Tag Archives: Teaching Resources

Activities and professional development in 2023 at your fingertips! – #readilearn

Article by Gerard Alford, director of itc publications and thinkdrive.

With 2022 rapidly drawing to a close, it’s now time to start thinking about ideas for 2023.  Let’s explore some now!

Students love to participate in classroom decoration. Building on this, why not create a fish-themed classroom with aligned class activities. It will grow an appreciation for the majestic waterways, rich reefs and sea life that surrounds us.

You could also, on day one, set expectations by asking students: what sort of teacher would you like me to be this year? And then add the follow-up question: well, what type of student will you try to be?

Another great way to relate to students while also relaying important educational content is to focus lessons or classroom systems around the concept of sports and pastimes.

For example:

  • What are the chances? Students rate the chances of an outcome occurring using the terms, Will happen, Might happen, Certain. E.g., Next year, no one in our class will play a sport with a ball.
  • Systems of Communication – using umpire signals for a sport, what is the umpire communicating? E.g., Start of a game, high tackle, etc.
  • Sporty names: Using sporting team names to introduce or revisit the sounds and names of letters.

Inspired to incorporate some or all of the activities and concepts above? May I suggest the itc 2023 Early Years teachers’ diary, the itc innovative teachers’ companion. This diary has the usual planning and recording materials; however, it also contains an array of specialist K-2 lesson ideas and professional readings – including a full breakdown of the ideas touched on above!

There are also professional readings on:

  • Health and wellbeing tips
  • Phonics and word knowledge
  • Puppet play
  • Cooperative learning
  • And much more!

The activities have been assembled by a large team of writers, including Norah Colvin from readilearn, and the activities are referenced and aligned to the Australian curriculum and the Early Years Framework.

Continue reading: Activities and professional development in 2023 at your fingertips! – readilearn

Thinking Tools – facilitating deeper discussion in the Early Years – #readilearn

Article by Gerard Alford, Director of itc publications and thinkdrive and collaborator on readilearn.

As announced last week, I am delighted to introduce Gerard Alford and the first of his series of guest posts for readilearn.

Gerard is a very experienced and respected education consultant, author and education resource developer. He is passionate in promoting high-order thinking and cooperative learning through engaging and effective evidence-based teaching methods. His teaching resources inspire and support busy teachers in creating engaging pedagogy and time-saving strategies to encourage successful student outcomes. 

The worth of using thinking tools is well documented; they provide a clear pathway for students to complete a given task, provide students the means to organise their research and thoughts in a systematic way, and provide teachers with a clear insight into their student’s thinking.

That said, can thinking tools also be used to facilitate deeper discussion in the Early Years? I believe so, and here’s an example in action.

Your students have just read two texts: Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, and you now have asked them to compare these texts.

Exactly what they compare (similarities and differences) will depend on the Year level; however, at a minimum, students will be comparing the events and the characters in the texts while also sharing their feelings and thoughts (as per ACELT1783).

Continue reading: Thinking Tools – facilitating deeper discussion in the Early Years – readilearn

Inspire Creativity with International Dot Day – #readilearn

September 15-ish is International Dot Day.

The goal of International Dot Day is to inspire people of all ages to embrace the power of personal creativity, to make their mark on the world, making it a better place.

Creativity is important to me. I love being creative. I love inspiring creativity in children, and I acknowledge that it is only through creativity that we can innovate, advance and improve our world. For this reason, I am posting a day early to ensure you all know about International Dot Day in time to celebrate. However, any day is a good day to celebrate and promote creativity.

The Dot — the book

The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds and published by Walker Books in 2003, tells of an art teacher who encouraged a young artist, who didn’t believe she could, to make her mark on a piece of paper. Although the story features an art teacher, Reynolds dedicated the book to his 7th grade math teacher who, he said, ‘dared me to “make my mark”.’

Like Reynolds, I believe there is a spark of creativity in everyone and that a dot is as good a place as any to start. What I really love about this book, is the way the teacher encourages the student Vashti, who then goes on to encourage others in a similar way. The ripples of a ‘you can do it’ philosophy spread. Who know where they will reach? Hopefully everywhere.

How International Dot Day began

(from the website)

International Dot Day began when Iowa teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Reynolds’ book, and noticed the original publishing date of The Dot was Sept. 15, 2003. Shay and his students decided to celebrate the book’s birthday – and, little did they know, launched what would become a worldwide celebration of creativity and courage to “make your mark.”

“The Dot, is an invitation to students to be creative, and experience a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, said Shay, a public school teacher for over two decades “Every great teacher works for those transformational moments.”

Exploring the themes of creativity, bravery and self-expression, The Dot is a story of a perceptive and caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student who thinks she can’t draw by encouraging her to be brave enough to “just make a mark and see where it takes you.”  The Dot has been translated into many languages (including Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, Spanish and even Braille) and the animated film of The Dot (produced by Reynolds’ multimedia design and development firm FableVision Studios and co-producer Scholastic) earned the Carnegie Medal of Excellence.

