Lest We Forget

It was interesting (and a bit sad!) to me this last week as I talked with numerous classes about the upcoming Remembrance Day this Friday (November 11th), that many students confused Remembrance Day with ANZAC Day. It then occurred to me – if students get confused, how many teachers truly understand the difference? We all know that both days are special days of reverence and importance – but do YOU know the difference? After I’d explained it to multiple classes, I had one teacher tell me that they were previously confused too. Here’s a quick explanation to help clarify any misconceptions for you and your students….

ANZAC Day – Celebrated on April 25th, it is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations (including those currently serving).

Remembrance Day – is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth Nations to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Originally called Armistice Day to commemorate when the armistice (truce) was signed at the end of World War 1 in 1918 “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”, it was renamed Remembrance Day after World War 2 to acknowledge those who lost their lives in all wars, not just World War 1. It is not a public holiday in Australia and is often overshadowed by ANZAC Day.

In the United States, Veterans Day is observed on 11 November, and is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states.

Other countries around the world celebrate their special day of memory at various times throughout the year, not necessarily on November 11th.

I have created a few free resources to compliment your studies of Remembrance Day. I hope you and your students find them useful.

free-animals-in-war-timefree-diy-display-series-remembrance-day    free-red-poppies-papers

I LOVE Running Records – seriously!

Testing is one of those things that as educators we are told to do and realistically need to do, but it often brings with it stress from students (and parents!) and only shows a fraction of a student’s ability.


Want a copy of my FREE Running Record Assessment Folder to help keep track? Keep reading!

Of all the testing types we are mandated to conduct during each school year, the one that I genuinely enjoy doing is Running Records.

WHAT??!?? You enjoy testing????

Stick with me here because there are a few reasons that you just might relate to:


REASON 1: One on one time

While we always try so hard to have one on one time in class with ALL students during each and every day, in hindsight it’s simply not a reality. There will always be a student who needs more help than others and often the more capable ones miss out. When I announce to my class that I will be calling on them to come and read to me to do a Running Record I always get a little cheer. It’s a chance for students to have some direct and designated one to one time with me. The students know I respect them, as I know they do me; and I enjoy giving them my full attention so they know they are being heard.

To help give my full attention on each reader, I wear super cute Minnie ears. This lets the rest of the class know that they can only interrupt the reader if it’s an emergency.

REASON 2: Reading aloud

When was the last time you read out aloud to yourself (other than a story to the class)? I know I always read quietly to myself in my head. Students often forget what their reading voice sounds like and it’s a good chance for them to listen to themselves. They may think that they sound fine (in their head) but it is extremely important to practise reading out aloud to work on infliction, expression, pausing appropriately at punctuation and pronunciation, just to name a few.

REASON 3: Personal feedback

One of the best things about listening to a child read is the ability to give feedback to help them understand their strengths, the areas they need to work on and them have them know that I appreciate their efforts. I always finish off a session with an individualised discussion based on what I’ve just heard. It is important for students to be in control of their own learning but also understand their strengths and areas for growth. For example, I would start the conversation off with… “I really like the way you … used expression in your voice / sounded out the words you didn’t know / went back and self-corrected when you realised you’d made a mistake” etc. This opens up the dialogue and lets the child know that I appreciate their efforts. Secondly I let them know what their personal goal should be and what they need to work on. For example, “Your goal to continue becoming a better reader is…… pausing when you see a full stop or comma / adding some energy into your voice / visually scanning ahead to the next part of the text to help increase the flow of your reading’ etc etc. I will then also model directly what I am suggesting they work on with a small piece of text.

I believe that by giving personalised feedback then puts the control back in the hands of the students. They are aware of what they are doing well and what their next step is to become a better reader.

REASON 4: Comprehension

This is the area most students struggle with – especially the inferential questioning component of the tests! By building inferencing into our daily lessons, my students are becoming increasingly stronger in being able to answer various question types. It also allows me to have a bit of a snapshot on how students are progressing in this tricky area of literacy.

