Wednesday, 18 October 2017

5 easy ways to integrate ICTs into your Geography lessons



There is really no better way to engage students of all ages, than with information and communication technology (ICT). Students just love the hands on elements that ICTs provide and listed below are five super easy ways to integrate ICTs into your geography lessons.

1. Google Earth - Equipment needed: computers/ipads and Google Earth software (free to download)


Whole Class: I love starting a lesson with the spinning globe.. just sitting there, spinning with no explanation of what we are doing that day. Let the students get all excited and hooked in early on! It's always fun to zoom in on your school's address and hear the kids go 'wow!' as they see their school. Google Earth also provides the perfect opportunity to discussion birds eye view verses street view by using the little figure to jump on to the road outside your school building. 

Independent or pairs: Find your address and draw a birds eye view of your house. 

2. Bee-Bots - Equipment needed: Bee-Bot robots and hand built floor map or tiles



Whole Class or Pairs: These are great for K-2 years and a perfect way to solidify their knowledge about direction and positional language. Draw a map on tiles or on a large canvas (I've seen classes where the teacher has just turned over an old Twister mat and drawn a map on there with the students). Keep the lines nice and wide when drawing roads as the Bee-Bot will need to move along them. Now students must program their Bee-Bot to follow directions to a set location. Great for exploring birds eye view, map directions and digital technologies.

3. History Pin - Equipment needed: Visit the History Pin website and computers/ipads

History Pin isn't just for discussing history but it can specifically address the Year 1 HASS curriculum set by ACARA for 'how places change'. Visit locations to see photographs of places as they change over time. Students love exploring this website and you can even add to your own school location by taking some photographs of your place!

4. Draw on Map App - Equipment needed: Draw on Map app (paid version if possible) and iPads


There are a few mapping apps around but I really like this one because students can draw directly on the map. This makes it perfect for young students who can demonstrate their understanding of direction by using their finger to record a path to a location. You can also switch between satellite maps and street maps, so you can zoom in on your school or even your student's own house to make it even more personal! The free version of the app is great but if you go for the paid version you'll get more features such as pasting images of buildings and arrows.

In pairs: Draw a path from your house to your partner's house. Take a screen shot and save or share with the rest of the class through mirroring to your SmartBoard/laptop. 


5. Interactive QR codes - Equipment needed: iPads and any of TechTeacherPto3s Geography packs


Independently or in pairs: students scan the QR code and examine the photograph of the place being discussed. Examine the photograph, what features can they see? Where is this place? What is this place used for? Images are stored in Google Drive but are set up so you do not need a Google Drive account. This is a great activity for students to undertake with iPads and encourages hands on engagement with geographic terms and images. You can find Geography packs for Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 all with QR codes by clicking here.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Spooky senses Science fun in the classroom



I love integrating units of work with seasonal activities. It keeps students engaged and allows for cross-subject discussions. 

Halloween is a great example of this because, even though it's only just gaining popularity in Australia, it provides an opportunity to discuss other country's celebrations and ways that the change of seasons are marked.

When I was growing up there was a game called Nelson's Eye that was played at parties and this is especially fun at Halloween when everybody is in full spooky mood!

I've created a variation on the old Nelson's Eye game so that my students can explore their five senses. I call it What's in the bag!


Here is what you will need to set up the game in your classroom:
  • a canvas or non-transparent bag
  • plastic resealable bags
  • senses flash cards (you can grab these for free at my store, just follow the link below)
  • various objects that are soft, squishy, noisy, hard, soft etc.. to place inside the plastic bags. Some examples I've used before are:
    • hard boiled eggs, mashed or whole (like an eye!)
    • boiled spaghetti (veins!) or hard uncooked (children will think these are sticks)
    • grapes (more eyes that go pop!)
    • wool (monster hair)
    • ice mashed or hard
    • mud (guts)
    • dried apricots (tiny brains!) 

