#Tumeke: Festival@Tutira

22 September – it was a Tuesday

The sun’s heat brewing from the blue freeway

A boy (Gary) leads his goat

Here is an image of this dinky anecdote

The kids arrived (76 in total)

Amongst all of these 15 were local

We welcomed the author and all sung a waiata

Then headed outside to create some memoranda

They learnt the art of the gumboot throw

got the hang of the sand & shovel combo

Kiss the Goat was a popular bite

from a teacher I was told, this was a highlight

They composed a rap and came up with a complex fist bump

We took 30 minutes to stop & sit for a while

and Mr Petherick shared some story insights with style

There was lunch to eat and games to play

And numerous lollycake logs to be tasted

Kids dressed up and so did some adults

Librarian (Eagle Glasses) never to be under-estimated

@deadlyicedagger AKA Michael Petherick

it was a privilege and a pleasure

To host you at Tutira

A memorable day for all involved

But the mystery of Galaxy man remains unresolved!






This term’s book study deserves its own blogpost!
Let me tell ya all about it …
It was a gamble to select #tumeke for #NZreadaloud. Being an epistolary novel (a narrative told through a mash-up of social media posts) we wondered how it was going to work as a read aloud. After closely reading it before making the decision, I realised there was a great story full of relatable characters, surprising friendships, Kiwi content, fun, and quirkiness. The thing that was really fantastic was the potential for other learning opportunities that could come from a study of this book; alongside the regular comprehension learning we always do. This has become something high on our criteria list when selecting the books to use; as for many of us the book becomes the central part of our classroom programme.
However, the reading aloud part has been way more challenging than a regular novel. I had to figure out the best way to include emojis while reading aloud so that it wasn’t distracting from the story. I had to make sure the kids knew who was speaking while reading short text messages that were stop and start. I was lucky in my classroom that my Principal had bought 4 extra books for the kids to use in class. This made all the difference as they were able to follow the text as I read but it also meant they could go back to the book to re-read or look at something more closely. What was impossible to read aloud were the intentional spelling errors though the book! I did alert my kids to this aspect of the story and we discussed the reason they were there; to give authenticity to the characters.
The multi-media delivery of the story really engaged my kids (and others from what other teachers have said). All the kids were motivated to really study each community noticeboard as they realised that these notices became integrated with the characters, their stories, and the Newtoun community. I loved how the book opened up numerous learning opportunities which were engaging and authentic. The book was a brilliant example of how it can be the centre of your programme; with many reading, writing, and inquiry activities inspired by happenings in the novel. For example kids got curious about wrestling and the different moves that were mentioned. Kids were writing raps and poems and sharing on the Flipgrid. There were opportunities for kids to follow instructions and draw, then create their own instructional videos or diagrams. There were opportunities to teach persuasive writing and learning about advertising techniques and then create posters for real events. Kids got interested in the foods that were written about (lollycake, pastel de nata, goat curry). Kids saw kamoji as a legitimate form of communication. Kids were exposed to Diary Writing as a way to express feelings and happenings. These were just some of the learning opportunities that rose from the text. There were many others!
The biggest learning and the one that has taken over many of our classroom programmes is The Festival! With the book being centred around the organisation of a community festival, I had the idea that we could culminate our reading with a virtual festival. I didn’t really know what this would look like but it was one of those authentic learning opportunities which I knew we had to embrace and run with! It has certainly been organic!
Firstly we got each class involved in #tumeke to elect 2 class representatives who would attend weekly virtual Committee meetings on Zoom to plan and organise our very own Virtual Festival. This in itself has been an incredible learning experience for these kids; why and how to take meeting minutes, how to stick to agenda, how to make decisions, running to deadlines etc.
Kids in one school have created a #Tumeke website so we had a central place for all festival stuff. These same kids have used Roblox to create and build a #Tumeke game within this platform using the characters as game players. It is very cool and we can’t wait for festival week for the kids to be able to go in and play! Every class is putting together a virtual slide for the festival which will include links to go and watch or participate in something. As an example, here is a photo of the Gaming Arcade that two of my boys are creating for the virtual festival.
The virtual festival took place during the week of 14 – 18 September. It had varying levels of success. For many classes kids accessed a myriad of ‘virtual’ stalls, games, and activities that had been created by other students and had a lot of fun over the 3 days the festival was ‘open’! I think maybe for others the end-of-term busy-ness meant limited time was able to be spent on it. All in all it was a massive success to have kids drive the majority of this learning experience.
I know my kids (and I) especially appreciated the #Tumeke Roblox game built by a few talented kids at Tamatea Intermediate; big ups to Daniel and Luca for this. Also to the other Luca, Max, and Dexter who all had specific ‘jobs’ putting together the #Tumeke website and Roblox game. A special mention has to go to their teacher Sandra Howard for understanding the value and learning involved in a project of this type. Without your encouragement, support, forward-thinking, and drive the kids wouldn’t get experiences like this. This was real and authentic from start to finish; life-long skills right there!
Here are a couple of photos of my kids enjoying the Roblox game:
After contacting the author Michael Petherick early on in the readaloud, he agreed to get onto Twitter so the kids could connect on that social media platform. This has been so valuable as along with the obvious things like the kids having their questions answered and sharing to him what they like about the book, the kids learn about being a respectful digital citizen and also how to structure a meaningful tweet – all lifelong skills!
One other very special part of our virtual festival was the hot-seating Zoom session with @deadlyicedagger. This took place on Friday 18th September at 9.30. Our incredible author got in character and had all 6 classes of children totally captivated for a whole hour. While our students asked @deadlyicedagger questions he would respond with answers that had everyone in fits of laughter. This was a very special hour and I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to connect with our author for this activity.
This hot-seating session with @deadlyicedagger (AKA Michael Petherick) has been the highlight of my 6 years doing #NZreadaloud. This is not to take away anything the other authors have given to us, but this was one out of the box! Having our kids see him totally in character and being silly and having fun just topped off an amazing term of #Tumeke.
Here are a few photos from this session;
The schools lucky enough to be the Hawkes Bay have a special treat in store on Tuesday 22 September. Tutira School will host author Michael Petherick (aka @deadlyicedagger) at our very own Festival thanks to the wonderful support of Writers’ in Schools Programme. Due to COVID and the Level 2 restrictions, we are limited to under 100 visitors so at this stage as well as the kids at Tutira we have invited the senior class from Kereru School and the class from Tamatea Intermediate who are participating in #NZreadaloud. We are in the process of organising what we will do but ideas so far are:
Who can shovel the pile of dirt in the shortest time
Gumboot throw
Lollycake competition
Kiss the Goat (and other cute farm animals!!)
A ‘live’ rap battle with the author
create your own wrestling move competition
card and book swap
So we are hoping it works out and is a whole lot of fun for everyone.
I will definitely take photos of our festival at Tutira – be worthy of another blog post I reckon!!

