Newsletters – primary curriculum
Read stories of how primary teachers use road safety as a curriculum context, often integrated across curriculum learning areas. These examples are extracts from NZ Transport Agency newsletter to schools.
Students create own scooter racks
Students at Christchurch South Intermediate School needed somewhere safe and secure to lock up their scooters. They came up with the solution.
It took months of work during lunch-times but nine year 8 students in a technology extension group came up with a workable design for new scooter racks.
The result is to such a high standard that two other schools have purchased the racks too.
Technology teacher Randall Grenfell says that while this particular project was about providing the infrastructure to support students travelling by scooter, group members were learning all about problem-solving, independence and perseverance.
They were ready to learn, in part because they had chosen the challenge themselves, he says.
’It was an authentic problem, not something a teacher dreamed up to get the ball rolling. It was real to them and their world.’
The group was mentored by a professional engineer, courtesy of the Futureintech initiative, which promotes careers in engineering, technology and science.
The learning process
The group had a thorough process of research and design. Here’s the outline:
- Identified shortcomings in current system, then researched and brainstormed solutions.
- Narrowed down criteria for a successful parking system: locking, ease of access, cost, environmental impact and durability.
- Sketched ideas and picked some for further evaluation.
- Made five different mock-ups in wood and tested these.
- Picked the frontrunner and made a cardboard model with exact specs for manufacture.
- Chose materials and hired an engineering firm to cut and fold a steel prototype.
- Prototype tested and design refined.
- Marketing and branding lessons lead to a sales brochure and approach to other schools.
- Orders taken. Components arrive at school for students to assemble.
(From newsletter 15, 2013)Back to top
Primary resources outlined
What is available?
Downloadable resources to help teachers of Year 1-8 students plan lessons about safe travel. Learning outcomes are aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum and include ways for students to be actively involved in making journeys safer in their community. Resources include:
- The Big Event. Students contribute ideas towards safe travel for school or national events, such as creating maps, signs or safe travel guidelines or inventing new modes of transport.
- Feet First Inquiry learning about active travel to school, with themes including road safety and exploration.
- Pedestrian… cycle… passenger and rail safety resources. Arranged by learning area with scope for integration into short or long units of learning.
How they work
Each resource has suggested learning intentions and experiences which teachers adapt. Educator Pam Hook says the Big Event and Feet First resources are designed with SOLO Taxonomy and constructive alignment.
As a result, there are challenges for every student.
“NZTA resources help personalise the road safety learning experiences of every young learner,” says Pam.
Learning experiences include:
- bringing in ideas about safe travel in their lives (SOLO: multistructural)
- deepening understanding by connecting ideas (relational)
- extending understanding by collaborating with others to look at these ideas in a new way to make school travel safer (extended abstract).
(From newsletter 14, 2013) Back to top
Young authors celebrate book launch
The winner of the NZTA’s 2011 Feet First Picture Book Competition, Sione’s First Walk to School ’O le Ulua’i Sāvaliga Sione ‘i le Ā’oga, was sent to all year 1–8 schools, providing opportunities for classroom discussion on the hazards that children can encounter while getting to and from school.
Teamwork and the chance to work with a children’s book editor and illustrator were just a few of the highlights for the winning authors.
The book was written and illustrated by Caprice, Chansys, Natalie, Odille and Sana from Fruitvale School in Auckland and was officially launched on 23 March 2012.
Written in both English and gagana Sāmoa, the book follows five-year-old Sione on his very first walk to school.
Caprice says she really enjoyed working together as a team to get the book finished, while Odille and Sana loved working on the pictures. Natalie enjoyed taking the photographs for the book, which are interspersed with the children’s artwork.
Chansys was most excited about attending a creative workshop with children’s book editor and writer Don Long and illustrator Nikki Slade Robinson, which was part of their prize.
(From newsletter 7, 2012) Back to top
Cycle safety video
If you like the NZTA’s drink-driving campaign Legend advertisement on television, you’ll love what St Thomas Aquinas School in Winton, Southland have done with a YouTube clip on cycle safety.
As part of a school competition organised by Road Safety Southland, the students of Room 3 adapted the Legend advertisement to suit their theme Stop a Mate from Biking Without a Helmet – Legend.
Road Safety Southland School Coordinator Maureen Deuchrass says the whole class created and participated and there was a clear and obvious cycle safety message delivered with humour.
‘It appeals to young and old, cyclists and non-cyclists and has built on previous cycle awareness programmes at the school.’
ICT lead teacher at St Thomas Aquinas School Duanette Gray took on the competition with her class both as part of a health inquiry unit and as an opportunity to further develop ICT skills.
One of her students came up with the idea to rework the Legend advertisement and the clip was shot over an afternoon using a video flip camera and resources they had to hand.
(From newsletter 7, 2012) Back to top
Storyboard and movie creations
Hundreds of students worked collaboratively on entries to the NZ Transport Agency’s storyboard and movie competitions. The competitions support schools to make road and rail safety an interesting learning experience embedded within the curriculum.
Teachers of the winning students identified several strands to the learning behind their storyboard or movie.
Exploring their own journeys
‘We looked at the particular hazards around our area with trains, the river, earthquake holes and intersections.’ Nicole Duxfield, Kaiapoi
‘We did a lot of brainstorming on the special things you need to do to get to school in a rural area.’
Tracy Tindle, Wellsford
Developing values and competencies
‘When you look at the key competencies, a project like this fits so well. To participate and contribute, they worked together, followed ideas through and worked through differences.’ Phil Salmon, Katikati
Communicating to an audience
‘They had to research about how children can travel safely, then they brainstormed in a group about how they could tell a story in an interesting way. That’s the way the ninjas turned up.’ Elizabeth Kazmierczak, Freeville
(From newsletter 5, 2011) Back to top
Using The Big Event curriculum resource
Broadlands School used The Big Event resources in all classes during Term 3, 2011.
