Learning Spotlights

2022 & 2023 OPS Learning Spotlights - We will be sharing some of the exciting approaches to learning occurring in our teams.

These spotlights link to learning which staff have been involved in as part of our staff professional learning - you can see more about this on our OPS Staff Professional Learning page.


Piwakawaka Learning Community

We are a learning community of Year 5 & 6 ākonga working collaboratively in a beautiful space on Level 2 of our new school building. We have named our level ‘Ranginui’ (after the Māori god of the sky) and our whānau groups are named after stars in the Matariki star cluster: Matariki, Waitā, Waipuna-a-rangi, Hiwa-i-te-rangi and Ururangi.

 This week’s 'Learning Spotlight’ focuses on…

OPS ākonga are empowered by positive collaboration and relationships through…

Teaching collaboratively in our new space has helped both ākonga (learners) and kaiako (teachers) build stronger relationships with everyone in our learning community, not just those in our whānau groups. 

What a regular day looks like:

We start every day together with a team hui. During our hui we:

Many of our ākonga are leaders for many different activities, this is a great way to make sure we are all informed about what is going on. Each day a different teacher leads the hui. Starting the day together sets us all up for a successful day of collaboration.

After our hui we have whānau time. The first lesson of the day for us is library, sports or specific whānau class learning with the whānau teacher. 

Following brain break we have collaborative learning, where the classes intermix for reading, writing and maths. 

After lunch we have a calm session of silent reading, then it’s either back to whānau class or inquiry themed rotations. 

Term 2 inquiry: The digestive system and healthy eating:

Our inquiry into the digestive system in Term 2 utilised a combination of collaborative teaching approaches to engage ākonga and assess their learning. To generate interest and discussion we launched our inquiry with the whole learning community completing a true/ false question scavenger hunt around our space at the same time.

Next, our ākonga were placed into 5 groups which were made up of a combination of all 5 whānau classes. Each group rotated through a series of learning experiences and experiments about different parts of the digestive system. One benefit of this was that teachers could take the same lesson 5 times with different groups, and reflect on how to improve the experience each time - a great opportunity for teacher professional learning. Many ākonga enjoyed the hands on aspect of some of the experiments. Our cook and create space, balcony and ‘discovery room’ were useful for the messier experiments!

Assessment activity:

At the beginning of the inquiry, ākonga drew what they thought the digestive system looked like.

At the end of the inquiry, they had another go with impressive results.

Assessment activity:

Ākonga worked their way through a Seesaw slideshow made by all of the Piwakawaka teachers.

This was another opportunity for ākonga to share their knowledge.

The next stage of our learning has been inquiring into healthy eating. Teachers planned and taught collaboratively to cover these areas:

We know how much our ākonga love to incorporate cooking and eating into their learning. Whānau classes enjoyed making and eating vegetable soup, fruit smoothies and sushi. 

We will wrap up our learning about healthy food with a visit from Frances Smith (Athos Nutrition: empowering athletes through nutrition). We were able to make contact with Frances thanks to one of our amazing parents in the Piwakawaka team (thank you, Jennie!) 

Ākonga Voice about our Digestive System Inquiry:

It was creative. I liked the way we simulated what was going on in the body instead of just learning the facts. Joey

It was fun making poop from porridge with Mrs Farley (to do the number twos!). Onika 

I liked how we learned about what happened in your body and where the food goes. L’Ryan 

I liked how we chewed the food, then spit it out. We added water to make the saliva. 

We got to crush up the food (like crackers). This part was acting out what our mouth does. Adelaide 

I liked the drawing, I was inspired by doing it; we only did the inside of our bodies.  Ruby

I enjoyed watching the Magic School Bus because it was all about the digestive system. Harlem 


Kiwi Learning Community

We are the Year 0 -1  Learning Community and we are currently located at the top of the school overlooking the new building and also in Room 20 which runs alongside the field. 

 This week’s 'Learning Spotlight’ focuses on…

OPS ākonga are empowered by positive collaboration and relationships through…

This year, the Year 1 teachers have identified learning needs and next steps and worked collaboratively to plan and carry out learning across the team for both maths and reading. Alongside this, all the Year 0-1 teachers and ākonga have been involved in a range of collaborative activities which have included; collaborative eating times, play, swimming, waiata, sports, library and team assemblies. 

Through this planned collaboration, we are seeing stronger relationships being formed between ākonga, and between ākonga and more than one teacher. Forming these relationships has proven to be invaluable in terms of students’ learning, engagement, interest and well being. Students have shown us that they are very able and happy to move between physical classroom spaces, work with a range of students and with different teachers. Ākonga are also more willing to approach different teachers across our team when they need support and love mixing with a wider range of students. 

We are always focused on building strong learning relationships and we also take the time and see the value in getting to know and work alongside each student and support their individual needs. The Kiwi Team Kaiako love working with the whole team and getting to know each student. It is a joy!

Student voice: 

“I like going to the library with different teachers so I can go more often.”

“ I have made new friends in the whole team.”

“I like playing with people from another class.”