Continue reading: Inspire Creativity with International Dot Day – Readilearn

readilearn is Six Years Old Today! – #readilearn

Today, Wednesday 24 August 2022 is readilearn’s sixth birthday. Thank you for joining our journey.

To celebrate this milestone, I have made a new birthday-themed interactive resource Make Words from the Word ‘Birthday‘.

This resource is designed for use with the whole class on the interactive whiteboard. Children use the letters of ‘birthday’ to see how many smaller words they can make. Each letter can be used only once in each word.

Children drag the letters to form new words, then type the words into the text box. The page of words can be printed if you wish to keep a record. Progress can also be saved for another lesson if you still have more words to find when the lesson is over. A printable PDF activity sheet for individuals or groups of children to use is also included.

As a birthday gift from readilearn to you, this resource is available free until 14 September.

It is just one of the birthday-themed resources in the collection. Others include:

Happy Birthday — an interactive resource to personalise I used it to make readilearn’s sixth birthday card. The card can be personalised and printed for children on their birthdays.

Continue reading: readilearn is Six Years Old Today! – readilearn

Lessons about recognising and counting Australian coins – #readilearn

Money is one of those things we all need to understand to be able to participate fully in life as we know it. I think it becomes more difficult for children to understand the value of money as we move towards a cashless society, but maybe that’s because I grew up pre-cards of any kind. Now many children only see transactions made with cards or even phones and watches. Many will have no need to enter a physical bank to deposit or withdraw funds or for any other reason. It is all done online. Perhaps learning about coins and notes will one day be relegated to history lessons, but for now I think it is still important for children to learn about them and their value and they still feature in the Curriculum. For this reason, I have made some resources to support your teaching of young children about our Australian coins and their value. (Lessons about notes will be added later.)

Australian coins helps children learn to recognise, identify and describe the coins according to colour, shape and size, and the identifying icon on the tails side. Additional information is provided about the Australian animals and icons featured on the tails side of each coin. This lesson is ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard.

Australian Coins – Let’s count $1 gives children practice in counting collections of coins to $1.

There are three separate sections which can be used over a series of lessons.

  1. Count groups of coins of the same value that equal $1.
  2. Count collections of different coins that equal $1.
  3. Make collections of coins to equal $1.

These lessons are interactive and ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard.

Count Coins to $1 is a dice game that gives students practice in

  • recognising and naming coins
  • counting the value of coins to $1
  • comparing the value of coins.

It is a perfect game for maths groups to follow-up lessons with Australian Coins and Australian Coins Let’s count $1.

Continue reading: Lessons about recognising and counting Australian coins – readilearn

Provide a Context and Purpose for Reading with Procedures – #readilearn

This post is a revisit of one of the first posts I published on readilearn almost six years ago in 2016. Since it was first shared, I have added many more procedures to the collection. All procedural texts and activities can be found in the Procedures subsection of Literacy resources.

Why teach procedures?

Reading and following procedures are a part of everyday life. We need to follow a procedure to make a cake, take medicine, repair a bicycle, treat head lice, assemble a DIY bookcase, or install an app on a digital device. The list in inexhaustible.

Sometimes procedures are presented as text, sometimes as illustrations or diagrams, and sometimes as a combination of both. They work best when each step of the sequence is accurately described and illustrated.

However, not all procedural texts are created equal. Sometimes the language may be inappropriate and unclear. Sometimes steps are omitted or sequenced incorrectly. Sometimes diagrams have little resemblance to what is required and confuse, rather than clarify, the process.

Trying to figure out what to do can cause a great deal of frustration in such circumstances.  The more practised we are with following procedures, the more adept we are at interpreting inadequate instructions to achieve a good outcome.

It is never too soon for children to learn to read and follow procedures. The inclusion of procedural texts in a classroom literacy program has many benefits.

Following a procedure provides a context and purpose for reading.  It requires children to interpret instructions through a combination of text and visual representation. It generally implies that children are doing or making something, which engages their interest and encourages participation. It develops an essential real-life skill that is transferrable to a range of situations. The sense of achievement in successfully completing a project is both affirming and empowering and often requires no other feedback.

Procedural texts can be easily incorporated into a class reading program as an independent or group reading activity. An assistant to support, encourage and oversee can be invaluable.

Features of procedural texts

The reading of procedural texts differs from reading fiction or other non-fiction texts.

Continue reading: Provide a Context and Purpose for Reading with Procedures – readilearn

Let’s Celebrate Queensland Day 2022 – #readilearn

Next Monday 6 June is Queensland Day, and, since I am a Queenslander, I thought I’d share a little about my home state, including Queensland authors and illustrators I have interviewed over the years.

12 Facts about Queensland

  1. Queensland is in north-eastern Australia. It is the second-largest state by area (after Western Australia) and the third-largest in population (after New South Wales and Victoria).
Image courtesy of Hidesy’s Clipart https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Hidesys-Clipart

2. Queensland is bordered by New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia. The Pacific Ocean is along its eastern coastline.

