Thursday, May 29, 2014

Update 28 May 2014 - Tai Tokerau Literacy Association Seminar

Kia ora tātou,

As we enter week four we are hit by weather extremes.  Yesterday morning I was swimming in the ocean in the far north as snow was falling in the deep south.  Our beautiful little country sure is a land of extremes.  

As we reflect on the inquiries shared by our community members we are aware of the diversity and indeed compatibility in our challenges.  What can you learn from, or add to, these learning journeys?  

Inquiry learning:
This week I am sharing Marcia’s question:
What innovative resources are there available that will appeal to Year 5-6 students with a huge range of reading ability?
I am sure Marcia would love to hear your ideas and I am sure others will benefit from the discussion too.

Tai Tokerau Literacy Association
On Saturday morning I joined Catriona Pene in the far north and we had the privilege of joining a hall packed full of educators at Kamo Primary School for the TTLA 2014  Seminar.  
The theme for the conference was “Reaching out through Literacy”.  

The opening keynote was Marcus Akuhata-Brown, who alternately had us speechless, laughing or in tears.  He opened his session by sharing the power of connecting your head, your heart and your puku.  Marcus used a very powerful metaphor; likening connecting with only your head, your heart or your puku, to clapping with only one hand; when you connect with your head and your heart you really can clap.
Using the story of a scientific experiment with fleas Marcus spoke of our role in empowering all learners to identify, strive for, and realise their passion and potential. His incredibly powerful message of lifting the glass lids of low expectation and achievement touched us all.  He spoke of the transformative power of reaching out and connecting with our learners, taking off the glass lids and encouraging them to reach their full potential.
This is a very real challenge for us all, as we work with our literacy learners daily.  
How can we reach out and connect with our learners; take of the invisible glass lids, replacing them with positive encouragement, high expectation, intuitive goal setting and success!

The sessions in between were jam-packed full of rich literacy learning and discussions.
  • Simone Gentil shared her journey with adventure learning, sparking curiosity and enable personalisation of learning. Her blog  is well worth checking out.  
  • Catriona Pene facilitated a session on building a Professional Learning Network for Literacy, exploring some ways of using social media to connect with educators f2f, locally, nationally and in global networks.  
  • Tania Coutts facilitated a session on learning and teaching in a collaborative Google world, exploring opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate and create.  
  • I facilitated a session exploring digital literacies, looking at the skills and competencies required to become digitally literate and proficient.
  • Cathie Johnson from NZCER led a session on realising the potential of online tools to improve teaching and learning. We will feature this in an upcoming update, exploring ways to make the most of a number of assessment tools to support your literacy programmes.
  • Karen Hinge shared her journey with Twitter opening up the world of QR codes, google forms, #edchatnz, #kidsedchatnz, #booktalks, and  #literacyshed.

The closing keynotes were Dorothy and Russell Burt from Pt England School who challenged us with the story of their school’s learners who have the world at their fingertips and asked us “How do we bring the world to people who can’t easily get to the world, especially our priority learners, in a way that is life changing?”
Dorothy and Russell have worked with their community to build a connected learning network that reaches far beyond the school grounds. Again the main message was the importance of collaboration, connection and community. You can visit the Manaiakalani School sites here.

“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other.   Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”  Robert John Meehan

Have you joined your local literacy association? When is your local conference?
Can you connect and share face to face with educators in your area?

Anne’s Latest Literacy Links and Look ups…

  • 11 Free  Reading Websites for Kids “Free resources are always a teacher’s dream, but when it comes to free sites to use during reading instruction the choices can be few and far between.  Whether you are looking for a site to use during the Daily 5’s “Listen to Reading” time or want to provide students with a fun early-finisher activity, the sites below are ideal.  Designed for elementary age students, these reading sites are both free and kid-friendly.
  • The Future of Publishing I wonder what your learners could create after viewing this?


