Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Student Led Learning Conferences

This week our akonga have been proudly sharing their learning with whānau. Our Year 2 and 3 students have used Google Slides for the first time to share their successes and 'where to nexts.' There has been some really positive feedback from whānau about student ownership of learning and focused feedback from their tamariki.

Monday, 26 August 2019

elearning Stories

During Term 3 we have been developing our Learning Stories to link in with The Whakarongo Kid foundation, developmental skills and The New Zealand Curriculum. Our other focus for this particular learning story was to capture student voice around Growth Mindset, being driven through keynote animations. This development of growth mindset has been at the heart of our Aroha Collaborative Teacher Inquiry this year. 

We have been sharing the learning stories with whānau through Seesaw. Some have been group stories and others have been individual learning stories. Within the stories we have an explanation of the learning and process taken. Student voice, curriculum links and possible next steps. Along the top are the key Whakarongo Kid (WK developmental and foundation skills.)

We are looking forward to getting some whānau feedback on how valuable they have found these stories. We would like them to be used to spark conversations about their learning rather than an assessment sharing tool. It will be interesting to see what families and parents have to say. We are looking forward to their feedback!

Ngā Mihi, 

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Play Make Create

Recently I took part in  Play Make Create professional development with Paula Jamieson. We looked at using picture books and props to develop a Play Make Create learning environment. It was inspirational to meet someone who enjoys and utilises picture books as much as I do!

I decided to dive straight in with the Gruffalo as I had the resources ready and could link the learning to our inquiry about house design and homes. For the younger students that I take for Te Akoranga Raukura (readers and writers) with looked at Chatterpix. For the older year 2 and 3 students I drove the learning through elearning workshops in Aroha, focusing on animation in keynote.

I then shared the learning with staff at a Friday morning 'snapshot' PD meeting.

Since then my school has developed its own language to fit with our learners and we have decided to call it Inspire Explore Create. 

I'm looking forward to our journey with this. 

Nga Mihi,

Monday, 29 July 2019

Smart Moves in Aroha

Today I presented to the junior school for our Health and PE staff meeting. We looked at the links between Smart Moves and the Whakarongo Kid Foundation and Developmental Skills. 

We have found that Smart Moves has had a big impact on our students readiness for learning. It is used in a morning rotation alongside elearning/STEM, phonics, reading and Inspire EXPLORE create. Students are using SMART MOVES to practice and improve their gross, fine and developmental motor skills. 

As a team we have found that using Smart Moves for all students and adapting activities where necessary is impacting positively on reading, writing and hauora as well. 

Ngā Mihi

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Helping Kids Find Their Brave

Recently I went to listen to Karen Young speak. Karen is an Australian psychologist, author of Hey Warrior, Hey Awesome books and Hey Sigmund website and a Mum.

The main focus was examining anxiety and how this effects children and their families. Karen has written two books to help spark discussion for young people. I have been utilising them in class to help students to talk about and 'normalise' anxiety. 

In Aroha Pod we have read both Hey Warrior and Hey Awesome. The students have started to have discussions about what anxiety is and how it makes them feel. Having a character and those feelings described in a relatable way helps our tamariki to start those conversations and see that everyone at times feels anxious. 

How we feel when we are anxious and what we can do about it. 
How we feel when we are anxious and what we can do about it.

We have also looked at how anxiety makes us feel and the strategies we can take to help ourselves. Talking openly with family, friends and classmates can really make a difference in our students wellbeing and hauora. 

Ngā Mihi


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Managing Anxiety in Gifted Students

Earlier in the year Professor Debbie Clelland, a visiting teaching scholar from Adler University in Vancouver Canada spoke to a group as part of  a giftEDnz seminar. Her PhD research explored the needs of parents of gifted children, and she also conducted research on acceleration policies and counselling families of gifted children. Debbie teaches in the counselling psychology program and values her role as a scholar and teacher at Adler.