3. The most northern part of Australia, Cape York, is in Queensland. Though I am told it is very beautiful and is a popular camping and four-wheel drive destination, I’ve never been there. (I’m not a camper or a four-wheel driver.)

4. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef, is located along Queensland’s coastline.

5. The world’s three largest sand islands, Fraser, Bribie and Stradbroke, are also located on Queensland’s coast.

6. The capital of Queensland, Brisbane (where I live), is located in the south-east corner of the state.

7. Queensland Day celebrates the day in 1859 that Queensland separated from New South Wales to become an independent colony.

8. Queensland’s state fauna emblem is the koala. The koala is a marsupial (mammal with a pouch) that is native only to Australia and lives mainly along the east and south coasts.

Image used courtesy of The Painted Crow https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Australian-Plants-Clip-Art-Emblems-4686986

9. Queensland’s state floral emblem is the Cooktown Orchid. It is native to northern Queensland and was named after a town there.

10. Queensland’s state bird emblem is the brolga, a tall bird which is noted for its graceful mating dance.

11. Queensland’s state gem is the sapphire, and the aquatic symbol is the anemone fish from the Great Barrier Reef.

12. Anyone in Australia who follows sport, probably doesn’t need to be told that our state colour is maroon.

Continue reading: Let’s Celebrate Queensland Day 2022 – readilearn

There’s Something Fishy Going On – #readilearn

Since this year is the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, I thought I’d begin with a post about fish. Learning about fish is relevant to the biological sciences curriculum when we explore living things, their features, where they live, what they need and how they grow.

I decided to jot down some of my questions and write answers to them. We all know what fish are, right? There’s nothing difficult about describing a fish. But when I really started to think about what I know about fish, I realised I had more questions than answers and that explaining what a fish is, isn’t as easy as I thought.

These are some of the questions raised when I thought about fish. Perhaps you have others. If so, please list them in the comments so I can research the answers. Note: While I know answers to some of my questions, as I’m sure you do too, I’m not sharing answers in this post as I have more research to do. The answers will have to wait for another time.

25 Fishy questions

  • What is a fish?
  • How do fish swim?
  • Where do fish live?
  • How do fish breathe under water?

Continue reading: There’s Something Fishy Going On – readilearn

Wishing you a Happy 2022 New Year – #readilearn

Dear readers and supporters,

I thank you for your support throughout 2021 and wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2022.

While Covid still pulled more strings on our lives than we had expected at the end of 2020, I hope that you have been able to achieve at least some of your goals and ambitions in 2021.

Happy 5th Birthday, readilearn!

In August of this year, we celebrated readilearn’s 5th birthday. It’s an achievement of which I’m proud. Five years seemed such a long time in the future when I began. Now, looking back, it’s gone so fast. I have continued to post a weekly article on the blog, publish a newsletter each month, and upload new resources throughout the year so that the collection now numbers over 500. I hope you have had the opportunity to use many of them with your children.

New Books by Norah Colvin at Library For All

In addition to the work for readilearn, I had twelve more stories added to the Library For All collection. You can read about them here.

I also wrote three phonic workbooks for Pascal Press which should be available for purchase early in the new year. Look out for the Targeting Phonics series.

And I continue to write manuscripts for picture books hoping that one day I will see a picture book with my name on the spine on the shelves of book stores and libraries. It’s been a goal since my childhood. One day …

Goals help us move forward. Without goals and without hope, life may stagnate and become dull. I hope it never does for you.

As we move into another new year, I share with you two quotes about hope that inspire me:

Continue reading: Wishing you a Happy 2022 New Year – readilearn

improving children's mental health with picture books by Michelle Worthington

Improving mental health with picture books by Michelle Worthington – #readilearn

Reading picture books to young children is one of the best ways I know of adding joy to the day. Anything that increases joy must be good for mental health, right? But for some children, the joy is momentary as they grapple with worries and other issues. Sometimes, it’s useful to find books that help children identify and discuss the things that trouble them in order for them to find a way out.

In this post, part of a Books on Tour Promotion, I share two books written by Michelle Worthington and illustrated by Adyna Ferre. The books are published by Daisy Lane Publishing for the Willing Kids Program which aims to improve literacy through improving mental health and mental health through literacy.

About author Michelle Worthington

Michelle Worthington author

Michelle Worthington is an international award-winning author and screen play writer. Two-time winner of the International Book Award and finalist in the USA Best Book Awards, Michelle also received a Gellett Burgess Award and a Silver Moonbeam Award for her contribution to celebrating diversity in literature. Michelle addresses mental health through literacy with her picture books.

I previously introduced Michelle to you when I interviewed her about Super Nicholas, a picture book about a little boy with a big heart and a kindness superpower.

About the books

Continue reading: Improving mental health with picture books by Michelle Worthington – readilearn