Monthly Archives: August 2016

#DigiCon16 Presentation: Coding in the Primary Classroom

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 9.47.16 PMThis year I presented a couple of sessions at #DigiCon16, DLTV‘s annual conference.

One of the sessions I presented was Coding in the Primary Classroom: An Inquiry Into Gaming with Tamryn Kingsley. We took participants through the process of a unit we taught together with our grade 2 classes. The unit was an inquiry where students made their own games using the platform Scratch.

We have been contacted a few times since the conference to share the resources we used, so I thought I would collate them all here. All the slides and links to the resources we used are below. We would love to hear from you if you are creating your own gaming unit!

Introductory video of what scratch can do

Cheat sheets – guides for learning the basic skills of Scratch

Challenges – short tasks using Scratch designed to help learn basic Scratch functions  (We used About me, 10 blocks, It’s alive, Music video).

Blocks – printable Scratch blocks


Classic Games




Supermario Bros.

Space invaders

Angry birds


Scratch Games


Platform Scroll

Punkin Chunkin







Mel Cashen Festival of Gaming blog post

Darrel Branson Game Making at Mildura West

Google Slides for Collaborative Literature Circles

unnamedScreen Shot 2016-07-15 at 11.02.30 AMMy students are participating in Literature Circles this term. This has been introduced in response to a need – it is a way for students to analyse and discuss texts with the support of others, and to encourage accountability for deep comprehension and critical thinking about literature.

The focus is not on the book, but on the reader’s response to the book, and the strategies being developed.

Read more about Literature Circles here.

In our literature circles, students meet in non-levelled groups that are formed by book choice.  The students take on a role for their group which rotates every week. They meet in their literature circles every Friday to engage in discussion about the book and set a “read up to here” goal for the following week. The roles (based on current student needs and which will be added to and changed over time) are:

  • Discussion Director – writes and facilitates discussion around questions they have come up with. We use Anthony Speranza’s complex question matrix to develop these questions. They also manage the discussion and make sure every member of the group contributes equally. IMG_6990
  • Passage Picker – notes and questions passages of text that are interesting, confusing, funny, emotive etc.
  • Word Wizard – notes and  defines interesting or unfamiliar words. They share them with the group and each person adds these to their personal dictionary/word collection.
  • Super Summariser – writes a brief and interesting summary of the key points of the text, to share and consolidate with the group.

In my class, these roles have been initially tasked to one student, but over time I intend for each student to take on all these roles (and others!) as they read, share, question and strengthen their understandings with their group.

The roles will develop where needed. For example, if I find that students are struggling with making text connections, we will introduce a new role. If they are lacking in the use of punctuation to build understanding or phrasing, we will introduce the Punctuation Pal (or something less lame that the kids will come up with!).

The use of a shared Google Slide for each group is critical in providing a collaborative space for students to note their thinking and to share their ideas with their circle. They are each in charge of their own role-related page and spend the week collecting evidence and ideas to share with their team. I can easily see their thinking and track how each student is progressing. It provides a simple way for me to ascertain which students need support in which strategy, and informs my strategy groups.

Google Slides allows team members to add ideas to other’s pages. For examples, this week’s Word Wizard would primarily focus on noticing and collecting interesting words, but might come across a mind-blowing paragraph that they just can’t forget, so they add it to the Passage Picker slide.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 11.02.59 AM

A Passage Picker will use interesting passages and phrases as a discussion prompt to build understanding of the text.

The slides I use are here – I encourage you to create your own for you specific needs.