Finding Communities to Support Us as Teachers

What does a community of support look like when you’re a teacher? How does a community like that help you learn? How does it lift you on those hardest of days? How does it challenge you? And why is a community so important?

 
Finding Communities to Support Us as Teachers. An exploration of the importance of teaching communities and an invitation to join a new Australian/New Zealand teaching community. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

When I started teaching, most of our teaching communities existed ‘in person’ - the community of other teachers in our school, the other teachers you meet at professional development opportunities, your friends from university.

The online teacher support space was very different from how it is today. Facebook and Twitter were fledgling sites, with invitations and limited reach. Yahoo groups were clunky things and message boards had all sorts of restrictive rules.

At that point, I found my online teaching community through blogs. Blogging allowed me to reach out and beyond the teaching community of South East Queensland to make teaching friends around the world. It allowed me to discover new ideas and new ways of teaching from the comfort of my home. Through comments on the blogs of others and eventually my own blog, I could ask questions, share what I was doing in my own classroom and clarify my own opinions about teaching and learning.

As technology has improved, we’ve been able to connect as teachers better than ever. We can find teachers everywhere; teachers who are passionate about different topics - from flexible seating to reader’s workshop to integrating STEM. We can still find people through blogs, but also on Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Instagram and more.

Why Are Teaching Communities Important?

For me, a teaching community reminds me that I’m a lifelong learner - that there’s always more in this world to explore and apply. I can follow a tweet to a blog post to academic studies to teachers in a group discussing how something looks in their classroom and I’m better for the experience.

Teaching communities can also be places of support when things aren’t going right. When we can talk about teaching issues in safe teaching communities, there’s usually someone else who’s been in a similar position and can offer advice.

A great online teaching community is also a place of celebration. A place where you can talk about the lesson which kept every student engaged, the elusive ah-ha moments we all chase or those rare days when you manage to clean your teacher’s desk and get out the door before dark!

 
 

Where Are Your Online Learning Communities?

Are you a teacher in Australia or New Zealand interested in joining a community to chat about, celebrate and support other teachers in teaching English and Social Studies (or HASS for Australian teachers)?

Read, Write and Explore the World is a new Facebook group from the teacher-resource creating team of Hinemoa from Top Teaching Tasks and myself. We would love yo have you along as we build a brilliant online teaching community where we can learn, ask questions and celebrate those great English and Social Studies moments in your classroom!

Join the Read, Write and Explore the World Teaching Community here!

 
An invitation to join a new Australian/New Zealand teaching community. A Galarious Goods blog post
 
 
 

Why I Won't Share Anti-Parent Teacher Memes (and you shouldn't either)

There’s a popular type of meme you might see on teaching focused Facebook and Instagram pages or shared by teachers you know. They make fun of the ‘stupid questions’ parents ask. They state that the work of parenting is only being done by teachers. They portray all parents as neglectful, aggressive, quick to jump to the side of the child and lying about the behaviour of their child. The worst go out of the way to mock the home situations of their students or engage in racist stereotypes.

These memes get shared a lot, which is great for the algorithms of the pages which share them. But I won’t share them. And you - as a teaching professional - shouldn’t share them either.

 
5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals. A great collection of links for teachers beginning a new school year or a new term. Make effective goals to help your teacher growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Memes can be incredibly funny. They can connect the seemingly unconnectable (I’m personally very fond of popular culture meets Socrates memes). They can be topical and thoughtful.

But they can also be cruel and hateful. They can make broad generalisations. And they can fracture relationships instead of building them.

An Anti-Parent Atmosphere

So many of the anti-parent teacher memes embrace an us and them narrative. They place teachers as all-knowing and infalible, while parents are portrayed as ignorant and unwelcome.

Some of this is a result of the media and governments stirring up anti-teacher sentiment across the 2000s and 2010s as a way to get easy headlines and quick ratings. This made teachers feel like they were constantly under attack while some parents jumped on teachers as easy targets. Parents and teachers were pitted against each other as opposing forces - unable to reason with or work with each other.

