New Australian STEM resources hub


ABC Splash is a source of high-quality digital educational content specifically developed for the Australian learning community.  This week they launched the Splash STEM Hub which addresses “Science, Technology, Education and Maths” learning for students in Years Prep/Foundation to Year 10.  The site contains experiments, teaching ideas, and interviews with scientists, engineers in partnership with organisations such as CSIRO, RiAus and the Australian National University.  It brings real world science and people working in science and technology fields into the classroom.

To celebrate the launch of the new STEM hub, ABC Splash is conducting a prize draw that you enter by simply subscribing to the new STEM newsletter.  Two great prizes for the winners are three sphero rolling robots, one prize for primary and one for secondary.  What a marvellous incentive to sign up to receive what is a great prize in itself – regular science education news and updates!

All ABC Splash resources are free to watch and play at home and in school and are guaranteed to spark discussion and promote curiosity. The Splash portal is a world-class education experience for Australian students, and is packed with thousands of videos, audio clips, games and interactive tools.  Teachers and teacher librarians are especially encouraged to sign up for the primary, secondary and now the STEM newsletters.  Promote them to your students and their families, they’ll love them.

Wiki for maths learning

Whitefriars College teacher librarian Karen Kearney has developed a resourceful wiki to support Maths learning and teaching.

Wiki Maths

Our WFC Learning Together Wiki was set up to support learning for those students in the Learning Support program. We hoped that it would encourage, engage and motivate them to contribute and learn from one another. The literacy parts of the Wiki have been working very well with lots of interaction between the students and teachers. Just recently, we have turned our attention to seeing how we can use the Wiki as part of the Maths Learning Support program.

Helen Sapardanis, the Maths Learning Support teacher, has devised several posters full of practical hints to help our students study for their maths tests, take notes within their maths classes, and to encourage them to think much more positively about maths. Our students have access to these posters at any time.

The Maths percentages task was another thought provoking task devised by Helen. A blank template for this can be found on the Wiki. Students were asked to consider, and write, the processes they were required to take in order to convert percentages into decimals, and percentages into fractions. We have placed one student response on the Wiki as an example.

I have created several Maths quizzes using Hot Potatoes, and there is also a link on the Wiki to these quizzes for the boys to do if they finish their work early. More will be added as they are created. I am hoping that the boys will gradually compile their own quizzes for me to add.

Helen and I really wanted to get the students thinking about the processes they had used to arrive at their answers, and so we decided to start a “How Do I Do It?” section. Helen would devise a maths question, relating to the teaching that she had been doing that day, and it was placed on the Wiki. Students would be required to think through the steps they should use, and then write them, step by step, in the discussion box. Putting their steps into words is not an easy task for many of the students and we’ve been really pleased by the understandings that they have shown.

When we were just starting to place maths equations on the Wiki it occurred to me that the writing of equations was not the simple task I had imagined. My first attempts had me writing “x squared” for instance. Very frustrating when that wasn’t what students were used to seeing! I ended up writing each equation in Microsoft Word, taking a screen grab, converting the equation into a .jpg then loading that onto the Wiki. Fortunately I soon discovered that one of the languages supported by Wikispaces is Latex, and the writing of maths equations became quite simple. Maths Tutorials Parts 1 and 2 proved to be very helpful.

Our aim is for the wiki to be a vibrant, interactive space, where the boys are happy to contribute their ideas and knowledge, and are proud of their contributions. We have been very happy with how our “Wiki Maths” has been progressing and Helen and I will continue to develop it more next year.

What a terrific example of how teachers can use their own area of expertise to work together to improve learning and teaching! Well done Karen and Helen. Very impressive.

More maths screencasts

Further to the post about Mathtrain.TV a few weeks ago, another school site sharing maths screencasts has come to my attention.

maths screencasts

Craig Mantin and Willowgrove Middle School students have created over thirty screencasts embedded in this wiki to share with audiences around the globe.

This site is useful in two ways. The first to provide a resource for students studying maths who may need further explanations on the topic. The second is to provide an exemplar of how students can demonstrate their learning of maths concepts (and media creation skills) by teaching others.


Mr Marcos and his students at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California have developed a lovely set of screencasts to help teach maths. There is a choice of student or teacher created screencasts as well as videos with captions.

Teachers can use Mathtrain.TV in two ways. By using it in the classroom to help reinforce concepts taught (and for students to be able to revisit these topics at home) but by also having your own students create similar screencasts.

By creating these screencasts, students are not only demonstrating that they have learned the concepts behind the particular branch of mathematics, they are showing how they got to the answers. But perhaps more importantly, they are creating a product to share with others.

When creating their screencasts, they need to address:

  • Audience. What age level? For students good at maths or those who need extra help?
  • Script. They will need to write a script so that students viewing the screencasts find them easy to follow.
  • Visibility of sums. Will the audience be able to view the sums easily?
  • Layout. Will the audience be able to follow the working out?

They also need to learn how to use a tool such as the free JingProject to record their screencasts.

