Treaty of Waitangi Principle

Ko te manu e kai āna i te miro nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai āna i te mātauranga, nona te ao.

The bird that consumes the berry his is the forest. The bird that consumes knowledge his is the world.

An Education Review Office report (2011) stated that ‘many school leaders and teachers found the Treaty of Waitangi principle challenging to implement.

I was a little shocked to uncover my own lack of visible evidence for this practising teacher criteria or PTC 10. This is when practising  teachers work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand. Key indicators are highlighted as:

  • Practise and develop the relevant use of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga-a-iwi in context.
  • Specifically and effectively address the educational aspirations of ākonga Māori, displaying high expectations for their learning.

Don’t get me wrong. I can get by with many formulaic expressions in te reo Māori in context. I understand key vocabulary that most teachers have learnt as part of our professional journey such as whānaungatanga, manaakitanga and tino rangatiratanga. Last year I carried out an online project where I managed nearly 40 educators as part of a Connected Educator activity where they formed groups and unpacked Tataiako, cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners.

Then when I tried to find evidence of me as an educator developing the relevant use of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga-a-iwi in context. I was a little disappointed in myself. As for specifically and effectively addressing the educational aspirations of ākonga Māori, displaying high expectations for their learning I can only touch on a small amount. This is the work I carry out with EdBookNZ where I ask for a chapter in the project and want it written in Te Reo. I do this because I know from personal experience that challenge I have when I need to write something in Samoan or give a presentation in Samoan or run a workshop in Samoan how challenged I am as a learner.

So I contacted my mentor @ginnynz01 and asked if she had seen any evidence of me living this criteria and together we discussed what this looked like from her perspective. She reminded me of my work with data and how I collated and unpack the data school wide. One key time was digging deeper with our data and tracking how it changes from year to year and what this looks like across all our groups. I have started doing this too across our ACCoS community school data. This across school data has been shared with the principals and lead teachers across our cluster.

I was reminded too about our school infrastructure that I helped build and maintain that enables teachers to provide a digital learning space for our learners. I can go in and see how effective the structure is between the students and across the teams.

Then we discussed ngā tikanga-a-iwi in context and what this looks like at our school. Yes I can confirm that I work hard at making connections with our parents and families in the specific work that I do. I learn how to greet parents and children in their own language and usually carry out research of where they have come from. I generally connect new families with same language families at our school and ask our experienced families to look out for and make the new families feel welcome. I have encouraged our children to introduce themselves. My recent English Language Learners verification report confirms this and I was extremely proud of the feedback we received as a school.

I can even make links in the work I do with our English Language Learners. I share with them our local stories and identify readers that they can read with an Aotearoa focus. In addition I set writing tasks that are influenced by school happenings. For example our up and coming Marae visit. With our teachers I am always sharing information about our learners and their cultures and backgrounds to support them in furthering their own connections with their learners.

With our Maori learners I already know who they are and can identify which class they are in, what their progress is like and who their whānau and iwi are. When I see them I have learnt to keep them central in my student connections because this then heightens awareness for all our learners.

When I check out Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success identify the importance of supporting Māori students during times of transition in their educational journey I am clear about the role that I have by ensuring that data and progress is shared with our learners, whānau, our teachers and our feeder schools.


So where to next. How do I consciously practise and develop the relevant use of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga-a-iwi in context? PCT 10 is not that big of an ask. I can easily do this for every presentation I deliver or every time I lead a meeting, run a workshop. I can easily begin with my pepeha and with a whakataukī like I did with my recent Ulearn presentation.I am already really conscious of the macrons and can now see when they are missing. When I write words in te reo Māori I check to ensure that I have them correct.

This week we are visiting Orakei Marae as part of our bi annual trip to make connections with our local iwi and marae. Therefore I can easily put me ngā tikanga-a-iwi in context.

In addition I am project leading for Flat Connections and our junior school is involved. We have discussed making connections between the indigenous people of the three countries involved. That could be another pathway for me to consciously focus on practising and working effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

This week I am presenting at the Asia New Zealand Ningbo conference so will begin with Kia Ora to the delegates.

Finally I refer to our Newmarket Plan on a page created by our principal and deputy principal as part of their learning with Schools@Heart . They consulted and had input from our Board of Trustees our parents and our wider community. I can see our school wide goals, how I adhere to them and how I am culturally sensitive to these.




