Posted in Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand., Mindlab reflections, Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga., Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness


“…the most common positions taken by Maori students, their families and their school principals were those which identified classroom caring and learning relationships…” (Savage et al., 2011.)

The relationships we develop with learners and their families is important. On this foundation, we can have high expectations of our learners. They are more likely to listen to and act upon feedback if a positive relationship has been formed.

Showing interest in a learner is a great way of establishing a relationship. Greeting them each lesson and interacting with them demonstrates that you care. Once a relationship is built, we know more about their learning preferences and can develop appropriate activities.

A settled and well-managed learning environment, activities that encourage learner-led activities and social learning are also important so that learners can share and learn from each other. (Savage et al. 2011, p. 186)


Some of the strategic goals for Whangaparaoa College for 2014-16 are:

  1. To ensure learners achieve their potential
  2. Further  improve positive relationships with whanau/community

The specific objectives addressing these include:

Objective 1: challenge and support all learners to give of their best and achieve their best (tutuki) in their learning and the other areas that they pursue.

In the classroom, this is reflected by expecting our learners to aim for excellence. We support this by encouraging and giving feedback/feedforward. Scaffolding is provided for less able learners. In Academic Counselling time, goals are set and learning is reflected on to plan next steps.

Objective 7: Work with Maori, Pasifika, Special Needs and GATE learners and their whanau to help them achieve their potential

We regularly keep in contact with the whanau. At the beginning of the year whanau are contacted by the Academic Cousellor in an introduction capacity. During the year whanau are invited in for a meeting if there are issues. Learner led conferences are conducted throughout the year.

“Maori whanau, leaders and teachers meet regularly to strengthen bi-cultural partner ships.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

Objective 9: create a welcoming and inclusive environment; evidenced by cultural harmony, respect, and a positive two-way relationship with whanau/community

“The school ethos of learning together in a supportive, respectful environment is helping students to engage in learning and to achieve. Maori students express very positive attitudes to school and learning. They are well represented in school leadership roles.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

Even though our learners are supported and valued, there is room for improvement. ERO (2013) suggested that we, “strengthen and improve the planning and evaluation of initiatives.” We also need to develop a school wide plan for Maori success so that our efforts are coordinated. They have suggested that we use The Measurable Gains Framework,  Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success and Tataiako to further promote teachers’ cultural responsiveness.

Learning Activities

In the English Language department, year 11 learners research Matariki to identify similarities and differences with their own cultures. In English we study some texts that are written/directed by Kiwis. Our juniors research Matariki and create presentations to demonstrate understanding.

We need to teach more Maori and Pasifika texts in our department as none are taught at senior level and the junior texts we teach are short stories or poetry. This is something that will be addressed for next year. It was awesome to see Taika Waititi’s film, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it is a film that I know my year 9 classes will love.


1.Savage, C., Hindle, R., Meyer, L., Hynds, A., Penetito, W., Sleeter, C. (2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), p.183 – 198

2. Ministry of Education. (2013). Whanagaparaoa College Education Review Report. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.

Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 3, Criterion 9

Our bicultural heritage

I always feel a bit concerned when it comes to meeting the requirements for this part of the Practising Teacher requirements but when I have a think about it, there are a few different ways that I do this.

1. Every Monday morning at our staff meetings we begin by say the following karakia. At first we were very timid and out of time with each other but after several weeks we are finally sounding confident and in sync with each other. It is a lovely ritual and start to the day.


2. I love to play music in class after I have introduced the lesson for the period. My students really enjoy it too as it creates a warm and relaxed atmosphere. At the start of the year I put on the Top 40 playlist on Spotify but we all became a bit bored with hearing the same songs all the time. Recently I found a NZ playlist of roots, dub and reggae. It has some relaxing and chilled music on it which doesn’t hype anyone up! Some of the lyrics use Te Reo, an example of this is Tahuri Mai Ra by House of Shem. 

3. At the ADE Institute that I attended recently we split into Geo groups. The kiwis sung a waiata for the Aussies which was well recieved. We enjoyed being able to share our culture with them.


Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Criterion 9, Personal TAI

Flicking the Switch

There has been a lot of research into the reasons why boys are not as motivated and don’t achieve as well as girls. Even though this research has taken place and advice has been offered, there does not seem to be much change. Is this because it is too hard for teachers to make the changes that they need? Is the change in progress but we have not heard the success stories? I can’t answer these questions in this blog post so I have decided to see what changes I can make with my own male learners. The TED video below explains some modern influences on boys and why it may be harder to enagage and motivate them.

What is important (and therefore worth spending time on), given where my students are at?
I would like to investigate strategies that will help engage and motivate my male learners. I would like to think that this will lead to better results.

