Teach your students about what the happened during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 with the book “One Minute’s Silence” and these teaching activities.

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I’m Not Afraid of my Words
spelling chart

In my first year of teaching I became a little frustrated with students thinking that I was a walking dictionary. At the time I taught several classes so I wasn’t able to implement strategies I had been taught about at university, such as “have-a-go” books (otherwise I would be drowning in books).

In the end I found a novel little idea on Pinterest. A chart in the classroom to get them to have a go first.

I have searched my Pinterest boards for the original pin and also on the Internet but haven’t managed to find it again. The idea though may have be based on Lisa Cleaveland’s idea which is featured in a book. I believe the book is entitled About the Authors: Writing Workshop and Our Youngest Writers  written by both Lisa Cleaveland and Katie Wood Ray. An excerpt featuring Chapter 4 of the book (which includes the aforementioned chart) is included and available to download for free from Heinemann’s website.

The pin I saw had a paper version (but was just about identical to the one I made) – this was not going to work with me with other 250 students every week coming into the class – I would be forever making up or photocopying pages. In the end I decided to make mine on A3 paper (mine was actually two A4 sheets glued together and mounted on cardboard as I didn’t have an A3 colour printer!). One glued I laminated. The students used whiteboard markers (I prefer the thin whiteboard markers available from Kmart – in the US and Australia)

Office One thin whiteboard
markers available at Kmart

I constructed three in total based on the original pin. The columns read as follows:

* Name
* Write what you HEAR, So it will be CLEAR!
* Spelling

The example to the left is from a grade 1/2 class. These three cards survived (barely) to the end of the year – yes, I got a whole school year out of these! They look quite worse for wear though. In my 2/3 class last year they only lasted 6 months before needing to be replaced. Either way it is good value for money.

I cleaned them as needed, or at the end of the day, with a cheap face washer and eucalyptus oil.

This was a good way to get the students to have a go at spelling. A lot of the time they would find another student had already had a go and could recognise the word by the way the other student had spelt it. It also encouraged a sense of pride among students once they began to spell more accurately.

Some of you may wonder about those reluctant kids – did they want to show the case they couldn’t spell very well? Yes, they did. I found it took a couple of weeks (and many redirections to the chart) to get some to have a go but we did eventually get there.

Feelings: Being Scared - a blog post about an activity to discuss what makes people afraid of things. Miss Jenny's Classroom

Most people are scared of something in their life – what that ‘something’ is will vary from person to person. This activity looks at ways to discus the feelings of being afraid in a classroom setting. View Post

Book Week 2015

A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land by Simon Barnard is shortlisted by CBCA for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

This information book focuses on the 73,000 convicts that landed and lived on Van Diemen’s Land (now known as Tasmania) after being transported there by the British. It investigates how they lived, what they wore and other experiences.

Text Publishing has free prepared teaching notes and activities ready to use.

Treasure Explorer (by the National Library of Australia – NLA) has a detailed list of the daily rations a convict would receive and a list of activities applicable to ICT research, mathematics and food & nutrition (home economics).

For The Term Of His Natural LifeFor the Term of His Natural Life is an Australian miniseries about Rufus Dawes from England who is unjustly convicted to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830s. He is forced to leave his family and inheritance behind. While he slaves and falls in love as a convict an imposter sets to work in England to claim his inheritance.

This is a fantastic series however it is a LONG one. In order to get through the entire 6 episodes (520 min in total) you will need to plan your lessons around it/

An app were released in 2012 along with the movie which are available on For the Term of His Natural Life for $9.99 AUD each (correct as of 8th May 2015).

Treasure Explorer (NLA) has a free lesson plan that can be used in conjunction with the series including a craft activity.

* write diary entries from Rufus’ point of view after each viewing. Include what you are seeing, feeling and experiencing.

* reflect and discuss how different Rufus would have been dealt with in the courts now.

* consider the positive and negative consequences of Rufus’ transportation and present these thoughts.

* imagine you are the sentencing judge in England. Justify your guilty verdict in a persuasive essay.

If you are looking for a focus on music then take a look over on YouTube at U2’s song “Van Diemen’s Land” (or watch below). This version has the lyrics on screen as well.

Lyrics Depot have the lyrics available as well for free.

If you are looking for a more traditional ballad (with more scope for discussion in particular) then I highly recommend the lyrics of “Van Diemen’s Land” aka “The Poachers” available at The Contemplator.  This song was popular through the 1800s and this version was recorded in 1893. This site also has a couple of links at the bottom to associated websites.

GoIreland has a slight variation of the ballad as well, depending on your lesson focus.

This ballad (in part) is also available on YouTube being performed by The Dubliners (watch below).

The lyrics to The Dubliner’s version is available for free over at Traditional Music.

* study the vocabulary used in each version

* write a comparison of the two different versions of “The Poachers” ballad.

* write your own ballad about life as convict


(c) National Library of Australia

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has a picture and explanation of the convict uniform.

* discussion regarding the choice of colours used in the uniform.

* design was very important in the development of convict uniforms. Design a different version of the uniform that would still enable leg-irons to be worn.


The State Library of New South Wales has a digital copy to view and explanation of the painting “Governor Davey’s [sic – actually Governor Arthur] Proclamation to the Aborigines, 1816 [sic actually c.1828-30].”

This is especially important as it features an Indigenous perspective and demonstrates the impact of the British colony on the local tribes.

* write a story to tell what is happening in the painting.

* hold a debate where both the British and the Aborigines’ view are considered

* write a description of what you are seeing in Van Diemen’s land from two perspectives: British and Aborigines.

Book Week 2015: Visit the Pinterest board full of ideas and books related to this years' BooK Week



Click on the board cover to the left and Follow my Pinterest board for links, ideas and more for Book Week 2015

Pig is a very selfish pug dog. He shares an apartment with a sausage dog called Trevor who sadly is always on the receiving end of Pig’s bad temper. All Trevor wants is one toy of his own but Pig is determined that they are all his. View Post