The end but not the end!

I woke this morning to the news that 2020 will be the final year for The Global Read Aloud. This post from Pernille truly shares the powerful learning that has come from connected literacy – for both students and teachers alike. As sad as I am that after this year, for us in New Zealand, Term 4 will be without the official Global Read Aloud, I completely understand why Pernille has called it a day.

As many of you will know, #NZreadaloud was born from my participation in Pernille’s initiative back in 2014. Inspiring kids to enjoy a literacy experience through a traditional read-aloud while at the same time making meaningful use of technology and flattening the walls of the classroom was the innovation I needed to change the way I had always done things. The idea of showing kids they are part of something bigger than them also appealed. I think we can sometimes get too caught up with what is going on within our own four walls so connecting kids to other kids- whether that be in New Zealand or on a global scale – and exposing them to different perspectives is really important.

The Mission remains the same.

The reason Why connected literacy is important to me stays the same. It incorporates everything which is innovative about modern pedagogy.




Critical Thinking   

Authentic learning   

Integrated curriculum

But it is Pernille’s 5 Themes of the Future of Literacy which resonate mostly.

We are in our 6th year of #NZreadaloud. There is no way this initiative could have survived without the past and current Year group managers (and others) who have volunteered over the years to organise and promote it. Big ups to Kaehlah Dawson, Stacey Kale, Leonie Agnew, Ximena, Crystal Hewitt, Jemma Thorogood, Karen Wilson, and Belinda Whyte for taking on this extra work because unlike Pernille, I could not have done it on my own while teaching full time as well.

I always wondered how Pernille managed the whole Global Read Aloud on her own.

