#8 Newsletter 2024

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Rāmere, te 14 o te Hune 2024

Orewarewa whenua, puāwai māhuri
On the fertile ground of Orewa, the sapling blooms


Have something to share? Get in contact with one of our Across School Leaders – we would love to hear from you!

[email protected] Te Ao Māori

[email protected] Hauora

[email protected] Future Ready

[email protected] 21st Century Learning

[email protected] Structured Literacy



Matariki Ahunga Nui Ceremony 2024

We warmly invite you once again to join us for our annual Matariki Ahunga Nui Ceremony as a volunteer and/or participant. The event will again take place at Orewa Beach (in front of the surf club) on Matariki public holiday, Friday 28th June at 6am. 

Above: Last year’s event as the sun rose on Ōrewa Beach

The goal for the Matariki Ahunga Nui ceremony is to celebrate the rising of the Matariki star cluster and the start of the Māori New Year by honouring loved ones who have passed and sharing mātauranga Māori about the cultural significance of Matariki. This gathering aims to provide a dedicated moment for reflection and remembrance, where attendees collectively name and pay tribute to those who have left us throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to bring the Hibiscus Coast community together to celebrate the Māori new year. 

Volunteer: If you are interested in volunteering at this year’s Matariki festival sign up for a job here: Volunteer Sign Up Form.

Nāku iti noa, nā

Pip Speedy – Te Herenga Waka o Orewa Marae

Matariki is Coming – Watch this Space for Resources



3D Printing in Primary School


At Silverdale School, Steph Kennedy has been working with her classroom to explore Tinkercad and 3D printing for a purpose. Here are her words:


In Room 6 we have been very excited to begin using the 3D printer that has recently been purchased. I started by giving the students the Tinkercad platform, along with a series of YouTube tutorials to watch (video 1, video 2, video 3) and gave them the day to ‘tinker’. 


Many of the students used a premade model as the base of their design, then added crowns and shoes to these. One student was able to create a magnificent cat by individually building blocks together.

Since then we have done lots of exploring and have had a few failures! Most recently we designed bubble wands for our Year 1 buddy class. After printing, we have found a few design flaws, such as the holes in the wands not being big enough or having elements of the wand not creating a level surface which has caused issues with getting to the bubble mixture. This has provided a great learning opportunity to reflect on our designs and remaster them to create a more effective and functional wand.


INTERFACE Student Minecraft Competiton 2024


We’re challenging you to create and manage a marine habitat – either a natural or artificial environment – in Aotearoa New Zealand. Come up with the design within our guidelines below, construct it in Minecraft, record a short, 3-minute video tour, and submit your entry.

With a focus on Kaitiakitanga – a concept of guardianship, encompassing the processes and practices of protecting and looking after the environment around us – your environment must be biodiverse and sustainable.

Wildlife experts

PLUS, there’s some extra help this year. We’ve teamed up with wildlife experts across the country, who are willing to share their skills and knowledge with you and your students as you design and build your habitats. Check them out at https://interfaceonline.co.nz/meet-the-wildlife-experts/


Entry details

There are three age categories to choose from:

  • Primary (Years 1-6);
  • Intermediate (Years 7-8); and
  • Secondary (Years 9+).

Entries close end of Term 3 (Friday 27 September).  The winners will be announced in our November magazine on 6 November.


I hope all of you who joined us for the Maths PD at Silverdale School on the TOD enjoyed it and found it useful.  I was heartened to receive an email from Bridget O’Dea Deputy Principal at Orewa Primary School. Her email included the following 

Dr. Jo’s presentation was enlightening, articulate, concise, and pertinent. I especially appreciated her ability to bridge the current curriculum with the forthcoming one, emphasising key areas of change. Her integration of the Common Practice Model was also highly valuable and I left eager to adapt aspects of how I am teaching maths. The presentation ensured I was well-informed, connected, motivated, and inspired.” 

Thanks, Bridget for the feedback and I’m sure we can all agree that Dr Jo Knox certainly did a great job unpacking the changes and preparing us for teaching the revised maths curriculum. 