“Looking at the past must only be a means of understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can more wisely build the future.”  Paulo Freire


CORE Education’s annual professional learning and development conference for educators took place on 5 -7 October 2016 at Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre. Rotorua was a blaze of colour with the tulips out in all their glory. In addition the centre had beautiful nightlight displays.


The three conference strands were:

The key themes permeating throughout the conference were

  • Connect by sharing knowledge and ideas
  • Collaborate by working together and developing relationships
  • Innovate through innovation and sustainability

I have taken each keynote speaker and made links with all the discussion based on the conference themes and then highlighted a key takeaway from each presentation.

The Keynote speakers were:

  • Keynote #1: Larry Rosenstock
    • ‘It’s Time to Change the Subject’
      • Collectivelearning not autonomous learning.
      • Collaborativelearning not isolated learning
      • Innovatelearning through the structure of their work.
  • Keynote #2: John Couch
    • ‘New Dimensions in Learning’
      • Connectour students.  Engagement is key.  If students engage then they will succeed. Technology aids engagement.
      • Collaborateby ensuring we  MAXIMISE the potential of technology to amplify schools and education.
      • Innovateby providing opportunities for our students  to make something that will change the world.

Many learning barriers  of today are not set by system but by teaching practices.

  • Keynote #3: Michael Fullan (Note: I missed this session #SadFace)
    • ‘Early lessons from implementing New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’
      • Connectusing New, meaning the new knowledge and relationships between the teacher, student and whānau
      • Collaborateusing education as societal change agents
      • Innovatebecause we are wired to create

Teachers as agents of change.

  • Keynote #4: Karen Spencer
    • ‘Beyond the echo chamber: The extraordinary possibilities of a networked profession’
      • Connectwith the past because future focused ‘solutions’ are just someone else’s good ideas.
      • Test lightly and collaborativelyand use our curriculum documents to guide us.
      • Innovatefrom an informed position

Our one job is to keep the fear out of school.

Now I could write a lot more about each session however you can already read a more detailed summary from In addition there are links to video clips shown.

I was extremely grateful to Core Education for the earlier presentation time slot because this allowed me to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.

Sharing is caring — learning is giving back to the community
Presenter: Sonya Van Schaijik


I gave a session which was partly narrative and partly a workshop. Here are my slides. I have already received Feedback for my next session. There were some constructive suggestions that are helpful for my learning so thanks to those of you who took the time to give me feedback.

Spotlight session: Leadership for online global collaboration: from pedagogy to cosmogogy

Presenter: Julie Lindsay


I attended a session from one of the spotlight presenters and this was Julie Lindsay. Julie’s and my history go back quite a way and I joined her session partly to acknowledge the massive influence she has had on me personally as an educator especially in focussing on whanaungatanga in everything that I do. You can check out the link to her session here. What is a global leader?

The key message I took from her session was: ‘Leaders must demonstrate and model collaborative practices to support pedagogical change.’

Julie wrote a book titled ‘The Global Educator.‘ If you are looking for me I feature on page 100. (#JustSaying.) A lot of what she writes about me is the #EdBookNZ collaborative teachers’ book that happens each year as part of #CENZ month. If you want to know more, do check out her book and look out for this year’s team .

Research and inquiry Symposium: Play and creativity

Presenter: Christine Alford, Keryn Davis, Caroline Bush

The key takeaway I took from this session was: Collect the stories of our learners.

CoL round table: action planning

Presenter: Derek Wenmoth

I joined several round table discussions and used the opportunity to think about an action plan for implementing ideas in our ACCoS group. We were given an excellent readable document that highlighted areas for discussion for me to share with my CoL.

(Darn, @AionoManu I forgot our selfie when we were working together.)

Play is not fun

Presenter: Caroline Bush

Caro share a narrative of her journey as an efellow16

The key takeaway I took from Caro’s session was: Give the learners permission and freedom to leave. Focus on the progress. Bring in blocks during reading time.


Building capability through future focused learning

Presenter: Marnel van der Spuy, Hancine Samvelyan

We took part in collaboration as a process.

The key message I took away was: Fear and passions come together for discussion. Experts and apprentices balance.

Here is the link to our collaborative document.


So overall what have I learnt from attending and presenting at Ulearn this year?

Connections continue to drive what I do because I strongly believe that before you can collaborate you must make connections.