NZLA - the 37th New Zealand Literacy Association Conference. Register now.
CLESOL - the 14th National Conference for Community Languages and ESOL. Register now.
Ngā mihi nui
Anne Kenneally
Literacy Online Facilitator
CORE Education

To post to the list email:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Update 21 May 2014 - Science Literacy

Kia ora tātou,

Week three already!  What have you tried this term that is new in your literacy programme?  What successes and challenges have you had that you could share?

Thanks to Angela, Tina, Leone, Marcia and Terrianne for taking the time to share their inquiries with us. You can fill out the form and check responses here.  Lets see how we can collaborate and share our successes and challenges!  As we reflect on our wonderings and our inquiry, what goals do we set for this term?

Science Literacy
This week I had the privilege of talking with Dr Kate Rice, National Coordinator of Science Education, based at the University of Otago.  

What is scientific literacy?
Scientific Literacy is described in the PISA report as “the capacity to use scientific knowledge to identify questions and to draw evidence based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world and the changes made to it by human activity.”
Why is scientific literacy important?
It is the basis of science in daily life.  If you are going to make decisions you need to understand and be scientifically literate to make decisions about issues in the world.   Whether or not to buy organic food, is it healthier for you? Scientific literacy enables us to make everyday decisions as well as thoughts and actions about larger local and worldwide issues, using scientific evidence rather than assumptions and emotive ideas.
How do we develop and nurture scientific literacy?
Recognise where to start, what is evidence, what is data, how to use this to make inferences and identify patterns and trends.  Starting really simple, looking at the evidence and re-thinking our ideas.  Teachers and students need to work collaboratively to question and develop a passion and an inquisitiveness about things in the world around them, little as well as HUGE.  It can start as simply as a nature table and a magnifying glass in the classroom. Annotated diagrams are a rich way for children to record their observations, reasonings or suggestions, and enable learners to more easily document their ideas than using formal descriptions and investigative write-ups. The Science exemplars online are a wonderful resource.
What resources support scientific literacy?
A nature table and magnifying glass are a great start.  No special scientific equipment is needed.   Journal stories are a rich source of diagrams and tables to unpack and discuss, allowing children to surface their assumptions and discuss their ideas.  The Connected series of journals are also a rich resource.  
Please take time to check out the science exemplars.
You can use these with students to show progress, to model what it might look like, to identify the next steps for student learning and our teaching.  They show examples of summarising data as tables and graphs, as well as how things work.

An example of the power of developing scientific literacy
An example of the power of developing scientific literacy and the way it can build children’s confidence comes from Thornbury School.  As part of the ALL support for a group of six students who were reluctant readers and writers, science was chosen as a focus as all the students were interested in exploring and finding out about things.  The first approach was to get these students to actually articulate what they were noticing in an investigation, to talk about what they saw happening, where the key aspect was to get them to make statements rather than just say words like “shiny” “bubbles”, to there are lots of bubbles coming from the powder”.  The next step was getting the children to draw what they saw and label the parts which then progressed them writing their statements next to the diagrams. From there the children were supported to use these ideas to write a conclusion. Over time the children all began to write and produce written work regularly especially where it was around a science activity. Writing development continued to progress with these children.  

A HUGE thank you to Kate for a wonderful insight into Scientific Literacy.  I look forward to rich discussion around this post.  This week we are sharing Science links to support your programmes.  Maybe you can add links to these from your blogs, or websites.

Science Links

  • Science: a blended e-learning approach A group developed for primary school teachers and students to share ideas, resources and strategies that motivate interest and participation in science, and making science relevant to everyday living.
  • National Geographic Kids Play games, watch videos, learn about animals, and places, and get fun facts on the National Geographic Kids website.
  • Wonderopolis A wonder a day
  • Science Kids  - Fun science and technology for kids.
  • MythBusters is a science entertainment television program. Lots of videos to spark discussion.
  • The Exploratorium is a twenty-first-century learning laboratory, an eye-opening, always-changing, playful place to explore and tinker.
  • WickEd science interactives - engaging curriculum-based learning activities in English and te reo Māori. The activities have a literacy, numeracy or ESOL focus, and students can use the activities in a independent or in a facilitated way.