It’s easy to see the memes coming from this. A ‘harmless’ way for teachers to hit back at parents who might be frustrating them or who feel like they’re making the job much harder. But so many of these memes are lumping parents as one homogenous group. They’re hitting down at people who often have little power in the school system. And when you see enough of them, when you share enough of them, at least part of you is buying into the beliefs behind them. At least part of you begins to believe the lazy/aggressive/clueless/permissive parent narrative.

When you start to believe this, even just a little, it’s ultimately going to backfire on you as a teacher. Parents know when they’re not respected or welcomed by teachers. They can see which teachers welcome parents into the room while they are pushed away. And they’re more likely to speak out about smaller issues. They’re more likely to share their concerns with other parents. They’re less likely to go out of their way to make your year easier.

A Lack of Empathy

Many anti-teacher memes rely on broad caricatures of parents instead of encouraging you to see the actual parents in front of you. Is the parent in the email really asking ‘stupid questions’? Or is English their second or third language and your instructions are unclear? Or do they have anxiety and they are in a better position to work with you when they have clarification? Are the parents neglecting ‘behaviour management’ at home, or have they been to a range of professionals and taken several courses to help them with their child’s behaviour and they’re hoping to work with you for a positive year?

So often we don’t really see what’s happening in the homes of our students. We don’t see parents holding together families with baby-sitters, doctors appointments, expensive therapy sessions and hours and hours of work. We don’t see the school refusal, the outbursts when the school day is finished, the serious discussions parents have as they work for the best for their children.

 
5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals. A great collection of links for teachers beginning a new school year or a new term. Make effective goals to help your teacher growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

As a teacher, you’re also a newcomer to the life of the child. Parents have years of accumulated experience and they usually know their own kids. When they say that this behaviour is unusual or that it doesn’t happen at home, it’s worth listening to them and working with them to see if you can make a difference together. Afterall, how many parents of ‘model students’ tell you that they aren’t that well behaved at home? Plenty of children act differently in different situations.

And Don’t Forget . . .

When your frustration level is high, it can be easy to like or comment on an anti-parent meme on Facebook. But don’t forget how public those can be. It only takes one friend of one of the parents in your class to comment on the same post and they might see your like or comment.

Do you really want to parents in your classroom thinking that those are your beliefs about parents? Will that make your job easier?

Working With Parents

Actual aggressive behaviour from parents is not acceptable - it needs to be recorded, reported to your Principal and referred to your Union if required. And if you suspect a student is being harmed by their parent, you must go through the reporting procedures for that. But when the parent behaviour is annoying or frustrating, there are more productive ways of dealing than sharing anti-parent memes.

Take a moment to put yourself into the shoes of the parents if you can. Think about previous experiences they may have had at school as a student or a parent - can you reassure them and let them know that you want a positive relationship with them and their child? Acknowledge the ways schools have changed and explain any educational jargon you use. Give parents time to speak - don’t dominate the conversations - and let them know that they are welcome to ask follow up questions. Let all the parents know how and when they can communicate with you. Know that good relationships with parents will be rewarding for them, for your students and for you.

And for those parents who resist a positive relationship, take the higher ground. Be friendly and respectful and refuse to turn it into an us and them situation which will eat all your time.

Save your time for the Spiderman Socrates memes instead.

 
 

5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals

There’s lots of information for student goal setting out there, but what if you want to set some goals as a teacher? Whether you’re beginning a new school year or just looking to turn over a new leaf and try something new in your classroom, here’s 5 great reads to help you set thoughtful, effective and productive teacher goals.

