Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Celebrating Father's Day in the classroom, when dad is not around?


Father's Day. The day when children all over the nation celebrate how wonderful their father is and the contribution they make to their lives daily. 

Sadly, for some students, Father's Day is a day for sadness. A day when they suddenly feel 'different' to other children in their class. Family separation, divorce, estrangement or even death can mean some children are without their father on this special day.

As their classroom teacher, how can you be inclusive and yet still sensitive to the needs of these children during Father's Day celebrations?

FIND OUT IF DAD IS AROUND

Check your school online data system to see if both parents are around? Ask all students if they will be making a card for dad this year? If in doubt, ask the parent or guardian contact listed in your school records. There is nothing worse for a child without a father around, to be forced to design a father's day card/craft when they have nobody to give it to.


BE FLEXIBLE

Adapt Father's Day crafts and resources to include grandfathers, uncles or other male role models or even consider making a card for mum (who is doing double-duty at home!).

What do you do to keep Father's Day inclusive in your classrooms?

You'll find some fun activities that are inclusive of different family situations in each of these packs.






Thursday, 17 August 2017

Should you use worksheets in your classroom?



I'm going to break ranks here. I'm going to stand my ground and say proudly that I love a good worksheet! Let me correct that, I love a GREAT worksheet.

Alright, before you crucify me, let me explain my logic.

I'm writing this blog post in response to numerous teacher conversations I've overheard that go along the lines of:

"death to worksheets!"

and

"ugh...then she pulled out a worksheet..."

and

"goodness she uses so many worksheets in her class, what's wrong with her!"

Now I'm not saying all worksheets are bad, nor am I saying all worksheets are good. However, let's take a moment to explore the good, the bad and the ugly of worksheets.

THE GOOD

A good worksheet is one that challenges students and the best worksheets are the ones that move students from lower to higher order thinking. Let me refer back to my tried and tested old friend Bloom's Taxonomy to demonstrate.



A well set out and informative worksheet is one that allows students to move towards understanding, applying and analysing (don't contact me, I'm Australian, this is how we spell it). The best kind of worksheets really push students to evaluate and give them the opportunity to create.

Good worksheets work for teachers as well. They provide teachers with inspiration and direction on how to teach a new subject and give experienced teachers a refreshing outlook on how to structure content to learners' needs. They also provide valuable feedback to teachers and parents as a moderation tool.

A great worksheet guides your students through your lesson and suggest ways of teaching the content in an age appropriate way. A set of great worksheets allows for differentiation, particularly with younger students, giving them options to cut and paste, draw or write a response to demonstrate what they know.

I've often scoured the internet for activities and sheets on particular topics and have stumbled upon a fantastic idea embedded within a worksheet! High quality worksheets are like gold dust and worth hanging on to for years. Visit any experienced teacher's office and you will find a handful of precious "I only have one copy!" worksheets they return to year after year because they are so effective in assisting students to break down a subject. 

THE BAD

Alright, we're here. Yes you're right. There are A LOT of bad worksheets floating around the internet (and in some older textsbooks in some cases!). 

The rules for bad worksheets are the reverse of good worksheets. 

Worksheets should be fairly self-explanatory. Obviously, young students will need guidance to complete a worksheet. However, a good worksheet acts like a graphic organise to extract thoughts, put them in order and create something new (Blooms higher order thinking). Bad worksheets make little or no sense to students when used independently. 



Worksheets should be used as a learning tool NOT a teaching tool. The moment a student is given a text book (often the same as a printed worksheet) or bunch of worksheets to complete independently, they will zone out and they have lost their purpose as a tool for building conceptual understanding. Some students will love independent quiet time with a worksheet, however, the goal should be to build on concepts already taught, not to teach them.


THE UGLY

Well I'm not one to judge but... 

My personal pet peeves for ugly worksheets are:
  • fancy borders: they often get chopped off in photocopying and take up too much room, they just aren't necessary
  • fancy lettering: those cute fonts often don't work for young students, keep them clean and clear for copying purposes
  • colour elements: anything colour is a bit of a no no for me as we don't have colour printers in our rooms
  • photographs: this comes back to only having a poor quality black and white printer available in my classroom and photographs don't print well
These are just my thoughts. I'd love to know what you think? Do you ever use worksheets? When do you use them and for what purposes? What do you consider an 'ugly' worksheet? Leave your comments below.


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Year 1 Geography with QR Codes


I'm constantly reviewing my products and listening to your feedback. In particular, I've been exploring the use of ICTs with Geography (stay tuned for my blog post about using ICTs with HASS soon). I've been looking for ways to make my HASS packs more authentic and relevant for students so have started to refresh some of my older products. 

The first product I've updated is my Year 1 Geography Pack and here are some of the new additions I've added to the pack.

Firstly, the pack has now been split into three files which have been zipped together. 

File One - vocabulary cards, worksheets and activities.
File Two - colourful posters on the concepts covered.
File Three - photographic slides of real people and places.

In addition, the worksheets now have QR codes. Student can complete the worksheets and scan the QR code to get some clues as to the location being discussed. There are also QR codes on how places are used. 

Note: Most of the QR codes link to Google Drive. If you don't have access to Google Drive in your school then you will find the photographic slides file most useful for discussing these concepts with students as a whole class. I have set the QR code links so that your students do not need to log in to Google Drive, however, some schools do not allow access so please check before you begin any class activity.

Lastly, one significant addition to this pack is a very clear alignment with ACARA Year 1 Geography in the index. This way you can see which materials in the pack cover the relevant Knowledge and Understandings. 

If you have already purchased this pack, please go back and download the new and updated file for free here.

As always, if you have any feedback, requests or questions please email me