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Be the 2014 Chocolate Bard!

Cadbury Chocolate Festival. July 2014. Chocolate Bard competition. Winner wins a huge goody bag from Cadbury. Not much more to say really. Except that these are my in-house competition winners. Well done to Ben, Caitlin and Hamish for your outstanding poetry

 If I were the human

If I were the human

and you were the chocolate

I would smell the aromas of your delightful

sweetness from a mile away and gobble you up the minute

I see you


If I were the chocolate

and you were the human

I would mold to your mouth like a child to its mum

and become the thing you are always craving


If I were the human

and you were the chocolate

I would hunt down for that beautiful taste

and would enjoy every mouthful right to the very last crumb


Chocolate Wars

In a purple universe far far away

There lies a castle

A brown castle

With a king of gold.

The king’s castle has been safe

Until now

An army of white soldiers march towards the fortress

Led by their red leader

Their spears pierce through the brown outer walls of the castle

The king’s death is near, he can feel it

As the leader bursts through the castle’s walls, the king wallows at his feet

As the leader moves to take him out, the king begins to dissolve

The white soldiers wait anxiously

“Finish the job, men!”

Cheers go up from the soldiers

They exit the scene of the crime.


A chocolate haiku

Dark cloaked stranger

unwrap your heart to me

true friend of mine




The BNZ literary awards are a good way to explore microfiction as a valid genre. Writing less than 150 words to produce quality fiction is actually difficult. Here’s a few:


TV Time Drama

The rusty blue Toyota rolls from the driveway. Water droplets loll from the hood and trickle down the windows. A small girl peers out from the  house. She yanks the chain and the blind falls from its bar. Light filters from the old bulb on the musty couches. the pitter patter of her bare feet echo as she walks to the pantry. Its doors fling open and the raiding begins. She picks up a glass of juice whilst balancing her food riches on a chipped china plate. Delicately, she sets down the meal and walks towards the television. She uses her toes to press the buttons. A blanket lies on the couch. She rolls it around her. The last button on the remote is pressed and the boisterous loud light starts. Then the crunching in the drive warns her. the TV switched off, and a book pulled out.


Tick, tock

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. A clock sounds in the distance. Footsteps travel in the breeze. A figure appears, white like a bed sheet, graceful as a gazelle. Dressed in a checkered dress and sandals, transported from the past. She’s supposed to be 120 but looks 12. Living a second life to haunt the ones she despises. The rotting fence holds her weight as she steps on the edge, her arms out wide balancing her body from left to right. Snap! The fence breaks hurting none other than itself. A light flickers on from the east. She is still lying there, not moving, not breathing. Was she even breathing before – does she have lungs? yes she does, she’s moving. at a snail pace towards the light. A white light, a bright light, a deadly light. Can she die? She’s a ghost, with no soul and no heart. Can she die?



Scarred for Life

Waves smash over me pulling us under like we are a little bug. Rays of beautiful sunlight stream over the glistening sea. People shout and splash, having the time of their life. All you think about is having fun. Then all of a sudden I have that gut feeling of something going wrong. I look around, up and then down. Something in its shadows slithers under me. then a slimy thing wraps around me pulling my helpless self down. then a horrific shock floods through me. in agony I move to shore, screaming for help. I get to the shore, terrifyingly I see blurred a pinky blue tentacle wrapped securely around my leg. A lady sprints over with vinegar, as I fade in and out of conciousness. She rapidly pours it over. Still in agony I look over and I’m scarred for life

Poetry – Lots and lots of it

Poetry is definitely one of those “I hate writing, but love having written” things. Year 7 and 8 Rutherford have been writing much poetry over the last few weeks and it is often HARD. It requires a great deal of use of high order thinking skills and just some plain old grit. It involves learning rules and following instructions, so that you can then break those rules and ignore the instructions.