 
5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals. A great collection of links for teachers beginning a new school year or a new term. Make effective goals to help your teacher growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Goal-Setting for Teachers - 8 Paths to Self Improvement

This comprehensive post from The Cult of Pedagogy is a great place to start if you want to set teacher goals, but you’re not quite sure what goal you want to set. Covering 8 different pathways teachers can explore, this post expands on these ideas and offers thoughtful goals - and a whole heap of resources - which you might like to explore. This would be the perfect place to start to set goals!

Setting Goals for a New Term

This is another great place to start if you’re not set on a particular teacher goal yet. This post explores some more traditional pathways in goal setting for teachers - from being more organised to improving student learning, with links for further reading.

 
5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals. A great collection of links for teachers beginning a new school year or a new term. Make effective goals to help your teacher growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Setting Goals for Going Back to School

This post takes you through the WHOLE process of setting teacher goals - from visioning what you want to happen to creating a plan to achieve the goal. It’s a really comprehensive post, filled with really detailed and usable information. Sit down with some paper and pens to go through this one in-depth!

Back to School: Back to Learning

This article takes a set of steps for guiding student learning and explores how teachers can use these steps to guide their own learning and goal setting. I really like the way these steps make a circle, reminding us that setting goals is a part of life-long learning, something which we can follow through again and again.

School Leaders: Setting Realistic Goals with Your Teachers

This article is aimed at school leaders, but I think it’s a worthwhile read for all educators. I particularly like the idea of asking the right questions - to make sure we’re making goals which are truly effective. There’s a lot of other good information about intention and mindfulness when we’re goal setting, as well as looking beyond SMART goals. I’d recommend reading through this one a few times - then forwarding it to your own school leaders!

How do you set goals as a teacher? Leave a comment below!

 
 

Exploring Unreliable Narrators in the Classroom

Books which tell us the story from the perspective of one of the main characters can often have unreliable narrators - narrators you can’t quite trust 100%. These unreliable narrators can be fascinating to explore in the classroom - allowing us to take a closer look at the intentions of the author and what kind of person these characters are.

 
Exploring Unreliable Narrators in the Classroom. A quick look at first person narratives with unreliable narrators and how we can explore them in the classroom. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

The Unaware Narrator

Jamal in Boy Overboard (by Morris Gleitzman) is sure that he and his sister have arrived at a soccer match. Only to discover that he is terribly wrong.

Jamal is a character who often only has part of the story. He is forced to fill in the gaps with the knowledge he does have, but many times his conclusions aren’t right and he has to reassess and draw new conclusions. As readers there are times when we are aware that he doesn’t have it quite right (or we soon find out that is the case) and we have to assess whether we will believe his next conclusion, or treat it with a level of scepticism.

Morris Gleitzman writes a LOT of characters like this. Which makes sense because childhood often feels like this - like you have some of the puzzle pieces, but someone’s hidden the picture which helps you put them together.

Another great example of a character like this is Mothball the Wombat from Jackie French and Bruce Whatley’s Diary of a Wombat story. In this case, the illustrations soon let us know that the scratching post is a ladder and the furry enemy is really a doormat, so we find ourselves carrying two narratives through the story - the narrative in Mothball’s head and the narrative we can tell from the illustrations.

Exploring Unaware Narrators in the Classroom

These can be great fun to explore in the classroom because our own knowledge, experiences and schema may be able to help us fill in the gaps. Comparing what our narrators think is happening and what is really happening allows us to understand where our characters come from - whether they’re boys or wombats.

It also allows us to explore the intentions of the author. An author study on Morris Gleitzman books would be particularly interesting, looking at what information he gives his narrators before the events of the book, what conclusions they draw from that information when they’re in unfamiliar circumstances and what they learn going forward.

When we explore a character like Mothball, we can also look at the choices the author has made - the wombat understands certain terms like sleep, scratch and - of course - carrots, but hasn’t come up across concepts like garden beds, door mats or washing lines. Why has the author made those choices for our wombat narrator? How would the story be different if there were different choices?

