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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Reflection Post: Maths Tuakana, Whole Class Maths and Student Voice

After our data discussion at the end of last term (click link to view blog post re: T2 data), we reviewed our maths programmes and discussed ways we could change, improve, innovate on our programmes for greater student outcomes.  As a team, we decided on implementing a 'double period' of maths each morning (2 hours of maths) and to focus on basic facts as well as integrating strand and problem solving in this time.

I began this term structuring my 2 hours into two parts:  the first part, whole class approach and the second part, instructional groups.

As I have been inquiring into culturally responsive practice and increased cultural visibility across the curriculum, I have looked into mixed ability grouping, in particular, students choosing their own Maths Tuakana - and we use this term in both whole class and instructional group settings.

Having Year 7s and 8s I have tried to use whole class teaching as a transitional approach to what students might experience in Year 9 and have aimed lessons at Level 4.  In this way, I have found students are now recognising why I have been harping on about the importance of basic facts.  They now understand why it will be important to their learning in Year 9.  This has strengthened motivation for basic facts practice.

Today I constructed a student voice survey to see if the students themselves were enjoying this new approach to Maths.  This is a presentation of the data from the survey and the implication for myself.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Inquiry Lesson: Cultural visibility with a SOLO twist!

Currently, we are inquiring into hobbies - or how to fill our leisure time in positive ways.  We have made links to our past inquiries through Te Whare Tapa Whā, which gives all our learning purpose in building the best versions of ourselves.

This lesson was about hobbies from the past.  I wanted to make the point that the context we are in, can impact the decisions we make.

We looked at the context of people in the past and present.

The circle models you will see from slides 5-7 has been a big help to provide a visual aide for students learning what 'context' means.  Now, I can physically gesture, by making a circle in the air as I am asking students to describe contexts or tell me what context means.

I have used whakataukī again, to illustrate the values and beliefs of our tupuna...I find this is one of the easiest and accessible ways to bring depth to a lesson if you are trying to make links to whakaaro Māori.  We discussed that laziness was frowned upon, hard work was admired.  We talked about the development of technology and how that impacts on the way we can manage ourselves.  We discussed war past and - possibly present!  

The table on slide 12 was printed and completed collaboratively in groups of 2-3.  Students then turned their paper over to complete the last paragraph (assessment task) from slide 13.

The paragraph on slide 13 is based on the SOLO taxonomy to encourage higher order thinking in inquiry time.  I used this resource to help me select my sentence starters...

This lesson took about an hour and was done in the afternoon!  It was long, but worth it as students can now describe what context is, how it can impact on people's choices and understand hobbies past and present.  

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Going Beyond the Hemi Part 3: Cultural Visibility in Maths

One area of the curriculum that I am trying to rethink in terms of cultural visibility, is Maths.  This is a reflection on one very small manageable thing I have started to do to work towards achieving this in a way that isn't token, but captures principals of Ka Hikitia, whakaaro Māori and wairua Māori.

Numbers are universal, so how do I reflect the lives of experiences of students through Algebra?  Geometry?  Multiplicative thinking?  One thing we see time and time again, is changing names in number problems to Māori names, and calling it a day.  "Hemi had 5 oranges, he ate another 3 oranges, how many oranges did he eat all together?"  Or maybe, if you're feeling extra cultural, "Hemi had 5 kūmara, he peeled another 3, how many kūmara did he peel all together?"

So there was my challenge - how do I go beyond the Hemi in Maths?  Something that should be quite straight forward?  Formulaic?  Black and white?

At Tāmaki, our Maths data is looking a bit sad in comparison to our Reading and Writing.  In the syndicate I work in, we've decided to do double period maths and how we organise that 2 hour block, has been left up to us.  I've decided to teach whole class in the first hour, and then break up into differentiated groups for the second hour.  In the first, students are allowed to choose who they work with to solve the whole class problems.

So what did I try today?

We've started using the term:  MATHS TUAKANA and I have asked the question today, WHO IS YOUR MATHS TUAKANA?

On, Tuakana means:  1. (noun) elder brothers (of a male), elder sisters (of a female), cousins (of the same gender from a more senior branch of the family).

At Tāmaki, we have Tuakana (older)/Teina (younger) classes, in which senior and junior classes are matched up and work together throughout the term.  Buddy reading might be a traditional example you have heard of.   We do art with our little ones and my class also helps our 'teina' class with bike riding.

Tuakana/Teina, captures the idea of the expert helping the less expert.

When working with my instructional group today, a student said, "Miss, [Student] should be in the group up, because he's getting this faster than us."  I replied with, "Maybe [Student] can be your Maths Tuakana..."  The boys smiled at each other, and [Student] took his role seriously, even saying to me towards the end of their dice game, "Yep, Miss, they've got it now."

This supports our school value of AKO, in which all learners are expected to be both learners AND teachers.  I like it because ANYONE can be a tuakana in a given situation.

I think this is a simple thing to change and include - but sometimes, it's all about teacher dialogue in the class.  MATHS TUAKANA is something I want to continue to use, say, practice and celebrate throughout this term.  Perhaps I would extend it to, "How were you a Maths Tuakana today?"  Or, "Who was your Maths Tuakana and what did they help you to achieve?"

Who was your maths tuakana was growing up?  Mine was my older sister.  My literal tuakana!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

CoL Checkpoint - My Inquiry Summary as at 27th July

At our last CoL meeting, we were asked to complete this analysis of our inquiry.  It was a great opportunity to step back and simplify the whole process up until this point.

