Argumentative On Demand Practice Prompt


With the new ELA Common Core Standards in place, teachers and students alike are preparing for on-demand writing.  This form of real-world writing requires that students display their proficient writing skills for narrative, informational, and argumentative purposes.  These purposes are developed using a variety of genres that are appropriate for the intended audience and purpose. 


            One proven way to assist students in developing their writing skills is to WRITE!  When students are provided practice prompts to compose and reflect on, they are provided with opportunities for growth.  Their skills improve as they become aware of their strengths and weaknesses as writers. 


            A stand-alone argumentative prompt is provided, along with a scoring guide and sample response.  These resources should serve as an invaluable tool in assisting students in recognizing their current abilities and areas for improvement.

 Click here to download these tools.

The South Australian Spelling Test

The South Australian Spelling Test has been around for a number of years and is a staple of nearly all Australian primary and early secondary teachers assessment schedule. 

The test consists of 70 words and when completed allows the teacher to generate a spelling age for that student based upon their score.

It is a great tool for quickly identifying students who need assistance with their spelling skills.

The test and it's complete instructions can be downloaded here.

It takes around 15 minutes to administer to a class.

Create your own custom Rubrics online in minutes

Use this Rubric Maker to make customized assessments for student work. You can create rubrics for primary, elementary, middle, and high school. The default text has been written to be appropriate for each level. After choosing a title and grade level for the rubric, you will be able to choose and edit a variety of existing performances, as well as create performances specific to the content your class is studying.

Two weeks worth of Poetry Lessons - 18 different styles to explore

I have put together a PowerPoint of what our students will be doing in writing for the next fortnight to explore poetry.  This presentation contains explanations and examples of each of the 18 major styles of poetry and also Poetry assessment rubric for your students to use to assist them in writing their own poetry.  You can either download the entire presentation or just use the slideshare presentation below.  Enjoy

Digital literacy activity – a weeks worth of poetry


Create your own Multiple Choice Tests

CATPIN allows you quickly create multiple choice tests for free.  You can save, print, edit and retrieve them from the website and it is extremely easy to use.  No strings attached - check it out here.

Create your own free multiple choice tests in minutes with CATPIN

CATPIN allows you quickly create multiple choice tests for free.  You can save, print, edit and retrieve them from the website and it is extremely easy to use.  No strings attached - check it out here.

Student Led Passion Projects - Brilliant Personalised Learning task for a Term

Passion Projects, or the shortened similar project based learning task known as ‘Genius Hour” are a brilliant opportunity to let your students develop their own personalised learning styles. These tasks offer students the chance to take ownership of their learning and work within a timeline to meet deadlines all the while spending a term doing something they have a real passion about.

I would have to say that when I run my Passion Projects annually my students continually amaze me in terms of what they can achieve when they are motivated about learning.  Regardless of whether they are high achievers or struggle academically I have seen students totally transform their attitude to learning once they realise what they can achieve through this project.

What is a passion project you may ask?

Here is the complete outline for you to hand out to your students explaining the expectations of this project but in a nutshell here is how it works.

  • Students select a task or skill in which they want to learn something new. (some examples my students have done in the past are dressmaking, making a video game, learning an instrument, cooking a 3 course meal for their family or building a cubby house.)

  • Students research and complete the task within the time frame outlined.

  • Students keep an online diary of their learning journey outlining their successes and failures.

  • Students then teach a family member or friend their task or skill to show them what they have learnt.

  • Students put together a presentation outlining their learning journey including videos, photos and feedback from family members or friends. They are peer assessed in accordance with the assessment rubric.



A complete unit of work on PASSION PROJECTS for teachers and students. NO PREP REQUIRED.


Please note it is unimportant whether a student succeeds or fails in completing their task they are attempting.  What is important is that they record and learn from those successes and failures and can share that knowledge with others.  This is outlined in full in the assessment rubric which is handed to students and explained to them at the beginning of the project.

Passion Projects are aimed at students from grades 3 – 9 but can definitely be modified to suit any year level.

Be sure to invite parents to attend the final presentation as it is a huge moment for some students.  I have included a covering letter for this also that I have used in the past.

From a teachers perspective this is a brilliant task.  You simply give your students all of the information provided and contribute your own input along the time line (about 3 times in total) to ensure students are staying on task and offer guidance where necessary.  All of the assessment is understood before students begin and I have recently let peers assess them using the assessment rubric.  It runs for a term and is very easy in terms of your input but offers massive rewards when you see the finished product.


Passion Project Overview (Ensure Students, Parents and staff have a copy of this.)

Passion Project Assessment Rubric (Ensure Students, Parents and staff have a copy of this.)

Letter to Parents inviting them to attend Presentation Evening.

I wish you well.

You may need to alter these resources to suit your own needs obviously and if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to comment below and I’ll address them.

Is report writing really worth the headaches? Not according to my Parents!

Currently down here in the land of Oz nearly all teachers are busily stooped over their laptops daily and nightly, reading and rereading, testing and re-testing to finalise reports before we all take a well earned break over a long hot Aussie Summer.

Some teachers I work with claim to putting in over 3 hours per student in writing time alone to get them done to a standard they are happy with.  Personally, I find that a little ridiculous and put in considerably less time, but I can say that after completing my masters last year that writing a semesters  worth of reports for a class was more time consuming and stressful than completing a postgraduate unit of study which had a 6 month time allocation versus around 1 month.  Doing both was not much  for anyone.

Surprisingly, a survey completed at my school 2 years ago to all parents uncovered that the majority of parents spent less than 5 minutes reading reports and the bulk of that time is spent looking at the progression points ( or Grade Points for our international audience) and reading the summary section only.  Nearly every parent I have spoken to from a range of schools were not satisfied with their child's reports branding them impersonal, uninformative and uninteresting no matter what style and approach they had.

So it would appear from the very small amount of data I have at my finger tips that teports are not pleasing parents or teachers to any great lengths and the information contained within them can often raise more questions than they answer.

Are reports just the burden of teachers to balance out the benefit of frequent holidays?  Or is there a better way?  Is there a smarter way?

Personally, I send home a digital portfolio with my reports with hundreds of samples of work, photos, student reflections and authentic assessment pieces such as videos of classroom presentations.  Unlike reports I am not obliged to do this but I find it far more effective in telling mum and dad what little Johnny has been doing at school and it is a genuine record of 6 to12 months work versus a couple of months of intense testing.

So I am asking you to take my grain of salt survey results in the global scheme of things and let me know if I am the only one in this boat? And,  if so what am I doing wrong?  And more importantly what could we all do to make reports more effective for all involved. 

If you agree and have similar stories to tell either as a teacher or even parent I would love to hear them too.