Tuesday, 14 February 2017

#Volunteering @ PASS ~ School Wide Reading Programme

Greetings teachers!

I am back at PASS for my third week of volunteering. I have not been teaching but helping to create resources for the school's reading programme that has a lot more pizzaz than most reading programmes.

There are lots to read - and not all in 'books'

First things first, this is not your average 'SSR' - Sustained, Silent, Reading. At PASS the students have been surveyed and like most teens, especially Pasifika in NZ, reading isn't a craze amongst the students. The survey revealed that most students rarely read and don't enjoy reading. So, we needed to put our minds together to create a reading programme that wasn't just opening a book and expecting students to read intently. Instead, there has been a roster of reading activities made so that every fortnight each village (house) will rotate to a new reading style/activity.

My mother (H.O.D. English at PASS) and I worked together with these ideas and I have since been a busy bee creating and sourcing resources as part of my volunteer position. It has been a great experience thus far, working a little in a NZ secondary school! Excited to have a real full time job at one next year after studies!

Our reading styles/activities : 



  • E-book reading - interactive 'flip books' that can be read on a computer as we don't have school wide tablets or kindles. 
  • Scavenger Hunt Reading - using a range of Guinness World  Record Books from throughout the years. We sourced these fun books from a bunch of different Op shops (thrift/2nd hand stores). 
  • Spoken Word Reading - I scoured the internet to find some Spoken Word pieces that were by Pasifika poets! I also included some non-Pacific poets but to have poetry that relates to our Pasifika students is so important! 
  • Newspaper  & Magazine Articles - These are short articles from online Newspapers and Magazines like Buzzfeed, Girlfriend Magazine and The Guardian to engage students who enjoy reading articles on their phone via Facebook or other social media. But, instead of on a phone they're printed out and some reflection questions accompany them. 
  • Audio Books - we are in the process of finding audio books for the students to read, this will be an activity to take place, later in the term. 
  • Reading Aloud - a shared reading experience where the teacher will read a short novel or short stories during each reading session to their village (house/form class) and hopefully get really animated. Props and costume pieces are encouraged! 
He really got into reading aloud...
So, for only a few of these categories, resources needed to be made. 
I have a few samples pictured below but to purchase the entire pack of Spoken Word Handouts, Scavenger Hunt Handouts and Newspaper Article Handouts you can download them separately at my TeachersPayTeacher's store. Scroll down for links to downloads... :)

Spoken Word Handout Sample 1 - Grace Taylor "Power Of Words"

 

Students should read the poem first, discuss as a class and then watch the performance on YouTube. 
I've made 10 of these fab Spoken Word handouts, some I was lucky to find the poems already written out online but most I had to listen to and type out myself! #work !


Newspaper Article & Reflections Sample 1: Tupac Themed Cafe

Since our students love hip hop and rap I thought they'd enjoy this article. Tupac is still very relevant today! I got the article from Mashable which is a great site. And I created the reflection questions myself. 

Students should be instructed to read, re-read and then discuss with their partner using the reflection questions. Teachers have the option to give out 2 of the same article in each class so that students can make pairs for discussion. 

I have made 6 of these already! 


Scavenger Hunt Sample 1 : Guinness Book of Records, Easy level

I made these using a few books to guide me. It doesn't matter what year the record book - it matters that students are reading, searching and answering the questions to the best of their ability. This is actually a great activity because it is interactive but also practices student sourcing/researching abilities. 

Teachers are able to hand out the same copy for every student and start a class-wide competition - who can complete the Scavenger Hunt first or get the most in the set time. I created a set of 4 levels - Easy, Medium, Hard and Super Hard!

I think it is a great way to use the record books and like I mentioned earlier, mum and I found these books in Op shops for cheap from multiple years. It doesn't matter if the record has changed since then, it's the reading that counts. And students LOVE these books, they're so interesting and have lots of pictures. Click to enlarge. Click here to download - Scavenger Hunt docs. 


I hope this can inspire you for your own school wide or class reading programme! Or you may use these resources and follow our programme and it's ideas!

Happy Reading & Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

#Volunteering at PASS ~ I'm Back Home, New Zealand

#PasifikaMagic 

Since coming home I have enrolled in Waikato University for their Graduate Teaching Diploma (in Secondary) and tried my best to get into some more volunteer teaching roles. (View my previous posts on Volunteering in the Cook Islands, here). With school only starting a week ago it has only recently become a possibility to take part.


