Adding tohutō (macrons) on devices for te reo Māori


Tohutō (macrons) are the lines you see above vowels in te reo Māori. Macrons are important for the correct elongated pronunciation of the vowel and if they are not used correctly, or at all, may alter the meaning of the word.

These CORE Education podcasts from Nichole Gully and Te Mihinga Komene discusses the use and importance of tohutō. Some key points from the podcasts include:

  • to make the reading of te reo Māori much easier
  • it is not good practice to mix tohutō and the use of double vowels – it affects the grades given in external examinations of te reo Māori
  • cross referencing dictionaries to get the accurate placement of tohutō

As mentioned in the podcasts, the importance of consistency of tohutō in relation to Ministry of Education guidelines around tohutō and the direct link to te reo Māori assessment, it is important for schools and learners to be prepared for this. As digital technologies are used more often in classrooms and external examinations, are your devices enabled for tohutō?

2020 Digital Technologies in Schools surveys

The 2020 Digital Technologies (ICT) in Schools Report presented findings and information from surveys about the use of digital technologies in schools. Participating principals were asked if the software in their schools supported the use of tohutō in te reo Māori. 47% of principals said that their school’s software supported tohutō use.

When I reflect on the podcasts and this report, a few questions come to mind:

  • What standard are we trying to set?
  • How do we support schools and learners to enable macrons on their devices?

Adding tohutō to devices

Here is how to add a tohutō on a range of devices.






Irrespective of what devices you use, it is important to be able to use tohutō to accurately represent the written use of te reo Māori, because it is part of the digital citizenship and literacy of all learners in Aotearoa respecting the indigenous reo of our country.


The power of collaboration in the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning project

As schools think about working together as groups, clusters, or communities, I reflect on the power of collaboration experienced by 7 schools from the Kahukura cluster during their deep learning journey on the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) project. Their journey began as a Learning Community Cluster established following the quakes in Christchurch in 2011, and continued when they joined the NPDL project at the end of 2014. The NPDL experience has enabled the cluster to build a unique collaborative approach to educating students in their community.

Collaboration helps to develop a deep learning community of schools

NPDL is a global project that connects hundreds of schools across 7 countries, and encourages the development of deep learning pedagogy for all learners. The Kahukura cluster has experienced the power of collaboration as they have developed a deep learning community of schools. The principals and lead teachers from each school have worked alongside one another to build capacity and develop school-specific learning progressions based on globally shared rubrics that align very well with the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Strong professional relationships within this cluster have grown to the extent that teachers leading curriculum developments (for example, numeracy) now plan together across the schools.

In this video teachers share the strengths and support they have experienced.

View video on Vimeo

Six Deep Learning competencies

In this diagram the deep learning design incorporates four dimensions: learning environment, learning partnerships, leveraging digital, and new pedagogies. Each school focused on one of the six deep Learning competencies — known as the six C’s — Collaboration, Critical thinking, Creativity, Citizenship, Communication and Character. Teachers used rubrics based on these competencies to evaluate the design of their deep learning task to ensure students extend their learning skills.

Pedagogies for deep learning

NPDL provides a framework for change management

Leaders within this cluster have found the rubrics covering School Conditions, Teacher self-assessment, and Learning progressions (6 Cs) to be powerful tools for supporting effective measures for new pedagogies. Global feedback highlights the fact that these measures help schools to know where to start and supports them to implement deep learning changes across their schools, systems and communities. This framework can be applied to local contexts and aligns beautifully with the key competencies of the NZC. Preparing teachers for collaborative teaching practices, the focus on pedagogy as a community of schools has helped teachers to change their mindsets and adopt learning progressions that support deep professional learning.

The changing role of teachers towards activators of learning

Recently, lead teachers from the cluster were interviewed via a webinar for Connected Educator Month. In that webinar — Kahukura Cluster | New Pedagogies for Deep Learning the lead teachers shared their passion and the learning experiences they have enjoyed whilst working on the NPDL project. They identified the benefits of having a shared deep-learning language that supports both students and teachers in collaborative teaching teams. These teachers reported on the ways deep-learning design encourages student agency, and even accelerates the opportunities for students to connect and share their projects globally. They highlighted the Deep Challenge series as one way this acceleration occurs. Here, students from across the countries (and across a variety of ages), solve challenges that engage them in a rich learning experience where they create new knowledge to solve a real-life problem.