I wanted to blog this as an inquiry summary for anyone interested in reading a quick overview of my inquiry so far...before deciding if the rest of my blog might be worth trawling through!

So here it is!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

End of T2 Data - Setting T3 Goals - CoL checkpoint T3

Last term, we had a great data discussion as a syndicate to analyse the T2 June data, compare it to that of 2016 and identify target students.  As I am working towards Manaiakalani Goal 1:

"Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13"

And my whole class is made up of Māori learners, it is a gift and curse I get to analyse the data of an entire class and set goals for all of my students!  Although the Manaiakalani goal I am working towards focuses on Reading, I am focusing on all learning areas this year with my targeted class of Māori learners.  From this data, we identified who had made no shift from June to June, who had dropped back and who has made shifts up the National Standard levels.

From this data we were able to find focus in our teaching and it was the catalyst for some new activity ideas.

One major change has been to move Maths time to the morning block - meaning we would have 2 hours of Maths (like a double period?).  Literacy would be integrated across the curriculum for the remainder of the day through inquiry, reading, writing, science, art, etc.

The Kia Manawanui teacher aide, Kelly and I have worked closely to develop set times for target students so they're almost getting double teacher time, which is also very exciting.

It's great to be in a team that is flexible and bold enough to make these changes mid year.  So far (day 2!) students are enjoying the changes.  This is why Term 3 is my favourite!  We get to just get stuck in and do the teaching and learning!

Here is a screencast where I talk through a bit of my data and describe some things we are putting in place...enjoy!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Matariki - The best context for learning!

It's Matariki!  I've basically integrated the whole curriculum at the moment and am finding it really enjoyable to teach.  I think the students are finding it enjoyable to learn about because in true Year 7 and 8 style, they love learning anything about themselves, reflecting on themselves, paying tribute to their own whānau and just making everything about themselves, basically!

I am going to share a few key resources I have used so far in the last couple of weeks and ways we have integrated learning about Matariki into our bicultural learning space...


  • Many school journals have stories or articles about Matariki.  Use the Journal surf search website to find them!
  • I have just used 'The Seven Stars of Matariki' article from this pack that I bought off teachers-pay-teachers. 
  • We participated in a community planting day.  Here is a movie about our experience.
    • This could be followed up with many activities:  recount writing, 5 senses poetry, description writing.
    • We followed it up with this reflection task based on the SOLO taxonomy.
  • Learning songs:
    • A song I wrote myself on my course last year - I will post a video!
    • The Matariki Macarena song.
    • Atua Māori waiata - which is also a karakia.
  • This goal setting task with connections to the natural world.
  • Students are currently writing their own Matariki creation narrative legends.
  • Kūmara chips:
    • We baked kūmara chips as part of our healthy eating inquiry and a mini Matariki feast, and then students completed this follow up task.
  • Another Reading task with links to a journal story and follow up questions.  It also encourages students to visit the Matariki events website (to find out what's going on around Tāmaki Makaurau!) and then students were encouraged to plan our own Matariki celebration week (which I will actually use in my planning next term because their ideas were pretty good!).
Feel free to use anything that I have created and linked in this blog post.  I will post up more as I complete the tasks!

Sometimes you can find things easily online, sometimes you have to adapt and sometimes you have to create from scratch!  BUT there will not be enough digital content if we don't make it.

Hari Matariki, koutou!  Kia pai tō tau hou!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Food for thought going into the new week...

Found this video on Twitter.  

Bio: Steve Evans teaches in a unique Aboriginal focused program of choice located in Lil'wat Territory (Mt. Currie, B.C.). The program offers an inclusive learning environment that integrates academic learning with experiential and cultural education. Social- emotional support is a key component of the program as they strive to build connections within and between themselves.

Key ideas for me:
  • Social-emotional environment important to shape a safe learning environment.
  • Integrating cultural education with mainstream education should be a priority for our supposed priority learners.
  • All experiences can be literacy experiences.
  • Be aware of the system you are in, the students you serve and the ways you can serve them better.
  • Be aware of your own ego, schema, cultural norms, priorities - they may differ from the students in front of you.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Visiting a Year 10 Te Reo Class at Tāmaki College

Last Thursday I took up an invitation from Whaea Melba Pakinga to join her and her Year 10 Te Reo Māori class to observe and see some strategies for language teaching in a Māori context.

I was happy to see many familiar faces as I entered the class, old students from Tāmaki Primary as well as some familiar faces from Point England School - from when I was facilitating in their classes.  
The lesson was focussed around the theme of 'Ko Wai Au?' (Who am I?) and the creation of the students' mihi and pepeha.  This was the first session for this free elective class.  

It is hard teaching something that is such a taonga in such a small amount of time, but Whaea wove reo, with tikanga, song and stories into the 60 minutes with ease.  We spoke afterwards and agreed that not everything she said would be appreciated in the now, but that hopefully as these rangatahi grew older and navigate through issues of their identity as Māori in New Zealand, they would be able to look back or make connections to the lessons and stories of her lessons.

I noticed Wheae Melba used words like prefix, adverb, story writing structures, pronouns and other terms you might only expect from English class.  We discussed how learning of another language can consolidate ideas and grammar structure in your first language - which for these students was English.  We discussed how we could encourage students to transfer skills in Te Reo into their English classes.  Both subjects are University approved NCEA subjects.  This thought aligns with my learning in TESSOL and what I am only just scratching the surface of in my own professional inquiry this year in Room 10.