NZLA - the 37th New Zealand Literacy Association Conference. Register now.
CLESOL - the 14th National Conference for Community Languages and ESOL. Register now.
Ngā mihi nui
Anne Kenneally
Literacy Online Facilitator
CORE Education
To post to the list email:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Literacy Update 14 May 2014 - Guest blog post by Jane Carroll

Kia ora tātou,

Well here we are in week two of this short term already.  

This week I am delighted to introduce Jane Carroll with a guest blog post. Jane has more than twenty years of experience as a Speech-Language Therapist, working as part of the Early Intervention Team and School Focus Teams in the Ministry of Education and, for the last five years, in private practice. She is currently conducting research in Oral Language and Literacy as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Kate Nation: Learning to read and learning to comprehend: Insights from poor comprehenders.
Recently some of us were fortunate to be able to listen to Kate Nation giving lectures in the Psychology Department at the University of Otago. Kate Nation is a Professor in Experimental Psychology at Oxford and a Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford. Kate has been at the University of Canterbury as an Erskine Fellow.
Kate began her talk with the nature of reading. She explained that reading is multi-faceted and therefore very difficult to tease out and research components in a very pure sense.
In particular, she highlighted that English:
·      is an alphabetic language but doesn’t have consistent 1:1 letter sound correlation
·  has parts of speech, for example, past tense, that alter both the visual and language structure
·      has metaphorical language, where the reader is required to interpret the writer’s intent
·      expects us to have the ability to maintain different parts of the story in your head.
There was discussion about the view of reading where decoding and comprehension are both necessary and neither alone are sufficient. Within these two components there is overwhelming research support that progress in reading comprehension is dependent on the ability to read words and sentences both accurately and fluently. There is also a high correlation between reading comprehension and listening comprehension in adults.
Most children who are poor comprehenders are also poor decoders however those who are just poor at comprehension are estimated to be about 10% of the population and tend to go unnoticed in many classrooms.
A number of experiments have been carried out with children who have been identified as just having comprehension difficulties (that is, have typical developing decoding skills) that have been matched with children whose reading is developing typically in both decoding and comprehension. These experiments try and answer the question “Is it memory or language that is the contributing factor for poor comprehension?” This in itself is extremely difficult due to the nature and complexity of comprehension.
The evidence is pointing towards more specific language difficulties rather than generalized memory showing that language issues predate comprehension difficulties. Children show slower processing speeds even when they get the answer correct and in experiment show that they make more errors related to now outdated information. That is, they find it more difficult to sift out redundant information.
A number of studies have shown that poor comprehenders tend to have difficulties with spoken language processing such as vocabulary, sentence comprehension, morphological relationships, narrative production, making inferences and listening comprehension.
Poor comprehenders do exhibit problems with working memory but only in verbal not nonverbal domain.
It is known that reading is a major determiner of vocabulary growth but poor comprehenders read less leading to slower vocab growth.
So at the end of the session I was left with this is what the research shows but what are the implications for the classroom? How do teachers assess children’s  reading comprehension? Is it the 5 questions after a running record or do teachers use other tools? Do teachers use narratives or dynamic assessments to really go deeply into the understanding? If teachers do, how do they record the support or prompting levels required for the child to be successful?
Further reading:
Raising awareness of Specific Language Impairments – lots of really informative video clips from all different perspectives
Oral and written interventions that are based on research have been shown to be effective
Jane Carroll

Jane Carroll - Developing Oral Language Skills - Jane Carroll, Speech language therapist and PhD candidate discusses developing the oral language skills of those just beginning school. Jane outlines a project to help teachers share a common language of learning with their students about phonological awareness and emergent literacy.

Pam Becker - Phonological awareness and classroom based research - Classroom teacher Pam Becker worked with Jane Carroll, as part of research into the development of phonological awareness. Pam talks about the steps she took to improve student outcomes in their oral language development and the impact this had on her practice and her students.

