#NZAREtop10: Our top 10 most-read posts of 2021

Thanks for being part of our blog readership in 2021! We had another strong year with a wide range of blog posts that reflected the range of educational research and thinking that take place here in Aotearoa New Zealand. This post shares a collection of our top 10 most-read posts from 2021. First, though, a little more about the blog itself …

Ipu Kererū – blog of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education

The members of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education conduct research into a range of educational topics and contribute to a range of educational projects. This blog is a forum for our members (at all career stages, including postgraduate students and practicing educators as well as academic staff) to disseminate our work and share our views about educational topics in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

We have chosen the name Ipu Kererū for our blog. Directly translated as ‘pigeon carrier’, the term Ipu Kererū can mean both a carrier of news and a repository of treasured and preserved knowledge. Our blog is intended both to convey news and to hold knowledge for the education and educational research communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

And now, we are proud to present our 2021 #NZAREtop10!

1. Powerful pedagogies for literacy and mathematics

Our most-read contributions for 2021 were actually a three-part series written by a team of teacher educators from the University of Waikato.

Part 1: Using workshops to support problem solving in mathematics (Judy Bailey) focused on mathematics teaching that centres on rich tasks and problems. Judy shared an effective lesson structure plus findings from a NZ-based research project exploring the use of workshops within the problem-based approach.

Part 2: The classroom as a workshop for young writers (Dr Jessica Cira Rubin) focused on the “Writing Workshop” approach to teaching writing. In this approach, students spend time daily doing the real work of writers – making choices, exploring interests and problems, and using writing for a range of worthwhile purposes.

Part 3: Connecting problem-based mathematics and Writing Workshop (Dr Katrina McChesney) looked across the pedagogies used in parts 1 and 2, considering how these approaches align and how they can support important goals for learners in Aotearoa NZ.

2. Children’s informal learning at home during COVID-19 lockdown

Our second most-read post came from Professor John O’Neill and Professor Roseanna Bourke (Massey University), who reported on children’s informal learning at home during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. This research captured children’s voices about lockdown learning, informed by the powerful principles that children are capable social actors in their childhood worlds; that children have the right to express their views on matters of interest to them in their lives, and to be listened to by adults; and that no major decisions should be taken about children’s schooling without their ‘voice’ and ‘participation’. With the COVID pandemic continuing to impact on teaching and learning in Aotearoa NZ, these findings remain highly relevant.

Read John and Roseanna’s post here.

3. Shaping things to come: New Zealand’s new history curriculum

Our third most-read post reflected on the draft content for the new Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum, now set to be implemented across NZ schools in 2023. Professor Paul Moon (AUT – Auckland University of Technology) shared his thoughts on the positives, mistakes, and missed opportunities in the draft curriculum content, and calls on teachers to engage critically in thinking about the content and how they will enact it in ways “that will help invigorate the subject and lead students to see the potential that historical understanding offers them.”

Read Paul’s post here.

4. Let’s not forget who reo Māori revitalisation is most important to

In this post, Nicola Bright (New Zealand Council for Educational Research) considered the role of education in reo revitalisation efforts and highlighted the need to balance support for tangata whenua themselves to learn te reo with the increasing enthusiasm and allyship around te reo that is shown by non-Māori. Nicola argues that “reo Māori revitalisation has to benefit Māori first”, in order to ensure that reo revitalisation does not become another wave of colonisation and disenfranchisement for Māori. The post ends with some thoughts on what it might look like to “hold space for Māori” in our work as educators and educational researchers in Aotearoa NZ.

Read Nicola’s post here.

5. Counsellors in NZ primary schools: What’s happening in Years 1-8?

This post by Dr Paul Flanagan (University of Waikato) calls attention to the limited provision of counselling in NZ primary and intermediate schools. Paul notes research evidence on the effectiveness and importance of counselling support in schools and then reports findings from his current research documenting the experiences of NZ schools where counselling is offered in Years 1-8. School leaders and counsellors identify the challenges and growing complexities that our children are facing and express their frustration at not being able to access adequate support services for children and young people.

Read Paul’s post here.

6. Preparing young New Zealanders for a climate-changed world

This blog post was prompted by the final report of the NZ Climate Change Commission with its calls for urgent and far-reaching changes nationwide. Professor Martin Thrupp (University of Waikato) noted the relatively slow pace of engagement in climate change education across NZ schools and considered factors hindering greater shifts. In his view, “there is a palpable sense of needing to awaken a slumbering giant” in our education system’s response to the imperatives of climate change mitigation. Martin’s post ends with practical suggestions as to what education (and educational leadership) in a climate-changed world will demand.

Read Martin’s post here.

7. Implementing pedagogies of care: Lessons from a cross-national study to think beyond the pandemic

In this post, Dr Maria Carolina Nieto Angel (University of Canterbury) summarises her doctoral research which looked at how two NZ secondary schools and one international secondary school placed caring relationships at the core of school culture and pedagogy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maria’s research sought to understand how secondary schools promote and sustain pedagogies of care and reconciliation where teachers and students learn to care for self, for others and the planet, and to restore relationships in conflict. Six enabling factors were identified to promote and sustain pedagogies of care and reconciliation, and the post ends with examples of ways teachers in the case study schools enacted an ethic of care.

Read Maria’s post here.

8. Creating a culture of success for dyslexic students

This post also came from postgraduate research – in this case, a Master of Educational Leadership project by RTLB Sarah Prestidge (AUT – Auckland University of Technology). Sarah provides a great overview of dyslexia for teachers, reviews the current situation in NZ, and reports on her research into the importance of school leadership and culture for supporting dyslexic students. She argues that dyslexic thinkers would benefit from a “cultural shift” in how they are seen and supported at school. Sarah highlights three key practical approaches that can make a difference, based on her research into what effective school leaders do to support positive, strength-based school cultures for dyslexic students.

Read Sarah’s post here.

9. What have we learned about racism in New Zealand?

Our 9th most-read blog post of 2021 was contributed by Dr Angel Chan (University of Auckland) and NZARE past president Associate Professor Jenny Ritchie (Victoria University of Wellington). Angel and Jenny wrote this post in response to hate crimes/incidents such as the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, recognition of racism in our health and policing systems, and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s 2021 report on COVID-19-driven racism and xenophobia experiences in Aotearoa NZ. Reflecting on the role of educators in combatting racism in NZ, Angel and Jenny argue that “it is not sufficient that teachers be merely non-discriminatory. They need to be pro-active role models in challenging any forms of negative stereotyping, injustice and bullying, and in encouraging children to do the same.”

Read Angel and Jenny’s post here.

10. Picture books as Trojan horses: Changing linguistic landscapes and language hierarchies

The last post in our 2021 #NZAREtop10 came from Associate Professor Nicola Daly (University of Waikato) and considered how the texts used in NZ classrooms can either reproduce or disrupt inequities. Nicola’s blog argues that children’s literature tells us a lot about the culture and society in which we live – our values and beliefs – and that therefore it is important for all children to see themselves and their families in the books that they read, and to hear their voices. She then goes on to think specifically about the languages used in children’s picturebooks and the implicit messages associated with these “linguistic landscapes”, and argues that resources such as bilingual picturebooks can help increase recognition of children’s languages, cultures, and identities.

Read Nicola’s post here.

Thanks again for joining us in 2021, for these and many more fantastic blog posts! And a special thank you to all of our contributors and the editing team (Dr Katrina McChesney, Dr Melissa Derby, and Dr Diana Amundsen – University of Waikato).

To learn more about contributing to Ipu Kererū, click here or contact blog@nzare.org.nz. To learn more about becoming a member of NZARE, click here.

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