Put your general knowledge and geography to the test

Following on from Google's  spelling challenge game released in May called Spell Up the folks at Mountain view have again beefed up their educational profile with the addition of an excellent little Geography / General knowledge game called Smarty Pins.

The premise of this game is simple, you have to correctly locate as many geographical icons on a map using the clues provided in as little time as possible.  The closer you are the more questions you will continue to face.  It's great fun and very easy to play.

The feedback from an incorrect answer is pretty amusing.  It tries to belittle you as much as possible without killing the friendship entirely.

I am not sure how deep you can go with this as far as using it as a Geography tool for learning and teaching but it will definitely separate your students who understand that Austria and Australia are two countries that have very little in common.

Finally, it is regionally sensitive and as such will ask you questions primarily aimed at the country / region in which you live.

Click here to access.

Teach your students about the four different types of bullying


Bullying has become a very popular word amongst school age children. 

However, this word is often misunderstood.  Bullying is action(s) repeated over and over again by an individual or group of people with the intent to harm either physically, verbally, socially (emotionally), or through cyber sources. 

This lesson will discuss and explore the different types of bullying and provide students with the opportunity to identify the various types.

Click here to download the free 5 page lesson plan.

Teach your students about bullying and strategies to deal with it.


Bullying is a problem that often starts in the early years. At times, students may not understand the severity of their actions. For others, they may not know how to appropriately respond to those bullying them.

In any case, bullying bites! &This simple lesson allows for thoughtful discussion and reflection between teachers and students. Awareness can assist in preventing the lingering effects of bullying.

Click here to download the free lesson plan

How to add more detail to your students writing

Nonfiction writing is a primary focal point for language arts classes across the United States.  Students are no longer expected to just write creative short stories or basic poetry.  Instead, students are expected to pen informational feature articles, argumentative speeches, and other forms of nonfiction writing. 

Teachers will collectively agree that the best authors make use of a variety of detail types.  By using statistics, facts, historical examples, personal examples, amongst other detail types, one’s main idea can be accurately developed to reflect far beyond just an apprentice writer.

Click here to download the lesson plan about details in writing.


Click here to download the assessment tool around details in writing.

5 tips for teachers to start the school year


With the start of the school year almost upon us it is worth reflecting upon what we do, and how we do it.

These five tips may be of use to both new and experienced teachers to keep in mind facing the challenges of a new group of students with new needs, skills and challenges.

I am sure that you have many pearls of wisdom that may add to these so be sure to add them below.

1:  Be enthused

Enthusiasm, and a passion for what you do are infectious.  You students will feed off of your energy, and the effort they put in will come back to you in spades. 

Speak with vigour and confidence.  Have fun with your kids but also make them aware that the classroom is a ‘sacred’ space for teaching and learning, and threatening that environment will not be tolerated. 

Take no shame in letting your students know you put a lot of time an effort into your job do because you love it, and expect everyone in the room to respect that.  Your students may not love everything you teach, but as long as they put in a genuine effort they should gain your respect in return.

2:  Be organised:

You can wing the occasional lesson here and there, but be cautious that in time your students will lose respect for you if you provide them a disorganised learning space and curriculum too often.

You, and your students should know where things are when needed.  Your students should expect to be challenged and engaged throughout the day, not just filling time.

Poor organisation can be terminal in building a good teacher student relationship as you can appear incompetent.  Furthermore, you may struggle for credibility when your students replicate this poor modelled behaviour. 

3:  Lay ground rules early:

Without entering the realm of classroom rules and what they might consist of, remember the key is to have something in place.  Keep it simple.  Be firm, but fair and always make students aware of poor behaviour before acting upon it. 

The flip side of this is praising and rewarding those who are modelling positive behaviour.  Personally, I am not a fan of tangible rewards, but in certain environments you need to cast a ‘hook’ that will attract good behaviour.  It will be different nearly every year.

Rewards tend to work well when they benefit the entire class, but once again everyone’s clientele and circumstances are very different.

4:  Consistency

This is the toughest of all in my eyes as life is impossible to get everything right all the time.  Furthermore, it is this area your students will constantly remind you about if and when you fail to deliver.  

Have a small set of non-negotiable behaviours and actions in your room and try and explain your actions to the group when an incident occurs. Be transparent.  Try to never get into a position justifying your actions to a single student one on one.  This is dangerous territory. 

You may aspire to be your students ‘best friend’ and on many occasions this is a great place to be when the going is good.  Never forget your role and responsibility as the caretaker and leader of your students.  This doesn’t mean being a dictator, but understand all good teachers are required to be the ‘bad cop’ on occasion.

Balance is key.  You don’t want to be known as ‘The Fun Killer’ but students will always try and push the boundaries of teachers that can’t stand up for themselves.

5:  Don’t lock yourself away.

This one is simple.  Even if you are the greatest teacher in the world it is imperative that you share your successes and failures with others.  This can happen inside and outside your school via professional development coaching or a range of other methods depending on what you have available to you.

Get to the staffroom when you can for a cuppa to have a formal and informal discussion about what’s been happening in your classroom.

Don’t forget also sites like this, Pinterest and thousands of others  are packed with great ideas from teachers all around the world so be sure to regularly use the web to your and your students advantage.

3 innovative ideas to start the school year

Enthusiasm is high during the start of the school year so capitalize on it by coming up with great activities to engage your students.  Here are a few ideas

Katie at msmathmadness has come up with this great idea using dice to break the ice with a new group of students. 


Be sure to check out her blog here for more great first day ideas


This table seating jigsaw is a great idea from the curriculum corner.  They have plenty of other great ideas here also.


Becky at Dots n Spots has a great Guess who task to help find out about everybody in the room.  Take a look at it here.


Hello, W


The 10 most popular TED-ed lessons of 2013

With 2013 winding to a close it's time to take a look back at some of the most popular lessons of 2013 from TED-ed.  Here are the 10 most viewed lesson plans for the year.  If you have any great lessons to share with the world and think you can pack them into 6 minutes or less of pure gold be sure to submit it to TED-ed.


Start 2014 with over 100 free Classroom Posters


An engaging, bright and good looking classroom will really help to create a great learning environment for your students.

We now have over one hundred FREE classroom posters that will go a long way to making this happen.  Whether it's literacy, numeracy, science, classroom behaviour, motivation or anything else we have got you and your walls covered.

in 2013 we had over half a million downloads of our classroom posters, and I would love to see that number grow in 2014.

So, take a look at our classroom posters section, download as many as you like and print them to a size that suits.  They are all high resolution so you can make them as large as you wish.

We are always looking for ideas for new classroom posters so please leave a suggestion below.