Friday, 17 November 2017

Te Rawhiti Marae

I was fortunate to be asked to go on the the 4 day trip to Rawhiti Marae in November. I went with about 20 Māori students from Kata O'Donnell's tutor class and 3 other teachers. The purpose of the trip was to familiarise the students with Māori tikanga in a remote settlement on Māori land which is quite different from what they are accustomed to.

Activities were run by WaiNot Tourism and featured a forest walk, snorkelling, fishing with nets, cooking pippis on the beach, swimming and jet ski riding. The students were kept busy from 7.45am until about 10pm at night. It was a great way for them to bond together well away from school and to have new experiences learning new skills.

What did I learn from This? I learned more about ways of working with Māori students,the importance of tikanga, eating, sleeping and working together. It was fascinating to be in such a remote untouched environment and to see how the students behaved and related differently from when they are at school. They were more relaxed, eager to participate and contribute, respectful and really enjoying the learning. A great experience.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Professional Learning at Akaroa

This year I have done lots of learning at the school through staff PLD, PLuG groups and committees. But I wanted to learn more about digital photography as this is my hobby. I think it is important to have an interest outside of education and a hobby that requires lots of learning and improvement can also add to one's skills and knowledge base. Being a learner oneself and having to struggle is always beneficial to teachers as it reminds you of how difficult learning a new skill can be.

The 3-day workshop was held over Labour weekend including a few days prior at Akaroa and taught by an Australian photographer, Ken Ball and 2 NZ photographers, Diane Costello and Murray Noble. We were being taught to forget about all the rules of photography and to try instead to be more creative by combining photography & art ie paint, etchings, transparencies, vellum, camera movement etc. This taught me to be less focussed by the rules of photography and more open to curiosity, trying new ways of operating and moving away from the traditional ie to be more creative. The upside of digital is that you can easily adapt anything, try out new things and still use traditional approaches but in new ways.

These are some of the images I came up with:

See more of my images on Instagram @cherylcharvey

Monday, 16 October 2017

Literacy at Tamaki

In Term 3 Marc (Literacy Leader) and I decided to put in place a Literacy Action Plan for the school. It was obvious from the asTTle and PAT results and the excel spreadsheets on NCEA data/credits that many students were not achieving.
An analysis of  NCEA results and NZQA Assessment Reports on each subject that a colleague and I had done in 2008 had proved that literacy - vocabulary, reading, writing, was a factor for students not achieving the NCEA standards across all subjects. I repeated this for 2016 here:

NCEA Examiners'comments relating to Literacy
Maths 2016
Level 1
  • some of the technical statistical words relating to interpretation of time series graphs were not fully understood.
  • Candidates also need to ensure that the specific directions in the question are actually addressed, such as: compare, describe, justify, give statistical evidence, comment on showing numerical working.
Level 2
  • The vocabulary of algebra needs to be understood so that candidates fully understand the meaning of each question.
  • However, there was weakness in the use of statistical language and in using a methodical approach to compare shape, centre and spread.
English 2016
Level 1
  • Essays at this level are essentially two-part questions – describe, then explain
  • spending more time breaking down a question, noting the subtleties of phrasing, and key words
  • focusing on the keywords in the question
  • showed an understanding of the text by rephrasing in own words.  
  • If a definition of an aspect such as a language feature is required it should be succinct, and the time spent on the explanation or analysis.
  • Some quoted too long and too frequently without explaining or analysing what the quote(s) actually showed.
Social Sciences 2016
Level 1
  • It should be noted that social studies concepts should be incorporated into candidate responses rather than given as stand-alone paragraphs. 
  • Using the wording from the task in their responses helped candidates provide a more structured response and ensured all aspects of each of the tasks were covered.
Level 2
  • Some candidates wrote overly lengthy responses that included repetition of main points and/or giving numerous examples to support main ideas rather than a carefully chosen, well developed few.
Level 3
  • They must also have had practice at extracting the required information from sources of information provided. 
  • .. wrote short, poorly constructed answers that did not include all components of the standard.