The Deliberately Unreliable Narrator

Erica Yurken is the best thing since sliced bread. Or at least she is in her own mind. And in the stories she tells others.

Robin Klein’s classic novel Hating Alison Ashley is told from the perspective of Erica Yurken who constantly creates stories about herself and others to amuse herself, get herself out of trouble or to impress other people - including Alison Ashley.

If we just listened to Erica, we would probably be inclined to hate Alison Ashley ourselves. But there are things which make us question Erica’s trustworthiness - times when she gets caught out in her stories, times when she contradicts herself and times when we glimpse her through the eyes of other characters. The author knows that Erica is not reliable and wants the reader to know this too.

We find another unreliable narrator in the Do Not Open This Book series from Andy Lee. Our narrator desperately wants us to stop turning the pages (because dreadful things happen to him when we do), so he’ll try anything to stop us - even turning the book around so we’ll turn the pages from back to front. The illustrations, eventual confessions and meta-knowledge of how books work allows us to know that our narrator is not the most trustworthy of characters - even if he’s only being unreliable to save his own skin.

A. Wolf is also just trying to save his skin in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. He’s found himself in jail and he wants us to know that it’s not his fault at all - it’s all because he needed to borrow some sugar.

In this case, it’s our own background knowledge - our understanding of fairy tales - which makes us question his honesty. After all - we’ve never heard this story before. But we keep reading to see how he’s going to justify his terrible crimes.

 
 

Exploring Deliberately Unreliable Narrators in the Classroom

The biggest questions we can ask in our classrooms when it comes to deliberately unreliable narrators is why do they behave like this? Why are they trying to mislead us - the readers - and what will they get if they manage this?

We can also challenge students to write first person narration like this. To consider what motivates a character and then have them tell a story where they work to convince the reader of something which may not be quite true. This works particularly well when students begin with well known stories like fairy tales and myths and try to tell the story from the perspective of the ‘bad guy’.

What unreliable narrators have you come across in your reading? Have you used a book with an unreliable narrator in your classroom? Leave a comment below.

 
 

3 Ways Students Can Use Folding Resources to Explore Characters

You probably know how much I love interactive notebook resources! So far I’ve written two blog posts exploring how to use them to explore vocabulary and how to make comparisons. But as someone who adores book studies, I couldn’t resist sharing some ways you can use interactive notebook resources to explore character. (Don’t miss the free resources as well!)

 
3 Ways Students Can Use Folding Resources to Explore Characters. An exploration of interactive notebook resources for book studies and more. A Galarious Goods Blog Post
 
 
 

These folding resources use a picture of the character’s face (or the whole character) to combine creativity and understanding of the character in one resource.

Students are provided with a ‘cover’ image of the character with a side or top tab. They cut around the outside, then fold the tab on the dotted line. The tab is pasted into their notebook or onto paper and the cover is lifted so students can write about the character under the cover.

This is a really adaptable resource because students can use a template or create their own character images. As long as they include a side or top tab, it works as a folding resource.

Take it further

  • Students can use it to explore a character they’re writing about

  • Students can work in pairs or small groups to explore all the main characters of a book. These can be put together to create a display

  • Students can recreate a ‘scene’ from a book with the lifting character resources.

2. Circular Character Folding Resource

 
 

A circular folding resource is a great way for students to explore particular characteristics of a character.

Students cut out the circle and between the tabs, fold up the tabs, then paste the middle into their notebooks or into paper. The top of the tabs include different aspects of the character for students to explore - they write the answers to these under the tabs.

Take it further

  • Students can create multiple folding resources to make a display.

  • Students can use this in their own creative writing to assess the characters they’re writing

3. Character Booklet Folding Resource

 
 

This is a great way for students to take a really in-depth look at a character. Students can use a folding booklet to explore questions like what kind of character they are, why they behave the way they do and their relationships with others in on compact resource.