Moreover, I was really lucky to attend the opening ceremony and pƍwhiri at PASS - Pacific Advanced Senior School in Otahuhu, last Monday. During the ceremony new and old students were welcomed and an inspiring speech by well known All Black legend Michael Jones boomed in the small school's hall. It was a great moment to be apart of, a for Pasifika by Pasifika school - the first of its kind in New Zealand. Very cool, very meaningful. Later that day we headed off to Henderson where the school camp commenced.








Due to some unfortunate health issues I wasn't able to participate in the entire camp but did help mum run a day of drama games and other activities during camp day 2. It was a nice experience meeting some of the students of the school and getting a feel of the school's very Pasifika, Christian values and routines.

A job I helped with most however was outside of camp. I was asked to revamp and design the 2 front walls of the school lobby/hall as they were needing a little more pizzazz. I could kick myself for not having before photos!!! But if you can imagine, they were just purple walls with some photos in frames before and I added the rest - with help from (tall and good for hanging things up high) sister/cousin Chloe and Mum of course. The photos are actually of influential and successful Pasifika People from NZ and around the globe - this was such a cool idea, not mine but from the secretary - I have just spruced it up.

Here are our 2 walls!

We rearranged all the frames and instead of mixing white and black frames I chose to do an all black frame wall and then the other wall had all the other white and metallic coloured frames. This added instant structure and order. Then I bought some metres of island fabric from one of the many island fabric stores in Otahuhu. $8 a metre from Lucky Star. Then, after nailing the fabric to the wall, we added a wooden boarder which I got from spotlight, they sell wood boards for any sort of craft project, I simply painted them and joined them together to frame the top of the fabric. This fabric boarder instantly added character to the wall and made the frames stand out more as there was less surface area to hang the frames, so the wall didn't swallow the photos up like before.
As you can see, we painted and put up some wooden words - inspiring words to relate to the photos of inspiring Pasfika people! We also used a few flower stickers to cover up old nail/hook holes!




And for another more functional wall, we did a display of camp photos as well as a bunch of clip boards (I love Warehouse Stationery!) that feature 'Word of the week', 'Quote of the Week', 'Bible Verse' and 'Bible Verse translated to Samoan' - the language of translation will change every month to a different Pasifika (Polynesian) tongue. These clipboards will be changed regularly. I love the idea of the clipboard and quote/word of the week - I hope to one day implement this in my classroom when I am full time teaching again! Feel free to click to enlarge these pictures, to get a better, closer look!




If you are about to decorate some of your school walls in NZ, I recommend Spotlight for the wooden words and mats, Warehouse Stationery for the clipboards and more! 

Happy Teaching and Decorating!



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sale On Now!


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Recommendation to Twinkl - Hire a Pasifika Adviser for your Polynesian Resources

For the past 3 months I have been so wonderfully fortunate to spend time as a volunteer teaching in paradisaical, Rarotonga. Although I was able to volunteer in another part of The Cook Islands, Aitutaki - I spent my teaching hours in Raro.

As a Polynesian woman; I'm half Samoan. I was thrilled to see Twinkl's expansion of resources that focused on New Zealand Maori, Samoa and other Pacific Islands. While in the pacific, and teaching Pasifika students for the first time I was eager to teach about islands other than The Cook Islands. And most of my students (aged 9 and 10) knew very little about their Polynesian neighbors.

In my primary school class where I was relieving for 3 weeks, I decided we would have a literacy week. All things literacy - reading, reading activities and strategies, writing, spelling and decoding. For our reading material I chose a handful of Jill MacGregor's fantastic books from her Children of The Pacific collection. They are spectacular books with beautiful photographs of Polynesian kids from around the Pacific talking about their homeland's traditions, language, celebrations and more. A real dream collection of books for Pasifika teaching and Pasifika students.

Alongside the reading, I did a range of reading activities from the Twinkl website. The kids had a lot of fun. Before anything, I had the class set up into teams. Then, we would read one of MacGregor's books and after, I started a competition between the groups. In teams they would , round by round, have to complete reading activities that I downloaded from Twinkl's Reading Activity Resource Pack. I didn't use all the pack, but I did use the Find 3 Adjectives and make 3 sentences worksheet, the noun worksheet that's similar in style as well as the making words from the Author's name.


