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.


Collective Teacher Efficacy

The power of connections is vital for collaboration. When a group of teachers come together to work together  magic happens. When they come together for their students, and learning is the focus, then we have collective teacher efficacy.

Teacher Efficacy

So what exactly does teacher efficacy mean? Hattie says it is the way you think about your role as a leader or a teacher that defines the way you work and the impact you will have.

So as a teacher how do we measure our impact?

Keep our eyes on the game

When working with our school I like to make visible our school’s ethnicity data. I have been tracking ours for seven years and am amazed at how much movement I have seen in the seven years since I have been at Newmarket. We have a fabulous makeup of an amazing group of students who are predominantly Asian. Recently I have seen another surge of new migrants, when I have finalised our application for ESOL funding. I have begun with this because the makeup of our school affects our data. At the same time I stress the importance of watching the data. The aim long term is not to get caught up in the six month gains or the short term achievements that we can sometimes become excited over. I have faith that our bilingual learners will exceed our expectations when they get to secondary school because I have faith in our teachers and in my school.

The importance of data to help drive learning

My first query is, ‘Do our children want to come to school?‘ So by focussing on attendance data I look at our children who have attendance gaps and determine why this happens. We have an amazing person who watches the trends carefully and catches up with families if there is a drop in attendance.

We can also measure academic data and decide on the impact we expect to see. We have a range of assessment tools that give us this information and we are getting better at analysing them to target where our teaching gaps are and the effect we are having. We have a robust student management system that is able to aggregate the data and our teachers are developing in their skills to access and analyse the information.

When measuring our impact I believe that understanding what a year’s progress looks like is more important than measuring where our learners sit against national standards.  I also believe that it takes six to seven years to measure the learning journey to see that progress. I state this because of my training in bilingual education and am influenced by the work of Thomas and Collier who have also conducted longitudinal studies on language learners progress and have researched that it takes six to eight years to see the impact of bilingual education. We are not a bilingual school but we do celebrate the languages that our children bring with them.

Every teacher needs to be tracking the children’s progress, but we really need to move faster as there is a sense of urgency for our bilingual children who are catching up. For them I expect to see greater than a years progress.We can track this by analysing reading graphs initially. When I look at reading data I love seeing something like this (Fig 1)and bearing in mind that orange to turquoise plateau when inferencing becomes even more important rather than at the text understanding. These graphs were borrowed from our student management system ‘EDGE’ and was part of what I shared with our Board of Trustees recently. Against National Standards this student is well below. Using the data I can share accelerated progress.

Fig 1


When I look at our writing data using asTTle as one tool, I check the scores because they tell me more about student’s progress than the curriculum levels. I align them to the reading and see where everything sits. I look for something like this (Fig 2). This is a three year reading graph and writing data. Remember many of our children are migrant and often come with literacy in their first language. The reading always shifts first and the writing can lag behind. Note the highlighted number, and I am seeing less of the inflated score that can happen at the end of the year. From my own learning I see a correlation between the scores and the colour wheel. This is not yet proven, but I am seeing a trend. For example a 1B writing score shifting into the 1000s usually happens from green level in reading. 

Fig 2

sample2 sample1a

I also scrutinise historic data and identify drops. I look for the classic year 3-4 drop when Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALPs) becomes much more important than Basic Interpersonal Communication (BICs) for assessing progress. (Cummins). I am excited to say that after several years of across school moderation, we are no longer seeing that drop at year 3 & 4 so I believe we have nailed that. One key question here is ‘How long have the children been sitting at or above before we know that this data is stable?’ Check out your own school data at the Education Counts site.  If your school data is stable then there should not be that year 7 drop that also happens when children go to intermediate. I can also see from our historic graph the last time when our year 2 data was still too high. The graph shows the last of the trending drop happening in year 3. (Refer 2013, Year 2.)


