Monday, 15 August 2016

The 5 unexpected benefits of learning Te Reo Māori

I have always loved languages - right from the world of ballet, which I studied for nine years, where everything was in French - but languages haven’t always loved me. For nearly forty years the extent of my Te Reo Māori was Kia ora or counting to ten.

Encouraged and inspired by colleagues I decided to try to increase my understanding and use of Te Reo Māori. In my early 20s I trained myself to like olives and whiskey, I felt I was missing out - I was. I feel the same about Te Reo Māori and have begun to learn.

1) A connection with your children

Recently I received my very first email from my tama mātua (eldest son).

Kia ora e Māma

Tēnā rawa atu koe for your help with my speech.

I loved it - not only was it an unprompted thank you - te reo Māori learning is another connection I have with my children and my tama (son) knows how much I enjoy learning with them. About 3 or 4  mornings a week my sons and I watch an episode of Tōku Reo together. We usually put it on when they are making their lunches. Please make sure that when you are picturing this scene you do not imagine perfection - this morning a pair of shoes could not be found and a warm school top hadn’t made it home. We also don’t always manage to watch every weekday morning (that’s the aim) but we watch at least 3 times a week.

2) Growth mindset/walking the talk

My children are under a weird delusion that I am good at a lot of things. I tried to explain I was ‘good’ because I was old and had done them/practiced HUNDREDS of times. I am constantly asking my children to ‘give it a go’ and try things they are uncomfortable with so I decided to show them me doing something I was not only uncomfortable with but the worst in the family. My children’s Te Reo pronunciation is pretty good as is my husband’s who is an actor and also did 2 - 3 hours a week of discussing Tikanga at Toi Whakaari for two years.
My children hear my husband correcting my pronunciation most times I speak - but they also see me not giving up.

Growth mindset - I find this hard and I will not give up. I have not mastered it yet but I am making progress.

3) Your children as teachers or working together to learn

I love that my tamariki can teach me new kupu (words)  and also correct me on protocols and discuss waiata and kapa haka performances.
‘Mum, we’re staying in the wharenui not the marae...the marae is all of it.’
‘Just singing one of the waiata we learnt this week.’

4) Encourages learning/extends on what they learn at school

I have two sons and there is a lot of talk of penises and farts; apparently this is normal. I initiated a new rule that you could talk about these topics - as long as you did it in Te Reo. Because of this my sons discovered there are three types of fart. They also like to make ‘jokes’ using their put together knowledge. One of my tama’s favourite activities is looking up words on the

My children also comment on what they have learned at school either at kapa haka or new waiata or kupu (words). All of us are sharing our knowledge more with each other. The other morning we were listening to the native speakers on Tōku Reo and my tama pointed out someone had said E pai ana (you’re welcome) and it wasn’t listed on the words and phrases we were meant to be looking out for - it was a phrase we had learned outside of this.

5) Children listen

Friends of mine had to go into town for an appointment and asked me to look after their tamariki and take them to school with mine. They happily played with Lego until it was time to go and then - all five - happily kept on playing with Lego.
‘Could you please stand up, put on your bags and let’s go’ I said - three times…
‘E tū’ I said and all five children shot up like Jack in the boxes.

I was relaying this story to two Dads at the sideline of Saturday sport as getting children to listen is right up there with the top two of frustrations. They seemed amazed but impressed but then said ‘But we don’t know any.’
‘But your children do - just learn stand up, listen and also look and you’ve got a lot of options.’

As an admirer of Celia Lashlie who encourages mothers of sons to laugh more and talk less (I’m great at the laughing part - got that down); I love the directness of Te Reo Māori. You can add kind words e.g. e te tau (my darling) but it is much less waffly than English and more likely to get a response. Plus it helps to extend their learning from school.

As well as commands my tama and I use Te Reo Māori for objects - such as Mr 8’s papa reti (skateboard) and for expressing our feelings.

Some days I feel like I have made no progress at all but then other days I remind myself that I can now thank you in Te Reo Māori; my pronunciation is slowly improving and my kupu (words) are increasing. Best of all Te Reo Māori has enriched the connection between my sons and I in our pākeha family and the country which we live.


TV show:



Saturday, 27 June 2015

How my mother taught my 6 yr old the ukulele via skype

It would be terrible to be good at everything, who would want to know that person, luckily that problem is not mine. My mother can listen to music and work out what key it is in, she taught herself the guitar, she won Studio One with her musical partner Bruce as Jay n Bee (The X-Factor of its day - ask someone over 60) and toured with Roger Whittaker. Her musical genes appear to have passed by my brother, sorry Scott, and I.