What strategies (evidence based) are most likely to help my students learn this?
This article , from Teachthought, gave me some helpful information and also affirmed some of the strategies that I already employ. Many of the ideas are covered in Project Based Learning which I am a staunch advocate of and have been doing for the past couple of years. PBL results in an end product, allows boys to address unsolved problems or questions, can encourage competition and teamwork, and includes independent discovery and realisation. The strategies that I now need to try are including games and competition.

Teaching and Learning

Video Games

My year 10 class have just finished watching Little Miss Sunshine and I asked the class to create a sequence of events. I deliberately made the task quite general to allow for choice and creativity. I banned the use of Keynote/PowerPoint to encourage my learners to try a new app. Some used Pages and used the shapes to make their page more visually appealing, some used PicCollage, some used pen and paper. A group of 4 boys asked whether they could used Minecraft and I immediately said yes. All of them downloaded and signed into the same Minecraft game and were fully engaged. They talked excitedly about who would do what and I even overheard one say that it was fun. This is the result:

Games and Competition
My Level 1 Internal class had a class quiz on film techniques. The class split into teams and got 100 points per correct answer and lost 50 points for an incorrect answer. The class were engaged and seemed to enjoy the quiz. I also used it to manage behaviour by deducting points for a team that had their devices out when they weren’t supposed too – bonus!

Another competition that I run is a blog competition to encourage my students to take pride in their blogs.

What happened as a result of the teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching?

The result of incorporating video games and competition was higher engagement, motivation and enjoyment for my boys. However, it did take the boys a while to get into the blog competition because the girls seemed more motivated to make their blogs look pretty. I made it a boys only competition for one period and after this I have had more boys making an effort. These 3 activities were very successful and my goal is to continue to incorporate them into future learning opportunities. Any time that students say that learning is fun is always a good time for me as well as for them.


 Reading and Viewing

Posted in Criterion 12, Criterion 9

2 years down the BYOD Track


This blog is a reflection on what I have done with my BYOD classes over the last 2 years and how I have done it. It also details what I hope to focus on in the near future.

Where I’m at
Over the last 2 years I have realised that it is extremely important to have all my resources available on our LMS, the Ultranet. This means that I am prepared for every lesson because when a student has finished a unit of work they are able to begin the next unit regardless of whether the rest of the class are finished or not. It allows students to work at their own pace and allows for differentiation in the class.
Parents are also able to access these resources and help their child, if needed. I often have parents emailing me to say that their child will be away and asking what work they can do at home. I am able to point them to the Ultranet to access the work and let them know which slides of a PowerPoint that we are working on in the periods that their child will miss.
Students and parents are able to see a description of assignments and also when assignments are due with the Task Bar. The students really like the visual representation of the bar as it starts green and then nearer the time the work is due it turns red to warn them that time is nearly up.
Where to now?
I have heaps of resources on the Ultranet and some of my pages look like the ‘scroll of death’! My next plan will be to tidy up my pages and organise the information so it is easier to look at.

Learning Activities: SAMR
Where I’m at
At the beginning of our BYOD journey I was definitely in the Substitution phase of SAMR which was to be expected. I remember the first thing that I created for my year 9 class was a type on workbook for the study of the novel, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. I modified it slightly by including links to websites, and images that moved. Later on that year I moved into the Augmentation phase by having my class complete surveys on Survey Monkey. We also used Google Docs to collectively write an essay which was projected on the whiteboard so we could all see the essay being written. We have modified many tasks in our department, especially our Wide Reading tasks. Insteading of filling in a template, students can now use apps to create newspaper articles; use iMovie to make book or film trailers and digital essays. These are just a few of the activities and they are so much more engaging for them.
Project Based Learning and the use of 1:1devices has allowed Redefinition of tasks. My students now complete much more group work than I have ever encouraged before and they are developing 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity to name a few. The inclusion of a Driving Question gives a focus to the work that they are doing. Researching, creating a product, and presenting it to an audience has become seamless with the use of devices.This year I created an iBook for the study of The Cay for students to download and use as a textbook. They also completed an activity matrix based on Blooms taxonomy and Gardner’s intelligences.

Where to next?
I am enjoying teaching and learning the PBL way and I want to continue doing this and becoming more effective. I will continue to read relevant literature and trial different ideas. Of course I will also be reflecting on my journey via this blog also.

My role in the classroom.
Where I’m at
At the beginning of this year I ditched my desk because I wanted to become more of a roaming teacher. I felt that it was too easy when students were on task doing something for me to retreat behind my desk and get lost in the world of marking. It was quite a change and I found it took me a whole term to get used to, but I would not go back now. I still have times where I sit in my armchair and catch up on myself while my students are working but I do spend a lot more time interacting with my class. This has positive spin offs: I get to know my students better and build better relationships with them. As a result I have found that classroom management is not as big an issue as it has been in previous years. This is not just because I ditched the desk but also because the students are more engaged because of their devices.
I have never been that good at standing and delivering in front of the class for a long period of time so I am pleased that I am no longer expected to! I am much happier being the guide on the side so long may this philosophy continue to be fashionable! Having devices has enabled the students to be more creative and they now have the internet at their fingertips so I don’t have to be in charge of knowledge. Very liberating!

