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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 might...it's like hiding the vegetables under all the cheese on the pizza ;)