Hi everyone!

This is my first post on the Australian Teachers Collaborative Blog. I'm Jem from Jem's Bright Buttons, and I'm really excited to be joining this fantastic team of teachers and bloggers!

Transition background

For the past four years I've taught prep (in Victoria that is the first year of school, which is known as Kindergarten, Foundation, Reception, etc depending on where you work) and I've been part of the transition team. Every year we work hard to make sure the transition from kinder to school is smooth and exciting for the new kids. We hold transition sessions, parenting sessions, information sessions and 'meet the teacher' sessions. But today I want to share our Transition Showbags!

Transition Showbags

Many years ago one of our wonderful prep teachers started to send home showbags, and it has grown since then. Our showbags are filled with fun things, informative things and useful things. I'll show you what we put in our bags this year, and explain how we get it all done!

What it looks like

We have used lots of different bags: brown paper bags, white paper bags, opaque coloured plastic bags. Different things will work for different schools, and different budgets. This year we used simple brown paper bags with handles, which we bought from a local '$2 shop'/discount shop.

What's inside it

The items inside have been developed over a number of years. Some are purchased, some are donated and some are made by the school. These change year to year depending on who is on the Transition Team, and what great ideas we've had throughout the year.

Below are some donated and some purchased items. We have two local banks, and we ask each of them if they have things that could be put into the bag. This year we got stickers, colouring sheets, balloons, bookmarks and mini coloured pencils. We also purchased and included a half-sheet of stickers and a 'fancy pencil'. Most of the items we purchase are through Officemax (a school stationery supply company) but we also buy things at '$2 shops'/discount shops.

These are useful items that students will (hopefully) use over the summer break to prepare themselves for school. We found this year that many students had poor scissor skills, so we included scissors in the bags. We gave them a dice with some suggested uses, a writing pencil to practice their pencil grip, and a whiteboard marker to write on a laminated ABC sheet.

To support their alphabet knowledge before they start school we gave them a laminated alphabet handwriting chart in our state font (Victorian Modern Cursive) and an alphabet chart with pictures (also in Vic Modern Cursive).

To help parents with preparing their children for school we gave them a Maths Tips and Ideas sheet, and Reading and Writing Tips and Ideas sheet, the Headstart sheet to outline things we'd like new preps to be able to do, and gave them an easy playdough recipe to support fine motor skills and hand strength development.

The favourite bits of the bag every year are the Morning and Night Time Routine cards and the Countdown To School card. New students love completing the different activities on the Countdown card and get excited to start school! The routine card supports parents to set up effective and sensible morning and evening routines to help students succeed at school.

Finally, we included a colouring sheet (our school uses rockets in our logo) and a Snakes and Ladders game - great for taking turns, counting, reading a dice, and learning that we won't always win games.

The last thing we add to the bags, which I don't have a photo of, is a student name card. It is typed in our state font and laminated so that new students can use their whiteboard marker to practise writing their name over the summer holidays.

How we make it happen

At my school we are lucky to have very supportive parents who volunteer to help with all sorts of things around the school. In this case, we got four parents to come in for a couple of hours over two days. As transition coordinator I organised all of the 'raw' materials (photocopied, collected, purchased) into a big box. The parent helpers laminated and cut all of the sheets, then they filled the bags following a list I provided them. The last thing they do is tie the name card on with curling ribbon.

At our second Transition Session (we have five sessions) we hand out the Showbags to each student. This gives them a chance to have a look with parents, and ask any questions about the items in the bags.

If you'd like to do something similar we have a few freebies for you! 

Paula (Paula's Place) has a fabulous School Countdown sheet available for parents to use. It's a list of suggested ideas to try in the lead-up to school, not requirements that must be completed. It's available free to our readers here. But it's only available until mid-January!


Chantelle (Miss Jacob's Little Learners) has an awesome alphabet chart in Victorian Modern Cursive, available for free on her TPT store.


I (Jem's Bright Buttons) have a free Victorian Modern Cursive handwriting chart available on my TPT Store, and the alphabet chart in one of my photos is available as a freebie on my store as well.



I hope you can take away some fun ideas for Transition into school, or even ideas for Transition between grades!


Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by our collaborative blog!

It's Christie, from My Mum, the Teacher and I'm so happy to be joining this amazing team of educators/bloggers and bring you my first post.


While I am a Primary trained teacher, for the past 3 years I've been working in High Schools as well. Working in a High School brings a set of all new benefits AND challenges, and one of the main reoccurring challenges that I've encountered has been that of cyberbullying.

After hearing about a particularly nasty cyberbullying incident involving some Year 7's, I thought I better look into this topic more and have a better understanding of the laws surrounding this growing issue, because no doubt this will not be the last time I am to deal with such an issue.

So here are some stats on Cyberbullying in Australia:

*Stats based on an online survery conducted by the Department of Communications IRIS Research, 2014.