Level 1
  • Candidates are advised to focus on the wording of all three questions, specifically instructions that direct them to answer in their own words…
  • Candidates are advised to read the question carefully and understand that the standard requires a discussion of causes and consequences, as well as clearly linking the causes to their event. They should avoid spending a lot of time writing about the event at the expense of describing the causes and consequences.  

Level 2
  • Candidates are reminded that they must thoroughly read and process the essay task before planning a response, or writing their paper
  • Candidates who used the planning page often wrote papers that clearly responded to the essay task in an organised, focused, and structured manner.
Level 1
  • some candidates focused too much on telling the story, i.e. what happened, rather than explaining the processes involved. 
Level 1
  • Many candidates were aware of the key concepts but some failed to use scientific terms, or used terms incorrectly, which inhibited their ability to fully explain phenomena
  • In order to fully explain concepts, it is important to use appropriate physics terms accurately
  • The correct use of scientific terms is important to clearly explain concepts. 
Level 2
  • Candidates are also expected to use the language in the standard, rather than unexplained terms such as “van der Waals forces” and “like dissolves like”.
Level 1
  • Successful candidates correctly responded to the key words and ideas in the questions and addressed all bullet points within the question. They also provided clear, concise answers, using accurate biological terminology.
  • Candidates who were successful in this standard generally had a good understanding of the terminology used
Level 2
  • Candidates who achieved this standard correctly responded to the key words in the questions and addressed all bullet points
Level 1
  • Candidates should note that a lot of writing does not necessarily contribute to higher grades
  • Candidates needed to read questions carefully, along with using the scenarios provided, to ensure they provided correct information to develop their answers.
Level 3
  • Many candidates answered the questions effectively and in a coherent and concise manner

We presented the plan to Curriculum Committee in Term3. Marc gave an explanation of how it would rollout

  • Literacy observations of each teacher doing Jump Start as baseline data
  • Literacy PLD from Marc & Cheryl
  • Observe again to see what difference has been made.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017


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.

The lesson to be learned from this is that all teachers of all subjects must be teaching the literacy of their subject as students are still failing because they don't understand the academic vocabulary of their subject.

Vaka Moana, HOD English Wesley College on Pasifika Literacy in secondary schools

Monday, 21 August 2017


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."
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................
I provide sufficient opportunities to learn by.......................
I use opportunities for e-learning by ..................
I provide a culturally safe environment for Māori students, Pasifika students and students from other cultures by.....
I know, respect and value who students are and where they come from by.........
I build on what students bring to the learning by.....
I build a productive partnership with whanau by.....

Monday, 14 August 2017

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.

  1. 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.
  2. You look for evidence of what is happening for these student in the classroom by asking these questions:
    1. Why are students in my class struggling with....?
    2. What are the challenges students are facing in this topic, course?
    3. How confident are these students about this part of the course?
    4. How do they rate their understanding about what they are learning?
  3. You identify an aspect where you can act as an effective agent to help students improve.
  4. You take actions and apply teaching interventions aimed at creating improvements for students.
  5. There is evidence of quality thinking about the value &  effectiveness of the actions & interventions as well as next steps.
  6. The inquiry is based over an extended period and you get feedback from your HOD, colleague and/or mentor.
  7. You document your inquiry in a short written report which is shared with other teachers in the school or in your blog.
  8. Your inquiry works within a suitable timeframe negotiated between you and your curriculum leader.
  9. Your project is an important professional window on your practice and is included as part of your appraisal.
  10. Inquiry is a school-wide process which continues each year. The data from these projects provides an opportunity to examine trends and set directions for schoolwide professional learning.

Te Rawhiti Marae

I was fortunate to be asked to go on the the 4 day trip to Rawhiti Marae in November. I went with about 20 Māori students from Kata O&#...