Monday, October 15, 2018

Time to tell the Government what we think about Special Education in New Zealand - Disability and Learning Support Action Plan

Please have your say about what is working and what is not working in Special Education in New Zealand

Disability and Learning Support Action Plan

Have you had your say about the Disability and learning support plan - feed back closes 31 October 2018.



Please tell us what you think about the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan. 
Your answers will help us to better understand how we can improve disability and learning support over the next few years.
This survey covers the main proposals in the draft Action Plan. It will take about 10 - 15 minutes.
The draft Action Plan is available in multiple languages and Easy Read format here.
You do not need to give your name to complete the survey, and your answers are confidential and anonymous.
If you would like to comment on all of the proposals, or make a submission on behalf of a group or organisation, please read the draft Action Plan and email your submission here.
This consultation is available in:
This consultation will also be available in the following languages soon:
  • Cook Islands | Maori Kuki Airani
  • Niuean | Vagahau Niue
  • Tokelauan | Gagana Tokelau

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Engaging our Learners in an active way

If you present new content to your students in multiple
creative ways, using different types of media,
three amazing things happen:

  • more students will be able to access and learn the content
  • you’ll reinforce new information more effectively than ever
  • your students will become expert learners—meaning they’ll know how to explore a wide range of ways to learn, and they’ll understand which strategies work best for them.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Writing opportunities - Mark making

Supporting writing development.

Our young learners need lots of experience in writing and developing fine motor skills.
It is important that these activities have purpose and are fun.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Auditory discrimination

Auditory discrimination is the ability to recognize differences between sounds. Particularly, auditory discrimination allows people to distinguish between phonemes in words. Phonemes are the smallest parts of sound in any given language.

Phonological awareness is often referred to as phonemic awareness, but there is a crucial difference between these terms. 

The term ‘phonemic awareness’ comes from the word ‘phoneme’, which is a single sound in language.   This includes the following individual skills:

·        Identification of initial, final and medial sounds in word
·        Segmentation (breaking words into individual sounds)
·        Blending (blending individual sounds to make words)
·        Phoneme transposition (ability to ‘swap’ sounds)

The term ‘phonological awareness’ comes from the word ‘phonology’, which is the sounds and sound patterns of language.  Phonological awareness is therefore a broader term than phonemic awareness and encompasses the following:
All of the above aspects of phonemic awareness   PLUS
·        Onset + rime
·        Rhyme
·        Syllabification
·        Word Retrieval
·        Auditory discrimination

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Visual Sequential Memory

Visual Sequential Memory is the ability to remember visual details in the correct sequence.
  • This is essential for spelling and reading, where your child needs to remember the sequence of letters in order to spell the word correctly.
  • When doing multiple digit addition and subtraction, visual sequential memory is essential to help your child copy the numbers in the correct order.

Visual sequential memory is the ability to remember forms (including shape, orientation, size, and colour) or characters in the correct order. This skill is particularly important in spelling. Missing, added or jumbled letters within words are common for people who struggle with this skill, and they will often whisper or talk aloud as they write. Recognising and remembering patterns may also be a problem.
Improved sequential memory can help improve your child’s reading skills. To do this effectively, both auditory sequential and visual sequential memory skills need to be developed. Auditory sequential and visual sequential memory skills are the ability to remember things seen and heard in sequence. This plays an important role in learning to remember the difference between words such as on and no and being able to complete tasks in the order they were given.
This is not only vital for reading, but for spelling and mathematics as well. As you can imagine, saying 91 + 1 or 19 + 1 , spelling t-a-r instead of r-a-t, or reading dog instead of god could completely change the meaning of a situation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Latest update from MOE around assessment requirements

Literacy and mathematics remain the key areas for teaching, learning and assessment as they are fundamental tools to enable students to access skills and knowledge across the curriculum. 
It's important that data about student progress and achievement can be collated and analysed at a class and cohort level, to allow for the identification of students who are not making sufficient progress or who have special needs. This data may also identify aspects of the curriculum that require attention: for example, extra professional learning and development in a particular curriculum area. You can find lots of information on gathering and analysing data in the Using evidence for learning section of this website.
To support teachers to better understand and use the broad statements in the curriculum, our profession has developed sound, research-based fine-grained progressions of learning in the foundation areas of literacy and mathematics.
However, think carefully about your purposes for assessment. Assess only when the information will be used to improve teaching and learning. Do not over assess.


