Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A-Team Inquiry Term Two

A Team teachers have thoroughly enjoyed the return to learning this term. We sure hope the students are having as much fun as we are! The feedback from them and parents of A Team students says it certainly looks that way.


We wanted to take this opportunity to unpack a little more about teaching and learning in today’s landscape. It’s looks and feels very different from our classroom days, regardless of where in the world you attended school. Frankly, so it should be. With the well researched best approaches to teaching and learning easily accessible and with the tools we now have at our disposal our ‘digital natives’ deserve nothing less than an environment that will allow maximum engagement, growth and achievement.

Using this research and allowing the use of tools for learning Whangaparaoa School has adopted a fully integrated inquiry approach and use our amazing chromebooks to respond to our curiosity and ‘OWN’ our learning.

The Inquiry cycle at WGP School starts with provocation. Last week and this week A Team students have been ‘reclassed’ into groups from each different room. Groups from Year 1 to 6 move around A Team each afternoon and engage in new experiences related to the concept of “CHANGE”, within the context of Science. The purpose of these experiences is not to ‘teach’ science in the old way but to ignite and excite the students curiosity in this area so they can explore, question, research, investigate, test and share their hypothesise and findings with a targeted audience.

We are engaged in the first stage of “INQUIRY”
‘Sandy the Scientist’, a visiting expert ;) has joined us for both Monday’s this term with the intention of sparking student interest in chemical change before all of A Team students are cross grouped for the afternoon session. If you are wondering about where your child is in the afternoons at the moment CLICK HERE.

Following our provocation focus students will be identifying areas of high interest and pinpointing learning they’ve been exposed to that has made them extra curious. You may have noticed them coming home and wanting to reproduce the experiments they have enjoyed at school. This is a good example of how we are trying to incite continuous learning. This then motivates student questions and we know from the research that when a student’s learning is platformed from their own self-directed questions and curiosity it makes the end result powerfully learned.

Our inquiry model has come from Kath Murdoch’s work, an Australasian Educational expert who responds to research by providing a scaffolded way to ‘do it’ for teachers. Here’s a short clip of her explaining what it means to be an Inquiry Teacher:


Sharing what is learned is an integral part of Inquiry - In essence, we learn, we create, we share. Not necessarily in that order and when you look at your child’s day each aspect of this process should be evident. Creating has taken on a whole new meaning. Before the digital era (and we define this as since ipad technology exploded onto the market, only in 2009) we could access a student’s learning response in books and on classroom walls. This is no longer an accurate indication as the platform they now have to share their work has grown exponentially. Teachers are the experts in analysing and identifying progress and the tools they have to do this also reflect the digital age. This means anyone making an assumption on progress by simply looking in a book could be grossly misguided and just plain wrong. For any questions regarding progress it is best to talk to the teacher.

Our school website is about to be updated to reflect our new understanding around what best practice looks like in an inquiry class. It says this:

Inquiry-based learning is a constructivist approach. This means children are engaged in constructing knowledge rather than simply acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment, meaning students take ownership of their learning. It is the New Zealand Curriculum’s approach to teaching and learning.

Our unique Vertical Learning Communities allow children of all ages to share experiences and knowledge around our inquiry focus, while strengthening our learning community as the children become teachers to each other.
The benefits of learning through inquiry include higher order thinking, improved problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills. These are all identified as the leading skills looked for in today’s employment market. It increases personal ownership and responsibility for learning, develops skills of research and a student’s ability to determine the importance of the information they encounter.
Inquiry Learning supports our school ORCA values of Ownership, Respect, Collaboration and Achievement.

We look forward to the questions our students will ask, the discoveries they will make and how they will share what they’ve learned to others.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about how your child is learning and why with the classroom teacher. We are also very happy to share with anyone interested more about the landscape of teaching and learning so any misconceptions out there can be addressed. Ka kite ano...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Term Two, Week Two

Week Two


The very lucky children who belong to our A-team will get to continue their learning about change of matter by rotating through another five experiments this week.