Where to from here?
I would love to have a go at team teaching. It would be great to knock out a wall in between 2 classrooms and have a sliding door that could be closed when appropriate. I would love to share the teaching of 2-3 classes to give the students the shared versatility and experience of 2 teachers. It would also be great to have funky chairs and tables, bean bags and ottomans to create a modern learning environment for our students. It would be interesting to see the impact on the students and ourselves as teachers.

Student Work
What sort of ‘artefacts’ are my students producing in their learning?
At the beginning of 2012 my students were producing typed essays and the ocassional Keynote to showcase their work. More recently my students have been creating their own books using Book Creator; films using iMovies; presentations using Keynote and have reflected on their learning using Blogs. They have created posters using Phoster or Piccollage; made Educreations presentations to teach an aspect of the work studied and created word clouds using, you guessed it, Wordcloud!
It is fantastic to have so many apps and websites to create and showcase work!

After attending a conference last year called Making it Mobile, I learnt about creating a Blooms/Gardners Matrix of activities for students to complete as part of the unit of work. This matrix is completed in small groups and each activity is assigned a point value with the highest points awarded to the higher level thinking activities. Students are given a due date and then are able to choose which activities to complete and they can work at their own pace as long as they complete a certain amount of points. On the matrix I added the apps or websites they could use to complete each activity. The work is then collated and presented via a choice of apps such as Keynote/PowerPoint, BookCreator or their blog.
I don’t have students completing matrices for every unit of work as this would be boring but I have included them in 2 units this year.

Student Collaboration.
I am an enthusiastic advocate for collaboration so my students collaborate in most units of work. This has the benefit of allowing them to share ideas and brainstorm together. They then learn valuable skills such as conflict resolution and working effectively with others. I often get them to reflect on how well their group is working together on their blogs so then I am able to find out if anyone is not pulling their weight and help the group to deal with it. Some students don’t like working in groups so they can work in a pair or by themselves. I think it is important to cater for those who like to work alone.

Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.
How are my students reflecting on their learning, level of thinking and setting goals when they are working independently?
As part of one matrix I created I included a link to the Edutopia website which had a quiz on learning styles. The students completed the quiz and then had to explain which of the learning styles best reflected them and explain why they believed that. The students really enjoyed finding this out.
I found some great reflection questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy from Peter Pappas so 2-3 times during a unit of work I get my students to answer some of these questions on their blogs. This gives me an insight into how they are finding the work and where they are up to.

Term 4.
This term I plan to trial Genius Time. This idea originated at the Google headquarters where it was called 20% time. The employees are given 20% of their work time to research something that they are interested in. Many schools have adopted this idea and it is called a variety of things such as Passion Hour or Genius Hour. Because my students will be doing it for the last 2-3 weeks of school I have chosen to call it Genius Time.
The plan is to introduce the idea and show some examples and then have students choose something to research. They will present their research to the class at the end of the term and we will have a shared lunch to celebrate their work. The students can choose to present their work using Book Creator, their blog, iMovie or Keynote.



Posted in Criterion 8, Criterion 9

So far, so good!

The PBL unit that I am facillitating with my year 12 class in our study of Brave New World is progressing very well. Each period I am experiencing extreme satisfaction and warm fuzzy feelings in my tummy because of what I am seeing.

The highlights so far include:
1. My weakest student is engaged and on task. He is creating a theme based wordfind and has recorded notes on at least 5 themes in the novel. Previously this year I have had to cajole him into doing any work. Now he is self motivated and enjoying what he is doing.
2. In depth analysis of the characters in the novel. I sat and read what some of my kids had written about the main characters and, compared to last year, it is far more detailed and includes insight into why each character behaves the way they do. Magic!
3. The students are enjoying what they are doing. I asked a group what they thought of PBL and they said they really liked being able to work independently at their own pace. They like the choice that they are given on what to do and when to do it.

There were a couple of negative comments: one was about not really understanding the novel and the other was about there being so much to write about in this novel that they didn’t know where to start!

I am really pleased with how this unit is going and believe that the risk I have taken is totally worth it.


Posted in Criterion 7, Criterion 9

Mr T: an example of the iPad engaging a lost student.

