J Pod -Grovedale West Primary School

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

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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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


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!


Kids teaching Kids!- letters and sounds learning shared with the grade 3/4’s –

Some of the Jpod students have been learning about some pretty complex aspects of spelling and punctuation over the last few weeks during their Letters and Sounds sessions. They have been exploring some of the patterns we notice when forming plurals of words (e.g. adding ‘s’ ‘es’ and ‘ies’ to the end of words),how to use contractions properly (e.g. I’ve and we’ve) and when to use the apostrophe for possession (e.g. the cat’s bell).

Inorder to help consolidate their learning ,the students have worked together in small groups to make books that help explain what they have learnt to other students. They used an App called ‘Book Creator’ on the iPad to make their books and the app has the ability to save their books as a video for sharing digitally. The books were able to contain recorded voices together with the pictures and words.

The students enjoyed taking their books up to the 3/4 students this week to read them to them in the hope that they could help them with their learning and understanding of these tricky aspects of spelling. The Jpod students really enjoyed sharing their books and the 3/4 students were able to give them student feedback about them.





Two 3/4 students commented that ‘although they did already know about the spelling rules the books were written in simple way that helped them understand the topic better’, which was great feedback to get and made the process of making the books all the more worthwhile. The power of kids teaching kids is not to be underestimated!

The books are published below for you to enjoy:

What do you think of the students’ books?

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Week 6 Recap, Week 7 Learning Foci and Assembly Time!

Week 6 Recap


Student’s have continued to embrace their artistic sides whilst exploring feelings and emotions in Discovery  this past week. We have seen some excellent progress in the way that our students collaborate and communicate with one another during our activity rotations.

Dramatic Play Benefits Reading Groups

How fantastic is this! Our drama rotation as part of our Arts focus in Discovery learning has allowed us to create valuable learning opportunities in Reading. Here, children can be seen using their drama skills to act out the story they are reading to help with their comprehension of the text. Just look at this comparison, what better way to understand a text than to become part of the story yourself, great work guys!


Exploring Emotions through Music

How fascinating it was for both staff and students to consider the range of emotional responses we can have to a piece of music. Below you can see some examples of children’s emotional responses to 5 very different pieces of instrumental music. Their use of colour and drawings to symbolise different feelings reflects an increasing emotional awareness amongst the group which is pleasing to see.







Paper Mache Creation

As mentioned in last weeks blog post, the collaborative effort that went into this creative process was incredible. Below is a photo you may recognise from last week’s JPOD Challenge in which we asked you to name the Gruffalo characters from left to right (this week is your last chance to get your answers in…PLUS you have the added advantage of seeing some of the finished models displayed in the next photo down. GO ON! Have a peek and leave us a comment with your answer)



Did somebody say….Junior Assembly?

Yes, it’s time for our first Junior Assembly of the year! Please feel welcome to attend in the school gym 2:45pm this Friday the 11th of April. If you think the Paper Mache work above is exciting, then don’t miss this great opportunity to see our students showcase some of the outstanding artistic learning they have done in Discovery this term.

We will also present to you the J Pod representatives (2 for each home group) for Junior School Council. We had some fantastic oral presentations over the last week and the voting, by the students, for each home group was very close indeed.

We hope to see you there!

Week 7 Learning Foci


This week we will be adding another CAFÉ reading strategy to our toolbox known as ‘Skip the Word and Come Back’ – this strategy is great for  when we have become stuck on a word and our other strategies like ‘sounding out’ aren’t helping. We simply skip the word and once we have finished the sentence, we reread it and use the starting sound of the unknown word to help us figure it out. It also helps if we think what words would make sense in the sentence as well.


This week we will continue to utilise the Arts to explore emotions and build upon the student’s communication and collaboration skills.


Students will be working on including a range of connective words and openers in their writing this week as they write personal/reflective pieces which explain their favourite moments from Discovery learning this term.


This week we continue to build upon our understanding of the concept of ‘Place Value’ and it’s application to other mathematical concepts.

Don’t Forget: Junior Assembly – This Friday 11th March 2:45pm in the School Gym.

See you next week!

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Week 5 Recap and Week 6 Learning Foci

Week 5 Recap


We’ve had another fun-filled week of artistic and creative exploration within the J Pod. Our students are becoming increasingly in tune with what it means to be a collaborative and creative individual and they should be proud of their achievements within Discovery learning this term. It has been fantastic to see students continue to develop these valuable skills by acting, playing music and creating paper mache masterpieces in response to Julia Donaldson’s,  ‘Room on the Broom’. Let’s not forget the fact that these collaborative, creative learners achieved all of this with a big smile on their face.

Here are some images of their creative work:

Drama Theatre

This ‘Mud Monster’ comparison is priceless and just one example of the outstanding dramatic work the students have been producing with Mr. Ramage and Ms. Newton: see if you can tell which one is the real ‘Mud Monster’.
mud monster

Technology has enabled us to have extra copies of the text for students to act out and respond to in the outdoor setting.




Paper Mache Creation
Wow! We have been well and truly blown away by the artistic flare the students have displayed within the Paper Mache rotation activity. For each of the three Discovery groups to be responsible for one individual stage of the final collaborative product is an achievement in itself. These Gruffalo characters look absolutely fantastic!

See if you are clever enough to respond correctly to our challenge on the final photo 🙂





Can you correctly name the six Gruffalo Characters featured in the photo below in order from left to right?
e.g. 1. ________, 2. _________, etc.
Go on, have a go and leave a comment below this blog post!