How to play:
  1. Place 1 item, secretly in the bag. Don't let the children see what it is. Leave it in the plastic resealable bag otherwise you'll have a huge mess on your hands (or if you're game you can use a fresh canvas bag each time and just wash them after use).
  2. Pick one student to come to the front and place their hand in the bag. Discuss with the student which senses they are using by sticking the flash cards to your whiteboard.
  3. Asked the student to describe what they are feeling before guessing. This is a great opportunity to get students to discuss vocabulary for materials (soft, hard, long, short, round, square, squishy!)
  4. For the Halloween spin you could say "is it a witches eye?" and the children will all say "ugh yuck!"- but they are engaged! 
  5. After a while let the student guess what the item is and show them by pulling it out of the bag. 
  6. Repeat again and again until all students have had a turn.
  7. Reflect or brainstorm all the vocabulary you've used to describe the items inside the bag by writing them down on the whiteboard as you go along.
  8. Review the senses they used - could they see it? hear it? smell it?
If you'd like to grab a copy of these five senses flash cards just click the image below. 
If you enjoyed them, please leave a 4 star review.



You may also enjoy this paid resource.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Using brag tags to engage students in History and Geography



Have you heard of the new craze sweeping classrooms called 'brag tags'? 

Well they might not be 'new' to US teachers but here in Australia we're yet to get on board that brag-tag-train yet. However, I've found brag tags a really useful way to engage little learners in complex (let's not say 'dry') subjects such as Geography and History. 

I've used these little brag tags with Foundation through to Year 3 students and they are very popular (yes even in Year 3!). Students just love to find a way to show off to their peers and what better way than to prance around the playground with your achievement on your chest.

Preparing brag tags.
  1. You print out and laminate your brag tags and then punch a hole in them (don't worry you will use them year after year so it's time well spent). 
  2. Find a small container to keep them in so they are handy behind your desk.
  3. Purchase some lanyards (I got mine cheap from the dollar store but most places that supply stationery can provide them). I usually purchase one lanyard for each child but if you're planning on using brag tags for different subjects it can be useful to have a lanyard per subject.
  4. Create a small wall space for your lanyards to hang when students are not wearing them (such as when they go home) by assigning a student name per hook with sticky labels. 
The purpose of brag tags.

The aim of brag tags is to engage students with small achievable goals and, once reached, give them a brag tag to wear on their lanyard. 

I created some Geography and History brag tags to use with my Foundation Year students last year and, using a matching goal sheet, I would give out brag tags when students reached that academic goal.

For example, the Foundation Year Geography ACARA elaboration we were working towards was...

I can describe how places can be cared for.



Once I felt the student had mastered this elaboration, I ticked their goals sheet and awarded them a matching brag tag.

The goal sheets became particularly useful during parent teacher discussions. I would pull out the student's geography book and inside the front cover would be glued their goals for the whole year for that subject. I would use it as a reference point for discussions with parents about goals met and new goals we are aiming towards.

Students loved their brag tags and it became a bit of a battle to get them to take them off at the end of the day. I know some teachers let them wear them home, but you know you probably won't see them again. I just trained my students to hang them on their hook and, like Pokemon cards, they began to collect all of the geography goals one by one! I gave students a second lanyard for their history goals, which proved equally successful!

Brag tags are a win, win for teachers, students and parents alike!

You can grab any of my brag tags for HASS subjects here...


    


     


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Year 1 HASS - new updates to ACARA


As with all things, changes are inevitable and the Australian Curriculum (ACARA) is no different. As I updated my Year 1 HASS packs to make them more tightly aligned to the ACARA elaborations, I was surprised to see some new elaborations have been inserted into the curriculum. It can be difficult to keep up with the changes to version 8.3 however, rest assured I have done the hard work for you!

What's new with the HASS Year 1 Packs?

Throughout the new packs there is a tighter alignment to ACARA elaborations, with the index at the front of the pack showing you which activities, slides and posters align with which elaboration. In addition, each elaboration has been clearly marked on each page inside the pack. This way you can plan your unit of work to suit your needs dependant on the number of weeks in your term or if you are a mixed level class. 

