Greetings from Queenstown! Our second day here started off bright and early with our departure to the breathtaking Milford Sound. The bus ride was around 6 hours due to frequent stops for some Kodak moments. We saw beautiful mountain ranges, rivers, waterfalls, and even a couple glaciers. For those of you who’ve seen Lord of the Rings, we even passed through a region where they filmed scenes from several parts of the trilogy. We also stopped en route to see Mirror Lakes, although the pouring rain and fog made it difficult to see much. After a final two hour leg of the bus ride on windy roads, we finally arrived at Milford Sound around lunchtime. We immediately boarded the boat for a two hour cruise around the Sound. Interestingly enough, we learned that Milford Sound is actually a fiord (or for us Americans, a fjord) and not a sound because it was created by the movement of glaciers. During the cruise we saw numerous beautiful sites including Bowen and Sterling Falls, Seal Rock, and part of the Tasman Sea. Although it was rainy and windy, and occasionally bumpy, we all had a great time.
Group after the Cruise
On Monday morning, we departed on our five minute walk to Queenstown Primary. The principal, Dr. Lyn Byrd, and deputy principal, Jim Turrell, spoke to us about the school. We learned that the school stresses the importance of self-regulated learning, or SRL, in which the students are in control of their own learning and time management. Year seven and eight students can exercise this practice in the school’s new $1.5 million NZD building, which has a large open space at the center of the classrooms in which students can do independent work. The new building also includes a TV studio where the students film the daily news. We were also told about how the school embraces Queenstown’s reputation for being the “Adventure Capital of the World”. Students participate in an outdoor orient program in which they participate in outdoor activities such as sleeping in a snow cave, hiking, white water rafting, and skiing. It was hard to believe that at lunch time we were done observing schools!
Sign in Queenstown Primary's new SRL center
With the rest of the day free, some of us chose to go jet boating through the canyons while others chose to walk around Queenstown. No matter what activity we participated in, it got a little chilly, especially with the snow flurries!
Tuesday was our final day in Queenstown, and we were free to participate in activities such as bungee jumping, hiking, and taking a gondola up the mountain for an amazing view of the surrounding region. Tonight we will have our final group dinner at a waterfront restaurant, Prime, before doing some last minute packing for our long journey home. The past three adventure filled weeks in New Zealand have been pretty amazing. See you soon!
Group at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy
Sarah jumping from the Nevis Bungy
-Sarah Odom and Emily Jeske
Thursday morning we were greeted at Outram School by Principal Jeremy Marshall and a cheerful group of students who welcomed us with a traditional Maori song. Principal Marshall explained to us that the students at Outram School are engaged, happy, and motivated about their learning due to the relationships built between the students and teachers. Outram School is a high leveled school (decile 9) because of its rural location, with about 244 enrolled students. We were fortunate to hear from two students about their experiences at Outram School and how inclusive the school is with the multiple activities that are available for each student, from sports, to crafts, to house competitions, such as capture the flag (which is their current game for the term). One wonderful, unique aspect of this primary school is the Allen Center, also known as the library, which is geared to “spark” the students curiosity. The Allen Center is a student-driven environment, with activities and displays that promote the students’ passions and interests. It is a “fluid environment” that is constantly evolving and new projects are being added to the room as students voluntarily visit the room during their lunchtime. Outram School’s main motivation is to create an interesting and active curriculum that encourages students’ curiosity and interests.
Friday, we had a day off from visiting schools and decided to take a tour of the Cadbury Factory in Dunedin. Interestingly enough, the Cadbury factory in Dunedin was the second factory to be built. We had a wonderful tour guide named Steph, who gave us a detailed tour of the factory. Safety first, of course, we put on our hairnets and started the tour. Immediately upon starting the tour we were given a typical chocolate covered marshmallow candy bar and were given continuous candy bars throughout the tour. Throughout the tour we could smell the delightful aroma of chocolate goodness. We learned that on average a New Zealander eats about 4kg of chocolate per year, while Americans eat about 10kg of chocolate per year. We got to see everything from, the ingredients used in making it, to how it is packaged for shipping. One of the highlights of the tour was watching one ton of chocolate drop from the chocolate fall. We even got to taste test some of the melted chocolate. In the end, the tour was a success as we left satisfied with a bag full of chocolate bars.