What was also obvious was how Whaea Melba aimed to create a place of mana for these students.  Having a entire module based on identity and whakapapa shows that.  "Kaua e whakamā - don't be shy!"  She calls out as students get up to mihi to each other.  Just two lines:  "Tēnā koutou e te whānau.  Ko _____ tōku ingoa."  But she's set the expectations for the rest of the year.  You stand and you speak.  "Stand first, then speak.  Don't have your back towards others.  Respect all of those around you who have come to listen."  

Whakataukī was the focus of part of the lesson and having dedicated time to whakataukī each week in my own class, I was happy to think that if one day, my students were in this class, it would be a class they could excel in and achieve success in.

These Year 10 students will present their speeches to their whānau at the end of the module.  I have asked if my class can come along as an audience for the dress rehearsal.  I've also invited myself back for future classes.  It's just nice to be around the reo!

Ngā mihi ki a koe, e te  puna o te kī, te whitiki o te kī, ko koe Whaea Melba, i tō manaakitanga me tō manawanui ki ahau i tērā wā.  Mauri ora!

The structure of the lesson focussed around this Google Doc.  Students will complete their own and that of a friend through listening and recording.

Pasifika Teacher Aide Project - Workshop 4

The last workshop for the year for this South Auckland cluster!

It was our last workshop for our cluster of South Auckland schools on Friday.  The focus of the workshop was Metacognition and vocabulary building for emergent bilingual students.  Promoting equitable outcomes for Pasifika and Māori students is a key area of interest to me and participating in this project as a facilitator has been an amazing experience for me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with three great minds in education:  Rae Si'ilata - the creator of the project, Joanna Tui-Samoa - a Year 7 and 8 teacher from the Waikato region and Deborah Meafua-Siafolau - an RTLB for Ngā Manu Aroha Cluster in South Auckland.

I have also enjoyed meeting all of the enthusiastic and dedicated teacher aides and their co-ordinating teachers, who have participated in this project and getting out into many different schools to observe them in action.

Mostly, I have enjoyed being an advocate for bilingual education strategies, cultural visibility in the classroom, speaking about something I am passionate about and giving others practical strategies that they can try in the classroom.

Thanks to Rae for the opportunity to participate in this project as a facilitator and my principal Rhonda for allowing me to have the time out of school to participate in the project.

I am looking forward to visiting my last two schools this week and graduation for our amazing teacher aides on the 23rd!

I greatly suggest if you are in a school with a high percent (or low...or any school actually!) of Pasifika students that you get in touch with Rae or Lynda  for more information.  It is a well structured, organised and FUN set of workshops!

L-R:  Deborah Meafua-Siafolau, Joanna Tui-Samoa, Rae Si'ilata and myself!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Cultural Visibility Online - Bilingual Buddy Blogging

I like having visitors in my class because I like making connections with other like minded teachers or teachers who are feeling my struggle!  In the last round of Manaiakalani visitors, I was blessed to meet Katie Nisbett, a teacher in a bilingual setting at Grey Main School in Greymouth.

Here is Katie's Class Site
Here is Katies Class Blog

It was only a short time we got to speak to each other but we knew what our challenges were and we were relieved to find someone else trying to achieve similar goals - raising student achievement for Māori learners through increased cultural visibility in the classroom, curriculum delivery and - for us, being in digital immersion classrooms, cultural visibility in the digital space as well.

We have started very simply this week by asking our students to write comments to each other in Te Reo Māori and in English.

The hunch or hypothesis is that students will be further engaged into their blogging with their authentic audience growing, that they will see others using Te Reo and see it's relevance of use in the outside world beyond the classroom.

Here are some examples of our starting comments but we hope to build on our reo and comments soon!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Going Beyond the Hemi Part 2 - Cultural Visibility in Reading

I've described cultural visibility as 'going beyond the Hemi' and this is Part 1 here. 

Here is another lesson that I have started today.

In Reading this week, on of my groups are looking into traditional kai practices of the Moriori people in comparison to their modern urban lives.

We read "Surviving Rēkohu"by Susan Paris from School Journal Part 4, Number 3, 2010.

We completed a Venn Diagram type graphic organiser to compare diet and food gathering practices of the Moriori people compared to us living in East Auckland in 2017.

I personally love using Sheena Cameron's templates from her Teaching Reading Comprehension strategies book but she also has a great Publishing templates book that always gives me interesting ideas for display and offline 'creates.'

Our 'Venn Diagram'
The key points from this lesson I wanted students to identify were the healthy foods that were consumed traditionally.  The effort it took to acquire the food and the purpose food had to survival.  Now, we eat - even when not particularly hungry, we don't have to worry about food during winter, we can go and get food any time we like.  We don't even have to get out of the car!  They acknowledged food gathering practices in only taking what you need and not eating in excess.

Fresh food, with little processing or additives and a knowledge of nature is what the students found interesting about kai in the time of the Moriori.  Especially after our 'That Sugar Film' study from last week.  They liked that their food didn't have any hidden sugars.  One student did ask "So, they didn't have calcium?"  Which I thought was a great question for us to inquire into further.  

The 'Create' task will be for students to write to explain if they would rather live then or now.  I am interested to see what stance they take and their reasons why.

