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Being at Massey High School was such a wonderful experience for all of us.  The warm hospitality shown from the staff will surely be missed!  We are forever grateful to the staff for opening the doors of their classrooms and homes to welcome us.  As you can probably tell from the other blogs, being at Massey may have been a short lived experience for the group, but it was by no means uneventful. 

I recall Thursday, our last day in the classrooms,  we all gathered with the staff for our last lunch, and what a beautiful occasion it was!  When I entered the room, my eyes caught huge smiles, warm hugs, and most of all:  GOOD LOOKING FOOD!!!  Let me tell you, when Massey says 'lets have lunch,' they really mean lets have lunch!!!  I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of choices and just how well prepared it all was.  The table setting was almost picture-perfect, and for a moment I was hesitant to make my first reach, but once I heard, "Go ahead" from one of the staff members, I was on a roll!  Toward the end of the lunch period, all of the American students got together to sing the Michigan Fight Song.  Afterward, I was encouraged to sing a song for the staff called "Hero," by Mariah Carey, and it actually proved to be one of the highlighting moments of the trip for me.  The song was very well recieved!

Speaking of music, I just wanted to add a quick blurb about my experience with the music department.  I really enjoyed my time with the teachers and students there.  Words can hardly begin to express just how much a pleasure it was getting to know everyone.  Moments I will never forget include singing for the students and talking with them about their future plans, whether or not they pertained to the music field; sitting in on voice lessons; helping some of the students as they prepare for their end-of-the-term performances; and last, but certainly not the least, seeing them smile.  This is the joy of the music program.  Thanks to the department for this experience.  I wish you all the best as you get ready for your school production!  Be sure to let us all know how opening night goes!!!  Best wishes and Go Blue!!!

Tuesday at Massey

My Tuesday morning started out with breakfast with my home stay family and Huan.  After dropping off her son, Kirsten Shaw took us to school with her.  When we arrived, all of us met in the staff room and decided how to spend our morning.  On Tuesdays, Massey High School has 'professional development' sessions for the teachers in their own subject areas and the students have assemblies with their year.  A group of us, including myself, decided to check out the Year 12 assembly.  We met in the meeting hall and were amazed at how many kids flooded into the room.  The assembly consisted of a list of notices and announcements for the students regarding events and other important information.  Then the speaker was introduced to the students.  He was from the Youth Line organization in Auckland and he spoke to the students regarding choices and consequences.  He also gave them valuable information about the programs that Youth Line sponsors such as confidential phone lines and career help for young people.  The assembly was really interesting for me because it reminded me of my own high school experience.  When I was in high school, we had chapel most days of the week and this assembly felt very similar.  I enjoyed seeing so many of the students together in one place because it was hard to get a sense of how many students attend Massey because there were so many sidewalks and buildings. 

After assembly, it was first hour and because Kirsten didn't have a class that hour, I attended a geography class with Amy.  It was a great class to be in because they were just starting a unit on global tourism.  It was really fascinating to hear about how a country other than the United States feels about tourism, especially in a country where tourism is such a large industry.  Period two was a meeting with Robin Knox and Aroha Mathews, two of the coordinators of the Te Kotahitanga program at Massey High School.  Te Kotahitanga is a program designed to help the teachers create a classroom environment where Maori students feel safe and able to learn.  It was interesting to hear first hand about the different aspects of culture that Te Kotahitanga attempts to bring into the classroom in order to make learning more culturally relevant and appropriate for the Maori students.  We did a couple of activities which highlighted some of those attempts, including describing our favorite teacher to another person, which showed how important prior knowledge is to a student's learning. 

Period three involved meeting with the associate principal, Mark Jones.  His discussion gave us a new and unique view on education in New Zealand.  From the very beginning of this trip, we have been focusing on the effects of education and Maori students' experiences and culture.  Mr. Jones spoke to us about various programs for the Pasifika students.  Pasifika students are students from the Pacific Islands, such as Samoa and Fiji.  It was interesting to be able to compare the Maori experiences to the Pasifika experiences and note the similarities and differences.  Period four and five were spent in two of Kirsten's English classes where I got the chance to not only observe the teaching and students' work but also got the opportunity to talk to two of the Education students from Auckland University, Erin and Rebecca.  It was great to get to talk to people who were in very similar situations to me, being an education student at U-M.  It was fun to compare the different class types, the different ways people get into university and the various culture differences surrounding attendance at a university.  After fifth period ended, Huan and I headed home with Kirsten and spent a nice, relaxing evening at home!  I eventually collapsed, exhausted, into bed..:)

Coromandel Coastal Walkway

After a long day out sea kayaking, we began the next day with an adventure! With Nijel as our next bus driver, we could not of started the day better. Loading the bus in the early A.M we learned that our journey was going to be shared with two young ladies. Ki Ki was from China, while Kasey was from the home state of our own Kathryn Young...Wisconsin.