She has two gifted children currently aged 22 and 24. 

Kia ora to my friend Rebecca for these notes!

 What is anxiety?

  • a natural reaction to stress
  • a survival instinct-elevates fight/flight/freeze responses
  • is the opposite of the relaxation
It is not necessarily a bad thing but there is a continuum. It is necessary to get rid of the bad, overwhelming, parts. Well practiced relaxation helps alleviate stress. 

What does it look like? 

  • Physiological: Heart racing. Stuck in negative thought cycles.
  • Sociological: Fearful of what others think.
"Problem" Anxiety from the audiences perspective:

Some children can:

  • constantly seek reassurance
  • be angry but the cause can be anxiety about something that hasn't happened yet
  • exhibit physical symptoms such as upset tummies and be reluctant to go to school
  • be prevented from engaging in life such as sleeping, healthy eating etc. 
  • have so much going on in their lives that they don't know where to begin. It can be overwhelming for the person AND those around them
It is a major problem if it is evidencing in many locations resulting in a loss of hope. 

Gifted Children

This presents a new layer of anxiety with over excitabilities and sensitivities. Add anxiety to imaginational, intellectual, sensory, physical and emotional intensities and the result is challenging.

They imagine the worst, pick up cues differently and ponder them.

In gifted children:
  • The world is too big
  • Developmentally they have early awareness which leads to vulnerability at an earlier age. They may become anxious about e.g. death. They have the capacity to understand but do not have the life experiences to cope. They cannot emotionally handle some conversations. 
Helping to Manage

  • Parents and teachers are "the boss" who set limits and help children be children
  • They need to be valued but still know they are children
  • They don't need to know everything straight away
  • A safe and secure environment is essential 
  • "Hold on to your kids" attachment and limit setting i.e. discipline and attachment. 
  • A safe and secure environment is essential. Debbie felt there may be problems where the child has peers rather than parents as the attachment point
Teach Emotion Regulation
  • Emotion coaching- help them learn which emotion is evident and which is an antidote to the emotional roller coasting. Use their smartness to help them control themselves. Name the emotion.
  • Acknowledge the experience. Think about the emotion rather than becoming lost in it. 
  • Set limits and move on. 
Teach Relaxation


  • Breathing exercises e.g. Four Square Breathing ( In for 4, hold for 4, Out for 4, hold for 4)
  • Practice it because it will lead to faster relaxation response during anxiety onset. 
  • Other suggestion: specific numbers of "see, hear, feel, smell" responses around them; use detailed visualisation e.g. waterfall scene. 
  • Do something physical like a walk or scootering.
Dealing with Thoughts

  • Noticing negative thoughts or circular thoughts
  • Evaluate 'does this thought love me?'
  • Manage by thought stopping- think of something else and switching it.
  • Add positive affirmations
  • Have conversations such as "What are we trying to do? What is our goal? How do we help each other?
Managing Expectations
  • Of Self
  • Of Others
  • What you believe others expect of you-which is the cause of much anxiety
Teach about OE's and Brain Development
  • So they understand what is happening
  • So they 'ride the wave' first and make decisions later
Seek counselling if necessary. Methodist Social Services can help with family counselling.

Remember to have self compassion and take time as an educator and parent for your own wellbeing too!

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Smart Moves

Yesterday Lynsey Taylor came in to share her Smart Moves programme. She built on her last presentation about Primitive Reflexes and the learning issues around the lack of these. 

Smart Moves can address lots of these learning issues with the added benefit of little or no equipment. 

One big takeaway was asking the student to draw a picture of themselves and write. Then redo this in 6 weeks time. The example she showed us was pretty amazing in regards to detail and body awareness in the second drawing, improved writing capability and moving 4 reading levels as well. 

We will add some of the Smart Moves exercises in at the beginning of learning times and in transition times to start with. Then as we explore the resource and tap into student needs we can expand from there. 

Nga Mihi