Whakataukī o te wiki

Each week,  I am exploring a chosen whakataukī with my students.  I believe this task allows students to think within the relational and extended abstract levels of the SOLO taxonomy as well as develop their metaphorical thinking which I hope will transfer into literacy learning.

This is one example of our whole class discussion, along with the google presentation template students complete afterwards.

Te Reo and Tikanga cannot and should not be separated so I often explain how these whakataukī could fit into mihi if students ever find themselves in the position of kaimangai, as our ancestors were poetic and prolific orators.

This week's whakatukī was:  Tama tū, tama ora.  Tama noho, tama mate.

Students related this to:

  • Taking risks in learning.
  • Making the most of the life you have.
  • Making the most of opportunities.
  • Being fit and moving your body.
  • Standing up for what you believe in.
  • Playing an active role in your life.
These are key ideas I want to keep encouraging in my students as they develop their rangatiratanga throughout the year.

Our class brainstorm

Here is the task they complete after the class brainstorm:
Working from relational to extended abstract in which they create their own whakataukī.

Friday, 2 June 2017

That Sugar Film - Resources

Tāmaki Primary are currently studying Kai Ora/Fuelled for life - based on te whare tapa whā.  We have been focussing this week on sugar.  Our Year 7 and 8 classes have been watching 'That Sugar Film.'  We broke it down into four parts and after each section, we gave students follow up tasks to complete.

The questions in our follow up tasks were based on the SOLO taxonomy and you can see the SOLO symbols on each slide.

The students have enjoyed this film slash health study and it's always good to change up the input!

Part 1:  0-24min

Part 2: 24min-56min

Part 3: 56min - 1 hour 19min

Part 4:  1 hour 19min - End of film

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Taking Stock

Aireen Ah-Kui attended the Manaiakalani School Leaders PLG and we met this morning to discuss my CoL inquiry and she helped me to gain a bit more clarity on its pathway.

Aireen talked through a presentation presented by Graeme Aitken who presented about Collaborative Inquiry.  He opens with this resounding statement:

"If teachers are going to have a pedagogy that makes a difference to children, the first thing you have to figure out is what difference you want to make.  ...And we never meant that to be, just literacy, and just numeracy...."

So what difference do I want to make this year, and what changes will I make to my pedagogy to match my aims?

Here is the end of term Māori student data against National Standards:  NB:  Year 6 = Year 7 now, Year 7 = Year 8 now:

After immersing myself in Te Ao Māori last year, I have become very doubtful of the current system and its measures - or perhaps I had been mislead - or perhaps I needed to shift my focus - or perhaps I had been talking and been informed by the wrong messages... 

Graeme Aitken discussed key points in this slide - three things that all teachers are trying to achieve.  There!  Points 1 and 2!  If my students are not coming to school, their families see no relevance in school, this NEEDS to be my first step to inform the changes in my pedagogy so I can work towards more achievement success for the Māori learners in my class as Māori.

So how am I changing my pedagogy to match my desire to change the way students feel about school, their level of enjoyment and their level of critical thinking?  Or as Graeme Aitken put it, "If that's what I want...If I want all my young people to be interested in my class...How am I going to teach?"

Graeme talks about the 'interception of all three:'  How do I change my pedagogy to allow this to happen?

These were my hunches that I had developed in Term 1, of changes I could make to my classroom practice to make the interception of the three key achievement objectives of teachers occur:
  • Culturally responsive practice
    • We begin and end each day with Karakia and say Karakia before each eating time.
    • I integrate te ao Māori in all curriculum areas/subject matter.
    • We spend time looking at whakataukī each week and unpacking the Māori whakaaro within them.
    • Finding those who are succeeding as Māori in a modern world.
    • We dedicate learning time to explicit grammar structures within te reo Māori.
    • We develop a sincere understanding of values and whānau and the importance of connectedness.
    • Focusing learning and dialogue on the purpose for learning around te whare tapa whā.
  • Mixed ability groups
    • Across the curriculum - Writing, Maths and Reading
    • Students choose those they have the best learning relationships with
    • Promoting tuakana/teina
    • Promoting safe learning environment
    • Siblings in the same class to promote learning conversations at home
  • Making connections with the community and taiao
    • Through the learning of Māori Gods
    • Going outside of the classroom often
    • Meeting experts often
    • Establishing and building relationship with community groups e.g. Ruapotaka Marae, Mad Ave, Panmure Library.
  • PB4L
    • Celebrate achievements - big and small.
    • Celebrate attendance - minimise conflicts around lateness and attendance.
    • Specific learning goals for students with high behavioural needs and celebrating them.

"Having done it, what evidence have I got to show they're more interested now than when they started?"

I have seen an increase in the use of te reo in every day work - as reflected in these examples:

I have tried to capture 'hard data' through the use of google forms:

What really empowered me about Graeme's presentation was his validation of going beyond just literacy or numeracy, to wellbeing and engagement of students as being a valid inquiry.  This is something I struggle with in this data driven system.  I will get the data, but it may take more time or perhaps I have to rethink the measurement tool to measure success - whatever that may look like - in a year of teaching this class.

This makes so much sense to me.  So I will hold on to this as I venture foward with my inquiry into achievement outcomes for Māori students across the curriculum in Years 7-8.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Participating in the Pacific Teacher Aides Project 2017

Over Terms 1 and 2 I have been participating as a facilitator in the Pacific Teacher Aides Project (PTAP), which is a project headed by Rae Si'ilata that aims to empower teacher aides working with emergent bilingual students.  One of my dearest mentors!  Unfortunately due to sickness I missed workshop one, but I wanted to share key learnings from workshop 2 and 3.