I formed deeper connections with two teachers who braved ULearn with me this year. I give them a shout out. They are @HannahDavey01 and @MissSMorrison1. They outdanced me on the dance floor and nearly out tweeted me. I loved the way they took the learning all on board and just got involved. They even featured on the Core Education Blog.


I reconnected with heaps of tweeps both face to face and virtually using #ulearn16 and #notatulearn16. Out of all the exhibitors present I took great delight in visiting Stand 60 which was Essential Resources stand.

I stood back with pride at seeing my book with Pam Hook up there on the stand. (Just in case you are looking for a copy of SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners-here is the link.) Being true to my island heritage I had a quiet chuckle at how fabulously bright it was and wondered if we should have stuck a great big hibiscus on it as part of the background. Maybe we will do that for our next book.


collaborated with many educators both new and seasoned using digital tools and hands on tools such as Padlet, Google Docs, Twitter, Periscope. I am just conscious of driving the collaboration to a deeper level and push past the coblaboration stage.

I took away some innovative ideas to trial with current CoLs that I work with. One tool is Arinui that I am keen to explore further. Another is the upcoming Flat Connection Project I am project leading under the guidance of Julie Lindsay. A further idea is using the SOLO Taxonomy vocabulary that I created with Pam Hook last year to structure Oral language with our English Language Learners at Newmarket School.

To finish with just a MASSIVE shout out to @newmarketschool and the Board of Trustees for supporting our professional learning with this trip to Ulearn16. Now to our teachers we are coming back with some ideas that we are keen to trial. However ULearn doesn’t change the world, the experience changes #NPSFab teachers and we have come back changed.

trio.JPG ceder.JPG

I began this post with a quote from John Dewey and end with this whakatau from my session. svs_ulearn16

Let us forge a pathway to the future and acknowledge our journey.

New Zealand Chinese Language Week


Newmarket School recently celebrated its first Chinese Language Week. In New Zealand Chinese is the fourth-largest ethnic speaking group. However at Newmarket School it is our largest group. Our school is nearly one third Chinese and we wanted to celebrate who we are.

As a school we promoted Chinese language and culture through a range of activities. Students were involved in several events such as calligraphy, traditional Chinese games, making and cooking dumplings, investigating and creating Chinese art, eating Mooncakes, and a celebration assembly. Our children also used WeChat to talk to a kindergarten and then our sister school in China.

We had a special day on Wednesday when children were invited to celebrate their own culture by wearing traditional dress. We asked for a gold coin donation to help with the publication of a student created book telling the story of Chang E. I am still working on this with our children.

Friday was a special day for us because the youngest members of our school led our assembly. The whole school had been learning songs and a dance that we incorporated into our assembly. Mandarin has been identified by our school community as being important. So much so that we offer after school classes in addition to the language being taught in all our classes.

We have undertaken this journey because our Ministry of Education research shows that Mandarin is an upcoming global language. I also know from experience that learning a second language contributes to literacy skills in our children’s first language. As a school we are part of the Asian Language Learning in Schools (ALLiS). Therefore I am a student of Mandarin and am teaching the language to our five and six year olds.

The week long events highlighted our Chinese students and chance for them to step up and be leaders. At the same time many of our senior school students stepped up too and led morning tea game activities and supported many of the in class art activities.

We were one of the lucky schools to receive funding from the Asia New Zealand Foundation to hold events. This funding was used to purchase art equipment and Chinese food ingredients for our children.

We also had Lily Lee as a guest speaker who shared her book Sons of the Soil and told us stories of her time at Newmarket School.  Confucius Institute Auckland supported us with a guest calligrapher and support team who shared his skills with us. In addition we were most fortunate to have parents who gave time to share their skills too.

For clearer photos, do visit our school’s facebook page.

Where to next?

This coming weekend I have been invited to share our story at the Oceania Chinese Language Conference. Here is a link to my slides.

Our junior classes will continue to flatten their walls of learning as we take part in the Flat Connections Project beginning in term 4. The project is called K-2 Building Bridges to Tomorrow. We will be working with schools from around the world as we connect, collaborate and share our learning together. One way of doing this is using WeChat and all our junior school teachers are signed up and on board.

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up



Yesterday I took a bit of a risk. Yesterday was the day to share my inquiry around Chinese language learning with my year 0 and 1 children and teachers at Newmarket School. We were asked to create a Task Based Language Activity, teach it, evaluate its effectiveness and present our learning to our colleagues in the EDProfst360 TPDL Course. I had extra pressure of having my principal invited to come and hear my learning and of course she accepted and was there. My learning about the task I created was how I failed and the learning I took away from this. So here is my presentation and story.