In addition, each worksheet has been differentiated for you as cut & paste, recording or a written response. This makes it easy for you to differentiate the materials within your class for non-writers, learning disabilities or EAL/D to meet achievement standards.


The new Year 1 HASS ACARA elaborations are as follows (see pictures):



Some of these 'new' elaborations are variations on old versions and some are similar to other subject elaborations.  The overall feel of version 8.3 seems to be an increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander themes and a merging of subject themes such as recycling (also found in Design Technologies for Year 1). Personally, I like the move back to an integrated curriculum as it allows room for project based work in the classroom across disciplines. 

Specifically, some of the new features in the HASS Year 1 packs are:

More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander themed materials. 


Click here to watch a video of how the new QR codes work in the updated packs.

Comparing weather from different places activities with matching teacher notes.


Exploring waterways, recycling and rearranging places.


What have people said about these packs?



Year 1 History Pack buyers have said...

August 5, 2017
So great that Australian teachers are producing resources that support our curriculum. I found your Geography pack very useful and this one looks like the same great quality. I am looking forward to using it.

March 18, 2017
Great for my Year 1, especially for differentiation.

February 5, 2017
This is one of the best units that I have seen. I love the photos. You have made it so easy...thank you.

September 20, 2017
Everything I need to cover the entire curriculum. Thank you.


Year 1 Geography Pack buyers have said...

August 8, 2017
Thank you - Love the new update with the QR codes!

September 21, 2017
Lovely posters! They look so great in my classroom - thank you!

September 16, 2017
This was a fabulous unit for the Year 1's and was great help in getting them ready for their upcoming assessment. 

July 30, 2017
You've sorted out the whole term's worth of Geography! Wish I had found this in week 1! Love it! Thank you!

July 10, 2017
Excellent resource - really cute graphics and comprehensive in terms of content.

You can also find both of these packs in the Year 1 HASS Bundle with some cute brag tags and learning goals sheets to match! 


If you have already purchased these packs, just click the links above and re-download the new copy for free! This update has also been applied to the HASS Mega Bundle so update yours now!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Foundation Year HASS - the updates!




As a teacher author, feedback is vitally important to me. Not only does feedback give you Teachers Pay Teachers credits, it lets me know if you are happy with my teaching product or if you'd like more or less of something. 

I read every piece of feedback and, as a teacher myself, I consider what I need to teach that particular subject. I like to go back every so often and update an older product to make sure it's aligned with the current Australian curriculum (ACARA). 

These last few weeks I have run a critical eye over two of my most popular products, to see how they align with the updated ACARA Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) version 8.3 for Foundation Year. 

I'm excited to announce both the Foundation Year History and Foundation Year Geography packs have both been updated to reflect the new curriculum and I'd like to quickly walk you through the improvements.

TIGHTER ALIGNMENT TO ACARA
At the front of each pack is a table showing you how every activity, slide, poster or worksheet aligns with each of the ACARA elaborations. This makes it super easy for you to plan your unit of work and ensures you cover every aspect of the ACARA expectations. 


LOTS OF COLOURFUL POSTERS FOR YOUR CLASSROOM WALL
A great way to engage young students is through colourful posters. Dedicate a wall to HASS and rotate posters as you focus on different concepts. 


MORE VOCABULARY CARDS FOR YOUR WORD WALL
New vocabulary cards have been added to both packs. Each with a child-friendly definition of each concept. 


REAL-WORLD PHOTOGRAPHS OF CONCEPTS DISCUSSED!
This is my favourite aspect of the two new updates - getting some real-world photographs in these packs! Cartoons are great for colouring in or to decorate a colourful poster, but nothing beats images of real people and places to explain HASS concepts to young students. I use these photographs as a whole class discussion prompt to unpack the concept further. Often I use inquiry questions such as "Who is in this picture?", "What is this picture telling us about...?"or "Why do you think they do...?" which works to scaffold their thinking before we move towards written work. Studying photographs in this way, can also help students develop their visual literacy skills.


