Sunday, 21 May 2017

Weekly Update

Term 2 Week 4

Welcome to week 4. The main date for your diary is Wednesday 24th May when the children will be sharing their learning with you during our student led learner conferences. I have been really impressed with the amount of work the children have put into these and how supportive and helpful they have been to each other. If you are unable to make the conferences, please take some time with your child to have a look at the presentations they have put together on their devices.

Our maths learning this week is still focused on fractions, specifically ordering and equivalent fractions. During writing we will be using the 'Game of Awesome' as a writing prompt. This is a game put together by the Ministry of Education specifically designed to encourage and inspire writing. Our reading will again revolve around comprehension, group and independent reading and novel studies. Our inquiry has moved into the finding out stage where the children will begin to identify what specific area of 'Changes' (scientific) they would like to find out more about.

Hope you all have a great week and please, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Kind regards

Sam Unwin

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Weekly Update

Term 2 Week 3

Welcome to week 3. Just a quick reminder about our student led conferences next week on Wednesday 24th May. The children are working really hard preparing for these and have some great learning to share, if you haven't booked a time yet just go to and enter the school code k23pp. Looking forward to seeing you then.

Due to problems around the trading of Pokemon cards at school we have decided on a blanket ban. The only day the children are allowed to bring them into school is on a Friday when there will be a supervised trading session at lunchtime. Could I also request that you speak to your children about slime and fidget spinners, children are becoming increasingly distracted by these during lesson times rather than them having the intended effect of helping them to focus. I have now said they are only allowed out during story time, register, morning tea and lunch the rest of the day they need to be kept inside their desks. Thanks for your support with this.

Our learning in maths this week is focussed around fractions and decimals. We will also be continuing to use the times tables loop cards to help the children practice their quick recall of these facts. During writing we will be using inquiry from last week as our prompt. The children have started writing newspaper reports, diary entries, instructions and recounts. In reading we will be having a mix of group and independent reading, comprehension and some children will be continuing their book study on 'George's Marvellous Medicine'. We will also draw our inquiry into reading and look at a range of different experiments. The children will also have the opportunity to practice touch typing and finish off their preparations for the parent conferences.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sam Unwin 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

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, 7 May 2017

Weekly Update

Term 2 Week 2

Welcome to week two, here are a couple of dates for your diary. On Tuesday morning we will be having a Tsunami drill, in order to try out some new routes and organisations. If you think your child maybe become anxious, please talk to them about it and explain that it is a drill.

On Wednesday 24th May we will be having our student led learning celebrations. This will be an opportunity for your kids to tell you about what they have been doing in class, share some things they are proud of, discuss their learning goals and talk about some of the things they think are important about school. Please, book a slot and come along, the children are really looking forward to sharing with you.

In class this week our maths focus is fractions and we will continue playing a times tables loop game. The children are loving the time challenge and setting new records each time we play. Our reading and writing is again linked to our inquiry topic of 'change' and we will be continuing with our afternoon carousel of science experiments to get the children enthused. We will also be spending some time preparing for the learning celebrations.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sam Unwin

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Weekly Update

Term 2 Week 1

Welcome back to another exciting term, I hope you all had a great easter break. We have lots of awesome things planned for this term so keep checking the blog.

Our focus in Maths this week is fractions, so any support you can give your kids in this area would be fantastic. In reading some children will be beginning a group reading book that they will be using for a novel study and we will have a continuing focus on reading comprehension. Our writing is linked to our new inquiry topic of 'Changes' and will be focussing on writing up the experiments that the children will be involved in during our Inquiry time in the afternoons.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sam Unwin

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Weekly Update

Term 1 Week 11

Last week of term. There were certainly a lot of tired children in class today, everyone clearly needing a break. Thank you to all who came to our sharing day last Thursday, it was great to see so many parent's there and see the children so enthusiastic to share their learning. I think they did an awesome job!

This weeks dates for your diary are Wednesday 12th April, we have booked the school bikes for the children from 11am until lunch. We'll work on cycle safety and then let the children have a ride. If your children want to bring their own bikes and helmets, that's fine, although their are enough bikes for the children to use the school ones. Also, Thursday is the last day of term and the children will finish at 3pm as usual.

In class this week we are looking at the work and life of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The children will be researching the artist and using his work as an inspiration to produce a piece of artwork in pastels. We will also be doing some descriptive writing, looking at how we paint pictures with words. In Maths our focus will be on add/sub, place value and decimals. Our reading is also linked into our art study but we will also focus on comprehension and independent/group reading.

Hope you all have a great week and a fantastic easter break.

Sam Unwin

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Weekly Update

Term 1 Week 10

Welcome to week 10. Our main dates for your calendars this week are Waterwise on Wednesday 5th April 10.30 - 12.00. Hopefully, this will go ahead barring any unforeseen circumstances. If you volunteered or are able to help, we will be leaving school at 10am to walk down to the beach and will be back at school in time for lunch. Please remind your children to bring togs, towel, water bottle, hat and something for morning tea. Look forward to seeing some of you then. Also, on Thursday 6th April we invite you to come along and see our inquiry presentations between 9.00 - 10.40. The children have worked hard to produce presentations and ideas to share their learning around our inquiry topic of Whanaungatanga - relationships and community. It would be great if you could join us. We are also planning on having a shared morning tea/ pool party between 10.40 - 11.10 on the same day.

In class this week our maths focus is around place value, including decimals. The children will be doing a range of activities to help enhance their understanding in this area. Writing this week is linked to our inquiry and is about bullying. The children have been shown a spoken word poem about bullying and are using this as a prompt for their writing. We already have some newspaper reports, diary entries and instruction writing well underway. I am also continuing with 1 to 1 conferences with the children to help identify their weekly goals. Our reading is again linked to our inquiry and the children will be responding to a prompt called 'Wing' about inclusion. They will also be completing comprehension questions and reading independently and in groups.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sam Unwin