Workshop Two:  Questioning

The best thing about teaching/facilitating other educators, is that you get to reflect on and relearn teaching strategies you may have forgotten from the past.  In this case it was the three level guide.  So simple, yet SO effective and something I've brought back into my planning and classroom.  It relates well to the SOLO taxonomy as it moves from on the lines (Unistructural/Multistructural) to between the lines (Relational) to beyond the lines (Extended Abstract) - deepening students thinking and the links they can make from their learning to their lives.

An example of this would be after reading How Maui Slowed the Sun:

Level One:  On the lines - answers can be found straight from the text.
Why did Maui want to slow down the sun?
To make the days longer.  

Level Two:  Between the lines - answers require inferencing.
What kind of person do you think Maui is?
Answers may differ:  brave, innovative, proactive

Level Three:  Beyond the lines - answers require thinking about the wider world.
What are the attributes of a good problem solver?
Determined, willing to take a risk, cooperative, leadership, thinking outside the box.

Workshop Three:  Scaffolding

The greatest thing from this workshop was this framework for scaffolding:

Again... things that you KNOW is good teaching, but perhaps through the craziness that is the daily timetable, put aside or through the pressure that you put onto yourself into doing more - I know that's my experience.  But this simple lesson flow is so empowering.  I took this back to my class the next day and put it into practice - and it was my best writing lesson all year!  I am going to put it into its own blog post so this one isn't too long.

Workshop 4 is coming up later next month, in the meantime I am visiting schools and observing the teacher aides who have been taking part.  I am excited to get into other schools for a nosey, and continuing to support these wonderful teacher aides!  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Growing Roses in Concrete

I was emailed this TEDx talk by a friend with the subject line:  This reminded me of you.  What a huge compliment.  Maybe it is the passionate rants I get into, or the frustration with why we need to work on educating students of their Tino Rangatiratanga...but Jeff Duncan helped me to articulate what I sometimes can't.  It's worth a watch...

This pyramid of Maslow's Hierachy of Needs sprung out to me.  I liken Self Actualization to Tino Rangatiratanga.  Tino Rangatiratanga being 'self governing'...students who can make decisions for themselves, they control their future and have power in the classroom/school/system.  They have autonomy over their learning and are self determined.

I put cultural visibility into the category of building love, belonging and esteem.  This is basically a framework supporting my decision making as I try to weave my learning from the past into the future.  

If you read my last blog post, you will see that this framework doesn't present itself in my class as holding hands and talking about feelings - although we do hold hands for karakia at the beginning of the day and at the end, but through subtle (or not so subtle) integration of these thoughts and values throughout the day, across the curriculum.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Cultural Visibility: Going beyond 'Hemi'

This blog post addresses how I have attempted to work towards our CoL goal 1:  To Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13

What does it mean to develop cultural visibility and responsive practices?  Is it putting koru patterned borders around your 'Te Reo' section of the class?  Is it saying, "Kia ora..."  when you call the roll in the morning?  Is raising cultural visibility choosing a journal story with a character named Hemi in it?

Before I went on study leave - to complete the year long full immersion course in Te Reo Māori at Te Waananga Takiura o ngā Kura Kaupapa o Aotearoa in Royal Oak - I wanted to do more, but having attended mainstream schools myself, growing up speaking only English, I had a limited idea of what I could do.  

In this blog post I'm trying to show how I am trying to implement deeper Māori perspectives and connections in a mainstream classroom of Māori learnings working towards the National Standard in Reading.

Our Text: 

Why I chose it:
  • We are currently studying the topic Fuelled for Life - a health focussed topic.  Honey is a food source that is quite special in New Zealand.
  • We are writing explanations about how honey is produced.  I wanted students to read about how people are producing it and making money from it.
  • This family are a Māori family from Te Tai Tokerau and more than half of my class whakapapa back to Ngā Puhi and so can recall places in the upper North Island of New Zealand.
  • The family business is underpinned by Māori values.
  • The family business is a successful Māori owned business.
Oh yeah... and of course to evaluate a text, reach National Standards and that other stuff ;)

Before Reading:
  • What is a hobby?
  • What is a business?
  • What are values?
  • Introduce Tree - we see the leaves and branches, we don't always see the roots, but the roots are the most important!
During the Reading:
  • Were they professional at the start?
  • What knowledge did the grandmother share?
  • What knowledge did the father share?
  • What does their name choice reflect about their values?
  • What does 'living taonga' mean?
  • What is success to them?
  • What are their values?  How do you know that?
  • What do their actions reflect about their beliefs?
After the Reading:
  • Why is their business successful?
  • What would you do if you were this rich?
  • What is our responsibility as farmers/agriculturalists in New Zealand and the way we treat our land?  Should we care?
  • What were the goals of the business and how do values fit into that?  
  • What are your life goals - what are visual indicators of success?  What are the unseen values that contribute to that?
We made a tree - inspired by Rae Si'ilata's tree of culture to show the difference between what is seen e.g. language, food, costumes and what is not seen e.g. values, thought processes, beliefs.  