  • wǒ xìng Van Schaijik
  • wǒ jiào Sonya
  • wǒ shì xiǎo xué  lǎoshī
  • wǒ zài Newmarket xuéxiào jiào shū


My class is made up of forty four year 0 & 1 students. I take them for thirty minutes once each week. The class is made up of 22 year 0 students and 22 year 1. Of these ⅓ are Chinese speakers of varying proficiency from new learners of English to having some words. There are two teachers who work in class with me and we are all learning together. However because I am in the TPDL programme I am the teacher preparing and leading the lessons. My own language of Mandarin is minimal and I am in my second semester of learning Mandarin. I am also teaching the language therefore my proficiency is developing.

Where did the idea for my Task Based Language Activity  come from?  

Earlier this year for my first assignment, I researched Rod Ellis. I  developed the learning task using a PM reader. I was really clear in my approach and rationale behind the lesson. I spent ages on the artefact so that it all worked well. I called in a proficient L1 speaker to help with the resource. My understanding was the task should have worked.

Information gap.

So I carried out the lesson with the whole class. The task was mostly receptive and did not require much language demand because the children were already familiar with colours and where is (zài nǎ lǐ)

 叶 子 在 哪 里
hóng zi zài nǎ lǐ

They just needed the new word zi meaning leaf.

I deliberately chose a PM reader that most would have already read in English so there was little language demand.

I wanted the children to fill in the missing colours by looking at the picture of the leaf. I believed that they would easily accomplish this simple task and the lesson would be a great success. 

However I experienced a disastrous outcome. I felt that nothing was right.

Justification on my disaster

So I reflected on the outcome.

  • Why was the task all wrong?
  • Maybe the timing was wrong.
  • My expectations were too high.
  • I did not have enough language knowledge to carry out the teaching of the task.
  • Maybe the children were just playing up for me this particular day.


Then a niggling doubt surfaced. Maybe my designed task did not not fit a task based language activity.

According to Rod Ellis, a task has four main characteristics:

  1. A task involves a primary focus on (pragmatic) meaning.
  2. A task has some kind of ‘gap’.
  3. The participants choose the linguistic resources needed to complete the task.
  4. A task has a clearly defined, non-linguistic outcome.

Yes there was meaning because the children could see the colours and hear the language.

But there was no gap because I was teaching whole class, all children could see the task. I misinterpreted Gap as a Gap in knowledge, rather than a gap in communication. 

I did not give the participants an opportunity to choose the linguistic resources in order to complete the task because I had colour coded the vocabulary I expected them to use.

The task did not have a clearly defined, non-linguistic outcome. Instead I expected a focus on form.

Evaluating the task

I could not evaluate the task because I did not have enough evidence. I did not allow the students to use all the language they knew and or are learning. Instead I expected them to use just the ‘target language’ of the lesson. Therefore I had little evidence of output.

Time was against me as the term’s end was approaching fast. So instead I gave up on this activity and left the idea of task based language teaching for a few weeks. 

Instead I concentrated on more focussed input such as building vocabulary and building simple sentences by having the children continue to learn formulaic sentences.

I used more songs to give sentence frames and structure for language. I read more around the criteria of a task.

The impact of designing this task on my teaching

With failing comes reflection:

  • Reflecting on practice and where to next;
  • Discussion with colleagues how to improve the task and using my colleagues and their teaching skills; 
  • Refocus Task Based Language Teaching and ensuring that pretask, task and review are ongoing;
  • Refocus on learning formulaic expressions;
  • Refocus on my own language learning and registering for semester two of learning Chinese;
  • Focus on allowing the children to use all the language they knew and or are learning and opportunities to develop greater complexities of the target language such as using connectives or time order words.

Try again but adapting the task

  • Will the activity engage learners’ interest?
  • Is there a primary focus on meaning?
  • Is there a goal or an outcome?
  • Is success judged in terms of outcome?
  • Is completion a priority?
  • Does the activity relate to real world activities?

Focus on Input

So I spent most of term three focussing on input because the children still required plenty of exposure to LI through input before I can expect output. Therefore I focussed on smaller group teaching with the teachers focussing on language input. I was lucky enough to have an L1 parent join us as support and she was a fabulous L1 model and help. We also had a teacher in her final year of training who had the mindset and was willing to have a go. So with our forty four students we had 5 adults. I continued to use youtube videos as a model for L1 and created several visuals with images that would help with receptive input because most of our children are still developing basic reading skills. I focussed too on less whole class teaching except for the pre task stage.

