Using Scratch to develop Year 8 coding skills

The Year 8s have been learning how to code using Scratch with Allan during term 1 this year. This online software allows students to learn the basics of coding.

Students used their knowledge of Scratch to create their own simple games based on existing games such as Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Pong or created their own original game.

The learning experienced while developing these games included:

  • Learning through trial and error
  • The importance of persistence
  • Breaking down big problems into smaller more manageable ones
  • Analysing errors and think about ways to correct them
  • Collaboration
Teacher quote "One of the most pleasing and perhaps unexpected outcomes I witnessed was the number of students who quickly became the expert at a specific area and then became the teacher helping other students to apply specific code to help their game. The idea that computer programmers are solitary people was quickly dispelled as the students realised the power of collaboration."

The video below shows a range of games created by the students.

Game 1 – Tic Tac Toe

Game 2 – Maze Runner

Game 3 – Pong

Game 4 – Donkey Kong

Game 5 – Timed maze

Game 6 – Virtual Pet (make sure your pet gets enough play time, is fed and sleeps)

This task  addresses TfEL Domain 2 Create safe conditions for rigourous learning and TfEL Domain 4 Personalise and connect learning. Element 2.2 build a community of learners - Encourages everyone to be a teacher and a learner (students became experts in specific areas of coding and supported others) Element 4.4 communicate learning in multiple modes - Engages learners in practical activities to develop understanding (creation of a game using code)

Computer Science Unplugged

Want to teach digital technologies to your class but not sure were to start? Maybe this website can help you. Computer Technologies Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. It requires no access to computers!

The website is suitable for lower primary aged students through to senior students and provides a downloadable book, activities and a wide range of videos to support the teacher in the classroom.

Below is a video example of an activity that supports students learning about Finite-State Automata (a Finite-State Automata follows a set of instructions to see if the computer will recognise the word or string of symbols). Sounds complicated but once you view the video it becomes clear. Click here to see the PDF of the activity that goes with this video (for ages 9 and up).

Thanks to Graham Cox who alerted me to this great resource.

Year 3/4 Chickens

During term 1 our Year 3/4 class looked after and hatched baby chickens in the classroom. This was done through a program called Living Eggs. Jackie organised all the resources required to set up and hatch the eggs through the Living Eggs program. The class was supplied with fertilised eggs, incubator and other materials needed to successfully hatch and look after the chicks.

Living Eggs supplies:

Embryo eggs, 2-3 days from hatching.

The Living Eggs incubators specially designed for classroom hatching.

A brooder box complete with heat light, bedding, feed and waterer is supplied which allows teachers and children easy observation and access to the chicks.

Teachers Resources, including hundreds of activities directly linked to the National Curriculum are supplied on a CD with the kit.

Colourful wall posters are supplied depicting Life Cycles and Embryo Development, depending on your pupils’ ages.

The kids were very excited throughout the whole program particularly when the eggs hatched. Watching the chicks breaking the eggs and coming out was definitely a highlight for the students (and staff) who got to witness it happen. For those of you who missed the chicks hatching there is a video below.

Student Power Point Diary – All students kept a diary from the time the eggs arrived to the time they left the classroom to go to their new homes (lucky students got to keep the chickens).

Photos and Video

IMG_0541 IMG_0854 IMG_0857

PBAS Professional Learning Community

At the beginning of the year a decision was made to use some staff meeting time (twice a term) to have professional discussions. These discussions would be teacher led and require the sharing of practice with the rest of the staff on a particular topic. We did this on a student free day last year with the topic “Storing and using evidence of learning for assessment”. Three teachers presented their work in this area and other teachers commented on how useful the presentations and following discussions where.

This week will see our first PLC discussion on the topic of Programming. Joelene, Kelly and Justin have kindly agreed to share their programming processes with us.

While these three have agreed to talk it would be great if everyone came prepared to contribute in some small way to the discussion either by sharing aspects of their own programming or be willing to ask questions of those presenting.

 Points for discussion could include the following:

1. How do you prepare a program? What type of format do you use?

  • Bring examples to share/show.

2. Do you have a detailed plan or work from a broad overview or do you have both? 

  • What do these look like?
  • How does your day to day planning look is it a different format to your more detailed plans or is it the same document?

3. How do you go about organising your resources and assessment tasks?

4. Is there flexibility in your plan?

5. How do you incorporate the Australian Curriculum into your planning?

6. Do you consider all aspects of Learning Design when programming or just some of them?

Detailed learning design


If anyone is interested in further reading around programming here is a draft document titled Planning for implementing – Australian Curriculum from the QLD Curriculum and Assessment Authority which discusses curriculum planning in schools. Page 5 provides a great overview for teachers titled “Elements of effective planning”.