Here’s some:

Elephant in a room


My home is a cube cage of concrete

My trees are bars of steel

My playground is painted on the wall

My battle scars will never heal


They sold my soul to a zoo

They took the miles out of my life

Nothing left

but hatred of those I despise


I used to have a family

Used to tingle tight in my bones

But they filled my brain

With sorrowful thoughts

And turned my heart to stone


Let me see my childhood home

Let me roam the world like before

Let me feel the gusts on my skin

And be myself once more


Here’s another:


Everyone was quite sorry

Cause the greedy King was worried

That his crown was not gold

but something of old

and the crownmaker was causing the folly


He called upon his most trusty

mathematician who wasn’t at all rusty

to solve the problem

that he’s acquired

caused he couldn’t solve it  as his brain was all nasty


the mathematician from Greece

Sat down in the tub for some peace

He ran down the street

to go and meet

the King from Glorious Greece


Archie was yelling “Eureka”

as the King came to meet him

cause he knew the answer

the King sought after

and the answer was a freaker


The answer was plain water

that the King was looking for

So Archie told him

and by doing consoled him

so now the King is doing what he oughta


Rock n Roll

It’s loud and it’s strange

with a very wide range

some might see it as outrageous

we see it as courageous

It’s an infectious infection

tailored to perfection

there’s just no stopping cause they’ll keep rocking



The Power of One

the power of one

Iambic pentameter on a Friday morning

Thanks Liz the Poet lady. Sonnets are cool!

liz poem

Challenge – what is it and what does it mean?

I found this and wanted to share it. It’s at the essence of what we do:


If Rutherford is there to challenge gifted/very able students, what exactly is challenge?


1. Identifying the individual’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) (Vygotsky) and working in it- i.e. the space between what a child can do with help and what a child can do without help.

2. Injecting elements of novelty and variety into the learning experience.

3. Encouraging metacognition (thinking about thinking-how we learn)

4. Offering opportunities for independence and self direction.

5. Encouraging risk-taking.

6. Providing opportunities to work with like-minded peers.


Tasks which should be encouraged should offer opportunities to

· formulate and reflect on personal knowledge and viewpoints,

· explore diverse viewpoints,

· consider difficult questions,

· problem solve and enquire,

· make connections between past and present learning,

· regularly engage in higher order thinking (analysis, synthesis and evaluation), and

· engage in independent thinking and learning.


Strategies in the classroom involve moving from:

· Concrete        TO            abstract materials, ideas and applications

· Simple           TO           complex resources, research, issues, skills, and targets

· Discreet         TO            cross-curricular working

· Structured      TO            open-ended questions, decisions, approaches and solutions

· Dependent     TO            independent learning (planning, monitoring and evaluating)

· Small             TO             large steps in imagination, insight and application

(Adapted from Winstanley, 2004, and the Scottish Network for Able Pupils)


Numbers and food and thinking?

What do you get if you set a homework on the theme of numbers in the medium of food?

e numbers



number roots

Number roots



PI R Squared



This Friday is International PI day, and these ideas come from the States, thanks to Ben’s Grandad! (even if he has a fabulous new take on spelling Hawea).

The 14 of March is International Pi day and here are some activities for Ben. Bring in some pies or pizzas and have the class measure the circumference and then the diameter and see if it comes up 3.14.

Compose a rhyme and song about Pi. Mention the circumference divided by the diameter. September 14 is 2Pi day.

Measure the circumference of the moon and divide it by the diameter? Measure the circumference of an eyeball and divide it by its diameter? Measure a bowl of vanilla ice cream and divide it by its diameter. Measure the diameter of a pumpkin and divide it by it diameter? Measure the circumference of a circle of Hiawia 4th graders and divide it by its diameter? Measure a bowl of sugar and divide it by its circumference. Call me if he can’t get these? Love Dad

Top performing students flatlining, says PISA report

This article is from the NZ Edgazette:


Developing the next generation of innovators


The latest PISA results provide valuable insight into how we’re providing for our most gifted students.

