SPOTLIGHT on Learning

Kāhui Ako ki Orewa is a combination of 5 primary schools and a secondary school. Within every school, there are amazing things happening! We feel it is important for us to highlight some of those amazing achievements which link to our four focus areas. Below are some of the latest excerpts from our Kāhui Ako ki Orewa newsletter.

Our fitness programme was getting boring and the kids wanted to be part of the decision making on what we do and how we exercise.

We planned a Code You Fitness programme where students could design 3 activities that we complete in sequence for fitness. We brought in the language of computational thinking:

Sequencing – our 3 activities (needing to be 3 different styles of fitness; cardio, weights, stretch)

Debugging – can everyone do this activity? Do we need equipment? Do we need a classroom/gym/courts/feild?

The student created their own fitness activities on their white boards using stick figures. Once ‘debugged’ they were then copied across to cards. 

Every day we draw out two cards from our fitness box and code ourselves to complete the fitness programme. The kids love it! They all participate and then give feedback to the creators.

In my classroom, I am working to create a self-paced mastery pathway for spelling based around the Spelling Under Scrutiny programme.  I began by testing students to see their current mastery of spelling rules using the Spelling Under Scrutiny Gap Analysis.

From here I have created a spelling lesson menu in Google Slides.  Each student has a copy of the lesson tracker as pictured (pushed out through Google Classroom).  As they achieve mastery in a lesson, the box is coloured green.  Each student in the class can therefore see what they have achieved and what their next steps are.

Each lesson in the spelling menu contains the key information from the Spelling Under Scrutiny lessons.  There is video content to teach the content and live worksheets for the students to test their understanding.  These liveworksheets are brilliant because the students get immediate feedback on their learning and can see which aspects they need to revisit.  An example lesson is here.

At the end of each lesson, I use a self-grading Google form quiz to assess their mastery.  They must achieve 100% on this quiz to be able to move on.

What I love about this system is that every student in my class is getting teaching targeted to their level.  They can move through the content at a pace that works for them, and I am freed up to support with additional one-on-one teaching as required.  The students are finding it really engaging as well as they get immediate feedback to know how they are achieving.

This is all a work in progress but the initial results are looking good.

We have been using Banqer in the classroom to inspire students to be curious, creative and confident with money.  Banqer is an online tool that simulates real world financial experiences so students can have practice with financial concepts like saving, interest, Kiwisaver, mortgages and insurance in order to develop money management skills. Banqer provides a safe environment for students to experiment in real life scenarios where they can see the consequences of their decisions in a fun, safe setting.  Ensuring our students are financially literate is an important part of our Maths programme and Banqer is an example of how digital technology can enhance curriculum delivery.  Students love having control over their own virtual bank accounts and are engaged in making financial decisions about whether to spend their money or save for a deposit on a house.  They grapple with the risks and benefits of  taking out insurance and investigate how to balance saving with paying their bills.  This is Future Ready learning as it incorporates essential 21st century skills that prepare our learners with the tools they need to create successful futures. 

Teacher View of Banqer Dashboard:

Kia Ora Tātou

Ko Hāimona tōku ingoa. He Kaiako ahau ki Te Kura Tuatahi ō Orewa. 

One of our focuses in terms of Te Ao Māori in our kura has been on upskilling kaimahi(staff). We’ve found that one of the biggest barriers for our teachers in our school community to be able to deliver quality Te Reo content is our own skill levels and confidence. 

We currently have a weekly staff Te Reo Rōpū held before school on a Wednesday. It’s been really heartwarming to see many of our teachers and teacher aides commit the time and energy it takes to further their own Te Reo. It has been a great place for teachers to ask pātai (questions) and to share resources and successes that they have had in their own Te Reo teaching practice. Our students are really benefiting from having staff more confident and more capable of delivering and facilitating meaningful Te Reo content in our classrooms. 

Another way we have met this goal is through a more formal Te Reo study. I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate the 4 staff members of Orewa Primary who have just completed and graduated from various levels of their Te Ahu O Te Reo Māori studies. Tēnei te mihi ki a rātou i tā rātou mahi. Māuriora! He tino waimarie ā rātou akōnga. Your students are lucky to have you! 

Lastly, it has been great to be able to relaunch our Mau Rakau and Poi sessions at our kura recently. Ongoing covid restrictions have made Kapa Haka difficult to implement, but with the tautoko (support) of our Kāhui Ako we’ve been able to engage and immerse our senior students in some really meaningful Te ao Māori activities on a weekly basis.

Road to Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Starting in Cardiff, Wales visit all of the past UK Commonwealth Games locations as well as a few famous spots we are sure you will recognise. Your mission will be completed when you reach the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium. This is a great way to add some fun to your fitness, increase movement within your class and also start a conversation about New Zealand athletes and why we are part of the commonwealth games. 