Principal Graeme Taylor says teachers decided to use The Big Event as a basis for planning their term inquiry learning.
‘Each teacher will use the resource as a base. How they approach it with their students will depend on their age and their learning needs. It’s not one approach fits all.’
Graeme organised a teacher-only day for staff to attend a Big Event workshop run by Taupo District Council and the NZTA. Educators Pam Hook and Julie Mills led professional development.
Graeme says staff agree that developing inquiry learning is an important step.
With the support of the NZTA’s curriculum resources, students here learn to be creative and critical thinkers using a learning model called SOLO taxonomy (structured overview of learning outcomes).
‘It’s about kids reflecting on their own learning, which is a big part of what we do here,’ he says.
Backing that up, Julie says inquiry learning is effective when teachers give sufficient guidance to students in the early stages of inquiry.
‘During this time, teachers have built in lots of content, they’ve given them processes to inquire and have helped students to develop skills on how to ask really rich questions.’
Teachers who take those steps can activate learning, helping students progress across the curriculum, and it’s all the more engaging using a context like safe travel to The Big Event.
The school of 93 students is on a long country road between Taupo and Rotorua. The community is already proactive about road safety and has newly installed flashing signs to warn drivers to slow down as they pass the school.
(From newsletter 4, 2011) Back to top
The Big Event and thinking skills
Maungatapu School teacher Jo Naera is helping her colleagues boost student thinking skills while learning about safe school travel. Now Jo is exploring the curriculum links between these two areas of responsibility.
She’s helping teachers at this Tauranga school to use SOLO taxonomy to design learning programmes. SOLO sits behind the NZ Transport Agency resource The Big Event, which helps teachers plan lesson on organising safe travel to a major event.
The Big Event resources include a rich array of suggested learning experiences tied to important concepts.
In the case of Maungatapu, Jo and her colleagues are also explaining SOLO to students. This way, students can use the model to set their own goals and keep track of their learning throughout 2011.
As Jo’s students use The Big Event, they will plan an itinerary for overseas tourists. They’ll look into safe road travel, flora and fauna, how to use maps and how to work out a budget.
‘They are fantastic because it’s something that you can take and run with, or adapt to another context –and they’re online,’ says Jo.
(From newsletter 3, 2011) Back to top
Movie and story winners
Room 22 at Green Bay School are about to become published authors. Their entry ‘Crazy Hat Day’ won the Feet First story bookcompetition.
Teacher Kathy Chandler says her students thought deeply about how to engage their audience – they knew the story had a real purpose.
“They gained a huge amount from the workshops, about how real authors and illustrators operate, how to fine-tune the work and not to be satisfied with the first draft, and how to share ideas.”
The 2010 Storyboard competition winners were Rosebank School, Auckland and Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Christchurch.
Rosebank ICT teacher Lavinia Robyns says her group learned to cooperate as they shot a video about children getting to school safely.
“The children talked about their skills and strengths and thought about how they were suited to particular roles.”
They planned, acted, filmed and edited their way to what educator Innes Kennard says was a real sense of satisfaction.
“Smiles of relief, a sense of pride and a fresh burst of activity followed their first public showing to their classmates, with the final bell bringing a wonderful adventure to an end.”
At Our Lady Star of the Sea School, students Erin, Esme, Molly and Daisy took on the creative challenge of stop-motion animation.
This came after they used figurines and dioramas to create an imaginative storyboard entry, something teacher Genevieve Rae says took heaps of time and effort. Educators Stuart Hale and Innes Kennard say the girls showed the same drive during the video workshop.
“Using software to manage the demands of 3D stop-motion, the girls brought toys to life as each character demonstrated the dos and don’ts around road safety in Toy Town.”
(From newsletter 2, 2011) Back to top
Feet First inside the classroom
At Waimairi School in Christchurch, NZ Transport Agency educational resources are proving a strong fit with the school’s curriculum and teaching.
Principal Mike Anderson likes what he sees in the resources.
‘They show schools great examples of the sort of planning, thinking and learning possible when the New Zealand Curriculum is fully implemented and well interpreted.’
Teachers include road safety education where relevant as part of the school curriculum. Recently, this
included a health and physical education focus on ‘going for gold, making choice choices’.
Teachers find the resources useful in part because many are designed using SOLO Taxonomy.
SOLO is a simple yet powerful model of learning that helps teachers and students understand their progress. It is a foundation for both Feet First and the 2011 Big Event resources.
‘The SOLO Taxonomy which underpins the Feet First curriculum has been spread across all curriculum areas at Waimairi as its value is highly regarded,’ says Jackie Pithie, who works alongside teachers on the school’s travel plan.
As well, the Feet First guide for whānau and caregivers goes home with every child.
(From newsletter 1, 2011) Back to top
Feet First at Otonga School
Otonga School teacher Gareth Cunliffe has attended workshops on how teachers can use Feet First resources to support the curriculum.
‘I find the resources very comprehensive,’ he says.
Feet First challenges students to ask ‘walking: what difference can I make?’ The resources let your class explore the New Zealand Curriculum values and develop key competencies.
Teachers can draw connections to learning areas, encourage thinking skills and build students’ numeracy and literacy. That was the case at Otonga School, when classes entered the Feet First story book competition.
It was a great fit with the school’s literacy focus on developing setting, character and plot as part of poetic writing. Room 2 rose to the challenge and won the national competition.
At Otonga School, students walk the talk. Gareth says students join walking school buses, keep walking logs and talk to the local police officer.
Feet First resources help the school promote active travel – reinforcing classroom learning.
(From newsletter 1, 2011) Back to top