New Plymouth – some thoughts

I had a fantastic time ! Many kind thoughts to Jacinta for letting me come along for the ride and paying for it all and for organising our visit to Bell Block School and remembering the music !

The event we were presenting at was an inservice day for all teachers and principals of the Taranaki Catholic schools. There was a prayer to begin then we were introduced and it was time. We were essentially repeating our presentation from the NZ Catholic Educators Conference in Wellington 2006 so I asked how many had heard us before. Only about seven hands went up. I took the bloggers picture and offered blogging conversation to anyone ! I was on a roll by now and next I asked all principals to stand up and I gave them a virtues acknowledgement. Poor Colette who was controlling the slides for me. I was way off the page of notes I had given her. I next acknowledged the schools I had taught at – St Patrick’s Kaponga and St Joseph’s Stratford. It was awesome to see friendly faces in the group and a nice moment for me to return and give to people who had given so much to me over the years. Finally I acknowledged the men who were gathered. We need more men in our schools !

Next I began my section of the virtues presentation. It all went well enough – I did not know the speech off by heart so used my notes but I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Jacinta followed me with her part. She was awesome, clear and focussed.

After Jacinta, Colette had her turn. She was very confident and spoke strongly. I really enjoyed hearing her words and some good thoughts for us at St Matthew’s !

Before we knew it, it was over and the obligatory bottles of wine were handed over ! It’s the thought that counts !

We packed up the data show and bits and pieces and headed off to visit Chris O’Neill who is principal at Bell Block Primary School. This was my second visit to Bell Block and I must say it was awesome. We talked with Chris and he explained how they were part of an Extending Hogh Standards contract. Their theme was curriculum integration and that several key staff members had been to Sydney in 2006 for training with Kath Murdoch. Here is a link to her model from the Dept of Ed, Tasmania.

Chris’ school has a big question which holds all of the inquiry together. The current theme they are studying is Kaitiaki o te Whenua – Why should we look after our world ? The topic was chosen after surveying the children at the end of 2006 and asking “What would you like to learn about ?” A balance of curriculum areas is achieved by focussing on one major topic each term – Health, Science, Social Studies and Technology. The units all start with a ‘hook’ . The teachers create a high interest activity to start the unit such as performing a play or a visit. There is an emphasis on finding out early in the unit so that the information may be used.

The unit often has a culminating activity such as a performance, a display, an expo or a celebration ! There is also an emphasis on transferring the learning into action – something tangible for the school, community or themselves. An example of this is adopting part of a beach to visit regularly and keep clean.

We had the briefest of looks in one junior class before it was time to head off for lunch and back to the conference. Many thanks to Chris for his hospitality and service. I will arrange for him to host the St Matthew’s staff one day in Term 3 or Term 4.

Back at the conference we were just in time to hear Carolyn Stuart from Tawa Intermediate. This is mentioned in the previous blog.

After that a pleasant drive home and time to reflect and relax.

A great trip !

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Author: nzkoobi

I am Tom.

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