J Pod -Grovedale West Primary School

The J Pod blog – Year 1 and 2 learning at Grovedale West Primary School

Queenscliff Marine Discovery Centre …on Monday

We are all looking forward to continuing our learning about the environment with our visit to Queenscliff Marine discovery centre on Monday.

The students will take part in ‘its our coast to care for’ learning activities at the centre and then do some exploring along the coastal environment.

Please make sure you arrive at school On Monday morning nice and promptly as the bus will be leaving at 9am.

We will be outside for part of the day, so please make sure your children are dressed appropriatley for the conditions and a coat would be advisable.

Children should bring their own healthy snack, lunch and water bottle.

We will be sharing a social story with all the students to help them feel prepared for the excursion, If you want to read this again with your child together you can access the story from the link pasted below:

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Looking forward to a great day on Monday.

The Jpod Teams

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Welcome to Term 2…Environmental Discovery Focus

Hi all Jpod families,

It is great to be back in the swing of learning and despite the set backs of the school flood the students are back building their skills and focusing on their learning opportunities.

Look out for our level newsletter which came home this week.

Discovery Learning
Our Discovery focus for this term is beginning to consider the impact that we, as humans, have had on our environment. We are hoping to explore with the students how our environment is changing and look at issues that affect our environment such as waste, recycling and simple ways that we can help look after our environment.

We began our Inquiry by looking at the fantastic picture story book ‘Window’ by Jeannie Baker. Jeannie Baker produces her books from amazing collage pictures and they often stimulate thinking about environmental issues. This book has no words but tells the story of the development of a local environment from the perspective of a view from the window of a house. The story begins with a house surrounded by the bush and eventually the family find themselves surrounded by a town or city. With our ever developing local Armstrong Creek community, this is certainly something we can all relate to.

The students have been really interested in the book and have been identifying the changes to the natural environment in the book and thinking about both the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ impacts of these changes. We have considered things from different perspectives, for example the positive impacts of more houses being built for people to live in as part of a community, might not be so ‘positive’ for wildlife displaced by the building of the houses.

We are excited to see where our Discovery focus will take us over the next few weeks and what the students will decide to do to take some action or make a difference to an environmental issue that they identify or feel connected to.

See Saw portfolios

In other news, we have started to use our new See Saw digital portfolio with the students. We hope to be able to connect you as parents to your child’s portfolio in the very near future, as soon as the students have had a chance to put some examples of their learning onto the portfolio for you to see. For those of you interested in finding out more about See Saw, the video below might give you more of an idea as to how the portfolio will work and how it will connect you to your child’s learning journey at school.

Parent help with our magic words program

If you are interested in helping with our sight words ( magic words) program and are able to help in the classroom between 9-10 am on either a Monday, Wednesday or Friday then please let us know. Look out for a note coming home soon about this or pop a note in your child’s diary if you are interested in helping.

Many thanks from the Jpod teaching team.

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Term 1 Discovery Learning came to a wonderful conclusion on Friday

Our term 1 Discovery learning came to a wonderful conclusion on the last Friday of term as our students worked in their collaborative teams to present their episode of the ‘Mojo’ growth mindset films to explain to their audience what it meant to be in the learning dip and how to get out to the learning dip with the power of ‘I CANT DO THIS YET!”

click her to watch the DIP episode

The students had worked together in the week to use all their skills developed during the term to collaborate in developing characters, making puppets, creating scripts and story boards and using their drama skills to bring to life their characters. This whole process was a great way to reinforce and use their skills and also was yet another way to help the students understand the important message of maintaining a growth mindset in all they do, especially when learning new or challenging things.

We were very impressed with the students collaboration, creativity and growth mindset skills as they brought to a conclusion the ‘Challenging’ work of the term.

We can’t wait to see what challenges and learning our term 2 discovery learning will bring to the Jpod.

We hope you enjoy the photos below of the students in action on Friday.


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JPod Discovery Learning update

During our planning time today the JPod teachers were reflecting on the number of skills that the students have been learning this term during our Discovery learning sessions.

The primary focus for our learning has been to foster and develop students skills of collaboration, creativity and growth mindset.

We have approached this through the arts in our Discovery learning sessions and through our Philosophy for Children sessions, by exploring the Mojo films that help students to develop a growth mindset for learning.