A young man who is repeating year 9 appeared in my English class earlier this term. Mr T had been removed from his previous English class for various reasons. He usually wears his uniform in a scruffy manner and pretty much every lesson I have to ask him to remove the stretcher earing he persists in wearing. Last time the stretcher was part of a biro pen because all other earings have been confiscated!
Anyway, he came to my class not having achieved anything in year 9 last year or so far this year. Buying an iPad was a financial challenge for his family so the school agreed to lend him one.
The first topic he embarked on with our class was a profile of a famous person. Mr T engaged with this topic but worked very slowly. He did not hand in the work on the due date so I had to give him a Not Achieved. I was disappointed but looked at the progress that he had made and realised that we had to take baby steps. Mr T has seated himself with a student who was doing the same famous person which was helpful. The student he sits with is a bright young man who works at merit level, a positive influence on Mr T.
When it came to delivering a speech I did not expect too much and predicted that he would end up with another NA, however, I was pleasantly surprised! Mr T gave a good speech about his famous person which had plenty of detail, images of the person and he spoke in a clear, confident voice and made eye contact with the audience. He received an Achieved for his efforts. As his speech was based on the written profile, I can now change his profile grade to an Achieved. 
Mr T has not suddenly become a star student but he is doing well. Using an iPad has increased his level of engagement and interest.
Posted in Criterion 9

Emerging Differences


Several differences are emerging between the classes I teach where some students have 1:1 devices and the year 9 class where all students have devices. One of these differences is the attitude of the students towards their learning, 
My year 9 English class are encouraged to be responsible and independent learners. The tasks that we have created for them support this expectation. For example, we created a task where the students have to research several famous people and complete activities such as a fishbone diagram, an acrostic poem, and an imagined interview with one of their famous people. Once the task was explained and questions answered the class were quite happy to work on these tasks in groups. I wandered around the class offering help or explanation but was largely superfluous.
In contrast, my year 12 English class are studying the setting in Brave New World and were given a set of tasks one of which was to create a poster in pairs which listed 5 of the laws in the New World State. I explained the task, gave a chapter reference and wrote key words on the board. Plenty of help I thought. But still I had a couple of students who wanted to know exactly what to write on their poster. Their expectation was that I would spoon feed them.
I am finding that this is a common ocurrence and difference between the class with 1:1 devices and the classes without. The good news is that as the school becomes fully 1:1 we will be able to create and expect a culture of independent learning. Because of this we will be able to differentiate more easily and naturally. This is already happening with my year 9 class. I suppose that we will have to recognise the differences and work with them until this happens. I won’t be spoonfeeding my other classes but I will try not to get too frustrated with their pre 1:1 attitudes.
Posted in Criterion 9



I am teaching Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to my year 12 English class for the first time this year. I read it in the holidays and absolutely loved it. We did not have a class set of the novel but I knew that it was available free as an online text so I asked my class who would be willing to download a copy and read it at home. Not all of them BYOD so I said that I would read it in class and project it onto the whiteboard for them to follow along. Only 3 of them were willing to do this which I was quite shocked at. We expect our students to be digital natives and to leap at the chance to use technology but often this expectation is a misconception.

I asked my HOD whether there was money in the budget to buy a class set of texts and was pleasantly surprised when she answered affirmatively. Less than a week later I had a class set.
We have been reading the text for close to 2 weeks now and the students are finding it difficult, even when I hand out ‘soma’ (boiled sweets) to help make their experience a happy one! We have also been watching the 1980 BBC television series which I found on YouTube. I wondered how I could help them understand the text and engage with it more and decided to create a Facebook page for them to engage in discussion about the text. I had heard that this approach has had positive results for other teachers. Students who were quiet in class and did not contribute to class discussion were able to have a voice in a less challenging environment.
I set the page up and emailed them all to invite them to ‘like’ the page. I did this 2 days ago and so far 4/28 have ‘liked’ the page. I have posted 2 discussion questions which no-one has responded to and a couple of links to helpful sites.
I want to help them but I’m not sure they want to be helped! Perhaps I need to be patient and give it more time. I’ll keep you posted.
Posted in Criterion 4, Criterion 9

First time using Google Docs


Today I tried a google docs task for the first time. I gave the students a theme essay question and then split them into groups, each group was responsible for writing a section of the essay. They used theme notes, The Cay tasks/activities document, the essay structure presentation and the book as resources.
I emailed everyone the Google Doc and after discussing the answers they began to type their answers live into the document.
The one student with a laptop was fine and his paragraph showed up as he was typing.
The students with ipads had trouble with their writing synchronising with the document. Some of what they wrote appeared but some didn’t. One student lost her work after trying to synchronise.
I started talking to Tony about this and he had a similar problem with his class.
The students enjoyed the task and the fact that they could work together.
Being able to see each others work.
I need to find an app which the students can use so that they can synchronise their work.
We will spend more time on this as we ran out of time today.