Tagged: New Zealand

Seven messages used by effective reading teachers



In 1982, the late, great NZ reading researcher Marie Clay identified a group of children having difficulty learning to read as “tangled tots (with) reading knots”.

She was referring to children who, despite having no condition that potentially affected their ability to learn, didn’t seem to benefit from reading instruction. She hypothesised that such children “had tangled the teaching in a web of distorted learning which blocked school progress”.

I’ve met many such children (and their teachers) during five decades of anthropological research in hundreds of classrooms. There were also classrooms which either didn’t have “tangled tots” or, if they did, had more success in untangling their “reading knots”.

When I looked more closely at these “non-tangling” classrooms I discovered they had something in common. Their teachers continuously (and subtly) embedded messages about “learning to be an effective reader” in the language they used when teaching reading.

So far I’ve identified the following seven messages.

1. A reader’s major focus should always be meaning

2. Effective readers draw on all sources of information in the text

3. Effective readers are always predicting

4. Effective readers self-correct

5. Effective readers have a range of strategies

6. Effective readers know how they read

7. Effective readers love reading

RTFA. The details are positive – the result of practical work and analysis from successful teachers. A body of knowledge, of course, rarely consulted by the politicians and educators who make a living at not achieving very much useful to the future of humanity.

Yup. Cynical as ever.

The question I face when confronting the collapse of American education starts with reading skills. My father was first in his generation to graduate high school. My mom graduated from what used to be called a commercial high school. A 2-year high school. They taught my sister and me to read before we entered kindergarten in the New England factory town where we grew up.

They didn’t consider that a problem or an insurmountable task. They considered it a responsibility – to aid us in growing a useful lifelong habit, to aid us in learning and making decisions on our own.

Every Saturday, my mom, my sister and I walked the 4-mile round-trip from home to the neighborhood Carnegie library and back to get something to read and enjoy in addition to schoolwork. That was never a task. That was a happy and healthy part of our life.

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Kiwi PM states for the record: “I am not a reptile”

John-Key-reptilian
Close-up of Prime Minister during the press conference

He’s been to a doctor and a vet just to make sure, but Prime Minister John Key is adamant he’s not a shapeshifting reptilian alien.

Mr Key was unusually forced to deny any previously non-declared extraterrestrial connections to reporters after an Auckland man put in an Official Information Act request asking for proof he might be one.

“To the best of my knowledge, no. Having been asked that question directly, I’ve taken the unusual step of not only seeing a doctor but a vet, and both have confirmed I’m not a reptile,” a smiling Mr Key said today.

“So I’m certainly not a reptile. I’ve never been in a spaceship, never been in outer space, and my tongue’s not overly long either.”

Last month, Auckland man Shane Warbrooke put in an OIA request to the prime minister’s office, asking for “any evidence to disprove the theory that Mr John Key is in fact a David Icke style shapeshifting reptilian alien ushering humanity towards enslavement”.

David Icke is a British author who believes many world leaders are actually part of a plot to enslave the human race, driven by reptilian shapeshifting aliens…

When asked how he would describe himself, Mr Key said he was “just an ordinary Kiwi bloke”.

Unlike one of our most infamous Republican presidents who said, “I am not a crook” – and turned out to be one – I think we can take the prime minister of New Zealand at his word on this one.

New Zealand lawmakers pass gay marriage bill


Louisa Wall, Labour MP, celebrating the bill’s passage

Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday as the country became the 13th in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill on its third and final reading.

People watching from the public gallery and some lawmakers immediately broke into song after the result was announced, singing the New Zealand love song “Pokarekare Ana” in the indigenous Maori language…

In one of several speeches that ended in a standing ovation, bill sponsor Louisa Wall told lawmakers the change was “our road toward healing.”

In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal — it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” she said. She added that “nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.”

Lawmakers from most political parties were encouraged by their leaders to vote as their conscience dictated rather than along party lines. Although Wall is from the opposition Labour Party, the bill also was supported by center-right Prime Minister John Key.

“In my view, marriage is a very personal thing between two individuals,” Key said. “And, in the end, this is part of equality in modern-day New Zealand…”

Same-sex marriage is recognized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark. Lawmakers in Uruguay approved a law last week that President Jose Mujica is expected to sign. Nine states in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not.

The article notes the usual copouts from fundamentalists whose ideology slanders religious folk worldwide. This post also notes the nations already years ahead of the United States. At the current rate, I expect just about any progressive law to become a fixture outside the US well before Congress gets it right.

Our Congressional conservatives are better characterized as cowards, ideologically corrupt, backwards, only capable of blocking attempts to move this nation into the 21st Century.

Full moon rising

 
Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight.

One impressive moonrise was imaged two nights ago over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The above single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time — it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in silhouette themselves admiring the dawn of Earth’s largest satellite.

Seeing a moonrise yourself is not difficult: it happens every day, although only half the time at night. Each day the Moon rises about fifty minutes later than the previous day, with a full moon always rising at sunset.

If you see a couple of tiny sparks off in the lefthand distance – that’s just me and my cavemates reenacting Quest For Fire.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Driving school for dogs in New Zealand

A charity in New Zealand is teaching rescued dogs how to drive a car.

The canine driving school is aimed at proving how intelligent the animals can be.

Monty the giant schnauzer is among the novice drivers who have learned to control the brakes, gears and steering wheel.

