Miss Galvin Learns

August 16, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
0 comments

The Jungle Bully (R.I.C.)

Slide1Welcome to part 3 of my review for R.I.C. Publications! If you haven’t already, check out my reviews of some of their English and Maths resources.

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The last item I have for review, is the textless big book The Jungle Bully ($29.95). This book is A3 in size (see below for comparison with an A4 book).

IMG_4602This beautifully illustrated book deals with the topic of bullying, and how those situations can be dealt with and resolved, all through oral discussion about what is happening in the illustrations.

The following narrative description is taken from R.I.C.’s page:

A small monkey is bullied by other monkeys in his community and, feeling sad, runs away to be by himself. Seeing a group of happy animals, he decides to take his frustrations out on a harmless gorilla, and does this while the gorilla’s friends are distracted or sleeping. Although much bigger than the monkey, the gorilla doesn’t retaliate; but rather than remain silent, he finds his friends and tells them what happened to him. The animals decide to confront the monkey and talk about what he did to their friend.

The monkey, now realising the gorilla has a support network, appears worried about what they will do to him. The animals give the monkey a chance to tell his side of the story and are saddened by what they hear. The gorilla and monkey are left to discuss how they can move forward and how the gorilla and his friends can support the monkey.

They come up with a plan where all the animals can work together so they can all enjoy the jungle and keep the monkey safe.

IMG_4603I love using wordless texts with students, because not only does it reinforce the practise of using/paying close attention to the illustrations, but also because it allows students the opportunity to make their own meaning rather than purely being influenced by the words the author has chosen.

IMG_4604At the back of the book, you can find extensive teacher notes, or you can download them from R.I.C.’s website, too. These notes have extensive questions for discussion with students, ordered by page so you can tailor the depth of your book discussion to the needs of your class.

IMG_4619You can also download printable masks in black and white and colour (I printed the BLM ones) for use with the class. This provides plenty of opportunities for role-playing to build the connections established through the storytelling process.

I think this would be a great book to add to any school’s collection of student well-being resources – no matter where you are in the world – because it deals with a topic that students really struggle with. Discussing it through the medium of a story can make it very accessible even to young learners.

Thanks so much to R.I.C. Publications for the wonderful opportunity to review all of these fabulous resources. Don’t forget to check out their website, and my reviews of their English and Maths resources.

Happy weekend, friends!

Sig_NewBlog2014

 

 

August 15, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
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R.I.C. Maths Resources

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Last weekend I shared with you a review of R.I.C.‘s new Australian Curriculum-linked English resources. This weekend I have the 2nd and 3rd parts of the review, starting with this review of some of their recent Maths resource releases, and I can’t wait to get started!

IMG_4606First up I want to look at the New Wave Mental Maths A book ($11.95). There are 7 books and a teacher resource book in this series, so there’s something for all year levels. You can download some sample pages from the R.I.C. website here by clicking on the Book A link.

Because Book A is aimed at 5-6 year olds, it’s a scrapbook size book (see below, compared to an A4 resource book) and slightly larger. It also has coloured pages and the best way to use it would be to have one book per student.

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As a daily maths activity, students can track the tasks they complete at the front of their books.
IMG_4608Activities are organised by Week # and Day of the Week, with each weekday having between 4-5 different mental math activities to complete.

IMG_4609 These books would be great for students to use first thing in the morning (as morning work) or as an early finishers task during math lessons. Alternatively, if you run math rotations, it could be one of the activities during the rotations.

I really like the variety of questions and the visuals and visual prompts students are given which will eventually aid in them being able to complete most tasks independently.

IMG_4611Next up is the Number and Algebra Foundation book ($6.95/$7.95). Again, this book series goes all the way up to Year 6.

Like the Mental Maths book, this book is a colour resource and as the title would suggest, focuses on the Number and Algebra strand of the Australian Curriculum.

The Foundation book has two sections: Number and Place Value and Patterns and Algebra as per the curriculum. The bulk of the Foundation book focuses on Number and Place Value, and the sections are marked by colours – blue for Number and Place Value and pink for Patterns and Algebra (see below).

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IMG_4614Wearing my Foundation teacher hat, the layout of this is wonderful because it’s clean, simple, and very easy to read. The text and images are large enough for the little learners in my class to have room to work on the activities.

IMG_4615The final maths resource book that R.I.C. sent me to review was the Year 1-2 Fractions Book ($32.95).

I was really excited to get a peek at this book because even though I’m not currently teaching in a Year 1 or 2 classroom, fractions are one of my favourite maths topics to teach, especially over the last 3 years when I had my Prep/1 class.

IMG_4616The book itself is broken in to two sections – Year 1 and Year 2.