Students cut out the folding resource on the solid lines and fold in the sides on the dotted lines. They answer the questions on the inside, then add details or decorate the outside.

Take it further

  • Students can leave off the name of the character and challenge others to work out who the character is

  • Students can use these as part of a ‘book talk’ or ‘book promotion’ for a character

  • Students can create these as assessment for a particular book

 
 
 
 

5 Great Posts for Teachers Writing Report Cards

Are you deep in the world of report card writing? Are you procrastinating? Or are you simply unsure where to start? Here’s some great blog posts from other teacher bloggers to help you on your way.

 
5 Great Posts for Teachers Writing Report Cards. Check out these thoughtful and comprehensive posts to help you during report card writing season. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

1. Bring a Successful Mindset to Report Card Writing

12 Top Tips for Report Writing Success

I adore this comprehensive blog post from Rainbow Sky Creations. It’s filled with thoughtful ideas, covering all aspects of report card writing from compiling data to the language you can use through to treating yourself at the end. There’s also some great mindset advice as you take on what can be the most stressful task of the year.

2. Keep Distractions Away

Teacher Tips for Writing Report Cards

This post talks about how to prepare for a report card writing session, minimising distractions from the environment around you and removing reasons to get up and move away from your desk. I particularly like the tip of using the support of your colleagues to assist you in report card writing.

3. How to Construct Thoughtful Report Card Comments

Practical Tips for Writing Report Card Comments

This is another thoughtful and comprehensive blog post, this time stepping through the process of writing valuable report card comments. It starts well before report card time, with the advice to use observations and notes from throughout the semester or year to guide report writing. I also love the advice to approach with compassion - a mindset which will make reports more valuable for all involved.

 
5 Great Posts for Teachers Writing Report Cards. Check out these thoughtful and comprehensive posts to help you during report card writing season. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

4. Rephrasing for Difficult Report Card Comments

4 Ways to Write a Good Report on that Difficult Student

This is a brilliant blog post for the report comments which just stump you. What I like best about this post is that it doesn’t just give you vague ideas, it gives you great sentence stumps and phrasing options which you can easily use in your reports. A great way to keep a positive spin in your reports

5. Have a Bit of Fun with It

How to Write Report Cards

A humorous look at the report card writing process. Complete with the very important steps of ‘procrastinate more’ and ‘panic’. I’m sure some teachers get through report card writing without hitting any of these steps, but for those of us who sometimes feel completely unstuck in report card time, this is a welcome laugh.

What are your must-dos for report card time? Leave a comment below!

 
 

3 Ways Students Can Use Folding Resources to Make Comparisons

I love folding resources and interactive notebook resources. They’re a great tool students can use to understand, remember and share content and ideas. I’ve previously shown three ways you can use folding resources to explore vocabulary. Today, here’s three ways students can use folding resources and interactive notebook resources to make comparisons.

 
3 Ways Students Can Use Folding Resources to Make Comparisons. Explore these three different types of interactive notebook folding resources perfect for students to create comparisons on different topics. A Galarious Goods Blog Post
 
 
 

This resource uses a background and flaps to compare different characters, people in history, events and more. Students attach flaps or tabs to the sides or the middle of the background sheet, with a heading or headings on the outside of the resource and the similarities and differences or characteristics under the flaps.

This is particularly good when looking at the similarities and differences of characters. Students can write the character names on the front of the resource and lift one flap to share the similarities and the other to share the differences. You can also extend the resource to 4 or 6 characters and write some of the qualities of each character under the tabs.

Because this organiser just uses straight lines, students can easily make their own. Or you can download the free resource to get a printed copy.

2. Sliding Resource

 
 

This resource uses a folded ‘sleeve’ and an insert card to make comparisons. When it’s completed, the students can slide the insert card back and forward to see the comparisons. These can go into notebooks or be used to create classroom displays - especially for complex topics or novel studies.

Students make the sleeve by folding the two side sections backwards and fastening them behind the middle section. The card - which has a dividing line in the middle - then slides through.

