Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reflecting on #educampdunners

Friday night saw me return to Dunedin just ahead of my house guests for #educampdunners and so the adventures began.   Dinner at Nellies was followed by a few attempts at caching, a tour of Mosgiel and a continuation of the ‘no rules photo competition’.  A reasonably early night was necessary to prepare for the big day!
Saturday dawned bright and clear and off we headed to Blend for a coffee on the way to Silverstream!  Arriving to balloons and the venue all set ready to go with coffee, tea, juice and sweet treats was fabulous.  A HUGE thank you to Silverstream school for hosting and to Andrea and Janine for their hard work. 
For me there is nothing as exciting as the bubble of educative chatter, and this was no exception.  I just love reconnecting with educators, meeting newbies and sharing the buzz of educamp.
This SMACKDOWN builds on the front of the 2013 SMACKDOWN presentation to continue to share and grow the current highlights, success, and challenges we are facing.   A really unique and serendipitous addition to this educamp was the ability to live stream in the #teachmeetnz with 6 educators from around New Zealand presenting a three minute snapshot of their current inquiry  or journey.  It was also serendipitous to connect virtually with educators around New Zealand involved in the  Festival of Education.  Indeed this was a HIGE weekend for education in NZ.
Sessions at educamp focused on blogging, connecting with other classes, authentic audiences, and sharing learning creations; personal learning journeys; collaborative teaching, modern learning practice and much, much more.
As 1.30 rolled round we reflected on the morning and agreed we were only beginning to scratch the surface of many areas, and agreed we need to carry on this learning and sharing.  Next educamp MAGIC is #educampcentralotago at Alexandra Primary School in Central Otago on 17th May.
Next educamp in Dunedin is likely to be 23rd August at John McGlashan College.
A large chunk of participants heading from #educampdunners to Topiary Tree Café where the conversations, socializing, learning and fun carried on well into the late afternoon.  What a MAGIC day!
The next challenge is to build on this, grow the network and share the learning as we work to improve outcomes for all learners.
Please check out the storify which captures the story of the day through a compilation of tweets!
We have also opened up the e-teach facebook group to allow educators to connect in this forum also.

One new idea to try is to start a shared presentation to share current reading that is informing our practice!  Watch this space…..

Friday, March 21, 2014

Heading to Christchurch for South Hui

Sitting on board flight NZ  bound for Christchurch with the proviso that there is thick fog in Christchurch expected to clear after 8am.  If not we are likely to return to Dunedin….

Well, here I am sitting, relaxing, anticipating a full-on two days with my team.  What an incredible experience we are about to have as we view all schools in the south and work collaboratively to best meet their needs.

As is typical of team south, we have a fun element in amongst the hard work.  Today at lunch we celebrate the inaugural ‘great southern dip-off’.  All team members are invited to present their favourite dip and dippers to be judged by us all.  As with a lot of things in life, looking forward to the event can be as much fun as the event itself.  This has certainly proved to be the case with a google doc sharing our intended creations and a twitter fest of ingredients and creations shared.  OH what fun this will be!

I fly back from Christchurch on Friday night hopefully arriving home before my guests.  This weekend is the fourth #educampdunners to be held at Silverstream School in Mosgiel.  With educators travelling to this educamp from Invercargill, Lawrence,  Queenstown, Wanaka, Oamaru, Timaru, and Christchurch it really is a gathering of passionate, committed educators.  I am always conscious of connecting and networking and growing our ‘e’ circles, and am delighted to see new educators signed up!  

It is never too late to sign up, so if you have an hour or two free on Saturday morning come over to Mosgiel and join the conversations.  Share your successes and challenges, connect and network with like-minded educators.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Literacy Update 19 March 2014

Kia ora tātou,
After the forecast Cyclone Lusi failed to wreak the predicted havoc, the stunning autumn weather has returned. I am sitting in glorious sunshine writing this update.

This week I want to take some time to reflect on and share my learning from a recent Pasifika hui.  I was privileged to be immersed in a Pasifika experience complete with an Ava Ceremony and the rich cultural experience of Polyfest.  We worked together in a myriad of ways, creating team banners, learning and practising vocabulary, songs and greetings. I have been increasingly thinking about cultural literacy and what it means to be culturally literate.

The opportunity to experience another culture by participating in their traditions and customs helped me to build my cultural literacy.
What opportunities have you had to experience other cultures and build your cultural literacy?
Pasifika Success as Pasifika in Aotearoa New Zealand is well worth checking out.  The infographic is a visual representation of the findings.   
I am sharing some of the quotes that caused me to reflect deeply:

“Literacy has been equated with freedom, economic development, and even civilization. Literacy comes with many different definitions, historical trends, and serious implications for individuals and societies all over the world.”(Wagner, 2010:161)

In New Zealand, literacy is usually understood as reading and writing. But for Pasifika, the kind of literacy that will bring success as Pasifika in Aotearoa New Zealand includes more than just reading and writing in English.”

