Great Barrier Reef Art Idea

Great Barrier Reef Art Idea

In Year 6 science, we have a unit called Reef Warriors. The children explore how the growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment. What better way to explore this concept than by looking at the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem! One that is in a constant battle of balance so that the plethora of species that call it home can continue to thrive and survive.

As part of this unit we encourage teachers to recreate the reef with their students using this fun Coral Reef Sculpture Art Idea.

And I thought it was just so fun that I couldn’t just keep it hidden in the unit. It had to be shared! So here it is… the steps we followed to create a Coral Reef Masterpiece!

coral reef art idea | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

What You Will Need:

  • Carboard from boxes
  • Alfoil
  • Cardstock
  • Collage paper
  • Recycled materials
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Crayola Model Magic clay
  • Hot glue gun (optional)

Instructions:

Step 1: To begin this project I cut out the sculpture bases 20cmx10cm (but you can use any sized base really – just remember though, whatever size you do choose to use, the larger the space your students will need to cover with their reef – so you probably don’t want your base to be too large!) and covered them with alfoil (you can get your students to do this part if you like).

Step 2: Then, after showing your students an example of one you have made up prior to class (which I find is best practice when doing art projects to help students see the bigger picture before they begin) have your students use the collage paper and cardstock to experiment with different folding techniques and arrangements on their alfoil base to come up with reef looking structures. Your students may like to try rolling their paper, folding their paper accordion style, and cutting their paper into a fringe and then rolling it. These techniques all work great from my experience. Maybe have them show you their structures before they glue them down but if you don’t have time for this encourage your students to at least place their pieces where they would like them to go before gluing so they can plan their layout.

Step 3: Allow your students to glue their paper structures to the base.

Step 4: Once they have these paper structures in place, your students can now begin using the Model Magic clay (this clay will air dry so is fantastic for simple projects like this).  The clay can be used to create additional coral pieces or be used to help hold other things in place like their recycled materials (bottle caps, pipecleaners, straws, etc) that they would like to add to their reef to create different looking coral structures. If your students are feeling creative they may even like to add some animals living among their coral using the materials available to them.

great barrier reef art sculpture | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

And there you have it! A super simple art idea, that is delightfully open-ended and will result in not only some fantastic art sculptures but also some pretty happy students as well!

Given this a go? Please tell me all about it in the comments below!

Yours in teaching 🙂

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 – Changes you need to know about!

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 – Changes you need to know about!

So your school has probably mentioned that either next year or in the years to come, your school will be transitioning to using the new version of the Australian Curriculum (Version 9.0)! Yey!! Everyone loves rewriting units and lessons plans to meet new curriculum requirements! – SAID NO ONE EVER!!

But don’t worry! I have read through the documents for you and am going to give you the teacher friendly summary of the content changes you need to know about – well for HASS, Health, Science, English and Maths anyway… I’m still getting through the other content areas!

If you are keen to reduce your time pouring over curriculum documents to find out what has changed and what has remained the same and spend more of your time watching Netflix… then read on!

Australian curriculum 9.0 changes

Summary of the key curriculum changes

Firstly, let me run you through some of the basic changes to the new curriculum that make it a superior version to that of its predecessors:

  • a 21% reduction in the number of content descriptions so the curriculum can be taught with depth and rigour
  • the English curriculum has been given a stronger focus on phonics
  • the Maths curriculum has been given an overhaul so that the content being taught is age-appropriate. The content to be taught is now more explicit in the content descriptors as well.
  • content has been removed from HASS significantly and is now clearer and easier to understand what needs to be taught.
  • a greater focus has been placed on the understanding of First Nations Australian histories and cultures, the impact on – and perspectives of – First Nations Australians of the arrival of British settlers as well as their contribution to the building of modern Australia
  • consent and respectful relationships has been added to be explicitly taught in Health lessons
  • Science has been refined so that content is more age-appropriate

So with these key changes in mind, let me run you through a few more specifics for each key learning area.