Everyone should have made it home with a reader today, spelling words will be coming home tomorrow and reading testing will be taking place this week. We have also started learning about the features of persuasive writing; today we created arguments to convince our readers of why Mrs Twit (From Roald Dahl's The Twits) is such an ugly person, with many of the children grasping that Mrs Twit's ugliness came from the inside.

Digital Literacy

Last week your child may have come home excited about the Star Wars Hour of Code activity we completed in class (https://code.org/starwars). With career opportunities within the computer gaming and other ICT service industries booming in New Zealand it is really important that we supply our children with the skills, tools and confidence needed to succeed in the sector (especially our girls). Learning how to code / programme software is one of these essential skills, so please encourage your children's engagement with websites like https://code.org/learn because they are doing so much more than just 'gaming.'   


This week we are continuing our learning about important fractions concepts and supporting our learning about fractions through hands on activities, problem solving and play.


Every bikes lesson A3 & A4 are becoming more confident and building their bike skills repertoire. Last week we also had a go practicing our soccer/football dribbling and passing skills and this week our PE skills context will have a netball focus.  

Important to remember

  • Devices and book-bags every day
  • Bike riding on Wednesdays
  • Sport and passions on Fridays

Monday, May 1, 2017

Term Two, Week One

Week One

Off with a bang...

A very big welcome back to A3! The next two weeks will see us getting stuck into learning to do with our Term Two inquiry theme, Change of Matter, by getting to spend every afternoon carrying out experiments in our vertical teams. I'm already incredibly impressed by the amount of engagement, critical thinking and collaboration shown by our students. In my class I have been running an Ice-cream in a bag experiment.


Readers and spelling words should have already made it home with your children this week. We have been learning about the news articles on http://kiwikidsnews.co.nz/ and will have a go writing our own, about our the importance of our fantastic Whangaparaoa School uniform, a little later in the week.

Digital Literacy

On top of engaging with our E-reading tumble we are learning how to use padlet as a brainstorming tool and as a means of sharing and extending our collective learning. We are also learning about how to use Google to research and the word processing skills required to effectively use Google Docs.


This week we will be introducing important fractions concepts and supporting our learning about fractions through hands on activities, problem solving and play. During our experiments some of our students are learning about the importance of fractions the hard way, we have had a couple of milk-shakes and ice-creams lacking sweetness and flavour instead of delicious vanilla ice cream.

Important to remember

  • Devices and book-bags every day
  • Bike riding on Wednesdays
  • Sport and passions on Fridays


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Week Eleven

Week Eleven

With Easter and the school holidays just around the corner, right now is the perfect time to stop and reflect. I am incredibly proud of A3's growth throughout the term; how they have come together as a learning community and their personal achievements and progress. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work; for extending and supporting their learning at home, and for raising such caring, curiously minded and quirky kids.

This week we have and will be doing a lot of problem solving, with both our literacy and maths programmes tied into our Easter Technology challenge. A3 will be making baskets, that need to be able to hold a few chocolate eggs, using wool, balloons and PVA glue. Today they solved some maths problems to help me work out how much of these resources are required. They also had to read through and create accurate diagrams for the task's instructions. In addition to this technology challenge we will be finishing off our inquiry actions and taking part in an A-Team Easter Egg Hunt which will test our mathematical knowledge, ability to collaborate and problem solve.

- Miss Woodcock


Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Ten

Week Ten:

This week...


Whole class focus on time. Workshops about doubles to 20, groupings within 20 and rounding to the nearest ten.


We are practicing and recording our cyber-smart skits. Our readers and spelling words will be coming home tomorrow (Tuesday). Today we completed our e-asTTle writing assessment and we will continue our writing focus on showing not telling by exploring what our emotions look like.


Although we don't have a strict mandate on homework A3 are expected to practice their reading and spelling each week (more testing has just been completed) and can further support and extend their learning by logging in to studyladder at home (this could be a good compromise to ensure your child is actively learning when on a device at home- we have talked at length as a class about why having a device is a privilege and not a right). Your child's studyladder activities have been personalised to support their learning needs, each student has been provided with login information which can be reprinted if lost. If you or your child are concerned that the activities are too challenging or easy please let me know.