What is Cyberbullying?

"Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully an individual or group with the intent to cause harm. The intended harm may be social, psychological and, in extreme cases, physical. Cyberbullying can cause fear, withdrawal, shame, guilt, loneliness and depression". (Australian Government). 

While conflicts between children are a natural part of growing up and can teach children resilience as well as social and emotional regulation skills, cyberbullying is a more complex issue that could involve:
  • Harassment - the posting of or sharing nasty, angry and/or rude messages;
  • Cyber-stalking - a form of repeated harassment where by with the aim to intimidate and create fear through threatening messages;
  • Outing - the sending and sharing or personal information about others that has been shared privately which may include sensitive personal information or images (often of a sexual nature);
  • Flaming - an extremely heated argument often containing offensive language. 
(2014. Kids HelpLine).

Cyberbullying includes name calling, abusive comments, spreading rumours, threats of physical harm, being ignored or excluded, having opinions slammed, online impersonation and being sent rude or upsetting images. - See more at: http://www.kidshelpline.com.au/grownups/news-research/hot-topics/cyber-bullying.php#sthash.nxuYYJcB.dpuf
Cyberbullying is complex and may include:[3][4]
  • posting and sharing nasty, angry or rude messages, known as harassment.
  • cyber stalking, which is repeated harassment usually containing threatening messages with the aim to intimidate and create fear.
  • sending personal information about others that has been shared privately which may include sensitive personal information or images, often of a sexual nature. This is known as outing.
  • an extremely heated online argument using rude and offensive language. This is called flaming.
- See more at: http://www.kidshelpline.com.au/grownups/news-research/hot-topics/cyber-bullying.php#sthash.nxuYYJcB.dpuf

When and how does it occur? 


Australia has been ranked as one of the top countries for incidences of cyberbullying. Research suggests that cyberbullying can include name calling, abusive comments, spreading rumors, threats of physical harm, being ignored or excluded, having opinions slammed, the sending of rude or upsetting messages and online impersonation, and can begin as early as in Primary school aged children. One study stated that 10-14 year old's are the most common age group reporting cyberbullying (50.6%), with 15-18 year old's following (44.2%) (2014. Kids Helpline).

Traditional 'bullying' is a deliberate psychological, emotional and/or physical harassment of a person or group by an individual or group. Unlike traditional bullying, which is usually face-to-face, cyberbullying can be an anonymous or 'faceless' act through SMS, Social Media, Instant Messenger (IM) and blogs/websites. This means that the offenders often feel a greater sense of power and protection due to the anonymity they have, while the victim can have an extremely high level of fear because the bullying can follow them almost anywhere, including into their house, meaning they feel they have little to no escape.

In Primary School cyberbullying usually focuses on physical appearance. When children head to High School this changes to a focus on relationships and the way people act.

So what are some of the reasons for children to bully others?
  • For power and strength over others;
  • As a means to gain popularity;
  • Detracting from their own feelings and insecruities by focusing on and highlighting the insecurities of others;
  • Using it as a way of bolstering their own happiness by revealing in others unhappiness;
  • They, themselves, are victims of bullying.

Impacts of Cyberbullying.

With the rise in ownership of mobile devices the occurence of cyberbullying is rising, and due to its covert nature can have severe implications for those who are the victims, including but not limited to:
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness or depression
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment 
  • Decreased academic achievement levels due to lack of concentration and fear
  • Truancy to avoid the bullies
  • Decreased mental and sometimes physical health
  • Negative behaviours and attitudes towards family and friends
  • Self-harm and in some cases, suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

The Law.

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 aims to provide a new safety net for children who have been a victim of cyberbullying or are not satisfied with complaints made to social media services regarding online bullying incidences. The Commissioner from the Office of the Children's eSafety was established as part of the Act and has a wide range of functions and aims to enhance online safety for children.

To find out more regarding The Act, the Telecommunications Act 1997, Criminal Law for each state and territory and other law information, head to the Australian Government's site. 

What can we as parents and teachers do?

Whether you're a parent or teacher (or both) there are some things you can do to help. First, there are signs to help your recognise cyberbullying that you should be aware of:
  • A reduction in socialising with friends and/or family;
  • Avoidance of school;
  • Sudden aversion to using their mobile devices and technology;
  • Little to no and complete withdrawal from extra curricula activities such as sport, music etc.;
  • Agitation when a message comes through;
  • Minor to severe self-harming behaviours; and
  • Changes in mood and behaviour that are abnormal.
If you suspect that your child or a student is a victim or offender, then you will need to:
  • Take the time to listen and understand the situation and incidences;
  • Explain the power dynamic of bullying;
  • Develop some options and solutions;
  • Increase other positive experiences; and
  • Enlist the help of others.
More information about this can be found on the Kids HelpLine website. 