In December 2013, the latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results were released by the OECD.
PISA provides an international comparison of student achievement. It assesses the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics, and science. The latest results (from 2012) include data from 65 countries/economies.
The report showed that
New Zealand has a slightly larger proportion of high performing students compared with the OECD average. New Zealand has almost twice the proportion of all-rounders (top performers in all three areas of reading, mathematics, and science) than the OECD on average.
The OECD suggests that these are the pool from which countries will get their next generation of innovators:
“The rapidly growing demand for highly skilled workers has led to a global competition for talent. High-level skills are critical for creating new knowledge, technologies, and innovation, and as such, are key to economic growth and social development. Looking at the top performing students in reading, mathematics, and science allows countries to estimate their future talent pool.”
So our future talent pool and global competitiveness could be increased by supporting the continued high achievement of our top performers and increasing the proportion of students performing at high levels.
However, the PISA results also show that there has been a decrease over time in the proportion of
New Zealand students achieving at the highest levels:
  • Top performing readers decreased from 19 per cent to 14 per cent (between 2000–2012).
  • Top performing science students decreased from 18 per cent to 13 per cent (between 2006–2012).
  • Top performing mathematics students decreased from
    21 per cent to 15 per cent (between 2003–2012).
Whilst New Zealand’s ‘future talent pool’ is still higher than average, the declining proportion of students in the top performing group is a concerning trend.
International research also shows that gifted students are at risk of underachieving. Statistics indicate that half of gifted students do not reach levels consistent with their tested abilities (Rimm, 1994).
A recent study from Victoria, Australia, followed 36,000 students between years three and ten for six months and found that the top 25 per cent of students made the least progress – their scores flatlined. This was in strong contrast to students in the bottom 25 per cent, whose results showed an improvement rate between five and six times greater than expected.
Lead researcher Professor Patrick Griffin was puzzled by these results and held workshops for teachers to discuss strategies for teaching students with different abilities. He noted that teachers had lots of ideas on how to cater for low ability students but very few ideas on how to cater for high ability students. He suggested three possible reasons for this:
  • National focus on students who were underperforming, leading to a lack of focus on high ability students.
  • Assumption by teachers that high ability students can learn independently.
  • Advanced skills were not being taught to high ability students.
These findings emphasise the importance of differentiated teaching for diverse (all) students, including high ability or ‘gifted’ students.
Students can be talented in academic and non-academic domains, such as arts, sports and culture. The PISA study only measures 3 domains of academic performance: maths, reading and science.
Source: PISA 2012 – New Zealand Summary Report, Ministry of Education (December 2013), p22.
Increasing the proportion of gifted and talented students?
The Ministry of Education provides professional learning and development (PLD) and resources to support teachers to identify students’ gifts and differentiate teaching within the classroom.
The Ministry’s gifted and talented website ( has a wealth of resources on how to identify gifted students, differentiate teaching and assess learning. It also has links to other websites, services, and support for gifted and talented education.
In December 2013, the site was refreshed and a wide range of new resources added (see the feature box). This included new material on how to identify and accelerate the learning of underperforming gifted students, with case studies from two schools who are achieving accelerated progress with their gifted students.
We look at one of these case studies, from Mission Heights Primary School, below.
Case study: Mission Heights Primary School
Mission Heights Primary School (MHPS) in Auckland has a roll of approximately 600 students, with about 80 per cent of students from ESOL backgrounds. The school is made up of many new migrants. The ethnic makeup of the school is 35 per cent Indian, 34 per cent Asian, 3-8 per cent Māori, 4 per cent Pasifika, and 15 per cent Pākehā. The school emphasises personalised learning for each student. Students’ gifts are nurtured through the school’s learning advisers and ‘ACE” programme.
Every student has a learning adviser and every staff member is a mentor and coach to a group of students. The advisers remain with the student throughout their stay at the school. All students have multiple teachers but the learning advisor remains consistent. This consistency enables learning advise to develop a strong relationship with their students, getting to know each child’s passion and talent through their relationships. Student’s gifts are typically identified by the adviser and the teachers.
The ACE program allows for flexible learning chosen around the Abilities, Curiosities and Essential needs of each student. Children are able to choose their Abilities and Curiosities subjects, with some input from the teachers. Data is used to identify Essentials according to the needs of the child – what areas need to be boosted or what subjects need to be extended.
Any ACE course includes students across different year levels. The school believes that going to different teachers at different times triggers learning for students who may otherwise become bored. Staff members also believe that exposing students to different ways of learning and with different people allows for excellence. Students are working together, at the right level, regardless of age and based on their talents and passions.
Five Mission Heights Primary students, nominated by the school as top scholars (‘gifted’) in maths, writing, and language, were interviewed for a case study. They ranged from Year 2 to Year 6, and all were achieving accelerated progress. Specifically, these gifted students’ achievements were well above their year-level classmates at the end of 2012 in Math Global Strategy Stage Assessment (GloSS) and/or e-asTTLe, and these same students were achieving well beyond the expected rate of progress for six months.
No ceiling for learning
Teachers were asked what had been the most helpful for their gifted students’ academic success last year (2013). One story shared is below, which highlights aspects of what both the students and teachers noted as necessary for gifted students to succeed:
Mathex is about maths problem solving [competitive event] … Teachers up in the junior college make up the maths problem solving questions.
In the first years, we just took Year 6 teams [to the Mathex event] … They were our top mathematicians – stage 8 mathematicians. We were in our first years of our ACE programme. We didn’t really know our kids. But it was still really hard for us to say ‘this kid is gifted’. It was solely a Year 6 programme.
2011 was the first year we opened Mathex up. I don’t care what age they are, it is just the four that I think will do the best job [that get put into the competition]. It is about taking the kids and letting them be able to do what they are capable of doing. They can feel like we are acknowledging their skills and talents. And giving the opportunity for students to excel. They choose how high they go.
Last year, our Year 5s beat our Year 6s. Now our current Year 5s are better than them!
Story by Robyn [teacher], Jenny [teacher] and Cheryl [teacher].
One student believed that the competition within groups helped him achieve, particularly when this competition challenged his abilities – at the right level and quickly.
Opportunities to practice and be challenged
At the beginning, I had some problems with problem solving.
At Mathex, I practised these problems. It was really like racing and intense. It wasn’t a situation where it’s not calm. You don’t spend like 10 hours on a single question. You finish the questions quick.
I got really good.
Story by Ivan [Year 6, gifted in maths], drawings by Jasper [Year 4, gifted in maths]
Mission Heights Primary School’s approach highlights how deeper understanding of students’ abilities and differentiated learning opportunities can help students to succeed. Differentiation of teaching to meet the needs of students is not new – teachers do it every day. It is just as relevant for students at the lower end of the achievement spectrum as for the higher end. The key is how it is done to meet the needs of students in respect of the level that they are at.
If our most able students are to achieve the best results possible, they will need to have regular opportunities for stretch and challenge. Renzulli (1998) famously noted that “a rising tide lifts all ships”, referring to the fact that in schools where gifted students are supported to achieve, the achievement levels of all students tends to increase. Teachers who differentiate the curriculum for their gifted students are therefore not only helping these students to stay engaged and motivated, but are also more likely to provide high levels of challenge for all students.
The Ministry’s Gifted and Talented PLD and website provide support for teachers to identify and understand gifted students’ needs, and develop teaching strategies/approaches to lift their achievement and engage them more deeply in their learning.
Taking a considered, differentiated approach will foster higher achievement for all students, and help create the highly skilled future workforce to support our country’s economic growth and social development.
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” ― John Dewey .