We began the day with purchasing our lunch at a local shop. There, we ordered deli sandwiches that came in handy...for it was the energy of those sandwiches that would soon be needed as we prepared ourselves for the world's steepest inclines. The bus ride was about 3 hours with panoramic views of lovely scenery. Occasionally, Nijel stopped the bus and allowed the group to take photos of mother nature. There was one stop that really excited me. It was that of a small shop which sold feijoas. I've come to love feijoas and so has Dave. Dave and I bought feijoas together. We walked to the counter holding about 8 of them. After learning that it only cost 50 cents, we grabbed about 10 more so their weight would come close to $1.00. They didn't last...

After driving for three hours, we arrived at the top of the Coromandel Peninsula (Fletcher's Bay). We were greeted by ducks, who were eager to be fed, and even bit Dasha's finger. I was able to capture the moment on camera, and soon chased the duck away. Epic.

Before we hiked, we sat and ate lunch with Nijel... and a duck. After wards, we were given a map of the walkway and were off on our journey to Stony Bay. Along the trail we worked out or calf muscles as we climbed steep hill inclines; and discovered our reflexes were quick as we caught ourselves before slipping in mud piles. It felt like preseason conditioning...whew...Occasionally, we encountered cows in our path, and they'd leave us little gifts that were observed by a few of the group members as being a good meal of [they'd fill in the blank].

Finally, after three point five hours of hard work, we finished the hike. At the end, Nijel made each of us tea and coffee, and provided us with bikkies; Anzacs being one of my fav. We then took a group picture on top of a tree large enough to hold us all on one branch. After wards, we took turns taking pictures of each of us swinging on a tree swing.

We soon loaded the bus and was on our way to our last  place of rest for the weekend, Anchor Lodge. We had an hour to change clothes and relax before dinner (7:30). Justine, Amy, Katie, and I stayed together in the front house. We had it good...a two story house with 5 beds, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a kitchen, gas heater, living room, dining room, but we all decided to stay in one room. Barry gave us a ride in the coach bus a few minutes down the road to Pepper Tree. The food was pretty good [Ribs, pasta, veggie curry, pavlova, salad], conversation was great, and everyone left satisfied. What a day...

Highlights of the day:
-Dasha and I ran surprisingly without slipping because we thought we were being attacked by...we still don't know exactly what it was...but Jacqueline was nonchalant lol
-Antwaun trying to throw rocks in the water, and discovers it was possibly dried cow manure
-Cathy's equation: steep=stupid
-Finishing the hike and realizing...it wasn't bad at all

After a long bus ride, we finally arrived back in Auckland Sunday evening. Thanks to Barry's serious driving skills, we arrived at Massey High School about a half hour before our new homestay families came to pick us up. At 6 pm our families began arriving and Kathryn called us off the bus one by one. We have a tendency to make this whole process overly dramatic so we all nervously waited and (not-so-secretly) peeked out the windows of the bus as we watched each group member get picked up. After what seemed like forever, Lynn Brown, an art teacher at Massey High School picked up Amy and I. We arrived at her home after about a 15-20 minute drive. Lynn has a son and daughter who no longer live at home so it was just Lynn, Amy, and I staying at her house. We were first introduced to her pets: a one-eyed dog named Lily, two cats, and a bird named Woody. Amy and I offered to help with dinner and we actually learned how to carve meat! Dinner was ready shortly after we arrived. We had lamb, potatoes, and vegetables. After dinner we watched a little bit of TV. Aside from the massive 19 legged spider in my bedroom that Amy killed, we had a pretty laid-back, relaxing evening. We ended up going to bed fairly early because we were both exhausted from such a busy weekend!