The following websites have some fabulous information and resources for teacher, parents and children!
The Australian Government has set up a great list of activities for use in the classroom for both Primary and Secondary classrooms here. Be sure to have a look through these valuable resources!

Australian Government Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner. Cyberbullying. [Online]. Available URL: https://www.esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyberbullying 

Kids HelpLine. (2014). Cyberbullying. [Online]. Available URL: http://www.kidshelpline.com.au/grownups/news-research/hot-topics/cyber-bullying.php
Hi everyone

Kylie here from Ripper Reading Resources.  Today I am going to share with you some of my favourite ideas for supporting higher order thinking when teaching reading.

I am passionate about the teaching of reading and it is the focus of my research.

High yield active comprehension strategies

Firstly, it is important to explicitly teach the high yield active comprehension strategies.  Some teachers introduce each strategy in isolation and then integrate each of the strategies as they are introduced.  These are some of my favourite resources for explicit comprehension strategy instruction:

I also like to include the high yield active comprehension strategies in literacy rotations.
I do this in a number of ways, including the use of hands-on resources.  These include my reading comprehension die for guided reading groups, reading comprehension strategy keys for literacy stations and the reading comprehension dice game.  

You can download the dice game for free by clicking on the image below:

4H Reading Strategy

I love the 4H reading strategy.  It's an innovation on Question-Answer-Relationships (QAR), however I have found that the children find the language much easier.  QAR is an evidence-based approach developed by Taffy Raphael.  The 4H reading strategy is an innovation on QAR and Three Level Guides.  

The 4H reading strategy is also an innovation on the 3H reading strategy, developed by Prof. Lorraine Graham, Professor of Learning Intervention at the University of Melbourne. See:  

Graham, L. & Wong, B.Y.L. (1993). Comparing two modes in teaching a question-answering strategy for enhancing reading comprehension: Didactic and self-instructional training.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 26 (4), 270-279.

The 4H strategy is really simple - is the answer literal, right here in the text? Is the answer hidden, do I need to think and search? Is the answer my own opinion or based on my past experience; so is it in my head?  Or, is the answer how I feel and therefore in my heart?

I have created many resources based on the 4H reading strategy using picture books as a focus.  
For the next two weeks, you can download a free copy of my detective 4H reading strategy bookmarks by clicking here.  Find out about the complete resource by clicking on the image above.

If your students struggle with the categories and language of QAR, give the 4H reading strategy a whirl :)

Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching is another evidence-based approach developed by Palinscar and Brown that is proven to improve reading comprehension through small group discussions.  

A few years ago I extended the traditional four strategies in reciprocal teaching (i.e. predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising) to include more of the high yield active comprehension strategies.  You can read my published articles about this approach here - in English (guided reading) and Mathematics.  My latest versions of this work are my best (I think) and include interactive notebook pages and graphic organisers to support each of the high yield active comprehension strategies in English and Mathematics.  You can read more about this approach at my blog post here.   
When I introduce reciprocal teaching for the first time with a class or within a school, I usually begin with the Connectors or Into Connectors series from Scholastic.  Jill Eggleton, the author, wrote the Connectors series first (for Years 5-7) and it consists of non-fiction titles with the four prompts for predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising.  She then wrote the Into Connectors series for Years 3-4 and it includes both fiction and non-fiction texts and more reading strategies integrated into each text as prompts.  You can view a short YouTube clip about the Into Connectors series by clicking on the image below.

One caution from the clip above though.  Jill mentions that the Connectors and Into Connectors can be used for small group independent reading.  I always have an adult (teacher, teacher aide or parent) work with the group, so they can assist the students to "suck" as much meaning as possible out of each page - it's not a race to get through the book - and in fact, in one 20-30 minute reading group, we may only actually work on the one double page spread.

I then introduce the role cards in small group guided reading sessions, with each student taking on one or more of the reading roles.  

I was working with a group of teaching principals here in southern Queensland earlier this year and have created an even better version now!  I am unsure about you, but I find as a teacher I am constantly thinking, re-thinking, re-developing etc.  

I think this is my best version of my work in this area to date, but I have only developed a HOT Reciprocal Teaching kit for guided reading in English so far. Click on the image below to find out more:
This version also includes graphic organisers and introduces five different questioning options for teachers - the 5W and 1H (who, what, where, when, why and how); thick and thin questions, the 4H reading strategy; QAR; and the Question Creator (sometimes called the Question Matrix or Q Chart).   

You can see in the image above that there are eight role cards, with each student in a reading group responsible for one of the roles.  Teachers may remove a couple of the role cards if they work with six students in a reading group, or two students may take on two of the roles.

To celebrate the launch of our new Australian Teachers' collaborative blog, I am going to give away one free copy of my HOT Reciprocal Teaching Bundle to one lucky blog reader who enters via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.  