Anyway, #NZreadaloud has always run from Term 1 – 3 leaving Term 4 for The GRA; it was always something I really looked forward to. With the final Global Read Aloud taking place in October this year, my very first thoughts were that we continue to use Term 4 to study a book by a global author; with the team at #NZreadaloud selecting the books (I haven’t discussed this with them yet but I have a feeling they will be keen!) and hopefully making some global connections to share the learning with as we always have.

Having communicated with Pernille briefly today, she is fully supportive of #NZreadaloudGlobal taking place in Term 4 2021 and loves that we have made it our own. 

So although it is the end for the official #GRA, here at #NZreadaloud we will carry on Pernille’s fabulous kaupapa of connected literacy and endeavour to make those global connections during Term 4 2021.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koe Pernille mō tō mahi i tēnei kaupapa.





The role of a team leader and why they are so important.

Why do we need team leaders and what is involved when I volunteer to be a Team Leader?

This information is relevant to Year 5 – 8 teachers who might want to have a go at being a team leader. It has come to my attention that we haven’t really put it out there about what is involved in this role. So here goes …

The numbers who register in any one term can vary greatly. For Term 1 2020 we have 43 teachers already signed up from 34 different schools.

Having used Edmodo as our number one place to connect, we have learnt over the years that a maximum of 6 classes is ideal for this platform. If we place more classes than this in a team the Edmodo groups get too cluttered and full and the students get lost! We have found the smaller number of classes helps to ensure that connecting and collaborating online is manageable. For example, replying to students’ posts in Edmodo can be daunting if there are too many kids. This means at this stage I am looking to organise at least 7 teams each with a leader. This is why we need team leaders!

The team leader role is mainly about communicating! After I have created the teams I let the team leaders know who is in their team; their school, email, and twitter handle if they have one. From this point onwards the team leader is their contact point.

The team leader needs to email their team, introduce themselves, and remind everyone of the chapter breakdown. The main job now is to set up an Edmodo group and guide your team members as to how to sign up.  It would also be worth asking your team what other platforms they might like to use to connect. As a team leader myself, I often have a Flipgrid open for my team and we have also used Padlets for particular activities. To ensure some real-time connectedness happens, as a leader, you could initiate some Google Hangouts or Zoom meetings between students. 

The team leader will often create an activity roster. This is done to make sure all the teachers in the team contribute to the literacy activities the kids in their team can do; as opposed to a team leader being expected to do this. The roster will usually have each teacher allocated a week where they come up with the literacy activity for that week and post it in the Edmodo groups for all the students. 

The last job of the team leader is modelling responding regularly to ALL students in Edmodo. When students are having their discussions in Edmodo, it is really important that ALL teachers go into the groups regularly and involve themselves in the literary discussion that the students are having – especially the team leader. 

Weekly communication is the key!

Hope this helps.


Some misconceptions & a glimpse into a #NZreadaloud session

In this post I am going to explain a few misconceptions and also share a glimpse into a typical session in my classroom. This is not to say you have to do it like I do it. It is purely to share a glimpse of #NZreadaloud potential for better engagement, motivation, and ultimately achievement in literacy by all students. #NZreadaloud, by design, is an inclusive and culturally sustaining pedagogy. Kids can learn from one another as well as the teachers and contributing authors. #NZreadaloud celebrates diversity (books are very carefully selected) and places value on what students have to offer in the creation of understanding.

Misconception #1

When you participate in #NZreadaloud we supply you with materials. No.

All you need is one copy of the book! We will not provide you with a pre-written unit that you follow. We try to make it as student driven as possible; providing opportunities for kids to ask the questions, initiate and lead the literary discussions, and inquire into their curiosities and interests which are sparked from the text. So until you start reading, you don’t really know where the book will take you! Although we may create choice grids and other suggestions for activities and tasks, it does not mean you have to use them; it also shouldn’t be an expectation. Often there are teacher notes which are supplied by the author as well – but all of these are ideas for you to adapt to your needs and your students’ needs.

Misconception #2

#NZreadaloud is coming in after lunch and reading for 10 minutes. No.

#NZreadaloud needs to be the center of your literacy programme if you are to commit fully to this connected experience and not let down other teachers and classes in your team who are expecting meaningful  and regular connectedness. Something has to go if you are intending on participating in #NZreadaloud. To participate with the purpose intended, it requires time. Curriculum integration is a very real outcome if you want it to be and you encourage your kids to inquire!

