Noteworthy 2020

The Waikato Literacy Association newsletter - Term 1 2020

E rere ngā mihi mahana i ēnei wā rerekē

Sending warm wishes during these unusual times

A Word From Our President...

To say this year has not gone to plan would be quite the understatement. That’s not entirely correct- we started off well… and then the Coronvirus reared its ugly head!

  • In March most of our committee members, along with those from other upper North Island Literacy Councils, attended a New Zealand Literacy Association (NZLA) workshop for a day of collaboration and strategic planning. The amazing keynote speakers for the NZLA 43rd National Conference were announced.

  • Joan Gibbons was presented with a Life Membership at our AGM, held in early March, for her many years of service to our committee.

  • Also at our March AGM we allocated roles and responsibilities for our dedicated committee members as follows: Sandie Haddock (Past President), Judith Woodham (NZLA executive committee), Mel Sargent (Treasurer), Kerry Horan (Membership Secretary), Sandra Neil (Secretary), Todd Burton (President), Wendy Carrs (Honour Council & ILA Board of Directors), Therese Cargo (Event Organiser), Kylie Te Arihi- (NZLA Delegate for Waikato), Vicky Stephens (Social Media), Megan Bevan (Noteworthy Editor), Jocelyn Broom (Forum Distribution).

Until 2 weeks ago I only knew of Zoom as an onomatopoeic word to express fast movement. However this new digital platform is one of many that will enable organisations to continue business as usual in a world that is currently anything but usual.

The Waikato Literacy Association (WLA) committee will continue to meet remotely as the nationwide lockdown continues. Although holding regional activities will prove difficult at this time we are looking for creative ways to support literacy in our region. Planned events- Dr Rae Si’ilata (27th May), Libraries Alive (1st July) and Sheena Cameron (23 July) may still go ahead depending on our country’s Alert Status and whether we can meet COVID-19 pandemic requirements. We were disappointed that our ‘Literacy Through Play’ event was cancelled in March however we have rescheduled the event for early in 2021.

The NZLA 43rd National Conference that was to be held in Taranaki, late September, has been cancelled this year. I am sure the reasons are self-evident.

There are lots of things ‘less’ that have disrupted our lives: less face to face socialising with friends and family outside of our bubbles; less travel; less spending and less busy-ness (unless you are on the frontline of essential services in this current state of lockdown). But many of us have lots of ‘more’: more time with our immediate families; more time for exercise and long walks; more time to read to our children; more time to read for ourselves. Amongst other things, these tumultuous times have given us an opportunity to examine what literacy means for each of us.

I would like to thank our Past President, Sandie Haddock for her outstanding leadership over the last couple of years while she presided over WLA. She has always been a dedicated educator with a passion for learning and love of literacy. Although Sandie will be busy as she continues to work for Scholastic in her new role as National Sales Manager, we will still benefit from her expertise on our committee. I am grateful for the guidance and support she is providing as I become familiar with my new role on the team.

On behalf of the Waikato Literacy Association we want to wish you and your families well for the remainder of the lockdown and beyond. Please forward any queries or comments to

Take care and stay safe.

Todd Burton

WLA President

9th Regional NZLA Leadership Workshop.

On Saturday 14th of March committee members from Tai Tokerau, Auckland, and Waikato Literacy Councils came together at Papatoetoe West School in Auckland to discuss a range of topics. The workshop was facilitated by members of our NZLA (New Zealand Literacy Association) executive committee.

The day was immensely beneficial for WLA (Waikato Literacy Association) committee members who were able to attend. Each of the Literacy Councils brought their own unique sets of solutions, strengths and strategies to share.

It was a great opportunity to catch up with familiar faces and also build relationships with committee members from other Literacy Councils. Through a number of presentations, those that are relatively new to our committee were able to better understand: NZLA’s affiliation with the International Literacy Association (ILA); NZLA’s history as an organisation; and how NZLA’s website has grown into a great digital platform for promoting literacy in New Zealand and abroad.

This biennial event continues to provide value for those that attend, ensuring that all councils that are affiliated with NZLA are able to effectively promote literacy across Aotearoa.