Perhaps you could also share in the comments how you have used reciprocal teaching in your classroom or other ways that you support higher order thinking in the teaching of reading?  

Collaborative Reading Workshop

Sometimes the simple things can be the most effective and this is the case for my Collaborative Reading Workshop approach.  

You can read my published article about this approach here.  I much prefer the published version, but I can't seem to find a copy of that for free online.

If you are a middle or upper primary school teacher, or a secondary teacher, please go to the back of the article where you can read my students' responses to the lyrics of Michael Franti's song, "You Can Bomb the World to Pieces, But You Can't Bomb it Into Peace" - I still get goosebumps when I read the depth of their thinking :)

On the left, you can see my old daggy version of the charts that I used in my classroom and on the right my lovely new digital version :)

Collaborative Reading Workshop is a really simple process where the teacher and students annotate the text together, marking their thinking and then the students share their burning questions, wonderings and connections (individually with the whole class).  The thinking that is generated just snowballs!  The students then work together to find the answers to their questions.  The process supports the students to move from literal, to inferential and evaluative comprehension.

Hopefully you have picked up something new from this blog post.  

I would love to hear about how you support higher order thinking in your teaching of reading, so please leave me a message in the comments below.

Happy teaching :)

Hi there!

Chantelle from Miss Jacobs Little Learners here! :)

Mathematics is one of my favourite subjects to teach due to its hands-on nature and all the fun lessons I get to plan and teach. So today, I thought I would share some maths lesson ideas that you can adopt into your classroom to get your little ones engaged in their learning.

Number - Partners to 10

A fun way to teach partners to 10 is to use some hoola hoops and small bean bags. Line the children up into teams of 5-6 in each team. Place one hoola hoop in front of each team and give the first child 10 bean bags. They are required to toss all the bean bags (one at a time) into the hoop. Once they are done, they then record how many they got into the hoop and how many that landed outside the hoop. This is their partners to 10 fact! Once you play a few rounds, bring the children together to discuss and share their findings. You can create an anchor chart to put up on your maths wall so make sure you take some photos!
This can be used as an addition or takeaway lesson as well.

For an extension, you can get the kids to work on partners to 20 and use 20 small bean bags instead of 10.

Number - Multiplication/Division

When introducing multiplication or division I like to use the children themselves to help demonstrate putting things into 'groups'. It just gives them a more authentic experience. In this example we then went on to count by twos to see how many children there were altogether. (4 groups of 2  or 4 X 2)
We also used teddies to demonstrate 3 groups of 7 (3 X 7).

Number - Early Counting

Give your students lots of experience using objects to encourage one to one correspondence in the early years. Unifix Cubes, Teddies, Counters, Animal Counters etc. You can even get the children to record the numbers using post-it-notes. Matching the digit with the collection of objects is a vital skill for your little ones to learn in Foundation / Grade Prep.

Time - Human Clock

Teaching time? Why not create a human clock! 
Use your students to be the numbers and hands. (I like to choose a tall student for the minute hand and a shorter one for the hour hand!) 
Give the children some different times to make and let them go for it! 
This activity can be used from Foundation for teaching basic clock features all the way up to Years 2 or 3 when teaching about quarter past or quarter to etc.

Measurement - Area

Area is so fun! Whether it's a Grade Prep (Foundation) lesson or a Grade 3/4 lesson, get the kids up and about measuring things in the classroom rather than just squares on worksheets!

Trace around a student and fill their body using a variety of objects from the classroom.

Measuring the area of a foot using play dough. (Foundation / Grade Prep)
This Year 3 student is measuring the area of the window using post-its notes!

Measurement - Mass

These children have created their own balance scales using objects around the room. What a great way to reinforce the concepts of 'heavier' and 'lighter'. You can really get lots of authentic mathematical language out of this activity whilst having a lot of fun!!

These children are enjoying weighing objects around the room using scales to explore mass.

Measurement - Length

Measuring length is another mathematics topic which allows students to move around the room rather than stay put on their desks with a pen and pencil. During the early stages of this topic, children are required to use informal units of measure such as hand spans or objects around the room rather than formal units like a ruler.

Its often great to integrate your current topic when teaching measurement. Eg, If learning about Bugs, you could create your own worms using play dough or paper for the children to measure. Who has the longest worm in the grade? Learning about the Zoo? Why not create some snakes? How about dinosaurs? This child is using dinosaur footprints to measure the length of the room. How gorgeous!

Need some more ideas and resources???

I have created this Length Measurement unit suitable for Foundation to Grade 1 which includes a series of hands-on measurement lessons with stop by step lesson plans, warm up games, assessment tasks and rubrics. You can find it here in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, Miss Jacobs Little Learners. 

What are your favourite hands-on maths lessons??
Back to Top