“I play with different friends.” 

“I can talk to other teachers.”

“When I am sad I can ask Kiwi teachers.”

“Kiwi teachers help me with maths and reading.” 

“I can work with other teachers so I can get it right.”

“We swap round and change classes. I like it."


Kereru Learning Community

We are a learning community of Year 3 & 4 students. 

Our whānau groups are- Kahikatea, Miro and Puriri  located on Level 1 of the new building.

 This week’s 'Learning Spotlight’ focuses on…

The teachers in our learning community collaboratively plan for writing, reading and mathematics. Teaching collaboratively has helped us build good relationships with all our ākonga.

Collaborative maths:

The students working in  small groups discussing strategies with one student recording the strategies. 

‘Think time’ is very important as it helps students understand the problem and listen to others in their group. 

Discussion in a group helps students think of different ways to solve problems.

An example of students sharing their thinking.

There can be many ways to find the answer. Students are encouraged to try different strategies and see what works best for them.

After moving into the new building-

We love the learning nook...

…and the quiet reading corner.

We can even work 

on the floor!

Student Voice:

“I like the way we learnt divisions because it helped me with baking”- Henry M

“When I learn fractions, I find it easier when I bake brownies at home”-Zara

“I like learning fractions as I can use my times tables for dividing and multiplying”-Jack W

“If I am stuck on a problem, my group helps me”-Charlie

“We learn from each other”- Bethany 

“I like Maths collaboration as it helps with teamwork”-Pranit

“In the new building there is more space to do maths collaboration”-Henry H

“We are saving time in our new space when learning”- James

“I like sharing my strategies in my group”-Jonah 

“We can work with different teachers” - Ethan G 

“I like working in groups”- Ayla


Kea Learning Community

We are a team of three Year 2 whānau classes located on Level 0 of the new building.

 This week’s 'Learning Spotlight’ focuses on…

This year, the Kea learning community teachers are taking part in the Better Start Literacy Approach through the University of Canterbury. Kiwi Teachers are also involved in this professional learning.

The Better Start Literacy Approach (BSLA) is a structured approach to literacy instruction for Year 0 to Year 2 classrooms, to support children's early reading, writing and oral language success. It has been developed specifically for our New Zealand learners and trials have proven its effectiveness. 

The Better Start Literacy Approach includes teaching letter sound knowledge skills through fun, games-based activities, activities making explicit links to reading and spelling, and small group reading sessions using the new ‘Ready to Read - Phonics Plus’ early readers series. In addition, the approach teaches vocabulary skills and builds children's listening comprehension skills through story books. We teach The Better Start Literacy Approach in whole class sessions and smaller reading groups.

Since beginning our BSLA journey, we have noticed a positive impact as students are beginning to transfer their BSLA learning to their reading and writing. Students are learning to break words into sounds and blend sounds together when attempting unknown words. `Akonga are learning that the amount of sounds in a word do not always equal the amount of letters in a word. Once teachers have completed the training, we look forward to sharing more with whānau, including ways to support your child's learning at home.

Student voice: 

tch in itch makes the sound ch because it is a trigraph. Three letters make one sound”

ai goes in the middle of the word but ay goes at the end”

C-a-t, cat”

“It helps me with my reading because I can count the sounds on my fingers.”

You can find out more about Better Start Literacy here and in this newsletter from 2022


Kiwi Learning Community

We are a team of six Year 0/1 classes located in Rooms 1, 2, 3, 23, 24 and 20.

 This week’s 'Learning Spotlight’ focuses on…

As a team we know that it is important to have high expectations for all students and quality learning experiences. We have been focusing on making learning accessible for all learning types through hands-on activities. 

Last term we had loads of fun doing interactive activities about the Tainui waka and our local maungas. We grew kumara, made waka and wharemoes out of sticks- plus 

lots more! The teachers even did some learning through our team role play for the children! 

This term we are co-teaching in inquiry by giving the children another wide range of learning experiences. These include drama, music, art, collaborative games and STEAM challenges. 

Every week classes get to try new activities in different spaces and with a different teacher from our team.

The children are enjoying working with other teachers, different friends and in new spaces. The teachers are loving getting to know all the Kiwi Learning Community better! 

Student Voice: 

“I like going into different classrooms because they have different activities.” 

“We made bugs in Room 1. It felt smooth and I liked it. I made an insect.”

“I like it just because we have so much fun!”


Piwakawaka Learning Community

Piwakawaka Team - This team is made up of four Year 5 and 6 classes.

This week’s “Learning Spotlight’ focuses on…

Both the Tautua (Service) and the example of learning in different Maths groups support this focus.

Part of being a family, a unit, a team, a group is you do things to look after people, to encourage, to uplift, to lead, to check in, to include…

And when you do these things, you don’t expect anything in return…

“O le ala i le pule o le tautua” - the path to leadership is through service.

Our Piwakawaka learning community is learning that it is a gift to give service. We are enjoying giving back to the teachers and school that has given so much to us.

We have weekly meetings where we build strong mixed teams and plan service activities around the school.