By using a combination of visual, dramatic and media arts with the students over the last 6 weeks, the Jpod students have all been involved in the following learning opportunities:

Media Arts:
working collaboratively and creatively to:
create a simple movie with images on the iPad
add voice over and sound effects
create an animation using paper/card figures

Visual arts:
working collaboratively and creatively to:
use shapes and size to create characters
chose and explored appropriate materials to create paper mache characters
explore colour and textures when painting
use visual images to create accurate models of characters.

Dramatic arts:
working collaboratively and creatively to:
use body language and voice to express a character
Be confident to have a go at drama
explore how a script is useful when acting

It was great to have the chance to reflect on the number of skills they have had the chance to develop and consolidate and we are now looking forward to the students putting together all these skills in the final weeks of the term.

We have an interesting ‘So What’ challenge brief coming for the kids which will certainly give them a chance to show us what they have learnt about collaboration, creativity and growth mindset and also to use and apply the skills listed above.

We will share the ‘challenge’ on the blog as soon as we have shared it with the students.

The students have been enjoying creating paper mache characters from the Mojo films, developing their drama and expressive skills and using the iPads in creative ways.

We hope you will enjoy some photos of the last few weeks and stay tuned for the coming ‘Jpod Challenge’ which will bring our terms work to a conclusion over the next couple of weeks.

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JPod news Feb 2017

We hope you enjoy Jpod News which was shown in our whole school assembly last week.

Well done to all the students who took part in our first assembly of the year.

Just a reminder to please send in a box of tissues with your child as we need to stock pile some tissues to see us through all the winter months (not to wish away the lovely weather)

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What’s been happening in the Jpod?

What a great first three weeks we have had in the Jpod. The students are well and truly settled back into their routines, getting to know their new home groups, teachers and making new friends.

During week 3 we have started to move the students into different groupings so they are now getting to know the expectations for their specific learning goals in reading groups, writing and letters and sounds, where the teachers can target the ‘just right’ learning for each student. Working in flexible groups is a great opportunity to be more precise with our teaching with students often moved and re- grouped as the year progresses. Groupings used in the Jpod are sometimes based around specific learning needs or sometimes formed due to students learning styles or social and emotional considerations.

The students have really enjoyed working with many different teachers across learning areas and we have enjoyed getting to know the students better too. Remember that your child’s homegrown teacher is always your first point of contact if you have any concerns with your child’s learning progress but the whole Jpod team will often be involved in discussing and planning for all the students learning.


Writing has many different complex components involved in it: such as thinking of ideas, constructing sentences, punctuation and spelling and creating different texts for different purposes.

Although we do type a lot now in everyday life, it has been shown that having fluent handwriting and forming letters in the correct size, orientation and direction can be very helpful in helping the other aspects of writing.

We have been explaining this to the students this week and helping them to understand why it is important to focus on handwriting to help them develop fluency with the mechanics of writing. If their handwriting and letter formation is coming easily and effortlessly then this will mean that their brain can be ‘freed up’ to concentrate on what they want to write and other issues such as spelling and punctuation.

You may have heard your child talking about Lazy 8’s as we have been doing these both as a mindful breathing activity and also as a handwriting warm up. The easiest way to explain the link between the Lazy 8’s and letter formation is through the video below:

This is something that you can encourage your child to do at home as both a mindfulness activity and also to help with their fine motor development and handwriting skills.

Lazy 8’s breathing

mindful lazy eights

Lazy 8’s handwriting outside


You may have heard your child come home talking about mindfulness or noticed this on our weekly timetable. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of calming the mind to be ‘in the moment’ and there are many ways to do this, such as concentrating on breathing, taking a quiet moment to reflect, calm and peaceful activities such as coloring, drawing, listening to calming music or building with logo blocks.
We have been trying to incorporate short breaks for mindfulness during the day to help students to refocus and clear their minds.

Focusing on breathing and stillness

Buddy breathing

Daily mindfulness has been shown to help reduce anxiety in us all and can be used to help build a positive outlook on what is good in our lives. When mindfulness is combined with practicing gratitude and empathy it can have very positive effects. One of the gratitude activities we have been using is to regularly ask the students to reflect on what the best thing is that has happened to them that day, or at play time or simply during circle time to say what they are grateful for in the world or their life. We are finding that this is a good way to focus on the positives (rather than the negatives) and as students do this they should begin to see more positives and feel happier in themselves, which is of course a place that we all want to be and happy students = happy learners.

There are plenty of tips out their on the internet about how to practice mindfulness with your children and there are also apps available to help with this, such a ‘smiling minds’. Some simple activities to try might at home might be:

-Practise breathing buddies (see video below for an explanation)

-Make your walks mindful – Go on a “noticing walk.” Stroll through our neighborhood and notice things you haven’t seen before. Designate one minute of the walk where you are completely silent and simply pay attention to all the sounds we can hear.

