#26 Weekly Update

30 August 2019

Rāmere, te 30 o Hereturikōkā 2019

In this week’s update:

  1. Tuhituhi/ Writing: Focus areas
  2. Professional reading: Learned Helplessness
  3. Ngaio pukapuka kōrero: Various opportunities
  4. Rōpū Taunaki Ako/ Learning Support: Shaping
  5. Rōpū Pāngarau/ Maths: DMaths programmes update
  6. Podcast number 8: Imperfect Eating

1. Rōpū Tuhituhi / Writing Group

Our writing group met to work on our two focus areas for a half day session at Orewa College last Friday. Thank you to all who attended, your enthusiasm on working through these tasks is greatly appreciated. Our focus goal is to produce resource material that will be beneficial for colleagues and students across all of our kura and will develop our ‘common language’, and trust in our assessment levels 1- 5, in writing. The development of resources will take time to achieve, but we will share our progress in our up-coming updates.

1. NZC Levels 1 – 5 . Developing scaffolded expectations in specific text types. Develop anchor charts that can be used to support instruction, across the curriculum.

2. Orewa Kāhui LPF matrix – Revisit our matrix to look at the content/ detail and modify where needed. Glossary of writing terms used across levels NZC 1- 5. Developing our LPF matrix into ‘student speak.’

Writing moderation for term 3 has been shared with our in-school leaders. Kura are welcome to use the writing samples/ form for their own professional learning to practice moderation across levels and curriculum areas. Please submit forms by Monday 9th September. Results will be shared at our after school meeting on Thursday 12 September.

Contact sblackburn@wainui.school.nz if you have any further questions.

2. Pānui ngaio/ Professional Reading

When Children Fail in School: Understanding Learned Helplessness

Link to full Blog Understanding Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is the belief that our own behaviour does not influence what happens next; that is, behaviour does not control outcomes or results. For example, when a student believes that she is in charge of the outcome, she may think, “If I study hard for this test, I’ll get a good grade.” On the contrary, a learned helpless student thinks, “No matter how hard I study for this test, I’ll always get a bad grade.” In school, learned helplessness relates to poor grades and underachievement, and to behaviour difficulties. Students who experience repeated school failure are particularly prone to develop a learned helpless response style. Because of repeated academic failure, these students begin to doubt their own abilities, leading them to doubt that they can do anything to overcome their school difficulties. Consequently, they decrease their achievement efforts, particularly when faced with difficult materials, which leads to more school failure. This pattern of giving up when facing difficult tasks reinforces the child’s belief that he or she cannot overcome his or her academic difficulties.

Characteristics of Learned Helpless Students

Some characteristics of learned helpless children are:

1. Low motivation to learn, and diminished aspirations to succeed in school.

2. Low outcome expectations; they believe that, no matter what they do in school, the outcome will always be negative (e.g. bad grades) and are powerless to prevent or overcome a negative outcome.

3. Lack of perceived control over their own behavior and the environmental events; one’s own actions cannot lead to success.

4. Lack of confidence in their skills and abilities (low self-efficacy expectations). These children believe that their school difficulties are caused by their own lack of ability and low intelligence. They are convinced that they are unable to perform the required actions to achieve a positive outcome.

5. They underestimate their performance when they do well in school, attributing success to luck or chance, e.g., “I was lucky that this test was easy.”

6. They generalize from one failure situation or experience to other situations where control is possible. Because they expect failure all the time, regardless of their real skills and abilities, they underperform all the time.

7. They focus on what they cannot do, rather than focusing on their strengths and skills.

8. Because they feel incapable of implementing the necessary courses of action, they develop passivity and their school performance deteriorates.

The Pessimistic Explanatory Style

Learned helpless students, perceive school failure as something that they will never overcome, and academic events, positive or negative, as something out of their control. This expectation of failure and perceived lack of control is central to learned helplessness. The way in which children perceive and interpret their experiences in the classroom helps us understand why some children develop a pessimistic explanatory style, believing that they are not capable of succeeding in school (Seligman, Reivich, Jaycox, and Gilham, 1995).

  • Children with a pessimistic explanatory style explain negative events as something stable (the cause of the negative event will always be present), global (the cause of the negative event affects all areas of their lives), and internal (they conclude that they are responsible for the outcome or consequence of the negative event).
  • A typical pessimistic explanatory style is, “I always fail no matter what I do.” On the contrary, when the outcome of the event is positive, a pessimistic child attributes the outcome to unstable (the cause of the event is transitory), specific (the cause of the event is situation specific), and external (other people or circumstances are responsible for the outcome) causes.

