#EdConvo18 – have you had your say?

Education Conversation – Korero Matauranga – 2018 is out and everyone in New Zealand can have their say on what needs to change in education until 31 May 2018. Have you had your say yet? Actually, I’m always a bit skeptical about these kinds of things because the cynic in me says that my voice won’t change anything, but this time I’m going to put my yellow optimism hat on and hope that our voices are heard.


It was an interesting experience filling in the survey and even though I often think about things I’d like to change in education when the questions were in front of me I blanked. It took me some time to come up with some answers. Here goes:

1. If you were the boss of education in New Zealand, what would you do first?

The workload for teachers is way too high, so I would compensate teachers financially for all the work they do outside of class time. I am contracted to work 25 hours a week and I would easily work double that every week. 25 hours a week only covers the actual time I am in the classroom between 9am-3pm and doesn’t account for staff meetings, planning, classroom environment preparation and assessment; to name but a few of the things I am required to do outside the hours of 9 and 3.

2. What does a successful student of the future look like to you?

A successful student of the future gives things a go, is interested and curious, experiences an educational environment that is hands-on and technologically equipped, and learns from teachers who are knowledgable, fair and educationally challenging.

3. What will they need to know and be able to do?

  • Read, write and numerate to a high level.
  • Be able to converse confidently in Te Reo Maori.
  • Develop an ability to innovate and create in a range of contexts.
  • Develop an awareness of the global world and their place in it.

4. What things will need to be in place to make sure every learner is successful?

  • More support and funding for special needs in the classroom.
  • Access to a network that links all involved services in one place for children with access given to teachers, families and services to enhance communication and support given to teachers and families.
  • Funding provided for one teacher aide per classroom to increase teacher-time for all students.
  • Free access to early childhood education in rural communities and low socio-economic areas.
  • Changing the times in which children can start primary school to one cohort per year in the beginning of the year.
  • Free funding for prescription glasses for all children under the age of 18.
  • Increased funding for Reading Recovery in low socio-economic areas.
  • National phonics programme implemented as part of the New Zealand Curriculum.
  • Te Reo Maori language learning from Year 1 onwards.

Well, that’s my 2 cents!


Easter Fun for the Classroom

Every year our school holds an Easter pyjama party where the students are placed into three groups and visit each classroom during the day for different activities. The day ends with a treasure hunt for coloured sticks in the sandpit, with each coloured stick transferrable for a chocolate prize.

Last year I provided three activities in my room: Easter playdough, an Easter photo booth and a craft station where the children made paper baskets for their eggs. This year, however, I want to add a couple of different activities into the mix as these three activities didn’t quite seem to keep the kids occupied and challenged for long enough. All of the new activities I found on Pinterest.

Hatching Chicks

These look really cute and could be a perfect chance to get more art on the walls! The I Heart Crafty Things blog also provides a free printable template.


Cotton Bud Easter Egg Painting

This idea from the No Time For Flash Cards site seems fairly simple but still engaging and the outcome beautiful so it would make a perfect activity for the younger children in the groups. And (hopefully) it would be manageable for kids to do on their own while I’m monitoring the whole class.


There were so many great activities using hollow plastic egg containers that I wanted to try, particularly STEM activities that some children might have preferred to the arts & crafts activities, but I just couldn’t find bulk plastic eggs to buy at a reasonable cost. I might search them out for next year.

Build a House for the Easter Bunny

This activity from A Pinch of Kinder looks like it will be great for children who like to construct. I plan to put out a bunch of blocks, lego and duplo as well as some fake flowers and mini easter bunnies and chicks.

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Make a Balloon Tower

This activity from Growing a STEM Classroom looks so cool! Students have to create a free-standing balloon tower using balloons and masking tape. This could get interesting!

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I can’t wait to try some or all of these activities at our party!

Whānau Survey on Writing Practices in the Home

Yesterday we held our student-led IDP meetings at school and I took this opportunity to survey parents on their writing practices at home. I asked whānau the following questions: 

  1. Is your child a boy or a girl?
  2. How important do you believe learning to write is?
  3. What types of writing practices do you (whānau) engage in at home? 
  4. What writing does your child engage in at home?
  5. Does your child attempt to write letters of the alphabet at home?
  6. Does your child attempt to write words at home (such as sequences of letters/their name, etc)?
  7. Does your child ask you to write for him or her?
  8. Does your child have writing tools available to them to use at home? (I.e. pens, pencils, paper, etc)
  9. If you have writing tools available at home, what writing equipment does your child enjoy using?
  10. If you don’t have writing tools available at home, what are the reason/s why?

The survey was digital and took 1-2 minutes to complete. Overall there were 12 responses and 11 of those were from parents of boys.

What did I learn from this survey? 

Whānau value learning to write very highly. 