Jo’s slides for the day are available here slides from the TOD day

A few interesting points I gleaned:

When to teach the algorithm – once students can partition and use some strategies to add numbers – around Year 4 seemed to be the consensus.

The key changes in number:



How to open up closed tasks: 

  • Identify a maths focus
  • Consider a closed question and write down the answer.
  • Rewrite the maths question that includes the answer

 We were privileged to have Jay Geldard, the co-founder of E Tu Tangata, speak to us at our recent Kahui Ako ki Orewa mini Conference.  
















Link to website


  1. Scroll down and watch the video of Jay to see what it’s all about.



  1. Scroll back to the top and click on the Free Resource button (on the black background)
  2. Scroll down to find out how the Kite works (don’t click Get Started just yet)


  1. Now scroll back up to the yellow box and click on the Get Started button


  1. You can then choose which category you would like.



5. Fill out your details and submit (this will take you to the log in page)

6. You are in!

7. The best place to start is by Learning the Essentials…



You can explore by year levels….

…. Or by the strands of the E Tū Tāngata Mindset


There are collections that include resources for getting started, classroom displays and poetry.



Is it time to break up with running records?

“What’s his level?” It’s a question that is commonly asked and answered in our schools.  We have for so long tested our students using a popular benchmarking kit that ends up providing an instructional and independent level for reading. The idea of a ‘level’ is attractive. It gives us an easily measurable way to track progress in a child’s reading.  The problem with this system is that it doesn’t effectively measure a child’s reading progress at all. This system involves children reading increasingly complex books. It encourages children to ‘guess’ words using the first letter and the pictures in the book and relies heavily on children learning a large bank of ‘sight words’.

Benchmarking feels comfortable and right. It has been in schools for what feels like a bajillion years (not a real number, but this is not a post about maths…). Everyone knows what the numbers mean and you can communicate ‘progress’ in a way that even the kids understand. With what we are now finding out about the teaching of reading though, it might be time to break up with benchmarking! Get rid of running records!

Here’s why:

  1. Guessing isn’t reading

When children do not have the phoneme/grapheme correspondence to blend the words in front of them, they have a guess. They will likely be looking at the picture to have that guess, but it is a guess nonetheless   This guessing leads to serious errors in decoding, which affects comprehension significantly. Those columns where you are asked to analyse whether errors are due to meaning, syntax or visual cues can be totally skipped.  For beginning readers, you are only interested in where the errors of decoding occurred as this is the only strategy we want them using (more developed readers will use more than one strategy to decode, but effective blending is absolutely essential for this to occur).  The ‘multi-cuing method’ or ‘three-cuing method’ is ineffective. 

  1. Sight words aren’t really a thing.

The popular system I have referred to is built around children developing a large bank of ‘sight words’. As children read more and develop more automatic blending they begin to recognise more words effortlessly. This doesn’t mean that they learn or process the words as whole units or global shapes. Rather, proficient readers attend to all of the sounds in a word. 

  1. It doesn’t measure the right things

The benchmarking system used by most schools is a way to measure progress through this program. Nothing more. If your school teaches reading using a phonics program, measuring progress with this tool is a total mismatch. 

  1. It isn’t timed

Fluency development is a key aspect of learning to read efficiently and is necessary for comprehension.  Your run-of-the-mill benchmarking system isn’t timed at all. So, a child could robotically sound out every word, use the pictures to answer questions and ‘pass’ the level, when they are not, in fact, functional readers. This makes the results open to interpretation and teacher judgement, which drastically impacts on the validity and reliability of the assessment.

Thank you to Jocelyn Seamer Education for much of this information around assessing reading.

So, let’s assume that you can see the logic of these points, the question remains, 

“How are we supposed to assess reading without benchmarking?”

This is a big question facing schools at the moment as we dive deeper into delivering reading instruction based on the science of reading with a structured literacy approach.

Watch out for next week’s article on one tool being adopted by many schools, DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills)!



Kāhui Ako Hui Dates – Term 2 2024


Thursday 20th June – ASL @ Orewa Primary School – WSL @ Orewa College 3.30pm

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Supporting and Empowering all tamariki and Kaiako to learn and achieve personal excellence/hiranga.