It was important for me to make connections between the Māori world view and traditional Māori values, and modern successful, high functioning businesses.  That these two worlds can co-exist and they benefit each other!  To encourage the students to see the relevance in their identities in this globalised economy.  Students identified the values of Kai Ora to be:

  • Manaakitanga (for each other and their environment and the bees!)
  • Whānau and Whenua (they are successful and so through their success they raise up the people and whenua around them - giving whānau in Northland jobs and making Northland a place people WANT to come and work in).
  • Kaitiakitanga (of their land and traditions)
  • Ako (passing down knowledge down generations)
  • Health/Hauora (through the production of their Manuka honey which is said to have great health benefits, and also an overall sense of health making connections to the Whare Tapa Whā - which we are studying in inquiry).
How stunning are these values!!??

This lesson allowed students to consider their own values that underpin their successes and achievements e.g. one student had been asked to join the leadership team, despite missing out in the beginning of the year.  We discussed that we see his leadership badge, but we didn't see his self determination and his personal decision to change his behaviour and to step up.  Those were his roots.  We discussed that one student can play the guitar and sing and we can see and watch her do that, but we don't see the passion or commitment that inspires her to practice each day.  We talked about how Donald Trump is rich, and president of the USA, but what values are underpinning his actions?  To discriminate against others?  What is success as a human?  What drives us to achieve goals?

I hope this shows how to go beyond choosing a journal story with a character called Hemi in it and calling your practice culturally responsive.  That there is so much more and so much beauty in bringing in te ao Māori into your classroom.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Assessment Rich Tasks and OTJs

Something I touched on in checkpoint one, was the need to integrate many strands or curriculum areas into one task, in order to accelerate learning and achievement across the curriculum for the students in my class (that happen to be Māori!).  Therefore, I was really happy when our staff meeting centred around rich assessment tasks in which we could do just this.

This was all driven by the fact that OTJs will be expected to be reported on this term formally in written reports to parents and also for tracking purposes.

So as a staff, we needed to ensure we had consistent messages about how these OTJs could be made and what evidence we collect to base these OTJs on.  We talked about the inverted triangle and how we need to critically reflect on the places we gather the data that informs our decisions from.

Here were our staff responses to the question:  Where do you gather your evidence from?

Some of the top suggestions included:  discussions with teacher aides, peer observations, blogs, students' books, interviewing students, anecdotal notes, buddy sharing, self assessment, videos....

In the middle was:  GLOSS, JAM, Running Records (when conducted for behaviours in reading - not just a reading age, ARBs.

Down the bottom was:  PROBE tests, PATs.

As I am finding this maunga of Māori student achievement a little harder to climb than I first thought... It's no news to anyone who may read my blog, that I feel there is work to be done in improving how our system assesses Māori and Pasifika students and sets them up for success.  However, I feel that rich tasks, are a way forward for me that is manageable, engaging, purposeful and doesn't induce anxiety attacks when I am planning in my weekends!

The challenge of it for me is, how do I reflect this thinking in planning in terms of timetables or curriculum coverage or outside people who may be needing to tick lists...  Perhaps I say, just wait and see.  Trust me.

One example of what I think could be considered a 'rich task' would be this example from my class blog:

Today Room 10 created circles with different radius lengths using compasses to create ANZAC poppies.

We found it challenging to construct the circles.  Some found that if you moved the paper around, that made it easier.  Some found the bigger circles were easier to construct than the very small ones.

We had to make poppy flowers that were small, medium and large.

The small poppy had an outer circle with the radius of 5cm and an inner circle of 1cm.  The medium poppy had an outer circle of 7cm and an inner circle of 2cm.  The large poppy had an outer circle radius of 10cm and and inner circle radius of 3cm.

We learnt that poppies are significant symbols of remembrance during ANZAC commemorations as they were the first flowers to bloom on battle grounds, so for us left behind, they can also represent a new start or new growth and that we should try our best to live as our soldiers fought so hard to give us our fresh starts and freedom we enjoy today.

Lest we forget.

Here are some photos of our learning:

And here is our final class wreath, ready for our memorial on Thursday:

It's this kind of thinking and planning that Interestingly...

When reading the students blog posts about this learning process, they were able to tell me about using compasses to create circles as well as ANZAC facts - so for me, this was Art, Inquiry and Maths all in one.  One student even said "A compass is a tool you can use in art..."  Which I was thrilled at as he didn't even notice it was maths.  Which is kind of what I'm going for!  Rich, fun, engaging tasks, that allow me to collect data of what they are capable of - even when they are unaware!  It's a win/win!

My ultimate goal is to get the students in my class to TRUST in school and TRUST in me.  Testing them and telling them they're failing probably won't do that.  But being a little tricky with my lessons's like hiding the vegetables under all the cheese on the pizza ;)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Checkpoint 1 - Māori achievement in Numeracy

What is happening and why?

Last week, we met as a syndicate to share our inquiries and what we are currently trying to do in our classrooms to work towards the goals of these inquiries.  We were given guided questions to help us reflect on our programmes.  

My inquiry is all about building positive learning relationships with my students, while building up their sense of self within te ao Māori.  It is through greater engagement that we gain greater clarity of needs and greater sense of collaboration to meet those needs.  Whanaungatanga and Manaakitanga is the essence of all I do in Room 10.  

However, we need a context to base this on, and so this term and next term, we are focussing on achievement outcomes of students in maths.  Will building greater relationships help us to accelerate our student outcomes?  

Knowing the students is the first step - and so this is where we link back to the syndicate meeting that took place last week.  In which we, as a team, are trying to gain a sense of who our learners are, and what our programmes look like currently - to identify any areas for change.