Later in the afternoon, we embarked on a tour across the Otago Peninsula guided by our wonderful Elm Wildlife tour guides. Our first stop was at the Royal Albatross Center where we witnessed a four month old albatross, which is a rare and interesting bird that stretches up to 3.3 meters in wingspan. As our journey on the bus continued we saw many different types of birds, including Kingfishers, a fleet of black swans, and one Royal Spoonbill. Finally we made it to the much-anticipated destination on a native New Zealanders farm where three very rare species reside. We had the wonderful opportunity to stand right above a breeding ground of New Zealand fur seals where we saw numerous mothers with their pups. These animals especially like the cold New Zealand weather, as they playfully splashed around in the pools of seawater. Next we ventured down to a beachfront where we stood less than 100 yards away from huge Hooker sealions. We learned that one of the sealions weighed up to 700 pounds and that these magnificent animals could dive over 200 meters deep. On the same beach, we also got to see yellow-eyed penguins, which like the Hooker sealions are only found in New Zealand. We got to watch some of the penguins return from a day at sea and greeted by their partners. It was an adventurous day as we experienced some beautiful sights and saw some of New Zealand’s rarest animals.
– Kirby-Annah & Olivia
Tuesday morning we boarded our bus at 8:30am to head to Logan Park High School a Decile 7 school with 600 students located in the heart of Dunedin for a full day of activities. We were greeted by the principal, Jane Johnson who showed us to the staff room and handed us a schedule. First planned was a traditional Maori welcome from a small group of students and the Maori teacher. It is customary to respond with a song and our group chose the Journey classic, “Don’t Stop Believing” as led by Luke and Sarah Beth. After breaking bread, the group headed to the auditorium for two school assemblies. During these assemblies, we split up into two smaller groups to present a powerpoint on Greenville, Furman University, ourselves and our hometowns.
This was followed by an hour or so of observing various classrooms such as Social Sciences, Digital Studies, and English. After a tea time and a quick lunch, we finished our day by observing several “elective” classes such as Maori, Drama, Fabric Technology and Digital Studies in which they were linking up with a high school in North Carolina.
One important part of Logan Park’s curriculum is an emphasis on ‘School-wide Positive Behavior For Learning” that impacts what they teach and the way they do so. After a full day of school we had a free evening in which many of us chose to see the 5pm viewing of ‘The Avengers’ followed by a pizza dinner.
Wednesday morning we ventured to the outskirts of Dunedin to visit Elmgrove Primary School in Mosgiel. This contributing Decile 6 school had 260 students from Years 1 to 6. The school featured only one rule stating, “We care for ourselves, others, and the environment.” Following an introduction by the principal in which she stressed the importance of teaching teachers just as much as students, we were then split into pairs to visit classrooms that were doing everything from Jump Jam to haikus to birthday stories. We all reconvened in the staff room for an hour long lunch and finished our day with a final visit to one classroom.
Like other primary schools we’ve visited, Elmgrove Primary has made it a goal to break out of the traditional classroom-type environment and included moveable walls, colorful rooms and made a flexible learning environment for both teachers and students. We have a free afternoon in which many of us are emailing, Skyping and working on our second papers. Tonight will be an optional dinner at The Art and Kraft of Food and Beer. Should be a good night!
– Jonathon Guerrier & Chandler Ambrester
This morning we started the day at University of Otago’s teacher college. It was about eight degrees for the twenty five minute walk from our hotel to the University–definitely a healthy start to the day! We were greeted by the Dean, Lisa Smith, a native of New Jersey. The Associate Dean, Mary Simpson and Primary Education Coordinator, Susan Sandretto briefed us on the ins and outs of primary education in New Zealand. The presentation included a description of various types primary schools, and an explanation of the programs available for teacher certification. Three, four, or one year degree programs are offered.
After a quick snack break, Dr. Ross Notman gave a presentation on secondary education certification. He has been in education for over forty years, and used his own personal experiences in the classroom as examples to illustrate his points. After the discussion, Dr. Notman gave a brief tour of the University, including the original building, which has been there since there since the 1870s. We ate lunch and explored the campus a bit more, then headed off to visit George Street Normal School.