Teachers driving their own professional learning

Schools and teachers in this cluster have role modelled what Michael Fullan refers to as “a bias for action”1. They have developed attitudes for change, and have worked “from practice to theory” to deepen the learning for all. The NPDL project has supported whole system change — which requires schools to work collaboratively to affect change for learners. The teachers have deepened their understanding of teaching and learning and the pedagogy that is important for 21st century learners. The scaffolding within the project has supported a collaborative approach to teaching where leadership from the middle has been celebrated and encouraged. NDPL represents a networked organisation for schools to connect and collaboratively benefit from the collective wisdom of teachers globally.

The “right drivers” for change (Fullan 2014) 2 identified as Capacity building, Collaborative work, Pedagogy, System-ness are all strongly represented in the NPDL project, and have support this cluster of schools to develop their community of learners across their schools.
Interested in how your school could drive your own professional learning and find out more about NPDL for NZ schools? See Clusters — Take charge of your PLD.

1. Michael Fullan's keynote from the 2015 NPDL Deep Learning Lab, held in Seattle, WA from October 13-15. Keynote video:

2. Michael Fullan post : Choose the Wrong and Right Educational Drivers


TEDX – what’s it all about?

TEDX Christchurch

Slightly outside the sphere of education was the opportunity to attend #TEDXChristchurch.

I have been a fan of TEDtalks for the longest time. I think of them as a direct line into the minds of others, an opportunity to learn from others, “powerful ideas worth sharing”. I attribute many shifts in my thinking to deep reflection and critical thinking around TEDtalks.

“TED was born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman's observation of a powerful convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment and design.” From a very humble beginning, to many iterations and additions, including TEDTalks, TEDGlobal, and TED-Ed, TEDX is now “a radical opening up of the TED format to local, independently organized events”.

What is it about TEDX that really excites me? What is it I love the most? I love…

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Bringing your child to the parent-teacher interview

The changes in teaching and schools can take some adjusting for parents, as it is a different from what they experienced at school. Anaru White discusses with Rochelle Savage her experience of taking her children to the parent teacher interviews last year after the school had invited everyone to do so.

Listen to podcast: Bringing your child to the parent-teacher interview (opens in new window)

Have you, as a parent, taken your child to a parent teacher interview? What was your experience? Have you experienced this as a teacher? What are the pros and cons from your perspective? I welcome your comments.


The pathway to leadership is through service

O le ala ile pule o le tautua

Service is one of the key values found in the Pasifika Values within the Pasifika Education Plan 2013–2017. In Samoan culture, this value of service is reflected in the very well known proverbial expression — o le ala ile pule o le tautua — the pathway to leadership/authority is through service.

Samoans believe that if they are taught from an early age to serve their home communities and extended families, then they will be awarded leadership opportunities when they come of age. This can be seen in chiefly titles that are often bestowed on individuals on behalf of their home communities and extended families in elaborate title investiture ceremonies on the Samoan mainland. These titles are then registered with the Land and Titles Court, and titles are specifically tied to land that families have lived on for generations that they are entitled to inherit.

What is tautua?

As a concept of leadership, tautua is more than an attitude amongst Samoans; it is a value that is highly prized, and brings prestige to a family because it is a duty and obligation carried out to honour one’s family or aiga.

What can we learn about service and its pathway to leadership? Can Samoans transfer this concept of tautua, or service, into other leadership contexts? Are other Pasifika cultures and non-Pasifika communities able to transfer a Samoan view of leadership into their working contexts? I believe they can.

