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Mid Autumn Thanksgiving Festivals, supporting oral language development, and the Maker Movement - Weekly Update Sept 8th


My update today is a bit of a hodge-podge with the main focus on the various Mid-Autumn Thanksgiving Festivals celebrated by many Asian cultures today, September 8th.  Today is also International Literacy Day.  

I hope that these festivals are recognised in some way in your classroom especially if you have students from any of these cultures.  It is very easy to spend a few moments talking about them and asking your students how they celebrate them. I read that some New Zealand supermarkets are beginning to make mooncakes to sell. It would be great to get some to share with your class. Maybe you could also share the legend associated with this festival or have your students retell it.

Two blog posts of interest

The CORE Education blog a reflection on Tongan Language Week by Losalima Magele posted on 5 September looks at “How can teachers support our Tongan students?”

Maker Culture by Mark Osborne part of CORE’s ten trends for 2014 series highlights the maker movement which is currently trending. Maker Culture has gained a lot of traction with ESOL educators in America. It very much links with ESOL principle 4, Begin with context-embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete.  If any of you are using the ideas of the Maker Culture to teach English language learners here in New Zealand then I am sure that as a community we would love to learn more about your experiences. Please share them with us. If not, you may like to read and learn more about it and consider whether this idea is something you want to pick up on.  

Snapshots for teaching and learning in ESOL

Have you checked out the fairly new on ESOL Online Snapshots for teaching and learning in ESOL? These stories provide examples of ideas and approaches some schools are using in their ESOL programmes. We hope to expand on these in the future. So in the meantime if you know of a school or teacher you think we should video, please let us know. We would love to hear what  topics you think we should include as well. 


There has been a very interesting discussion in the e-Learning pedagogy Virtual Learning Network group on- What does a New Zealand student in 2014 look like? followed by What does a New Zealand teacher in 2014 and beyond look like? To view and join in the discussion go to /discussion/view/891330?orderby=latest . You will need to join the VLN group which is open to anyone.

New Write about this NZ app

Monika Kern shared on Literacy online about a new NZ version iPad app, “Write about this NZ” which was released last weekend. The concept includes images with text prompts at three different levels in print and as audio recording. The students then have the choice to type and / or audio record their story. On top of this, teachers or students can create their own prompts from their own photos (one only in the free version, multiple in the paid version) - a great application of UDL! While it is aimed at primary age children, as full version it could easily be used for any age and in any area of the curriculum. Please check it out https://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/write-about-this-nz/id911361517?mt=8

New Zealand Pupils Struggling to Speak

Did you read this article in the Herald last week - NZ pupils struggling to speak ? Fewer children starting school can speak in sentences, prompting an investigation by education chiefs. Use of gadgets and parents too busy to talk suspected of hindering children’s language development. The ability of youngsters to express themselves in the classroom is essential to their cognitive development and future learning. It finishes by offering parents some practical suggestions to support their child’s oral language learning.

This would make an interesting discussion in our forum. I think we as ESOL teachers would have suggestions and ideas to help teachers to know how to best support oral language development. Is this a problem at your school? Have you tried offering Home school partnership meetings to support parents to develop oral language in the home? If you have what were your key messages? How well were the ideas received? How is your school supporting the development of oral language in the classroom? What strategies have you tried and what has been most effective? Please share you thoughts and ideas using this heading – oral language.

Mid- Autumn Festivals

Across many Asian cultures today - September 8th 2014 is a special Thanksgiving Day which is celebrated in a variety of ways.  In China and Vietnam it is known as Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon festival which is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, when the moon is supposed to appear at its roundest. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.

 It is also Chuseok, a Korean holiday and Tsukimi a Japanese holiday.

Chinese Moon Festival

According to Wikipedia the Mooncake festival celebrates three fundamental concepts which are closely tied to one another: Gathering, such as family and friends coming together, or harvesting crops; Thanksgiving ,to give thanks for the harvest and for harmonious unions; Praying (asking for conceptual or material satisfaction), such as for babies, a spouse, beauty, longevity, or for a good future.

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and unity.  The mooncakes are filled with lotus paste and a salted egg yolk and are given to family, friends and neighbours. People eat mooncakes to express their love for their family and their hope for a happy life.  Children attend lantern parades holding colourful lanterns, either made from paper or more recently, electronics.

It is based upon the legend of Chang'e, the moon goddess, and her consort Houyi. There are 3 versions of this story but in all the versions of the legend, Chang'e becomes immortal and flies to the moon, where she has only the company of a jade rabbit.


Chuseok is one of the biggest and most important holidays in Korea. Family members from near and far come together to share food and stories and to give thanks to their ancestors for an abundant harvest. The holiday is observed for a total of three days which in 2014 is September 7–9. Chuseok is a time for reunions with families in a parent's or older sibling's hometown. People leave their apartment and head to their childhood homes. They buy and bring as many gifts as they can carry for their parents, siblings and other relatives. Koreans will present gifts to not only their relatives, but also to friends and business acquaintances to show their thanks and appreciation

On the morning of Chuseok Day, foods prepared with the year’s fresh harvest are set out to give thanks to ancestors through Charye (ancestor memorial service). After Charye, families visit their ancestors’ graves and engage in Beolcho, a ritual of clearing the weeds that may have grown up over the burial mound. After dusk, families and friends take walks and gaze at the beauty of the full harvest moon or play folk games such as Ganggangsullae (Korean circle dance) or wrestling.

Chuseok celebrates the rich harvest season when fruit and grain are abundant. Using the newly harvested rice, people make steamed rice, rice cakes, and liquor. The rice cakes are called Songpyeon which are made with finely ground new rice and the dough is kneaded into small round shapes and filled with sesame seeds, chestnuts, red beans, or other similar ingredients. The rice cakes are arranged upon layers of pine needles as they are steamed, filling the home with the delicate and fresh fragrance of autumn. On the eve of Chuseok, family members gather to make songpyeon together, illustrating the importance of family in Korean society.

Tsukimi or Otsukimi

Tsukimi or Otsukimi (literally means moon-viewing) which is the Japanese Mid-Autumn Festival.  The main customs for the Japanese are offering sacrifices to the moon and celebrating the harvest.  Tsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass (susuki) which is said to ward off bad spirits. It is usually put in a vase or positioned at the front door. It also serves as an offering to the moon god. They also eat rice dumplings in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon. Seasonal produce is displayed as offerings to the moon. Sweet potatoes are offered to the full moon, while beans or chestnuts are offered to the waxing moon the following month. They put them on a table in their yards together with fruits, such as apples, pears, and persimmons. Lanterns also decorate their yards.

Our Community

Last week we shared:

Other Communities

Secondary ESOL:


Secondary Literacy:  

  • What types of questions do you ask ? Alana’s latest update where she shares her use of an online tool to inquire into her use of critical questions by recording herself teaching.  
  • Light the Fire Registrations  for Auckland teachers of Pasifika students, both primary and secondary teachers are welcome but you do need to register.

Secondary English:

Please share your thoughts and ideas with us and enjoy your week .

Annyeonghi gyeseyo (Ahn Nyeong Hee Gyea Se Yo)

Janet McQueen