Designing a Community Garden for Eleebana Public School

We are so proud of our collaborative achievements!

We are so proud of our collaborative achievements!

It takes a lot of thought when trying to design a garden for the whole schooling community to share. There is the layout, criteria and considerations of what people will want and need. It’s a BIG job. It involves drafting, higher order thinking, deep understanding, planning, problem solving and accepting critique from your friends.

KB designed their own plans for the Eleebana Community Garden. We drafted and then reworked our designs to ensure they fit the special criteria of:
6 boats – each with a type of garden (to be specified)
A bird bath
A compost bin
A hose and tap
A greenhouse
A Fairy Garden
Minimum of 2 trees
Native shrubs

The designs were amazing. We were all very impressed with our hard work and creativity. We each had planned, designed, labelled and presented a map of what we thought the garden should look like. Then Mrs Evans and 3/4E showed us their virtual garden designs. We knew we couldn’t let a Stage 2 class beat us in design so we decided to make a 3D model.

We realised we couldn’t make 19 individual 3D models so we voted on who had designed the absolute BEST garden. It was a tough decision with very close contenders: Layla, Bailey, William and Jordan. In the end Jordan’s design won and we began the process of design in 3D and each of us took turns in adding to the model.

The end results…well they speak for themselves.

I am so proud of all the hard work KB have put into the GTK project this year and how ALL students have been engaged in the learning process through open ended tasks and inquiry based learning.

off my camera dec 2013 328

off my camera dec 2013 331


KM collaborative recount

On Monday we went for a walk to the lake with 3J. Miss Meehan gave us a clipboards so we could draw pictures and write down what we saw. Our 3J buddies had sheets to tell them what to look for. It was like a hunt! Miss Meehan blu tacked the pencils to our clipboard so we wouldn’t lose them.

We had to look for lots of things, a boat in a driveway, house numbers and jacaranda trees. After we crossed the road we quickly did a loop around the BBQ so we did not disturb the ladies eating their lunch together.

As we walked along the boardwalk we saw buoys, jetskis and speedboats. We listened to sounds. Finley heard a boat engine. Osh heard nature, birds tweeting and the breeze through the trees. Jenna thought we were going to fall in the water because it felt unstable because of the little holes in the metal.

At the end of the boardwalk, we went through the underpass and we made lots of noises in it to hear our echoes. We think it was made out of concrete. We could tell because Finley tried to climb up the side but couldn’t because it was smooth, slippery, very hard and cold.  We saw some graffiti on it.

When we got to Bunyah Park we had a huge drink! Our little brothers and sisters who came with our mums played on the equipment but we did not get to. We were busy listening to Steve who told us about the community garden and the proposed pizza oven. This made us very excited! We chose some signs like Watermelon, Pineapple, Carrot and Banana. We helped stick them in the ground in order of fruit, vegies and herbs.

On the way back to school we saw 6 rainbow lorikeets sitting on the same branch, they were squawking and eating.  We also heard a Kookaburra. We waved at a man mowing his lawn and walked past a huge bamboo fence. Once we got back to school Patricks’s mum surprised us all with ice blocks.

Our GTK walk!

Our GTK walk!


How did we get to Bunyah Park you ask...well just follow the map!

How did we get to Bunyah Park you ask…well just follow the map!

It was a hot Monday afternoon when the Kindergarten and Stage 2 teams set out on an adventurous walk. Our destination: Bunyah Park.
We travelled down Glad Gunson Drive and had to use our problem solving skills to answer questions that had been posed by Mrs Evans.

Did we know what number should have been on the cylindrical letterbox? What was a phone number of one of the real estate agents?
When we made it to the lake we even had to search for a piece of furniture in it!

We travelled over the boardwalk and some of us saw a floating crab! Did you know that the lake spans over 110 squared kilometres…its bigger than Sydney Harbour!

