Week 8 -  Term 4  -  2019

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Calendar of Events - Term 4:


Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Malo e Lelei, Bula, Namastē, Namaskar, AyubowanKia Orana, Taloha Ni, Kumusta,  Aloha Mai E, Fakaalofa Lahi Atu, ‘Alii, Malo Ni, Halo Aloketa Aloha, Nī Hāo, Sawatdeekhrap  Sabaidi, Terve, Dobradan, Bonjour, Hola, Guten Tag, Ciao, Salaam, Olā, Zdravstvuyte, Konnichiwa, Ahn Young Ha Se Yo, Hoi, Merhaba, Jambo, Yasou, Shalom, Salamat Siang, Ahoj, Xin Chāo, Sawubona, Bok, Yiassoo, Hej, Dia Dhaoibh, Cham Reap Sour, Hoi, Vanakkam.


This Week’s Thoughts:


So a few thoughts on the quote at right for my reflection.

1.    In what parts of my own life do I find “joy” in the struggle of learning?

2.    Where do I despise the “struggle” of learning?

3.    What is the difference between the two experiences above for myself?

I am currently undertaking my Masters in Contemporary Education so learning is what I love and what I lead and what I do.

Thinking about the answer to question three, I find there are a few elements that matter.

One is that I have found some success in my growth.  This is the idea of “flow” which Mihály Csíkszentmihály explains:

Flow is an optimal state that people experience when engaged in an activity that is challenging to one’s skill level, and engaging to the point where you become immersed in the activity. This can result in deep learning and high levels of personal satisfaction.

When I am challenged, but also find success, I am more likely to stick with things.


The second aspect of purpose is when I can see the learning I am doing connects to something bigger, and also to my interests.

The last aspect I think about is regarding the support I receive when I am learning something new or if I am struggling.  Is there someone or somewhere I can turn to when I struggle?  

When I think about this in the context of education and leadership, I know there are many mentors in my life that I can turn to when I have questions, or if I am trying something new.  Outside of education, there are many times that I know I can connect to resources online that will help some of my learning.  Tapping into both people and research resources we have access to is crucial to supporting our growth.

So when I find joy in my learning, I know I have achieved some success (flow), I feel purpose in my learning, and I know that I have supports I need to help me grow.  If we all focus on these three conditions for learning, what joy we will bring to our classrooms for not only our students but our adults as well.


Waitakere Zone Athletics Champs at Trust Stadium:


As I mentioned last week, Western Heights is once again ZONE CHAMPION. We scored 555 points, Ranui was second on 380 and St Paul’s third on 265 - so you can see it was a comprehensive win!

This is so cool and we are so proud. Huge congratulations to Super Athletics Coach Nuree who masterminded the selections, training and tactics - our children are so lucky to be coached by such a champion.

I was unable to be there for much of the day as I was meeting with Education Minister Chris Hipkins. I was able to put forward a new idea to him that the President of the Auckland Principals’ Association is also going to take to the Education Advisory Committee. Minister Hipkins was very positive in his response, so we shall see if something maybe comes of it.


Anyway, back to the athletics. We were the champion school because we won so many events - our children shone across the whole range of athletics events - except for shot put where we just didn’t have children of sufficient size to really compete there.

We did win almost every age-group sprint relay - the ‘gold ribbon’ event at the end of the meeting - so our children left on a real high after having so much success in this exciting and challenging event.

I will get a full list of results published as soon as I have them. Apologies I could not get more photos due to being called away to that meeting.


Grandparents’ Morning:


What an absolute joy this is for everyone involved. It was a fabulous turn-out, and our juniors were absolutely delighted to be able to share their classrooms and their learning with their grandparents. 

Lots of grandparents joined in with Jump Jam and had no trouble keeping up with our little ones. Lots of grandparents were also engaged in learning activities in the classroom - I could see quite a few would have happily continued those activities for the rest of the morning.

Lots of stories were read and our juniors hung on every word. Learning games were played and learning was shared - it was particularly interesting to hear the grandparents in rooms 27, 28, and 29 sharing their experiences of what learning was like in the “old days”. The most common thought shared was that it was not much fun at all. It was serious, regimented and teachers were always looking to catch you doing something you shouldn’t be doing.