English Australian curriculum changes

Here is a summary of how I would approach teaching the various writing genres in each year level to meet the needs of the English Australian Curriculum Version 9.0:

Writing Scope and Sequence | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

Maths Australian curriculum changes

The first thing you will notice with the new Maths curriculum is that the content structure has been simplified to 6 strands (Number, Algebra, Measurement, Space, Statistics and Probability). They have also raised the standards for teaching some concepts by introducing them earlier.

Here is a summary of the content for each year level in Maths and how I would squeeze it all into the year:

Australian Curriculum 9.0 Maths Scope and Sequence

Science Australian curriculum changes

The content for Science has had a nice shake up. I believe the content is now far more age-appropriate. Understanding how day and night works is now no longer a concept that you need to teach to Year 3 students but has been moved to Year 6 where it will be understood better. The Water Cycle has also been gifted its own content descriptor after its omission from previous versions of the curriculum. Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 teachers can also look forward to only having to teach 3 Science units each year due to the content shuffles in Science!

Here is a summary of the content for each year level in Science:

Australian Curriculum 9.0 Science Scope and Sequence | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

HASS Australian curriculum changes

The biggest change you will notice to HASS is that the content has been significantly reduced and I believe the content descriptors that have remained are now much clearer with supporting elaborations that more definitively explain how each content descriptor might be approached.

Here is a quick summary of the content for each year level in HASS:

Australian Curriculum 9.0 HASS Scope and Sequence | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

Health Australian curriculum changes

Health unit topics probably won’t change much for you but several content descriptors have actually been dropped from Health which makes the content so much easier to manage and teach. The content descriptors are clearer and a lot easier to read. New content descriptors have been included to strengthen the explicit teaching of consent and respectful relationships including content that addresses the role of gender, power, coercion and disrespect in abusive or violent relationships.

Here is a quick summary of the content for each year level in Health:

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 Health Scope and Sequence

Overall, the updated version of the curriculum, in my opinion, is certainly an improvement on previous revisions. The reduction in the amount of content to be taught will hopefully simplify the teaching and learning experiences you need to provide for your students and allow room for you to explore topics in more detail and with more meaning!

But if you are still feeling overwhelmed by all these changes… never fear! Our soon to be released Ridgy Didge Membership will take all the stress out of planning for the new curriculum changes. Keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of weeks as we reveal our unique membership package to help you overcome the change of curriculum blues!

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 Summary of Changes | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

Yours in teaching,

Top 10 Classroom Games: That Won’t Cost You a Cent!

Top 10 Classroom Games: That Won’t Cost You a Cent!

How often do you include games in your classroom? Some people may argue that games are a distraction from doing more academic type activities. But games can be highly academic and serve as a vital inclusive activity option that can help all students connect with content that might be otherwise difficult to engage with. Learning should be exciting for students and what better what to ignite this excitement than with a game! Let us share some of our favourite classroom games that won’t cost you a cent to set up in your classroom and can be used in almost any subject.

TOP 10 CLASSROOM GAMES | RIDGY DIDGE RESOURCES | AUSTRALIA

1. Charades

This simple but classic game is a great way to encourage your students to get out of their seats and participate in the lesson.

What you will need: a list of people, actions, or concepts related to the subject you are teaching.

Game: Select a student to stand at the front of the room and act out a word from your list (no speaking allowed). The rest of the class must then guess what the student is attempting to portray. Other students can shout out their guesses or put their hands up – depending on your teaching preference! Whoever guesses correctly can act out the next word.

classroom charades | ridgy didge resources | australia

2. Hangman

A traditional but interactive game that improves students’ spelling and subject knowledge, but is also enjoyable.

What you will need: whiteboard and pen or interactive whiteboard, plus a list of subject-specific words to inspire your students.