Learned Helpless Students Need Learning Strategies

Due to this perceived lack of control of the negative event, a learned helpless child is reluctant to seek assistance or help when he is having difficulty. These children are ineffective in using learning strategies, and they do not know how to engage in strategic task behavior to solve academic problems. For example, learned helpless children are unaware that if they create a plan, use a checklist, and/or make drawings, it will be easier for them to solve a multi-step math word problem. With learned helpless children, success alone is not going to ease the helpless perception or boost their self-confidence. The key in helping a learned helpless child overcome this dysfunctional explanatory pattern is to provide strategy retraining (teaching her strategies to use, and teaching explicitly when she can use those strategies), so that we give the child specific ways to remedy achievement problems; coupled with attribution retraining, or creating and maintaining a success expectation. When we teach a learned helpless child to use learning strategies, we are giving her the tools she needs to develop and maintain the perception that she has the resources to reverse failure. Ames (1990) recommends that, in combination with the learning strategies, we help the learned helpless child develop individualized short-term goals, e.g., “I will make drawings to accurately solve a two-steps math word problem.” When the child knows and implements learning strategies, she will be able to experience progress toward her individualized goals.

Learned Helpless Students Need to Believe that Effort Increases Skills

To accomplish this, we need to help learned helpless children recognize and take credit for the skills and abilities that they already have. In addition, we need to develop in children the belief that ability is incremental, not fixed; that is, effort increases ability and skills. Tollefson (2000) recommends that we help children see success as improvement, i.e. are successful when we acquire or refine knowledge and new skills, encouraging them to expend effort. We need to avoid communicating children that, to succeed in school, they need to perform at a particular level. We need to train them to focus on strategies and the process of learning, rather than outcomes and achievement.

Concluding Comments

To minimize the negative impact of learned helplessness in children, we need to train them to focus on strategies and processes to reach their academic goals, reinforcing the belief that, through effort, they are in control of their own behavior, and that they are in charge of developing their own academic skills. For example, to help a child focus on the learning process, after failure, we can tell the child, “Maybe you can think of another way of doing this.” This way, our feedback stays focused on the child’s effort and the learning strategies he or she is using -within both the child’s control and modifiable. When children themselves learn to focus on effort and strategies, they can start feeling responsible for positive outcomes, and responsible for their own successes in school and in life.

3. Rōpū Te Reo Me Tikanga Māori

TE WIKI O TE REO MĀORI 2019/ Māori Language Week 2019

Something for every day: If you’re stuck for ideas in the classroom over Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2019, look nof urther. Below is an idea for everyday that can be easily added to your planning.

Rāhina/Monday, te 9 o Mahuru:

Te reo focus of the day: Classroom commands

Add at least 1 more Classroom Commands to the class list

Rātū/Tuesday, te 10 o Mahuru:

Te reo focus of the day: How are you really?

How else could you answer “Kei te pehea koe?”

Add a new response to your repertoire

Rāapa/Wednesday, te 11 o Mahuru:

Te reo focus of the day: How high can we go

How high can your class count in te reo Māori?

Rāpare/Thursday, te 12 o Mahuru:

Place names: What place names can we pronounce better?



Rāmere/Friday, te 13 o Mahuru:

Te reo focus of the day: Make some signs for your class

All students make a sign for a classroom object so you can learn them together.

4. Rōpū Taunaki Ako/ Learning Support Group

5. Rōpū Pāngarau/ Maths Group

This week Rhonda Beet from Orewa North Primary and Leanne Stevenson from Wainui Primary shared the maths programme that they follow. Both presentations were insightful, where one looked at ways to integrate maths into everyday life. The other presentation looked at where there might be gaps in their programme. This is a great way to generate discussions and ideas.

6. Professional Development/ Ngaio pukapuka kōrero

Professional development run by Marie Hirst and Jo Knox:

Term 3 Maths Made Easy Workshops: Please click here to register.

Spaces are filling up fast. See workshop descriptions below for more information

  • Northcross Intermediate: Monday 2nd September OR
  • Orewa Primary School: Wednesday 4th September

Digital Curriculum – Tuesday 3 September @ Orewa Primary School,

Workshop on Anxiety – Tuesday 3 September @ Whangaparaoa College, 3.30-5.30pm

Writing Moderation – Thursday 9 September @ Orewa College, 3.30pm

7. Podcast number 8: Imperfect Eating

And now for something completely different. Interested in listening to a nutritionist talk about diets for busy people? “If you’ve tried the no sugar/ no white bread/ no ice cream/ no pizza/ no anything that gives you pleasure approach to dieting and it’s failed you, give a listen to this episode to hear why eating imperfectly might be the key to getting the results you want.”

Link to podcast here

To keep up to date, follow us on our Kāhui Ako website: https://orewakahuiako.com/


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