Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sorting: The concept of noticing

I began our maths learning this year with sorting. The idea is that students will begin to see differences and attributes that objects have in common. Without the skill of 'noticing', I believe maths can be extremely difficult for students. We have started sorting by using a variety of things, many which would easily be found in a classroom.


The group of students working with these counters were so engaged, they chose to continue working until they had sorted the whole container of counters.


 This student sorted these cartoon monsters by how many eyes they had. Other students sorted them by the expression on their face, number of legs etc.

We collected objects from outside and this student sorted them by texture e.g. dry leaves, soft leaves, sticks.

Other ideas for sorting are (objects that may have more than one attribute)

  • bottle lids
  • jars
  • bread tags
  • popsticks
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • receipts
  • small boxes
  • photographs
  • pieces of material
  • student names
  • letterheads
  • company logos e.g. from brochures/catalogues 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Making in the Studio

Every day after lunch my studio and the neighbouring studio, PLAY. There are so many opportunities for learning and conversation, which when you teach an EALD class, you want to encourage as much as possible. One of the choices children have is to make. Last term our making materials and tools were probably not presented in the most appealing way and children were less interested. This term I have noticed more students choosing to be creative, which has been great for practicing those fine motor skills e.g. cutting, folding, taping, gluing.

Ideally I would love clear trays or boxes and do away with the need for labels, but we have made use of the storage we have. 

Small making materials are stored in old coffee jars.

Some children are struggling to find their own creativity and need some inspiration. For those students we have taken an old notebook and glued in pictures of what other children have made or found some photos online. 

Storage is still a problem and big boxes are stored in the hallway while smaller materials are stored in the trays. 



I would love to see your making areas and continue to improve ours as the year goes on. 

Happy making :) 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Peg Magnets

We made these for a special person (Mum for Mother's Day, if they had one they wanted to give it to). Super easy and great for notes that go home. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Transport Wall Display

Here's our transport wall display ready to add our modes of transport and vocabulary words. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mini Maths Sets

I had some spare wooden boxes for dominoes as I had emptied them all into one shared basket. I decided the boxes were perfect for mini maths kits that I could grab quickly. We are currently learning about numbers 0-20, so in these boxes so far are 20 counters. We might add some flashcards and dice also. It's much easier to ask a pair of students to take a box and have all the resources they need for that lesson ready. Prior to this I had been counting out 10 or 20 counters for each student, which takes a lot of time away from learning. I find it very handy and students can count out their own counters they need for that lesson. As we move topics, I might change the contents. 



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tray Labels

I wanted something a little different for my studio (classroom) this year and so in the first week, during a tour around the school, we collected leaves. When we came back we made these for our trays. 

Names hidden for privacy reasons
Leaves are glued onto white paper and then stuck onto trays with clear contact. I have taped down sections of contact that needed it. This year, student trays are for their lunch boxes, drink bottles and hats. Books are stored elsewhere and so far I am finding it works really well. 

I followed the leaf theme through to other sorts of labels. 



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recount Writing

We are learning about recount writing. In the first week of school, I asked students to write a recount about their holidays. I used this as an initial assessment to determine the starting teaching point for recount.

We started with a blank template.
Download the template here.

It then became clear that students needed help in understanding the structure and purpose of a recount. I then wrote a recount and together we analysed the text using the colours and rules of Functional Grammar.

Together we also brainstormed all the processes (verbs) that students knew. These were then used in the following lesson plans. Students were asked to cut and paste words in the correct order. 

You can download all three sets below.




I am currently in the middle of creating a picture dictionary that students can use during writing time. My more abled students will be given this sheet.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How explicit is my teaching?

Today I was a part of a panel discussion for teachers who may be embarking in a new direction of English as an additional Language or Dialect (EALD) teaching. I'm no expert, and funnily enough, that is the very reason I was asked to be there. It wasn't too long ago that I was given this wonderful opportunity to work with EALD students as part of the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) and so I can definitely relate to how these educators are feeling. 

I had 2-3 minutes to introduce myself and explain my role, which is no easy feat and it was after in the car (as it always is) I was thinking of all the other things I would have loved to say. I am a teacher in a Reception-Year 2 classroom of EALD learners. I have been teaching in IELP since 2011 and have had various roles in that time. 

Once I had finished my introduction I was asked the question "So how explicit is your teaching?" and I tried to reinforce how important this was but again, there were so many things that I could have said, given the time. This is what this blog post is about, for all those teachers out there who have EALD learners in their class. Being explicit with your teaching is key to how successful EALD learners will be. 

It is not about assuming that the EALD learner does not 'know anything' because they come with a wealth of knowledge and previous learning, whether this be from school, home or their community. It is about recognising that your learners may not understand the vocabulary you are using and asking them to use within the context of your classroom. Understanding that some learners have never been to school before. Acknowledging that some of your learners have had extremely traumatic experiences and may still be experiencing challenges in Australia surrounding separation of family, settlement, permanency, living situations and so on. 

These are the teaching practices that I incorporate in my classroom wherever possible to make learning explicit or to guide my planning in order to achieve this

  • Use photographs instead of cartoons. These should be relevant to students and depict behaviours that you expect of your students or photos representing specific vocabulary e.g. sitting on the mat, lining up at the door, cutting with scissors, book, pencil, car etc. 
  • Encouraging students to not erase during writing time. I use this to assess where my students are and what they may need more support with. 
  • Implementing the principles of Functional Grammar.
  • Seeing mistakes as a learning tool
  • Brainstorming with my students before a unit of work to determine the previous knowledge that they have about a particular concept. Mapping the various entry points of my students in the unit plan/curriculum.
  • Design a Teaching and Learning Cycle or Backwards Planning
  • Being very clear with students when they have achieved an outcome or when they are on the way of achieving that goal. Letting them know that they are successful.
  • Modelling behaviour and learning e.g. modelling reading strategies through big books or pair reading. 
  • Making learning visual e.g. making a journal of learning or posters, charts, photographs
  • Using peers and BSSOs in a positive way and encouraging students in both English and their home languages.
  • Allowing students to play and explore the classroom. Hands on learning offers a greater chance of cementing knowledge. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Library

I found these great IKEA dish racks for $2.95 and I use them to store some of the books we have. They are really easy to assemble too. I have found that students who wouldn't have usually searched through the box to find a book have been drawn to these racks, which means they are definitely reading more often.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Studio

I have a new studio (classroom) this year and had the long task of arranging the room, and then of course rearranging the room. It is not 'finished' and it is almost certain that I will change things around after seeing how the students interact with the room. I'll post any changes I make, so check back soon.



This corner of the room will serve as a space where students can sit and relax and read, use it as a workspace or perhaps to calm down. I have already scored a new cane table to put in the corner and place the plant on top.

This is my 'home corner'. The coffee table will be used in play, but also serve as another table for students to work.

 A very sturdy shelf for students to stand on in order to reach the whiteboard. It will also be used to store whiteboard markers, dusters and name tags for students when we have a guest or relief teacher in the studio.


I currently have 3 pot plants in the room and these drawers were donated to me from a teacher who was cleaning out her studio. Inside I have placed student whiteboards, blackboards etc. I wrapped the plastic pot in hessian and tied it with a rope. It was a quick and cheap way of transforming it. 


 Pencil pots were made from mugs, glass jars and black metal tins, which I have covered with material or string. There is a colour theme of green and blue, mixed with natural colours. I have tried to reduce the amount of plastic that is used in my studio. This will be an ongoing process.























Items in the rooms are stored in baskets and containers made from natural resources where possible.

This is the entrance to my studio. The table will be used throughout the year to display and inform others of our learning.



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