Here is how my mother taught my son the ukulele:

  1. They (the student) have to be keen

Learning the ukulele was my son’s idea; otherwise it wouldn’t have worked. Have you ever tried to teach anyone something that they weren’t keen or ready for. Hello, getting your child to use the toilet before they want to…..
A second part of this is that although my son was 6 (nearly 7) when he started, which I thought might be too young, I also realised that he’s the cliched second child desperate to try new things.

  1. Blended if possible

I am a big fan of blended learning if possible - where you get to meet your colleagues and teacher/s first. I have been working as a learning designer on Te Reo Puāwai Māori and Te Reo Manahua Māori online courses which start off with a hui where students get to meet their teachers and each other. In the research I have done, drop off rates are significantly less for blended courses.
In the case of my son, he and my Mum had several lessons together during a school holiday visit where she could show him where to place his fingers and also how hard to press on the strings of the ukulele.

  1. Skype sessions

However the majority of the lessons were all via skype, using video. They were working on a song together and she would get him to practice different parts each lesson, moving on when he felt confident; eventually (after 6 weeks)  he was able to sing and play (changing chords without looking) the whole song without stopping. I would be close by (but not in the room most of the time) to assist when needed, e.g. if his fingers needed adjusting to make the chord correct (particularly at the start).

  1. Work out a schedule

My son and my Mum skyped most mornings for 10 - 15 minutes before school. Having the practices at the same time was helpful for us with remembering! Working it out in advance also means it happens - you don’t get to the end of the day and think, whoops...forgot again.

  1. Work towards a goal

This should probably be number 1. Your motivation for learning and for sticking with learning something new is much more likely if you are working towards a goal. When I went to France by myself, I got over my cringe at my pronunciation and attempted my transactional french. To my amazement, I was understood and could buy food, stamps (to two countries!), wine and more in french. However, it was only being on my own that motivated me to do it.

Like all goals, it’s probably a good idea to apply the S.M.A.R.T. principles. In my son’s case, he wanted to enter the school talent quest so there was a goal with a deadline. He entered and made it through to the finals where he performed to the whole school (over 200 children), teachers and parents.

I think it also worked because it was a grandparent teaching their mokopuna and not a parent teaching their child.

* Have you heard of Amberley School is a song my mother wrote for my son to perform.

** Below is a youtube clip of Uke N Duet - my mother's ukulele duo who perform well-known songs and also originals. This is one of their originals. 

Uke N Duet are available for performances (halls, markets and resthomes!). Email junesavage at hotmail dot com for more information.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Embracing my dickness; inspired by Nichole

Tēnā koutou

This year I want to embrace my dickness and speak more Māori and Samoan at work. I am inspired by Nichole Gully and Tahi Paki's podcast where Nichole discusses that we all are afraid of making mistakes in language learning but we have to give it a go - 'embrace our dickness'. If I can order a croissant in French in Paris I can try to do the same in my own country.

I need to set myself some S.M.A.R.T. goals around this.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Back to school - supporting your child's teacher.

My children go back to school today and are so excited that they were ready - lunches made, dressed, togs acquired -  by 7.30am. A huge part of their love of school is due to their fantastic teachers who encourage and stimulate their love of learning and it has made me think of the  blog post I wrote for CORE Education last year. The best way I can support my child is by working with my child and their teacher.

To Sir with love or ‘How to support your child’s teacher’ — a parent’s perspective

Help your teacher out
I need a disclaimer at the start of this blog post — no, unfortunately I did not receive a fancy holiday that might influence my opinion — my disclaimer is that I am the daughter of a teacher.
So I am biased. I saw my mother leave for work at 7.30am, come home at 4.30pm and then work again after dinner. If I called up at lunchtime I was lucky to find her in the staff room some of the time, most likely she would be on duty or tuning 75 guitars (true story), or having a meeting about class camp.
School holidays would have two parts — week one: ‘recovery week’, and week two: ‘preparation week’ where I would follow my mother to the classroom to put up new images, posters, and ideas for the term ahead, and we stop and chat to the other teachers doing the same.

Read the rest of the post on the CORE Education website.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

How about writing 50,000 words in 30 days in November?

At the moment I am taking part in write for 28 days. Although this is aimed at bloggers for me it may be writing some of my stand up or some fiction as well as this blog.

However it got me thinking about taking part in NanaWrimo a few years ago where I wrote 50,000 words (the length of The Great Gatsby) whilst having a fulltime job and a family.