I know when I went to primary school I was ALWAYS in trouble. I held the weekly inter-school record for receiving the most ‘straps’ through most of primary school. They even invented new ways to use it on me to try to cause more pain and have some effect - obviously it didn’t work. I went on to high school where I also held the record for the most canings. I guess the experiences taught me what doesn’t work, and they certainly help me when it comes to understanding boys and how and why they get into trouble. The last point I would make on this is that often really punitive measures don't work on adults either. The states with the worst murder rates in the USA are the ones which have the death penalty for murder. We will share more about Restorative Justice and how we manage and support our children at another time.

Back to Grandparents’ Morning - we finished with a morning tea in our hall with awesome jam and cream scones made by Julie and Kathryn in our Tuck Shop. During that time Mina Kim played the Ocarina and sang and it was a beautiful and moving performance. There are video links to her three items below.

We must have more of these mornings - we have so much to learn and so much to share so we will work on making this happen more regularly in 2020.


Visit From Nao - A Robot Friend:


Our year one and two children were treated to a visit from a robot named Nao who came all the way from the United States to be with us.

Nah stood up and said 'Love to Learn to Lead' in English and Maori and then did the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

Our children were enthralled - as you can imagine!


Catch Ups:


At right Teacher Helen Rollo and her Enviro Garden team have done an awesome job developing our schoolEnviro Garden. It is a source of much pride to us all.


At right Teacher Jessie Eyre looks after our library - ably assisted by Julie Grant - and does a great job keeping it looking vibrant and inviting. Her latest display is all about being the “I” in Kind.

It’s a clever idea - she took lots of photos of staff and children standing straight and tall like the letter ‘I”. You then put that picture into the word 

K-ND. Therefore I am the I in Kind and I am understanding it is my role and job to be Kind.

A nice way to reinforce our Kindness Vales focus.


Last week I shared about Sue leaving us after two years teaching Korean Language and Culture at WHS. Here is a farewell message from Sue:

안녕하세요 Annyong haseoyo!

I'd like to say a big thank you to WHS school. I've had so much fun teaching here, and have met some amazing children who will be great leaders and change the world for the better. I also appreciate your wonderful support for the Korean classes.


Jenna is now in India as a result of winning a Prime Minister’s Award.

We gave her a lovely farewell morning tea and some presents. There was also a farewell dinner for Jenna on the night before.


I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of their learning journey.

Thank you so much for the leaving assembly. It was definitely one of the highs of my year and will never forget it. I've learnt so much from everybody at this school and will fondly remember my time at WHS.

Warmest regards,

Sue Lee

 Attention Parents - Re 2020:
Can parents please let us know if your children are leaving WHS at the end of this year - this does NOT apply if your child is in year six.
Many thanks.

How to Use Play for Learning:


Play-based learning helps engage elementary students in their education and has cognitive, physical, social, and emotional benefits.

A few years ago, I began shifting to a play-based approach in my kindergarten classroom. Research extolled the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play and called to mind Friedrich Froebel’s vision of kindergarten as a place where play and learning go hand in hand.


As I made small changes in my classroom, I began to understand that play is a primary and integral mode through which children make sense of the world, and that it is essential to their development and well-being. In addition, it supports skills like collaboration, communication, and creativity. Offering play can feel challenging when mandated programs and standardised tests are requirements of many school districts, but play-based learning is an effective practice for deepening understanding and engaging children. 

The key is finding a balance between academic expectations and the developmental needs of young students.

As I studied children’s play, I saw that their bodies and minds were most engaged and focused when they were offered time, space, and meaningful materials to make sense of what they were learning. Teacher-directed activities and transitions are no substitutes for opportunities for exploration, creativity, and socialisation.

Using a “choice time” structure like the one outlined in Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play, affords children opportunities to learn playfully. Making time for play early in the day optimises learning and helps to balance a classroom schedule. My students have a 30-minute choice time within our literacy block each morning in addition to a 45-minute choice time at the end of the day.