 Please remember:

  • Book-bags and devices everyday. 
  • Library books on Wednesdays
  • Thursday - A-team invite to whanau to come and see our learning to do with our inquiry topic of Whanaungatanga (community), join us in a shared morning tea, games and pool party. (Please provide your child with some food to share at morning-tea, normal lunch eating food and swim gear if they wish to take part in the swimming activities.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week Nine

A quick update:

Just a quick one this week...

Being Cyber-Smart: 

A3 and A4 have just completed a huge revision of our school's e-learning commitments. This has been linked into our reading programme so this week they will be they will be testing their knowledge about being cyber-smart and doing the right thing when a problem arises.


If your student has not come home with spelling words tonight do not worry, they are ready to be tested on a harder spelling list and new words will come home ASAP.


In addition to the whole class and small group reading work to do with cyber safety the usual readers will be coming home. If you have the time please encourage your child to read to you as well as independently. A few of our students keep forgetting their book-bags; your child may need a quick reminder when they are packing their bag for the next day.


This week we'll be starting to look at recount writing and about showing rather than telling.


A continuation of last week's focus and learning about Time with Mrs Brough.  

Please remember:

  • Book-bags and devices everyday. 
  • Library books on Wednesdays
  • Own bike and helmet (if your student would prefer their own) for our Thursday morning lesson with A4.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week Eight

Learning this week:

Important to remember:

With the year fours' lessons having finished, and the protests of many of our year threes last Monday because of the cold, A3 and A4 have decided to call it quits on swimming.

Resiliency and manners- these are still hot topics and works in progress for our class; the more you can reinforce their importance at home the better.

Behaviour management- we have just started a couple of new strategies in our A3. We are now using Classdojo as well as Warm Fuzzies to recognise excellent behaviour in our room. The person with the most Dojo points as well as someone randomly selected from the Warm Fuzzies draw will get to pick a treasure or two to take home on Friday.

In maths:

There will be continuation of our flexible maths workshops. Its all about tens this week- we'll be learning about adding and multiplying ten, identifying the number of tens in larger numbers and rounding numbers to the nearest ten.

In literacy:

We'll be continuing to bring readers home as well as spelling words this week. Your child should have brought either an electronic or physical list of their spelling words today; we will be testing on Friday. We are working on developing our physical and online dictionary skills in addition to consolidating our decoding and comprehension strategies. Encourage your child to personally respond to the readers that they are bringing home; Did they like the story? Why/why not? Would they recommend it to a friend or sibling? Why/why not?


We are having a conjoint refresher on our school's cyber smart policies with A4. Please ask your child to explain what some our school e-learning policies are and why they are so important. Our students' questioning prompted an interesting discussion today about whether they need to ask permission from their parents, to download music, movies, or games, when at home. Our school's stance is that students must always ask an adult first; it might be a good idea to go into the specifics of when and why you expect your students to ask permission about downloading media at home.


A3 are in the middle of posing questions and finding out about how we can actually effect change in our community to make it a kinder place. Feel free to link this learning into your home life- what can your child, yourself or your family do to be kinder to one another (could be a good link in to more 'please', 'thank-yous' and odd jobs or chores done around the house, how about breakfast in bed for mum or dad).

The Arts:   

Visual art - We should finally complete the dyeing of our important place art.

Drama- Working on putting together freeze frames, building confidence and participating.

Dance- We are still working on the dance put together for us by Charlotte from Peaches and Pickles

Music- We've seen huge improvements in knowing all the words to our you're welcome song so good work if you've been practicing at home!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Week Seven

This week:


In A3 we have been running maths workshops to address gaps in and extend our number knowledge. This involves a more fluid form of grouping where students may attend any combination of easier to challenging workshops depending on their specific learning needs. This week there will be a continuation of the learning we have been doing around counting sequences, before and after numbers, tenths and decimals.


