Monthly Archives: November 2010

Over 40 000 visits to my blog- Amazing! Living things have a Life Cycle.

As part of our Inquiry into Living and Non Living, the children have been introduced to life cycles. We have looked deeply into the life cycles of butterflies, and frogs. The children are very familiar with butterflies, so we decided to look at this life cycle first. As a grade we read a big book about butterflies, and then discussed the concept of a life cycle. This was a very teacher modelled introduction to life cycles. The children drew the life cycle of a butterfly, and some examples are presented in this post.

Talking about life cycles has started many discussions among the children. The concept of living is established, and their understanding of non-living is developing. They are now starting to look at non living with scientific understanding. Having many appropriate books for this level about frogs, it seemed logical that we look at the life cycle of this creature.

The children were able to look at the books, and I read a selection to the grade. We discussed frogs in general, and then I asked them to draw their own frog life cycle diagram. This was student directed and not teacher modelled.

Having drawn their own frog life cycle, based on discussion and books read, I decided to give them pictures of the different stages of a frog’s life cycle and matching text. These were not in order. The children had to cut, order and match the text to each stage. This activity was designed as a listening comprehension activity.

The children really enjoyed this activity, and are very proud of their work. It’s interesting to note that they are starting to compare the life cycles of creatures to a human’s life cycle. They have also concluded that all living things have a life cycle. This link has developed naturally ‘out of their study’. The children have been very productive and engaged in this Inquiry.

Cheers Nina

NB: Over 40 000 visits to my blog…that’s incredible. It still amazes me how many people visit this space, and the comments and emails I receive. Once again, thanks for visiting! And please, keep sharing your thoughts and ideas with me.

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PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing / Inquiry: Examples of my student’s (5 & 6 Year Olds) collaborative writing & the teaching strategy that I promote!

The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using the skills and language generally used by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity, with each student committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children or to extend groups of children. The teacher can run a teacher led group at the same time, which I do regularly. Each child is identified by a color, and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and textas.

I use Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my student’s independent writing improves rapidly. I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching into my student’s independent and Interactive Writing. Modelled Writing and Shared Writing are also planned into a weekly program from week one. However, I keep coming back to this teaching strategy because I believe this strategy not only accelerates writing development, but also provides support for less confident young writers.

Interactive Writing is normally a small group; teacher led writing strategy. My desire is to make teaching and learning in my classroom ‘student led’, has ‘morphed’ this teaching strategy from teacher controlled to student controlled. My role is to watch for the transfer of learning, and listen to my student’s conversations which highlight their learning.

Interactive Writing is the strategy I use when we are writing about a shared experience. This week we went to our local beach to explore rock pools.

Inquiry: Sharing the Planet

Central Idea: Living things have needs in order to survive and grow.

Leaner Profile: Knowledgeable, Caring

Key Concepts: Form, Connection

Attitudes: Appreciation, Respect

In this inquiry we explore our local environment. As our school is a very short walk from the beach, we take the children to the beach to explore life in a coastal environment. Each year we organize Ben, known as Ben 10, from the Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit to lead our learning. Ben’s enthusiasm and knowledge is inspiring. He is a Prep hero! The Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit is supporting Inquiry Units across our school this term.


I’ve provided photos of my students Interactive Writing recount about our excursion. There are some great teaching points for the whole grade, and for individual students clearly identified. Because each child writes in their own color this makes identifying individual teaching points clear. I’ve also included a copy of the Writing Checklist (criteria) used by students to revisit and edit their writing. The checklist really guides the children through this process.

Cheers Nina


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The Ultranet: Release 2- My thoughts & recommendations….

So what is it? The Ultranet is,

‘The Ultranet is an online student-centered learning environment that supports high-quality learning and teaching and connects students, teachers and parents. It’s a 21st century online learning platform that takes learning beyond the walls of the classroom and provides a rich knowledge management framework for schools.’

Home – Community – Design – Express

‘Release 1: provides users with access to Web 2.0 applications and tools in many of its spaces.’

‘Release 2: introduces the Learner Profile and Learning Tasks. Learner Profile is the place to find and record up-to-date information about students. Learning Tasks is a place for teachers to plan, deliver and access learning activities.’

I recently attended a two day Lead User Professional Development as a Lead User to learn about Release 2. I’ve taken a few days to process my learning, and here is a brief reflection, and a couple of recommendations.


On the second day, I spent the morning with one of my Prep students. The student was asked to log on to the Ultranet with their password.  They then had to locate their task, complete their task, save and revisit. The timed log out was an issue as we spent longer on the task than expected. We were learning together. My student did complete the task, and I was able to review her work.

This is probably when I realized the potential of the Ultranet for teaching and learning, and eventually reporting to parents. Assessment is ongoing, and I can see great value in this. I enjoy working within the Ultranet, and have recently used its features as part of the Teacher Professional Leave reviews. I’ve now spent quite a lot of time in the Design Space, joining a discussion, completing a poll and uploading a criteria reflection. I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the Release 1 Spaces.

What will support teachers? My Recommendations:

1. Increase timed log out time for students, or have a ‘draft save option‘. If  this is available, it isn’t clear.

2. Have a play space for teachers. I would feel more comfortable learning in a space where I can make mistakes as I learn. Is it possible for a teacher to become a  member of their grade ( invented pupil), so they can set tasks, complete tasks, make comments and assessments… and delete?

The Ultranet coaches have the option of using a practice space. This is what teachers need. Maybe someone reading this will make a recommendation on my behalf. I see this as integral to the Ultranet’s success.

Cheers Nina


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Writing Reports: Victorian Essential Learning Standards Assessment Maps – A QUALITY LINK!

It must be report writing time in Australia, because my blog dashboard displays what terms teachers are using to search for help, but have actually arrived at my blog. Well, here’s a great link that I’m sure you’re aware of, and have seen. Sometimes it’s great to have a reminder.

The VELS Assessment Maps with annotated samples, video clips and activities, is in my opinion QUALITY.

Here is the link. 

Hope this helps!

Cheers Nina

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