Upon arrival at George Street, we were greeted by the principal, who explained a bit of the school’s program and philosophy. The school is categorized as a decile nine school, which is at the upper end of the financial spectrum. It is a primary school, with years one through six and students age five to eleven. “Normal School” means that the government provides funding for student teacher mentoring at the school. George Street works closely with University of Otago’s teacher program to train future teachers and give them hands on experience. The majority of the classrooms have student teachers working along with the lead teacher. Each of us was assigned a classroom to observe for the afternoon.
George Street operates with a philosophy of finding and building on student’s strengths. The students parents and teachers are asked to evaluate the children’s strengths, and continue to help the students develop their strengths throughout the year. In order to do this, George Street utilizes the “three e’s:” enjoyment, excellence, and excitement. In other words, the school seeks to involve children in areas they can excel. George Street also uses an “inquiry approach,” that conveniently goes with the initials of the school: GSNS. The process is: getting the information, sorting the information, now using the information, and asking “so what?” This teaches students to be lifelong learners and find answers for themselves. We finished at George Street around 3:00 and headed out to explore Dunedin!
On Saturday we woke up at 4:30 in Auckland to catch a 7:15 flight to Dunedin, a city on the South Island of New Zealand. Upon arriving in Dunedin we were surprised at the big change in temperature. The average temperature in Auckland was in the 50s or 60s while the temperature when we arrived in Dunedin was about 42 degrees! But we embraced it for the time being and took a bus to our hotel, which was just a few minutes outside the center of the city. After checking into our hotel we went on a walking tour of the city. On the tour we learned about the history of Dunedin, saw an Anglican church from the 1800s, a beautiful train station, the old law courts, and an old jail. After we ate lunch several people went to find coffee and warmer clothes. Others went back to the hotel to rest for a few hours. When everyone was dressed in several layers, we saw the steepest street in the world—Baldwin Street. We got our exercise for the day by walking up and back down the 70-degree incline street. Next we rode the bus to the top of the hill for a view overlooking the city. The view was gorgeous so we stayed for a few minutes to pose for pictures. We then headed to a rugby game to watch the New Zealand Highlanders take on the Bulls of South Africa. The stadium was not indoors but it did have a roof, which kept us somewhat warm. It was still brand-new looking since it had just opened last year for the rugby World Cup. We were happy to see the Highlanders beat the Bulls 16-11. It was a great game and a new, fun experience! One thing we noticed, however, was that the fans did not get as excited and “into the game” as Americans do at their sporting events. There was one section of inexpensive seats at the end of the field called the “Zoo Crew.” The Zoo Crew fans were noisy every now and then, but everyone else just wanted to sit and watch the game. The stadium did have a concession stand with fish and chips, sandwiches, corn dogs, and drinks. Although most of us were confused by the game and its rules, we all picked them up enough to enjoy the game. After the game we rode the bus back to the hotel. Everyone was so tired since we woke up so early that morning, so we all went right to bed.
Sunday was a free day! We were welcome to do whatever we pleased until the evening when we had a planned dinner. Many people slept in or attended church in one of Dunedin’s oldest cathedral. After, many went downtown to get Internet, and enjoy some of Dunedin’s café’s, while turning in our first assignment. Throughout the day people went and explored the shopping area known as George Street, again to buy more warm clothing. A small group went to a beach known as Tunnel beach. The beach received its name due to the man made tunnels carved into the cliff side. It was beautiful however, it required a hike down the side of a muddy hill, but was over all worth exerting the extra energy. Another option that some people on the trip chose to take advantage of was a train ride to a gorge three hours outside of Dunedin. Later in the evening we all reconvened to go enjoy dinner at Speight’s Brewery. The atmosphere was great, and we all had a fun time. After dinner a group went to get ice cream, while others made the exhausting walk up the hill to our hotel, to prepare for an early Monday morning.
This morning, we got up early and caught a train from Auckland to Manurewa. From there, we took a bus to Weymouth Primary School, where we were greeted with song and dance. We learned that Weymouth was founded over 120 years ago, and has long been a cultural center of the community. We were treated to a segment of the school’s television show, WOW TV. Through it, the students taught us how to be considerate to animals and to be responsible members of our community. Some of us were interviewed for a future edition of WOW TV. Students asked us questions about our thoughts and opinions of New Zealand education and how it compares to American education.