The impact that ‘failure’ had on my students

Initially I was gutted and felt like giving up. I was tired and disheartened and I know that by my third TPDL observation I had more than had enough of my own learning.

But as the Chinese saying is

shībài bùshì dǎoxià dàn jùjué qǐchuáng
Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up

So as a thinking teacher who is always reflecting I looked for opportunities to bring in the expertise of the teachers I work with. I completed another assignment around the key concepts relevant to intercultural communicative language learning. This gave me another pathway to think outside the square and try something even more amazing.

Our Chinese Language and Culture Week at Newmarket School

So I approached our management team and asked for the opportunity to develop a week long series of events that focussed on culture. I applied to the Asia New Zealand Foundation and won a grant to help with the weeks event. I planned for several cultural events such as the kinds of games that children played, a calligrapher who shared his skills and who I was able to get through the support of our deputy principal and her connections with Confucius, a guest speaker who wrote a book about the history of Chinese Market gardeners to New Zealand.  I thought seriously about opportunities for language output and was especially excited because my focus classes of year zero and one would be hosts for the upcoming school assembly. I ran a small speech competition with a focus on students who could use connectives and I also looked for students who could recite a poem because I knew that they would have to carry out research to do this. Classes were invited to compete a Chinese art artefact and in order to do this I knew that the teachers would have had to research into some Chinese history and to find out about the art before they would do this. I asked all classes in the school to learn a dance and to learn three songs in preparation for the assembly and they did. My own Chinese dance group were given another opportunity to present and this time I ensured that they had dance costumes so they looked stunning.
The highlights are published on our Newmarket School’s Facebook page. The highlights for me were:

  • Seeing the little children talk to a kindergarten in China via WeChat and singing Twinkle Twinkle little stars together;
  • Seeing the parents come in to help with in class activities;
  • Seeing the delight at the whole school partaking in mooncakes during Mooncake day;
  • All classes learning a little bit of culture and language;
  • Our fabulous guests;
  • Our senior students leading the games events each morning tea;
  • Of course my absolute pride at the fabulous team lead assembly from the 5 and 6 year olds.


You might fall down seven times and maybe on the eighth time you might have your balance. As I reflect on my language programme I must balance meaning focussed input with meaning focussed output. I must balance  Language Focussed Learning with Fluency Development. This delicate balance enables more student centred, meaningful communication, and provides extra-linguistic skill building. I must continue to provide real world activities and tasks that are familiar to the students such as our WeChat session and our fabulous week long celebration. Our recent week highlighted that our students and staff were engaged which may further motivate them in their ongoing language learning of our target language as part of the ALLiS project.

Celebrate the learning

Finally look for opportunities to celebrate the language learning. Use the tools to capture the output such as video or iRecord. I have a big week ahead of me as I publish our celebration for our school website. I have a group of students who I will record their poems and introductions for our learning resources. I have a book that needs publishing in both English and Mandarin. I have heaps of people to send thank you letters to that helped make our week amazing.

So my failure ended up being hugely successful for my children and my school. I am always looking for new ways of forced output for our children. I have managed to convince our junior school team to take big steps in term four. They have all signed up for WeChat as we explore new ways for making connections with our families. As a team we have signed up for K-2 Flat Connections project where they will work with schools around the world and look at new ways of learning for our children. The project is called ‘Building Bridges for Tomorrow‘.   Our teachers will be exposed to new tools and the chance to think in new ways because technology has a way of forging past the traditional junior school teacher modelling books and the traditional walls of sharing student learning.

Connections are the beginning of collaboration

nps nps2

Yesterday we had the most amazing experience with our children as part of our school wide focus on Chinese language and culture week. One of our parents set up a WeChat session with a kindergarten in Zhengzhou, Henan in China. She came, was part of the session and and helped to ensure that it was a success.We spent approximately 30 minutes with the children and teachers. The kindergarten is one her son attended before they came to New Zealand.

The experience was a little different to Skype in the classroom because our children are learning Mandarin. Therefore we did not do the usual ‘Guess where we are sessions.‘ I was really lucky to have a translator as this helped immensely with the experience.