These challenges were fun to complete in groups and I would award points for the first team finished but additionally, I made sure to award more points for the best and most creative answers. Round by round, I could see the students had comprehended parts of the book we had read. The first day we read 'Dharma's Diwali' - which was great for these reading activities as this particular story has a short story within it, that summarizes 'The Story of Diwali' in easy to read and understand text.



Moreover, the reading activities Twinkl have that can be applied to just about any book - are great for literacy exercises and in general, reading comprehension activities.

However, the reason for my blog post's title - Hire a Pasifika Adviser is something I don't say lightly. I truly think Twinkl needs to step it up in their Polynesian resource department. When browsing for resources of the Pacific, on their site, I was happy to find a few Samoan themed resources. A resource I quickly downloaded and read was Twinkl's Samoa Differentiated Comprehension Activity Sheets. But I was disappointed not only with some of the inaccurate or missing information - but also the way they handled some of their communication with me. 


I was especially concerned at what was written about Samoan Tattoo. Although, I certainly agreed with most of the information featured, I felt they had forgotten that Samoan Tatau (Tattoo), is also very significant to women. Many Samoan women throughout history and today, have the traditional female tattoo called the Malu. As a Samoan I know about the Pe'a (Male Tattoo) and Malu but I am not an expert -just someone of the culture who knows from life experience.

What was written in the original resources (they have now updated and made changes due to my feedback):


That was all that was written on Tatau. So I wanted to offer them some honest advice, as a Samoan woman. I felt this short description of Samoan tattoo made it sound as if only men adorn Tatau or furthermore, that it's only important to Samoan men. Which is implied as there is no mention of female tattoo. I'd think that many Samoan woman would find Tatau equally important to them as Samoan men.

And I also, did my research. After pondering over the absence of the 'Malu' in Twinkl's resource I wanted to know more. I'd never questioned it before as I had knowledge as a Samoan woman who saw the Malu and had it explained to her by family members or the wearers themselves. But I wished to further understand for myself, the very importance of female Tatau - and thankfully, there are an abundance of resources online that describe just how significant Samoan Malu is to Samoan culture and identity.

"The malu is also a mark of Samoan identity that Samoans find to be extremely important. Many believe it is the true signifier of a Samoan lady. In getting the malu, young women traditionally gain a variety of responsibilities. The female tattoo was traditionally reserved for the high chiefs’ daughter, the taupou, who was responsible for dancing the siva (Samoan dance) and mixing ‘ava (drink ground from root vegetable) at special occasions." 

This quotation is from Drea Miesnieks's "Stories of Tufuga ta Tatau" (2014)

"The word for a female tattoo is malu, which means to be protected and sheltered...Both male and female tattoos show that you are ready for life, for adulthood and to be of service to your community." 

Above quote from the Australian Museum website article "THE MEANING OF TA TAU - SAMOAN TATTOOING

There are far more journal articles and websites that explain and emphasize the Malu's importance to Samoan women and Samoan culture. A good website is also 1Samoana.com.

Moreover, a good thing about Twinkl is that they have the option to write a review or suggest a change with every resource. To be honest, I didn't see the "suggest a change" tab until later - so I wrote my suggestion and feedback straight into the review section of the page. See my review written below:


It reads:

I love that Samoa is included on this website. However, as a Samoan woman I am slightly offended that the Tatau portion of this workbook only says that tatau is important for boys. The traditional female tatau for women is called the Malu and is equally as important. The tatau for women and men in Samoa is sacred and traditional - I think it needs to be edited. Many Samoan women in NZ and the pacific wear the malu - and would disagree with this workbook. 

Now, their first response was excellent. I received an email to notify me that there was a response to my review and I saw not one, but 2 responses when I checked in. And they handled the review well - with a tone of care and thanks.


