Monthly Archives: October 2009

Wiki – aholic: This could be my ‘thing’!

My wiki journey has begun and I’m now a member of 5 wikis. I’ve even made 18 edits to one. Now, before anyone gets too excited many of those edits are my visits back into the page to correct things. Ummmm! I’ll get there. I have already learnt so much. My school wiki has had many of my staff join which is great. The issue is, at such a busy time of the year, I have to keep the momentum going. 

Susie an SMR Ultranet coach has joined our school wiki and is willing to share our journey. Getting teachers to play in a wiki is the start. Building confidence with Web 2.0 is the key and I know because I have been wearing L Plates all year. If teachers can use Web 2.0  tools, I know it will cross over to classrooms. Embedding these tools into our curriculum will strengthen student engagement and we know that students engaged in learning do better.

Thanks for following my journey. Visit my previous post and read the comments. Collaboration and support is an essential component of successful change.

Cheers Nina  This You Tube explains it all!  Oh, and thank you Jenny Luca for teaching me.


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Adventures in Wiki-Land: Don’t let me near your wiki!

I mentioned in an earlier post that  I have been learning how to start and contribute to a wiki. Last week I joined two new wikis. I was granted membership and decided to start contributing. The wikis I joined have been set up by the Victorian Southern Metropolitan Region Ultranet coaches.  My adding things to wikis is interesting because ‘I really am a learner here’. For my first contribution I planted a video right in the middle of the front page of the peninsula wiki and had no idea how to move it. All I can say is I’m a learner and to others take the plunge, don’t be frightened to ‘have a go’ as there is always someone with the skills to fix anything that goes wrong. I received a lovely email welcoming me to the group and some instructions.  My video has moved to an appropriate part of the page and I now know how to move things and make tables. Just those few things I have learnt will enable me to organise the wiki I set up at school. 

Have a look and join if you teach in the SMR.  Cheers Nina


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Prep Report: An outline of Term 4 and brief review of Term 3- Where is our teaching and learning heading?

Program of Inquiry

Last term as part of our inquiry ‘Toy Story’, the children designed and made their own toys. To support this we taught the Primary Science Connection’s ‘On the Move’ unit. The children have learnt about how toys move and what makes them move. This was complimented buy two incursions focusing on toys- Sean from the CSIRO and Professor Bunsen.

We also looked at the socio-economic aspect of toys. At the beginning of our Inquiry, Captain A  from the Salvation Army visited the children and spoke about how she helps families and how toys can bring joy into the lives of children who have very little. It was a powerful talk and these very young children understood and showed great empathy.

To celebrate their success and to give our students the opportunity to share their understanding with others, the Preps held their own Toy Expo. Many parents and students came and asked questions or admired their designs and toys. Visitors were requested to bring a gold coin donation with the money collected being given to the Salvation Army. The children raised $ 214 which was fantastic.

Our Toy Drive was equally successful with boxes filled to capacity. On the last assembly for Term 3, the Prep children presented the collected toys and money to Captain A  from the Salvation Army.
Eight Prep students (from across all grades) spoke at assembly. During the term a total of thirteen Prep students presented information at assembly. This is an area the Prep Team is keen to develop. The local newspaper came and photographed the children with Captain A which was wonderful. The Preps have been supporting the Salvation Army for a number of years.

The central idea for our Inquiry this term is ‘Living things have certain requirements in order to grow and stay healthy’. The lines of inquiry which will define the scope of our inquiry into the central idea are:

  • Sorting living and non-living things
  • Characteristics of animals and plants
  • Needs of living things

Our program follows a series of lessons planned using the e5 planning sequence. The e5 program consists of lessons which are designed to Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. The children will be exploring our local beach and school ground in order to discover the answers to the following questions.

What do we already know about living and non-living?

What is living and non-living?

What do living things need in order to survive?

The Dolphin Research Organisation will be conducting a series of lessons. B who worked with our students in 2008 is returning. His lessons will include developing the children’s’ understanding of the needs of living things taken in the classroom, followed by a ‘hands on’ exploration of the rock pools at our beach. Initial base-line data has been collected to enable the children’s understanding to be assessed during and at the end of the Inquiry.


This term we will continue to develop our student’s writing by incorporating strategies which scaffold composition i.e. the ability to plan, edit and strategies which enable the children to extend their ideas. Interactive Writing – teacher and student led, Shared Writing, Modelled and Guided writing are being used across the unit. Sharing ideas as a team is valued and wherever possible this is happening.

