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A colleague & I did some research some years back by analysing examiners' comments on NCEA subjects.  We focussed on why students fail in NCEA? and How students get to Excellence in NCEA.
We had a hunch that failure was to do with literacy - subject vocabulary, subject reading materials and subject writing requirements. We also had a hunch that from our experiences with classroom teaching, NCEA marking and working with teachers, that students attain Excellence or Scholarship through demonstrating the quality of their thinking and especially using the Extended Abstract category of the SOLO taxonomy. Analysis of the examiners' reports proved that our hunches were correct.
2016 examiner's reports can be seen here. The examiners descriptively list what students commonly did to be awarded Achieved, Not Achieved, Merit and Excellence. These lists are very helpful, especially for Beginning Teachers and the findings within the lists concur with our hunches of 8 years ago.

Recent posts


In conversation with a beginning teacher recently, the question of pedagogy came up.
What is pedagogy?
The Oxford dictionary defines pedagogy as" The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept."
Teaching as inquiry is an important aspect of effective pedagogyThe NZ Curriculum defines pedagogy as: "Teacher actions promoting student learning"There is also culturally responsive pedagogy. Ako underpins the Practising Teacher Criteria and is an important component of culturally responsive teaching and learning.  A good way to check if you are including effective pedagogy in your lesson plans & units of work is to use these sentence starters.
I create a supportive learning environment by...........
I encourage reflective thought and action by.............
I enhance the relevance of new learning by..............
I facilitate shared learning by..................
I make connections to prior learning and experience by................

Student Engagement

This video gives much to think about

Teaching as Inquiry

Teaching as Inquiry is criteria 12 of the Practising Teacher Criteria which all teachers, including provisionally certificated teachers, need to provide evidence both for appraisal & certification. For this criteria teachers are required to use critical inquiry to critically examine their own beliefs, including cultural beliefs, and how they impact on their professional practice and the achievement of ākonga (learners).

I found this set of descriptors of good practice for teaching as inquiry in an article "Leading inquiry at teacher level" by Mike Fowler.

The inquiry is based on a group of students you teach which could be selected students in one class, a whole class or students from different classes.You look for evidence of what is happening for these student in the classroom by asking these questions:Why are students in my class struggling with....?What are the challenges students are facing in this topic, course?How confident are these students about this part of the …

Focus on learning

John Hattie, currently co-chairing aScience of Learning Centre,  stated in an interview that "we need to bring back ‘learning’ as our focus (more than ‘teaching)’.  What does it mean to learn, which learning strategies are optimal (when, how, and where), how do we assess and evaluate how a student learns (wow, we have so many measures of achievement but how many measures of learning do we have!), and how do new advances in the science of learning help make the difference."

Yesterday 2 engineering students from University of Auckland spent the day showing students how to work with robots - how to code them, how to test the code on the maze, and how to improve the code so the robot could get through the maze. I observed them working with a Year 10 class. Knowing nothing about using robots in education, I was astonished to see what a difference it made to the students' learning. Instead of working on individual devices they naturally collaborated in groups and when there was…

Learners leading learning

For our PCT professional learning yesterday we looked at the reading "Learners in the Driving Seat"
by Chris Watkins. Watkins begins the reading with asking the students to point their index finger to the ceiling then to point to who is responsible for their learning. Most will point to the teacher.
This is certainly the case with the 11 beginning teachers that I am currently working with ie that they take responsibility for the students' learning but as Watkins points out "research demonstrates that when students are driving the learning it leads to:

greater engagement & intrinsic motivationstudents setting higher challengesstudents evaluating their own work (self & peer assessment)better problem-solving" He then provides some very good questions to ask (rather than tell) for Before Starting, On the Road, and Journey's end. These equate well to John Hattie's feedback questions "Where am I going?" (Learning Intention/goals/success criter…

Graduate Profile

Last week in our Professional Learning Groups (PLuGS) we were looking at updating the school Graduate Profile. What is our vision of what a graduate of Tamaki College would like  when they leave school? What qualities, skills, competencies, experiences and qualifications would ready them for participating fully in society and working in the "real" world. What would make them lifelong learners?

The University of Auckland has 3 levels to its graduate profile:
Themes - generic capabilities
Capabilities - knowledge, skills, abilities & values

Edutopia suggests reflecting on:

What are the most important cognitive capacities that should underpin your students' learning?Which personal competencies are valued most at home & schoolWhich interpersonal competencies are most essential for collaboration and community in your school spaces.ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) (click on link for details)