“The definition of literacy as multi-modal is also increasingly accepted as encompassing spoken, printed, and digital literacies” (Flewitt, 2008, cited in Lawton, et al., 2012:105).

‘Cultural Literacy’ is a term coined by Eric Donald Hirsch in 1987, who proposed that being ‘culturally literate’ was equally as important as gaining mastery of the technical skills of reading and writing.

This immersion has not only given me a Pasifika heart, I am empowered with a touch of Pasifika literacy.  I am now anxious to build on this and grow my cultural literacy.  

I would love to hear of your Pasifika experiences, and how you are empowering your Pasifika learners to share their cultural capital and literacy within your classes.  
2014 Pacific Language Week programme:
Samoa Language Week: 25-31 May
Cook Islands Language Week: 4-10 August
Tonga Language Week: 1-7 September
Tuvalu Language Week: 29 September-5 October
Fiji Language Week: 6-12 October
Niue Language Week: 13-19 October
Tokelau Language Week: 26 October-1 November

New on the website:
Please check out this e-learning page, a recent addition to the reviewed resources section.  I will focus on a snapshot from this page over the coming weeks.  This week I draw your attention to Enhancing teaching and learning through the use of iPads   This snapshot describes how iPads can be used in junior numeracy and literacy programmes, and offers practical suggestions on how to manage this technology in classrooms.

Other sites to check out:
  • Best Learning Moments by Stephen Heppell is a wonderful summary of a very large number of surveys conducted over a number of years.  Check out the top ten identified best learning moments.  It should come as no surprise that active learning is right at the top, and I personally love that a little eccentricity made it to the top 10!

  • More on Student/Learner Agency by Nick Rate is a reflection on two resources well worth checking out to further your learning around agency, with the new word ‘agentic’ featuring!

  • Writing and Thinking Through the Student User's Guide Assignment This is a wonderful activity which sees the tutor complete the task she sets her learners in a very humorous way!  This is a great reminder to us to have fun, be creative and work on tasks that have great meaning, purpose and clarity!  

NZLA - the 37th New Zealand Literacy Association Conference. Register now at  www.nzla.org.nz
CLESOL- the 14th National Conference for Community Languages and ESOL. Register now at http://www.clesol.org.nz/

Ngā mihi nui

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pasifika Hui reflection...

All throughout the day today I have found myself humming the Pasifika tunes I learnt over the past two days.  I've also found myself mulling over why the hui made such a HUGE impact on me!  I thought I'd try and share some of my ideas as to why it was so successful for me, and reflect on the impact for future sessions...
  • The programme for the hui was shared with us well before the event. Allowing for those who need to know what is happening in advance, also allowing for us to share any special needs and considerations.  Do we always share our plans with those involved?
  • We were welcomed and greeted and clothed in team colour lavalava; Anticipation mounted as we were clothed, allowing for an immediate appreciation of another culture. Do we 'clothe' our learners in their experiences?
  • We were placed into teams allowing for a collective feeling and collegiality. Do we allow our learners to work in teams?
  • We were fully immersed with a traditional Ava Ceremony.  We actually experienced the ceremony, then were privileged to delve into meanings and rituals withint the ceremony.  Do we bring the REAL experience to our learners or take our learners to the REAL experience whenever possible?
  • We learnt and sang new songs. With words up, with opportunity to practice our pronunciation, with the benefit of harmony from those with angel voice boxes.  Do we support our learners, scaffold and share the learning?
  • We were given time in our team to create a banner to represent our interpretation of a Pasifika term.  Ours was feoaki - meaning relationship and relationship building.  We were given a multitude of equipment and time to share the collective strengths, talents, and abilities of the team.  Interestingly, no-one completed the task within the allocated time, but we all continued and completed over the lunch break!  What does this tell us about owner choice over task, completion time?
  • We were able to hear the stories of educators from across the Pasifika nations, leading Pasifika academics who are adding to the research that is shaping our educative pathways.  How often do we ensure we involve experts in our learning journeys?
  • Opportunities to learn and practice new vocabulary was in a supportive, fun way.  We were given time to practice then encourage to share.  Do we allow our learners time before expecting them to share, perform?
  • We were privileged to have the entire morning session without devices. Do we ensure there is time for 'powering down' and relying on face to face?
  • We had choice over our selection of 'special interest'.  Small group time was allocated for us to delve deeper into an area of interest.  This was so well resourced with resources shared across all of the areas.  Do we always include elements of choice and make learning rewindable?
  • We reflected on the day individually and as a group.  Do we always allow time for multiple ways of reflecting? 
  • We shared meals together.  Do we always try to include opportunities for sitting around a table to share - even if it is just a drink and snack, to allow for socialising?
  • We were intrigued about elements of day two with the "Amazing Race" Countdown! Do we include elements of surprise and competition when suitable?
  • Day two was full immersion in the incredible celebration of Polyfest 2014.  Included in this was the Amazing Race with challenges, interviews to record, permissions to gather, photos to take, stages to visit.  Not only did this focus us, it allows us to gain a wide range of snapshots and views of the day from student, to performer, to teacher, parent, stallholder, police, politician... With eight teams out gathering snapshots, a HUGE  amount of footage was gained in a short space of time.  Do we allow educators, team members to gather evidence OFTEN?
  • We gathered back together at the conclusion of the two days to share our individual and group reflections and offer our appreciations to the amazing team of Ruta, Manu, Togi, Shannon, Anthony and Teanau. Do we always try to allow for an open sharing and reflection on experiences?
Many of these points I have made I am sure are intrinsic to our practice.  However I think we need to constantly reflect on ways to connect with, engage, and inspire our learners.  To our leaders for the two days Ruta, Manu, Togi, Shannon, Anthony and Teanau,     faafetai tele lava.  From my heart and my mind, thank you for the inspiration, the immersion, the celebration, the pure MAGIC of the two days!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The day of the Amazing Race has arrived…

