Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Term Four Big Idea: Cultural Diversity

This term our integrated unit is about Cultural Diversity. Last week the Senior Syndicate children hosted a cultural festival for their peers. The event started with a performance by the IPU Drum team in the hall. The children communicated their new learning in a wide range of different ways, including hosting a cultural food festival and performing a dance to represent culture. Many of the children worked in collaborative groups to share cultural traditions, artworks, dances, languages and games. Three classes also enjoyed a shared cultural lunch. Several parents from our community supported their children to share special aspects of their culture. One group of children planned and taught cultural Jump Jam routines to the Junior Syndicate children and on Tuesday this week, groups of children are facilitating our sports rotation. These children researched sports played by different cultures and are going to teach other children about the background of the sport and how to play them.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Taking Action!

Our children have been busy applying their new learning to take action and make a difference in our community!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Interpret Challenges

Each class completed the ‘Interpret’ stage of our integrated unit. This stage of our integration model requires children to use and apply their new learning through a range of challenges/scenarios/tasks. Some examples include:
  • The children have completed the thinking routine ‘I used to think... Now I think…’ The children were also asked to reflect on changes they have made in relation to their behaviours and our environment.
  • Writing a script and filming a news report to highlight the positive and negative impacts humans are having on our environment. 
  • Developing an action plan in response to the following scenario: Imagine Palmerston North’s temperature goes up 20 degrees overnight, trees die, the river and the lagoon dries up. What effect would it have on us? What effect would this have on animals? What would our environment be like? What foods would we eat? What activities would we do? 
For the rest of the term, the children will be working on the ‘Inspire’ stage of our integrated unit. Next week, our Deputy Mayor is visiting Room 6/7 to discuss the rubbish and recycling strategies in Palmerston North. He was invited by a student who sent him an email earlier in the term after reading an article on

Monday, 15 August 2016

Term Three Big Idea - Environment

This term our big idea is ‘Environment’. In each of our classes, the learning is being driven by the children. Our teachers did not plan our integrated unit together as a team at the end of Term Two as we normally would. The reason behind this change was to ensure we were actually listening to our children and letting them lead their learning for the term without our own preconceived ideas significantly influencing the learning. Instead, this planning process has been brought alive in our classrooms with our children. Alongside this new approach to planning, teachers still need to follow our College Street Normal School integration model and curriculum expectations.

The teachers planned an initial emotional hook activity to ‘Ignite’ the children’s thinking about this big idea. Some classes used a range of engaging images of environmental issues in conjunction with different thinking routines. In Lava the children were asked to empathise with an animal that had been displaced due to deforestation. They were given a variety of materials from which they had to plan and construct a home which met the animal's basic needs.

From here the children have co-constructed their knowledge deep understanding and indicators for the matrix. Each class has selected a Habit of Mind focus which they think will enhance their learning of this big idea. They have also co-constructed the matrix indicators for the Habit of Mind.

Throughout this process, the children have been developing and recording their wonderings and they are now following their own lines of inquiry.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Manawatu Standard Junior News

Below is an article written by four children from Lava (Room 6/7).  Their article, along with four advertisements created by children from GRi11 2.0 (Room 10/11) was published in the Manawatu Standard Junior News.