A highlight for R14/22 students was pouring our teachers ice-cold water on World Teachers Day.

Homework task: make a cup of tea and a finger bowl to give tautua/service to an adult in your family.

Enzo: It made me happy that it made my mum feel special. 

Emily baked beautifully decorated biscuits for the Piwakawaka teachers for their team meeting.

Student Voice…

“We found out that teamwork is hard!”

“You have to work together.”

“You have to communicate with each other.”

“If you don’t work together, you won’t achieve your goal.”

“It’s cool to give back to the teachers.”

Flynn: I liked working with the protractors and making angles, it was really fun. 

Amelia: I liked working with different people.

Tiana: It was amazing because the rotation was fun and it was cool meeting different students.

Mikayla: I got to hang out with some of my friends that aren’t in my class.

L’Ryan: We were building stuff with multilink cubes and that was fun.


Kea Learning Community

We are a team of four Year 2 classes located in Rooms 10, 11, 12 and 13.

Kea Team iPad App Trial

This week’s “Learning Spotlight’ is a trial of software which supports learning in some different curriculum areas. It focuses on goal number 2 “OPS ākonga experience coherent pathways -  (below) …

Osmo in the Classroom


Kereru Learning Community

Kereru Team - This team is made up of three Year 4 classes.

Kereru team Collaborative Maths

Teachers in the Kereru Learning Community have collaboratively planned maths learning with a focus on challenging all learners and learning in multi level groups. Planning includes both the learning for the Kereru ākonga and ‘co-teaching’ strategies which will be used by the teachers.

This collaborative learning in the Kereru Learning Community focuses on both of the two goals (below) we are focusing on in 2022.

Maths starts with a ‘Provocation’ - an open ended maths problem planned for groups to extend and challenge their thinking. These tasks aim to integrate elements of fractions and measurement, which are the Kereru areas of focus of the term. The ‘problem’ is planned to be possible for any of the ākonga to participate in, what differs will be the strategy they use to solve it. 

Ākonga at different Maths stages or levels will tackle the problem in different ways and use previously taught strategies to solve it. 

By learning together, ākonga observe and are exposed to different approaches and strategies from each other. Ākonga at all different levels are challenged. 

Teachers support the ākonga in solving the provocation and observe the strategies they are using.

Next ākonga are involved in Maths ‘Learning Labs

Teachers offer options for ‘learning labs’ available that day. The learning labs are based on student needs and next learning steps identified from teacher observation and assessments. The ākonga are encouraged to select the lab which will meet their needs or their next learning goal. The teachers are also closely monitoring this to ensure ākonga are being catered for and challenged…and where necessary, teachers will support ākonga to select the most appropriate Learning Lab for their needs

One of the major benefits of this approach is that each of the three teachers is able to focus on only one group of learners with similar needs at this time. They can be focused on the similar specific learning needs of just one group. 

The more flexible learning spaces in the Kereru Learning Community (the leased space under the yoga centre across the road from the hall) means this powerful learning is easier for teachers and ākonga. They can gather and move around the spaces easily, and teachers can observe and support ākonga in different spaces.

iPads are used to support learning and allow for the ākonga to independently extend and develop their maths learning and goals.

Student Voice:

Sabien, Theo, Louis, are all from different classes from within the Kereru Learning Community and were working together on an initial activity when they shared their thoughts…

“It’s good working with other people. Last time we worked together we were the first ones finished.”

“It's really fun learning with people who you have not learned with before.”

“It feels really good because you learn in different ways.”

“I think it's good, it's one big group - it helps our learning by working together when we want to, working with other people, which can help you get smart.”


Tui Learning Community

Tui Team - The Tui Team are a team of three Year 3 classes located in Rooms 7, 8 & 9. 

The teachers identified that Room 6 is often an underused space right by their classes and have decided to utilise it to enhance learning opportunities for their ākonga. The teachers are encouraging the ākonga to call it a ‘Learning Space’ and use the words - ‘Our Tui Learning Community’ rather than Room 7, Room 8 or Room 9.  

We are focusing on the importance of building the trust between kaiako and tamariki. 

We have found the students across the Tui team supporting each other in different locations as they move across for collaborative writing and reading. We understand this is new for the students and teachers, and we are keen to refine our approach to improve student learning. The feedback we have received from our ākonga has been positive. The teachers all feel we are building strong relationships with our students across the team rather than just in their individual classes. 

Student Voice: 

Jack W - “It’s good having spaces because we work with other children across the Tui team. We also learn to use WE CARE”

Zara- “We get more space to work, not just a tight area”

James- ”We like to work independently as the teacher does not always interrupt you. We also see children supporting each other”

Jack- “We get to move and work in different spaces”

Emilee- ”The noise is much less. It helps us with our learning”

Mattis-”We meet more people and make more friends. We get more choices of activities”

Lachlan-”We can work on our own and take help from our friends”

Alice-”The teacher has more trust in the class”

Meika-”Moving around makes me feel good”

Namrata Ghadiyar - Tui Team Leader