For many teachers, Running Records are simply a thing that need to be done and done quite quickly for a snapshot, however I like to take my time and use it as a chance to compliment what is already being taught in the class.

Grab your free copy of my Running Record Assessment folder by clicking on the cover below:

I’d love to know – what do you think of running records? What works for you and what needs tweaking?

✏️❤️ Katie

Integrating Technology Made Easy

Christmas Day of 1987, I’d just turned 9 and had been begging ‘Santa’ for a computer. They were extremely expensive back then and you needed to fast forward and rewind a cassette tape to load data (even pre floppy discs!). Aaah that high pitched ‘eeeeeeeee’ noise brings back memories. Well the day arrived and I was so excited! By dinner time the next night I had the back casing off it with a screwdriver I’d found in my dad’s shed and had analysed the inner workings. The look on my dad’s face was priceless when he walked into my room.

Somehow I managed to put it all back together, and got it all working perfectly again. From there my love of all things computer related began.

Over the years I have been teaching my students various computing tools and programmes to assist with their learning. 15 years ago the ‘big’ thing to use was word processing, which then progressed into creating brochures in Publisher and PowerPoints. These days the curriculum refers to sharing ideas and now in the age of interactivity, this translates into areas such as skype, coding and showing students how to create apps/programmes themselves to demonstrate their learning.

I love using QR codes. I’ve been using them for a couple of years now and have taught them from reception (5 year olds) up to year 7. The result is always the same – a sense of ownership over the task, delight at having an instant response and a sense of achievement when students create their own. From there I progress onto teaching students how to make their own and embed it into their work.

When talking to my colleagues I was surprised at how many have never heard of what a QR code is, let alone used one. Next week I am putting on an after school workshop for my school’s staff and to coincide with this, I have created a handout entitled ‘A Beginner’s Guide to QR codes’. (Click on the image below to download your own free copy!)

FREE A beginners guide to QR codes








If you’ve never used them either – you must download this free handout. It explains what a QR code is, what they are used for, how to make your own and ideas on how to use them in your classroom. Included is a mini lesson plan on how to introduce them to your students, along with a one-page step by step pictorial on how to create your own. It’s explained so simply that even your students could follow it to make their own.

Go on! Have a go!!!

Looking for more ideas for using QR codes? Check out our growing Pinterest board.

TTFT – Create a random picker jar

Tuesday Tip for Teachers: It’s very easy to constantly call upon the same students each time to answers questions (you know the students I mean – the ones with their hands always up ready to volunteer an answer?) Put a new twist on it and make yourself a random popstick tin / jar. Simply write the name of each student on a popstick and then paint the ends with a cheap nail polish. I place the popsticks into a tin with the colour end upwards, then when a student has been called upon I flip it over to hide the colour. This works amazingly well for choosing students to work together, selecting someone to answer a question or even choosing a group of students to participate in a certain activity first. Students understand that this is a fair system and over the years I have discovered that they genuinely do appreciate it being used.



Student Birthdays

It’s always hard during the year with seasonal celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, accommodating for individual student’s beliefs and backgrounds. Growing up, birthdays were always genuinely special days in my family. They were days of love and being consciously aware that you were valued. Because of this, I enjoy acknowledging a student’s birthday and making sure they know that they are a valued member of our class.

I wanted ‘my kids’ to receive a small token gift from me to make them smile and realise that I did indeed know it was ‘their’ day. When you have a large class, it is very easy to spend a fortune. (Ok hands up who’s made this mistake – I’ve got both up right now!). It doesn’t need to be this way. I regularly get huge smiles with a simple ‘good morning birthday boy/girl’ when students arrive, however I do like to present students with a token gift just from me.

One of my favourite things is bubbles! I love bubbles! I buy a pack of 24 mini bottles from the discount store for $5 (at approx 20c per gift that’s a bargain!), then I simply attach a little tag and I’m done!

FREE Student Gift Brithday Tags






If you would like a copy of the tags I use, simply click the picture above for your free download. I’ve included a variety of tags for you to choose. I’d love to hear how you recognise student birthdays in your class!