Oral Language

As teachers we do tend to focus on reading and writing because these can be measured. However  take into account Paul Nations research into academic vocabulary and unpack what is required to achieve at this level of learning and remember how long it takes to learn a language. This can be broken down further using Academic Word List (AWL) devices by Averil Coxhead.

Students need to be acquiring 2000 new words per year to make a years progress. When this is broken down further, that is approximately 40 new words per week that should be actively taught. Breaking it down further, this is 10 words per day because we take into account holidays.  I recommend seriously looking at Jane Van der Zeydens book Essential Oral Language Toolkit. I love Jane’s work because it is research based and from a recent classroom teacher’s perspective. Jane also understands the sense of urgency for our English Language Learners.

Goal Setting

Recently I had a discussion with a colleague about the importance of goal setting. But not from a teacher perspective as was her understanding but from the learner’s perspective. I asked why the children were not setting their own goals looking at their own data. I shared with her John Hattie’s effect size on goal setting and suggested using the ‘Three Bear’s’ analogy also used by John. ‘Not too hard, not too soft but just right.’ The following was taken from one of our previous student projects. SOLO Taxonomy framework helped me unpack my understanding of goal setting but that is another blog post. 

NPS3 bears

Sharing data

As a school we have worked hard to have a shared understanding of data. We have looked at all our data in teams and set goals. We have shared our impact with each other and recently in teams we shared our impact with our Board of Trustees. We are gaining an understanding about the sense of urgency and about looking for a minimum impact of a years progress for a years learning. We are developing in our understanding about what the learning progression looks like at each year level as we moderate across the school. 

Update The Learning progression framework has just become public. Do register to increase understanding for the work we do.

Where to next?

Well I have recently joined our Auckland Central Community of Schools as an in school teacher but with a focus on building the across school community. Those of you who follow my work will understand my excitement at this new development.  I can hardly believe my enthusiasm because I have the chance to see longitudinal data being shared across our 11 schools. I have the chance to work with over 70 educators as we come together to make a difference to 7,963 children and their families. I have a chance to see if what we begin at primary school feeds through to our intermediate and then our secondary school. I can check to see how we are doing against the Thomas and Collier chart. We are all on the same journey and that is giving our best to our children. I have a chance to see and be part of a collective teacher group and the chance to see teacher efficacy in action across several schools.

Holes in the bucket

I wonder if there are holes in the bucket?

Phonological Awareness.

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and consciously break words into syllables, rhyme, onset and rime, and individual sounds or phonemes.TKI 2016

Phonological awareness refers to an individual’s awareness of the phonological structure, or sound structure, of words.

Phonemic Awareness

TKI defines phonemic awareness as the ability to hear, differentiate, and attend to the individual sounds or phonemes within words and is part of phonological awareness. Alcock further states that ‘Phonemic awareness is a category of phonological awareness and is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds in words. Phonemic awareness is necessary for understanding and using phonics knowledge.’ Alcock, 2010.  Gillon (2004), stresses that, “Phoneme awareness performance is a strong predictor of long-term reading and spelling success and can predict literacy performance more accurately than variables such as intelligence, vocabulary knowledge, and socioeconomic status” (p. 57).

Many people do not understand the difference between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics. Others are uncertain about the relationship between phonological awareness and early reading. I created the following diagram from our teacher only day to help clarify my thinking. You can see that phonics are visual and phonological awareness is all about listening. Phonemes are a subset of phonological awareness.

phonological awareness

phonological awareness (PDF)

Phonological awareness is an important and reliable predictor of later reading ability. Some of the most exciting findings from research on phonological awareness is that critical levels of phonological awareness can be developed through carefully planned instruction therefore having major influence on children’s reading and spelling achievement.

This week we had our team meeting with Andrea our fabulous team leader who had asked Lynne one of our RTLiTs to come in and do a follow up session of Phonological awareness that she had run for staff on our teacher only day. Andrea had been so inspired by the concept of checking the foundation of literacy using the phonological awareness assessment that she had run the phase one test with her 5 year old class.  She had been motivated by the patterns she had identified. She thought phonological awareness is something we should all seriously look at. After our team session I totally agree with her.