Another thing that you can do through the New Zealand Olympic Committee is get a athlete to come into your school to do a presentation. Sometimes this is a local legend like Barbara Kendall or you might be lucky enough to get someone competing at the Commonwealth games before they head off. 

We are going to be using this as part of our daily fitness challenge and also in conjunction with the new bike track we have. 

Link to site

For further information on how the kaiako and kura are using this to support learning contact Hamish at Orewa Beach School –

We have used edpuzzle in our class as an independent comprehension follow up for whole class books and the kids love it! It’s been a great way to independently extend all of the children in our class as it is accessible for everyone. Those children who struggle more with reading and writing have the option to record their answers for some questions. The kaiako making the video also has the option to add voice notes, we have added voice notes in which we read aloud the question before it pops up. 

You can choose between multi-choice questions as well as open ended ones which give the opportunity to practice literal comprehension as well as things like predicting and more inferential skills. So far, we have only used it for reading, but it would be easy to use in other areas too!

Teacher View:

Student View:

Spotlight – Althea White (Mrs White) at Orewa College

Kia ora,  I am in the Te ao Māori group and my goal is to encourage and foster the normalisation of Te Reo in the classroom.  To this end, I have enrolled in the Te Ahu o te Reo Māori with Takatū course. 

My goal is to reach a level of proficiency in te reo Māori which will give me the confidence to meet with colleagues and make suggestions that will benefit our kura. 

The purpose is also to complement the work that is being done from years 1 to 8, to ensure continuity. So for the moment this involves creating resources that will give teachers opportunities to use greetings, instructions and common classroom phrases and whakataukī in the classroom.

The photo below is symbolic of my goal to be part of the tree that provides shelter for the birds as they fly on their journey towards understanding their cultural significance and becoming comfortable with using Te Reo Māori in our kura.

Year 11 NCEA  Mechatronics/ English Integrated Course

Course Beginnings:

The idea for this collaboration was largely born out of two observations. The first was the frustration with senior students who do not see a purpose for English. Many of them are buying time and trying to amass credits in order to really start their lives. The second was the lack of purpose-based writing. We felt that PBL environments give students the purpose some of them need to produce good quality work.

Course Outline:

This course is an integrated subject between Mechatronics and English. It offers students the chance to develop English skills in context, and develop knowledge based around Technology (Mechatronics) concepts.  Students use design thinking to conceptualise, prototype and build projects in Mechatronics that use Electronics as their core. English skills connect with technology skills in the evidence they produce on their personal websites. 


We currently have a group of students split into two class groups, dividing their time equally between the subjects. It is perhaps worth noting that this is their English class, it is not an additional class. Students move between subject areas as required, in either Mechatronics or English. Occasionally, we all get together to plan and strategise. 

With students having the knowledge of a particular subject area like Mechatronics, their English assessments take on relevance to the second area of their study program. Projects have a driving question to focus the writing, and each iteration follows the Design Thinking framework. What has amazed the teachers of this course is that, although our time is halved, we have actually gained time due to the streamlined and integrated nature of the course.

For more information –

Using Story Board for Follow-up Lessons

One of the kaiako in our Kāhui has shared a great idea that we thought is well worth passing on. She has used to draw the interest of her ākonga and help them grasp the language learnt this week. 

“My are loving using – they are creating comics with today’s te reo focus. They can create 2 free storyboards/comics per week, so you could also use it in other learning areas. 

Lots of fun and really engaging – they can show a lot in their comic to reflect their characters’ feelings.” 

Mel Pollard, Silverdale School

A few years ago Gillian and myself thought it a great idea to introduce beehives and beekeeping to the school, the students had shown an interest in bees and we had a particular group of students who were enthusiastic about learning as much as they could about being Kaitiaki.

With the help of SJA honey, we were able to establish 2 beehives last year. At the end of the year the honey was extracted from the beehives and then the fun began.

The year 8’s poured buckets of honey into 500ml jars which will be sold as a school fundraiser for our Garden to Table Programme. We filled around 120 jars – (the math involved is huge!)

The students were then tasked with designing a label to put on the jars. After researching what needed to be included when you label honey, the students then used CANVA to design their label, coming up with a brand name and making sure they included the appropriate information. 

The school will then get the opportunity to vote on which label they like the best. The labels will be made into a google slideshow, the teacher will show their class the designs and the voting will be done on a google form designed by the students. 

The students have also made posters to promote the sale of their honey and slideshows that explain the process they were involved in when bottling the honey. Screencast O’Matic will be used to verbally explain their slides and turn them into a “movie” which will be downloaded to Youtube and a link sent to enable them to be viewed by other classes in the school. View video 1 herevideo 2 here

Being able to use digital technology in so many different ways has transformed the learning, creating tasks that would have previously been inconceivable. Digital technology has been integrated through so many different curriculum areas in an authentic way, making it so much more meaningful. Students have worked collaboratively on some of the tasks and shown they can be creators not just users of digital technology.

Have a question? Would like more information? Contact Leanne Stevenson at

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