Progressions of learning: Progressions of learning act as planning, teaching and assessment resources.
There are several iterations of our understanding of the progressions of learning in literacy up to level 5 of the curriculum. 
Assessment tools: Several of the available assessment tools provide what next strategies so that they can be used as teaching resources as well as assessment resources. The following tools are the commonly used in NZ schools.
  • e-asTTle reading and writing
  • PAT reading comprehension, reading vocabulary, listening comprehension, punctuation and grammar
  • STAR – supplementary test of reading
  • Observation survey of early literacy achievement (aka Six Year Net)
  • Assessment Resource Bank (ARBs)
  • Record of Oral Language
  • Junior Oral Language Screening Tool
Consult the Assessment tool selector for all available assessment tools in reading, writing and oral language.


Progressions of learning: Progressions of learning act as planning, teaching and assessment resources.
As in literacy, there are several iterations of the progressions of learning in mathematics up to level 5 of the curriculum. Maths progressions illustrate discrete skills that build on each other to show progression.
  • Numeracy Project resources
  • National Standards descriptors and exemplars
  • Learning Progression Frameworks and Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT)
  • Resources on NZ Maths on TKI
Assessment tools: Several of the available assessment tools provide what next strategies so that they can be used as teaching resources as well as assessment resources. The following tools are the most commonly used in NZ schools:
  • e-asTTle maths
  • PAT maths
  • Numeracy Project assessment tools
  • Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs)

What about our ORs students and those who have complex needs ?
- I dont believe that these tools are as finegrained as they need to be.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Is lack of visual tracking skills getting in the way of your learners progress?

I have recently been testing some students who are struggling in reading and writing.
My detailed testing has shown that they struggle with visual tracking and scanning.

Vision and visual tracking are activities that happen automatically without us really focusing on it.  The brain recognises our eyes are moving, tracking, scanning, focusing, pursuing, and accommodating without us even realising.  

What is Visual Tracking?

Visual tracking is often defined as the ability to efficiently move the eyes from left to right (or right to left, up and down, and circular motions) OR focusing on an object as it moves across a person’s visual field. This  is important for lots  of our daily activities, including reading, writing, using scissors, drawing, and playing.  

Researchers says that the  typical development of visual processing, the ability to visually track objects emerges in children around the age of five.  

Difficulties in Visual Tracking

Your learning might have difficulties in some of the following areas if they have challenges with visual tracking:
  • Losing place when reading.  Re-reads or skips words or lines.  
  • Omits, substitutes, repeats, or confuses similar words when reading.
  • Must use finger to keep place when reading.
  • Poor reading comprehension.
  • Short attention span.
  • Difficulty comprehending or remembering what is read.
  • Confusion with interpreting or following written directions.
  • Writing on a slat, up or down hill, spacing letters and words irregularly.
  • Confusion with left/right directions.
  • Persistent reversals of letters (b, d, p, q) when naming letters.
  • Errors when copying from the board or book to paper.

Formal testing is required to determine if they is a visual tracking or scanning issue.

Visual perceptual skills require the ability to see, organize and interpret visual information.  Visual tracking is one type of visual perceptual skills.  Visual tracking is the ability to control the eye movements using the oculomotor system (vision and eye muscles working together). There are two types of visual tracking: maintaining your focus on a moving object and switching your focus between two objects.

Possible activities to support our learners:

Activities to promote eye tracking:

  • Complete puzzles.
  • Word finds
  • Find as many things as you can see of a certain shape (circle, square, rectangle, triangle) in the room.
  • Copy a series of motor movements made by someone else.
  • Perform dot-to-dot pictures.
  • Find the mistakes in “What’s Wrong with this Picture?” pictures.
  • Sort playing cards in different ways (color, suit, number), or use playing cards to find two with matching numbers.
  • Solve mazes.
  • Play “I Spy.”
  • Play balloon toss.
  • Use tracing paper to trace and color simple pictures.
  • Perceptual motor programmes