3 and 4 but we feel it is a course suitable for anyone interested in teaching history and as a one off opportunity, not to be missed! To register please go to CPL





TRIO really enjoys working with  the Centre for Professional Learning, which is part of the NSW Teachers Federation.  In term 3 we will be travelling with CPL to both Parkes and Lismore as well as working in Sydney.

The courses we are doing with the CPL in term 3 are as follows:


Monday 25th July, Exploring problem solving and working mathematically K-6

Tuesday 26th July, Teaching students to write imaginative, informative and persuasive texts K-6 using the English Syllabus

Wednesday 27th July, Spelling and the NSW English K-6 Syllabus


Tuesday 16th August, Teaching Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary for the NSW English K-6 Syllabus

Wednesday 17th August, Exploring problem solving and working mathematically K-6


Monday 22 August, Teaching Visual Literacy K-6

Wednesday 24th August, Improving your pedagogy with assessment in the English K-6

Monday 29th August, Teaching Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary for the NSW English K-6 Syllabus

Wednesday 31st August, Implementing the cross curricula priorities in the maths syllabus K-6

Surry Hills:

Monday 12th September, Implementing the cross curricula priorities in the maths syllabus K-6

Tuesday 13th August, Improving your pedagogy with assessment in the English K-6

If you are interested in attending any of these courses register with the CPL at



The power of talk

Discussion is worth a 1000 worksheets

I remember the days when a quiet classroom was a good classroom. However silence is not always the best learning environment. Teachers frequently think that their best tool of the trade is a worksheet. There may be a place for using this tool occasionally but the more I read the English syllabus two important points become apparent.

Talk underpins learning. Even in Early Stage One students are asked to express an opinion about texts read and to give reasons for what they like and dislike in texts. There is an expectation that students respond to what they hear, read and view. As students learn to engage in conversation they can build on the ideas of others and so their initial understandings change and develop. We want students to be able to accept different points of view and be challenged by the thinking of others in order to synthesise new ideas.

There is an expectation that students become increasingly sophisticated analysts of written, spoken and viewed texts. Understanding that texts have different layers is a difficult concept in itself. In order to explore and understand a text thoroughly students learn to unpack the layers of author’s purpose, the intended audience, how visual and written information work together to make meaning as well as the literal and inferred meanings in a text. By Stage Three this reaches the sophisticated point of being able to address how a text is positioning the reader.

Unpacking these layers in a text is best achieved through structured conversation facilitated by the teacher building on students’ understanding. Everyone’s understanding grows through rich talk about text.

Recently an anonymous comment appeared on a course evaluation. ‘Conversation is worth a thousand worksheets.’ I couldn’t agree more! As teachers of every grade we need to hone our skills of facilitating classroom talk that is rich and meaningful.