How does it work?

The NanoWrimo site explains it best but essentially you are writing a novel (50,000 words) in the month of November; 1667 words a day. You are given online support through forums, inspiring emails from published/famous writers, you can earn badges, and there are also opportunties to meet up with others who live near you if you wish. It's free to sign up but you are welcome to make a donation or buy merchandise to support the not for profit organisation.

What worked for me?

  • Not reading anything for pleasure on the internet for the whole of November.
  • Writing 1,667 words every day - I found the word tracker very motivating.
  • Having an idea that I knew I could write about every day.
  • Ignoring 'the critic' in my head.

But is it any good?

  • I still like the idea but I need to find time to do a large rewrite.
  • In some ways - who cares - I wanted to flex my writing muscle and write every day and prove that I could write every day. It's like having my children - it's an almost unbelievable concept, that I wrote 50,000 words.
  • I liked that due to the word count it made my writing go down paths that I don't think it would have if I hadn't had such a deadline - this was such an unexpected pleasure.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

6 reasons to do the learn Moodle MOOC - even if you're an experienced moodler

The next free Moodle MOOC starts on January 17th 2016.

First of all, briefly, what is a MOOC? 

To model Universal Design for Learning principles on this blog I'm not going to presume that you are familiar with what I am going to discuss; we all have gaps in our knowledge (changing car tyres is not my strength either).

I have to confess as a working parent I thought 'where will I find the time?' when it was suggested to me by a colleague but it's been better than I imagined and because of this, I recommend taking part:

1) It's using the latest Moodle version (3.0)
If your using Moodle at your school, university or work you may be using an earlier version. We're often using a slightly earlier version (2.8) so it's helpful to be able to explore new features with a purpose.

2) You can focus on areas you don't usually in your job
Moodle has so many standard uses and additional plugins that we are more familiar with some than others; plus, again in our jobs we may not even use certain features. 

3) They model best practice really well
I am such a fan on short one concept videos. I can't emphasize enough how clear and easy to follow these videos are and although I knew how to do what was being explained it often gave me helpful ideas/suggestions for future use. Best of all it models how to make clear, easy to follow help videos.

4) I always learn something new
Of course you can learn through moodle docs but I've always enjoyed peer to peer learning and throughout this course I have seen someone's work and thought how I can reconfigure the concept to work for our learners. Also explaining concepts/helping others (in the chat or forums) helps to cement your own knowledge.

5) It's fun
Part of this is that it's a well designed course. It's structured enough that you have a clear focus - e.g. contribute a recipe; add a unique educational term to the glossary; add activities to your course; create a wiki entry about your country but loose enough to allow you to decide what your want to contribute depending upon your interests or skill level.

6) It's all about the tutors
In the 10+ years that I've been working with LMS systems and helping lecturers and facilitators design and convert face to face courses into distance or blended courses, yet again I realise that although content is very important the biggest factor for those learning are helpful, enthusiastic, knowledgable tutors who check in regularly and give you options for engagement. Mary and Helen have done this well with weekly hangouts, checking twitter and posting in forums.

I recommend finding a MOOC in your area of interest and doing one this year; yes, it's busy when you do but it often - ironically - re-energises your interest.

Fun, free drawing app review: Doodoo Pad – Drawing Pad for Kids (including 40+)

I stumbled, well - in a digital sense, across this app when I was looking for an interesting free option for creating a banner for my blog. Supposedly for kids, but like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter and Goody Goody Gumdrops, who can resist enjoying it too.
You can select a different colour background (by selecting the page with the blue cross down the bottom), there are quite a few however they are a bit random at times and there isn't a quick way of selecting. However - it's free!
Selecting the pencil option gives a range of options like the colours - and again like the colours, you will just have to keep clicking it to get back to the one you want - such as: little dots (which I used for the stay curious title), fat and thin colours, fuzzy colours, fluro/neon colours, multi-colours, dots etc. The colour (apart from the multi-colour option) changes when you lift your finger; again the colour is reasonably random.
You can then choose to :
  1. save your drawing to your photo stream
  2. then go to your photo stream
  3. and email it to yourself (or tweet it, facebook it or put it on flickr)
Another very cool feature is the movie icon which 'plays back' your drawing of your creation.
Thoroughly enjoyable and it reminds me of the drawings I did as a child where you coloured strips of colour, then coloured black over it and then scatched drawings to reveal the colour beneath.
5/5 particulary, because it's free.