Producing our Weekly News Video

Tomorrow we will be producing episode five our our weekly News from 56C podcast. Our podcast started five weeks ago and is a summary of the learning that the have been doing in class. Kelly and Luke produced our first broadcast with very little instruction or teacher guidance and it has grown from there – the project has been student driven.

Last Friday, we spent some time as a class thinking about the purpose of creating the news and how we will know if we are successful when doing it. After all, to be a great learner we need to understand why each activity is important. Students individually brainstormed ideas of the learning that they thought was involved (our WALT – What we are Learning to do) in producing the news and we then put them together on the list below. What a long list!


As you can see, this task is very rich and contains a lot of learning. It is great because we are incorporating all the skills that we learn individually during our time in class. It enables us to integrate all our learning together and show off the skills that we have developed over the weeks and terms at school. Already in just four episodes we have shown that we can look at the feedback and ideas from other news episodes and build on them, as the students have been doing. Make sure you keep an eye out each week for the latest News from 56C and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Sizzling Starts and Planning for Success


In class we have begun to look at the ‘7 Steps to Amazing Writing’. As a launching pad to the steps, we began by spending the first fortnight focusing on ‘Sizzling Starts’.

A Sizzling Start is a start to a piece of writing or story that really engages the reader and makes them want to read more in the story. It could be an action scene or something funny – anything that makes the reader want to keep reading more.

We have had a look at writing which does not sizzle (it fizzles!) and how it causes us to become disinterested in the writing. Some examples of this include writing that starts with ‘On the weekend…’ or ‘When I woke up…’.

Students have been fantastic at identifying sizzling starts! Some of the sizzling starts that we have identified in books, movies or television programs include:

  • The beginning of Stormbreaker, with Ian Rider being chased from Port Tallon. (thanks Tai)
  • The introduction to Men in Black, as the agents zap the alien in the desert. (Thanks Zak)
  • The movie Wall*E with its engaging and wonderful first scene.
  • The film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, which starts with the boulder chase scene.
  • The Simpsons Movie, when Homer poisons the town’s water supply (thanks Jarryd)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has a suspense filled start with many people dying
  • The television show Modern Family often starts with a comic scene that makes you laugh and want to keep watching.
  • The books Beware contain lots of short stories but they are all set in Halloween and full of suspense. (Zak)
  • The books in the Deltora Quest series contain twists at the start to make you want to find out what happens, such as when the main characters die out right at the start (thanks Zenia!)
  • Tomorrow When the War Began starts with a bombing and fighting scene
  • In the novel Breaking Dawn the character begins to talk about her life experiences and what has happened to her (thanks Kelly)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets captures you in by jumping off where the last story ends and Harry doing something he shouldn’t be doing.
  • The Short Second Life of Bree Tanya starts with a newspaper headline and the main character talking about how it will affect others

This is only a short list of some of the ideas that we discussed in class over the past fortnights. We have also completed a range of activities to get us good at thinking about quick starts to stories. These have including writing ‘five fast starts’ where we have to write the start to five stories in just ten minutes- yes it can be done! Ideas we were given for stories included “All of the kids are at school but there’s no teacher’s in sight”, “A ghost story about a dog with three legs” and “There’s a tree in the wetlands that eats kids”. It’s amazing what you can write in two minutes when you put your mind to it!

Today, we moved on to another of the steps and starting looking at Planning for Success.


We spent some time this morning discussing the importance of having a wide range of ideas to be able to build a story from, and not necessarily using the first thing that pops in to your head. As a grade we brainstormed some large lists of different characters (heroes and villains), sidekicks, problems, settings and animals we might include in a story. From these lists, we had to use something from each list to write the start to a silly story. Here are some of the ideas we came up with.