PBAS Planning & Programming Expectations

As semester 2 approaches I thought it was timely to remind staff of the expectations around programming.

Teaching staff are expected to pass in a unit outline for curriculum areas that they teach. For staff who are new to this process please have a look at teacher unit outlines kept in the staffroom or catch up with me personally.

There is a standard proforma which can be accessed on the Admin drive in a folder called Programming Proforma. Staff are free to hand up their unit outlines on their own planning tool as long as certain basic requirements are met, which include:

  • Teacher name, Term/Semester, Year level, Year
  • Content outline/major topics
  • Assessment tasks/evidence
  • Resources
  • Pedagogy focus

The expectation in term 3 for program outlines:

  1. Teachers will email their program outlines to their line manager by the end of week 1 term 3.
  2. Place a digital copy of the program outline in the Admin drive\CURRICULUM AREAS\select the appropriate subject and year level folder. It is my intention is to phase out the paper copies stored in the staffroom.
  3. Program outlines can be for either term 3 or semester 2 (term 3 & 4).
  4. All SACE subjects are exempt from this process. SACE has its own process for submitting Learning and Assessment Plans. SACE plans are to be saved in Admin drive\CURRICULUM AREAS\SACE\2014.

At some point early in term 3 there will be some discussion about modifying this proforma to include the Australian Curriculum. This could be a one page addition to our current proforma that includes the Achievement Standard and content descriptors for that subject and year level. This page would involve no writing for teachers just the requirement to highlight the aspects of the Australian Curriculum relevant to the unit in question. Click on the link below to view an example of how this could look.

Click here to see the Year 7/8 HPE Australian Curriculum cover sheet that will be considered as an addition to the program outline currently handed up by teachers at the beginning of each term/semester. The intention of this document is to assist teachers to track how effectively they are covering the Australian Curriculum. Please view this document and consider if it is a worthwhile addition to our current documentation for 2015.

Please note:

  • If you want to view the link above you need to unblock the computer you are on i.e. go to You Tube and use your curriculum login to unblock that site (you may have to do this twice to make it work) and then click on the link above. Alternatively you could do it at home.
  • Individual teachers will not have to create the Australian Curriculum sheets. Adele Keleher has already completed many for R-7 and I will develop the 8-10 versions for each subject area.

Staff Feedback – PBAS Literacy Agreements

Next week we will be reviewing our current “PBAS Whole School Literacy Agreements” with Ali. These are draft documents  (R-6 & 7-12) and not complete. The R-6 document is further advanced than the secondary one.

We would appreciate teachers having a look at the document that relates to them and welcome comments related to that particular draft. It would be appreciated if staff can respond in the comments section of this post so that everyone’s views can be shared with other staff, leadership and Ali.

Please consider the following questions when responding:

  • Does it reflect current practice at PBAS R-12?
  • The R-6 organised the document under headings:
    • Modelled practice
    • Guided practice
    • Independent practice
      • What do you think of this formatting or would you prefer to outline reading, writing, listening/speaking, spelling, handwriting separately?
  • Do you see yourself in regard to literacy practice reflected in this document?
  • Does this draft consider Australian Curriculum English and Literacy Capabilities and all curriculum areas?
  • Does it consider the “Big Six” of reading instruction?


R-6 Literacy Agreement


7-12 Literacy Agreement

Australian Curriculum Resources

Thank you to Trish Boschetti for sending out the following links to websites set up by the professional bodies associated with the following subjects areas: Arts, maths, science, English, history and geography. The professional associations responsible for the following websites are: Australian Association of Maths Teachers, Australian Science Teachers Association, Australian Association for the Teaching of English, Australian Literacy Educators Associations, Primary English Teachers Association, History Teachers Association of Australia, Australian Geography Teachers Association and Education Services Australia.

These sites have been developed specifically to link directly to the Australian Curriculum.


Arts -POP

There are five art forms specified in the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. They are Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music, and Visual Arts. Arts-POP shows how each art form makes a distinct contribution to cognition by drawing on each child’s senses and imagination. Each art form is valued equally within the generic learning area of the arts. Arts-POP website

About Arts-POP

Home page Arts-POP


There has never been a more exciting time to study geography, with it being a subject vital to the education of every young Australian in the 21st century. GeogSpace has been designed to provide materials to support primary and secondary teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum: Geography. It has been developed by AGTA’s team of practising geography teachers, dedicated to ensuring all schools across Australia have access to a unique resource that reflects best practice using current technology and pedagogies. GeoSpace Website

Home page GeogSpace

AC History Units

AC History Units presents 8 units developed by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia to support teachers in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: History (years 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Unit 1, Teaching History, is a foundation unit, providing a brief introduction to the discipline of history. It ‘unpacks’ the skills and concepts, surveys approaches to teaching and provides an essential framework for the other units. Units 2-8 focus on topics relevant to particular year levels and are designed to provide very practical support in the form of teaching programs, sample ‘learning sequences’, a wide range of resources and assessment ideas. AC History Units Website