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NZLA National Conference, ‘The Arts as a Bridge to Literacy’ Georgia Moore

I was fortunate to have been chosen for the Marie Clay Literacy Trust Award which saw me attend the NZLA National Conference 'The Arts as a Bridge to Literacy', in Christchurch in September 2019. As a beginning teacher, I found the conference incredibly beneficial and motivating. I got to hear a range of speakers and gain insights and knowledge which have influenced my teaching practice.

Sheena Cameron presented a wealth of knowledge around reading. Sheena spoke about how to make the most of independent reading time and the importance of shared reading experiences. As a result of hearing her, I now use the gradual release model of responsibility when students begin to read independently. My shared reading time also looks very different. Now I use it as an opportunity to model decoding and comprehension strategies as well as allowing students to discuss the text with peers.

For me, a highlight of the conference was Steven Layne. Steven spoke about the huge importance of read-aloud time. He started his talk with a dramatic reading from the novel, ‘Sold’. This experience modeled how teachers have the power to draw reluctant readers into the magic of reading, as well as the power read-aloud has on taking students on a journey through cultures, time and place. Steven said that the best way to start impacting attitude is to place the reader in an environment where the reader experiences joy. This stayed with me as I returned to the classroom for term 3. My read-aloud had previously been a quick 10 minute read after lunch to ease the children back into the last block of the day. Now my read-aloud program has purpose, intention and explicit teaching. Each novel goes through a ‘launch’ process to engage and excite the children before we even start reading the book. Read-aloud is now an essential part of every day, not just limited to an after lunch ‘wind down time’. I’ve noticed the students are way more engaged. Quite frequently now when I try to stop the read-aloud my class will plead for me to continue.

There were many noteworthy speakers at the conference. Viv Aitken spoke about drama’s role in learning. Steven Layne and K. Mallery Keenan gave us a list of titles of books that children love. Melinda Szymanik spoke about referencing reading as a ‘superpower’. Dr Murray Gadd gave us five tips to create effective writers.

The conference concluded with a moving and powerful speech by Marcus Akuhata-Brown. He reminded us that growth comes when we are pushed out of our comfort zone. The new learning and information I took away from the conference transformed my teaching pedagogy pushing me out of my own comfort zone. The NZLA national conference exceeded expectations and filled me with inspiration and new ideas for my teaching journey.

International Literacy Association

Remember Ralph?

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Ralph Fletcher was our superhero - International Keynote Speaker at the Power of Words Conference in 2017

After spending time with Ralph when he was here for our 2017 NZLA conference - he inspired us with his words of wisdom . Well known for his 'Writers Notebook', he is a literacy leader that definitely reached out to me and spoke volumes about getting children to love to write - especially boys. As an educator in today's climate it is important to network and follow key people who influence your practice; in a world full of choice. Ralph has recently sent his wishes to us all from the United States in these trying times. And as we have seen many educators do, he has also reached out to support teachers in the online environment. Ralph has been busy creating a set of 'Writing with Ralph' videos on his You Tube Channel - well worth checking them out...

Also take the time to check out his website...

Sharing Stories

The Day I Became a Teacher...

It was a cold morning when I woke and I could hardly see out of my eyes. When they finally came into focus I could see that I was in a giant bed. I look around, this is definitely not my room. Then I scream ‘’THIS IS MiSS SARGENT’S ROOM! I’M MISS SARGENT!”

Thoughts of panic run through my mind. How am I gonna teach? Wait, what am I gonna teach? Should I call in sick?

That was my best idea, so I frantically ring Mrs Tilsley. ‘’Hello Manawaru School, how can I help you?’’.

Umm... What do I say?

‘’Oh sorry Mrs Tilsley I can't hear very well. I've got an earache and a terrible cough. I don't think I can come to school [fake cough].’’

‘’Miss Sargent you will have to come in, we don't have any relief teachers to help. I'm so sorry’’

‘’Ummmmm…. Well I really don’t want to pass it onto the kids.’’. I frown in panic and start breathing in worry. My heart is beating a million miles per hour. My head pops and the room spins. Wait, this is my room. Oh that was just a dream, I sigh in relief. There is no way I’m ready to be a teacher!

by Emma, Y6,

Manawaru School

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