5 ideas for celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

The theme for this year's NAIDOC Week is 'Because of her, we can!' and what a fantastic idea for this year's theme! Aboriginal women are the key to a smooth running community. They are elders, leaders, sisters, mothers, aunts and grandmothers. They are doctors, nurses, teachers and community liaison personnel. They have marched and protested and have instigated many key changes to Australian indigenous policy. What better way to acknowledge all they have done, than to dedicate NAIDOC Week to their achievements? 

If you're unsure what NAIDOC Week is all about click here to visit their website. Essentially NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

This year NAIDOC Week will be held from 8 - 15 July and there will be lots of celebrations happening across Australia. 

How can you bring this fantastic celebration into your classroom?

The Australian curriculum suggests we explore community celebrations (HASS) and explore their links to our own. NAIDOC Week is the perfect way to look at celebrations students are familiar with and create those early links with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Here are my five suggestions for ways to integrate NAIDOC Week 2018 into your classroom.

1 Explore the celebration and join in!

Explore the ways that NAIDOC Week is a celebration by creating a class Venn Diagram showing celebrations such as Australia Day and how NAIDOC Week is celebrated. Then, as a class, brainstorm ways that the class could celebrate NAIDOC Week. It is interesting to see what suggestions students come up with and what their understanding is about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture. 

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.


2. Create some art

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.
Explore Aboriginal art, their use of colours and styles. Give students some templates and they can create their own stunning art works. 

Here is a dot painting my students did one year. 

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

3. Research some inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Let students research an inspiring role model within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. SBS has a fantastic starting point here and students could select one woman and then create a fantastic wall display with their research.

4. Review a timeline of Aboriginal history

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.
Review the obstacles that Aboriginal women have had to face from First Contact till the present day. What is Sorry Day and how did it impact on Aboriginal communities?

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

5. Invite an Elder to your school

Your school is already affiliated with your local Elder but if not, then contact your local tribe and see who the local school liaison officer is. I've always found Elders to be fantastic fun and they have so much knowledge to impart to the children about their local community.

Get students to pose questions in advance (it's a good idea to field questions before Elders arrive) and make sure students understand how to address their local Elder as Uncle or Aunty. If you're unsure what to ask the Elder to do, just ask them to come and talk. They have so many interesting stories. Our local Elder comes every year and give each student their Dreaming Spirit Animal and the students just love this!

NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can! Celebrate NAIDOC Week with these fantastic ideas you can use in your classroom today, Perfect for students in early primary and assist in their understanding of HASS subjects such as History and Geography.

How to help students make geographic connections to places

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

The 1st of July marks a special day for Canadians - Canada Day!

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

Canada Day is a great time to make connections to places and the Australia curriculum for HASS Year 3 asks students to explore:

"Celebrations and commemorations in places around the world..."

"The similarities and differences between places in terms of their type of settlement, demographic characteristics and the lives of the people who live there, and people’s perceptions of these places..."

Exploring seasonal celebrations are a great way to reinforce learning and may help make those connects to places for students. In particular, Canada has many similarities to Australia that make it a perfect country to compare and contrast population, culture, climate and geography. 

What is Canada Day about?

Canada Day is the national day of Canada celebrated on 1st July. Canadians have parties, barbeques, parades and fireworks to celebrate their special day. On Canada Day all things Canadian are celebrated! 
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.


It’s important for students to understand the difference between a celebration and a commemoration, this resource may be helpful to teachers. 

How is Canada Day similar to Australia Day?


Australia Day is held on the 26th January and just like Canada Day, it's a time to celebrate and rejoice in all things special to our country. We hold barbeques, parties and parades and treat this celebration as a chance to share with the world how wonderful our country is.

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

Similarities between Canada and Australia?

There are amazingly many similarities between our two countries and this is such a fun activity to get students to research and then brainstorm their results together as a class. Some suggestions might be to break larger topics down into smaller topics and pair students up to research and present their findings on each topic to the whole class such as:
  • Country status: both were British colonies 
  • Connection to the commonwealth: both are constitutional monarchies 
  • Population: both are spread out across a wide, mostly uninhabitable, area of land
  • Language: both speak English 
  • Population location: both have the southeast as the most populated region in each country 
  • Geographic sizes: both have capitals that are not the largest city
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.
Differences between Canada and Australia?

There are some interesting differences between our two countries as well, these include:
  • Geographic layout: Canada has 10 provinces while Australia has 7 states and territories 
  • Population sizes: Canada has around 36 million and Australia around 24 million
  • Geographic neighbours: Canada’s geography means that it has closer ties with its neighbour the United States, whereas Australia has closer ties to its Asian neighbours
  • Continents: Canada sits on the North American continent whereas Australia is its own continent 
  • Industry: Canada has a thriving maple syrup industry where Australia does not 
  • Climate: Canada is cooler all year round where Australia is warmer
  • Language: Canada has a French speaking area called Quebec where Australia does not 
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.
How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.
Where to from here?