Game: Divide your class into two teams then select a student to stand at the front of the class and think of a word related to the lesson (or you could give them a suitable word). The student must then draw spaces on the whiteboard to represent each letter in their word. The rest of the class then guesses the word, one letter at a time (allow one student from each team to guess alternately). Incorrect guesses result in a hangman being drawn (one line at a time). The first team to guess the word wins, unless the hangman is completed. The game then repeats with another student thinking of a relevant word.

Alternative: If you feel a hangman would not be appropriate then use a different image – either subject-specific or think creatively e.g. a spaceman or snowman.

3. Scattergories

This fun game will encourage your students to think ‘outside-the-box’ and draw on a range of subject knowledge.

What you will need: pieces of paper, pens/pencils and a list of subject-specific categories e.g. Earth and Space (topic): rocks, landforms, weather, and solar system (categories).

Game: Split students into small groups and ask them to note down the categories on their pieces of paper. Choose a letter (A-Z) at random and give students 1-2 minutes (depending on how many categories) to think of a word for each category, beginning with that letter. Once the time is up, allocate points for unique answers, i.e. if two teams write down the same word for a category then neither get any points. Repeat the game with different letters.

Example: Letter M – Topic: Earth and Space
Rocks: Metamorphic
Landforms: Mountain
Weather: Mist
Solar System: Mars

Alternative: If your class only has a small number of students then they could fill in the categories individually, rather than working in teams.

4. Bingo

A quick and simple game that never fails to motivate students in their learning.

What you will need: whiteboards and pen or paper and pen/pencils, plus a list of subject-specific terms or concepts e.g. numbers, phonics, key vocabulary, scientific formulae, or historical figures.

Game: Ask students to draw a 6 x 6 grid on their whiteboards or pieces of paper then select 6 words or images from the given list to draw/write in their grid. You must then randomly select a word from the list to describe, and students must guess the word in order to cross it off on their grid (if present). Continue describing different words until one student successfully completes their grid and shouts ‘bingo!’ (you can also award a prize to the first student who gets 3 in a row).

classroom bingo game | RIDGY DIDGE RESOURCES | AUSTRALIA

5. Puzzles

This creative group game encourages students to work together and visualize academic concepts in an abstract way.

What you will need: images, words, calculations, or concepts printed or stuck on card/paper and cut into random shapes (puzzle pieces) e.g. maths calculations, chemical equations, subject vocabulary, historical figures, etc.

Game: Separate your class into groups (or simply use table groupings) then hand out a puzzle for each group to piece together.

PUZZLE CLASSROOM GAME | RIDGY DIDGE RESOURCES | AUSTRALIA

6. Draw Swords

This quick-fire game tests students’ fine motor skills and promotes quick thinking, as well as generating some healthy competition.

What you will need: Dictionary or textbook, plus a list of key vocabulary.

Game: Split your class into small groups and choose a student from each group to start. The nominated student then places the dictionary or textbook under their arm. You then say a word or image which the students must then race to find in their book (like drawing a sword from under their arm!). The first student to find the word/image is the winner. The game continues with different words/images until every student has had a turn.

7. Hot Potato

This fun classroom game encourages students to think on their feet and draw on a range of subject knowledge.

What you will need: a soft toy, object, or item for each group to pass round e.g. bear or ball, plus a list of subject-specific themes e.g. numbers – prime, composite, rational, fractions, decimals, etc.

Game: Divide your class into small groups and hand out an object/soft toy to each group. The person with the object in each group will start. You name a title or theme, e.g. prime numbers, and it is then a race against time for the student to give 5 correct responses, e.g. 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, before the item/soft toy has been passed around everyone in their small group and returned to them.

hot potato game | ridgy didge resources | australia

8. Pictionary

An old classic but also a great way for students to visualize their understanding in a fun team game.

What you will need: whiteboards and pens or pieces of paper and pencils/pens, plus a list of subject-specific concepts.

Game: Students work in small groups. One student from each group is chosen to start and they must draw the subject-related concept you state, within a given time (30 seconds – 2 minutes). The rest of the group must then guess what he/she is drawing. The first group to correctly guess the word wins. The game repeats until every student has had a turn/there are no more words on your list.

