Category Archives: Uncategorized

Terrific Teams in the Rangitikei.

After a very successful conference day in Palmerston North, helping APs and DPs to Keep Calm and Carry on leading teachers, we are excited to be heading off into the Rangitikei this week to work with a group of teachers and classroom support staff.

We often take the role of the learning support staff, or Teacher Aides as they used to be called, for granted; but we all know that a great TA is worth his or her weight in gold.

This workshop will focus on the role of the learning support staff, and the ABC of effective teamwork in the classroom.

We will finish with an opportunity to view some literacy and numeracy games that we have found to be effective tools for learning support staff to use, and we will have the resources on standby for the Terrific Teams to devise and create some of their own to take straight back into their classrooms.

Calling all AP/DPs!

Willow Education are excited to be joining the NZEI Middle Management seminar in Palmerston North on August 10th!

We will be delivering one of our very popular Keep Calm and Carry On Leading workshops, split over two sessions.  Session one focuses on the need to “fit your own oxygen mask first”, because it is impossible to care for those around you if you are not fit and well.  Session two looks at ways to spot a stressed staff member before sick leave is necessary, and also investigates ways to support them within school and with the help of outside agencies.

Although our sessions are short – just 45 minutes each  – they are going to be action-packed and thought-provoking.  Best of all, they will leave you with concrete practical advice that you can take back to your staffroom the very next day!

If you’re a central North Island AP or DP  we’ll see you there!

Mr Bloom, meet Mr Hyerle!

I love thinking skills.  I find the brain and its machinations fascinating.

There.  I’ve said it.  I’m a bit of a brain geek!  That’s probably no bad thing, being in education, as the brain is after all the tool of my trade.

I’ve used Bloom’s Taxonomy of thinking skills for a long time (it was a fundamental part of my planning process when I first came to New Zealand fourteen years ago) and have been a certified Trainer of Teachers using Hyerle’s Thinking Maps for around ten years.

So when I saw a nice infographic on Twitter the other day, revisiting the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, I could quickly see the links where the Thinking Maps could go.  I’ve put my own version of the infographic together, for those of us who are coming to these ideas for the first time.

Here it is:

blooms - thinking maps cheat sheet

and here is a link to the pdf version:

blooms – thinking maps cheat sheet

If you are interested, have a query, would like a workshop around these ideas or generally want to offer some other ways the two structures fit together, please feel free to leave a comment for us.

Resilience and grit

These are such important personal attributes to have, and yet we seem to find it difficult to create the right environment for children to learn them.

Edutopia has created a document which collects links and resources to help classroom teachers bring back these essential characteristics, and it is timely that we give consideration to these things as we are about to embark on another year in the classroom.

Let us know which are particularly useful to you in your practice, or feel free to direct us to others that may be missing from the list.


Positive Behaviour Management

This workshop is proving very popular at the moment, as teachers and support staff are getting to know their students and have identified some needs in their classrooms.

We are running this workshop at various venues across the lower North Island during the second half of term 1, in conjunction with the NZEI.  We will be in Hawera on March 9th and Wanganui on the 16th – we’ll let you know how the workshops go!

Feedback from our PRTs

We did something a little different last time we met with our rural PRT group. Usually we hold very interactive workshops, and they have lots of opportunities to talk together and share ideas. This time they wanted to hear about Maths Cafe, which meant that a lot of the talking was done by me.
Fortunately they seem to have quite enjoyed it, as this feedback shows.

feedback collation prts

PRT workshop

It was a lot of fun getting together with the rural PRTs in Waiouru on Thursday evening.  The format was a bit different from usual, as they wanted to hear about Maths Cafe so it was a lot more talking from me than I would normally put into a presentation.  However, they seemed to enjoy it and asked lots of questions about how it works.

One thing I stressed to them was that the self-directed learning can only be meaningful when it is based on solid assessment data.  I use the Numeracy Project student profiles for my students, and they have become adept at interpreting what they know and what they are working on (a simple colour coding helps – green highlighter means you’ve got it, yellow means it’s something to work on.)   This understanding helps them to know which lessons they would benefit from attending, and which are unnecessary for them.

These student profiles only cover the numeracy aspect of maths, and can be found on the NZ maths website:

There are some others that have been developed to cover the different strands of maths, and I’ll post those in a later post.

Meanwhile, anybody who is interested in seeing Maths Cafe in action is more than welcome to visit my classroom – or I can come along to your school and talk to the staff as a whole.

And I can’t wait for the next rural PRTs session to see how they’ve been implementing the things they’ve learned with us!

More fun for us!

We’ve got an early start tomorrow morning, as we’re off to Waiouru School to host 3 workshops for the NZEI Taihape Support Staff.  They’ll be treated to a day of professional development as a way of expressing our appreciation for the job they do.  We’re starting with a session on Supporting Numeracy Skills, which includes the opportunity to make a game to use in teaching basic facts.  This is followed up with 90 minutes of Supporting Literacy Skills,  and their day will be rounded off with a workshop on Positive Behaviour Management.

We’ll have a bit of a break, and then we’ll host PRTs from the rural Ruapehu network for an introduction to Maths Cafe.

So by the time we get back to Wanganui we’ll have been on the go for about 14 hours – a long day, but well worth it to work alongside the people who help students succeed, and people who are the future of our profession.

Watch this space for some photos of the action!

Fun, fun, fun!

We had a great session yesterday afternoon with the APs and DPs from the Whanganui branch of NZEI.  They came to hear about Maths cafe and how Jo has developed it over the past 2 years. There was some interest in the ideas of the Daily 5 and literacy CAFE that underpinned Jo’s thinking in the early days of Maths Cafe.

One of the articles that Jo found particularly helpful was “Big Ideas behind Daily 5 and Cafe” by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. It was published in The Reading Teacher Vol. 66 Issue 3 (2012), and can be found at if you are interested in reading more about it.

Jo’s class have been warned that they are going to receive a lot of visitors in the next few weeks, as our workshop participants come to see Maths Cafe in action for themselves!  Luckily, they are friendly, open children and are quite happy to show off the things they enjoy at school.