Zooming into VLN

The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) connects our students with teachers of astronomy, visual arts, digital technology, web design, extension writing and maths, and languages.

For 30 minutes a week, these students connect via Zoom, joining similar-aged students from around New Zealand. This gives our students increased agency over their own learning and multiple exposures to different areas of the New Zealand curriculum.

A number of our Year 6 students have taken part. They shared some of this learning earlier in the year at assembly. Some students did a karakia in Te Reo, some introduced themselves in their chosen foreign language and others explained their current projects.

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Room 5 has taken on a whole-class learning experience, endeavouring to increase their knowledge of Te Reo and tikanga Maori. Their kaiako, Whaea Renee Coffey, zooms in from Wanaka every Monday onto the big screen and connects with students through Seesaw during the week, where they share their work. Students have learned how to introduce themselves and others, ask after others and describe emotions. They have also learned about Te Whare Tapa Whā, which is about the four dimensions of wellbeing. Students use their Chromebooks to take notes on Google Docs and follow along on Seesaw when Whaea Renee is sharing something. This has been a great opportunity, with Room 5’s teacher taking on the challenge, too.

We have learned to say a new karakia and we say it every time. 

Tuia ki runga, tuia ki raro, tuia ki waho, tuia ki roto 

Ka rongo te po, ka rongo te ao 

Haumi e, hui e, taiki e.  - Petra

It means:

Unite above, unite below, unite without, unite within

Listen to the night, listen to the world

Now we come together as one.   - Addison

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I have taught Japanese through VLN for a number of years, and now teach two classes on a Thursday. This is a reciprocal arrangement, allowing our students to participate in VLN at minimal cost. I really appreciate having this unique opportunity. It is great to connect with students throughout New Zealand - seven of them on Great Barrier Island - who have the motivation to try something new. Some of these students I have taught for two years. One of Wairakei’s Year 6 students sits beside me as we converse with children from other rural schools up and down the country.

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VLN enables students to authentically demonstrate key competencies. Participating and contributing become much more important when you are communicating virtually - you cannot be a wallflower. Managing self is key as you prepare yourself for your lesson at the right time on the right day. And have you done your homework?

Relating to others is also crucial. There are students - boys and girls - from a mixture of year groups and backgrounds. The students get to know each other gradually and tend to get along very well with each other by the end of the year. Teachers form relationships with these students, just as they do in a face-to-face classroom.

I would like to thank the students that have committed to their VLN classes throughout the year. I hope they have ignited a life-long passion. VLN is a great example of the opportunities that are just waiting to be snapped up by our students here at Wairakei Primary School.

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Keywords: VLN, Te Reo, Japanese

Curriculum links: Multiple, including Learning Languages L1, Arts L3, English L4, Mathematics L4

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