All Blacks & Pavlova Cake

Trip Start Jun 08, 2012
Trip End Jun 24, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 2:  The alarm clock awakened me this morning to music of whales and nightingales on the classical radio station.

Morning: Observed in Elm Park School,  Levels 1-3.  At these levels, determined by age, students primarily learn to read; content and literacy learning are integrated. Makes sense. The classrooms are very diverse, similar to schools in Northern Virginia, except few if any Hispanic children.

"What is your intention?" Lots of oral language development activities and emphasis on metacognition. In the US we write learning objectives on lesson plans, teachers here make sure students know what the intention of each learning task is. At the beginning of a reading activity they ask, "What is your intention?"

Art is an integral part of learning.
Students write a lot and draw pictures to go along with their writings. They draw first then write.  

TeaTime. At 11 am everyone takes a civilized tea break. The teachers room is more like a VIP lounge with a coffee, mocaccino, capuccino machine. Talked with a itinerant special education teacher who explained NZ is planning to "upskill" (retrain) all teachers to be able to teach students with disabilities.

City of Sails The children are great, of course. When I entered the classooms my IPad caught their attention causing a ruckus.  I created chaos in all the classes, couldn't help myself.  More than a few curious students pointed to my necktie asking me what it was. For the first day I'd decided to wear my tie with sailboats on it. Auckland is nicknamed "city of sails." Sailing is BIG here.

Happy Maori New Year!
It's Maori New Year this week. Called Matariki. Part of the celebration is making kites. Why? It's a celestial celebration, and kites fly close to stars.

Judy, one of my hosts, brought me some fabulous cookies,she'd baked. Egads, they're turning me into a Tasmanian cookie monster.

 Judy & Mary took me to Our Lady of the Sea, which unlike many Catholic schools in USA,  has a special education program. The director of the program explained they take children who may be unwanted elsewhere. It's their commitment to social justice. They promote inclusion for students with disabilities during the first half the school day and are developing an impressive program that includes related services, assistive technology, IEP teams, & Reading Recovery. They use a reading series, "Rainbow Reading," for delayed readers. Students listen to stories on tape several times before they read it orally.  One thing that really impressed me,  the special education coordinator told me how at their IEP meetings the parents are invited to speak first!

Dinner. Judy invited me to dinner at her home last evening. Got to meet Mr. McDonald, her daughter and  husband, who is Maori, and their two children. Also Judy's dog, a Staford Bull Terrier, whose name I can't remember but whose lovely face I shan't forget.  Judy made a healthy and delicious dinner, including fish pie and for desser, Pavlova cake, sorta a cross between meringue and angel food, decorated with kiwi fruit & grapes. 

 In conversation I learned about the all blacks, that above NZ there is the a large gap in the Ozone layer, and that NZ has an army.
"What for?"
"That's what half the country also wants to know," Mr. MacDonald replied.

 Anyone know why NZ has such a large hole in the Ozone layer?

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Mary Abouzeid on

Doug--describe the diversity, will you? And who are the "all-blacks?"

dball on

I'll get more specifics about diversity but I know there are Pacifica, Indian, Maori, and many Asian children.
"All Blacks" is the nickname for world champion NZ Rugby team. They wear all black uniforms.

Cara Martin on

"What is your intention?" I love that!!

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