Up bright and early, down for breakfast, luggage stored, picnic lunches collected, group photos taken and onto the bus bound for the ASB Polyfest!  
A very special start to the day was birthday greetings for Tania! 

Today we are using the hashtag #corepolyfest.  The laughter, singing and chanting on the bus ride out to the venue is AWESOME!  Arriving at the venue I begin to get an idea of the immensity of this event?  

I am using my programme to share the background of the festival with you!

This is the 39th year of this event, with the theme “Care for our seas and our lands, so that the safety of our homes, both present and past endures forever.”
Today’s event has its origin in 1973, the vision of student’s Michael Rollo and Mata Roele, who along other students, and staff who wished to share the student’s pride in their culture and identity as well as bringing students together across the cultures.   This developed into an annual event held around schools until 1977 when Mangere College hosted the event and it was split into competitive and non-competitive sections.  By 1981 there were 26 school groups and 2 stages.  By 1995 it moved to the Manukau veledrome with stage areas for the different cultures and to cater for public visiting and parking. This year more than 10,000 students perform across 6 stages.
The festival has a strong spiritual life force, te Mauri.  “Take only what you need, share the rest, respect the limits, protect the basis of wealth.  Pass onto Mokopuna a world at least as good as we have received.”
This 39th festival began with the raising of the flags at 7am on Wednesday the 12th of March and concludes on Saturday the 15th
The stages are:
Maori Stage
Cook Islands Stage 
 Diversity Stage
 Niue Stage
Samoan Stage
Tongan Stage

So, off the bus we got! In our teams, armed with our amazing race challenge we set off to explore, listen, look, feel, and gather snapshots of the day through interviewing students, performers, teachers, parents, stall holders and audience.  We even managed to record in an interview with members of the police and a politician! What an incredible way for us to all benefit from the gathered snapshots.  As well as this we had challenges to perform, tasks to complete, photos to take and chants to perform!  What an incredible experience.  In our teams we were privileged to work together, share, learn and grow together!  We were able to visit all the stages, sample the foods, and soak up the atmosphere. There was also time for retail therapy.  Clearly identifiable in our team lavalava, we were able to connect with CORE fanau throughout the venue!

As I reflect on the term Pasifika, I am increasingly perplexed at the ‘collective’ term, which has in my mind, blended or clumped the cultures together as opposed to celebrating the language and identity of each culture.  I now feel empowered to ask and identify the journey of the learner and encourage them to share their story!  The richness and diversity of today’s polyfest has truly shown some of the similarities, and identified some of the unique and very, very special difference!

All too soon it was time to gather at the gate and await the bus.  What an exhausted, weary, sun soaked, culturally rich bunch we are!  The bus trip back to base was a much quieter affair as we settled in, relaxed and reflected on the day.   Back in the Kauri room we had the privilege of ‘trying’ to verbalise our experience in our poroporaki, and recording it in our written reflection on the day.  It was a very emotional thank you and farewell to our stunning hosts for the past two days!
To CORE Education, for the embracing of our cultures, for the opportunities, the experiences, and the privileges, a HUGE thank you!
To Ruta, Manu, Togi, Shannon, Anthony and Teanau… Talofa lava, from my heart and mind, thank you for an unforgettable experience.  I am a far richer person today, than the one who arrived on Wednesday and I am forever grateful to you all!  My challenge to myself now, is to grow my learning. I must commit to use my experiences and grow them.