The classroom environment is designed to engage their minds, meet their sensory needs, and offer practice with academic content. Our classroom includes a block center, math center, science center, book nook, dramatic play corner, sensory table, felt board, and art center. Many of the materials in each center can be integrated into more than one center.

With thoughtfully designed centers, children flow from one activity to the next with a sense of purpose. The art center is a place where children can construct all sorts of creations. Pine cones, tree bark, and other natural treasures are piled into the science center with an old overhead projector for light study. Cuisenaire rods, pattern blocks, and counting grids encourage geometric design at the math center. The block center is where children’s imaginative worlds come to life.

Creativity and invention stem from some of the simplest materials, and having access to these materials can make the difference in a child’s ability to learn.

Other materials are introduced to expand thinking on a certain topic or theme. For example, later in the spring, the sensory table will be filled with soil and the students will begin a scientific study of worms that will eventually lead the students outdoors to the garden.

Use Play to Inform Teaching

I had an initial hesitation surrounding play-based learning because I worried that it would impact my ability to teach district-mandated programs or address required academic standards and assessments. But observing young students as they played gave me new insight on the ways they think and learn. I was able to use that knowledge and address their individual needs more effectively.

Children were more motivated to explore academic standards within their play because it was meaningful to them. After reading Miss Maple’s Seeds last fall, the children became fascinated by the knowledge that Eliza Wheeler had created the pictures and story from her imagination. They grew curious about how the book was made. After discussing the book- making process in our circle, a child exclaimed, “We can make books, too!” A few minutes later, a group of children set off to the art center to create books of their own.

The collaborative work of story writing incorporates speaking, listening, and writing standards. Book making has since become a favourite activity, carrying over into other areas of learning.

This winter, a child made a number book and brought it to our math circle to share with the class. Number books quickly became the rage, with each one a little different from the next. One child began a book about groups of 10. A friend offered support by popping up from the table to reference the number grid on the wall. They soon reached 200.

Given time, space, and materials, these children were able to explore mathematical concepts at their ability level while also contributing to other children’s understanding. Educational consultant Mike Anderson describes this kind of “self-differentiation” as the place in which learning is “most effective” and “enjoyable”—in other words, their zone of proximal development.

Understand Child Development

Understanding how play supports learning means understanding how children learn. Just as a tree’s roots form a foundation on which the tree can thrive, our teaching must have roots in child development in order for children to thrive.

Once my students had experienced play-based learning, they were more focused, motivated, and purposeful. Most important, they were happier. Bringing play-based learning to my classroom created balance, deepened our learning, and defined our classroom community as a place where we could learn and grow together.


Short Tech Tip = A Weekly Series:



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Random Fact = A Weekly Series:


Wisdom of Children = A Weekly Series:


Parenting Tip = A Weekly Series:


Parents please let us know if your children are leaving WHS at the end of the year (apart from year six children of course).  




Kelston Community Centre/Te Pae o Kura
6th - 17th January 2020

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
9am-4pm each day

$60 per week, $120 for both - book for one week or both!

Open to students 8-12 years - no dance experience needed

Bookings are open now online at https://initiatedance.wixsite.com/holiday

Places are limited so be quick!


Dance away the holidays and join in the fun! Over two weeks learn a variety of dance techniques and routines with fun games and team building activities.

The Initiate Dance Holiday Programme, supported by the Auckland Council, is all about engaging young people in a positive way during the school holidays. 

Students finish the final week with a fun performance for family and friends.

The programme is open for any students aged 8 to 12 years old.

Book at a very low price of only $60 per week ($120 for both weeks.
You can sign up for one or both weeks!

Bookings are open now, but be quick! Places are limited!


David Pogue’s Life Hacks - A Series - Food Tips:


Thursday’s Thoughts:


Kindness is the Key:


Cats and Dogs This Week:


Signs of the Times:


Western Heights School

126 Sturges Road


Auckland 0612

P -  09 8361213

E -  macash@mac.com

M - 021 779 009

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Ash Maindonald



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