At College Street Normal School we currently have 593 College Street Kids (including us) who come to our school 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. We are a large primary school and have more than 40 staff. 
Our school vision statement is ‘Go For Gold’. This means we always try our best! We learn about how we can use the Habits of Mind and Habits of Heart to be successful in our daily lives. At CSNS we all love learning new things. Our main learning areas are maths, reading, writing and integration. We learn in comfortable environments. This means we don’t always learn at a desk. Instead we can sit on ottomans, benches, beanbags and on the floor. For reading, writing and maths we have a range of tasks to complete. We get to choose when we do each task and who we learn with. So for example, we have people crafting their writing, while other people are researching for their inquiry. 
We all get to use devices to help us with our learning. Every child has a Google account. We can access our learning at school and at home on any device and share our learning with other people at the press of a button. It is faster and easier for us and our teachers! We also use our devices to share our learning creatively by making movies and animations. Each class has a blog where we add posts about our learning and fun events we have at school. 
Every child gets the opportunity to participate in our sports rotations every week. We learn skills for a range of different sports including badminton, basketball, soccer, golf, tennis, table tennis and touch rugby. Our main school sports events in the year are triathlon, swimming sports, cross country and athletics sports. 
At CSNS there are lots of extra curricular activities we can participate in. We have sports teams, dance groups, choir, Kapa Haka, jump jam, drama club, chess club and conservation club. There are also other academic activities we can participate in such as Mathex, Otago Problem Solving Challenge and ICAS Testing. 
At lunch time we can borrow sports items from the PE shed, get active with a game of soccer or rugby on the field, hang out with friends on the playground, swing on the monkey bars, or take a break on the deck. 
Last term our whole school performed at The Regent Theatre in our school production ‘Cinderella and Rockerfella’. There is always lots happening at CSNS. Please check out our school website ( or our Facebook page for more information.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Sharing our Journey

This term, our Middle Syndicate teachers used some of their classroom release time to visit our Senior Syndicate spaces. It was particularly exciting to watch and listen to our children explain their learning to our visitors!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Learner Pathway Co-construction

Classes are now actively using their co-constructed learner pathway to help develop positive learning dispositions and competencies. Throughout the year teachers have built the children’s understanding and application of the key competency managing self. The children have explored the concept of ‘The Learning Pit’ and developing a growth mindset. Children can explain their strengths as a learner and their next learning steps. The teachers have really encouraged and supported the children to make honest reflections. 

At our last CRT day, we continued to explore agency and discussed ways we could provide some children with the opportunity to lead their own learning. In order for our children to lead their own learning, they need to ensure they are being personally challenged - the learning has to be hard if they are actually going to be developing and growing their knowledge, skills and dispositions. We are looking forward to exploring these ideas during the rest of the year.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Day to Day Learning and Teaching

The children are learning to take responsibility for managing their learning throughout the day. In some of the classes, a maths time operates from 9.00am - 10.00am and the children manage the rest of their learning from 10.00am - 3.00pm. One class has incorporated maths learning across the day.  The children select which literacy, maths or integration learning task to complete, when, where and with who. They are responsible for prioritising their time on a daily basis so they can complete learning tasks before required deadlines. At this stage of the year, this process is significantly guided by the teacher for many children.

At times throughout the day children might be involved in:

  • Optional workshops with a teacher e.g. Learning how to organise ideas into paragraphs, learning how to write an argument, multiplication strategies workshop.
  • Small group learning with a teacher e.g. Guided reading group sessions, guided writing group sessions, maths problem-solving group sessions, spelling group session.
  • Individual conferences with a teacher e.g. Touching base in relation to a research task, providing feedback on a piece of writing, getting started with a maths problem-solving challenge.
  • Learning co-operatively in peers or small groups e.g. Completing a group research task and communicating learning, attending book club meetings.
  • Learning independently e.g. Crafting writing, silent reading, reading follow-up tasks, completing assessments, practising spelling words, practising basic facts. 
  • Whole class learning e.g. Writing motivation and modelling, maths rich task introduction.
  • Syndicate learning/activities e.g. Sports Rotations, Syndicate Singing. 
  • School events e.g. School assemblies, cross country.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Assessment for Learning in Writing

If our children are going to lead their own learning, they need to develop an understanding of themselves as learners so they can articulate their strengths and next learning steps. 

As part of writing learning in Term One, the children co-constructed the writing process and discussed the features of great writing across a range of text types. We explained to the children that we wanted to share the responsibility for assessing their writing with them by using the same writing matrix. 

