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Syrian Refugees, 2016 conferences and Using student's given names

Syrian Refugees

Wellington has welcomed a new group of Syrian refugees to our region so some of you will have new Syrian students being enrolled at your school this week.  You may like to check out my 27 October 2015 update  with useful links to information on Syrian culture and the Arabic language. (Remember that you can access any of our searchable archived discussions by using the archive link on the sign-up page of Primary ESOL Online. Enter the username and password combination: The username is: eesollonline. The password is: mailinglist.)

I also recommend this article which I recently shared, TRAUMA + SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING = ALTERNATIVE PEDAGOGY, January 11, 2016 byMaria Margaritis on a TESL Ontario blogpost 

The traditional song 'Tala' al-Badru 'Alayna' is one of the oldest in Islam and its message is one of welcome and hope. This link has the lyrics to this song and a video of school children singing it to welcome new Syrian children arriving in Canada.

Also please don’t forget the MOE ESOL Refugee Handbook for Schools has practical information on meeting the needs of refugee students.

Two storymap resources that I found informative on the worldwide refugee situation are:

The Uprooted, 2016 story map 

Syria: Epicenter of a deepening Refugee Crisis                        

2016 Conferences

Below is a list of 2016 conferences being held in New Zealand which you may find relevant. This list is not exhaustive and I will add to it as I hear of others. 

Language Conferences

The two most relevant conferences in 2016 are:

The Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ)  conference to be held at the University of Auckland from the 17th to 19th of November 2016. The theme is “In the classroom and beyond: Assessing language ability in different contexts.” The purpose of ALTAANZ  is to promote best practice in language assessment in educational and professional settings in Australia and New Zealand and to foster collaboration between academia, schools and other agencies responsible for language testing or assessment . I think this is the first time their conference has been held in New Zealand.

Community Languages and ESOL (CLESOL) Thursday 14 – Sunday 17 July 2016 at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, brought to you by TESOLANZ (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages New Zealand) and CLANZ (Community Languages Association New Zealand). This year’s theme is Learners in Context: Bridging the Gaps. This may be gaps that may exist for learners and for teachers, and also in the broader context of policy and provision. The conference is held biannually.

Other Conferences

International Board on Books for Young people (IBBY) to be held 18-21 August in Auckland which will also coincide with the 23rd Storylines Family Day.  The theme Literature in a Multi-Literate World, The Congress has three sub-themes that present a major challenge for those involved with children’s literature and literacy education in the 21st century:

  • Global, local and indigenous literature
  • Diverse literary forms and formats
  • Engaging readers

International Education Association (ISANA)  their national conference will be in Wellington on the 6th – 9th December.  ​ ISANA NZ is an association for professionals who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education in New Zealand.

New Zealand Literacy Association  (NZLA) Conference is to be held 25-28 September at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands.  The 2016 theme is Navigating Literaseas”, with 4 main strands:

  • Future Focused Education - Looking to the future to prepare our learners for what lies ahead.  - Innovative learning environments, personalised learning, digital, critical and multi literacies.
  • Catering for Diversity - Giving all individuals equal opportunities to learn making connections and creating unique pathways for all our learner’s literacy needs. - Inclusive Education, Literacy challenges, culture, ELLs, Reading Recovery
  • Love of Literature - inspiring our students with a love of literacy and learning.  - Library, Engagement, Authors, Creativity, Rich Literature, Poetry
  • Foundations for Learning - Exploring the literacy skills and processes that underpin literacy learning. - Spelling, Oral Literacies, The Brain, Assessment, Phonological Awareness

The Inclusive Education Summit (TIES) University of Canterbury in Christchurch from 8 -10 July 2016, Theme: Belonging. This annual conference seeks to strengthen inclusive education practices serving students from early years settings to further and higher education. Improved equity in education can only be achieved by eliminating the economic, cultural and physical barriers that currently impede learning for disadvantaged students. These include students from low Socio Economic Status (SES) backgrounds, migrants, Indigenous students and those from refugee backgrounds as well as young people with a disability.

uLearn16,  5-7 October 2016, in Rotorua.  The uLearn16 programme is structured around three key strands that focus on transformational aspects of future-focused learning and assessment, professional practice, and leadership

  • Transforming Learning and Assessment
  • Transforming Professional Practice
  • Transforming Leadership

Personal learning

We are all responsible for our own personal professional development; I know that in the past I use to spend a small fortune on teaching books. We are now fortunate that have access to the internet where we can find and access research, articles, and blogs on any topic of personal interest and even participate in webinars and online courses. I am curious to know which blogs / tweets etc. you follow professionally? Which are the most informative? Who do you learn from? Which sites do you value most highly?

Leap Year Resources

By the time you receive this update these may be a little late. However you may get a chance to include something small into this week’s planning.

Leap year holiday resources on Apples for Teachers

12 Lesson Ideas for Leap Day 2012 by Brandi Jordan in The Teachers’ Lounge

Celebrate Leap Day on Scholastic

Mrs Jackson’s class has links LEAP Year Resources

Our Community

Using student’s given names

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion last week. The story that Michelle shared on, The colonisation of Lily and Rose was a very powerful reminder as to why we need to use student’s given names and pronounce them correctly.

 Rae also shared her own Mother’s story which reminds us that recolonisation of our children and grandchildren may have long lasting effects on their identities and on their 'naming'. She challenged us all to ask the question, why? Why do these young people and families feel it necessary to change their names (and by default, identities)? Rather, schools have a responsibility to speak out a message of encouragement to families to maintain their names, their identities, their languages and their cultures. 

We should celebrate and utilise linguistic and cultural diversity as essential resources for teaching and learning,) and change the power relations between marginalised communities, families, and their schools by privileging the knowledge of home within the school domain. 

We have a responsibility to speak out within our own schools and to seek ways to empower our marginalised communities.  

As a follow-up to this discussion Christina shared a useful website, Hear Names which will help you to pronounce student’s names correctly.  

Thank you to everyone else who also commented on this discussion.

Down the Back of the Chair survey - please remember to complete the survey – go to

 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z28C8SXFEB2016 .

Cluster Group meetings

  • Central Otago ESOL Cluster Group are meeting on Thursday 17 March, 1.30pm-3.15pm at Remarkables Primary School, Queenstown. 
  • Wellington primary ESOL cluster group are meeting on Thursday 10th   of March,  at 3:45 for a 4pm start, Te Aro School , 360 The Terrace. They are discussing cultural celebrations. Please contact Cathie at ccahill@tearo.school.nz to confirm attendance.