Monthly Archives: October 2011

Preps (5&6 year olds) & graphs. How does ‘clumping’ a series of learning experiences help children understand a concept / skill?

So what is clumping? I often revisit a skill or concept and clump a series of planned  learning experiences for my children. The first learning experience is designed to gather prior knowledge. It’s always interesting to revisit a skill or concept to find out the learning entry point of each child. I usually note their answers in their language whilst looking for misconceptions.

This post follows on from Numeracy: Graphing – Column Graph. The children have completed various class graphs, collected data, inquired as to the purpose of graphs and revisited constructing a tally.  My students collected data on PD’s favourite sea creatures, completed a class tally and recorded the data on a graph for display.

Once the graph was completed my students were asked to make statements about what the graph indicated. These statements were recorded by the children and placed on the graph. The graph will be displayed as a reference point in the classroom.

This week my students will explore pie graphs using a colored bead necklace to help them construct their own pie graph. They will also independently construct their own column graph as an assessment item. The independent column graph will be annotated by the children to show their understanding of constructing a graph, creating a tally and drawing conclusions.

I’ve found that clumping a series of lessons on a particular skill / concept deepens my students’ understanding of what they have been taught. Having said this, all skills and concepts a regularly revisited and extended.

Cheers Nina


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If you could pack your ‘culture’ into a suitcase to add to another culture, what would you pack?

The Prep children made a little suitcase and have packed items of their culture and family traditions into it. What would you take from your culture to add to the culture of a different country? This group of children participated in ‘the little red suitcase’ activity at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and this activity followed on beautifully. This is also a special something parents will be able to keep.

The children have put family photos, their birth certificate, family history and traditions and other items of personal choice to take with them on their journey.

Cheers Nina

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Maths: ‘Counting on’ from 30. Making and drawing a model….

My students were given 30 packing ‘bits’ which are now biodegradable and made of corn starch instead of foam. These packing ‘bits’ are stuck together simply by wetting the ends and holding them together for a short time.

Each child was given 30 pieces to construct  a model of something of their choice. If new pieces were requested the children had to ‘count on’ and record the amount they were using. Each child had to construct their model, and when completed draw their model ensuring their diagram / drawing displayed the correct amount of packing pieces.

Cheers Nina

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Numeracy: Graphing – Column Graph

Last week my students explored collecting and graphing data. As a grade we collected data on our pets. My students learnt how to tally up the results and represent the tally on a simple column graph. The children were asked to draw conclusions from the graphs once completed. They were also asked to explain why information is presented in graph form.

My student’s conclusions as said:

Collingwood has the most

Collingwood got 6 and Hawthorn got 4

The most popular team is Collingwood.

The least – less popular teams are Geelong and Richmond.

The 2nd most popular team is Hawthorn.

The 3rd most popular teams are Essendon and Brisbane.

Geelong and Richmond are both ones.

St Kilda and Geelong have nearly the same amount of numbers.

Essendon and Brisbane have the same amount of numbers.

Brisbane and Essendon are the same.

Brisbane has nearly the same amount as Hawthorn.

St Kilda has 2 and Geelong has 1

Hawthorn nearly has the same as Collingwood. It just needed 3 more.

Collingwood won and has 6

Some of the teams have the same, some do not.

Collingwood is the big one.

St Kilda is nearly the last but Geelong is.

Geelong and Richmond have the least number.

Brisbane has got on top of Hawthorn.

Cheers Nina

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Term 4 – PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: French Day

Last week my school had French day to celebrate ‘all things French’. Our students learn French from week one of Prep. Young children learn a new language with ease, compared to adult learners. The children had a wonderful morning full of activities provided by French-speaking members of the community. They watched a French children’s film, played petanque, completed a French style painting among other activities. The children were asked to dress in French colors, or as something French. A special French lunch was ordered by our students.

This was a great opportunity to plan a PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing session as all children were involved in the day. A common experience (Language Experience) is needed for this writing strategy. This group of children are now composing their own text. As always, I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching in  their writing. My mantra is, just because I’ve taught it doesn’t mean they’ve learnt it. I have to look for evidence of my teaching and their learning. Reviewing their compositions informs my teaching. Each child is identified by a color. Names are recorded down the side in a chosen color.

The PM exemplar structure is evident in their writing and this group of children are able to articulate the WILF (what I’m looking for) and WALT (we are learning to) for the Recount genre. I love the fact that they are confidently using simple and some complex punctuation.

Cheers Nina

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Teaching Adjectives to Prep Students (5&6 Year Olds) – ‘Colouring In’ Words

A quick post: Today my students focussed on adjectives. Adjectives are introduced as colouring in words. My students understand we colour our pictures in to make them interesting and exciting for ourselves and others.