I reflected on my inquiry regarding 3 level guides and wondered if I was working with leaking buckets of knowledge. So I asked Lynne if she could carry out a phonological awareness test with one of my students whose data did not make sense. I wanted to observe how she carried out the test so I could continue when I had similar doubts with some of the data I gathered. I also wondered about using it to gather further data before I began my writing intervention.

Lynne used the Plymouth Phonological Awareness Assessment Phase One. One of my target students is a year 6 second language learner. He has been with us since he was nearly 7 and I know he did not achieve literacy in his first language. Those of you who work with bilingual students know about the phenomena that happens when children are literate in their first language and how fast they can accelerate when learning their second language.

This student is at level 17 for reading. He is well below for writing. He was recently tested using Steps and identified as achieving well below his chronological age.

Sure enough the Phonological Awareness Assessment identified gaps in his literacy. Lynne often states in her discussion that, “If we do not address that basic foundation then all we are doing is pouring in time and resources into a bucket with holes.

She shared with me the information from our ‘Switched onto Spelling’ programme that indicates the importance of carrying out a Phonological Awareness Assessment before undertaking the programme. Alcock, 2010

I reflected on our overall school literacy programmes. For example, I run an ESOL programme and intervene with children who need accelerated work to catch up to the moving target of peers that they are chasing. We run a ‘Steps’ programme that works with children who appear to have gaps in literacy building blocks. We gather data for the Mutukaroa cluster project that we are part of. We have reading recovery for children identified at 6 years old observation survey who do not appear to make the required progress. Often the programme spaces are taken up with our second language learners.  

In addition we sometimes run an accelerated literacy programme for our gifted and talented children.


This year as a school we have targeted writing and especially targeted SOLO Taxonomy as the framework for writing because this has been identified as helping children to deepen their literacy. We have put more of staff resourcing to support learning in class because international research has identified that withdrawal is the least effective form of literacy development. Our teams are currently trialling grouping students according to needs as teachers experiment with their own learning pedagogies. This is a cautious approach because we are also aware of the research around grouping children.  


As a school we are really good now at gathering data. Teams are beginning to develop an awareness that our children’s data is all of our responsibility. Data is an ethical issue. As a school we are all responsible if our children are not making the required progress.

Therefore I believe that along with making connections with the child and their families we also should check the bucket of literacy learning. When children are literate in their first language we should see accelerated progress. If they are not literate in their first language, then we should endeavor to ensure language maintenance continues. Before we pour in the learning, check that the foundation of literacy is in place.  The Phonological Awareness Assessment is simple to administer and yet can quickly identify gaps that need addressing.

Where to next for me

I begin a new writing group this week. Before I do anything, I have looked at their data and identified where they are reading at. I have looked at their e_asTTle writing data from last year. I have looked at their historic data and found out as much as I can about the children. I will now carry out a Phonological Awareness Assessment and check their foundation and feed this back to their teachers. This week our children are sitting an e-asTTle test and I will mark and collate my group’s data. I will be part of our team moderation and then our school wide moderation. Taking part in moderation ensures that my own teacher judgements remain current with national standards.


As a teacher of children learning English I believe it is important to find out as much as I can about the children I teach. I believe it is important to address the urgency of second language learners catching a moving target of learners. But not at the expense of maintaining their first language. I believe it is especially important to make connections with the children that I teach. One way of doing this is just getting to know the children personally. I do this by targeting them in the playground and saying hello in their first language. I often make links with them via a common interest. At the moment a big interest with children is Minecraft. With some of the older girls, it is drawing using the Manga style- (Big Eyes).