This would be particularly good when exploring government or civics topics. Students could compare different levels of government, the roles of different people involved in government or even different types of government.

3. Turning Card Resource

 
 

This resource includes a pocket and an insert. The insert is created by folding a piece in half and fastening it together. Students can write about one thing on one side and one on the other (or similarities on one side and differences on the other. These can also be used to make a wall display.

The tabs on the pocket are folded back so they are tucked behind the main part of the pocket. These tabs are then fastened to the page or display board. The prepared insert goes inside the pocket and can be taken out and ‘flipped’ as required.

As well as characters or events, this can be used to compare settings of books, famous historical figures, things from a long time ago and things from now, different books - even different animals!

 
 
 
 

Introducing Hating Alison Ashley

Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein has been a staple of Australian classrooms for decades now - and for good reason! This classic Australian novel still holds its own against more modern novels and is the perfect book to engage your upper primary readers.

 
Introducing Hating Alison Ashley. A look at Hating Alison Ashley, the classic Australian middle grades novel by Robin Klein - and why it's perfect for upper primary classrooms. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Hating Alison Ashley is the story of Erica Yurken - a Year 6 student with big dreams and bigger stories who finds her world turned upside down when the seemingly perfect Alison Ashley arrives at her disadvantaged school. As the story progresses, and Erica gets more frustrated with Alison taking on her position of ‘best student’ we see that Alison’s life might not be as perfect as it seems - and Erica might have a real direction to take her big imagination.

Why should you teach Hating Alison Ashley in your classroom?

1. It’s still really relevant!

There’s an occasional reference which seems a bit out of place in Hating Alison Ashley, but it’s still tackling themes and ideas which feel relevant to students today - our position in our class or school, friendships or lack of them, embarrassing families, dealing with teachers and of course - school camp.

Hating Alison Ashley gives students a launching point to discuss some of these ideas and what they would do if they were in the positions that Erica and Alison find themselves in throughout the story.

2. Erica Yurken

Erica knows she is smart. She knows she is the best thing her school has ever known. But maybe, just maybe, is there a possibility she isn’t quite as smart as she thinks she is?

Erica is a brutally real character. She’s funny and smart, but also super frustrating at times. She narrates the story, so we see it from her point of view, but sometimes she gives us just enough information to wonder what the story would be like if someone else was telling it.

Erica in the book also makes me wonder what she would be like as a teenager or an adult. She’s an incredibly memorable character, and it’s definitely worth the time exploring her closer.

 
 

3. The other real characters

Hating Alison Ashley is filled with characters who feel real - from Alison Ashley who looks perfect but has a less than perfect family life to Barry Hollis who does all sorts of terrible things - but seems to be looking for read friendships as much as Erica is. Erica’s family includes her super embarrassing younger sister and strangely absent-but-there older brother who live in dream worlds as much as Erica does as well as Valjoy, who is just the right amount of terrifying. The teachers are also a delight to read - feeling incredibly real as they take on super challenging tasks each day. Then there’s Lennie - Erica’s mother’s boyfriend - who comes in to save the day at just the right time.

These characters elevate the story, allowing students more areas to explore and discuss. Is Erica fair to Lennie? Is Barry Hollis really misguided? What skills do you need to be a teacher at Erica’s school?

4. The novel is really accessible - but has room for deeper exploration

Hating Alison Ashley isn’t a particularly long novel. It would be possible to read the book fairly quickly, either with students reading alone or a mixture of along reading, teacher reading and guided reading. It’s set in a fairly familiar setting - an Australian school in an Australian suburb - so students already have some background knowledge as they step into the world. The writing is good - but it isn’t overwhelmingly complex. It’s easily a novel every student can engage in reading.

But the themes allow for a wide range of explorations for more advanced readers. Unravelling Erica as a character can be an in-depth task on its own! Students can also compare characters, look at the choices made throughout the book by the characters and the author, look at how Erica relates to the people around her and engage in creative tasks around the book.