Review responses/replies from Louise and Joe

Hi ardynbaia,
I am really sorry to hear about this mistake, and I apologise if it has caused you any trouble. It will be changed shortly!
Louise.R@Twinkl, Nov 27th 

Hi there ardynbaia,
Thank you so much for letting us know about this issue! Our lovely resource creation team have amended the resource and emailed you the corrected version. It will also be updated on the website very soon.
Joe.M@Twinkl, Nov 29th

I was very satisfied with their replies and awaited when they would update the resource with the necessary additions. Soon, I received an email to notify me that a new version was available for download. I downloaded...

Disappointment 1 - they did indeed update the resources - but there were mistakes! If you're going to attempt to edit something, especially about someone's culture you may or may not have knowledge of, you should do it with care and accuracy. Research skills needed at Twinkl!


It reads: ( I have bold and underlined the mistakes)

Tatau or tattoo is a cultural tradition for Samoans. The Pe'a is a tatua that goes from the waist to the knee and is a rite of passage for young men, often telling the story of their ancestry and ranking. The malu is tatau for women, it is on the back of the thigh down to the knees, traditionally this tatau was a sign of high ranking. Tatau is a mark of commitment to Fa'a Samoa. The tufuga ta tatau (tattooist) uses traditional tools made out of bone, tusk, shark teeth, shell and wood. 

Disappointment 2 - With a spelling error and description error of the Malu, I had to write another review of concern.



My 2nd response reads:

Hello, thank you for your efforts. Although it's incorrect once again. A Malu is not just at the back of a woman's thigh. It goes around the thighs and starts under the buttocks, stops just below the knees. A Malu is possibly, even more sacred than the Pe'a as it was traditionally only tattooed on women of high ranking - called the Taupou. I understand that I am going into some detail here - but would I use this resource with New Zealanders who are Samoan or know of Samoan culture they would disagree with the implication in your writing, that the Pe'a has more value or importance than the Malu - or that men's tattooing was more special than the women's. You also have a spelling mistake. You wrote 'tatua' instead of 'tatau' at one point. I strongly suggest that you have a researcher of Polynesian culture or a Polynesian who knows their cultures when writing these resources - especially if these will be used in New Zealand or Australia as there are many Pacific peoples who know their stuff. I'll be looking out on your careers page in the future - I would love to join the team especially if you're writing about Polynesia. As a New Zealander and Samoan, it is important to me that Pasifika culture is represented correctly.

ardynbaia, Nov 29th

Now, it's my own opinion of importance that I express about the Malu - debate that with me another time, but still my concern that the Malu is not accurately portrayed and there are spelling mistakes within a Twinkl resource - that's about my culture - is justified.

Of course, a little irked now, that they have made a mistake - it seemed careless, especially the spelling error. But I was hopeful that Twinkl would reply quickly and that they'd be even quicker to fix their resource.

Disappointment 3 - A dull response to my concerns that seemed to miss the bigger picture - this resource is not for ME it's for all who may teach about Samoa.



The response from Michaela.G reads:

Hi ardynbaia,
Thank you so much for providing further feedback on this resource, it is much appreciated.
I will ask our resource team to look into this and make any necessary amendments for you.
Michaela.G@Twinkl, Nov 29th

Now, I've chosen to highlight the last bit of her sentence "any necessary amendments for you" because it's this I have a bigger issue with than the resource being incorrect (twice).
It's one thing to create resources about other people's cultures and have things missing and/or wrong - but it is another thing to imply that this resource and the amendments needed are only being made due to one person's concerns. It's for everyone! 

I quickly replied to Michaela, quoting her words back to her:


It reads:

"make any necessary amendments for you." 
Thank you, although editing this resource is not just for me. It's for any teacher who wants to teach accurate information about Samoa.
ardynbaia, Nov 30th

And I've received no response since. Thankfully, they did update the resource with more accurate information. You can download it now, without the errors! And you can tell they actually spent some time to research further as they added more about the Malu and it's meaning of shelter.



Moreover, a real concern I have with Twinkl is their attitude as well as their Pasifika consultant or if they have one?

When Michaela used the word "you" in her reply it made me feel as if I was suddenly a nuisance to her and the Twinkl site. That my suggestions to get a resource on Samoa with accurate information was bothersome and unimportant as if to say: 'it's just you, one person who is complaining'. 

But you know what? I am so sick and tired of this sort of response when people of perhaps, lesser  known nations (smaller nations that aren't so Westernized) complain about inaccurate information being spread about our people! History, Geography and Social studies books around the world have printed the wrong information about cultures - don't even get me started on some American textbooks and their convenient omission of the word 'slave' replaced with 'foreign worker' when writing about African and South Americans in early US history.