I also believe in the importance of reflective teachers and this year I aim to reflect in a visible written format.  Finally it is especially important to have ongoing dialogue with colleagues about what they are doing in their inquiry and for me to make links with that information to my own inquiry. I especially like it when colleagues send me links to what they are reading and become even more excited when they tag me with something reflective that they have written. So Andrea thanks for giving me a prompt to reflect on my practice and for alerting me to revisit what Lynne had shared with all staff on teacher only day. The follow up session allowed me to dig deeper into my pedagogy and to think about the words of John Hattie, ‘Know thy impact.’

My last question for anyone reading this is….

How do you ensure that your buckets of practice do not have holes?’



Alcock, J. (2010).’s%20guide.pdf

Gillon, G. (2004). Phonological awareness: from research to practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Gillon, G. (2013).

Plymouth Council. (2016)



Three Level Guides

I am always up for a challenge and there is no one like my mentor to give me the push I need to reflect and think through pedagogy.

Just before the end of the year, I always go through the end of the year class data and identify my English Language Learners who could slide in reading over the summer period. Therefore over the summer period I give them a bag of books with the understanding that I will test them when they come back to school and I expect them to have either maintained their level or moved up one level depending on where they sit on the PM benchmark or using early probe levels.

This week from testing the children after the summer holidays I have several year 4 and 5 children at turquoise level on the PM Benchmark. So we are looking at level 17-18. Those of you who understand our system here in New Zealand will know that this is well below where they are expected to be by year 4 & 5.

But stop!

Have a think about this piece of information. Many of our ELL children came to us two years ago with no English. Therefore against our system that is the progress they have made within two years beginning with no English. If we look at our data and our school standards level 17 and 18 is the benchmark that we aim for for children after two years at school. In addition these children have achieved that benchmark and often began with no English. Therefore are they ‘failing’? Linguistically they have made accelerated progress because they have had to go through the silent, watching period and then learn basic interpersonal communication skills so they can communicate with peers and now they are beginning to gain cognitively applied language proficiency as we start the next process of developing inferential skills in reading. They have caught up over two years what a first language learner achieves after 7 years old. Pretty amazing and always makes me proud.

From the recent testing analysis I have identified that at the text level or the surface level of reading, their decoding skills have improved markedly from last year with a 95+ % result.  However the analysis identifies that they could do with help unpacking between the text and beyond the text comprehension strategies. Those comprehension questions continually trip them up at inferential level and stop them moving up to the next reading level.

Those of you who are ESOL teachers will probably know the work of Herber (1978)  who devised a comprehension strategy known as ‘The three level guide’. This comprehension strategy is a pre/post reading activity that gives students the opportunity to evaluate information at the literal, interpretive and applied levels based on a reading selection. The comprehension strategy was developed further by Morris and Stewart-Dore (1984) to help students think through the information in texts.

Myself I have trawled our fabulous TKI ESOL site to revisit ESOL comprehension strategies that I learnt about during my Diploma of TESSOL with Sue Gray and team. Furthermore this time I have used my SOLO Taxonomy hat to unpack the information using an information transfer chart. I have created 3 level guides in the past and have used them with great success.. However over the past few years I have been focussing on writing with my English Language Learners as this is another area that continually needs support.

Three level guides means just that 3 levels of comprehension. The comprehension strategy has teacher created statements that occur with searching for information at surface level of text, then has between the text statements that the reader applies the information from the text to real life contexts and explains reasons for this in paired or group discussion and then finally it has beyond the limits of the text statements that the reader critically evaluates the information and relates it to what is already known and justify their answers and their views.

Using SOLO I have identified exactly where each level sits and why but from the writing research I have recently carried out I know that unistructural level in SOLO Taxonomy is also a really important level to go through and this does not feature in three level guides.

The three level guide sits comfortably at multistructural, relational and extended abstract. I now know that is why I have alway found them extremely effective in teaching inferential skills. Therefore as I have unpacked the guides against SOLO I have identified the unistructural part. That is reading or decoding the text. Our ELL are fabulous at that. Decoding is especially noticeable when they are literate in their first language. They fly through the PMs and then when inferential really kicks in at level 17 and 18 they plateau. Often I observe the data and see them sitting at this level for far too long. Several ELL can sit there in class for a year. Personally I believe this is not good enough and we are undervaluing what can be done to push them forward and especially if they are to match their peers after 6 years at school in New Zealand.