Have you read Hating Alison Ashley with a class - or as a student? Share your experiences in the comments!

 
 

Exploring The Girl With a Mind For Math in the Classroom

The Girl With a Mind for Math is a beautiful book from the creative team of Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley. Telling the story of Raye Montague who pioneered new ways of designing ships in the US Navy, this is a must have book for the classroom - and one which can be used in a number of different lessons.

 
Exploring The Girl With a Mind for Math in the Classroom. Explore this picture book memoir of the amazing Raye Montague by author Julia Finley Mosca and illustrator Daniel Rieley. This blog post explores why it's great for the classroom and a range of teaching ideas as well as a free resource. A Galarious Goods blog post.
 

This is the third book from Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley (and the team at The Innovation Press) focusing on the life and achievements of great scientists. The Girl With a Mind for Math introduces us to Raye Montague who was just a young girl when her grandfather took her to visit a submarine, inspiring her to one day design ships just like it. However, Raye was born into the segregated south of the USA, and as a black girl she would have to fight to get the education she wanted to get. Her persistence and hard work and the support of her family over a number of years helped her finally achieve her goal and allowed her to bring new design ideas into the US Navy.

Why is this book important?

Told in relatively simple rhyme, A Girl With a Mind for Math allows readers an accessible insight into the world of a remarkable mathematician. With the extensive additional material at the end of the book, adults reading with children can help them gain an even deeper understanding of Raye Montague and the importance of her work, as well as the systemic barriers she faced as she worked to achieve her dream.

Picture book memoirs and biographies can be used across a wide range of grades. Young students can bring illustrations and words together to discover new worlds, while older readers can experience the story and gain background knowledge to support further research without having to wade through material often designed for adult readers.

This is also a story we should all know, but may not. Raye Montague was named a ‘hidden figure’ of the US Navy; someone whose contributions may have been overlooked or not remembered or celebrated as much as they should have been. Her achievements would be extraordinary for anyone - to design a ship by computer in less than 19 hours even though she had been given a month to work on it - but they are especially noteworthy as you learn the story of what she had to do to learn the skills she needed to achieve this feat.

 
 

Ways to Use The Girl With a Mind for Math in the Classroom

The Girl With a Mind for Math is a great book to share with your students or to add to your classroom library. But you can also use it for a range of teaching moments.

Explore machines used by the military

Often times when we think about the military, we think about those who fight in the armed forces. But it’s worth taking a little time to look at what happens behind the scenes and the machines which are used to assist the military. Some of these machines have become famous in history (like the aircraft of World War 2) and it can be interesting to look at how these were designed, how they worked and how they changed the way battles were fought or life was made safer for armed forces.

The Girl With a Mind For Math is just a little insight to that behind the scenes work - there are many scientists, mathematicians and engineers who have worked for the military to create machines!

Uncover other under recognised people of STEM

Students can go for their own search for STEM people in history who should be well known but aren’t. They might like to use their research to write memoirs or create museum displays or can even create a website or podcast series to share their discoveries with others. It can be a great way to explore research skills as well.

Explore some of the themes of the book

There are so many themes to explore in The Girl With a Mind for Math. Students can look at some of Raye Montague’s defining characteristics such as persistence and hard work, compare these with other examples from other people or reflect on how they can use these skills in their own lives.

Older students might like to explore discrimination and how it can impact the lives of people historically and today. The book gives several examples of discrimination faced by Raye Montague; students can also examine other notable people and the challenges they faced due to discrimination.

Download a Freebie for The Girl With a Mind for Math

Want a free resource to go with The Girl With a Mind for Math? Galarious Goods was thrilled to create an Interactive Timeline, along with additional questions for teachers to use, for students to set out notable moments in Raye Montague’s life. This is a great way to get an overall understanding of the book, and a good starting place for a more in-depth exploration.

