Sunday, October 12, 2014

Presentation Ulearn2014

It’s all about Citizenship

I presented at Ulearn2014 in Rotorua, New Zealand on Friday 10th October.

The resource is not just about trains, it is all about developing citizenship and learning framed using SOLO Taxonomy.

This session highlights the new rail safety education resource with ideas from a rail reference group including Tracksafe New Zealand and hosted on the New Zealand Transport Agency Education website.

Participants at this workshop will learn about the resource and understand the crucial elements of good learning design including the use of key questions and concepts framed using SOLO Taxonomy such as:
  •  What is worth knowing and doing as a citizen around places on the electrified rail network?
  •  When you are a citizen you belong, you matter and you make a difference.
  •  Citizens work together to create safe journeys for everyone around the electrified rail network.
This resource includes a series overview, key competency rubrics and a complete list of ICT resources that are aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum using SOLO Taxonomy.
The NZTA Education resources were written by educator Pam Hook.

If you want to know more I'm Virginia @ginnynz01.

Principals' Delegation to China

Report and Evaluation of the
Confucius Institute New Zealand Principals’ Delegation to China
29th August – 9th September 2014

It gives me great pleasure to report on my recent trip to China as a member of the Principals Delegation, 2014. I had heard many positive comments from principals, including my own who had been on previous trips and I was keen to participate. In particular, I wanted to increase my knowledge and understanding of both Education, cultural aspects and New Zealand’s relationships with China.
Organisation and preparation for the trip was exemplary. In particular I found the pre-departure meeting and the information sent out prior to this meeting very useful. This allowed me to start my own preparations – booking tickets, organising my visa and reading up on travel and protocols while travelling in China (in particular Beijing and Shanghai).
The background knowledge that was shared at the meeting provided me with an insight into what to expect during the visit and what may happen. This also allowed me to clarify things that were of concern to me.
The quality of the programme was outstanding. Planning and preparation were thorough and this was evidenced by an interesting and varied week of activities and venues that ran like clockwork. Time in Beijing and Shanghai was used well and the daily schedules, while busy, also provided opportunities to network and reflect on experiences and new learning.
We had some great discussions on the bus and made connections with other New Zealand educators as we moved from one venue to another.
We were fortunate to have Janine Chin (Delegation Leader) and our two guides Peter (Beijing) and Danny (Shanghai) accompany us on this trip. They were all knowledgeable, humorous and provided interesting commentary and experiences to the group that helped personalise the journey  
The programme was interesting and varied and provided insights into areas that I had not experienced. The meetings with Jackie at Hanban/CI Headquarters, Representatives from New Zealand Embassy, Jia Jane Fudan University and Leon from ANZ Bank were useful in providing a context for our learning. In particular I enjoyed our session with Professor Jia Jane from Fudan University. She provided us with some interesting research around the history of Shanghai looking at the past and present times.
The session at ANZ Bank with Leon highlighted how valuable learning Mandarin at tertiary level and how far it has taken him in his career can be. His story  emphasised the importance for providing Mandarin language at an early age. Learning Mandarin at an earlier age  will also help prepare our New Zealand students better understand Asia.  His discussion about New Zealand and trade made me realise that as a country we are still in the early stages of our Chinese New Zealand relationships.
The visits to the schools emphasised to me that while we in New Zealand have much to learn about China as a whole, children are children anywhere in the World.
It is important to make mention of the wonderful opportunities provided by the Confucius Institute to learn about the rich cultural diversity in China. Our cultural learning included a wonderful insight into a diverse Asian society.
Activities ranged from guided tours of the Bird’s Nest at Olympic Park, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, and the historic districts of Beijing and Shanghai, from visits to world leading museums to banquets of food provided at lunch and dinner. Not to mention the spectacular shows - “The Legend of Kung Fu” and The “Acrobatic Show”.
In particular for me the highlights were activities like visiting the “Great Wall of China” -  I am now regarded as a “Hero” in  Chairman Mao’s eyes, our day trip to Tongli - the water village, seeing and catching up with past Mandarin Language Assistants (Jiao and Dandan) who worked in our school in 2012 and 2013, and the range of schools we visited.

During our final evening, Moon Cake Festival – “The Mid Autumn Festival” we were treated to a tour of the Huangpu River of Shanghai. The night concluded with a “full moon” and fireworks as we cruised along the river. What a great finale to our 10 days, one where I had many opportunities to gain insights into an Asian society, and view a spectacular city through many different lenses.

My overall impression about the education system in China was one  that is highly cohesive and is striving for greater creativity and innovation. However,the focus on high academic achievement was often mentioned by school leaders and the importance of how this determines the University they attend.
The second school we visited, Beijing Primary mentioned “Respect” was embedded into their programmes and school vision, and as this is a key value at Newmarket School there was much interest.  In many respects Chinese classroom programmes appeared still driven by teachers and by their exam system, although Physical Education and the arts were of importance for creativity.
When observing in schools it was nice to see some aspects of  collaborative education being implemented such as reciprocal reading, role play, group work (Primary Schools) and students offering their opinions and validating these (in the Secondary School).
I was surprised by the absence of elearning, but the common thinking appeared to be that devices are or can be a distraction to their learning.

From my insights from this trip and looking ahead for Newmarket School here are some goals I have set:
  • To better support our Asian students in their learning in New Zealand.
  • Look at different and innovative programmes to assist our Mandarin Language Assistant. (Differentiate learning to meet needs)
  • To establish a sister school - Beijing Primary with the support and guidance from the Confucius Institute. (Providing an authentic context for our students -through Skyping and using asynchronous tools for communication.)
  • Ensure global citizenship is included as an aspect of our school curriculum.
  • Encourage teachers in our school to take part in the PLD - Programme through the Confucius Institute.
  • Build in Mandarin PLD into our Staff Learning
  • To investigate and plan to have a Mandarin teacher full time leading to a Confucius Classroom in the future (when space/classroom is available).

Other thoughts/suggestions:

  • As I was organising the gifts on behalf of the group I  would have found it useful to have a list of gifts and where they had been previously purchased to give me an indication of the suitability  of gifts and for whom as we were visiting many of the same places as the previous group.
I have put together a list of the above for the person delegated to purchase gifts on behalf of the group next year (2015).

  • As mentioned, the programme ran like clock work and while it was busy it would have been nice to have half a day built in somewhere on the trip, perhaps at the end of the five days in Beijing to pause and reflect.

Finally, I would like to thank the other participants who were with me on this journey. The Principals Delegation to China 2014 consisted of a collegial, fun and interested group of leaders who all have a common interest which is to build closer relationships with China.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my Board of Trustees for supporting my visit and the Confucius Institute - Janine, for providing this truly memorable experience.
I know I have returned to New Zealand and are much more aware of the need to continue to encourage Mandarin language and Chinese culture with our staff, students, community and colleagues.

Virginia Kung
Assistant Principal
Newmarket Primary School
October 2014

  • Prior to my trip to China my understanding of China and Chinese culture was:
Low        1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              High

  • After my trip to China my understanding of China and Chinese culture is:
Low        1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              High

  • Overall satisfaction of the New Zealand Principals’ Delegation to China programme.
Low        1              2              3              4              5              6              7              8              9              High