Every single caregiver felt that learning to write was either important or very important.

Tamariki see their whānau using digital technology to write most often. 

83% of whānau wrote on social media, followed by 75% texting and 68% writing emails. Of more traditional pen/paper writing whānau used this to write things to do with their child (such as permission slips, forms and homework) and to write shopping lists and notes.

All tamariki engaged in writing practices at home. 

Tamariki most often drew and scribbled at home (83%) followed by writing on a device (42%). This included entering search terms and putting information into a game or app.

Tamariki are experimenting with the alphabet and writing words in the home.

92% of children attempted to write letters of the alphabet and 84% attempted words at home.

Most tamariki ask their whānau to write for them at home. 

73% of children are interested in creating messages that can be read by others at home, since they ask their whānau to spell or write for them.

Every child had access to some sort of writing tools at home. 

100% of children could write at home if they chose because they had access to writing tools.

Most tamariki favoured the use of felt pens and pens when writing. 

Some children liked all the options, while others picked just one or two favourite items for writing. Most of the children, however, (68%) favoured felt pens followed by pens (58%) and pencils, chalk and paper were rated equally at 50% each.


Clearly, whānau value writing and support their children at home to explore and experiment with writing. But, writing has changed in the modern era and most writing that tamariki are seeing their whānau engage in at home is digital, and the tamariki themselves are engaging in forms of digital writing as well.

It was interesting to see that the children here freely engaged in mark making at home and that they understood the communicative value of writing and wanted their messages to be understood by others.

On reflection I wish that I had asked whānau what their children write about in the home as this would have given me a clue as to what types of things tamariki enjoy writing about so that I could use similar topics or contexts in the classroom.

One area that I can see could have the potential for enhancing writing development is the area of children asking their whānau to write for them. Kaiako could provide whānau with strategies for encouraging tamariki to write for themselves, using strategies that are used in the classroom.

Prime PD – The Bar Model Method

Today Whaea Hirangi, Whaea Kate, Matua Wayne and I attended a PD session on The Bar Model Method of PRIME.

The Bar Model Method

PRIME is a programme is based on the basis of concrete (materials), pictorial and abstract. The Bar Model Method is a problem-solving approach.

The use of the pictorial bar when solving maths word problems is a temporary bridge for children as they move from the concrete to the abstract. It helps children to visualise the problem as they work to solve it.

The PRIME programme focuses on developing children’s ability to solve word problems as these can be tricker than number sentences. PRIME also requires children to answer a word problem in a corresponding sentence.

PRIME Discussion


Formative assessment in PRIME – The practice parts of the course book in PRIME can be used for formative assessment. In the practice book there is a review section that could be used for formative assessment.

Summative assessment – you can use the review section of the PRIME practice books for summative assessment. You could also highlight the contents page of the PRIME practice book for assessment by highlighting the chapters that the children have successfully completed. You could then ask the students to self-assess whether they need a workshop on a certain area of PRIME.

PRIME Placement Testing – teachers have found that it can be too hard. Svend (who teaches) generally gives guidance to students on these tests as he just wants to see what children know.

Alignment with The New Zealand Curriculum

Level 1 & 2 are roughly aligned to the NZC Levels 1 & 2. There is a document online which outlines the alignment between PRIME and the NZC.

How long should it take to complete a book?

PRIME expects students to complete 2 books in a year – e.g. 1A and 1B in one year. However, Svend has not heard of a school in NZ who has ever achieved this, so it is unrealistic. National Standards (though we no longer use them) were set at completing one book a year.

Will PRIME go digital?

The programme currently is not going digital but they may offer a digital assessment component in the future.

PRIME K Big Books

These are brand new and teach mathematical problem-solving. $450 for a set.

Digital Fluency PL – February 2018

Today we were lucky enough to have Ngati Ruanui back again for more digital fluency professional learning with Marea and Vince.

First we learned about an online quiz game called Kahoot that is played on your phone or ipad. This was a fantastic tool. All of us logged in to play Marea’s quiz which was projected on the big screen and we played using our laptops. It was lots of fun and Kahoot gave us updates after each question to tell us who was in the lead. You could see how this programme could be used with students in school, although, it could be a little advanced for my new entrants as it would require a certain reading level to be able to access.

Marea then introduced us to Aurasma. This was a really cool programme that can be set up on your laptop and used by anyone with the app on their phone. Aurasma basically works like a QR code but instead of prompting you to open a video, for example, Aurasma just does it and after hovering over an image in your environment you instantly view a linked video. It was really fantastic technology and you could see how it could be used with children’s artwork for parents to view the creation process or by students presenting their inquiry work.

How will this PL impact my students: 

  • I will use Aurasma to create links, like QR codes, to artwork or other mahi/work created by my students.