Where are we at with monitoring our target Students? How are you accelerating students learning for maths? How are you recording evidence?
I have started to retest students for some current data.  Interestingly, all have experienced a summer slump - which is not helpful to accelerating achievement outcomes as we have to first go back and then go forward.  I recall a statement made by a literacy facilitator that we had many years ago and who I respect greatly "Do not teach backwards, teach to the level and make them catch up quickly.  We don't have time to go backwards."  So I have kind of had this in my mind and gone straight to level 3 and 4 teaching.  For the very able groups, they have adapted quickly however for target groups, it's taken a little while - but we have identified urgent needs in multiplication facts recall - which is manageable.

This fits into the second part of that question - of how I am accelerating students - I am moving fast, with purposeful steps and I am best friends with the NZMaths website and searching for what level 3 or 4 looks like for a particular strand or concept.  This underpins my practice.  I need to gather the evidence and capture the students doing these things.

I am trying to plan lessons that integrate many strands or concepts to have multilayered questions and to make links to real life problems or outcomes.  I found this worked exceptionally well with my high ability group.  And I believe that it can work with my target group - they just need more practice and reflection on metacognition and think aloud strategies to support their critical thinking.  They also need support in learning their basic facts so that they are not held back by their number knowledge and can unpack more complex problems.  Knowing this and identifying this, will help me to put this in place.

Which leads into the third part of this question - and possibly the most exciting.  In which we are trialling digital modelling books and screencastify as my biggest forms of evidence gathering.  Screencastify I believe has the ability to transform how we have recorded creates in Numeracy and I thank Ashley Schellingerhout for her innovative find!

Here is an example of a question posed for my high ability group (slide 26) - trying to mix fractions, statistics, squared numbers etc.

What is not happening and why?

Where to next? What are you going to try and do next week to accelerate students learning? What will you change in your teaching? What will you continue doing? Why? What evidence are you using to support these steps? 

Next up - I have had two maths observations from colleagues this week:  Lesa, Archana and Aireen - I will use their feedback to inform some next steps.  
I will continue to design richer tasks for learning that require critical thinking and a collection of strategies and strands so that I can capture a greater range of evidence.
I will continue to test target students and track progress.
I will continue to build a sense of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga and ako in my class.  So that learning and success become encouraged and expected.
I will try to form greater relationships with whānau - perhaps through phone calls, whānau evenings...I'd like to start with these in Term 2.

The use of SOLO in Maths - to help me form my questions and or help when designing my follow up tasks or creates.

What am I going to do to influence what is not happening and why?

I can influence all of the above!  Will keep my professional relationships up with staff so that I can call on them for support, ideas and help. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Introducing my Community of Learning Inquiry

This year as part of my role as a CoL lead teacher within my school, was to identify an inquiry that aimed to address the needs of the school I am working within and the community of schools that I am working within, and of course the class of 29 learners I am working within.

The story of how my inquiry came to be spans about 8 years - but I don't have time for that, but basically, I completed a Grad Dip Tessol - which got me interested in language acquisition.  Then I took part in the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers programme - all of which has been recorded on this blog - which got me thinking - I should probably learn a second language myself to see what it's like to be asked to write, read, speak and be assessed in a language I am not confident in...Which lead me to taking a year off, with thanks to TeachNZ to enrol at Te Waananga Takiura o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa...which lead me to develop a lot of knowledge of te ao Māori...which upon my return, I realised is a bigger challenge to embed in the mainstream schooling system than I thought...which then sent me into a bit of a spiral of depression...but I was pulled out by friends and family who said if anyone could do it, I could...which made me think of it from a different which I latched onto the SOLO taxonomy and literacy across the curriculum...which lead me here.

TL:DR - I had life experiences that shaped my world view and challenged my priorities, which lead me here.

I have a class of 29 Māori students.  Year 7&8 - they are ALL my priority learners.  I have students well below, below, at and above the National Standard across Reading, Writing and Maths.  My inquiry will address all the learners in my class.

This was the slide I presented at our most recent CoL meeting, introducing my inquiry in response to the Woolf Fisher research, school data, and my own interests and observations of the learners in my class over the last 5 weeks.  It was however, these posters from the Pam Hook 'Hooked' website, which really ignited my ideas:

So I started to refine the main drivers that lead me to choosing this inquiry was, and what I hope this achieves:

  • The need for greater shifts in students in Years 7-10
  • To hopefully ease some of the transition to our local college as they use SOLO and NCEA is built around SOLO.
  • To use the new reo and knowledge I had gained.
  • To strengthen partnerships with our Māori families and in turn, have more meaningful learning conversations with them.
  • To pass of the gift of te ao Māori to the tamariki in my class.
  • To encourage students to think metacognitively about their own learning and in turn develop greater agency over it.
  • To deepen my own planning - in decision making about texts, the types of questions I ask and the 'create' tasks that would occur in response to the 'learn' and the types of reflections students would write in response to the 'share.'
  • To accelerate achievement for the 29 Māori students in my class by the end of the year.
How might the use of the SOLO taxonomy and increased knowledge and inclusion of te ao Māori promote higher order thinking, cognitive engagement, and acceleration of student outcomes for Māori students in Years 7-8? (And, ease the transition to Year 9?)

I was so happy that this area of interest met one of the overarching CoL goals to:

Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13.

Although I am going to try and do this across the curriculum - not just reading, it will be easy for me to extract data for reading.

