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.

Lofty Goal Posts 2016

This piece of writing is to fulfil the #EdBlogNZ challenge that has been set.

Whanaungatanga (2)

A)Whānaungatanga is my #OneWord2016. I find it interesting how my efellow11 inquiry unpacked Hyperconnectivity. The space between the nodes.  The stuff that cannot be seen yet is vital for learning. Last year as part of EdBookNZ I undertook Team #Whānaungatanga. From the blog posts of my team the following list of words surfaced using Wordle. I added Va Fealofani as this also explains Whānaungatanga. I chose Whānaungatanga as my #OneWord2016 because I am the educator who connects, collaborates, co creates and supports others to be vocal digitally. I thrive in the digital environment so much so that my digital life blurs with my real life. By keeping a focus on Whānaungatanga I will recap the importance of hyperconnectivity. I will sit through meetings face to face, eye to eye, breath to breath to get a full understanding of the people I am working with. ( Me hui kanohi ki te kanohi kia rongo i te mauri o te tangata!’ ) 

  1. relationships
  2. people/tangata
  3. community
  4. respect
  5. whanau
  6. contributing
  7. learners/ ākonga
  8. va fealofani
  9. society
  10. working together

As my understanding of Whānaungatanga grows so does my understanding of sustainability. Therefore I will also be focusing more on Travelwise at Newmarket School and the part we play on Global Warming.


B)Aging Parents


I look after my parents and so have added them to my goal as a focus that I had promised to make their golden years, just that, golden. I am writing both their stories starting with dad.

C) Learn Mandarin


I have been accepted into the Language Teaching Consolidation Programme. One criteria is to learn and teach a new language. I have chosen Mandarin. At the same time this is Whānaungatanga because predominantly the children I work with are Mandarin speakers and one positive way of building relationships is speaking the language of the children I teach. I also know the challenges of learning a new language so that I may better emphasise with them. This year I am also the lead teacher for the ALLIS cluster for Newmarket School. This is a ministry initiative ‘Asian Language Learning in Schools.‘ Our school is part of the Epsom/Remuera group.


Keep focusing on a community of learners. I now have several I am leading or involved with at administration levels.

  • #TeachMeetNZ,
  • #EdBookNZ,
  • #EdBlogNZ,
  • #SOLOTaxonomy,
  • #FlatConnections
  • #NPSFab

E) Health & Well Being


Keep my eye on my FitBit Dial and aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. Keep walking to and from school.  At the moment I have recently shifted back home after having renovations and my steps are not where they were.

And you what will you keep as target practice for 2016?

Before collaboration teachers need to make connections

When Core Education put out the call for abstracts I already had some ideas because I was gathering information around the use of social media for educator learning at Newmarket School. You can read the abstract here. When Wendy heard that 4x staff members were working with me and wanted to go to Ulearn she thought she would like to travel and be with us. I reminded her about our unspoken policy that if you wanted to attend a conference then put in an abstract. So I suggested she co present with me and that is how this collaboration began. We had been debating connections versus collaboration and so that became the focus for the presentation.  ‘Before collaboration teachers need to make connections.’

I have researched the topic since the beginning of the year and wrote a blog post recently to clarify my thinking. The post was called Connected Educator and you can read that here.

Then for over a month I gathered all the images together and created the presentation. When I build a presentation I have the abstract beside me to ensure that the talk reflects the abstract.
Next over the past fortnight Wendy and I worked collaboratively using google docs to bring all information together. Some of the challenges I find when presenting with Wendy is she likes to fiddle with my slides. We had agreed that we would have the same number of slides and the same time to talk. However I know she does like to talk so it takes all my monitoring to ensure she stays focussed on the topic and talks to the slides. She thinks I am too controlling and not open to being flexible. Yet because I have been coordinating TeachMeetNZ and have prepared and presented at Eduignite many times I do have vast experience of presenting already. I work hard to ensure that the presentation flows and that I adhere to time. So in all it is a lot of fun. I know when the teachers come in and hear us discussing academically, sometimes in raised voices, they must wonder what is going on.

Finally on October the 9th I presented my inquiry of Connected Educator at Ulearn 2014.  Dr Wendy Kofoed my principal was my co presenter, however that did not really happen. as you can see from the Core Education video below  it appears that I was Wendy’s co-presenter.
This is the third time that we have ‘co-presented’ and each time Wendy does take over the session. I do not mind because I feel proud that she is willing to be disrupted and be disruptive. It is a lot of fun having disruptive conversations. I was delighted to hear Wendy finally put aside 21st century learning and speak about learning and finally put aside Modern Learning Environment and focus on the learning environment. George Couros stated that ‘Innovation often comes from conflict and disagreement, not in an adversarial way, but in a way that promotes divergent thinking. The idea is not to go with the idea of one person over another, but to actually create a better idea that is often in the middle of the two ideas shared.’ So as you can see and hear our ideas around connected educator has evolved and we have a much better definition of a connected educator.
Here is our presntation.
Some of our written feedback missed the notion of disruptive educator and thought that we spoke negatively about Modern Learning Environments. I am happy with that comment because it means we have planted a seed.
Here is the link to our padlet that we sent live a fortnight before the session to activate discussion.
I want to finish with a short paragraph describing how amazing these few days were.
Wendy and I were chosen to be live streamed so that was a first for me. We took down two teachers from Newmarket School who were also presenting. I was very proud of them. I attended the Core Education efellows 10 year anniversary dinner and caught up with other efellows. I danced at the annual Ulearn dinner. I met heaps of amazing New Zealand Educators. Then cheered when Core announced the efellows15 because three have presented with me on TeachMeetNZ.
Where to next. Well next year Ulearn will be in Auckland city and because this is our city I think it would be the most amazing thing if Newmarket School all attended Ulearn and yes, I will encourage even more staff to put in an abstract next year.

Wendy and I are involved in Connected Educator Month #CENZ14 and are in the process of collaboratively writing a digital bookLET. You can read about that here.
And to disrupt Wendy more so that Future Focussed Learning just becomes learning.