– find 10 minutes for a quite relaxing activity such as coloring or listening to relaxing music.

mindful activity, creating with pencils

mindful colouring


What was known as ‘Investigations’ in prep is known as ‘Discovery’ in the Jpod. In Discovery students are often asked to use their natural skills of Inquiry and Wonder to pose and answer questions about the world they live in with a focus on learning through authentic projects that can hopefully make a different to their lives and the lives of others around them.

In the next few weeks our focus for Discovery will be on developing Collaboration, Creativity and Character skills in the students and we will be using the Arts (drama, visual, media) as a vehicle to help the students use and showcase these important skills.

We started this week by exploring Collaboration and it was amazing to both see and hear the students explain what good Collaboration would ‘look and sound like’ and importantly watching them demonstrate these skills by working together in small teams as they did the learning. As the term unfolds we will explore creativity and the character of ‘growth mindset’ which is so important to help the students unlock their full learning potential.

Philosophy learning will compliment this by focusing on revisiting and building ‘growth mindset’ in the students through the fantastic Mojo films.

We are looking forward to another great week of learning with your children and we thank you for your support in keeping up the important home routines of reading at home and practicing magic words.

It was also lovely to meet so many families on Monday at our open classroom evening. It was great to see the students proudly showing off the school and introducing their families to their teachers. If you didn’t get a chance to come in then, we are alway happy for you to pop into the Jpod after school to have a look around or have your child give you a tour.


Don’t forget LIBRARY DAY is Tuesday so please remember to return books borrowed so that your child can borrow another book.

Don’t forget to leave us a comment as we love hearing from you and always try to share comments on the blog with the students. Just remember our blog rules if you are leaving a comment and don’t use surnames please.


Many Thanks


Update from Rizq about the mini library project

We were so thrilled to revive some photos and a video from Rizq and his family with an update about the mini library project. Rizq has now found a good venue for the Library and are setting it up , hopeful that it will be open in the next couple of weeks.


There have been some other exciting developments and some other organisations in Malaysia that are interested in the mini library concept so we might have more news soon about other possibilities.

We watched the movie below with the students yesterday and they were so pleased to see the books they had sent and made being organized for the library. It really was great for them to see what a difference they had made to the lives of other children in another country. The authentic learning that has come from this project has been beyond our original expectations but this is always possible with an ‘authentic learning opportunity’ and why we value these at GWPS so much. It is so important for children to see that through their learning and hard work that they can make a real difference to the world around them and to the lives of others.

Rizq and his family are so grateful for the support they have received from all of the GWPS school community and they tell us that they miss us all.

We will continue to share any other exciting news that we might get from this wonderful project.

If you have a message for Rizq and his family please share them on the blog. We know his family follow the blog and we will also pass any messages from the blog onto them by email.

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Not Long to Go: Will You Be At The Great Games Expo?

The J Pod is currently brimming with excitement as our students begin to make their final preparations for the Great Games Expo which will be held in the J Pod next Friday the 21st of October. Families are more than welcome to visit the Expo between 9-10am on the day.

The students have been hard at work making some last minute modifications to their games to make them as enjoyable as possible for our lucky visitors on the day.

They have also been working hard during Writing sessions in which they have considered ‘what makes a good invitation?’ in order to create invites for our potential Games Expo visitors.











We hope to see you there, GAME ON!


Getting very excited about the Games Expo…..

Much collaboration, creativity and critical thinking has been happening in the Jpod over the last few weeks as the students continue their preparations for our games expo next term on Friday 21st October.

THE BIG NEWS is that the schools we approached and invited to the Expo have all replied with excitement about our project. They were excited to be included in the authentic learning opportunity and have all offered to be involved in the project. So far, we have 98 prep, grade 1 and grade 2 students from Grovedale PS confirmed to visit on the morning of the Expo. Nazareth PS can’t come that day but they may come on another day so that their students can be involved. Finally, we might have students from a bit farther afield (from Anakie) visiting on the Expo day.

Our students are looking forward to having students to play their games and to have the opportunity to get feedback about their games and also to teach and inspire other students to have a go at making and developing their own games.

Over the last few weeks our students have been involved in the tricky phase of exploring their game types in more detail, planning and testing game ideas, reflecting on this and then re-working their plans and beginning to create and make heir games. They are working either in small groups or partners, so as they plan and reflect they are also developing their communication and collaboration skills, making decisions with others in their groups and seeking feedback from other students in the Jpod to enhance and help develop their plans and game ideas.