  • A walking saucepan has to flee from the FBI who know his mysterious secret. It’s the year 2012 with Mayans freaking everywhere and with the help of a monkey his only transport is a non-stop kicking horse.  -Malinthi
  • A class full of heroes in the year 2500 has to stop a million dollar author and her evil cat from making every pencil in the world grow huge with only the help of Kevin Rudd. – Kelly
  • A fat cow and its sidekick the talking wheelchair have to fight the psycho killer for killing the Prime Minister, helped by a tiger with fangs. – Jesse
  • The evil cat is owned by a mad scientist in the year 3000 with the help of a supersized pig. But he was stopped by the talking tree. – Sarah
  • In the first year ever a lady had a super big pig and her sidekick bumble bee brother looked after it.  They also had an old lady, sick hobo and giant bee. – Olivia
  • A vampire, who has lived from 1899 to 2240 trying to find a way to become human again, has found her match, a demon and with only her mind and her python she has to kill him or he will control the world and herself forever.  -Amber
  • A farting monkey and sidekick, a non-stop kicking horse, would face and fight evil dog. They would fight in the year 2240. Evil dog will die and the world will end. -Ryan
  • There once was a zombie with his sidekick alien mouse named freckles. They tried to stop the evil flesh eating dog from trying to kill the guy with an evil haircut. – Jarryd
  • In the year 1204BC, one ex villan has to prove his hero worthiness by defeating an old Egyptian guy who wants to be the God of everyone, with the help of only his miniature talking dinosaur and his smart flying hippo. – Zenia

Wouldn’t these ideas make for an engaging story!

Writing Narratives: A brainstorm

Last week we began to revisit the narrative genre of writing. Before we started, we decided to brainstorm all the things that we thought we need to know or learn before we are able to write a great narrative.

As you can see, narrative writing is a complex task. There are so many different skills we need to possess in order to write a story. To help us begin in class, we are going to focus on the concept of ‘Sizzling Starts’ from the 7 Steps to Awesome Writing. This focuses on beginning our stories with an idea or concept that engages the reader and makes them want to read more, rather than just ‘dumping’ them with a whole load of facts and information. Keep an eye out for some of our sizzling starts.

What do you think is the most important item on this list to learn in order to be able to write a great narrative, and why?

Persuasive Writing Development

Over the past fortnight in class we have been looking at developing our understanding of persuasive writing. We started to explore what persuasive writing is by using Jenny Eather’s ‘Writing Fun’ website.

Our big focus this week was on backing up the arguments that we make using lots of evidence. Rather than writing whole pieces, we have been working to create plans for a lot of different topics and coming up with evidence to support the arguments we think of. The ‘Persuasion Map’ from ReadWriteThink has been very useful in supporting us to do this.

After working on quite a few plans during the week, we sat down on Friday to make a plan for the topic ‘Do we really need a school library?’. We had to come up with arguments to convince Mr Wigney whether to keep it open, or close it down to save money. Below is an example of one of our arguments, and the way we used evidence to support it.


Check out some more of our plans below! After we created our plans, we set about writing our persuasive piece. It was amazing to see the impact that our focus on planning the writing has had on the writing we produced. Everyone had really well supported arguments compared to our writing of a fortnight ago. Keep an eye out later in the week when we will publish some of our completed writing pieces.

Timetable and Learning Agenda for Week 3

This week in the 5/6 Unit we will be starting our first Inquiry Unit on ‘Identity and Crime’. We will be using a crime scene to explore concepts surrounding identity including who we are and how we are identified. Through our inquiry lessons, students will be developing their reading and writing skills, more specifically locating information and creating arguments using evidence sourced from a variety of locations. We will also be exploring maths and science skills.

In Maths, students are working in ability groups to develop their understanding of place value when working with numbers. At the end of grade six, students should be able to:

  • comprehend the size and order of small numbers (to thousandths) and large numbers (to millions).
  • model integers (positive and negative whole numbers and zero), common fractions and decimals.
  • place integers, decimals and common fractions on a number line. (from VELS, Mathematics, Level 4)

This is a jump from recognising and working with numbers from tens of thousands to hundredths at the end of grade four.

Our current English focus is on persuasive writing. Students will be using their work in the identity topic to help learn about persuasive writing, by forumulating an argument based on evidence to argue who committed the crime in our topic.

As well as these topics this week, we also have our regular staples. These include

We are quickly flying through term one, and there is now only three weeks until camp! Have you paid yet? Also don’t forget to book your time for a ‘Getting Acquainted’ Interview on Wednesday, 23 February.