Alternative: Students could model concepts using playdough for their peers to guess.

9. Heads Down, Thumbs Up

Although this game isn’t academic, it is an excellent behavior management tool that endorses hard work amongst students.

What you will need: n/a

Game: 3 – 4 students are chosen to stand at the front of the room. The rest of the class then put their heads on the table and hold their thumbs in the air. The 3 – 4 students at the front then carefully tip-toe around the classroom and gently pinch one thumb each, from the students with their heads down. The 3-4 students return to the front of the room, once they have pinched a thumb, and the class raises their heads. The students whose thumbs were pinched then stand and have to guess who pinched them. If they guess correctly then they swap with the student at the front, and the game continues.

Alternative: To make this academic you could ask subject-related questions to select the students for each round.

10. Contest

This game can help students study lesson content and quickly analyze information, making it beneficial for reviewing test material.

What you will need: White board

Game: You draw two circles on a board or projector screen and label one “Yes” and the other “No.” Separate students into two teams and call one representative from each to listen to a statement and decide if it’s true or false. The first student who taps the circle with the correct answer wins the round for their team.

classroom game in progress | RIDGY DIDGE RESOURCES | AUSTRALIA

So there you have it! Our favourite no cost classroom games. Would you add any other games to this list?

Inside a Ridgy Didge Resources Writing Unit

Inside a Ridgy Didge Resources Writing Unit

So you might have stumbled across our website when you were doing a quick google search, or you may have been buying our resources for years and have now realised that we sell detailed Australian Curriculum 9.0 aligned Genre Writing units that would save you an immense numbers of hours planning and sourcing activities.

Whatever your history with use, I bet you are here on this page for the same reason.

Because you are keen to know what is included in our Australian Curriculum 9.0 aligned Genre Writing units.

So let me take you for a little tour through one of our most popular writing units: our Year 1 Narrative unit.

Australian Curriculum Writing Unit | Ridgy didge resources | australia

What is included?

Every Writing unit you purchase from us will include a detailed unit plan, including a series of at least 10 lessons and an assessment rubric that supports the suggested assessment idea in the unit. It is intended that this unit would carry you through one term.

year 1 narrative unit plan overview | ridgy didge resources | australia

You will also receive an activity pack which includes posters, activity sheets, games, teacher activity guides and writing structure templates.

Our approach to teaching writing

Here at Ridgy Didge Resources we use a Scaffolded Literacy approach to teaching genre writing skills. Scaffolded literacy is an integrated and sequential approach to teaching reading, spelling and writing. It uses rich texts to explicitly model genre writing to learners, so that they are clear about how good writers use language to create effective written pieces. You can find out more about the Scaffolded Literacy approach here on our website.

Scaffolded Literacy Writing Pedagogy | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

The Unit Plan

– The basic overview with all the relevant Australian Curriculum 9.0 details specific to that unit.

year 1 narrative writing unit overview | ridgy didge resources | australia

– This is very detailed and is written carefully to ensure you understand how to implement each of the suggested activities.
– It also outlines what materials you will need to support each lesson.
– Internet links are provided where relevant and are checked regularly to ensure they are working links.

year 1 narrative writing lesson sequence | ridgy didge resources | australia

– This is broken up into 6 different sections which are all specifically relevant to the suggested assessment activity in the lesson sequence. The different sections are: Writing, Editing, Punctuation, Grammar, Spelling and Handwriting
– Assessment criteria is based on the Achievement standard for that year level. Content descriptors are used only to help explain the criteria a bit further if necessary.
– Our aim with the rubric is to make the language clear and simple for teachers, parents and students alike. We believe a rubric shouldn’t be cryptic but rather should be easy to read and understand to make marking and reporting easier.

year 1 narrative rubric | ridgy didge resources | australia

The Activity Pack

The activity pack is complete with loads of activities, posters, templates, games and teacher guides to make your job of sourcing activities when teaching a specific genre just that much easier.

year 1 narrative activity pack | ridgy didge resources | australia

Each pack is organised in order of when they are mentioned in the unit to make them easy to find and at the end of each activity pack we give you photos of what some of the activities will look to help you understand what needs to happen with these activities. Where appropriate we also include answer sheets to make marking a little bit easier 🙂

year 1 narrative activity samples | ridgy didge resources | australia

And so that is it! A writing unit in a nutshell!