Monday morning was our first day working at Massey High School. We all gathered in the Staff Room before school and reviewed our schedule for the week. Instead of going to Period 1, we went to a Powhiri on the Marae at the school. When we were taking off our shoes before entering I began to hear the students performing a haka. Instead of walking inside and immediately sitting down, we walked all the way to the back of the Marae to pay respect to the members honored on the back wall who have passed away. We had to walk right past the students performing the haka and I really wish I could have just stopped and watched. Based on what I could hear and see out of the corner of my eye, it seemed like the most powerful, intense Haka I have seen on the trip thus far. Dave did a great job representing us by speaking for our group during the Powhiri, and we all got up and sang "Hail to the Victors" which everyone seemed to enjoy. Period 2 was our first opportunity to go to our classroom to begin experiencing Massey High School firsthand. We spent all of Period 3 in the Principal's Office. We were lucky enough to meet with the Principal of Massey High School, Mr. Ritchie. He gave us a brief history of Massey High and opened the discussion to allow us to ask him any questions we had about New Zealand education, as well as the school itself. We were briefly introduced to the curriculum and the oh-so-confusing "level" system that Massey High School follows. During Period 4 we were able to go back into our classrooms to observe a bit more. I spent this class period in a design classroom with Lynn Brown. After Period 4 we had lunch (finally) and followed lunch with a "Debrief" session. This allowed us time to share a bit of information about our new homestays and share a goal that we hope to achieve in the next couple of days at the school. Although we only have a few days to work in Massey High, i’m excited to see what High School students and teachers can teach us about NZ education that wasn’t provided through our work at Knighton Primary School.

Much to Report

Sorry to have been away for so many days. It is 7:00 am on Saturday, and I am at the back of a bus, watching the cows and sheep graze on the steep, lush pastures of the North Island countryside. The bus is carrying us to Coromandel Town for the day’s adventure. More on that in a different post.

Tuesday at Knighton gave me the opportunity to visit several of the classrooms of the UM students to watch the roles that they were playing out in their internships.

Here are some of the scenes I witnessed:

Tony helps a student with her reading                                        Brian works with students in math

Nikki and her CT prepare for Phys Ed                                       


We met with the students after school to talk about Mere Berryman’s presentation in preparation for our next phase of their internships; Massey High School in Auckland which successfully implements Te Kotahitanga in their classrooms. Then we talked about how to graciously and thoughtfully exit their Knighton classrooms and home-stay families.

Tuesday night, Cathy and I brought in “take-away” food for dinner, did laundry and cleaned up the Chaplain’s House in preparation for Thursday’s departure on our 4 day geographical tour of the east side of the North Island. I baked ginger snaps to add to the chocolate chip cookies I made on Monday as a thank you to the teachers, staff and administrators to be served at Wednesday tea.

Wednesday, our last day at Knighton! It was hard to believe. The students arrived with their thank you notes ready for distribution. Some of them brought children’s books which they gifted to their classroom library. At 9:00 am, we met with Brian, Sandra and Carol (the English Language Learners team of teachers) and Materoa (the lead teacher of the bi-cultural Maori team) to learn more about the specifics of their programs and to ask questions about what we had been seeing during our time in the school. The ELL group talked about the strategies they employ and how they measure their success, one small step at a time. Materoa used an interactive strategy to show us how she teaches and uses Maori in her classroom and then shared the new NZ curriculum document for Maori. It is brand new; she had not even shared it with her staff yet. We explored the document using “treasure hunt” of questions she had prepared and then she asked us what we thought about the curriculum.

Then came tea. The cookies were a hit and the teachers, administrators and staff were very grateful for the home baked treats.

Following the presentation and tea, the students went to their host classrooms for the last time. I observed the last two classrooms; Mary’s and Nicole and Justine’s. Here is what they were doing for their last day;

Nicole helps with a project             Justine reads Dr. Suess to her class                                       Mary and her CT watch a student teacher

At noon, we met with Drew, Barb and Geoff, just as we had at the beginning of our stay. They asked us questions and we asked them questions. Geoff complimented the UM ANZ Team, saying that feedback from the staff and students was extremely positive, that they were professional and he appreciated the work that they had done during our stay. He welcomed us back any time. We gave each administrator a small gift in appreciation of their efforts.

Drew, Barb and Geoff with their School of Education gear

Wednesday was a free afternoon for the students. They spent the last night with their host families in different ways; special dinners, shopping and going into the “glow worm” caves. Cathy and I had a last dinner with Deborah Fraser, in appreciation of everything she had done at the University and with Knighton to make our stay a productive and successful experience.

Thursday morning at 7:45 am, the students arrived at the Chaplain’s House with all of their stuff. As a short break before starting the last week of our internship back in Aukland, we are taking a few days to explore the geography of the North Island. We boarded a bus to Rotorua. Rototura is a town in the middle of the North Island which is sacred to the Maori people and is prime sheep country. The first part of this sojourn consisted of a stop at the Agrodome for the sheep show. Here, we were able to get up close and personal with sheep and watch a demonstration of how the work on a sheep farm is done. I know that we learned a lot and, in addition, I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a long time. 
Here are a few photos from the Agrodome

Yes, it is a real black sheep                                                          Tony and Megan prepare to milk a cow

Above, Tony milks a cow, Kati poses with a shepherd's dog and the team poses in front of the sheep display.