After listening to the echoes of our voices through the tunnel we made it to Bunyah Park and were met by the committee members of the Warners Bay Community Garden project. They had a virtual game ready for us to play where we identified the differences between herbs, vegetables and fruit.


When we had completed this we laid in the grass listening to the sounds around us before discussing how we got to the park and if we had finished all of the tricky questions.

We are pleased to say that all of us made it back in one piece!

We had a great day and thought we would tell our friends but there was just one thing…”what happens if our friends want to go on the walk?” said Alex.
“We could draw maps for them,” stated Jacob.

Well what came next will amaze you. After discussing the way we walked, what we passed, the turns involved, the bridges and tunnel we began drawing our maps.

in the tunnel

in the tunnel

Here is what KB came up with…This should show them the way!




On Monday 3/4e and kinder red went for a walk and we had to find out all the answers to Mrs Evans questions and we went past some bus stops then we saw a purple tree. Then I saw three trees shaped in a triangle and they were gum trees. When we saw the trees we were at the lake. Then we went to Bunyah Park which was on Cherry road and we had to pick up a vegetable or a fruit or herb sign and it was on a stick. There was only one herb and Brayden was the only person who got a herb. Then we went back to school.

by Jordan (KB)

On Monday we walked to the lake and we walked to Bunyah Park. We planted signs in the ground and we went across a main road and I saw some bus stops. We went in a tunnel and we walked across two bridges and in the park I heard sounds. I heard birds and Mrs Evans gargling.

by Mahala (KB)

On Monday we went to a park called Bunyah Park and do you want to know how we got there?  We went past some bus stops and the lake and we had to do activities with 3/4e.  We saw a caravan and a boat.  My buddies are Georgia, Teia and Izzy.  It was a fun day.

by Poppy (KB)

Moving Machines and everything DESIGN!

This term KB and 3/4E have worked hard at researching why things move and how. This has included toys, machines, robots and even ourselves!

We have; choreographed dance moves to a variety of different music;

brought in toys that move;


played problem solving games that involved talking and listening using descriptive vocabulary, identification of which of the 6 simple machines are used to make a specific toy move

and independent writing to accompany these investigations.

We then went onto design our own machines. This was a 5 stage process! First students had to use their higher order thinking skills to invent something that moved and that would be useful. It needed to be something that they would use regularly. They then needed to think of what simple machines would be involved in their invention. Designing their own invention on art paper was the fun part! This was their first prototype (draft) and could be developed further as they moved onto their second prototype (final edit). They were required to label the specific parts of the invention and the machines that were used in constructing it. After the thinking, designing, labelling and re-designing, students were then asked to write about their invention. How did it work and what was it used for? What machines were used? Why did they design it?


The results from students directing their own learning in a design based environment were amazing! Just have a look…

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Professional reflection…

Miss Sarah Meehan KM

My children have been able to flourish through GTK because of their growing intrinsic motivation to learn as a result of differentiated learning, strength based and hands on activities and demonstrations and a supportive environment with peers. My students have been able to grow in confidence as they show me multiple skills at one time making my assessment of them authentic and holistic. After beginning GTK in KM I feel I know my students better and some children have shown me talent I would not have otherwise seen by focussing on the “must know” skills of literacy and numeracy.  I found the project extremely useful in connecting to and understanding the new Australian Curriculum focussing more on what students need now in the 21st Century such as teamwork, creative and critical thinking, expressing yourself and decision-making. I constantly ask myself and here as the teacher talk for others “Am I giving students what they need for their future?” with GTK I can confidently answer “Yes”.


Miss Brianna Galinski (3J)

How has the GTK project supported the new English Syllabus?

The GTK project has been a wonderful springboard leading into the introduction of the new English syllabus at Eleebana Public School. The new English Syllabus requires students to be actively involved in: expressing themselves, reflecting on their learning and thinking imaginatively and creatively. The children have had opportunities to be a part of a design process in creating a ‘Bee-bot’ house. This task required students to express their ideas through the creation of an initial prototype design. As students began to build and construct their ‘Bee-Bot’ homes with their Kindergarten group members, students soon realised that the design process required them to reflect and make changes to their original plans. In order for students to successfully complete this task, the children also had to think creatively and imaginatively as they were designing a house for a ‘Bee-Bot’ and not a person. This required them to imagine what a Bee would require in its house.