Of course we spend hours researching, planning and ensuring our units are of the best quality to make your life, as an Australian teacher, easier and less stressful.

If you have any questions about any of our writing units, please leave a comment below or email me at admin@ridgydidgeresources.com where I’ll happily get back to you with the answer.

You can find all our writing units here!

Happy teaching!

Scaffolded Literacy: An Integrated Approach to Teaching Writing

Scaffolded Literacy: An Integrated Approach to Teaching Writing

Scaffolded Literacy. Have you heard this term?

We use it a bit here at Ridgy Didge Resources but when we communicate with other members of our Ridgy Didge community about this scaffolded teaching approach to writing we get some blank faces.

So we thought we would clear a few things up by answering a few of our most frequently asked questions about Scaffolded Literacy.

Scaffolded Literacy Approach | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

What is Scaffolded Literacy?

Scaffolded Literacy is an integrated and sequential approach to teaching reading, spelling and writing. One of the primary aims of this approach to literacy teaching and learning is to make explicit to struggling or confused learners, the strategies effective readers and writers use.

Think of a scaffold and its purpose to support something, like a contractor painting a house. It is carefully constructed in several parts to help the contractor do his work. Scaffolded Literacy is based on a similar concept of support. It uses explicit instruction and modelling to carefully demonstrate to learner’s how to be a good reader and writer, enabling them to grow and develop the skills they need to achieve.

What are rich texts?

The approach encourages the use of rich texts as models for understanding how specific genres are written effectively. These rich texts are read and re-read for different purposes, including for enjoyment and also as a means for understanding sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and spelling guidelines.

The rich text chosen is usually a level or two above your learners normal reading and writing level. This encourages the learners towards higher level reading, writing and spelling and a deeper understanding and appreciation of rich language and writing standards.

Scaffolded Literacy Choosing a Text Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia
There is much to consider when choosing an appropriate text. See my suggestions below.

Why Scaffolded Literacy?

Scaffolded Literacy is a highly inclusive approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling. The approach enables a teacher to easily and seamlessly differentiate in their own classroom and meet their learners where they are at. All children can work from the same rich text regardless of their ability and a teacher can scaffold or support each individual student depending on where their skills are. And all with very little extra effort from the teacher.

Have you noticed changes in your students quality of writing?

I personally have seen significant changes in my student’s ability to read and write as I have applied the pedagogy in my own classroom.

Take for example this transcript of a child’s writing from Year 3. It demonstrates the parallels between the kind of writing struggling readers will produce and the text of the books they are given to read. Think Level 8 PM readers. If that is the only kind of texts that a struggling reader is exposed to, then you can understand why their writing is like this:

‘One the weekend I went to bowling it was fun we went to Hungry Jacks we went to the shop it was fun we went to our friend’s house it was nice we saw a video it was cool it was so cool’

It is clear from the example that they have not grasped the idea of punctuation.

Compare this to a Year 3 child who had worked with a Scaffolding Literacy teacher on the text The Twenty Seventh Annual African Hippopotamus Race, a book benchmarked at Year 4 level, over a six week period. Using an extract from the book for text patterning to model effective writing and rich language the student then produced the following text:

‘About eight o’clock last Thursday night, with the wind howling like wolves and the blossoms on the plum tree falling like snow, and our neighbour practising the piano, my Mum got dressed like a tornado. After checking her luggage she whirled right to the front door, gave her two boys a kiss and a quick hug, threw her bags into the car and waved goodbye as she drove off to the airport.’

Need I say anymore!