I have no doubt they will end up driving better and safer than some of the folks on I see on the road every day.

Air Canada flight finds disabled yacht in Tasman Sea


Glenn Ey happy to be alive

An Air Canada passenger flight bound for Sydney has helped locate a yacht in distress in waters between Australia and New Zealand…Flight AC033 was diverted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) after it spotted an emergency beacon activated in the Tasman Sea.

Pilots descended to 1,800m altitude and used a passenger’s binoculars to find the vessel.

The boat and its lone sailor was found about 500km east of Sydney.

The yachtsman reportedly left the Sydney area about two weeks earlier and had been drifting for about one week after losing his mast and running low on fuel…

The Air Canada flight from Vancouver, with 270 passengers and 18 crew aboard, was diverted about 12 hours into the flight. It flew an additional 400km as a result of the diversion…

We’re really pleased we could help,” spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said, adding that weather conditions – and not the diversion – had been the main cause of delay.

Later, an Air New Zealand Airbus 320 en route to Sydney from Auckland was also diverted before an Australian rescue plane arrived and dropped a life raft and satellite phone down to the stranded seaman.

A merchant vessel was also asked to shield the boat from strong winds until a police vessel could reach the sailor.

An AMSA spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the help of the passenger jets had been needed because of the remote location of the yacht.

“The location of the beacon was within a flight path, so we needed to assess the situation and the Boeing 777 was the closest asset available to us,” Jo Meehan said.

Bravo! Lots of good stories about people aiding people in need, lately.

Think we’ll find one that includes Congress?

I know, I know.

Hobbit coins will be released as legal tender in New Zealand


Bilbo Baggins will be worth $10NZ

New Zealand to release commemorative ‘The Hobbit’ coins worth thousands of dollars ahead of next month’s premier of director Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien epic.

Hobbit coins, featuring characters such as Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the wizard, will be legal tender in the country, New Zealand Post said – although their face value will be only a fraction of the cost collectors will be expected to pay.

The most expensive, made from one ounce of pure gold, costs more than 350 times its face value. It will set Tolkien enthusiasts back NZ$3,695 but has a face value of just NZ$10.

The cheapest is available for almost 30 times its face value – a NZ$1 coin retailing for NZ$29.90…

Jackson, who was responsible for the Oscar-winning adaptation of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, announced earlier this year that he would make three films from “The Hobbit” book, rather than two as originally planned…

New Zealand enjoyed a huge tourism boom after the original trilogy and is hoping to repeat the success with the Hobbit movies, launching a campaign branding the country “100% Middle Earth” to coincide with the premiere.

According to my friends, the smartest brown trout in the world live there. A long, long time.

Genetically modified cows produce hypoallergenic milk

Infants with milk allergies could have an alternative to formula after scientists created a genetically modified cow that produced hypoallergenic milk.

A team of researchers from New Zealand engineered the cow so that its milk would be almost entirely free of beta-lactuglobin, a protein which causes allergies in young children.

Tests on the milk revealed that it contained 96 per cent less beta-lactuglobin than normal, but higher levels of other proteins which meant its nutritional content was not diminished.

Engineering cows to produce hypoallergenic milk could benefit the two to three per cent of children who are allergic to dairy milk in their first year of life, experts said.

Allergic reactions to proteins in cows’ milk can cause a variety of symptoms including eczema, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Children usually grow out of the condition before they reach school age, but in rare cases it can persist into adulthood…

Prof Bruce Whitelaw, Professor of Animal Biotechnology at Edinburgh University, who was not involved in the study, added: “This is notable since it represents one of the few RNA interference success stories in mammals and offers a good example of how these technologies can be used to provide alternative strategies to current manufacturing process.

Time will tell how widely applicable RNA interference will be in GM livestock – but this is certainly a milestone study in this field.”

The range of processes which can be genetically-altered to produce anything from less expensive sources of medical treatment up to and including replacement organs is beginning to reach pilot stage in research around the globe. Soon enough testing will evolve to determine which are long-term successes.

The usual conflicts between public good and private profit will be guaranteed – as will be the odd outburst of religious peristalsis from folks who still fear science more than superstition. Eventually, we will benefit as a species.

See – I told you. Cynic and optimist. We can get all this shit done – just not in my lifetime.

Financial fraudster sold investors SpongeBob SquarePants coins!

Silver SpongeBob SquarePants coins minted by a private company in New Zealand were among the assets seized by FBI agents from Peregrine Financial Group after its chief confessed to nearly 20 years of fraud last week.

Ira Bodenstein, the trustee in Peregrine’s bankruptcy case in Chicago, said the coins were in a vault at the firm’s Cedar Falls, Iowa, headquarters. The value of the takings was not immediately clear.

The coin disclosure adds a new twist to the case of Peregrine Finiancial Group CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr., who was arrested last Friday after he confessed to doctoring bank statements to make regulators think his futures brokerage had nearly twice the assets it did, leaving customers with an estimated shortfall of over $200 million…

Peregrine ran a unit called PFG Precious Metals which offers investors “whole sale prices, fast & fully insured shipping” for gold, silver and platinum coins, as well as novelty items created through a partnership with the Auckland-based minting firm…

A four-coin set of SpongeBob Squarepants, housed in a “distinctive” treasure chest, went for $259…Each coin in the set shows a character from the Nickelodeon animated series and bears the inscription “IN SPONGEBOB WE TRUST.”

Har!