Misconception #3

#NZreadaloud is the teacher passively reading while everyone else listens. No.

The reading aloud needs to be a performance; you should practice, consider the environment (lighting / displays / sketchnote boards available / how comfortable are your kids), use accents for different characters, and bring the text alive by moving around and acting when you are reading (as opposed to sitting in a chair passively). Kids will draw from your enthusiasm and performance. We encourage teachers to teach their students how to sketchnote so they can sketchnote during the reading. During my last Read Aloud I had my students ask if they could act out a particular scene as I read (River and Huia during their episode of the river flooding) because it was so exciting – how cool is that! It was only the second time my students had asked to do that. The first time was during the reading of Juggling with Mandarins during the chapter called The Bubble Burst. I actually got a student to video this one!

Misconception #4

Team leaders are there to do everything for you. No.

The teachers that volunteer to lead the teams are there to co-ordinate the team of teachers; to make sure support is available for new participants, to provide some guidance, reply to student posts in Edmodo, and to encourage collaboration. Participants have a role too – make yourself familiar with Edmodo and any other platforms that may be used such as Flipgrid, Padlet, Zoom, and Twitter if you want to get the most out of your experience. You are also expected to reply to student contributions in Edmodo – all students – not just your own. #NZreadaloud gives you an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try new things – just like we ask of our kids. Team leaders have been awesome at helping to build other leaders!

As with anything new and innovative, it takes participation, commitment, and perseverance to figure out how this might work in your school / class. If it is a lot different to what you have always done – that’s good! We still teach / cover / uncover the same skills as you do during group reading, but this is so much more empowering and exciting. The pedagogy is organic – it grows and differs every time you participate! If you are familiar with the book Timeless Learning by Ira Socol, Pam Moran, and Chad Ratliff I felt this quote from the book really summed up how I see the philosophy around #NZreadaloud.

But as my Principal told me, the best way to really understand #NZreadaloud is seeing it in action. With no video available at this stage (need to rid myself of camera shyness and get one done) it dawned on me – why not write up what a typical Read Aloud session looks like in my classroom.

So here goes …

In the weeks before we start I get my kids signed into Edmodo. I teach them how to write a post and how to reply to a post. See this guide. They also learn about digital citizenship and the importance of respectful communication with other learners when using the online platforms. Here is a suggested guide to get you started if you need it. I use this as a wall display to sum it up. I will also teach the kids about sketchnoting. This is an important aspect of the #NZreadaloud as the kids can do this as you read. Here is a guide to get you started on this learning and teaching.

All this before the scheduled start date! Before the week that the reading starts, we do a pre-reading activity. I will give the kids a copy of the front cover and we do I See I Think I wonder. This gets the kids thinking deeply about the book. We discuss details such as colour / font choices, setting, characters and their connections, title, and any other wonderings they have. A really good opportunity to get the kids talking and discussing. After this I will give them a copy of the blurb. Then they add any further predictions and questions that may have arisen from this extra information.

Some older examples.

A typical session …

Kids will begin to set up their sketchnote page for the session while I do the same on the whiteboard. I scaffold this every time as some kids will find it difficult to listen and note-take at the same time. But what a great lifelong skill to get them started on! When I have finished the chapters, I get the kids to go and finish their sketchnote – adding on anything of significance that they missed or is of interest. Here is a photo of a few examples of my board before I start reading and after the reading session.

The best thiing is when the kids start to volunteer to do the chapter sketchnote on the board!

If I have a particular focus for the session I will explain before I start reading (today along with the regular notes we are going to focus on conventions of text – these are things the author does with the structure and the way they write the text for effect – for example – sometimes when a character is thinking something it will be written in italics- why might they do this?)

Start every session by recapping the last chapters  –  kids will share what stood out to them. They will help each other to clarify what was previously read. 

I then begin to read – making sure I have pre- read the chapter so I have an idea of character voices to use, words I will stop at, language features to note down and discuss, where a good place is to have the kids make a prediction, what places might initiate questions, and connections I make to the text etc.