In the past I’ve organised pen pals with a Canadian class and while we studied Canada they explored Australia. Writing to pen pals is the perfect opportunity to get students to pose open ended questions. The students have so much fun learning about life in another country and swapping pictures and can’t wait to get their letters each month. If you’re looking for a good site to find pen pals for your students try here.

If you'd like to download a free copy of the Venn Diagram shown in this blog post just click the link. 

How to help students make geography connections to places. Geography lessons made easy. Explore Canada and examine how it compares to Australia in climate, geography and culture. Easy geography resources that align with the Australian curriculum.


How to improve behaviour in your classroom with student job cards

How to improve behaviour in your classroom with student job cards for the primary school teacher.

Are your students running you ragged? Are they tuning out of classroom instructions? You ask them to tidy up and they keep chatting. You ask them to stack their chairs and 3 out of 4 don’t listen and you end up doing it yourself. Does this sound familiar?

When I first started teaching Prep (Foundation Year) I would find myself, at the end of the day, tidying up after students. I’d collect pencils, brushes, glue sticks and scissors. I’d stack chairs that were left by students and find the odd journal that never made it home to its correct place. I’d tidy the classroom library and fix broken books. I’d nurture that room and bring it back to life every afternoon.

Okay, they’re just kids, right? They are supposed to be messy. Well no actually, that just doesn’t wash with me. We’re building little humans here and the example you accept sticks with them. I decided I was tired of nagging them to tidy up and so set about creating classroom jobs.

WHY JOBS MATTER IN THE CLASSROOM

Students need ownership of their classroom. I always feel sad when I see overly ‘teacher-decorated' classrooms. Work on the wall should be the students' work, not the teachers. Students need to own this space. It is THEIR classroom. A place they come to learn and spend their days in. Teachers just facilitate the learning. Therefore students should also take ownership of the jobs that need to be done every day. This is more than feeding the class pet in the corner. Students need to understand that jobs equal responsibility. You’re setting the standard for their future interactions in and outside of school.

How to improve behaviour in your classroom with student job cards for the primary school teacher.

WHY IT WORKS

The first few jobs I set up were Chair Monitor, Library Monitor and Journal Manager. As soon as I assigned the jobs to particular students, everybody was upset. “Where’s my job?” several wailed. So I began to brainstorm with the students other jobs such as Pencil Monitor, Technology Manager and Light Monitor but still they wanted more! Meteorologist was added (a great opportunity to build their vocabulary!) whose job it was to write up the weather each day (hello literacy!). Yet still they wanted more! Floor Sweeper, Rubbish Monitor and others were added until everybody in the class had a job.

What surprised me is that these 5-year-olds loved their job so much, they went to great pains to do their job properly. Soon my classroom was running like a well-oiled-machine. My students loved their jobs and I rotated them weekly. I was surprised they didn’t get bored and soon the jobs became part of the classroom culture. 

JOBS WORK IN ALL GRADES

Don’t think for a moment this idea won’t work with older students. Having taught all grade levels, I’ve applied it in every classroom and it has worked like a charm. With older students I like to add one that works particularly well with them - Substitute Teacher. If a student is away from class and missing work, the ‘sub’ collects copies of handouts for them. If you have more than one student away, you can allocate new temporary ‘subs’ so as not to overwhelm students with too much to do. I tell my subs that their job is to hand over the paperwork collected and let the student who was away make a copy of their notes. This is a great opportunity for students to teach each other and helps keep both the student who is away and sub on task!

I can’t recommend classroom jobs enough. They create students ownership in the classroom and improve behaviour by making students accountable. When you set up your classroom next year, consider creating some jobs. You won’t regret it!

How to improve behaviour in your classroom with student job cards for the primary school teacher.

America...are we speaking the same language?

American differences in language, slang terms and names for things verses Australian. Let's explore the differences that make us unique!

Like most Australians, we feel we are part of the global community when we talk to others online. We often need to explain our slang terms (...and we have a lot!) and we’re often perplexed by Americanisms we see online but are too scared to ask ‘What are you talking about?’. So this post goes out to my American friends, in the hopes of educating you on our differences and letting you know that we have #noidea what you're talking about a lot of the time! [Edit] These are my opinions and are not representative of every Australian in the country. They are purely my observations based on where I live (Qld, Australia) and my conversations with Americans online. I'm aware there are some differences in some words throughout both our countries. The point of this article is to highlight some of our interesting differences in word meanings. 

American differences in language, slang terms and names for things verses Australian. Let's explore the differences that make us unique!

