Rotorua Education Network – “Famil”

In November this year I attended the Rotorua Education Network famil. This was a 2 day PD that involved meeting with and experiencing tourism in Rotorua. During the 2 days we went to agrodome, te puia, we also went white water rafting on the skyline to agrodome adventrues, on the ogo and to tamaki village for a cultural experience. This was a pretty awesome PD to be attending a aside from being a whole lot of fun it was beneficial to my teaching practice for several reasons;

  • This year was my first year taking my Year 13 geography class to Rotorua as part of their research assessment and external (cultural proccesses). I booked on line through the Rotorua Education Network but didn’t really know what to expect or what was on offer. The famil, showcased a whole lot of tourist providers and what they could offer school groups – including links to particular standards. I now have some ideas for next time and may be a bit more adventurous in the activities I book. This year I was viewing the trip purely from an assessment driven perspective and not looking at the bigger picture in terms of cultural experiences, fun outside of the classroom.
  • This trip provided me with a useful networking experience with about 20 geography teachers from around the country attending we spent a lot of time talking about the various programs and courses we offered which was useful to my planning and reviewing of the level 3 program.

I am now looking forward to creating a more engaging and holistic fieldtrip in 2018!

Providing opportunities to learn -eliminating distractions and building relationships

During Term 3, 2017 I noticed one of the relationships with one of my students (student A) in my Year 12 class had shifted. Earlier in the year this student seemed to lack focus, struggled to complete work on time or to the standard he was hoping for and was reluctant to ask for help or support from me with his work. I started to think back on why this shift had happened and I realised his attitude towards me and his work had changed around the time I intervened on a class mate who was a constant distraction (student B).

For most of the year I had thought that student A was the student who was doing the distraction. He was often up and out of his seat walking around the classroom. Giving me the impression he was distracting student B. However, after a conversation with a maths teacher who had taught both of these students before I learnt the opposite was true. Student A liked to walk around or stand up in class for some reason but that was a habit rather than a reluctant attitude towards work. In addition to this new knowledge I realised that Student B rarely completed any work (other than the first assessment). I was also concerned because Student A had been identified as a Priority Leaner because of his lack of credits at level 2 despite his reputation as a good student in previous years.

I realised it was up to me to manage this behavior in my classroom better if I wanted both these students to succeed. The next lesson the off task behavior started and I told these students I had, had enough. If it happened again I would remove one of them….it did and so I took Student A to the deans explaining he was not in trouble I just wanted a quiet place for him to work. I also explained that next time it would be his friend being removed and this would continue to rotate until we could get our work done all together.

The next day I noticed both boys were on their best behavior especially student A choosing to sit elsewhere and Student B did not seem to want to be sent out so they were both able to get on with the learning.

After this not only was student A much more focused in class but he began showing me work and asking for support. This taught me that it is important to provide a learning environment where all students have the opportunity to learn even if is their mates distracting them. I will defiantly intervene much earlier in future situations that are similar – as this not only improved my relationship with the students but also allowed this student to focus on his learning.

Jump start 2017 review and planning for 2018 – pros and cons

At Tamaki College we move our Year 9 students into Year 10 and Year 10 into Year 11 for the last 4 weeks on term 4. This is after junior exams and the seniors have left. The idea behind this is to increase engagement and to hopefully get some Level 1 credits providing a “jumpstart” into 2018.

At the end of 2016 I saw a similar strategy being employed with Year 10s going into Year 11 and the English class I was teaching began their “Static Image” assessment in week 5. This was positive for the new year 11s at Whangaparoa College and it kept students focused rather than starting their summer holidays early. Around this time I visited Tamaki College to do handover with the previous geography teacher. I came to his Year 11 jumpstart class and got to meet some of the Year 11 students I would be teaching next year (2017). I remember being amazed! The class was focused, on task and working on their first assessment (AS91009) – looking at sustainability and tourism in the Maldives.

At the end of the school year Caleb, the former geography teacher emailed me students work from this assessment with comments. He noted that students would need another week at the start of the year to finish up this assessment.

I began 2017 knowing the class had stuff to finish up on their first internal but this took much longer than expected. As the class had just had 6 weeks off their summer brains had forgotten a lot of the content they had covered the previous year. We ended up having to go over a lot and extend the deadline. In the end the class spend 2 weeks at the start of the year working on this first assessment (this meant the work took 6 weeks all up). What further complicated our “jumpstart” to 2017 was there were 4 new students who hadn’t been in the class at Year 10 (dec 2016). I then had to start them on the learning for this particular assessment while the rest of the class finished up – making the start of the year a little messier than I would have liked.

Nonetheless, we got through it and once the assessments were finally handed in I decided to start everyone on the next assessment and come back to AS91009 at the end of term 3 for the 4 or 5 students who hadn’t got a chance to start the assessment. I thought this was the best approach since those who had done jumpstart could potentially focus on exam revision during this part of the year while the other students completed their assessment.

Unfortunately, only 2 out of the 6 jumpstart students ended up gaining the 3 credits for this assessment. 2 students did not complete the work and 1 got not achieved. On a positive note, the space at the end of the year meant that the students that did not achieved or hadn’t completed had another opportunity to gain these lost credits. The non jumpstart students also had the time to complete the assessment. As one of the students who had completed the assessment during jumpstart was away sick this meant she wasn’t missing any assessment opportunities during her time away from school. This left one student in the class who had received excellence for this assessment during jumpstart. I decided to give her the option to prepare for exams or start a level 2 standard. She choose the level 2 standard and got 3 credits at level 2 to an excellence level! In this particular case jumpstart gave me the time to accelerate a high achieving student.

However, with the 4 weeks at the end of the year (2016), 2 weeks at the beginning of 2017 and the extra 4 weeks in term 3 the class spent a total of 10 weeks on one standard. I’m not sure this was necessarily the most effective use of class time.

Prior to planning for Jumpstart 2017/2018 it was important for me to reflect on the benefits and shortcomings of offering credits at the end of the year. In summary:



  • We ended up spending a lot of time on this one assessment (10 weeks)
  • Revisiting the same standard 3 times may have been a bit tedious for the class
  • Only 2 students passed the assessment initially
  • 2 students didn’t complete the work and 1 didn’t pass (perhaps they were not ready to be assessed so early on
  • The first few weeks of 2017 students were working on assessment potentially acting as a barrier for establishing a relationship with this new class.
  • Students who missed jumpstart or enrolled late were at a disadvantage (messier start to the year)


Some benefits:

  • There was time at the end for students to catch up/re-do assessments
  • Extra time provided students opportunities to be accelerated
  • Students were focused at the end of the year.

Taking these reflections into account I decided 4 weeks wasn’t enough time for me to get to know a new class, introduce them to a new subject (geography isn’t an option until year 11). Further, there wasn’t space to engage students and develop an interest in the subject. I also felt it was important to introduce students to the key concepts in geography and explore these ideas in more depth. Providing a solid foundation as these key concepts are used and need to be applied in all geography internals and externals at level 1, 2 and 3.

I decided for Jumpstart 2017/18 I would focus on the key concepts and plan this around the idea of “My significant place” using this as an opportunity to develop interest in the subject, get to know students and develop a subject specific vocabulary.

For further reading – Here is the link to my 2017/2018 jumpstart unit plan