The reading will be a stop & start affair! I always endeavour to model what I am wanting the kids to do. So I will ‘think aloud a lot ! I demonstrate parts of the story where a question will arise for me and then I encourage the kids to ask a question and note it down in their sketchnote book. We might stop to discuss a character’s actions, we often stop when kids have connections to share, and we often stop where there is a teachable language feature – what is the feature called, why has the author used this comparison / imagery? What does it make us as a reader do? This is the discussion which sticks with them and transfers to their own writing (I have seen it!)

When we come across a new or unfamiliar word we note them down for later. I always ask if anyone can use the context of the story to figure out what it means – more often than not one of the kids can do this and shares. Others will go back to these words after the reading and use these words for their words work’. Another thing I love about this – ditch your ‘spelling lists’ and have kids learn words which come up in a story where they are in context. Use a variety of ‘activities’ to help them learn these new words and expand their vocabulary – many will then use these words in their own writing. Here is an example of one Word Soup activity grid (I differentiate by creating a grid with different number and types of activities to cater for my kids).

Another thing I always do as I am reading is make a note of things I am curious about. This is important as these topics are what drive their mini inquiries. I explain that the ones I am writing up might be different to theirs but it is important to model what we are wanting the kids to do and how we want them to follow their wonderings and curiosities.

As all of this is happening, children will be sketching / doodling as I read – the pictures help them remember what happened in the chapter.

This session of reading / listening / sketchnoting / discussion usually goes for 45-60 minutes. When the reading has finished we move onto sharing something from our sketchnote in our Edmodo group, on a Flipgrid, on a Padlet, or simply doing a literacy activity in our sketchnote book. It might be a piece of writing you are asking them to do. For example a Diary Entry for a character, some poetry, a letter to a character, questions you would ask a character, a backstory etc. There should also be time for students to inquire into topics of interest that have arisen from the text. This part of #NZreadaloud can take the next 3 or 4 days of your literacy time. During a week of #NZreadaloud there could also be some real time connected experiences for the kids using Google Hangouts or Zoom to lead their own literary discussions!

Something I try to do if I am able to is start a Language & Curiosity Wall. Ideally a large whiteboard that grows over the 6 weeks of the read aloud. A place where some key vocab, language features, questions, predictions, connections, and inquiry topics are added to. Here is an example of an earlier board.

This is a long post! There is so much more I could add in (Edmodo discussions, Tweets between students and authors, videos of the Flipgrids kids have recorded sharing predictions or connections, Padlet contributions, to name a few but will leave it for another time.

I want to conclude with a quote from ‘Digital technologies for learning: Findings from the NZCER national survey of primary and intermediate schools 2016 (Bolstad, R. 2016).

“Many teachers say they would like their students to be using digital technologies to collaborate and communicate with people beyond their school on shared learning projects” 

FACT: 65% of teachers would like this to happen however only 14% are currently doing this often or sometimes.

Why not take the opportunity this term and connect yourself and your kids and transform, not only the way you use digital technologies, but what literacy looks like in your classroom!

Enough from me!

Let a student have the last word!



Book Review: An Unexpected Hero

Book Review

This is a great book! It is my first experience doing #NZreadaloud
and I love it. It has opened up many new and exciting
opportunities for me such as connecting with many different
schools and kids and even the author!
My classmates and I have learnt a lot of new things from this book
that will capture loads of attention. I learnt a lot about pacifism as
did others. We shared many connections with this book. For
example I sit with Nana and Grandad as they tell me about
war and what it was like as I run my fingers over the old war
medals that they have kept in memory of the war heroes. I
also made a connection with the main character as me and
my mum have a pancake Sunday. The author is a great writer.
This book teaches you many new and exciting things.
Matt Turner is uprooted from his normal everyday life and is
now roughing it in the country. Away from the bright city
lights he finally begins to open up his eyes and becomes
knowledgeable about pacifism. Learning about the war and
the times his hero lived through makes him see that horrible
things have happened. As this is happening a few interesting
secrets slip out including his own. His worst fear becomes
real and he is forced to face it. Of course though he has help.
From people close to him and a few that are quite
unexpected! His world is turned upside down but is it maybe
for the better?
I highly recommend this book to year 7 and 8. There is only
one downside, It’s too short! We just couldn’t get enough of it
as we became tangled in Matt’s world, learning loads along
the way! An unexpected hero is the best!

Jemma @ Hastings Intermediate