Te reo classes go digital

Issue: Volume 98, Number 15

Posted: 2 September 2019
Reference #: 1H9xpb

In a first of its kind, a cluster of schools in Northland is using a specialist digital teacher for e-learning in te reo Māori​ classes. It’s early days, but a recent visit by the Education Gazette to Whāngarei Intermediate showed that the students love combining language learning with digital platforms.

The excitement is palpable as children working on maths multiplication using te reo watch their score changing in real time on a large screen in the classroom.

They work with Chromebooks in their digital immersion class, and the online game-based platform of Kahoot! is one of the tools being used. It has an interactive dashboard and shows the results second by second as students use the vocabulary of counting. They score when they get words correct.

Each student’s cumulative score is seen in a bar graph, and they regularly look up at the screen during class. When their score rises, it’s smiles and air pumping all round. Sometimes a student does a mini-haka in triumph.

The innovation is part of the Te Puawai Digital Immersion Pilot programme, created by the Tai Tokerau Education Trust, and is being implemented by eight schools in the Whāngarei area. Most have either bilingual or rūmaki classes and the majority of students in the class are Māori​.

The rumaki and reo rua e-learning facilitator for the cluster is teacher Neke Adams. She began her role this year and is leading the teaching teams and ​Māori kaiako to become digitally immersed in their classrooms.​

Responding to students’ needs

“My role was created to ensure our programme is responsive to every student’s needs,” says Neke.

“Schools within the cluster have a high percentage of Māori students, so delivering the programme in te reo is essential if all students are to benefit.

“We want to start something. The ultimate goal is to get every teacher within our cluster collaborating in the Māori​ ​digital​ space.”

The goal of the pilot programme is to raise student achievement levels through increasing engagement and developing a set of independent learning skills that are relevant to today’s environment.

There is an expectation that all teachers use te reo Māori as part of their practice, but that the educators and whānau come together to participate, collaborate and engage fully with the curriculum.

Students have access to online learning through personal-use digital devices being available in the classroom and at home. They can study after school and have access to online tuition from qualified educators.

Need for resources

Neke’s major challenge is the lack of resources in te reo Māori, so she is working on creating her own, reflecting the local dialect.

“But if any other school knows of existing resources we could use, it would be great if they could contact us to share the resource,” she says.

Whāngarei Intermediate has gone from having three classes out of 26 being digitally immersed four years ago to now having 22 out of 26.

Principal Hayley Read says achievement is being measured by the school through engagement and participation, both of which are very positive, and assessing the learning that occurs beyond the school gate, at home or elsewhere.

“Our vision is to support their learning anywhere, anytime, at their own pace,” she says. 

“We want students to have access to their education before school begins, after school finishes, right up until bedtime, and to carry on their learning even when they can’t be at school for whatever reason.”

The students’ progress is also being monitored by the University of Auckland’s Woolf Fisher Research Centre, as part of a new study on digital learning called Developing in Digital Worlds. It is the first study in the world to examine the link between teaching, family engagement, and game-based learning to promote better educational outcomes and equity.

Study will help achievement

The centre says the new knowledge gained by the study will inform ways to accelerate achievements through digital environments, in English, maths, and science for ages four-18 years, and in Māori contexts.

Developing the cognitive and social skills of children in digital environments is expected to have flow-on benefits in student achievement, employment, and national growth.

Growing digital capabilities

The Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko (DT&HM) curriculum content is about developing digitally capable thinkers.

Schools and kura will need to have integrated this new content into their curriculums from 2020 in order to enable students not only to learn how to design their own digital solutions but also to become creators of digital technologies.

The Ministry is rolling out a comprehensive package of resources and supports for teachers and kaiako to build their digital confidence and ability to integrate the new content into their teaching and learning programmes.

Support for DT&HM

The Ministry is keen to support schools that want help to secure future pathways for ākonga.

To make sure your school is taking advantage of the range of free professional support available, check out Digital Technologies professional supports(external link).

Contact: digi.tech@education.govt.nz or Rose.Carpenter@education.govt.nz or Patrick.McKibbin@education.govt.nz for more information.

Learn more about the DT&HM content in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Matauranga o Aotearoa(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:18 AM, 2 September 2019

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