Search This Blog

Reader's Workshop Celebrations and Book Recommendations

I'm moving from Year 3 to Year 6 in 2019. A colleague of mine is moving from Year 1 to my Year 3 classroom, and as she's been moving her teaching resources to her new room, she's been asking me about books that my Year 3 students have really enjoyed this year.

And that got me thinking: "Did I write that blog post about Reader's Workshop yet?"
The answer was: "No." Whoops! I intended to write this at the end of Term 2, after we'd created our book cubbies, but it must have slipped my mind.

Book Recommendations

During Reader's Workshop, I start with a mini-lesson on a particular reading strategy I think needs covering (as a result of reflection time and individual student conferencing, as well as what's planned for the term). To model the reading strategy, I use picture books. Picture books are perfect, as they are short and many have interesting or complex language structures or visuals to unpack as part of a mini-lesson.

3BH's Favourites for 2018

Some of our favourite books this year were:

We used this book to help us build our schema about friends and friendship at the beginning of the year. Using this reading strategy also helped us to build our classroom culture.

This book helped us to infer - using the text clues (words and pictures) and our schema (what we already know) to find out the extra meaning. It's such a simple book, with so many layered nuances, that my less confident readers loved it, but my confident readers returned to it again and again to 'find' more meaning.
This one helped us build schema and understand difference, and helped us to begin to unpack stereotypes. Also, it's rhyming and funny!
This one I used for a few lessons: we built schema about friendship and bullying, we made text to self and text to world connections, and we practised questioning.

This book was an absolute favourite of one of my students! She read and reread this book so many times I lost count. It was another beautiful one to build schema about friendship, and text to self connections.

As a read aloud, Matilda was one of our clear favourites! My class loved this, and The Witches. I think the longevity of these books is the theme of children triumphing over wicked adults in zany and ingenious ways.

I also read the first Spiderwick book, which resulted in all the following books being borrowed from our school's library so that the students could find out what happened to Jared, Simon and Mallory.
In second semester, we worked on reading non-fiction books, and what my teaching partner called 'faction' books - stories that have facts threaded throughout. We used summarising and research skills with these types of books, then created our own version of a 'faction' text.

Finally, ANY wordless picture book is fantastic for schema, inferring, questioning, connecting - basically any reading strategy! 

Book Tasting

At the end of Term 1, I hosted a Book Tasting for my class.

Check out the post HERE!

This was great fun, and introduced my class to new types of books. I especially loved watching them 'read' the wordless books!

Book Cubbies

At the end of Term 2, we designed, made, appraised, redesigned/remade some Book Cubbies to read in. This was an interesting experience for some of them, who were getting frustrated with their team members, and frustrated with the equipment (the pegs kept flying off!) but eventually, we all had a successful book cubby to sit or lie inside and spend some quality time reading. 

There's a few ideas on some books to read, and some ways to incorporate and celebrate the joy of reading with Year 3! A huge thanks to Alison who prompted my memory - this post is a result of our chat! Thank you.

Thanks for dropping in,

Twitter, #beersandbytes and GEG Leadership


For a very long time, I avoided Twitter. I just didn't see the point of it - to me, it was just another social media in a long list of social medium.

Then I went to Teach Tech Play in 2017 with Matt Miller as keynote speaker. And I finally understood how it could be used. Matt is such a prolific Twitter user and he showed me how I could avoid the #FOMO on all the amazing sessions I couldn't attend just by following the presenter and the session's hashtags.

I. finally. got. Twitter.

I exclusively use it for education. I follow fellow educators, particularly people who support others and share their wealth of knowledge (especially in ICT, Google and Digital Technologies) freely with teachers from all over the world. 

Teaching is a hard enough gig without the support of others, and I love that there are so many people on Twitter who share. 

My favourite Techie Educators to follow:

My international PLN

My local PLN

and of course, my fellow GEG Canberra leaders


If you're an Aussie teacher, you might also be struggling with the Australian Curriculum and especially, the Digital Technologies Curriculum. This is where #beersandbytes has been my hero! @wotsa and @tjfalusi host regular chats at Casey Jones Pub where like minded educators can connect and discuss the Digital Technologies Curriculum, all things ICT and Google, robotics, coding and STEM. 