Introducing adjectives using this explanation works for this age group. The children and I completed several examples together. The example
sentences were: I have a dog. I have a kite. These sentences definitely needed colouring in.

After completing focus examples the children had to independently complete the activity. Their sentence was, I have a cat. I’ve included a number of random examples. This activity needs to be completed many times, it’s quick, and the children enjoyed sharing one of their coloured in sentences.

I’ll be looking for the transfer of my teaching in my students work. Just because I’ve taught something doesn’t mean they’ve learnt it. So important to remember!

Cheers Nina

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Differentiation – Scaffolding Writing Using Exemplars & Structure: Term 4 / Week 1

Using a recount exemplar to scaffold writing structure is assisting my students to develop needed control of their written text. My students have been extending their writing to include a title, sequenced detail and a personal comment. All children, at every stage of writing development are benefitting from using an explicit structure to support their writing. The examples below display the children’s use of the taught structure and features of a recount. These samples are of unassisted independent writing. The Level 1+PM Writing Exemplar book is providing extension at ‘point of need’ for students.

Before writing their journals, the children focus on the exemplars discussing the main features,  punctuation, spelling strategies, title, events and
time words. When modeling a genre to my students I always use the structure outlined in the PM Writing Exemplars. This term I am using a combination of PM Exemplars for Teaching Writing Book 1 and Book 1+.


Orientation: When? Who? Where?

Sequence of events: What happened?

Personal Comment

A large number of my students are now extending their writing and are excited by their ability to record events. These students are 5 & 6 year olds, and I’m amazed by what they are capable of. It’s interesting to see their use of punctuation developing in the examples below. Using commas, capital
letters, full stops, appostrophe of ownership, spaces between words and time words is evident.

The PM Writing Exemplars for Teaching Writing are large format books designed to help teachers model the conventions of written language in whole-class and small-group sessions. The books provide the initial introduction to each text type, presenting and deconstructing exemplars of the 9 text types taught across the 4 levels. The Exemplars for Teaching Writing form the start of the PM Writing suggested teaching pathways. The material presented in these books is reinforced through use of the Interactive Writing Pro Formas and Student Books. Each exemplar text is  presented over three double-page spreads.’ NELSON CENGAGE Learning

Monday’s Recount. Sample 1 – Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Final personal comment. Page 6

 Sample 2

Sample 3

Cheers Nina


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Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011: The ‘Concept Based Curriculum’ – Ken Robinson & Steve Jobs – Differentiated Teaching: Originally posted January 2010….

I wrote this post in January 2010 after an IBO workshop – The ‘Concept Based’ Curriculum. I remember carefully selecting Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement address to share, and support my educational philosophy. As teachers, and humans we need to reflect on our purpose, our goals and the footprint we leave behind. Steve Jobs’ footprint is amazing. The world lost an innovator, educator and ‘good bloke’ yesterday. Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

“you can’t connect the dots looking forwards, you can only count them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” Steve Jobs 2005

Original Post: January 2010

I’ve just spent three days at the IBO Asia-Pacific Workshop and completed the workshop – ‘The Written Curriculum’. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but on reflection it was far better than what I thought I’d be learning. The notion of the ‘teacher proof’ curriculum was introduced to me and now I understand why this is not the curriculum I want in our schools. I also now understand what a ‘concept based’ curriculum is. These two notions seem small, but in reality they’re huge.

It has enabled me to understand the difference between teaching a topic versus a concept.  So what’s the difference?

A concept is,

broad and abstract



share common attributes – represented by different examples

The concept based curriculum enables students to build knowledge and inquire. The ‘dots will connect’ as in Steve Jobs’ speech included in my earlier post and this post. I can see the connections between what Ken Robinson and Steve Jobs are saying. What do you think?

I’d like to thank our presenters, Scott and Nicole for reintroducing me to Sir Ken Robinson. We watched and discussed Ken Robinson’s interview on the 7.30 Report -ABC. You’ll have to go to the ABC site to watch the interview, but I have included two presentations by Ken Robinson below.

‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ Steve Jobs 2005

Post Script: I’ve listened to Steve Jobs’ address today and what have I learnt? Reflect to ‘connect the dots’, reflect to learn, leave a footprint you will be proud of, reflect to set goals,  except your past, learn from life’s experiences, but most importantly move forward to achieve your dreams.

‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’ Steve Jobs 2005

Cheers Nina

Nina’s Arena supports: The Fresh Air Fund


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Term 4, 2011 (Victoria) – Ready to roll….

For my international readers, Term 4 of our Victorian school year commences next week. Thank you for your emails, and I’ll do my best to write on the specific topics requested. I’ve made a committment to post twice a week, and I’ll be including detailed explanations of educational pedagogy (time permitting). To my Australian colleagues, hope your holidays have been restful and all the best for Term 4.

Cheers Nina

Supporter of The Fresh Air Fund

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