Therefore for this first term I will provide explicit teaching and feedback using three level guides in order to scaffold my English language learners to develop reading strategies. I want them to be able to infer from text and think critically independently. By doing this I expect a shift up of one level over this term. Personally I will aim for two levels but I know from past experience if I push too hard then they sit at the next level for three terms.

I have begun the first step by identifying the gap in their learning. I have gathered my data through carrying out reading analysis using running records. I have looked at their historic data and have identified that they have been sitting at level 17-18 for longer than they should have. I have identified that decoding skills are strong so can move straight to multistructural discussion by looking for information in the text. They can retell the story as this is another early indicator of understanding. In SOLO Taxonomy retell is at relational thinking as this demonstrates an understanding of sequencing and progression. For the clarity of this intervention I will look at sequence from a unistructural perspective and think of it as listing progression in the text.


In SOLO before I even begin to teach comprehension I need to identify where the learners are at. One way of doing this is sharing with them their comprehension data or their latest running record. So with my support they can begin to define what comprehension is and list the difference it can make to their reading.


Once done, I begin the Three Level guide strategy. So the students are using one comprehension strategy. The learner can decode the text and retell the text simply by listing the order of events.


At the surface level the learner finds the answer to literal questions on the page and point to them. This is looking at surface level of comprehension. At this level the learner can decode the text, retell what they read and find literal answers on the page by pointing to them.


At between the text, the learners will be paired into similar levels and they will interpret what the writer is saying by discussing their answers of what is between the text. They will do this by interpreting and applying the information from the text to real life contexts. They could use a variety of relational thinking such as compare and contrast, analysing, part whole thinking, classifying, cause and effect or even analogy.

Extended Abstract

At beyond the text  the learner critically evaluates the information and relates it to what is already known.They will explain their answers and justify their views and come up with a single overall statement. I like the I wonder statements and so will begin with these ones.

At the end of each article the children will identify their next steps by using SOLO Taxonomy rubric to reflect on their growing understanding of inferencing.

Using a follow up test I will see the difference that this intervention makes.

I am really lucky at Newmarket School because the teachers who have these children are into their second year of researching and teaching using innovative learning pedagogy. we also have teachers who are enthusiastic at what I achieve with the children and regularly query my methods therefore I have been able to articulate clearly what I do in a visible way.

In addition I have a mentor who gives me clear feedback and regularly prods my thinking so that I am always ready with research and data. If I am not then I say so. By having these regular minor learning discussions I have grown confidently in my pedagogy.

I have also been thinking about February’s #EdBlogNZ challenge of creating a photo of my learning space. I have begun by setting up my SOLO Taxonomy writing wall. If you want a copy of the words then look out for SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners available very soon from Educational Resources. Pam and I are very proud of our collaborative book. If you want the SOLO Taxonomy postcards then these are available from


My ongoing goal is to make learning visible and SOLO Taxonomy is fabulous for doing this. I usually create ‘messy’ walls because they help me think and reflect on my pedagogy. I will complete my reading wall now that I am really clear on what it looks like.

My challenge to you, ‘How do you make learning visible for your learners?’

For all things SOLO, visit

Update: My mentor mentioned I had omitted prestructural in my thinking. Therefore I have added that. (that is me thinking I do not really need to be adding that.) However presrtuctural is also an important part of thinking.



Herber, H. (1978). Teaching Reading in the Content Areas. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Hook, P., and Van Schaijik, S. (in press). SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners. Making second language learning visible. Essential Resources Educational Publishers Limited. New Zealand.

Morris, A. and Stewart-Dore, N. (1984). Learning to Learn from Text: Effective Reading in Content Areas. New South Wales: Addison-Wesley.