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All of the work we have done this year about collaboration and growth mindset have been invaluable to the students as the projects they are engaged in are certainly challenging both in terms of the new skills they are learning and the ability to work with others.

We are also seeing lots of the students creative skills in action and their willingness and ability to think critically and improve their games is also clearly evident.


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Developing games is something children do from a very young age in an informal way as they play with their friends, but the challenge of developing a game like a board game or card game that others will be able to play with clear instructions and aims involves students to think carefully and critically about how other will interact and understand their game.


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The students who have taken on the challenge to make Electronic games have been introduced to the concept and skills involved in CODING (or computer programming).

WHAT IS CODING? Coding is essentially writing logical instructions that a computer can follow so that a game or program will work as it is intended to. It is a new type of literacy. Just as writing helps you organize your thoughts and express ideas, the same is true for Coding, which in the past was considered too difficult for younger children. We have been using simple App’s with the students to introduce and teach them coding skills through ‘Block Coding’.

As students interact with these Apps they learn how to solve problems and use the device to express themselves, rather than just interact with it. The students are using and developing their maths and language skills in meaningful and motivational ways, which is why Coding is now forming part of the Victorian primary school curriculum.

We have been using ‘Light Bot’ and ‘Junior Scratch’ with the students to help them develop their games. They are both free App’s to download and we would recommend them for use at home to support what we are working on in the classroom. The students have been learning the skills of coding and what is possible and they are now planning and storyboarding their games (much like they would plan a sequenced story narrative) which they will next seek to create by coding the game to do what they want it to do. The best way to understand this further would be to download Junior Scratch to a device at home and ask your child to show you what they can do with it…or failing that….come to our games Expo to learn all about it!


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We hope all the students and families have a restful holiday and we look forward to seeing everyone back refreshed and ready for an exciting Term 4.


Collecting Data to help with our learning..can you help us?

The Jpod Games Expo is coming…..

You may have heard that J Pod students have been busy playing games during Discovery time – this is all for good reason as students are developing their perception of what a good game is and have been asked to analyse, evaluate and compare the features of different types of games. This has led to the students wanted to put their learning to good use and ‘create’ a new game for someone else to play.

In thinking about who they might design games for, the students thought it would be great to invite the GWPS community to try out their games and also to invite some grade 1/2 students from nearby local schools to come to GWPS to play their games, to both entertain them with the games and also to get some feedback on the games they will be creating. Why not have a ‘Games Expo’ the students thought but this time with other schools invited!!!

After using Google Maps to research and recording the distance of nearby schools, students have collaboratively designed a survey of questions using an online monkey survey to send to the other local schools. What a great use of their numeracy skills; reading and interpreting maps, measuring time and distance and developing questions to collect data.

They have also been using their Literacy skills too, drafting a persuasive letter explaining how they would like the other students to come to the Games Expo, giving them directions to walk to our school and asking them to complete the online survey. In drafting their letters the students had to think carefully about what to include in their text and also to revise and redraft their letters first in their books and then on loose paper that can be posted to the other schools.


Some students have used book creator to create electronic letters to send.




Without wanting to give too much away, our students have been given the option to choose their preferred game type they would like to create, including board games, card games, active games and electronic games. All the games will need the students to use their literacy and numeracy skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, collaboration skills and have the character to take on a challenging project. The electronic games creation will also lead to the students exploring ‘coding’ skills as they develop the mathematical and literacy skills involved in understanding how electronic games and apps are created.

We are now in the beginning stages of researching further our chosen game type and together with our survey response questions we will begin the design and creation process. It’s a tricky challenge but the students are up for the challenge and its yet another  great way to build their ‘growth mindset’.

We are planning our Expo for Friday 21st October, so make sure you pencil in the Expo date as it is sure to be a fun, fantastic, exciting event for all ages!

We would also love your feedback on what you enjoy when playing a game and would love for anyone reading this blog post to complete our Jpod online Monkey survey (it only takes a few minutes).

These are the students questions, which were developed collaboratively with input from all the Jpod students. As we collect the data it will be great to look at this and analyze our results with the students, in that way they can hopefully design the sorts of games that audience members at the Expo would like to play. They will also be able to develop their numeracy skills in collecting, reading and interpreting data in a real and authentic way. The survey can be accessed by clicking on the following link or using the QR code if you would prefer.





We hope you can help and that you will be able to come and try out some of our games when they are ready.


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