I got the most fantastic book recommendation from one of the #beersandbyes sessions, "How to Code a Sandcastle". 

It's a super sweet picture book about a little girl called Pearl and her robot friend, Pascal. With Pascal's help, Pearl successfully designs a code to create a sandcastle, with some troubleshooting along the way. It makes coding so accessible to primary school aged students, and I can't wait to try it out with my Year 3 class. There's also "How to Code a Rollercoaster" being released, so I'm keen to get that one when it's available.

#beersandbytes has been a fantastic opportunity for me to expand my PLN and ask stupid questions of some very understanding educators who have been delving deep into the ICT Capabilities and the Digital Technologies Curriculum. 

This week, we read an article from the Bits and Bytes blog which helped me to understand the difference between ICT Capabilities and the Digital Technologies Curriculum. 

I loved this quote so much, and wanted to share it with my colleagues at school, so created a Canva image of it:

Check out Dr Rebecca Vivian's work on the Bits and Bytes blog!

GEG Leadership

Recently, I've taken on the challenge of stepping up my game when it comes to sharing my Googly knowledge. I run Google Drop-in sessions twice a term, and support my colleagues at school with the newest updates to Google through my Tech Tips Tuesday segment. 

I put my name down to become a GEG co-leader this year, and have been working with my fellow leaders to plan the direction for #GEGCanberra. It's quite a learning curve for me, but I'm excited to see where it'll take me. Currently, I am a Google Certified Teacher (Level 2) and I'm looking into the process of becoming a Google Certified Trainer (although this will really push me out of my comfort zone).

We'll see what exciting adventures GEG Canberra brings!

Thanks for dropping in,

11 Awesome Things About Google Classroom

Let's look at the layout of the newly updated Google Classroom. Some people hate it, others love it. 

I, for one, see so many more opportunities for me to streamline my class' Google and Chromebook experience using this!

Take a closer look HERE.

1. HEADER: I love my customised tie dye header! Check out this post here, at Alice Keeler's site to download her template and follow the directions to create your own masterpiece!

2. ?/WHAT'S NEW: If you are using the old Google Classroom (for anyone who set up earlier this year), you can click on the ? at the bottom right hand side to toggle the new 'Classwork' feature on.

3. LINKS: I teach Year 3 students, so anything that streamlines the process of getting a whole class of 8 and 9 year olds to a specific website is fantastic. My class is accustomed to heading straight to Classroom as soon as they log in to their Chromebooks.

4. BITMOJI: My class also find my Bitmoji hilarious - I've printed a few out and place them around my classroom. So it was a no-brainer to make sure my Bitmoji was on my Google Classroom as well! Check out Bitmoji here to create your own.

5. DIFFERENTIATE: Another fantastic feature of Google Classroom is that you can post announcements and assignments to the whole class, or to individual students. This can take you in whole new directions for group work and differentiation.

6. STREAM: For those of you who have used the older version of Classroom, the Stream is still the students' go-to hub for all materials and assignments. They just click on the link and it'll take them to the Classwork page.

Take a closer look at this HERE.

Speaking of the Classwork tab - here it is! I love this! 

7. TOPICS: In the older version of Classroom, I would diligently use 'Topics' to organise my posts... but it wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be. I didn't know what I wanted it to be... I just knew it didn't feel right. Along comes the update and BOOM! I love being organised (I've colour coded just about everything I can in my classroom) and have a reputation at school for being very particular about my things. This organisation using Topics just about blew my mind when I first saw it. It's a game-changer!

8. ORGANISATION: To further excite my organisation loving brain, you can re-organise the way the Classwork page is set up by clicking on the 3 dot menu and moving a particular topic up or down. This way, you can put the most frequently used topics up the top, where students can easily find them.