Reading, comprehension and text analysis is incorporated into our Early Years Program. Our program emphasises the importance of reading for meaning, with all students across the unit being delivered a program which develops the skills necessary for deeper levels of comprehension. The context of what is read is discussed, which then leads to discussion centred upon characters, mood, setting etc… Oral discussion and group activities are used along with individual responses to text. Guided Reading, Modelled Reading, Shared Reading and Read Aloud teaching strategies are incorporated into planning and programs. Student reading development is regularly assessed with teachers working collaboratively to cater for different groups across classrooms when required.

Opportunities to broaden student vocabulary are incorporated into programs. Conversation as a grade and in small groups is intrinsic to all learning situations. Opportunities for children to talk to a wider audience are incorporated when relevant to our classroom program.    


Our numeracy program this term will build upon our students understanding of Chance, Data, Patterns, Sorting –Venn Diagrams, 2D Shapes, Location, Time, Money, Mass, Volume and Capacity. The program will also cover number facts to 10/20 and beyond, doubles and near doubles to 20, addition and subtraction to 20 plus. Open ended activities have been planned to cater for the needs of different students.  The Early Years Numeracy instruction model is implemented in classrooms.

General Discussion

The Prep students are completing the new ‘Online English Interview’ assessment. This appears to be a very worthwhile assessment tool but is also a time consuming assessment program. We are trying to implement this assessment with as little disruption to our teaching program; however, it is inevitable that there will be some minor disruptions if we are to assess each student within the timeline provided.

Once again the Prep Team are looking forward to an exciting ‘jam-packed’ term. Transition will be an important focus as we prepare our students for the Junior Unit in 2010.

The Prep Team

Cheers Nina – I hope you find this interesting.

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Thanks for the feedback! It is worth continuing my blog…

Every now and again I get an email from someone who visits my blog. Today is one of those days. When you write a blog you have no idea who your readers are. I know what countries they come from, I know what was searched to find my blog and I know how many people have visited. Sometimes a reader will leave a comment, but mostly not. I started my blog in the beginning as part of my professional development. I need to understand and use Web 2.0. , but I’ve gained so much more…

Sue from Victoria sent me an email thanking me for sharing. She has followed my blog religiously and incorporated the ideas within her own Prep – One – Two classroom. She reports that her children’s writing has improved dramatically, that their engagement has sky rocketed and the improvement in their reading and comprehension has been amazing. She also said that incorporating ‘student led’ group activities into her classroom has resulted in better behavior. Her students are taking responsibility for their learning and loving it. Now her colleagues are asking her to share what she is doing and she is  sharing. She asked me if that’s ‘ok’. Well hell yeah! That is wonderful…

The fact that my blog is helping teachers and more importantly improving student learning is fantastic. I write this blog, which is a huge committment and this feedback motivates me to continue. Ownership means nothing to me, this is not about intellectual property. So cut and paste, use ideas and share with others. The other question was where do I get  ideas from. I’ve worked with some amazing people, I read for professional development, I am a trained Early Years Literacy & Numeracy Coordinator, I’ve completed Peer Coaching, I have a great professional network and have been teaching forever or so it feels.  I also started this blog at a time when I was looking for something new. I love what I do, but I need to be challenged. I would never say I was bored, but I certainly felt I had more to offer to others, but no forum to do it.

Thanks Sue from Victoria for the email. It’s just what I needed to keep me going! Cheers Nina

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Using an Editing Checklist! Our Journals… We are authors!

I’m spending alot of time talking about editing. Today I spoke to my preps about the writing process that authors go through. Authors write notes or a plan with lots of jottings or ideas. They then think about what they’re going to write and complete a first draft. This draft may stay a draft or it may become a piece of writing to be read by an audience. If it’s goinng to be read by an audience it has to be correct. I told them that authors correct their writing and then… they sometimes give it to a Wordsmith. Wordsmiths are people who correct the edited writing by an author. My preps understood this and it highlighted the process that writers go through.


They are starting to understand that writing is a process. Today my children wrote a first draft about a topic of personal interest. When we were talking about Wordsmiths, one child put up their hand and said they wanted to be an engineer. This led to other children sharing what they wanted to be when they grew up. It’s a lovely converstaion to have with young children and some children decided to write about this.