Within those sections, there are teacher notes, warm-ups, resources, BLMS, assessments, checklists and answers – everything a teacher might need to keep track of student learning and progress.

Most of you know I’m a firm believer in hands-on learning (especially in maths) but having access to a collection of high quality resources such as the ones found in this book do make it easier to collect student understanding, because we do still need to collect evidence and these can form one aspect of that evidence.

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IMG_4618These are perfect for copying for your class – whether as a whole group, small group, or even using the activities included (enlarging them) and completing them as part of your focus or summing up activities.

Like all the reproducible books produced by R.I.C. the layouts are clean, free from any unnecessary distraction with all activities being relevant to the topic.

 

I’m looking forward to using these resources in the classroom, so a huge thanks to R.I.C. for the opportunity to do so!

Don’t forget to check out my review of their English resources and stay tuned tomorrow for a review of their new anti-bullying Big Book! Also, head on over to R.I.C. Publications to check out more of their wonderful resources!

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August 8, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
0 comments

R.I.C. English Resources

Slide1Hi guys!

I’m back toward with the first of approximately 3 posts that I hope to have up this week showcasing some of the new Australian Curriculum-linked resources produced by R.I.C. Publications. (

Some of you may remember that I did some reviews last year, and when I received an email asking if I was interested in doing some more reviews, I was really excited because the resources R.I.C. produce are always of very high quality and perfect for classroom use! To that end, a disclaimer that all products in this post were sent to me to review, and all opinions are my own!

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First up, I’ll talk a bit about the Australian Curriculum Literacy series ($39.95). I received the Foundation book (perfect for Kinder/Prep/Foundation students). This series is designed to focus on the sub-strands of interpreting, analysing, evaluation and creating texts from the Literacy strand of the curriculum.

There are 18 different imaginative and informative texts provided in this book (including familiar tales like Chicken Licken and Rub-a-dub-dub), and each text has a teacher information page and two comprehension/activity pages (seen below).

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The format of all these pages are simple, clear and perfect for completing as a whole class, or with small groups of students. I’ve used samples of these pages with my class during Literacy rotations, with parents working with a small group, reading through the text and working through the corresponding activities. This would also be great if you need to leave activities for CRTs because the teacher notes are included.

IMG_4525As with all R.I.C. publications, the curriculum links are provided at the front of the book, with all activities highlighted across the various progression points in a very clear, user-friendly way.

IMG_4528The next book I want to share with you is the Foundation book from the Australian Curriculum – Literature series ($39.95). Much like the Literacy series, the Literature series focuses on the Literature strand of the Australian Curriculum and its sub-strands.

It also has 18 different texts – original texts, retellings of folktales, fables, legends, myths and fairytales, including some Indigenous tales, too.

As with all their books, the presentation is very clean, and easy for young students to navigate. This would be fantastic for use with the whole class or small groups.

IMG_4529I particularly love the detailed teachers notes included with the series – as a teacher who mentors/assists Grads in their first few years of school, detailed notes like this are invaluable to supporting teachers in the classroom. Even those of us with years of experience can always benefit from a refresher or just a new way of approaching the teaching of familiar concepts.

The other nice addition to the student activity pages are the way R.I.C. have coded the questions that students answer. Each question has either a LC (Literature and context), RL (Responding to Literature), EL (Examining Literature) or CL (Creating Literature) next to it, highlighting the sub-strands of the Australian Curriculum.

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IMG_4533The next series is the Australian Curriculum – Poetry ($32.95). This series has 3 books – Book 1 (Foundation/1/2), Book 2 (3/4) and Book 3 (5/6).

I love teaching poetry to my students, so I was probably most excited to see this book in my pack review. It has R.I.C.’s trademark clean and easy to read layout, just like the books above, but this book is broken into 3 sections – Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2, addressing the different poetry skills required at each level.

At each level there are teacher notes, curriculum links, a glossary of terms, anecdotal record pages, 9 lessons and 10-15 resource pages.

IMG_4536There’s lots of detail in here – again, perfect for new and experienced teachers.

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I also received Set 1 of the Spelling Posters ($39.95), which has 12 A3-size posters featuring common spelling rules used by students in the early years.

Now, as a general rule, I don’t tend to use commercially produced posters in the classroom because I think it is important for students to help add content and be part of that process. Also, I find a lot of commercially produced posters to be quite busy and difficult for young students to read.

That said, these posters are very easy to read. Designed for the early years, they’re not overly cluttered, the text is quite large and all the examples are relevant to the learning point.

IMG_4541These would make a great resource when teaching a particular spelling strategy. As with any new strategy, it’s important to unpack what’s happening on each chart, but I think these would be very useful in any early years classroom as an easy reference.

