J Pod -Grovedale West Primary School

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

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.


Term 1, Learning for the coming week 3..

Welcome to week 3 in the Jpod.

Here is a brief overview of our learning foci for the week ahead.


With CAFE routines established this week’s CAFE focus will be on ‘Getting our Knowledge ready for reading’, by connecting with the text, making predictions and using SEE THINK WONDER.

We hope you enjoy the first of our CAFE instructional videos below which hopefully helps explains this very important strategy for readers. We also hope this video will give you some help with ways to tune in your children to their reading and to discuss their reading with them to help develop their comprehension skills.

This week will also see students begin their small group guided reading workshops.

Students have 1-2 of these workshops in a very small group with a teacher every week, which allows teachers to explicitly coach and support students with the next steps needed with their personal reading goals.


Writing this week will focus around drawing labelled plans and writing about ideas for how we might develop our new outdoor classroom space. Students will also refresh their letter formation skills and writing fluency.


Maths will focus on counting and mental strategies that students can use to help them with their addition and counting. For example, estimation, counting on, using known number facts, doubles and bridging to ten.


Continuing on from last week the focus will remain on developing students Collaboration skills through working in groups on creative projects using hand on materials and technology.

We will also be helping students understand what it means to compromise with others and what being creative really means.  You can give your child a head start with this learning if you watch and discuss the video below with them. We will be using this as a stimulus in class to explore compromise and creativity.


This week’s philosophy session used the photo below as a stimulus for students to discuss. We used the thinking routine SEE THINK WONDER to discuss what might be happening in the photo, why it might be happening, how the students in the photos might be feeling and to help our students develop strategies to help them stay positive and resilient in group situations.


Finally, just a little message to remind each student to bring into school a box of tissues. We really need a good supply of these to prepare ourselves for the winter months.

Looking forward to a great week from the Jpod teachers.


Fantastic start to the year

Welcome to the Jpod blog 2016!!!

What a fantastic start to the year we have had. The students have settled effortlessly into the routines and expectations of life in the Jpod.

The focus for the last week has been on students feeling happy and settled at school. There have been many opportunities planned by the teachers for students to get to know their new home group friends, to get to know other students in the Jpod and to get to know the teachers.

Students have been encouraged to use each other’s names, look at each other and smile when they are working with new friends, and to really work hard to build the positive relationships which are so important for learning.


The Jpod teachers have been so impressed at how quickly the students have settled into their daily routines. It’s been amazing to watch the students starting their days with diaries out, changing their readers independently and being ready to learn. The consistency with the prep routines has been clear to see and the transisition activities last term also seem to have helped prepare the students  for life in the  Jpod.


Our reading program is up and running with students refreshing the routines involved in CAFE reading, practicing reading to a partner, reading to self and checking for understanding as they read. We have also introduced word work routines. Look out for some videos which will appear on the blog soon, helping to explain some of the reading routines and strategies that the students are taught in class.


Next week will see small guided reading groups starting up so that students can receive more explicit and precise teaching of the next steps they need to focus on with their reading.


In writing the students have written letters to their new home group teachers telling them about themselves, their holidays, their families and their interest. It’s been great to read the fantastic writing produced by the students.


Numeracy sessions have been very hand on and fun, with students using quick mental maths strategies in games such as maths bingo, solve the number pattern, number snap with playing cards and exploring our numicons and numeracy iPad apps.






Our discovery activities have focused on relationships and creating the right learning environment for the Jpod.

Students have been involved in devising a monitor system for each home group to help the Jpod run smoothly. Posters will be appearing in each learning area made by the students.

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Our school beliefs

The students have discussed our school beliefs and thought about what a positive learning environment would look like, sound like and feel like. They then worked together to make large Y chart posters to display their ideas in the Jpod.

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Collaboration and creativity

The end of the week has seen the students developing their collaborative and creative skills, working in groups with specific design briefs.

All students are having the opportunity to create shared models using Make Do, creative structures using our Green Hat Blocks and short multi media films using our iPads to get used to using IMovie to combine photos, music and sound.

The collaborative and creative skills on show in the room have been amazing to see and we hope you enjoy some photos of the learning.

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As the year progresses we will use the blog to showcase what is happening in the room and also to communicate general learning topics and to share ideas and videos that might help with continued learning at home.

Don’t forget to post some comments too!!

The blog is shared regularly with the students in class and we will be teaching them how to post a comment on the blog.

Please feel free to pout  a comment on the blog, it can be as simple as ‘great learning kids’. Or can comment on something more specific, or can relate to a photo of something that you’ve enjoyed. Remember we don’t use surnames on the blog so first names only pls whe you post a comment eg sign of your blog comment….from James (Banjo’s Dad).

If you click on the comment box below the post your comment will not appear on the blog until it has been moderated and approved by the Jpod staff.

All comments will get shared in class and helps to build the connection between the school, home and the students.

We are so excited about the year ahead and enjoying the learning journeys with each and every one of the Jpod students.

Finally, look out for homework books and our Jpod newsletter and timetables which are coming home with the students today.

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Transition program

This week the year 2 students have been visiting the MI Pod to experience life in year 3 with a reading and maths session. They have enjoyed being year 3s and have looked settled and at home in the MI Pod. The consistency across the school and from area to area really helps the students to take this in their stride.

The Jpod has also hosted the prep students for two sessions and the current year 1’s have been year 2 students for the day, feeling what it will be like to be leaders and role models next year.

Next Tuesday, December 8th, the students will have a 3 hour transition session, running all morning from 9.15-12.30 which will give them further time to settle into their new learning areas for next year and work with their friends new teachers.