When they had finished their first draft I asked them to complete their writing checklist. See previous post – 5 Year Olds Can Develop Criteria for Editing. Hand Over the Responsibility. The class constructed  writing checklist will be completed by the children everytime they write. It is a powerful strategy which I believe inproves student writing.




Cheers Nina

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PrepD Interactive Writing – Here I go again! Assessment: Where are we now? Let them edit and watch them grow.


It’s now three quarters of the way through my Prep’s ( 5&6 Year Olds) first year of formal education in Australia. Today we investigated how we could remember what happened in a story. I asked them to think about what happened ‘simply’ first, before we put in the details. The hamburger model is an excellent visual and thinking tool for young children. The bottom bun is the beginning, the hamburger is the middle and the top bun is the end. The extra parts of the story become the lettuce, tomato, sauce etc… The children ‘get this’. After identifying the main parts of the story, we discussed the filling pieces of the story. These are the parts that ‘add color’, bring in background information about the characters,  the setting and mood. My preps will be learning more about these concepts in the coming weeks.

The children were asked to write 3 or 4 sentences about the story. I asked them to think about what the most important parts of the story were and write about those points. We looked at our writing checklist that we developed at the end of last term and decided to use it to edit when finished. It was interesting to note how seriously they took their editing. I could hear conversations among children when they were checking and identifying where they had forgotten to put a capital letter or a full stop etc. They decided not to tick a box until they had corrected their writing properly.




I’ve included pictures of their spellings of the word ‘invisible’. I’m really impressed by their ‘have a go’ attitude and their confidence to ‘take risks’ when writing. ‘Taking risks’ and ‘having a go’ are a huge factor in writing development. Children who feel they have to get the spelling of words write in their first draft will stick to safe simple words. Children who ‘take risks’ use exciting vocabulary and try to make their writing interesting. Developing the confidence in children to ‘take risks’ when writing starts day one. Praise and encouragement given when children first start writing is essential. The other children will be listening!




 The photo below is of a child recording ticks against the checklist. Young children are very capable. This group decided that they needed to add some more interesting words to their writing before they ticked the box.  I actually thought they did a great piece of writing, but as they were after sincere feedback, I encouraged the group to add two interesting words to their wrting.


This is ‘thinking writing’ and by this I mean that it’s not a journal or recount. It’s much harder for the children to compose this sort of text because they have to think, discuss, respond and write. I hope you enjoy this post. Cheers Nina

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Journal Writing-Prep (5&6 Year Olds) Term 3 Samples & Assessment Criteria: A learning journey…

The holidays are over and I’m looking forward to the warmer weather to come. On Monday morning the children were excited to be back, full of holiday news and eager to write their journals. To say they were keen is an understatement. I started with a whole class focus reviewing punctuation and linking sentences. We talked about sequencing events and making sure our writing is as exciting as our speaking.

Assessment: What am I looking for in my students writing that evidences their progression along the continuum?  VELS – English Continuum: Writing  

Prep – Expected Standard  SOURCE – SOFWEB

At Level 1, students write personal recounts and simple texts about familiar topics to convey ideas or messages. In their writing, they use conventional letters, groups of letters, and simple punctuation such as full stops and capital letters. Students are aware of the sound system and the relationships between letters and sounds in words when spelling. They form letters correctly, and use a range of writing implements and software.

End of Semester 1 – Year 1: Expected Standard

At 1.25, the work of a student progressing towards the standard at Level 2 demonstrates, for example:

  • inclusion of their own experiences when writing for personal purposes and audiences such as in lists, letters, cards, posters
  • inclusion of one or more generally readable sentences
  • some correct use of capital letters and full stops
  • drawings that support the intended meaning of their writing
  • plausible attempts at spelling unfamiliar words, matching sound–letter relationships and using some simple spelling patterns

End of Year 1 – Expected Standard

At 1.5, the work of a student progressing towards the standard at Level 2 demonstrates, for example:

  • experimentation with a range of short text types; for example, recounts, letters, lists, procedures
  • correct spelling of some high-frequency words and plausible attempts at spelling unfamiliar words
  • combination of writing with drawings or computer graphics to support meaning
  • rereading of their own writing, checking that it makes sense
  • sequencing of a small number of ideas in short texts for different purposes and audiences

Random sample of my student’s latest writing. These young writers continue to amaze me.








What do you think? I’ll share my assessment notes in my next post. Cheers Nina

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