Following this, we visited classrooms and were able to talk with both teachers and students. Some of us observed student activities, and others were able to join in during playtime and recess. The students were discussing what the world would be like without animals. Classes were participating in a variety of activities, from writing poems about animals to learning about predictive and imaginative descriptions of different scenarios. The school treated us to both morning tea and afternoon sandwiches.
After lunch, we departed for Finlayson Park Primary School. We were again welcomed with traditional Maori greetings of song and dance, and were accepted as members of the school community. When asked to say a few words, we found that the students were extremely interested in our accents, our speech often eliciting laughter. Finlayson Park, unlike any school we had visited previously, is a language immersion school. This means that students are enrolled in language “units,” where classes are conducted in the native languages Tongan, Samoan, and Maori. There was a unit dedicated to fluent Maori learning, wherein the students do not speak English in class until the age of ten, and an English/Maori unit, where both languages are spoken from year one. The Tongan and Samoan units did not have “fluent” counterparts, but were similarly conducted.
We were again able to visit classrooms, and observed the different language units. The children were enthusiastic to see us, regardless of the language barrier. Students were able to show us some of their learning, but were particularly keen on hearing about life in the United States. After explaining that we were not in fact acquaintances of anyone significantly famous, they were satisfied to hear about life in general; details of the weather and food were sufficient to entertain their imaginations.
As tonight is our last night in Auckland, we will be enjoying a group dinner at a local Italian restaurant suggested by Tāne. Following our meal, we’ll have some time to ourselves to begin packing for our trip to Dunedin or writing our first papers. Kia ora.
-Luke and Andrea
Kia Ora! Our day began at Summerland Primary, in West Auckland. For us, this was our favorite school we have visited so far! There was just something about their philosophy of education as well as the colorful, fun, and family-oriented atmosphere that hooked us. Walking in, we couldn’t help but notice the school’s values on the wall: Fun. Integrity. Respect. Team. Success
Summerland Primary's school values
Here, education is not about what the students will do in the future or about teachers filling “empty vessels”, but instead, the focus is that today is the most important day of the students’ lives. We were shown a YouTube video that illustrates their philosophy of education (LINK) At this school, the kids have the opportunity to negotiate learning with the teacher, giving them a clear voice in their own educational journey. In one classroom we observed, the teacher had her students using Google Calendar to structure their day. There was a certain chunk of time that the students got to plan what they would work on, as well as how much time they would spend on certain activities. Deputy Principal Blair Giles illustrated David Anderson’s model of challenge and support, which states that true education exists when there is a balance of the student being challenged and supported. Summerland Primary believes that true learning happens in a place of discomfort and the phrase “I don’t know” is unacceptable, as the school advocates thinking intelligently when you don’t know the answer. In our tour of the school, one of the things we really loved was the school’s friendship garden. This is a place where children are encouraged to go if they need someone to play with or can’t find their friends, and more often than not, they end up meeting new friends.
One of the main differences of Summerland Primary and the other schools we have visited earlier in the week is that they are not a one-on-one school with technology. They believe that this would detract from the social aspect of learning, which they value very highly.
St. Dominic’s College was different than Summerland Primary. This is an all girls’ Catholic school, with around 900 students from Year 7-Year 13. It is a state-integrated school, meaning that they receive funding from the government for having a “special character”, which is their Catholic base. We were able to talk with the principal and the school’s Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl when we arrived. They told us about the school’s wide range of sports, which is unusual for schools in West Auckland. They are also very proud of their multicultural make-up, with 50 countries represented. They have a wide curriculum consisting of classes such as dance, drama, fabrics, cooking, photography, as well as the core subjects. Ninety percent of these students go on to University, which is one of the highest percentage rates we’ve seen so far. We then attempted to give our presentations about where we come from to a group of Year 13 girls. They loved our accents, especially our use of the word “y’all”. While we did not get through everyone, due to time constraints, all of us enjoyed it!
After, we were paired up with leaders of the school for a tour. To conclude our visit, we were given “afternoon tea” which consisted of delicious cakes that we of course gladly accepted. We were provided with some “entertainment” on our long bus ride home by a bus full of young boys, from a different school, that thought it was funny to take their shirts off for us…Dr. Lipscomb had a front row seat for that one. Now off in search of dinner and a little R n’ R.
Ka kite ano!