This blog post is an attempt to analyse the construction of the pathways to leadership by observing three stages that must be practised. It is based on:

  • my own upbringing as a Samoan New Zealander
  • my observations of fa’aSamoa in extended family situations in New Zealand, Australia, and Samoa
  • my participation in the Ekalesia Fa’apotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa (EFKS) church in Grey Lynn, Auckland, the first Samoan church established in Aotearoa in 1963, where I currently serve and lead as a Sunday School teacher, musician, choral leader and deacon.

Pathway to leadership

Infographic Concept: Manu Faaea-Semeatu
Infographic Design: Shannon Vulu

Sphere 1: Serve to serve — (0 years to 24 years)

As young children, Samoans are taught to honour, respect, and uphold the values of the family. They serve by completing chores that are assigned to them by older siblings and other older individuals who are afforded respect and who also hold senior positions of responsibility in the family. In traditional contexts in Samoa, children would be expected to serve senior family members and guests at all meals, keep the house clean, act as messenger and courier for correspondence between houses in the village, ensure that they are on call for anything that needs to be completed before the sun sets.

In diasporic contexts (contexts where pockets of people of the same ethnicity are scattered about in other host countries), Samoans can still practise and maintain these customs associated with service in their extended family, church community, and in social club gatherings such as sports clubs or hobby groups. So, despite the contexts changing, the values provide the foundation that moves with these modern times.

Children learn the value of service; how we serve and why it is important to serve.

Being able to serve in this way means that children learn how to contribute and become part of a working system of society.

Sphere 2: Serve to lead — (25 years to 50 years)

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League tables, cell phones and learning

Mobile learner

I had the good fortune to travel to England and Europe during Term 3. While I was in England league tables of GCSE results per school were being published which led to many newspaper articles about improving the academic performance of students.

A familiar theme of these articles got me thinking.  Some schools were celebrating their decision to ban all cell phones from school, because grade levels had subsequently improved.  Hmm…

Surely if schools were allowing students to bring their cell phones in, it was for an educative purpose that had already been discussed widely among staff, students and the community, with strategies set in place to manage and use these tools effectively for learning?

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Children’s voices: Are you listening, can you hear me? Are you looking, can you see me?

The bi-annual SAASIA (Society of Aoga Amata Aotearoa) conference was held in Samoa in September and October 2015 with the theme around children’s voices. SAASIA is a national organisation that provides guidance, support, and advice to aoga amata (Samoan Early Childhood Services) across Aotearoa.

conference attendees

Ruta McKenzie and Justine Mason, along with Veronica Kidd and Jan Fensom, the recipients of this year’s CORE Pasifika grant (KIDDZ Homebased Care Services) had a presentation accepted for this conference. Belinda Williamson from North Beach Childcare Centre also travelled to the SA’ASIA conference alongside her fellow teacher researchers from Mapusaga A’oga Amata.

Following is Ruta and Justine’s review of the conference.

Perspectives on seeing, looking, listening, and hearing

During our presentation we shared our perspectives on four words  — Seeing, looking, listening and hearing. These might sound like simple words but if you are mindful of the significance of these words they become a very deep frame through which we can reflect on our interactions with children.

We believe that we need to do more than “look” at a person. We aim to provoke teachers into making significant shifts in their practice by providing a means to look deeper into the child/aiga, to not just look and listen to them, but to see and hear who they are, and how their language and culture forms and informs their identity.

In Alaska, when a child is born and her/his voice is first heard, the Athabaskan people say: “Who has come?”

In the Western world when a baby is born and her/his voice is first heard, people often say, “is it a boy or a girl? How heavy was she or he? Are they both all right? What time did the mother give birth? Did she have a caesarean or natural birth?”

In the Pasifika world when a baby is born and his/her voice is first heard the family says, “Let’s give thanks to God for his precious gift to the family, church and the village”. These messages convey the ways diverse communities hear/listen to children’s voices.

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Ten Trends 2015: Global Connectedness

In our globally connected world, the challenge for us as educators is to prepare our learners to take advantage of all that global connectivity offers and encourage leaners to question, investigate, and act as global citizens. At the same time, the globally connected world offers educators  a wide range of professional learning opportunities to learn about new technologies, new learning and teaching approaches, emerging pedagogies, and the chance to build connections with other educators. Last month (October) provided a good example of this.