FOOD

‘Cream and sugar’
When I visited America in the 1990s I was asked this and thought cream was a slang word for milk (full cream or half cream). Turns out you really pour cream into your coffee!

‘Cotton candy’ we call it fairy floss in Australia and we don’t tend to say ‘candy’ but ‘lollies’ when we refer to sweets (although I feel that we are starting to shift towards the term candy slowly over the years, we're not there yet).

Lots of your brand name sweets we have never heard of such as: Jolly Ranchers, Milk Duds, Candy Corns (I had to ask an American what on earth these things were I kept seeing in teaching products from America at Halloween), Twinkies, S’mores, Butterfinger, Junior Mints and Fluff. We have no real idea what these are.

We do, however, get M&Ms, Reeces (hard to find), Skittles and Pop Tarts. Plus all the American fast food outlets we have such as Subway, McDonalds, Wendys (although it only really sells ice-cream) and Burger King (we call it Hungry Jacks). Thank you America!

Peanut butter and jelly. No. Just no. We call jelly 'jam' and jelly 'jelly'. Whereas Americans call jam 'jelly' and jelly 'jello'. Go figure. [Edit] Here in Australia we call jelly (no fruit in it) jelly and we also call jelly (with fruit pieces) jelly with fruit. We never say jello. 

SCHOOL

As I’m a teachers, I have to cover this. I’ve discussed some of the basic schooling differences in a previous post here, however there are some other differences I’ve discovered through my chats with American teachers.

Math vs Maths. Center vs Centre, Color vs Colour, behavior vs behaviour.. the list goes on. Check out my download on spelling variations if you or your students are interested. I find I use a lot of American products in the classroom so have these charts on a wall to educate students.

Seasons. You REALLY seem to celebrate every event in your classrooms Americans! Valentine’s Day, Ground Hog Day, Thanksgiving (which we don’t really understand) and every holiday in between. In Aussie classrooms we have so much content to cover we just don’t have the time. Yep we sound very boring. I know aussie teachers would love to incorporate seasonal activities into our classrooms but we are often not allowed to venture into ‘non curriculum based’ activities due to time constraints. We do Christmas, Easter and Australia Day but a lot of the other celebrations we have to pass by in the classroom sadly. By the way, where do you find the time American teachers? oh and don't forget, our seasons are reversed. Christmas on the beach anybody?

American differences in language, slang terms and names for things verses Australian. Let's explore the differences that make us unique!

We don’t have 'recess' we have 'break' time and we don’t have 'hall passes' because we often don’t have halls! Here in Queensland, we have classrooms that open into the playground directly. We don't have 'cafeterias' we have 'tuckshops' where students can get their food (tucker) from but it's more like a window in a wall than a sit down eatery. Students mostly bring their lunch in boxes every day. 

American differences in language, slang terms and names for things verses Australian. Let's explore the differences that make us unique!

Bell ringers? Say what? Nope we haven’t heard of those either. From my chats with American teachers ‘bell ringers’ are what we would perhaps call 'warm ups' or 'morning work', but again... we are time poor so often don’t have such luxuries #thanksacara!

We have school budgets and each year level has a set amount to spend on extras. We have furniture all provided and rarely need to kit out an entire classroom as you seem to have to do in America! Why is this? You're one of the richest countries in the world! Aussie teachers still spend a lot of their own money on extras but we can claim some of it back at tax time. 

Uniforms. We use them in ALL school, private or public. Children never get to wear what they want to school here (much to my own children's annoyance). 

EVERYDAY NAMES FOR THINGS

There are so many differences it can be rather funny. Here are the American terms with their aussie counterparts:

Car trunk = boot
Car hood = bonnet
Rooted = broken/rubbish (not be be confused with 'root' which does mean the end of a plant but also has a ruder meaning in Australia!)
Bathers = togs
Barbie = doll/BBQ
Bathroom = toilet (we say 'where is your toilet?' rather than the US 'where is your bathroom?')
Cootie Catchers = Fortune Tellers (cooties are snot or germs and we don't want to catch those!)
Tea = cup of tea or you can have tea (dinner) in the evening
Flip flops = thongs (not the underwear!)
Slacks = pants (Brits say pants to mean undies though - how confusing for us all!)
Underwear = undies
Sidewalk = footpath
Football (American) = footy (Rugby League or Aussie Rules)
Diaper = nappy

May 7th vs 7th May (number comes first, then month, then year.. think about it.. it makes more sense right?)
Imperial (pounds and ounces) vs Metric (kilos)
Kilometers vs kilometres also had to throw that in there!
Fahrenheit vs Celsius

American differences in language, slang terms and names for things verses Australian. Let's explore the differences that make us unique!

