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