Throughout October, educators in New Zealand and beyond were able to prepare themselves to support globally connected learners by participating in Connected Educator Aotearoa New Zealand (CENZ), a global professional learning event. The CENZ goals include:

  1. Helping more schools, kura, and ECE services promote and integrate online social learning into their formal professional development.
  2. Stimulating and supporting collaboration and innovation in professional development.
  3. Getting more educators connected (to each other).
  4. Deepening and sustaining the learning of those already connected.

But the professional learning clearly doesn’t begin and end with the October event. There are many ongoing opportunities for educators.

Starter Kete: the Starter kete takes a 31-days approach, providing background information, links, and activities to assist you to get more connected every day. This can be for your own professional learning or for school leaders to support their staff to embed new practices in their teaching and learning.

Connected Educators NZ

The Toolkit for staff: a toolkit full of resources and materials designed to help spread the word and get staff involved during 2015 and beyond. While the focus is on October’s events, there is information about how schools, kura, ECE services, and clusters/networks can launch their own events complete with examples and ready-to-use tools to assist you in finding other educators interested in collaborating.

Online communities: Collaborating through discussion in professional online communities sits at the heart of many educators’ personal learning networks. New Zealand online communities offer workshops, webinars, and social networking conversations. Examples of online communities include: 

There are also Twitter chat communities such as: #edchatnz, #leaderchatnz, #engchatnz, #scichatnz, and #KIDspeakNZ.

Find, join, and participate in a community that suits your needs, locally, and globally. Check out the Global Community Directory, the Connected Educators global list. Browse, explore, and add your own event.

Video record: lastly, there is a growing record of global connectedness being posted on CORE’s EDtalks website and Youtube channels, including a series of live-streamed seminars, and interviews with people who participated in CENZ activity at ULearn15.


Teachers are challenged to engage, enable, and empower learners in a technology-rich and fast-changing environment. They strive to provide appropriate learning opportunities that consider learning dispositions, essential learning areas, and key competencies.

Collaborating with and learning from other educators in New Zealand and around the world can enable us to engage with rich discussions and varied perspectives. Connecting globally can open windows on new pedagogies and practices, and ways that new technologies can assist us to engage in new ways with learners’ expectations and needs.

There are a plethora of opportunities for both students and teachers in being part of a global village of learning, information-sharing, and creation opportunities.

CORE's Ten Trends:


Doing what makes the biggest difference

applying the 80-20 rule

Source: Adapted from photo by John Nakamura Remy under CC

I have been doing quite a bit of work in schools, recently, who are right at the very beginning of their e-learning journey. For these Schools, things like GAFE (Google Apps for Education), Flipped Learning, and lots of the other things that many people reading this may now take for granted are, in fact, really new. One of the first things people in this situation tend to ask me is, “What should I do?”

Let's reframe the question

What I think we should really do is reframe that question around impact. I, therefore, often answer the question with a question along the lines of, “What do you think the one change you can make is that will have the biggest positive difference to the learning for the students you work with?”  Another addition to this could be, “ … and for the least amount of change and/or work for you”. I often quote the 80-20 rule, sometimes known as the Pareto Principle, when having these discussions. The premise of this is that 80% of the results or impact come from 20% of the energy or change. In the pedagogy context this could be thought of as identifying what the initial change/s are that will make, or have, the biggest impact on the students.

Start small and get it right

It is essential that any changes made rapidly become embedded in practice and part of the ‘normal’ in the classroom or school. Starting in a small and focussed way and using an Inquiry mindset, is a useful way of doing this. You do one thing and get it right, then quickly move on to the next.  Don’t revamp everything in your programme at once. Start small and learn what you need to know to make that thing successful, then scale this learning across more of your programme and pedagogy. 

For example: change something with one reading group, get it right, and then roll this out to everyone. Experiment, do it well, and learn from the implementation of this prototype about what needs to happen when you scale things up.  Once you have sufficiently mastered things, move onwards and upwards to include more and more people, and more and more of your programme.