We left the Agrodome and headed to what was a tremendously fun way to see to land structures of Lake Rotorua; a gondola ride up a small mountain and a luge ride down. We rode up in 6-8 person gondolas and then rode a luge-like wheeled vehicle down. After our first time down on the “scenic” run, we took ski-lift back to the top, and then chose between the ‘intermediate” and “advanced” runs for a second down the mountain on the luge. Yours truly, took the intermediate run, after hearing from someone in line that the advanced was steep and fast. Not something I necessarily wanted in the description of my day. We took the ski lift up one more time, had lunch at the top and then took the gondola back down.

Cathy, Antwaun and Brian look back on the view from the gondola and speed racers preparing for action.

We jumped back on the bus with Barry our driver ready to take us to the Maori village in downtown Rotorua. We participated in another powhiri with Dave as our leader or “chief” and then watched another Maori performance show of the haka, poi and song. Following the performance, we walked the grounds and went through a kiwi house (we couldn’t find them), saw the boiling mud and geysers famous in this region of New Zealand. It was amazing to see what the power of the heat below the earth can produce when it is near the crust.

Boiling mud and geysers

We checked into our hostel/backpacker place in downtown Rotorua and walked to a place called “The Fat Dog” for dinner. After we were absolutely stuffed, we had the opportunity to step into pools created from the hot water springs of Rotorua. We spent about two hours soaking in the different pools that are regulated to be at varying degrees of HOT. We were pretty much like cooked pasta following our time in the pools and after our very busy day. We headed back to the hostel and crashed. And that was just Thursday.

Students soak in the hot spring mineral water pools and then this is what happened in the lobby when they got out.

At 7:00 am, we boarded our bus and headed to the hot water beach and tried to catch low tide. This is a place, where at low tide, you can take a shovel, dig yourself a hole and create your own hot water hot tub. Unfortunately, the surf was up that day, so the most we were able to do, was to did our feet into the sand and look for hot spots. Believe me, when you found one, it was really, really not!

Huan, Cathy and I find hotspots on the hot water beach

Next, we headed to HaHei, a small town on Mercury Bay. We checked into another hostel/backpacker place and headed to the beach for sea-kayaking. The group had a fabulous time even though a storm came up in the middle of the trip. We saw cathedral cove which is an awesome rock formation. The kayaking took about 4 hours. The group got back, showered up and caught dinner at the only restaurant open at HaHei in winter at night.

Kayaks await the students while they take a lesson               Cathedral Cove

This morning, Saturday, we are back on the bus, taking a very windy road to the next part of our time together. We are headed to the Coromandel Walkway. When I say windy, I mean crazy windy. We are going to be treated to a 3-4 walk along the ridge of the Coromandel peninsula, one of the most beautiful areas of the country. We’ll let you know how it goes.


Te Kotahitanga

On Monday the GIEU group listened to Mere Berryman, an education researcher who works in the New Zealand ministry of education.  Her presentation focused on her research project which sought to investigate how Year 9 and 10 Maori student achievement in mainstream schools could be improved.  The research asked questions regarding improved understanding of Maori student expereinces in the classroom and  how analyses of such experiences could possibly lead to improved policy and teaching that will ultimately result in greater Maori student achievement.   Berryman talked extensively about deficit theorizing by teachers, which she believes is the primary impediment to Maori student's educational achievement.  Research reveals that deficit theorizing by teachers createss a downward spiralling pattern for Maori student achievement and failure.  Berryman's study shows that the primary method in improving Maori students' education achievement is by placing teachers in situations where they can critically reflect upon their own teaching methods, practices, and theories.  They also must reflect upon what type of impact their teaching practices have on Maori educational achievement.  When teacher-student relationships and interactions have positively altered as a result of an intervention process supported by professional development, Maori students on task engagement increases, their work completion increases, and their educational achievements increase.  Berryman's presentation made me relate the Maori's educational struggles to the struggles of minorities in America, especially in Los Angeles where I live.  The Los Angeles public school system has continued a downward spiral in terms of educational achievement by its students.  I believe a great deal of such low success rates is in large part due to deficit theorizing by teachers and their inability to create proper & beneficial student-teacher relationships that will allow for a more supportive and understanding learning environment. 