OTHER DIFFERENCES
  • We drive on the other side of the road.
  • We have two buttons in our toilets to flush and not nearly as much water as you do in American toilets (water conservation is big here).
  • We rarely use a dryer for clothes (we just hang them outside).
  • Most of us never see snow.
  • We eat smaller food portions typically and a lot less sugar (giving candy out in the classroom is a definite no no!). 
  • We use an electric kettle to boil water for tea (something I assumed the whole world did actually!).
  • Smoking is banned inside everywhere in Australia.
  • We do also have excellent gun laws here as well and it’s a long thorough process to obtain a gun. Most people have never seen a gun let alone had one in their house. One of the many reasons we don’t have major shootings in this country.
  • We don't usually pay to see a doctor as we have public health care. You can go private and pay extra to see private doctors but most people use the public health system. We only pay for private health insurance if we want extra benefits but most things are covered on Medicare. 
SIMILARITIES
  • We all love the outdoors
  • We both have a love of families
  • We like a good laugh!
We're not all that different in the end.

Aussies are all over the internet though, so spare a thought for us before you launch into an online discussion about your taxes, how cold it is or how wonderful it is that it's the end of the school year (we run Jan - Dec in our school year).

I’m fascinated by our differences but you know America... even though we think you’re a little odd we love ya all the same!

If you can think of any others... let me know in the comments below.

American differences in language, slang terms and names for things verses Australian. Let's explore the differences that make us unique!





5 ways to keep and hold your students’ attention


Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

1. Adjust your pitch

Changing the pitch of your voice can work at getting the attention of children of all ages. Where I’ve seen this applied best though, was a Prep (Foundation) classroom. The teacher I observed did an amazing job of grabbing the attention of 5 year olds and then, even harder, keeping their attention! This is how she did it.

Change of activity. Children move to the floor and are unsettled wondering what they will be doing next. Teacher goes to sit on the wooden stool and pretends to fall off! *loud voice* “oh my goodness!” *children giggle* (attention obtained). Teacher *normal voice* “We are going to learn about shapes.” *children shift in their spots and start to become unfocused ... teacher tunes in instantly and lowers her voice to a whisper* “... and I’m going to tell you what my favourite shape is...” *children lean in to hear* (attention obtained again) *teacher raises her voice again excitedly* “...I wonder if you can guess which shape is my favourite?” *students raise their hand*.

The above example might sound over-the-top but only if you’ve never taught 5 year olds! They lose focus so easily. This is why Prep teachers look so tired all the time!

Middle and upper grades can also have this method applied but not as often.

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

2. Vary your tone

Tone is so important. I think a lot of teachers forget their tone of voice impacts how children feel about the lesson or activity they are about to do. If you're excited - they will be too! If you hate teaching this subject, guess what...they’ll hate it as well. Watch your tone carefully and adjust it often to keep their attention. Monotone voices make you fall asleep and an overly excited tone can become tiring. You should be moving up and down with your tone to keep students engaged. Start a lesson with an excited tone “I’m so excited to show you...!” but move to a deeper flatter tone when stressing important information “the three things you really need to know are...”. Get the tone right and you set the stage for the mood of the lesson.

3. Be enthusiastic

There is nothing more off-putting than a teacher that starts an art lesson with “I don’t know that much about art but...”. This makes the lesson sound pointless and boring before it’s even begun! Get excited. Be enthusiastic about what you're about to teach and use real-world connections as often as possible so students can see the point of learning it. Act as you would want your students to act in this lesson. If you hate the subject, fake it till you make it. Find something to love about every subject and they will too!

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.

4. Be the most colourful thing in the room

This is an old teacher saying but it still holds true. Dress in bright colours to grab their attention but don’t over do it with accessories. It’s very distracting when a teacher wears lots of jewellery that clicks and jiggles as she teaches. Often it’s good to wear a darker bottom and a bright top so your students’ eyes are drawn towards your face. You don’t want them looking down for whatever reason.

5. Move around the room

The best way to stay on top of behaviour management is to use proximity as your secret weapon! Moving your body around the room also changes the level of your voice for students and lets them know ‘I’m watching you so tune in!’. If you're glued to the front of the room all day, you’ll lose their attention fast! If you’re using a laptop to smart board/whiteboard then you might consider mirroring to an iPad. This way you can still move the display, talk and be in all areas of the room.

The most important aspect of all of these points is to TUNE IN to your class. The minute you feel their attention wandering, you’ll need to mix things up. Good teachers tune in and adjust their teaching to suit their students. Not the other way around!

For more behaviour management ideas visit my Pinterest board here

Try these five easy steps and you will hold your students' attention for longer, creating more engaging classroom experiences.

Gaining and holding your students’ attention is easier said than done! Learning how to keep students engaged is a skill that experienced teachers have nailed. Here are my tried and tested methods for keeping your students interested in your teaching.