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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.