Bells and whistles don't always make things better

One of the real challenges of technology and the digital space is the highly seductive nature of it all. I have seen many schools and teachers fall into the trap of trying to ‘do it all at once’ and turning their schools or classrooms into a digital christmas tree with all the whistles and bells at a meteoric pace. The sad bit is though that the whistles and bells may not in fact be making things any better for students, or the learning any deeper. Sure the teacher is working harder and things are taking longer. Kids are having to learn new routines and ways of doing things. But a lack of focus may actually be detracting from the learning. The whole thing quickly becomes unsustainable for both the teacher and the students who were supposed to be benefitting from this in the beginning.

Finding the sweet spot using the 80:20 rule

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not advocating for inappropriately slow implementation of change any more than I am for over-paced development. The ‘sweet spot’ is somewhere in between.

I was reading about this idea recently, which takes the 80:20 rule above and extrapolates it out even further:
“What if you took your 80-percent results and applied the 80/20 rule to them? And then one more time?

80-20 rule graph

Source: ShawnBlanc.Net

What you end up with is the idea that your initial 1-percent of energy spent brings about the first 50-percent of results.

It's about finding the key things that make the difference

For me, this hits home the point about key things making the difference, and choosing that sweet-spot where we get the best bang-for-buck in terms of both simplicity and impact. Small changes often have disproportionately and deceptively big impacts.

I wonder then, if we can come up with a set of questions we can ask ourselves in order to force a focus on some fundamentals and the things with the biggest influence?

Here is my attempt at this:

Question Rationale

What (potentially) small changes COULD I make that will have the most significance for the learning of the students I work with?

Trying to focus in on the key small actions or changes rather than the big ones — eg: introduce a choice of digital activities for the non-instructional time with the XXX reading group NOT digitise my entire reading programme

How much personal learning and change is required for me, for my programme, and for students?

Is the learning curve involved for the teacher and the students worth the time and effort? Remembering that learning software is not the focus of our programmes and the purpose of our time in the classroom is not to be trained in apps, tools or technology.

Is the proposal doing things better or just differently?

Are we exploiting the potential of technology to make things possible that are not in a ‘pen and paper’ or analog world? If not then is having the tech the best option?

Does the ‘better’ justify and outweigh the ‘different’?

If the answer is yes then this proposal may have real merit

Of the possible changes I COULD make, which SHOULD I make to have the biggest initial impact?

Choosing the most ‘impact-full’ option among the possible choices as the place/s to start.

What other questions or considerations would you include?


Sustainability through distributed leadership


Sustaining change in any organisation hinges on distributing the key elements in order to create a shared system of leadership. Schools often face the challenge of sustaining and developing change due to staff turnover or long term absence. It is in those organisations that, prior to any change, there is a need to have multiple change agents, people, and tools. So often schools have passionate change agents that end up holding much of the power to effect substantive change. They upskill, develop, and modify their skill set to assist in shifting whole organisation mindsets. And then, inevitably, they move on to a new challenge. It’s what remains that is the true reveal of an organisation’s capacity for sustainability. Worse still is the challenge left when the agent is an organisation’s leader, leaving not only the task of finding someone new, but also the difficulty of maintaining and extending their work.

I’ve blogged recently about lone nuts, disruptors, and followers”, and truly believe the three are quite distinguishable from one another. However, by their very definition it is their passion for difference and change that drives them, while setting them apart from their peers. It stands to reason that when change has been affected, they will seek out a new challenge, and this could well be within a new organisation.

Sustainability — the capacity for continuous improvement

“I define sustainability as the capacity of a system to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose” (Fullan 2004)”

Fullan lends a new perspective to the concept of sustainability in his use of the word ‘continuous’. The change agents within an organisation have the potential to develop their leadership and grow the understanding of their colleagues through guidance and support. But, what happens when the goal is reached? Who decides on the next step? And, perhaps most importantly, what happens when the direction changes? Top-down leadership and hierarchy will always exist. As a colleague of mine recently said, “If we consulted on every decision we made, change wouldn’t really happen.” We need to find the balance between informing and empowering. Therefore, the concept of driving change from the top is still valid, but when that person at the top decides to move on, does it mean that change ceases? Not if the leadership and strategic direction is shared.