If you are going to create resources about culture and people -do it well, with accuracy and don't make the person suggesting corrections feel as if they are inconveniencing you. 

I helped YOU out, not the other way around. The New Zealand education system is a wonderful one and we have some fantastic statistics. Your resources on Samoa are aimed at teachers from New Zealand, teaching the New Zealand curriculum. These Kiwi teachers are a dynamic lot to be respected - and a large percentage of New Zealand teachers are Polynesian and know their facts of the pacific. So, get it right Twinkl or you will not be taken seriously amongst New Zealand educators or moreover, Polynesian people. Especially, if you are getting things wrong and having an attitude when we correct you.

Other than that experience, I am still a Twinkl fan and user. I expect growing pains are a big part of any educational resource company. I do still recommend, that seeing you are expanding into resources about the Pacific, that you do employ a Pasifka adviser or a consultant.

Happy teaching, and resource creating,

Ardyn Baia. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Twinkl - Class Decor in The Cook Islands!

Mrs. Elu was away for professional development in Fiji and I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching her grade 5 and 6 class for the last 3 weeks of the term. During my final week of relief teaching at Papaaroa School, I wanted to do Mrs. Elu a favor - cleaning and decorating her classroom for the new year. 


Twinkl, a website I absolutely love was my main source for decorative purposes. I wanted to share what I did and hopefully give other primary teachers some ideas for their classrooms.

First, a class redesign was in order. I had a vision of a 'reading corner'. When I was teaching, I was instructed to keep up with the regular SSR - 'Sustained, Silent Reading' that should happen at least once a day. I noticed quickly that the students would grab a book from one side of the class and bring it to the front to sit down on the carpets. I thought that I should rearrange the classroom so that the books were in the same area as the carpets. Hopefully, they could buy some large pillows or beanbags in the future to really make the reading corner a cozy place. 

I got all sorts of print outs for the reading corner. I loved the reading corner display pack, which features many posters with famous quotes about reading. 

Bunting : 

Here's what it looks like:

Students... not reading but playing blocks... in the reading corner (it's was break time)

The reading quotes, banner and street signs are from Twinkl - I printed and laminated them. 

I love the Scrabble tile idea! I left space for the teacher to post up some English work, next year. This is the English corner as well as Reading corner. 

I absolutely love the triangle 'bunting' - there are all sorts of varieties of bunting on the Twinkl site. I printed these 2 for each A4 page, but you could print them smaller or larger. You can also see the cool 'Books of the Bible' - perfect, as it's a Christian school.


Every area of the class falls into a subject section - this is the Art area... I posted up a few Twinkl posters of colour mixing  here. 



Now, for the boring exit and evacuation notices - I made a 'School Safety' banner. A really cool feature on the Twinkl site is the 'Twinkl Create' section. You can create any sort of resource you want, and write what you want as well as pick from a variety of images they have on file.  I also made a 'Te Reo Maori' banner as The Cook Islands teach both English and Cook Island Maori. 




Cool Superhero bunting for the months of the year! The kids loved the superhero theme! Even better, all the Twinkl resources with images of people include people of color. As I am teaching in The Cook Islands, my students are all skin tones - beautiful brown skin would be the most common - so it was awesome to see the superheroes the same skin tone as the students! 



I used the Twinkl animal train for the days of the week - but also edited the resource, as you're able to download it in word.doc - and then I added the Cook Maori translation! 


A class rules and routines corner. I really love the space theme welcome signs, "garden of manners" poster and kind hands displays. The class pledge was already in the class, I just had it cleaned and posted, ready for the new year. 





Overall, the class looked great and the students loved the new decor. 
Twinkl was a great website to use. Easy to download, print and laminate. 
I would definitely recommend it for all class decor needs. Plus, all the resources as well! 


Top 3 likes about the Twinkl site:


1. People of colour appear in 90% of their display items - great for multicultural awareness. 
2. You can create your own resources using their website and easily print it out. -This was especially useful for me as I could make Cook Island Maori resources. 
3. You can edit most resources - I was able to download some resources in word.doc format, so I could easily add translations and more!