So students are learning lots of Web 2.0 skills, helping others  as well as reinforcing their own learning. What an excellent idea!

Interactive Content Corner

The Interactive Content Corner blog is one worth checking out!

Interactive Content Corner

Author Emily Starr says:

My name is Emily Starr.  I’m a former fourth grade teacher, President of StarrMatica Learning Systems, and an interactive content enthusiast!

I started integrating online interactive content in my classroom instruction five years ago, and teaching with technology has been my passion ever since.

This blog is dedicated to the “Now what?” of teaching with technology.  My mission is to help you bridge the gap between knowing how to operate hardware and actually integrating technology into your instruction.

As Emily says, all of her posts are dedicated to explaining how to use specific tools in the classroom for learning and teaching. Although probably more appropriate for primary overall, there are tools and examples that could also be used in secondary. One example of this is Online Comics in the Classroom. There is also a free eBook for teachers to download that centres on teaching fractions using online websites. You can find Emily’s tweets at


Gliffy is a very cool drawing and drafting tool.  Free access and ease of use will appeal to many users including teachers and students.


With the ability to create:

  • floor plans
  • diagrams
  • flowcharts and
  • technical drawings

there are many possibilities for educational use as well as personal use. Visual Communication students may find it useful to create floor plans and technical drawings while Humanities, Science, Maths and English could take advantage of the flowcharts and diagrams for planning and mindmapping.

Gliffy offers a library with a large range of shapes and items. Once completed, drawings can be exported jpeg and png and files can be shared or published to the internet.

Library staff planning a new or updated library could use the floor plans and anyone designing or building a new home may find the floor plans worth while.

Gliffy has free and premium accounts. The academic account is free.

Year 7 Maths Wiki

An extremely useful site for maths teachers and students, the Year 7 Maths Wiki has a wealth of information on problem solving, homework help and interactive activities. The wiki was developed by the fabulous Maryna Badenhor (@marynabadenhors).

Maths wiki

Pages include:

  1. Alphabet Maths
  2. Anamorph
  3. Assessment and Thinking
  4. Astronomy
  5. Big Number Facts
  6. Calculators and converters
  7. Dice and Spinners
  8. Dictionaries
  9. Drills
  10. Early Years Maths
  11. Fibonacci Numbers
  12. Foldables
  13. Fractals
  14. Fractions
  15. Freeware
  16. Games
  17. Golden Ratio
  18. Graph paper etc.
  19. Hall of Fame
  20. Hands On
  21. Interactives
  22. Lesson Plans
  23. Lines and Curves
  24. Links
  25. Magic Squares
  26. Maps
  27. Math mats and squares
  28. Maths about Me
  29. Maths Fun
  30. Maya
  31. Measurement
  32. Money
  33. Multiplication
  34. Number systems
  35. Optical Illusions
  36. Origami
  37. Pascal’s Triangle
  38. Pi
  39. Pizza Math
  40. Posters
  41. Problem Solving
  42. Pythagorean Theorem
  43. Roman Numerals
  44. Royalty Free
  45. Shapes
  46. Symmetry
  47. Tangrams
  48. Teacher Resources
  49. Tessellations
  50. Video Tutorials
  51. Vocab and Cheat Sheets
  52. Weekly Problem
  53. Work Sheets

This is a very well put together resource that would be of great assistance to teachers, students and even parents.

Visual calendar

The very creative Mandy Barrow (@mbarrow), who is an ICT Consultant, Teacher, Cub Leader and creator and web manager of the excellent Woodlands Junior School (UK) website has devised a visual calendar for 2010. Mandy has agreed to share her calendar with readers of Bright Ideas.


Mainly useful for Primary aged students, there are many days and links that are applicable to Australia. The calendar would be ideal for a brief early morning IWB session a few times a week as it is sure to launch discussions and activities on many different topics.

Mandy has also developed many other first-rate pages such as:

British History

World History


Houses & Homes

History of London

Florence Nightingale

Kings & Queens

Battle of Trafagar

Guy Fawkes

Bayeaux Tapestry

History Timeline

Literacy Zone

Maths Zone

Science Zone

Putting together pages like these is an extremely time consuming task and a big thank you to Mandy for sharing them.

BBC’s Bitesize

The BBC have numerous websites that are useful for teachers and students. Their Bitesize collection focuses on Key Stage 1 (Prep, years 1 and 2) – numeracy and literacy, with Science games and quizzes, Key Stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 and 6) – English, Maths and Science and Key Stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9) – English, Maths and Science. The sites include games for students and lesson plans and worksheets for teachers.

BBC bitesize

KS2 Bitesize includes resources for:

  • Spelling
  • Microorganisms
  • Grids
  • Fractions
  • Changing state
  • Argument
  • Probability
  • Light and dark
  • Planning

KS3 Bitesize includes resources for:

  • Reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • Shakespeare scenes and play summaries
  • Number, algebra, handling data, measures, shapes and space
  • Living things, energy and forces, chemicals, Earth and space.

Another excellent tool from a reputable source.