After learning to navigate and use different aspects of our electronic reading tumble (plus material options), and sitting through at least two guided reading group sessions, A3 are expanding their knowledge of both traditional and digital literacy concepts. Check out our cool, electronic reading time options here: http://j.mp/2lLjXem . This week our writing focus is on 'doing what good authors do' and 'writing with our readers in mind'. We will also be writing about a time that we were resilient. Resiliency is an essential life skill; you can deepen your child's understanding by sharing with them a time where you have had to be resilient. Please remind students: no book-bag = no reader or library books.

Please remember:

Monday: Swimming gear
Monday-Friday: Devices and book-bags
Wednesday: Library Books

Saturday 18th: Gala Day!  


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Week Six

Looking back:

First of all I would like to thank you, A3 parents and guardians, for making sure your children have slept well, had good breakfasts and calm mornings before last week's PATs. I am particularly proud of everyone in A3 for how diligently they have worked during their tests, embodying our school motto to be the best we can be. There will be one last PAT for both the year threes and fours tomorrow morning.

All of A3 should have brought a reader home, at their approximate level prior to the summer holidays, which they have hopefully shared with you or at least practiced independently. In coming weeks, as we more firmly settle into our routines, our students should be bringing at least two different readers home per week as well as spelling words. All of the class have been issued with Studyladder IDs and passwords which they can access at home to practice their basic facts and spelling. I will send another reprint of these details home as a know a few students have misplaced these.

Last Wednesday afternoon was very exciting with the official opening of our bike track. A3 and A4 followed this up with a combined biking lesson on the Thursday. A big focus our lesson was about properly fitting, and checking the safety of our helmets. I encourage you to ask your children about what they learnt.

Heres A3 & A4s first go at part of our dance.

Thursday out on the track:

This week:  

Its only five sleeps until Gala Day 2017!!! Our last mufti day will be this Friday 10th. Please come say hello on Saturday- I'll be helping man a game or stall. 

An important focus of our learning this week will be on the characteristics of kindness and resilience and how these fit into our larger inquiry focus of Whanaungatanga, of the importance of building relationships and our community membership.

We will also continue to extend our knowledge of being cybersmart and using online tools such as google drive and docs.

Students should be remembering to pack both their book-bags and devices everyday this week. Thanks for reading. - Miss Woodcock


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Week Five

Week Five:

Week five will be a busy week for us in A3. We will be working closely with A4 on Monday and Thursday in order to maximise our learning, while our year three and fours have their respective swimming lessons, and to cater for our students' differing confidence on bikes.

There will be PAT testing starting this week and we do not want any of our students feeling anxious or uncomfortable sitting these. I will explain to A3 that we are just trying to find out what they don't know, so I know what and how I need to teach them, and that all they need to do is try their best. You can help by ensuring your child sleeps well, eats breakfast and has a calm morning before school. Please let me know if your child is coming home distressed or is unduly worried about the tests.  

We will also be starting our formal reading programme this week. A4 will need to bring their book-bags Tuesday-Friday so expect them to be bringing readers home on these days with library books also coming home on a Wednesday. 

With a focus on both our school's values and being cybersmart, we are encouraging students to take ownership for their belongings and school/others' property as well their learning. As we clearly discuss what we need to bring each day as a class your child should be able to tell you what they need bring and be confident packing their bag themselves.

We had some great discussion last week about our 'smarts', or areas that we are experts in, and why everyone of these is valuable to, and increases the collective knowledge of, our learning community. We are in the middle of designing posters about these either digitally or physically; you may want to ask your child what areas they have identified as their smarts and why.

Hopefully this week we will also see some students self-selecting work to publish on our blog. What and how their work is published will reflect/respect your selections on the ICT opt-out forms.

Wishing you a great week.

-Miss Woodcock

Things to Remember 

Monday: swimming; togs, towel and goggles (also cap for year 4s), Chromebook/device, Old art shirt (to leave at school)

Tuesday: Book-bag, Chromebook/device

Wednesday: book-bag, Chromebook/device, bike or scooter +helmet (for official bike track opening) 

Thursday: helmet & bike (if student does not have own they can borrow bikes & helmet from school's fleet), book-bag, Chromebook/device, water fight gear (lunch-time)

Friday: Mufti, gala donation, book-bag, Chromebook/device.