This is what some of the students had to say:

Lucas (year 2) – Maths was fun because we played nasty numbers.

Freya (year 2 ) – We met new people in the Mi Pod and I enjoyed meeting new students and teachers.

Isla (year 2) – I thought it was interesting how they learnt different things and I had fun because I was entertained with the new things.

Joseph (year 1) – I liked the transition because we have been having time with the preps and I wanted to spend more time with them to get to know them.

Olivia M (year 1) – SERIOUSLY Mr.Ramage…don’t you know who I am!!!!!!!… (Mr Ramage pretending he had forgotten Olivia’s name)..actually, I meant to say the preps are wonderful.

Emily (year 1) – The preps are wonderful and it’s been good meeting them.

Sophie (year 1) – I like working with the new preps and getting to know them.

Miky (prep) – I have enjoyed learning new things with the grade 1s.

Alex (prep) – we got to do some different things in the Jpod like playing get out of the house.

Makenzie (prep) – I have enjoyed seeing other people and making new friends.

Remy (prep) – I have been feeling less nervous after coming up to the Jpod.

We would love to hear some comments from other students:

What did you think of the transition program and what are you looking forward to next year next year?

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Real life application for Maths

We are always looking for ways to link our application of maths concepts to real life. After all, we use numbers every day in our life. We read the clock in the morning, check the weather, check the footy scores and read the speed on our car as we drive.

Information displayed through numbers, charts, graphs, pictures is all around us and we often interpret these without even thinking we are using our Math’s skills.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been exploring and developing the J-pod students understanding of statistics and data by showing them how the skills they use to collect, display and interpret information are used by people in the real world, in real jobs.

Last week, after the visit from the Geelong Cats players we focused on the job of a statistician who collects information during a footy match. The students loved watching part of a game, using their tallying skills to count up kicks, hand balls, marks etc. They then used their recording skills to produce tables and graphs.

Following that we went outside (the next day) for some real footy games and to collect some ‘Live’ Stats. The students loved this and they were able to compare and contrast other data collected in each other’s games. We explored how data helps us make reasoned predictions too.


We are continuing our learning this week by beginning to explore the data that we come across when we look at the weather. Again, a real life link that the students already have an understanding of.


Today the students investigated this, using the iPads, to collect as many different types of graphs and charts that they could find about the weather. They then put these images into Comic Book and were able to ‘air play’ them up to our large screens in the room to show each other the different types of information they had found. We had a very interesting discussion about graphs, line graphs, temperature maps, scales and keys that help us understand information and weather symbols.


Months and Seasons

In maths we have been looking at seasons. This is always a fun aspect of our maths curriculum and the students enjoyed making posters to show the different seasons and what happens during these months. At home students could make their own poster to aid them learning the months of the years within the context of seasons (an example of this is provided below).

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Seasons 1

Seasons 2

Seasons 4


Can you make your own ‘Months and Seasons’ poster like the one below to help you learn the months and seasons at home? You can put it up in your house to help you remember the order of the months! It might be a good idea to add some of the things you see and do to it each month throughout the year…

Months and Seasons



Rediscovering Friends of 10!

Maths, like so much of learning, requires a lot of hands on exploration and much revision. Concepts are built, ideas are formed, patterns are discovered. Then, often, a new perspective is uncovered and the whole process begins again! This is the excitement of learning maths!!

Using concrete aids to explore maths concepts

Learning ’10’s Facts’ (Friends of 10) is more than just rote learning of addition facts. It involves looking for the pattern in the series of numbers that add to 10. As one number in the series goes up, the other progressively goes down. When students ‘discover’ this pattern for themselves an understanding emerges that is more powerful than just recall of facts.

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The understanding of the patterns involved in addition ‘Friends of 10′ or ’10’s Facts’ can be built on and appplied to many other areas of maths.

The connection can be made to addition turnarounds (4 + 6 = 10 and so 6 + 4 = 10), subtraction (10 – 6 = 4), adding beyond 10 where the ’10’s Facts’ are identified (24 + 6 = 20 + 4 + 6 = 30) and building to the next 10 (6 + 8 = 6 + 4 + 4 = 14). This, of course, is done over a period of time as students visit and revisit Maths ideas over the years, reaquainting themselves in this case with their ‘Friends of 10’ and establishing a renewed mathematical relationship and understanding of their old friends!

Exploring patterns using an Abacus

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Place Value – the value of a number depending on it’s place!

Our Place Value chart, showing many of the ways students use place value to understand numbers, is a very important concept for students to comprehend. Understanding numbers as containing hundreds, tens and ones is foundational for maths concepts and operations and the children are now building upon this in their Numeracy learning. As you talk to your children about their maths, keep asking them about how ‘tens and ones (place value)’ fits in!

So, why do we use this place value thing with hundreds, tens and ones? As Caleb told the other students in his maths group, we use it “because it is faster to count using tens and ones than just ones”. He is correct. Take, for example, 24 + 10 = 34. Seeing 24 as ‘2 of the tens and 4 of the ones’ means we can add ‘1 of the tens’ to make ‘3 of the tens’ and keep our ‘4 of the ones’, giving us 34 (‘3 of the tens and 4 of the ones’). That’s a lot quicker than counting on by ones alone, or recounting all the numbers and including the extra 10! The students are working towards understanding this and applying their knowledge in sums and problems for numbers under 100 and even up to 1000 (where the ‘hundreds’ come into play)!

J Pod Place Value Chart

Our J Pod Place Value Chart

Aaron and Ethan using MABs to investigate 'hundreds, tens and ones'.

Aaron and Ethan using MABs to investigate ‘hundreds, tens and ones’.


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