Katie and Clive trialled this idea in 2015 and this year we want to use this approach across the Senior Syndicate. Our goal is for the children to use this tool to help them lead their own learning as it provides direction for future learning.  The matrix will help the children know which workshops to attend and allow them to request workshops to support them to meet their learning goals. The teachers worked with the children to support them to assess themselves on the matrix, highlighting what they had achieved and their next learning goals. The children are now starting to add their own evidence to support their assessments.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Reading and Writing Learning

Reading and writing learning in the Senior Syndicate looks and sounds different to what our children are use to. Katie explored this concept to help the children understand all of the reading and writing skills they are applying and developing when they are researching.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

At the start of the year, the children in GRi11 2.0 explored the concept of ‘The Learning Pit’ and ‘Growth Mindset’. The first conversation was not planned for and Katie and Clive made the most of a teachable moment. As part of a maths lesson, focused on a rich task, they contrasted this type of maths (very slow maths) practising to basic facts (fast maths). The resulting conversation highlighted that the children liked basic facts and did not like rich tasks because they were challenging. To build on this learning, the children completed a range of different challenges, both at school and at camp. This language is used in daily conversations with the children in GRi11 2.0 and is highlighted in the learner pathway that the children have co-constructed.  If we want to develop self-aware learners who drive their learning, our children they must understand they have to be challenged in order to grow!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Phase One Inquiry

As part of the 'Phase One Inquire' stage of our integrated curriculum model, the children are guided through the College Street research cycle.  The children in GRi11 2.0 completed an inquiry on the impact of sugar.  As the children move through this process at the start of the year, teachers co-construct this cycle with the children by describing the thinking process of great researchers.  This is crucial for developing the children's ability to inquire independently and interdependently throughout the rest of the year.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Learning Spaces in GRi11 2.0

This year the children in GRi11 2.0 used their knowledge of Hauora to design a learning environment that suited the needs of different learners in the class and different types of learning.

"I'm learning in GRi11 2.0 and we have four different learning spaces. We have the main space called 'The Hub'. There is another learning space called 'The Hangout'. The hangout is for people who want to talk and have group meetings. We also have a little hallway called 'The Hall of Fame'. Last but not least, my favourite place in the whole classroom is 'The Hideout'. The hideout is a place for people who just want it to be silent in the class so they just shut the door and be quiet. These four learning spaces can all be used in different situations. I really like learning in GRi11 2.0!" Kristy, 10 years old.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Update - Building our Learning Community

Our children were motivated and excited about ‘building’ their own learning space! They were empowered to make decisions about which furniture to use and how to arrange it. The children created floor plans and discussed their ideas as a class before setting up their spaces for learning.

Andrea and Krisy shared a selection of images to inspire the children to think of different ideas when they were designing their learning environment for 2016.

In the first few weeks of school, the children completed a range of different tasks to get to know each other, including player profiles, artworks, team challenges and sharing family traditions.

The children started to explore the learning culture of their classroom by responding to a range of provocative statements. 
For example: 
  • We all learn the same way.
  • It is my teacher's responsibility to make me learn.
  • Everyone needs to sit at a desk to learn.
  • The teachers should make all of the decisions in our classroom.
  • We all need the same things to be able to learn.
  • I can only learn when I am told what to do.
  • You need to work in silence to be able to learn.
  • I am too young to manage my own learning.
As part of these discussions, classes developed their own treaty for 2016.

This process allowed the children and teachers to establish shared ownership for the learning culture and environment.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Mindcraft - Building our Learning Community in 2016

We have started 2016 with our own version of ‘Minecraft’, a computer game our children love to play!  When the children arrived at school, they noticed signs saying ‘Mindcraft’. The children completed a player profile at the start of the day.  The furniture was stacked in the classrooms and the walls were empty.  Our children are going to be fully involved in building a successful learning community in their classroom.  Children will get to know each other, be actively involved in setting up their environment for learning, and develop an understanding themselves as a learner. 

The big idea of our integrated unit in Term One is ‘Hauora’ (Well-being).  Throughout the term our children will develop an understanding of the four dimensions of Hauora (Physical, Social, Mental and Emotional, and Spiritual).  All four dimensions together make us strong, healthy, and happy.  After morning tea, the children played a game of ‘Mindcraft’. The children had to complete challenges from each dimension of Hauora. Each class was set the challenge of designing and building their learning space by incorporating the dimensions of Hauora.  By ensuring the children are part of the decision-making process, we create a learning community where our children feel a sense of belonging and ownership and establish a strong culture of learning.