You can see how the resource goes together in this video!

 
 


Have you read The Girl With a Mind for Math? Have you used it in your classroom?

 
 

Why We Need to Teach Australian Elections - and Resources to Help You

With all the noise around politicians, elections, campaigns and promises, it can be tempting to tune it all out. However, in the classroom it is our job to teach about elections to ensure we have informed voters in the future.

 
Why We Need to Teach Australian Elections - and a Wide Range of Resources to Help You. This Blog post looks at why to teach Australian elections and offers a range of blog posts, websites and resources you can use to teach them effectively. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Voting is Part of the Curriculum

The Civics and Citizenship strand of HASS in the Australian Curriculum includes a number of outcomes connected to elections and voting. From learning about the role of voting in a democracy to learning how voting works in Australia, students are expected to gain a wide understanding of voting and elections through their lessons in the classroom.

It Helps to Prepare Informed Citizens

Australia has compulsory voting which means most of your students will be required to vote one day. As well as understanding the way campaigning works and the responsibilities of voters and elected officials, students need to understand the mechanics of how voting works and how votes are counted. The more informed students are about voting, the more likely they are to be informed voters as adults.

 
Why We Need to Teach Australian Elections - and a Wide Range of Resources to Help You. This Blog post looks at why to teach Australian elections and offers a range of blog posts, websites and resources you can use to teach them effectively. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Blog Posts, Websites and Resources to Help You Teach Elections

Blog Posts

Elections in the Classroom - 7 Tips for Real Learning with Minimum Controversy
Teachers should always take care to teach government and elections without bias, but this is particularly important around election time - the last thing you want is to appear on the front page of a newspaper because a student or parent took objection to your views. This blog post offers a range of ways you can teach elections in an interesting and factual manner without inviting controversy

7 Things You May Not Know About Government in Australia
This post is a collection of facts about government in Australia and is a great starting point for students exploring Australian government and Australian elections.

Australian Election Myths (And Teaching Ideas for a Better Understanding of Elections)
Unfortunately there is a growing collection of myths about voting in Australia - it’s so bad that the Australian Electoral Commission is having to run advertising to warn people about misinformation. This post explores a number of commonly held myths and provides teaching ideas and further links for teachers and students to explore.

Why We Should Explore Compulsory Voting in Our Classrooms
Many people know that we have compulsory voting in Australia, but do they know about the history of compulsory voting and the senator who introduced it? This post contains some of that history as well as other teaching ideas to explore in the classroom. This is perfect for students exploring the features of Australian democracy.

What are Political Parties, Why Do They Matter and How Can We Teach Them?
When we look at election campaigns, we are usually dealing with political parties. This post offers information about political parties and how you can teach more about them in the classroom.

What are Election Policies? (And how can we teach students about them?)
As well as political parties, many students will come across election policies and campaign promises from candidates. This blog post takes a closer look at policies and how we can better understand them.

Websites

Resources

The Elections in Australia resources are the most comprehensive look at Australian elections. These resources include a mini unit which looks at different elements of voting and elections in Australia, posters, word wall cards and research tasks.

You can also use the Run Your Own Preferential Election resources to get a better understanding of preferential voting in Australia and how preferential votes are counted. Word Wall cards are also available for this topic.

There is a duo of resources for Year 6 students looking at the responsibilities of voters and the responsibilities of elected representatives. This is an excellent way to look at what is expected of voters and the people we elect to lead us.

Australian Electoral Process and Running an Australian Election takes Year 5 students through the elements of Australian elections including secret ballot and compulsory voting.

If I Was Prime Minister is a fabulous book by Beck and Robin Feiner. There are two available book studies for this book: one for Year 2, 3 and 4 students and another for Year 5 and 6 students.

Finally, students can explore their own feelings about compulsory voting with a persuasive writing task asking students to take a position for or against it.