Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Use old photo albums in the classroom

I will admit I find it difficult to throw things away because I always think I will find a use for them in the classroom. Well I am happy to say that I do actually have a reason this time. I found this old slide in photo album (non-adhesive) that I am using as reading assessment. I wrote the words on post it notes which helps to stop the paper from sliding about.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Recount Writing - Word Wall

This is what is up on the wall all the time during our recount writing session. The photos I took from www.sparklebox.co.uk but I actually used a screenshot of the photos to add my own writing. It is not that these are not a good resource, instead it is because they don't reflect the language I have been using with my students. It is for this reason that I changed the writing and colours to match our prior learning. 

The words under the headings are just written on scrap bits of paper and are added to as students need them. We do also use dictionaries and students are free to search for their required word or have-a-go. Once they have found it, we add it to the wall. 

We have spent a lot of time focusing on the adding of circumstances, 'when' and 'who with?'. My students at the beginning of the year may have been able to write 'I went to the park' (after we spent a long time getting them out of using the word 'go'). I started by asking when they did this e.g. On the weekend, On Saturday, On Sunday, Last night to name a few. I asked them to write this at the beginning of the sentence, though at the end still would have worked well. After we had achieved this successfully we started talking about who we went somewhere with, or who we played with and so on. 

Our next step might be to concentrate on a different circumstance or change the sentence structure around. 

Obviously the verbs/processes are in past tense in order to the fulfil the recount writing genre requirements, but this same type of writing prompts could be used with other genres. I have my paper on the wall with blu-tac, and this makes it easy to change papers. You could also put plastic sleeves on the wall and slide the paper out when writing a different genre. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Domino Maths

We've been practising subatising using dice and then revising our addition skills by adding the numbers together. Today we simply changed it up a bit by using dominoes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wombat Description

I wanted my students to become 'wombat experts', to learn everything we could about wombats, with end goals of being able to first confidently and accurately talk about wombats and to write an Information Report about them. Keeping these in mind, all the learning we had achieved was to keep us interested in wombats, always looking at new videos, finding new books, looking at photos of wombats and discussing wombats. I wanted my students to be as successful as they could be, and so I tried hard to keep learning exciting and I wanted to arm them with the skills they needed. 

One step before writing an Information Report was writing a Description. Before they could write a description, they needed to know the names of wombat body parts and think of descriptive words they may use when writing their own Descriptions. We printed off a photograph of a wombat and set to work. Students were then able to use this as resource when writing independently. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Excursion to Gorge Wildlife Park

I personally love this place and have been many times. If you are fortunate enough to live in Adelaide, it is well worth a visit, for an excursion or in your own time. Our group was too large (121 students) to have the education sessions but they are on offer. They did allow for every student to either touch or hold a koala. Below are some photos of what we saw. The only issue we found was not having enough places to eat our food. There is a grass area and a covered area to eat but with that many students, it was difficult, but staggering eating times or smaller classes would be fine.

Gorge Wildlife Park
Redden Dr, Cudlee Creek SA AUSTRALIA 5232
9am-5pm daily (Except Christmas Day)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My New Home By Dawn McMillan

We read this book over and over and the students asked to read it in their free time also. I used this with a group of 10 students.

What we did with the book

  • read the book together
  • read the book with each student reading a page
  • found the 'doing words'/processes/verbs in the book
  • counted words in sentences
  • counted letters in words
  • read the book and put our hands on our nose/head when we read a particular word e.g. my, said, dig
  • found the high frequency words
  • Used the colours for Functional Grammar to highlight aspects of the text e.g. participant, process, circumstance

We also created our own paper books where students cut and glued the story back together. I gave them little black and white wombats to place on the page on the same way they were in the book. They then coloured them, one grey, one brown. Students were then able to go home and read this to their family.

Friday, September 12, 2014


We have been a little wombat mad recently. These loveable Australian animals have been our inspiration for a unit of work involving guided reading, oral language, writing information reports and writing descriptions. The group of ten students (Year 1 & 2 EALD/ESL students) I work with have become wombat experts and are very proud of their learning. 

I thought I would start by sharing the learning experiences we had, which ended with the students presenting their newly gained knowledge at the assembly.

I will explain some of these in more detail in future posts. These links will be bold. 

  • Read (several times) the Oxford Guided Reading book 'My New Home' by Dawn McMillan
  • Students to reconstruct 'My New Home' in a stapled book. 
  • Viewing clips/videos of wombats
  • As a group explore and jointly construct a description of a koala (to use a template for independent construction)
  • Label a photograph of a wombat
  • Use labelled photograph to write a description of a wombat
  • Read (several times) the Oxford Guided Reading book 'Common Wombats' by Carmel Reilly
  • Independently construct an Information report about wombats
  • Excursion to Gorge Wildlife Park to see wombats and other Australian animals
  • Make a burrow for a wombat. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rita Pierson

I don't know where I've been but I've only just found this wonderful woman and educator. There are many videos where she is addressing education and the sheer importance of what we do. Have a listen.

I loved what she said because it rings true for my own experiences working with new arrivals to Australia. They can often feel so deflated about their knowledge, or worse still, begin so optimistic and enthusiastic about school only to begin believing they "don't know anything". Some are so traumatised that they are never really 'present' in the classroom. The relationships we make with these students can be the catalyst for change. We show them that they matter, we start our learning by what knowledge they have already, and they ALWAYS have knowledge. We validate that what they feel is okay and we show them appropriate ways to express themselves. Every student deserves that!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Goldilocks and the Three Bears Part 8

As promised, a post about the resources I have found that could be used when reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is no secret that I love SparkleBox but there are a lot of wonderful other teaching resources out there. Also, others may have a dislike for SparkleBox for reasons I only found out last week. I wont go into them here but you can find out all about the controversy online, everywhere. Some schools have actually banned access to the site and so for all those educators, here are some alternative websites and resources.  

www.makinglearningfun.com - This site has a range of activities that you may find useful for your classroom or child.
learningenglish-esl.blogspot.jp - I originally visited this page for the sizing activity. I used a different set of pictures because I wanted more pictures. There is also a Finish the Picture, Colour by Number and Puppets.
www.greatschools.org - You can find a printable version of the story here

Colouring Pages
OnColoring.com -These pictures could also be used as sequencing cards, as they are quite detailed. You can also colour them online if preferred. 
www.honkingdonkey.com - This one I particularly loved

Goldilocks & the Three Bears Part 2
Goldilocks & the Three Bears Part 3
Goldilocks & the Three Bears Part 4
Goldilocks & the Three Bears Part 5

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Goldilocks & the Three Bears Part 7

The last lesson about Goldilocks was to label The Bear house. We used the picture of the house from the SparkleBox set. I typed up the labels and the students glued them in the correct place. We discussed the parts of the house and so students who could not read the words, were able to look at the first letter and try to decode what it might be. 

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