Monday, January 28, 2013

Kids share their Summer with the world

There is nothing like a good Summer holiday at a beach enjoying the sun, surf  and family to re-energise and clear the head. The things we read and the conversations we have (lots of educators or people who have been educated visit our beach campsite!) inevitably lead to plans about how we can do things differently to lead to better outcomes for the kids we teach in the coming year.

A paragraph in one of the magazines I took away with me to read got me thinking again about what a huge team effort is required in our Manaiakalani schools as so many of our students start school two years behind academically in year one:

“Most new entrants turn up to high decile schools well-prepared for learning. Research suggests that they will have heard some 32 million more spoken words than a child turning up to a decile 1 school...”

And various pieces of research kept popping up about the Summer Drop-off and how it inevitably impacts Decile 1 kids far more than high Decile kids.  This relates directly to the amount of exposure children will have during their holidays to experiences (including print and conversations) that will continue their learning.

This could have been a depressing train of thought to entertain during the holidays, but thanks to the Flipboard app on my iPad and the @clusternz Twitter feed it was far from it. Why? Because everyday I saw Blog posts from our kids being tweeted.  Children who were writing in their Summer holidays. This Summer there were dozens of Manaiakalani children posting online yet we still do not have all our children taking their netbooks home, nor have we completed the Tamaki Learning Network which will deliver free wireless connections to all their homes. Imagine what it will be like next Summer when they are fully connected!

Some of these posts brought tears to my eyes, some were funny, some were clever, some were well written and some would have had a teacher using up an entire red pen back in the old school days of ruthless corrections. But all were indications of children intentionally sharing with the whole world snippets of what they had been learning at the time.

While some were clearly posted quickly in a Facebook announcement style, many showed signs of careful thought and planning: Iisa who is writing a serial story; kids who took the time to draw graphics to illustrate their stories; kids who must have taken photos while on an outing specifically to post with a piece of writing they had in mind; students who obviously were recrafting their writing to use the English conventions they had been learning during the year; students doing online Maths activities and capturing screen shots to ‘prove’ their achievements; ditto kids keeping up with their typing tutorials.

Most made it clear in a variety of ways that they were intentionally posting for their audience. Some thought about creative 'hooks' and included graphics, photos and movies. Willy went so far as to create a ‘Spot the Difference’ game for his readers with photos he had taken.

I know that some of our children have been keeping in email contact with their teachers during the holidays too.

If we can build on this enthusiasm our young people have to Learn, Create and Share regardless of whether it is ‘school time’ or ‘holiday time’ - if we can inspire them to become life-long learners, then surely we can help them overcome the circumstances mentioned in the first couple of paragraphs.

Finally, because they took the time to connect with us, I am going to share links to as many of their posts as I could collate - you might like to dip into one or two and leave them some feedback.....

Many children shared Christmas highlights - with a couple of lowlights amongst them: Roezala, Cheyanne, Ane, Lesieli, Sela, Josephine, Sarona,  Rave,  Lorenzo,  Kingston

And Boxing day was big too, especially for those who got money to spend!:
Willy,  Cheyanne,

New Years was big: Kaycee, Sela, Jordenne, Quasia, Roezala,  Makerita

Some have clearly been following the news and comment on events:
Alexandria, Stevenson
Levi built this shed with his Dad
Rocky illustrates the movie he watched.

Some went to the beach: Paris, Levi, Ana, Serena, Rocky,  Kaycee, Gloria F,

Some went overseas to Australia and back to the Islands:
Gloria,  Alexandria, Josephine

Some spent time doing house or yard work:
Paris, Levi,

Some wrote for writing’s sake (short fiction pieces);
Iisa, Sarah, 

Some wrote to (or about) connecting with friends and family;
Mary,  Brooklyn,  Shirquera, Quasia, Iron, Lesieli, Sela, Sarona, Rave, Stevenson, Willy
Iisa illustrates his creative writing.

Some recounted movies watched, games played , outings or books read:
Korobeau,  Rachel,  Atamani,  Sonya, Iisa, Paris, Tyla-Marie, Isara,  Rocky,  Quasia, Gloria F,  Roezala, Siutaka, Silas, Makerita

Some reflected on school life, teachers and events;
Lesieli, Iisa, Nikki,

I have scraped the Twitter feed and pasted the raw links here.


  1. This is the singularly most motivational and exciting reflection on an enabled and connected community I have read. It must make everyone involved so happy for the efforts they have put in. Summer drop off ha. Will comment on some of the students posts later.

  2. Thanks so much Dave for that lovely accolade :) It sure does make us all happy. Today Russell put together a presentation for the staff tracking just one child and exposing the variety of interests her posts reflected, the learning and supportive conversations she was having with peers via the blog etc etc and all during the holidays with no teacher directing it. It does motivate us all to keep trucking on with this :)

  3. Mrs. Dorothy, I absolutely love this post! I love that all your students are showing interest in blogging throughout their Holidays, and most importantly that you are able to keep up with what they are sharing through your Twitter feed and Flippboard app. The one thing that really jumped out at me in your post is, "inspire them (students) to become lifelong learners." I am also glad that you took the time to share some of the students work! I went through a couple and I have to say, I am very excited to see that they took the time to share with the world what was going on in their lives outside of school! Thank you so much for an awesome post!

  4. I loved the post and really enjoyed reading it. I really like how your students stay connected with blogging through their holidays and how you keep up with what their sharing and not only do they stay connected with blogging but they stay connected with you and that's amazing!!

  5. It is awesome that your students stayed in contact with you through their holidays. I really enjoyed reading about your experiences with your students. This post inspires me to be as much of an inspiration you are to your students, to my students in the future.