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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How do They do That? Teaching Reading and Writing in NZ

I love Dad He plas with me We love you Hope yrer haven fun in the hivin Yrer in my hrt Yrer with me - Finley, age 5, all by himself
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How do They do That? Teaching Reading and Writing in NZ
I recently got a message via Facebook from a teacher friend in the U.S., and the proud mum in me wants to share. Also, I'm very, very tired tonight, so this message kills 2 Tui birds with 1 feijoa fruit - blog post, done!

...I am amazed by Finley's writing ability. HOW did they teach him to do this in 3 months? The teacher in me is truly in awe. I have taken a few NZ classes on reading and writing, and I love their techniques. What is your view on the process? Are they writing a ton every day? Is Fiona doing the same work? This is definitely first grade level here in the states. -Alicia

 I'm very glad you asked early on about teaching methods in NZ, because your question made me pay more attention to methodology than I otherwise would have. I volunteer once a week in the kids' classrooms, so I'm learning more about how they learn.
To answer your question, YES, they write every day...heaps! The focus is on allowing students to create interesting stories. The school's theme for the year is "my backyard," so the kids write a lot about what's in their backyard. Drawing pictures alongside seems just as important as the writing itself.
Fiona's Year 3 teacher has had several interesting assignments: 1 was a "Rotten Recipe." Students had to name their dish, ingredients needed (and quantities), and how to make the dish. They included things such as "eyeballs," and "blood of my brother." Mr. Parry said the gross stuff gets the boys engaged. Mr. P also plays guitar and ukulele in class and told me all students should learn music, because it creates special connections in their brains. I adore Mr. Parry.
Students write their assignments, then the teacher or parent helper write the correct spellings of words above what the kids have written. After that, the kids "publish," or put their writing in final form. There's lots of reading out loud by the teacher and by students, who gather in circles of 4-6 and read the same book, alternating pages, aloud. It's easy to tell who's a fluent reader, and who's struggling. Instead of textbooks, they have little story books. Fiona's supposed to bring home new stories to read to me each night. She also meets with a "reading recovery" instructor, who gives Fiona one-on-one help to bring her up to grade level. Fi's teacher tells me she's making rapid progress.
Finley must memorize small key words that are pasted in a workbook. He also has an alphabet chart, where he must say each letter, it's representative word, and sound: "A, apple ah;" B, ball, buh..." and so on... Finn's teacher, Ms. Dohnt, has an i-Pad with an app that lets students trace letters, so they can improve their handwriting.
I'm going to learn as much as I can about teaching, and I'll bring back some of their materials you can look at, too.
I'm happy to share...

1 comment:

  1. LOVE all the focus on writing! and the strategies. My "open primary" teacher in Kindergarten/1st grade played guitar, too. So great!I think I adore Mr. Parry, too!