Students that were interested in becoming Junior School Council Representatives for their homegroup finally had the chance to present a speech which outlined why they would make a suitable candidate. Well done to all those students that put in the hard yards over the past week and spoke clearly and confidently in front of their peers. The votes will be tallied in the coming days and our JPod Junior School Council Reps will be announced later in the week.



Week 5 Learning Foci


This week will see students further consolidate and apply their knowledge of the ‘Back Up and Re-read’ CAFÉ reading strategy. Students re beginning to self-monitor when reading and to identify those moments when the meaning of the text has become unclear.

See below for the second installment of our CAFÉ instructional videos which was also featured in last weeks blog post: this video will explain the strategy in more detail.



We couldn’t be more excited for another engaging and entertaining week of artistic exploration in Discovery. Due to the overwhelming positivity and enjoyment expressed by the students; we will continue to develop their communication and collaboration through visual, musical and dramatic activities which stimulate their creative and artistic minds.

This week we take a step back from Julia Donaldson’s works and venture into the world of emotions. Our artistic exploration of emotion will be supported by the popular children’s film, ‘Inside Out’. Using the characters within this film (each of which typify a particular emotion) we will investigate how we feel and how that affects us and the way we act in every day life.





Our writing will continue to focus on our handwriting in order to improve letter formation and placement on dotted thirds. Students will also be writing about different emotions and reflecting on when they have felt a particular way.


This week we continue to explore ‘Place Value’, a highly valuable concept which acts as a foundation for many mathematical applications.

We also revisit Mathletics, teaching students how to use their individual logins and access tasks which can be completed at home or school.

low_mathletics Mathletics-Homepage-WEG-1024x600DON’T FORGET TO CHECK IT OUT 🙂
Students login details will be recieved early this week and pasted into their school diary and Maths book so that your child can access Mathletics both at home, and at school. We encourage you to log on with your child and explore the site which is also available as an app. It is a great tool to build maths skills in a fun and engaging way.


Thankyou for taking the time to keep updated with our blog. We hope you enjoy being a part of our learning journey and following us every step of the way. Please feel free to post a response or to contribute your thoughts on our wonderful learning because you too are a pivotal part of our learning community.



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Week 4 Recap and Week 5 Learning Focus

Week 4 Recap


How fantastic it has been to see the J Pod student’s collaboration and creativity flourish as they embraced their artistic sides within Discovery this past week. Whether it be in the form of a paper mache animal, a musical score or a theatrical display; all children shared in some memorable creative experiences in which they had a great deal of fun.

Drama Theatre

Julia Donaldson’s, ‘The Gruffalo’ got the Broadway Treatment last week as all students had the opportunity to add some creative and dramatic flair to the celebrated children’s novel by presenting it in a live play for their peers. The students particularly enjoyed practising their roles in our newly acquired outdoor learning space which will be developed and utilised more frequently throughout the year.




Paper Mache Creation

What a great job the students have done using nothing but newspaper, balloons, glue mixture and simple craft supplies to recreate some of their favourite characters from ‘The Gruffalo’. Paper Mache art in itself is quite a complex and time consuming task, but the students have taken this in their stride; with each of the three Discovery groups working collaboratively to complete a shared body of work.






This week in Philosophy we continued to unpack what responsibilities and qualities a great Junior School Council (JSC) Representative would have. Students discussed this with one another and decided that a great JSC Representative would be someone who is: – helpful to others
– a good team member
– has great ideas
– speaks well in front of a group
– a good role model for other students
– a good listener
-responsible and sensible

Students then had to consider which of these qualities they possess which would make them a suitable Junior School Council Representative for their homegroup. Following this, each homegroup had an opportunity for students to show an expression of interest in being a representative this year.

Next Monday (Week 6), these students will have the opportunity to present a short 1 minute speech to their homegroup which outlines a few of their key strengths or qualities which they think would make them an exceptional council representative. The child’s homegroup will then cast a vote to elect our Junior School Council Representatives for the year.




Week 5 Learning Foci


This week students add another CAFÉ reading strategy to their toolbox as we learn to ‘Back Up and Re-read’. This strategy encourages students to monitor their reading to identify moments when something they have read doesn’t make sense. At this point they are then able to stop, ‘Back Up and Re-read’ in order to identify any potential errors they may have made, and to clarify what it is they may have misunderstood. See below for the second installment of our CAFÉ instructional videos which will explain the strategy in more detail.



What a ball we have had exploring ‘The Arts’ to open up new creative avenues for our students within Discovery learning. It had been great to see the J Pod’s collaborative and creative skills continue to develop and we look forward to strengthening them further as we explore another Julia Donaldson masterpiece, ‘Room on the Broom’.



This weeks artistic exploration tasks include:

            -Creating a character from ‘Room on the broom ’ using paper mache.

            -Soundtrack production for a scene from ‘Room on the Broom’ using musical instruments our voices and body percussion.

            -Planning and presenting a ‘Room on the Broom themed theatrical play which presents a scene form the story.

If only the witch in the story had as much room on her broom as we do in the J Pod to explore all these fantastic creative activities. Looking forward to another great week of Discovery learning!



Our writing will continue to focus on our handwriting in order to improve letter formation and placement on dotted thirds. Students will also be learning to write a reflective recount on their Discovery learning with a particular focus on accurate punctuation and interesting sentences.


Maths will see students continue to develop their mental strategies to assist them with their addition and counting skills. In addition to this, they will be taking part in a range of engaging and hands on tasks to build their knowledge of Place Value.


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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.


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