-Morgan Black and Whitney Becker
Kia Ora (or welcome in Maori)! In the last few days we have been introduced to a new style of education. The 4 schools we visited have become a part of a cluster of schools in a decile one (or in our terms, Title 1) area of New Zealand. These schools have joined in a movement called Manaiakalani where the idea of “Learn, create, share” has been the driving force in their implementation of the national curriculum with the hopes of leading the children to self manage and to help themselves. Through this movement, these schools have just recently been making use of netbooks (or mini laptops) to help further each students learning and to make their educational experience coincide with the technological world that they are growing up in. In each of our visits, we saw these netbooks being put to use and we experienced an encouraging outlook on education. Obviously we can’t begin to share all of our experiences in one short blog post but below are just a few of the highlights from the past 2 days!
To begin our journey of exploring New Zealand schools, we set off to Point England Primary School. Though it had rained earlier in the morning, the drive to Pt. England was beautiful. We climbed aboard a public transport bus which took us on a drive out of the city, along the water, and through various residential areas. As we arrived at the school, a few students greeted us. It was exciting to see the students welcoming us and taking us into the school with such joy. Our day began with a welcoming presentation given by 8 year five (4th grade) students. As our welcoming presentation came to a close, we were taken on group tours around the school where we got to see the idea of “Learn, create, share” in action. We experienced this lifestyle of learning during morning tea where we saw the morning news made by some of the students, during our individual interactions in our assigned classrooms, and during our question and answer session with the principal of the school. Experiencing the way Point England implemented this phrase looked different for each of us as we each understood, processed, and witnessed the information given to us in different ways.
Our second day of visiting schools, May 15th, included three different schools. We first visited Tamaki College. This high school, along with Pt. England Primary and the other two schools, are located within the same community in Auckland. Tamaki College is known as being the pioneering school for technology. They have jumped in head first and immersed their students by using netbooks (like mini-laptops) for the majority of their schoolwork. From classes of woodwork and baking to physics and mathematics, the students enjoy using technology to enhance their work. Next we visited Saint Pius X School, a small catholic primary school. St. Pius provided us with another view of using the netbook technology in an elementary-level school. To our benefit, lunchtime happened when we were at St. Pius. After visiting classrooms and eating lunch, we were drawn to the gymnasium-like area of the school where the students were enjoying a “zumba” activity. To have some fun, many of us jumped in with the students following their dance moves and dancing along to the loud American pop music. The students seemed to love having us in there with them, and we had a blast. Others of us braved a climbing wall on the playground and let the students chase us around the field. It was a great experience for us to return to childhood in the midst of our learning. To end our day, we visited Tamaki Primary School. As we have seen at many places, the children were very lively and welcoming to us. We were amazed at the maturity level of those students, mainly around 10 years old, who gave us tours of their school. We could tell that they are proud of their school and are excited that Tamaki Primary is beginning to use the netbook technology in its classrooms. Since Tamaki is a small school, we were each able to see every classroom of students in years one to eight (our equivalent of Kindergarten to 8th grade). After just these 4 school visits (and we still have 10 schools to explore and learn from!), I think each of us have taken away a wealth of knowledge about the education system here in New Zealand and its similarities and differences to that of the United States education system.
Needless to say, we are having a great time here in New Zealand and are making the most of the time we have. We hope you enjoy reading about all of our adventures.
~Mallory Becker and Sarah Beth Caldwell
1. Tour at Tamaki College
2. Enjoying delicious cookies baked by Tamaki College students
3. Beautiful artwork done by each class of Tamaki Primary students
Tour at Tamaki College
Student Artwork at Tamaki Primary School
Today, we all made the journey by public bus (or coach as our British driver Richard likes to call them) to Auckland University’s Epsom campus which is specifically designed for teacher education. There, we were lectured by faculty members on the actual school system in New Zealand and the university’s education program. Although we found the New Zealand school system somewhat similar to the American one, we also found it quite different. One of the most interesting disparities we found was the practice of a child beginning school on his or her 5th birthday rather than the beginning of a school year. For some reason, this one custom was by far the most difficult for us American students grasp. One thing that we did find extremely fascinating was the fact that teachers in New Zealand really attempt to incorporate all the different cultures found there, particularly the Maori culture, declaring the school system bicultural as well as multicultural. It was also intriguing to hear from the faculty about how similar their education program was to Furman’s own. What we found incredible, however, was the fact that there are only seven (yes, seven) places in the entire country where one can obtain a teaching certificate. Coming from the U.S.A, this was almost mind boggling.