9. MATERIALS: Being able to add materials is also fantastic. I've been experimenting (fortunately, my class are very used to being guinea pigs when it comes to Chromebooks and anything Googly) and have tried out a few ways to share Docs with my class. The Google Classroom Help page for Materials describes this as: 
"As a Classroom teacher, you can post resource materials, such as a syllabus, classroom rules, or topic-related reading, to the Classwork page. 
Like other types of posts on the Classwork page, materials can be organized by topic, reordered, and scheduled to post later."
At the moment, the things I have placed up on Classroom as a Material is a Google Slide that I wanted everyone to edit and use. I'm sure this isn't the best use for this feature, but as I said, I'm experimenting.

10. GOOGLE CALENDAR: Of course, Classroom wouldn't be complete without integration. The older version of Classroom had Calendar integration, but it could be challenging at times to find exactly where it was. Here, it's all in one, easy to find place with all the other classwork. I haven't had the need to use Calendar (or due dates) with my Year 3 students so far, but can see that Year 5 or Year 6 students who are working in more of a 'flipped classroom' model would benefit from it.

11. GOOGLE DRIVE: Which leads me to something I did have cause to use, only this week. I showed my class of Year 3 students how to find the Drive folder associated with our Classroom, as we were planning our sharing for Learning Expo. I showed them how to Star a document so that it could be easily found in their Starred folder during Learning Expo to share with their families. Again, having everything right there in one place is fantastic for our younger learners.

For further reading on Google Classroom in particular (or generally anything Googly) I recommend these educator sites:

Alice has a whole section of her site dedicated to Google Classroom. Have a look through all the resources, ideas and templates she generously shares on her site. Matt also has a podcast of the same name, which shares bit-sized morsels of Googly goodness! Kasey has a Masterclass about Google Classroom if you want some self-paced, guided Professional Development with an expert.

I hope you enjoy using the new version of Google Classroom as much as I do!

Thanks for dropping in,

Goodbye Term 2!

It has just occurred to me (as I posted about Seesaw) that I haven't written a post all Term 2! Looking back over my Term 2 calendar, I realise why! I've had NAPLAN, two public holidays, an assembly to host, reports to write, school photos, Seesaw training, multiple ICAS competitions, Athletics Carnival, Robots in Space, a Chromebook trolley audit and an awards assembly! Next week, I have parent interviews!

My June looked like this:

Sadly, not a lot of green there. I'll work on it for Term 3.

My Chromebook trolley audit took a lot longer than I expected, but finally, all the Senior School Chromebooks are accounted for and relabelled with colour coded labels for each set. It soothes my organisation-loving brain to see these pictures!

I supported my amazing colleague, Caren, who guided a group of Year 5 students through the trial implementation of a new program, Robots in Space, supported by PwC. On Thursday, we went to the presentation evening and showcased our winning team against 11 other schools who participated in the trial.

Caren was pleasantly surprised when our team was named as third place winners! I'm so proud of her and how she supported our Year 5 students. 

So, I now have 5 more days of this term, and then have a break to recuperate and plan for an epic Term 3 (Book Fair, Book Week with book character parade, STEM showcase evening, Grandfriends' Day, Learning Expo and more!)

Thanks for dropping in,

Seesaw for Student Porfolios

Recently, my school has been trialling the use of Seesaw for student digital portfolios. I was a complete Seesaw noob, and had no idea what to do to use it effectively. First term was a bit of a write off - like I said, I had no idea!

Term 2 was getting better, thanks to a colleague who shared a Seesaw planning Google Doc that helped me keep on track and document my Seesaw posts. I decided at this point that I would bite the bullet and do the online training to become a Seesaw Ambassador.

I successfully completed all the training modules, became a Seesaw Ambassador and finally felt like I knew what I was doing! I love it! As an ambassador, I was upgraded to the paid version, which is fantastic. I particularly like the "Skills" tab, where I can assign skills to each Seesaw post and give a rating out of 4 stars for that piece of work.

I've also become excited about using "Activities", and getting my Year 3 students to share more of their own learning themselves. As it's the last week of Term 2, I have put together a simple Google Drawing that my students can then annotate using the 'drawing' or 'label' functions to write their Term 2 reflections (something I would have put into their hard-copy portfolios in the past).

The great thing is, when you create an Activity, it prompts you to share it with other teachers, so I shared it with my teaching partners. This way, they can edit it to suit their classroom situation and then share it with their classes, creating consistency across classes.

Thanks for dropping in,