The video quality was low from their end, but that is OK because I know that as educators we are problem solvers. They shared with us via WeChat what it looked like from their end and it was so exciting to see the faces of their children. The children were really excited as ours were too. They had hooked up a computer to a data projector and their teachers were balancing the computer and holding up the computer for our benefit so that we could see their children. The really exciting thing about using WeChat was that we did not fall off. I have had experiences using Skype with China where there is a lot of interruption but using WeChat seemed to eliminate this.

I used my iPhone to record or children and streamed this through apple TV so that they could see our children. My main technology was heaps of bluetac to connect the iPhone to the top of the television. Before the session Lili one of our parents and I had carried out a test run with our virtual guests. Then before the live session I flick on the video so that our children could see themselves on the television screen. This helped align our children for the camera in preparation for the session.

Our children practiced saying

大家好 dà jiā hǎo Hello everyone!
您好 ni hao Greetings
您好 ni hao lǎoshī Greetings teachers
再见 zài jiàn Good bye 

We went live and both classes greeted each other.

Then they sang us a song. We sand them a song in Chinese. They sang us 5x little Ducks in Chinese, we sang them a Maori song. Next their teacher suggested we sing a song together that we both knew. This was twinkle twinkle little star, so cute. After that I had our teachers introduce themselves in Mandarin. Finally we all said goodbye and thank you.

The point of all this you may ask?

The authentic use of a language. The chance to share our learning in Mandarin even though it is really basic. The opportunity to make connections with children in another country who are the same age as our little ones. To show our teachers that there are new ways of learning. So rather than using photos or videos of another country, culture and language, we can be doing so much more.

Where to next?

The learning I learnt from taking part in Flat Connections student projects is the importance of co construction. I was really excited when their teachers suggested singing a song together. This is something I know about early childhood teachers, they always think outside the box. My imagination is all fired up with the possibilities. I have suggested that our teachers explore Wechat so will do another big push again with this tool.


The rest of this week is about celebrating the culture and language of one third of our student population as part of the National Chinese Language Week.  We have so many activities and experiences organised.  I give a massive shout out to the Asia New Zealand foundation who approved our application for support. The extra amount enables us to help make this week memorable for our children.

Sharing is caring — learning is giving back to the community


Image from Darren Kuropatwa

Ewan once wrote that ‘Sharing, and sharing online specifically, is not in addition to the work of being an educator. It is the work.

Recently I was interviewed as part of a research in the use of digital tools in appraisal practices in primary schools. I was asked some interesting questions that I found myself thinking about the interview long after it was over. 

I was drawn back to a series of presentations I shared at Eduignite. My second in a series of three was Digital Tattoos. At Eduignite, I shared about the importance of leaving evidence of what we do as educators and to be cautious of having folders on desks. Personally I have never understood the point of having an appraisal paper folder. I struggle even more with the notion of creating PDFs of what I do. I chuckle at the PDF notion just like I chuckle at stories of educators being asked to print off digital planning. I am aware of needing evidence for compliance, but believe like Ewan, that online sharing is much more powerful. You can check out my slides from that Eduignite session below. Even then I scoffed at the paper folders.

I have writing several times about the importance of transparent sharing.

When I reread my 2015 goal of having all teachers at Newmarket School with an online reflective blog, I am excited to say that I have achieved that goal. Currently most blogs look like the early push onto twitter. Sporadic writing like the earlier sporadic tweeting. Two have set theirs up but have not yet taken that first step. But hey after curating #EdBlogNZ  with two online colleagues, I know, as a school we are in a good space.

I am always thinking about the importance of our teachers sharing. I do remind them about using twitter like online note taking so that they can get into the habit of microblogging and our teachers have supported the use of our school hashtag .

This year I have been particularly excited to see our teachers examples of sharing. These include

  • Running Staff Meetings
  • Running school wide events
  • Presenting outside of school at education events
  • Sharing at Educamp
  • Sharing at an online course and at face2face courses
  • Sharing on twitter chats

However the most powerful of these are when I can see a follow up reflection on their blogs because again it is the sharing online that creates an artefact for the education community.

I am really excited at across school sharing. We have the ACCoS initiative, the ALLiS and the Mutukaroa projects. In addition I co ordinate our Eastern Area ESOL cluster group.