On another note, my homestay has been going great, the family is very nice and is extremely similar to my family at home.  Antwaun and I have been attending basketball games, a texas holdem poker tournament, a kids for kids concert, and a kareoke session.  We also ate a traditional Maori dish, "boil up", for dinnner one night, which was delicious.  It consists of bacon bones and silver beets. mmmmmmmmmmm.....

Knighton Normal School and Stephen May

Our time at Knighton Normal School so far has truly been rewarding.  Each of us is having a unique experience.  Last Thursday I was able to take an active role in the classroom.  I started off the morning by teaching a math, or as they say here, maths, lesson to a small group of students.  The students measured out a meter of yarn and then made patterns on a sheet of paper.  The idea was for students to see that the piece of yarn may appear longer or shorter depending on the design.  Later I was fortunate enough to read a story to the entire class.  They were very attentive and reading to them was enjoyable.  The rest of the morning was filled with guided reading groups, drama performances and singing.  

That afternoon Stephen May, a professor in the department of Arts and Language Education at the University of Waikato spoke to us.  He is the author of the article, "Accomodating Multiculturalism and Biculturalism in Aotearoa in New Zealand."  He specifically spoke to us about the difference in bilingual education and multicultural education, how it is developing in the New Zealand schools, and what that means for Maori and other minority groups.  
We spent the entire day today doing community service in the Hammond Bush.  We all convened at Martin Thrupp's house at 10 o'clock and proceeded to the banks of the Waikato River which was accessible through a trail behind his house.  In addition to the 15 members of GIEU New Zealand, we also meet up with students from the University of Waikato.  We were divided into two groups--half of us cut bamboo and hauled it roughly a quarter of a mile down the road, and half of us planted native trees.  The bamboo is definitely not the type that you would see at the zoo.  The bamboo was thick, tall, leafy, and extremely heavy.  I had the opportunity to work with the bamboo removal first.  We first made a trail through the brush by stomping on the plants to create a path.  Then, Martin was right next to the bamboo with an electric saw and sawed one bamboo stalk at a time.  A typical bamboo stalk was at least 6 inches in diameter, and the bamboo ranged from 20 to over 40 feet long.  The hardest part of the bamboo was transporting the bamboo after it was cut down.  In addition to the vaulting of bamboo over a fence, we also had to drag the bamboo through the trail that we created by stomping and lift it over another fence onto the boardwalk.  After it got onto the boardwalk, we walked it a few hundred meters to the park entrance.

The second half of our project consisted of planting  native trees on a hill/cliff on the banks of the Waikato river.  We had a variety of plants and we planted some  next to the banks and some futher up the hill depending on the type of soil and moisture that the plants preferred.  Part of the planting also consisted of the removal of non-native plants such as the "wandering jew", which is a highly invasive weed that destroys ecosystems.  Overall it was a very exhausting day, but everyone felt good about doing community service for the city of Hamilton and preserving the beautiful ecosystems of New Zealand.

May 13th

On Wednesday, we were welcomed back onto the Marae by the education students from Waikato University.  As a group, we learned the hand movements to a Maori song describing the creation of the earth.  Next, the women and the men learned separate, gender specific performance art.  The girls were shown the basics of the poi; a small ball attatched to a rope held in hand and swung in circular patterns.  On the other hand, the men in our group preformed a less fierce, but still great version of the haka :o).  This was really fun for us, because we have been seeing these preformances throughout the trip and have commented that we'd like to learn.  Although we didn't do too well, it was a nice way to take part in the culture we have been learning so much about. 
After this, our groups shared a fabulous lunch.  One of the key values of the Maori is generosity, so they not only provided the food but also sang us songs as we filled our plates.  We returned by singing the UM fight song and Antwon did a solo performance of the National Anthem (which was absolutley wonderful!).  Over lunch, we had a chance to interact with the students and learn more about the University.  This was one of the first times we have talked with other students outside of an educational context.  We learned a little more about the town we are staying in, and ended up meeting a few students at a karaoke bar later that night :o).

Auckland Museum

May 6 we were able to visit the Auckland Museum. The museum had an array of displays that represented a broad range of New Zealand's history. While at the museum our group was able to see a Maori cultural performance, which included several Maori songs and dances. After the performance we were able to speak to the performers and ask them some questions. We then spent some time exploring the museum. Some of the exhibits at the museum included a Wildlife exhibit, World War I exhibit, and an exhibit dedicated to the Maori Culture. One of the coolest exhibits in the museum was the "Great Moa" a giant ostrich like bird, that is unfortunately extinct. The Auckland Museum was a great way to gain some more knowledge about the history of New Zealand.