Friday, 26 June 2020

The Writing Programme - writing workshops

It was great to see many of you join for the Writing Webinar last night where Ximena, Carl and John discussed how we teach Writing at school.

We all know writing involves so many different skills. To deliver a balanced writing programme, we make sure we target each skill throughout the week, term and year. Sometimes this may be in the form of specific handwriting lessons and writing fictional stories, recounts and other non-fiction texts. Other times, we teach writing workshops that target specific skills. Writing skills targeted in writing workshops can include sentence structure, using wow words, editing and many more!

Below you can see snapshots of some Tautoru kids honing in on their editing skills. As there are so many different things to think about in Writing, writing workshops are used to target specific skills in isolation (well as much isolated practice as possible!).

In this writing workshop, Mikayla wrote an incorrect sentence on the board. The students corrected full stops, capital letters and spelling mistakes with a word card for support. This allows the kids to begin to develop editing skills which we then reinforce and continue to practise when editing their own writing pieces.

Whānau Day - Puanga

Today we enjoyed learning in different spaces, with different kids and with different teachers! We started the day saying karakia together as a school and then split up into our whānau groups to learn all about Puanga.

Puanga is a star that rises when winter is coming and signals that the Māori New Year is near. There are lots of different ways to celebrate Puanga such as reflecting on the past year, thinking about what we are grateful for and traditionally, harvesting crops.
Matariki is the cluster of stars and is when we celebrate the New Year. We plant new crops and make new plans/goals/wishes for the new year.
So in a nutshell, Puanga farewells the year and Matariki welcomes the New Year.

Many kids practised their character strengths today. Leadership and communication skills were seen across the school, right from Autahi kids all the way up to the Seniors. It was a great day to develop Positive Relationships with some new, different people and reinforce old friendships.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Becoming a Connected and Powerful Writer

"A word after a word after a word is power"- Margaret Atwood.

Do you remember learning to form the shapes that became letters? Forming the letters that became words? Forming the words that became stories? And don't forget those full stops and capital letters!

Next week Carl, Ximena and John will be sharing how this learning happens at Worser Bay School on our first webinar "Learners as Writers". We hope you can join us next Thursday at 6:15pm. Zoom meeting details will be sent through our school email on Wednesday so keep an eye out in your inbox.

At the moment, writing in Tautoru involves learning about creating stories. Some will be stories from our personal lives and some of us are beginning to learn about the structures of narrative texts and character descriptions.

Talking about our ideas helps us to construct the sentences before we write. Our teachers get small groups together to develop our language or to practice a writing goal that we need to focus on.

And then there is time for focused writing. Getting our ideas down and telling our stories.

An important part of writing, once we are more confident, is going back to check and edit our writing. What did I miss that I need to add? What needs to be changed or deleted? Improving our writing is an ongoing skill that develops over time.

Last but not least, practising our letter formation is also important. This helps our writing become more fluid. Just like learning any other motor skill like kicking a ball or tying our shoelaces.

Developing our sketching skills

We had a very determined request last week: when can we do more sketching? In lieu of heading outside for sports in the wet and cold weather this week, we had to oblige. So we have spent the cold and wintry afternoons perfecting our observation and shading skills. This is new learning for some of us and building on previous skills for others.

Sketching is a very fine motor skill that requires deep concentration and observation. Developing our concentration and fine motor skills also have benefits for writing. Creating the illusion of depth on a flat surface has links to the maths skills of estimation (of distance) and getting to know the properties of 2D and 3D shapes.

We are learning how to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface with clever tricks. We have been practising how to press hard and softly to create different shades, as well as notice the outer lines of shapes and how the light hits a surface in different ways.

Here are some examples of our sketching this week.

Filling in lines to practice adding depth with shading:

Tracing our hands and adding lines and shading to create depth:

Wednesday, 10 June 2020


We were lucky this week to have students from the senior zone visit us and share their learning around Optimism.

Students created worry eaters that would consume any of their worries they may have.


There were groups writing notes to their future self to give them a boost when they were feeling sad or angry.

Comics were very popular. They are going to be valuable when students need to cool down or to manage their emotions.

Thanks to the team that came through. We always enjoy your energy and enthusiasm but also your optimism.

Unplugged Sorting Networks

An unplugged sorting network will sort a group of random numbers from the smallest to the largest. The students had to work through a process of deciding which of the numbers were greater than or smaller than before moving them through the network.


Thursday, 4 June 2020

Computational Thinking - We are learning to think like a computer scientist!

Over lockdown period, us teachers were learning all about the new digital technologies curriculum. We are so excited to knuckle down and get into teaching it now!

This week we kickstarted some new learning within the curriculum. Each base group has been learning all about algorithms, debugging codes, logical sequencing and computational thinking.

Computational thinking is the process of approaching a problem in a systematic manner and creating and expressing a solution. But you don't need to be a computer scientist to think like a computer scientist!

Here is a video with some more info on the digital technologies curriculum.

Check out some of our learning from this week!