Thursday, 30 August 2012

Accelerated Learning in Mathematics: ALiM (31.08.12)


Pam Kruger reports on a Ministry of Education pilot programme that Moanataiari School was privileged to be able to participate in earlier this year. Pam teaches Year 7 and 8 and is the school's lead teacher in mathematics. 

Accelerated Learning in Mathemematics (ALiM 2012)

Have you wanted to help your child with their mathematics?
Have you been too scared to help, in case you ‘teach it wrong’?
Has maths homework become a grind, and a fight not worth fighting?

Here is my story and why I know that as a parent it is vital that you and your child should enjoy maths together...

At the end of term one, I was given an opportunity to take part in a mathematics programme within the school. I was to work with a small group of students from another area of the school, as well as work with a focus group from my class.These children were to receive a ‘double dose’ of maths each day for a period of time, to accelerate their learning in maths.

At the ‘training day’ the message of whanau (family) involvement was mentioned, and this concept resonated within me. I decided to maximise parental involvement as much as I could, so that the child was supported at home and at school and therefore become confident and engaged mathematicians.

I had the great pleasure of working with five children in years 3 and 4. These children were invited to join the group, and the emphasis was on the activities being fun and engaging.


Dice used for learning doubles.
ALiM group ready to go with buzzers.

Cards used for learning facts within ten.
 While working in the group we used a lot of equipment to help with the understanding of concepts, we also spent a  great deal of time on building number knowledge. Games ideas, activities, letters explaining what we were doing and equipment were sent home each night with the hope that whanau would come on board and support their child. I was not disappointed! Families got behind their kids, and I was hearing how older and younger siblings were joining in, and learning, from these activities as well.

Mums coming in to support their child's learning.
We think that where it is possible we should open the school to our community and so we invited parents to come and participate in lessons, so that they could see what their children were doing, and to give them ideas of how to support the kids at home. What a wonderful response, I had every parent join us for at least one session. After that lessons became open and parents could join us as they wanted. You would not believe the joy in the faces of these children when their family came, if ever you doubt if you can help your child, let this be a message you hear today- you don’t have to be great at maths, you don’t have to spend hours each night , all you have to do is show you are interested and willing to help and  be actively involved in what your child is doing on  a daily basis.

Before the programme began, I assessed the children, so that I knew what the children knew and what they needed help with.

While post testing I was amazed at how well these children had grown in ability and confidence. I always tell the kids in my room that ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference’, and here was proof of it. Yes the group was small, and yes they were getting extra maths time, but over and above that they had support and involvement from home.

ALiM has been a great learning curve for me, particularly working with younger children. I have been made aware how important group sizing is, how not to underestimate the importance of enjoyment in the learning process, but , more importantly the biggest lesson I learnt was how important whanua involvement is. This must be encouraged and fostered, in order for a child to achieve their full potential.  The greatest change I saw was in attitude (parents and children), and this is invaluable.

I would encourage parents to go and talk to their teachers asking for ideas and ways to help, we are all in this together, for  the best outcomes for our kids. Check out there are wonderful ideas and activities for you as a family to do together. Click on “families’ and have a look. Look at ‘Maths Kete’. There are great ideas and websites out there, take the time to look. It may take a while to set up, but once you have the resources they are there for everyone to learn from and enjoy.

After all, we are ‘learning and growing together’. “Kia tupu ngatahi ai e t├átou”

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Lambs and ... Pet Day


Lambs, Pet Day and Calf Club

When I shifted into town some years ago I thought that my days of Calf Club were over, history, kaput… Well, yes and no. The staff here at Moanataiari School, when I first started decided that we needed to have a Pet Day, the town equivalent of … you guessed it Calf Club. Over the last couple of years as we have modified the Pet Day programme we have looked at different ways to make the programme more interesting. This year we have decided to include lambs … (Oh yea!)


Lambs … what on earth were we thinking! Escapes into neighbouring farmer’s paddocks!

Lambs waiting to break out ...

Regular feeding, grooming, training and baaing.
Lambs waiting at the cat door!
Lamb through the cat door.
Lamb feeding through cat door.

And more feeding ...


More feeding.

Final picture of feeding.

Walking with lamb

Training for leading on home made course
We were thinking that it’s a good thing to care for an animal. Animals can teach us so much and they are great memories.

Okay, all right... Let's bring on the lambs!


Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Education Review Office Visit Part 1


The Education Review Office (ERO) Visit of Term 3 2012 (Part 1)

It would be reasonable to say that the majority of schools take a visit from the Education Review Office very seriously. Moanataiari School certainly does. The ERO are New Zealand’s audit team for education. They are the recognised authority for ensuring the health and quality of our schools.
Leading up to the Review we go over everything that needs to be done. We prepare. We plan. We go over the list of things not done yet. We prepare some more. This response is quite normal. We all want to do the best we can. The review is a snapshot in time of what is happening at the school at that particular time. It will cover the period of time since the last review until the present.

The Review Process
The review process will vary from school to school. About eighty percent of New Zealand schools will be in a three yearly cycle. We are.

The review normally starts with a letter from the ERO office giving a time when the school’s review will take place. The principal and Board of Trustees travel to the local ERO office, (in our case Hamilton), where we are briefed on the latest review procedures. The government will have specific priorities that they will investigate and so the ERO team will be directed to look more closely at these matters. Of course teaching and learning are at the heart of what the ERO team looks at. This year the government’s priorities are to do with Maori achievement and National Standards.

Depending on the size of the school the ERO will spend between three days to perhaps a week in the school. There is always more than one reviewer so that they can form a more accurate view of what is happening. At Moanataiari, we had three reviewers (including a senior reviewer) and they were here for approximately three days.

The ERO schedule was very structured and streamlined.

16 July




Powhiri  (25 mins)  

Meet with BOT

Meet with students  

Student walk (10 mins)

Meet with Principal and SLT

Staff  Meeting

ERO synthesis

Governance, achievements and challenges since last review, self review information, curriculum

Curriculum, priorities, PD, teaching practices, assessment, etc
17 July
9.00 am


Classroom observations.  

Parent meeting

ERO synthesis

SLT discussion re emerging findings

18 July
9.00am onwards

NETs -  Synthesis worksheet

Compliance check with principal
Reading school documentation

ERO’s Synthesis of findings

ERO team draft report and reflect on practices against selected principle(s)  

BOT - share evaluation findings

19 July

ERO work in office to write unconfirmed report

In the course of their visit the Education Review Office are looking for evidence. The evidence that the team are looking for will need to be confirmed (triangulated) from multiple sources if they are to see it as being accurate. Sometimes this information will be in a document at other times it will oral but the information is not taken in isolation and it therefore begins to tell a much more accurate and complete story about what is happening in a school.

Preliminary Findings
Once the ERO team have completed their investigations they put their thinking out to the school for comment and discussion. There is opportunity in this process to correct anything that is factually incorrect.

Our preliminary findings looked like this:
Curriculum Observations - ERO team
We felt that this was fair. We agreed with the last two points in the Next Steps but wanted clarification about relevant contexts. We were unsure of what was meant because we do use relevant local contexts a lot. In discussion it emerged that in one of the lesson observations there had not been local context. This was day two of the term and local context is not always going to happen in a lesson.

We also sought clarification around “some expectations for teachers.” There are a large number of expectations that we hold, especially around work ethic, team playing and being professionally open to new learning. The point being made here is: “There are expectations of teachers at this school.”

Goverance and Leadership
Governance and Leadership Observations - ERO team
The school is being well led and governed presently. We want to ensure that this continues. A significant point that we made to ERO was that we are keen to manage a Board of Trustees transition.
We are encouraging prospective Board parents to think about putting their hands up. We will hold a meeting to let parents know what is involved. This meeting will occur in September.

One of the things that we have done well, and that ERO have specifically noted, is that we have as a school been very successful in creating a positive, supportive, respectful culture. As a leadership team we have worked on this consistently and successfully.

Community and School Culture
Community and School Culture Observations - ERO team
One of the things that we have done at Moanataiari is to focus on relationships. Before students are able to learn or staff and BOT are able to engage effectively in their tasks it is essential that we all are working together. This has become a strategic goal of the school’s and we believe that it is important to have good communication systems and to connect with our families and whanau as often as is realistically possible.

In terms of Next Steps we are looking at more professional learning for our staff in working bi-culturally. Although we have made great strides in this area, there are things that we need to know and do to be more effective. The last two blog posts have been around the other recommendation of ERO’s in consulting with the community about our reporting formats. We would encourage you to contact us about our reports, if not now, then when you come and meet with us for interviews about your child’s learning.

Our Children and ERO
To close this post I will briefly comment on our children. Our children were awesome! They were friendly, respectful and polite. They represented our school well and were a credit to their parents and whanau. Two things stuck out in my mind. One was the haka-powhiri. Our children after much coaching by our beloved Ella did this flawlessly. Thanks Ella and tamariki! The other thing that I am really proud to be associated with was the remark by ERO which said: “Classes are settled, good humoured, with students high level of on-task behaviour.” Thank you, staff and kids!