Latest Literacy Links and Look ups…


NZLA - the 37th New Zealand Literacy Association Conference. Register now.
CLESOL - the 14th National Conference for Community Languages and ESOL. Register now.
Ngā mihi nui
Anne Kenneally
Literacy Online Facilitator
CORE Education

To post to the list email:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Great Ocean Road Tour

Woohoo, Ben is our tour guide and he's hilarious! 
A bit of the history of Melbourne to start us off!
Starting in 1788... Setting up a colony with 13 ships... Colonial authorities just took the land without any recognition to the indigenous people.  One man traded the land that is known as Melbourne, Mr Batman! Melbourne was almost called Batmania.... But instead it is named after a Mr Melbourne... 
Travelling over the Melbourne bridge... Learning the history of the Melbourne bridge, which is the only major link from western suburbs into Melbourne is over the bridge. 

Driving through the western suburbs now.... Next hour is motorway driving... Driving through the flat western plains....
First stop is about 9.15 for morning tea at the beach! Then onto Memorial arch! Kennett river has a koala population and we are hoping to see some in the wild, then along the road to Apollo bay!
We leave this area and head through the ranges. We have a rainforest walk, then onto the shipwreck coast and the twelve apostles.
Then to cap it of we have a three hour journey back into Melbourne, stopping at Colac for dinner on the way home! Well  - what an exciting day we have in store!  

Melbourne's population is 4.5 million. Geelong is the second largest city with just over 200,000 people. It is cheaper to live in Geelong with just one hour travel into Melbourne. Geelong did have a population of over 500,000 in the gold rush era. 
The Geelong cats are the well known AFL team. 

Woohoo... We are on the great ocean road now, although it is inland for the first 20minutes. We have just passed Torquay, which is the surfing capital of the world
We are stopping at Urquart bluff for morning tea. Rip curl, billabong and major surf brands all started here years ago. 

We are heading into Anglesea, once we travel through it we will get our first glimpse of what the great ocean road is all about.
A morning tea stop at Urquart Bay was fab. Got to meet all 25 peeps on our tour... They are from all around the world! And we are now all chatting and sharing our stories. 
We stopped for a cool view of the pole house, one of only two houses to survive Ash Wednesday bush fires in the area.  We stopped at the Memorial arch - stunning photo opportunities. 
This road was build between 1919 and 1932! Copying the Californian pacific highway idea. World War One interrupted the building process. 3000 ex serviceman had the job of building the road and it was all built by hand. No modern machinery was used, just a little dynamite in places. The men lived in tent cities along the roadside. Just through the site of the infamous Pier to pub open water swim, in the town of Lorne. 
Next stop Kennett River - koalas in the wild.... Woohoo! Southern koalas! So many beautiful birds too - landing all over people with food! Crimson rosellas, and king parrots! 

Apollo bay for lunch!
Whales come in here for breeding time.  Safer to give birth in the calmer waters in Apollo bay! Tourism and commercial fishing are the main industries here now! 
Pizza for lunch!  "The lot" pizza! YUM! Topped off with a "bean and drunk" latte! Back on the bus heading for the apostles.... Next stop though, a rain forest walk....
WOW gorgeous rainforest walk at Mait's rest! STUNNING trees with twisting roots and hollow bases - great for photo shots! 

Off further inland, heading for the  twelve apostles! Uber excited about the helicopter ride!  

It is not often I am speechless..... Or overwhelmed but this is the case today! The helicopter trip over the coastline was beyond anything I could ever have imagined.  I have seen them many times on TV and in brochures but I was completely overwhelmed by the majesty and beauty! 

We have stunning photos  and video clips and I just  can't wait to see the recording of our flight! From there we stopped for stunning views along the shipwreck coastline and arrived at London Bridge just at the perfect time for golden hour photos!

This day has been MAGIC from wo to go.  Now at 6pm we are heading to the town of Colac for our dinner stop then a further two hours back into the heart of Melbourne City! 
YUM just ordered udon seafood satay - can't wait to taste it! Thirsty and hungry after a day out in the ocean air! 
Two hour drive back to our hotel!
Thanks to Ben our tour guide for a truly MAGICAL day!