So we'll see what the year brings!  Nā reira, nau mai, haere mai ki tōku huarahi ki te tihi o tēnei maunga teitei! 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Templates Matter

I love templates.  I love creating them, and even more, I love it when they afford great learning.  This year, as our whānau conferences were approaching, I reviewed our 'goal setting' template that we usually used and thought - does this afford me, the advantages of getting to know my families better?
The current template, was a google presentation, that I completed with the students over a series of lessons in which we set goals for Reading, Writing, Maths and one personal.  On the night, students embarrassingly and cringe-ing-ly (I have Year 7s and 8s) whizzed through their goals and then I asked "Any questions?"  It seemed like a success because after all - the students had done the most talking and they were goals formed with students.  However, I couldn't help but notice the parents nodding with the look in their eyes of "I have no idea what R4 in Structure in Language means and I don't know what using multiplicative strategies has to do with algorithms."

It was a bit of a we tell you what's best for your kids, using the kids as the mouth piece.  This was the template we used prior to the graduate profile.

So after a conversation with a colleague at the end of 2016, I was encouraged to visit the Ministry website and look for 'Graduate Profiles' - so this idea isn't particularly 'new' but you see new things when you have new lenses on, and this year my lenses are heavily focusing in on strengthening relationships with Māori parents and students in my class.

It's the participation of the whānau, student and teacher that we know as educators can help promote great learning and achievement.

So I created the beginnings of our Graduate Profile in the form of a Y-chart.  We had our school goals on one side, the student goals at the top and the whānau goals on the other side.  I had never had such enriching conversations with parents at whānau conferences before.  One family, of which I have taught three of their children over the last 9 years - tells me we're from the same marae.  How did I not know that sooner?  I had never asked.  The template we used never afforded that kind of connection.

I think what I came away with, was that feeling of win/win - I got my needs and wants across and the families felt they had contributed to the goals and aspirations of their child.  My conferences took the longest - so I suppose, it's how you weigh up effort for outcome... for me, it balanced out because although I was the last teacher to leave, I felt that I had engaged more authentically with the parents of my students than in previous classes.

If you wanted to have a look at the template I can find it by clicking here.

If you have your own templates - please share!  I'd love to see what else is going on out there and how you feel they are working for you and extending conversations with your families.  I can always improve on my practice...and templates!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Learn, Create, Share - Te Reo Māori

Today we started our formal Māori language lessons.  We focussed on the sentence structure:  He ___ tēnei.  Although I am not formally trained in the Atarangi (rakau) way of teaching, I bought four sets of cuisenaire rods off trade-me (pro-tip, they were the cheapest I could find!) and got into it.  Bonus tip:  you don't neeeeed four sets straight off.  We managed with one set today, but as they begin learning more complex sentences or adding detail, they may need more rākau.

I was interested only in students using their listening and viewing skills.  I repeated sentences numerous times:  He rākau tēnei.  He rākau tēnei.  He rākau tēnei...etc.

We progressed to our tēnei/tēnā/tērā prepositions and students worked in table groups asking and answering about what object someone was holding and where they were holding it.

After that, we progressed to ēnei, ēnā, ērā, but this was kind of brief - just for exposure - we will return to it again.

Before the end of that session we came together as a class and I had written the sentences on the board - just so they could get a sense of the spelling of words and the visual aide if they were still struggling with the listening.

The second session, I gave out my kupu list.  This was a list of words adapted from my course last year.  It was a list of adjectives in Te Reo Māori and English.  Words such as 'momona = fat', 'kaha = strong', 'hūmarie = humble' etc.  We talked about each word and then I gave them the challenge to describe a friend.  This was our structure for our very first kōrero:

Kia Ora koutou katoa.  (Greetings to everyone)
Ko __________ tēnei.  (This is ____)
He tama/kotiro _____ ia.  (He/She is ___)
He tama/kotiro _____ ia. (He/She is ___)
He tama/kotiro _____ ia. (He/She is ___)
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.  (Thank you all).

Students had 5 minutes to choose their words from the list and practice their kōrero.  In pairs, students then presented back to the class, their descriptions of their friends.  That means we heard those structures over 90 times.  Repetition without boring!

This afternoon - Friday - hot - we are describing our whānau members, using the same sentence structures and the same word list to support us.  Students are completing these by hand for a display.

If I had netbooks operating today, I would have asked students to make a Google Presentation with one family member on each slide.  I would also love to record students describing one another.  I think I would like to do that to put on our class blog as an introduction to us!  Yep.  Just added that one to the planning.

This series of lessons covered many literacy modes: listening, viewing, reading, speaking and writing.  Students were not bored with learning one sentence for the day as they were offered a variety of ways to present their learning.  They were offered a variety of people who they knew well and loved.  I got to know more about their families, which we know is important at this time of the year.

I am really excited to continue this teaching and learning journey.  I can already see the benefits of learning Te Reo with their English as we talked about adjectives and what they are and where they go in different languages.  Through the kupu list I had discussions about what 'giving cheek' means.

I used the senior story card template from Sheena Cameron's 'The Publishing and Display Handbook.'  Which I thoroughly recommend you have in your resource kete!

Are you a languages teacher in a digital space?  Or are you focusing on a new learning area this year as an experience digital immersion teacher?  How are you raising cultural visibility in your class or school?  Also, sorry for lack of photos - still getting back into remember a million things at one time!