“School leadership and management (often equated with school principals’ work despite empirical evidence calling for more inclusive perspectives) are thought critical for successful schools. School-level factors matter when it comes to improving student learning and maintaining these improvements over time.” (Spillane et al 2015)

Continuity over time appears to be the key to successfully reaching a sustainable model for change. Spillane goes on to remind us of the importance of having various lines of inquiry, multiple paths leading to a shared vision. So, I return to my title and a look at the need for distributed leadership to successfully underpin a culture of sustainable change. This, in itself, has many challenges and requires in-depth collaboration to achieve, but simply taking a step outside of one’s comfort zone is a positive start.

Negativity and the need for collaborative distributive leadership

Further unpacking of the journey requires leaders to look carefully at the effect of negativity on the process of change. Fullan accurately describes this when he states:

“If we want sustainability we need to keep an eye on energy levels (overuse and underuse). Positive collaborative cultures will help because (a) they push for greater accomplishments, and (b) they avoid the debilitating effects of negative cultures. It is not hard work that tires us out, as much as it is negative work.” (Fullan 2004)

The resistors to change (blogged about here) often provide a greater level of work than the actual change. The constant struggle with those that hold an alternative or negative perspective can be extremely wearying and, should change leadership rest with an individual, a debilitating factor. However, a collaborative and distributive leadership system means that any battle can be fought on multiple fronts simultaneously, helping regulate the expenditure of energy and time as well as providing multiple perspectives. In achieving multiple perspectives with the shared goal, an organisation’s leadership is able to actively engage with a wider staff and effect change on multiple levels. Should one leader leave, the sustainability is relatively unaffected. Should they be replaced, a new perspective can be gained and the shared vision can potentially be modified. And in that moment, not only is there sustainability, but also continuity, evolution, and even a new breadth of understanding.

Make sure you're ready for change

Time for a change

Whatever the organisation and the desired change, the establishment of process and structure without trapping the habits of old remains key. The racing driver checks his car, fuel, and tyres before driving, the pilot checks his aircraft before flying, and the leaders within an organisation must check the readiness of a staff before pushing them forward.  They must avoid assumptions. Assuming an organisation is ready for change could be quite different from it actually being ready for it. Once resistance has been validated or a vision has been reshaped, staff at all levels can begin to push beyond their limits and train in a way similar to athletes (Fullan 2004), giving “the extra” needed to effect a lasting change. To start with trust and inclusivity must guide the initial decisions.

Key factors for sustainable and continuous change

I see the key factors for establishing a culture of sustainable and continuous change as:

  1. Collaborative development of strategic goals with an openness to further development.
  2. An environment that highlights resistance and validates it over dismissing.
  3. Shared responsibility for outcome with regular strategic ‘check-ins’ to ascertain whether a task requires further review or sharing.
  4. Visual representation of the change, whether language or ongoing collection of successes and case studies.
  5. Motivation for staff, opportunities for replenishment and learning.
  6. Clear organisational structure and workflow, showing clarity and representing a scaleable vision for the change desired.
  7. Resourcing and procurement of the necessary tools to enact the change.
  8. High trust in all levels of management and leadership with opportunities to address multiple audiences.
  9. Model the expectation desired.

This list clearly isn’t exhaustive, and any change needs to be underpinned by a supportive environment in which risk taking is promoted. I think the bigger question is one that directs those engaged in change and looking at sustainability, towards asking them to delve further by probing the breadth of continuity and evolution within a shared vision.



Fullan, M. (2004) Leadership and Sustainability, Institute for Studies in Education University of Toronto. Prepared for Hot Seat, Urban Leadership Community, England

Spillane, J and Diamond, J (2015) Distributed Leadership in Practice. Hawker Brownlow Education, Australia

Image credits

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