Home page AC History Units

English for the Australian Curriculum

Materials here comprise 12 year-level units of work, with 12 sequences in each, written by teachers and educators from a range of states, territories and educational settings. The writers have been guided in composition and worked as a team to collaborate in producing some 850 new elaborations of curriculum content, all supported by digital resources and interactive worksheets. All materials have been reviewed by teaching and curriculum specialists to ensure the highest standards in a clear and accessible resource that exploits the Australian Curriculum and can help reinvigorate the teaching of English and literacy. English for the Australian Curriculum Website

Home page English for the Australian Curriculum

Science Web Australia

The Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) in partnership with Education Services Australia (ESA) has prepared 15 units of work to support teachers in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Science as part of the Supporting the Australian Curriculum Online (SACOL). The units are designed for students in years F–10. These units have been written by experienced teachers using resources that are available online. Each unit consists of an overview, five lesson plans, and additional links and resources. Extension activities for gifted and talented students will be included for the units in years 7–10. Science Web Australia Website

Home page Science Web Australia

Top Drawer Teachers – Resources for teachers of mathematics

Big ideas   The big ideas that underpin the mathematics are explored and explained.
Misunderstandings   Some common misunderstandings and their causes are described and analysed. There is teaching advice, and activities, designed to avoid or correct these misunderstandings.
Good teaching   Key content is explained thoroughly. There are suggested teaching approaches and many suitable activities. You will find videos, slide presentations, worksheets, digital learning objects and more.
Assessment   Aspects of assessment are discussed.
  Activities   Student activities that appear in other parts of the drawer have been collected here. However, many of the pages contain further suggestions and ideas for other activities.
Downloads   All downloadable files, such as student worksheets, teacher notes, activity templates and video transcripts, are available here.

Pertinent professional readings are also included and accessed through the AAMT website. Where relevant, links have been made to the content descriptions of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. Top Drawer Teachers – Resources for teachers of mathematics

Home page Top Drawer Teachers – Resources for teachers of mathematics



Australian War Memorial – Memorial Boxes


The following text is taken straight from the AWM website.

If you can’t make it to the Memorial or you want to get more out of your visit, borrow a Memorial box.

Each box contains artefacts that students can handle, as well as photographs, case studies, uniforms, a video, oral histories, teacher’s notes, and more. Memorial boxes can be adapted for use across many areas of study and are accessible to a wide range of students, from lower primary to senior secondary.

There are six titles in the series:

  • Box 01– Australia in the First World War
  • Box 02 – Vietnam: the Australian experience
  • Box 03 – Too dark for the Light Horse: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the defence forces
  • Box 04 – Australia under attack!
  • Box 05 – We want to do more: the experience of women and children during the Second World War
  • Box 06 – Our war in the Pacific, 1942

Each state and territory has a complete set of the boxes, with duplicates of the most popular boxes.

The use of a box in your classroom is free (the school may have to pay for frieght and handling).

Boxes are available for loan in South Australia through the following contact: Elspeth Grant Email:


Click here if you would you like to view/download a pamphlet explaining each of the 6 Memorial boxes?

Click here to vist the Australian War Memorial Website and have a look at these great resources.

Australian Curriculum Lessons – Website

Here is a resource for teachers that provides lessons that are specifically designed around the Australian Curriculum. The subject areas covered by this site include English, maths, science, history and the arts. Year levels range from Foundation (Reception) to Year 10. I am assuming the web site has only been around since last year so not every subject area in every year level has lesson plans in it. English and maths have the most lessons while lessons are being added regularly (I noticed one uploaded on the 26th January 2013).

Lessons are split up into sections which include Summary, Australian Curriculum Links, Lesson, Assessment and Resources. I have had enough of a look through this site to highly recommend that you should look through it and add this site to your favourites list for future reference.

The home page shows the latest lessons uploaded across all subject areas and you can go back through all the lessons in this way or you can click on the subject area and year level at the top of the web page. The home page also shows links to popular lessons, lesson tags i.e. maths games and a search bar. You can also follow Australian Curriculum Lessons on Twitter at @AusLessons.

I would like to mention one specific lesson called Reciprocal Reading Groups Lesson. The reason is that reciprocal teaching was ranked number 9 out of 138 on John Hattie’s list of influences on student learning. Click here to view post on John Hattie. The lesson provides two great resources, one of which is a Power Point that outlines how reciprocal reading works. So for staff at PBAS who may have wondered how reciprocal teaching worked here is a great explanation applied to a reading lesson (series of lessons). Click here to view this lesson.

To go to the website home page click here.