Community of Learners

Soon I will be sharing our school’s journey at Ulearn. I will be sharing about how Newmarket School contributes to many networks such as:

I will be sharing how changes and structures in the school day have evolved from being teacher driven to being student driven and enable innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Also how task-based learning activities are curated for students and how communication evolves as both teachers and students learn to give and receive feedback. I will also share how informal and formal learning creates opportunities for sharing knowledge and skills among the learning community. The above spaces will be used as examples as well as what we are doing in Newmarket School with our children and teachers.

Where to next?

Reminding teachers about keeping content current is an important part of online sharing. I have a project that has developed into something quite close to my heart and that is the #EdBookNZ project. This is where I have identified current education jargons and invited educators to contribute a piece of writing. I take all the writing and publish a digital book for the education community. The #TeachMeetNZ google hangouts that I have run quarterly have been shelved because I have taken on two other roles this year and that has been about building communities of learners.

Finally, I am particularly excited that our principal joining the next cohort of Flat Connection Leadership for Global Education. A criteria of the course is regular blogging so I look forward to her ongoing online sharing.

So as schools how open are your examples of teachers creating and sharing? Do your teachers see online sharing as on top of what they do or is online sharing part of their practice? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Not too hard or soft but just right

Goal Setting 

In  his book Visible Learning (p. 164) John Hattie summarises that the right kind of student goal setting can have a positive affect on student learning.

This is the second reflection I have in regards to my 2016 personal inquiry. My first one is here. I stated that by the end of September I will have trialled the visible learning  interventions for ELL and then through data analysis ascertain the effect size of the interventions so that the most effective strategies can be applied to accelerate the progress of  targeted  ELL students.

In term 2 of this year I worked with Kahikatea year 5 and 6 students in class. I regularly came in as the third teacher and worked alongside the teachers as part of the class rotation. I found it such a joy to work with my English Language Learners as part of a normal class programme. I was delighted to see my targeted children part of a vertical grouping in maths, reading and in writing. They were not streamed but were placed in groups where problem solving was the main strategy for learning. For example in mathematics I might have been using as the focus for the lesson. Therefore it did not matter what level maths you were at, it was how the problem solving was carried out.


I worked too with writing and reading. I observed how my targeted children managed the tasks set in the innovative learning environment. I marvelled at the way they could structure their days of learning using google calendar. Each day needed to have an hour each of maths, reading and writing. At the beginning of term two I gathered all their reading and writing data. I will compare the new data with the initial gathering of data before the end of term three . This will help determine if having me work in class alongside the teachers made much of a difference. There are a variety of variables to this being successful. Some of these include using google classroom to curate learning, or by using peer feedback to critique work. Other variables could include accountability with how much learning evidence was collected or the challenge of completing all must dos in order to take part in passion projects as part of Discovery Friday.

Goal Setting

I supported the children in setting learning goals. In order for this to be successful they were given their reading and writing data and then their maths data. From these pieces of evidence and mapping these to the learning progression, the children identified where they were at against their National Standards peer group. The children then highlighted any gaps and these became the basis for their next steps. In addition the children set learning goals that were achievable. Hattie speaks about learning goals being not too hard, not too soft but just right. I look forward to the new data and how the students will evaluate these against their learning goals set last term.

Year 4 writing 

I had another group working on writing. They are a group of year 4 students achieving just below national standards for year 4. Their reading levels were much higher. Again I worked in class with this group and began with goal setting for writing. This group of students were not all ESOL funded students because I added two children who were not eligible but yet needed similar support. I have always tried to adjust what I do so that the learning is the most effective. One way of doing this is by me working with one group and the teacher works with another. For this group I chose to make learning authentic and used real learning to motivate their writing For example one part focussed on slaters. The class were investigating a variety of mini beasts. At the end of the writing the children created a video artifact for their class.  I am also particularly interested to see  if the goals that they set at the beginning of term two are achieved by the end of this term.

I believe that by unpacking the data with the learner, they are able to identify what they need to work on. I am developing in my own understandings of the learning progressions and I believe I am fairly accurate in judging a piece of writing. That is where my knowledge of SOLO taxonomy has been invaluable. The work I undertook last year as part of the book I developed with Pam Hook has enabled me to see at a glance the gaps in writing. Here is the link if want to know more about SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners

Where to next

I have been interested in seeing the latest development in the Visible Learning project. A key message is limiting teacher talk. This ties in nicely with my next piece of writing which is about my inquiry around teaching and learning of Mandarin. Through the termly observations I can see how much teacher talk takes place.


Hattie, John (2008). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. NY: Routledge.