MORE DIVERSITY
I have had many requests to make images more diverse with single parent families, same sex couples and different races included. I've listened and made the changes. Posters and photographs include different family structures and are more representative of your student's backgrounds so they can relate better to the concepts being discussed.

QR CODES
Both the History and the Geography packs contain some new QR code activities which link to videos they can watch in pairs or on their own. The worksheets have been designed to allow students to explain their understanding of the concepts shown in the videos and demonstrate their learning.

MORE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CONTENT
I'm very proud to have been given permission from the Torres Strait Islander community to use their flag in my materials and inside this pack, I'm pleased to say, I have provided a more equal focus on both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The new updates include, as part of the new ACARA version 8.3 HASS requirements, a greater focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practices and culture. In addition, I have included some teacher instruction sheets and a link to useful videos you can watch to help you integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into your everyday classroom practices.


HOW CAN YOU GET HOLD OF THE UPDATED RESOURCES?

If you already own any of these products - you can just click the link below and download the update for free! If you would like to purchase one, please follow the links below.

HASS Bundle Foundation Year Geography Unit and History Unit aligned to ACARA
HASS Geography Unit Foundation Year special places, features, mapping activities
HASS History Unit Foundation Year Family Histories and Commemorations
HASS Mega Bundle Geography and History Foundation, 1, 2 & 3 aligned ACARA

If you purchase the Foundation Year HASS Bundle you'll also get the History and Geography matching Brag Tags as a bonus!


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Halloween Paper Bag Puppet Freebie



Halloween is a time to really let go and have some fun in the classroom with some fantastic craft activities. I've also realised the importance of dramatic play as a means to help students to come to grips with difficult concepts. 

Batty Bat

This freebie is the perfect way to practice a retell or tell a story for young students. In addition, the activity gives students the opportunity to practice their cutting skills! 

Monster Mash

I love it when a craftivity covers multiple disciplines! 

Oscar Owl



You'll also find these fabulous Halloween products useful...






Sunday, 3 September 2017

Bringing History to life with digital technologies


I love teaching History and I love using digital technologies (ICTs) to teach History concepts. However, for some teachers, the thought of trying to integrate digital technologies into their curriculum subjects can become overwhelming. In this post I'll show you where to start and outline the benefits of using ICTs to bring history to life in your classroom!

With the introduction of more 1:1 iPad and laptop classrooms, it's easier than ever to obtain access to ICTs in the classroom setting. Teachers who work in 1:1 classrooms know there are huge benefits to using digital technology for learning within the primary classroom. In fact, an independent case study of 6 Australian primary schools using 1:1 laptops, noted that students that used ICTs were more engaged, on task and better differentiated for than non ICT classrooms (Fluck, 2011). Using laptops is fine for upper primary students, who can type and undertake independent research, however, how do you integrate ICTs into lower primary?

Marrying ICTs with a subject such as History is easy, as long as you keep your references and materials focused around the Inquiry questions. Focused historical questions lead students to learn to find evidence to support a statement and this is where QR codes work perfectly with young students.

This is a new product from TechTeacherPto3 and you can see how the QR codes have been used with a scavenger hunt game to keep engagement high. The essential historical element of this activity, is the use of real photographs. Each QR code sends students to a photograph of a real historical item with notes on how each item was used. The recording sheets pose questions that get students to think more deeply, moving them towards higher order thinking, allowing them to create a response based on historical knowledge and understanding rather than guess work.

Try the QR code out below now to see how it works!



Here is another example of using QR codes from the Then and Now Interactive Notebook (also a fantastic way to engage students). The QR code links to a video on how telephones work, which allows students to see how items were actually used, thus allowing them to again think more deeply about how historical items have been replaced or remodelled since then.



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.