The final step in the design process, which addressed the reflective element of the new English syllabus, was a whole group presentation of their ‘Bee-Bot’ house. We recorded each group on camera making a presentation of their house and reflecting on the whole design process including: initial ideas, changes that were made along the way, what worked well and what didn’t and how they worked as a team etc.

The GTK project has been a wonderful experience for both myself as a teacher and also for the students.


Mrs. Jody Birleson KB

What do you do when your new supervisor says, “let’s do a collaborative project with Bee-Bots?” First of all you google what Bee-Bots actually are and how they work! Then you try to wrap your brain around how it will all work. What could Stage 2 learn from Early Stage 1? Wouldn’t Stage 2 be too advanced for Early Stage 1? How would we find the time and how would the outcomes align? What would the students gain from this?

To some, who know little about the project, it may look as though all we are doing is playing with desk top computers and small robot bees. If you take a step closer, even for just one lesson, your eyes will be opened wide just like mine were. Students from ages 4-6 and 8-10 learning from one another. Collectively driving their own learning through problem based curriculum. Of course us teachers have set the background up for these experiences to occur but what students have gained has been beyond my greatest expectations.

The elements of each lesson covered many, if not all, Key Learning Areas. We cover writing, reading, problem solving, working mathematically, position, map making, talking and listening, movement, music, drama, visual art, design, construction and of course various sources of technology. Due to the large scope and sequence of activities (and use of a Blooms rubric) it was easy to continue to use the activities undertaken in the collaborative project throughout the rest of the week’s lessons. For example, lessons such as; interactive writing, independent writing, spelling, maths and creative arts.

Of course covering learning across stages and working with another teacher takes time and an open mind. My room, for an entire term, was full of recyclable materials, student made homes (that of course weren’t small) and then theres the paint, masking tape and decorative materials everywhere! Uploading video of ongoing assessment takes time as well.

To be serious though, I would take all of that and the extra work any day. I remember someone explaining the the difference between ordinary and extraordinary…it’s the “extra” you put in. To put the “extra” in is to see your students thrive and become extraordinary. They learn through inquiry and problem solving whilst working collaboratively with others. They acknowledge differing opinions of their peers, assist and scaffold peer learning and most importantly drive their own learning. In some special cases it also provides a spotlight for talent and giftedness to shine bright and in a way that may never have been noticed before.

Cooperative collaboration has been an exceptional, eye opening experience to myself as a teacher and to my students in their most vital first years of schooling life.

Students use algebraic thinking to design computer games

Designing online computer games is not easy! It requires the use of algebraic thinking. Algebraic thinking is about generalising arithmetic operations and operating on unknown quantities.  It involves recognising and analysing patterns and developing generalisations about these patterns.

Research shows that students can more easily understand algebra when they have a good knowledge of the general properties of numbers, the relationships among numbers, and the effect that basic operations have on numbers rather than just having a focus on finding an answer.  Many of these concepts are best taught at a young age because misconceptions which develop early on can inhibit a student’s ability to work with symbols and generalisations at a later time.

The language of arithmetic focuses on answers while the language of algebra focuses on relationships.1

Last term, 3/4E learnt how to use algebraic thinking skills  to design Scratch games for their Kindergarten friends. Today, Nick L showed us his latest game: a 2-player Pong game. Watch the video where Mrs Birleson plays to win!

Nick’s Beebot Scratch Game.

 1 MacGregor, M & Stacey, K. (1999) “A flying start to algebra. Teaching Children Mathematics, 6/2, 78-86.  Retrieved 17 May 2005 from

2 Assessment Resource Banks: English, Mathematics and Science