(We’re currently talking about syllables, so that poster will be getting a lot of use in the next few weeks!)

Thanks so much to R.I.C. for the opportunity to review these products. Stay tuned this week for my reviews on some of their new Maths and Anti-Bullying resources!

Sig_NewBlog2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 5, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
0 comments

R.I.C. Resource Review

I’ll preface this post with a bit of a disclaimer: the products I’m reviewing were sent to me to review in a fair and balanced way. All thoughts are my own, etc.

A few weeks ago, R.I.C. Publications approached me on Twitter (yes, I am on Twitter!) about reviewing some of their newer releases and, you know, I’m a teacher – I love resources, and I have always been a fan of R.I.C.’s work (particularly K-3 Class Ideas). Plus, I love writing reviews.

It’s just fun!

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They sent me same trial booklets from the English Skills Practice series and a copy of their new Australian Curriculum-linked Geography books.

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First up, I thought I’d tackle the English Skills Practice booklets. I received samples for the Year 2, 4 and 6 grades.

Now, being a Prep/1 teacher, I’ve never been a HUGE fan of practice tests, but given the world we live in today, testing is a big part of a teacher’s life, regardless of their feelings on the issue.

If I were to use skills practise tests, this would be something I would definitely be interested in.

Essentially they’re daily skills reviews for literacy skills and concepts – including grammar, punctuation, spelling, word knowledge, etc. Which is fantastic, because reviewing those skills is really important for our learners – the more they see and use and talk about the skills they’re using, the more likely they are to retain them.

According to the information provided, each workbook has enough questions for 150 days, and these have been organised into 15 units (equalling 10 days per unit) plus revision questions for each unit.

Each day has between 10-20 questions –  which would make this perfect for using for the 5-10 minutes after a lesson or for having on hand when you get the odd bit of extra time.

Given the way data is being collected in schools, this would provide a really great way to get a snapshot of student learning on a regular basis, and track their understandings and misconceptions. For older students, it would also be a great way for them to track their learning, too.

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(Click the link to visit the publisher’s website to view more info!)

The second item sent to me for review is the Year 1 Australian Curriculum-linked Geography book Places Have Distinctive Features. It has four main sections: 1) Natural, managed and constructed features, 2) Weather and seasons, 3) Activities of a place, and 4) Rearranging spaces.

Obviously, with the introduction and roll-out of the Australian Curriculum, teachers in Australia are very keen for updated/curriculum-linked resources to use with their students.

I quite like these particular resource books for a few reasons (beyond their links to the curriculum!):

They’re easy to use: R.I.C. have fantastic teachers notes, so if you’re not feeling 100% confident on a topic, there are some great suggestions to get you started. This book has information at the start on how to use the teacher pages and the student pages. They provide skills record checklists for the class (data!)

They’re clear: I teach a visually impaired boy and the one thing that’s become increasingly more prevalent to me (as his teacher) is how cluttered a lot of BLMS or work pages can be – which are not good for those kids. The BLMs in this book are clear, the pages are not cluttered and the text is large and easy to read.

They have multiple curriculum links: While the book itself is geared towards addressing the Geography component of the curriculum, the activities themselves can be worked into literacy or numeracy lessons without the need for a ‘whole lesson’ to be dedicated to an activity from the book.

There are links to Indigenous culture: Another really big component of the new curriculum, and one that can be daunting to find resources that are appropriate for the kids. There are a few Dreamtime stories (perfect for reading) with comprehension  tasks as well as numeracy tasks.

It’s Australian: This means that the Geography explored in this book will be familiar to students, which gives them an instant connection.

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Just to give you an idea of an activity similar to ones I’ve used with my class previously – on the far left in the grey box outlining the key inquiry questions, skills and concepts under review, then the white column provides information for the teacher (teaching notes, background and resources).

This particular activity is a Dreamtime story. I’ve used similar pages with reading groups, as well as whole class groups (where students all have a copy of the passage). Depending on the focus I have for the text, I’ll choose one of the following activities the corresponds to work through with the class (above there’s a bit of the comprehension, as well as a mapping activity).

All of the activities are geared towards the age group they’re labelled for – these activities would work really well for my Grade 1 students and could be adapted for my Preps, too.

Resource books like this are fabulous to have on hand, especially when you find yourself in a situation where you might not know a whole lot about a particular topic of inquiry, or you may not feel confident enough to create your own, complete set of resources. These provide a springboard into specific areas of the curriculum, with a lot of great activities for students.

This is definitely a resource I will be using this year.

Thanks for sticking with this review and don’t forget to check out the R.I.C. Publications website!

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