Welcome to 2014 – the year where Brilliance requires Diligence

Welcome to 2014 at HDS. Our theme for this year is that “brilliance requires diligence”, i.e that intelligence can’t translate to success, unless there are strategies in place to turn that potential into talent. Our aim is to be the best we can be. This is quite different from being the best – one is possible, one is not under our control. In fact we need to be:

The best we can, in the time we have with the resources available to us.

We need to prioritise in our busy school lives, we need to make time to be creative and follow our passions, and we need to negotiate to make a good job of subject areas that we are not so keen on. We need to work on our habits of mind and we need to challenge ourselves and be challenged daily. We need to set goals, we need to self monitor, self-evaluate, and self reward.

2014 – the Year of the Horse and Hard Work!!!

Sustainable Cities – the Final

The Rutherford sustainable cities project has involved year 7 students working autonomously and collaboratively this term on how to solve this pressing issue. The project culminated in a formal presentation for judging. Judges were impressed by the creativity and originality of the models, and also the comprehension and knowledge of the topic. Judges were also pleased with the effort, planning and hard work the students had put into their projects. Students managed to appreciate the social, natural and economic issues surrounding sustainability for different sectors of the population and to translate this into future planning.

The winning project was actually of an un-sustainable city by Ben  and Will. They decided to reverse the project to make more impact. Excellent presentation, well explained and showed a depth and breadth of understanding. Well done to you two – awesome stuff!
Equal second was Caitlin and Sophia, and Hamish and Billy
photo (33)           photo (34)
There were other excellent presentations too in a variety of mediums and presentation styles. The level of planning and preparation was outstanding. Clever students can’t get by on innate intelligence alone, they need to do the hard yards too, which year 7 already realise
photo (35)     photo (36)   photo (37)