Dr. Lexie Grudnoff discusses teacher education programmes in New Zealand.
Another aspect of the program that we found slightly different was the fact that a degree can be completed in three years whereas at Furman, it takes five! You can imagine the reactions of all the education majors to that bit of information. The tour of campus led us to the resource store, which was swarmed by education majors as happy as kids in a candy shop. We also experienced what we felt was a wonderful New Zealand custom, mid morning tea. Tea, coffee, brownies, muffins, and pastries were provided (delicious ones we might add) and proved to be one of the highlights of the morning. The afternoon was free, so some of us explored Auckland more, visiting coffee shops and cafés, and some took a ferry across the harbor to the little village of Devonport and spent a relaxing afternoon there.
Mallory and Andrea-- teachers in training.
In the evening, a large group made a trip to Bluestone, a restaurant in Auckland. Following Tane, our New Zealander guide though several dark alleyways, we arrived. The restaurant was sparsely lit and the menu daunting, but orders were placed from completely plain hamburgers to fish and chips to lamb shank. When the food arrived, no one was disappointed. We all agreed whole heartedly that the food was delicious. I personally enjoyed a New Zealand lamb shank that was one of the best I had ever had, no offense to my wonderful mother’s cooking!
Despite a 4-hour delay in the D.C. airport, we had a smooth trip to New Zealand and made it safely to Auckland at 6am on Friday. We’ve all struggled a bit to get acclimated to the time change since we skipped May 10th and are a day ahead of the U.S., but we are slowly getting used to the change.
When we arrived in Auckland, we were greeted by our tour guide Tane and our bus driver Richard. We then rode to Mount Eden and walked to the top. At Mount Eden, we saw a beautiful view of Auckland and it was a great way to start the trip! Mount Eden has a crater that was formed by a volcano many years ago, which was really interesting to see. We all enjoyed taking pictures and walking around to stretch our legs after our long 12-hour plane ride.
We then walked around the viaduct off of Queen Street, the main street in Auckland before lunch. After lunch we checked into our hotel and dispersed into our rooms and relaxed and explored the area for the rest of the day.
Then, on Saturday, we had the morning free. During the morning we all had our own adventures; some of us slept in and rested after the long trip, some explored Devonport (a town nearby) and went on a ferry ride, and others braved their kitchens and attempted to cook breakfast. When we all convened, we enjoyed hearing about everything people had done that morning as we waked from our hotel to Auckland Museum. After walking through a park and taking pictures many pictures, we arrived at the museum.
Group picture in front of a really cool tree in the Domain on the way to the Museum.
When we got inside, we were greeted by the sound of a conch shell and went to a show that demonstrated Maori traditions. In the show, we saw the weapons used by the Maori people, dances that were done by Maori men and women, and heard songs that the Maori people would sing. Then, one of the performers gave us a tour of the section of the museum that had homes and items used by the Maori people.
Posing with one of the Maori performers
After this tour, we had time to explore the rest of the museum on our own. The museum has a wide variety of items, varying from exhibits about New Zealand classicism throughout time, animals in New Zealand (including the albatross and marine life), volcanoes, and education in New Zealand. Each exhibit provided information that was new to us and we found it difficult to take in everything that we saw because it offers so much. After the museum, we explored an area of Auckland called Parnell and enjoyed looking in shops and stopping for lunch and gelato. Some of us got lost while others explored the area and then we all met for dinner after our adventures.
Then, on Sunday (today), we met up with our coach (or bus as Americans call it) driver Richard and embarked on a tour of different parts of the Auckland area. We first stopped at a local market. Then, we explored the visitor center at Arataki. Arataki has many overlooks and some trails and we got to see new views of Auckland and of the oceans surrounding New Zealand. After this, we stopped at Piha, a local beach in Auckland. The beach was different than what we are used to, but we enjoyed walking on the sand and stepping into the cold ocean. After all the adventures on Sunday, we are all excited to keep exploring and to start visiting schools tomorrow!
-Ann Claiborne Ellis