Scaffolded Literacy Text Desconstruction | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia
Scaffolded Literacy Text Deconstruction Activity

How does Scaffolded Literacy work?

  1. Text Selection
    Select a rich text (I’ve outlined points to consider when doing this below)
  2. Text Orientation
    Here you will introduce the learners to the text as a whole. You will provide the learner with an overview of what the text is about. No opportunity is given for the learners to speculate or guess what the text might be about from clues given by the title or by illustrations. This can be confusing to weak readers and can also result in discussion that draws attention away from the text.
    The teacher then identifies and explains aspects of the overall text such as genre, author information, etc. Whose ‘voice’ is telling the story or providing the information is another important element of which the teacher needs to draw explicit attention. This is then followed by a brief synopsis of the plot, including information about the setting and characters. Also included in the overview will be an explanation of the reasons why the teacher and learners are going to work on this particular text.
  3. Aural Orientation
    Here you will read the whole text to the learners. The teacher’s reading will tune learners into the sound of the words and rhythm of the text.
  4. Language Orientation
    This step in the process will provide a more focused examination of the author’s language features. It is usually carried out by using an extract from the text, ranging from one or two sentences with young readers to one or two paragraphs with older readers. There are many things to consider in this step which I will not cover in order to keep this blog post to the point, but I would highly recommend reading Scaffolded Literacy by Beverley Axford to find out more here.
  5. Scaffolded Reading
    We don’t use this step in our Writing units as it isn’t necessarily relevant to the writing process but it is here that students are then called upon to carry out the task of reading the text extract on their own.
  6. Preparing the Writing Plan
    The aim of the writing plan is to reinforce for the learners what the author’s language is doing. This is a high level text analysis but is made possible because the teacher and learners have already built considerable shared knowledge about the author text.
  7. Reconstructing the Author Text
    As a whole class you can now reconstruct the extract from the book you have been deconstructing together. This is modelled carefully by the teacher, with student input, to replace certain types of words or sentences to jointly construct a new written piece based on the Text Pattern of the extract.
  8. Generating new text using Text Patterning
    Now your learners can begin writing their own text based on the text patterns they have deconstructed in the extracts you have explored together. This is first done together as a whole class and then learners are given time to work independently on their own written compositions.
  9. Providing Constructive Feedback
    A great strength of this approach to writing is that the common knowledge about text that has been developed throughout the Scaffolding Literacy work can be drawn on to provide explicit suggestions and constructive feedback to learners on how to develop their writing further.
Australian Curriculum Year 1 genre Writing Unit narrative | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia
Take a look inside one of our Writing Units here to see what the Scaffolded Literacy looks like in action!

How do you choose a rich text?

  • As the aim of the Scaffolded Literacy approach is to make explicit the practices good readers and writers use, the teacher needs to go for depth rather than breadth. Teachers should choose a few well-selected texts and examine them in great detail and over time rather than using many different texts to model the same thing. This applies even to young readers.
  • Your selected text should contain examples of complex and syntactically rich language.
  • The text should be difficult but not too difficult. Vygotsky provides the theoretical bases for the assumption that for learning to take place the learner needs to work on tasks that are above their existing level of competence, but not so far above that success at the task will be beyond their reach.
  • The selected text should be interesting for both the teacher and the learners.
  • The text should be appropriate to a learner’s chronological age not their reading age. Because the strategies allow learners to work on texts they would not be able to read independently, teachers can choose texts with age-appropriate themes and language.
  • The selected text should included examples of the type of writing style or technique the teacher wants to teach the learners.
Scaffolded Literacy Text Selection | Ridgy Didge REsources | Australia
We have a great list of suggested texts for each year level that supports the Australian Curriculum here.

So there you have it! A super brief overview of Scaffolded Literacy.

Hopefully it gives you enough of an insight into why we so strongly believe that this style of teaching writing, reading and spelling is effective and why we use it as the basis for all our Genre Writing units here at Ridgy Didge Resources.

Got any questions? Leave them below and we will do our best to answer them for you!

Happy teaching!