2008 - 2010 Final Report

"What is the impact of the Manaiakalani Project on literacy teaching and learning?"

2010 - Colleen Gleeson M.Ed. (Hons) The Learning Edge

This is the final report from the research undertaken by Colleen Gleeson over the first three years of Manaiakalani development. Noteably, it was undertaken in the years when lead teachers were pioneering the pedagogical approach and no-one had 1:1 access in their classrooms.

The learnings from this have informed the next stage of The Manaiakalani Project - rolling out 1:1 access to all students from Years 5-13 to enable everyone to work in this way.

The full report can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.

The Introduction and Concluding Statement can be read here:

1.0 Introduction
Seven schools in the Tamaki Cluster have been involved in an e-Learning Initiative called “Manaiakalani” (the ‘hook from heaven’ that was given to Maui so he could succeed in the world’s largest ever fishing project).

Manaiakalani was begun as a 4 year curriculum development project to raise student achievement outcomes and improve student engagement by linking key learning from Schooling Improvement with developing practices from the national e-Learning Action Plan (Enabling the 21st Century Learner). This report covers the first three years of this research. The Manaiakalani Project is changing in the fourth year (2011) with the introduction of netbooks for each student from Y5 to Y13. Therefore, this phase of Manaiakalani research will finish with this report.

All seven schools involved were decile 1 schools catering for mainly Maori and Pasifika students in the Tamaki Basin, NZs oldest state housing community. The schools had all experienced collaboration, working together to develop strong practices for direct instruction and micro-teaching through their involvement in Schooling Improvement, the Tamaki Achievement Pathway Initiative (from 2004), as well as working together to develop effective collaborative practices and pedagogy in the e-Learning environment via the Pt England ICT PD Cluster (2004-2006). The Project began with 11 lead teachers in 2008 which increased to 15 lead teachers in 2009 and 2010.

The Manaiakalani Project aimed to measurably raise the student achievement outcomes in Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing and to raise student engagement. The key objective was to empower the students with an evidence based belief that their personal voice is valuable, powerful and can be heard around the planet from their decile 1 community.
The aim of this research was to determine the extent of impact the professional development had on teaching and learning and to provide ideas and considerations for future development and research in this field. As many students in the area are Maori or Pasifika the results of the research will provide data for these groups.

The research focused on student achievement in Literacy, including reading, writing, speaking and presenting and also on student engagement. The project focused on the use of technology to publish and present student literacy, mainly through blogs.

11.0 Concluding Statement

11.1 What worked in Manaiakalani Lead Teacher classes?

  • Use of a Literacy Cycle with explicit teaching of each stage and continued reflection and revision of cycle to meet the needs of the teaching and learning.
  • The Literacy Cycle encouraged independence and self management. 
  • The Literacy Cycle needed to be used throughout the school to ensure continuity for students.
  • The ‘hook’ of having an authentic audience motivated students to write and to ensure they had clarity and correctness in their work.
  • Use of a variety of tools maintained interest and enthusiasm. 
  • The more high-tech an innovation was the more teacher controlled it seemed to become. There was often more literacy basis and student input and control in the more basic tasks and students seemed to be more motivated by this.
  • Boys found computers made writing easier and more legible than their handwriting.
  • For students from a low socio economic background it was extremely powerful to know that your ‘voice’ was being heard.
  • Students were aware that their presentations, written, visual or oral needed to be of excellent quality for the global audience to understand and appreciate and the standard of presentation improved greatly each year.
  • Posts and comments could be used effectively as exemplars for teaching.
  • Literacy skills improved throughout the project. There was multiple causality for this and it was not possible to say how much of it was because of the project.
  • Reluctant readers and writers found the computers easier and more motivating to use.
  • Reflecting, critiquing and commenting on blogs supported students to peer and self assess independently.
  • Google Docs made student draft writing more efficient with immediate teacher comments and flexibility for editing.
  • Many students managed their own blogs and were being used by teachers as technical and software supporters across the school.
  • Students were clearly taking more ownership of their posts and beginning to direct and manage their own learning.
  • As teacher confidence developed in handling ICTs they were empowered to give more responsibility to students.
  • Skills learned during the project would be really helpful to students in the future when they were looking for jobs.
  • Posts needed to be uploaded immediately to be relevant and interesting to students.
  • Commenting time as part of the reading rotation gave all students an opportunity to post.
  • Having an internet policy and procedures was essential.
  • Students were motivated by parent participation in their blogging.
  • Students were enthusiastic about working online and focused when
  • working on the project..
  • Speaking on-line improved oracy as students strived to be understood by a global audience.

11.2 What we found from Manaiakalani Research
  • Student achievement levels had risen by 2010 and teachers were changing their pedagogy to progress these students. An inquiry approach to literacy was used and there was an increased link and integration between reading and writing.
  • There was an issue of quality versus quantity of work on a blog. This debate will be on-going.
  • Continued professional development is needed for school leaders (Principals and Lead Teachers) as well as teachers. Because of the wide range of ability and understanding PD may need to be reviewed to meet these needs.
  • Students took e-learning tools for granted and were more focused on their literacy learning.
  • It took 2 to 3 years for teachers to fully integrate e-learning into their literacy programmes successfully. Teachers who have a strong literacy base integrate more quickly than those with a technology base.
  • Lead teachers often need training in leadership and management to fulfil their role within their school.
  • Once students had worked with the project and then moved to a class where this was not happening they got frustrated.
  • The limit on computer access put a limit on what teachers could get students to do with e-learning.
  • It took 2 to 3 years for teachers to implement the project and not feel time constraints.
  • Most students had limited access to computers at home. •    Most students enjoyed movie clips and social networking sites when
  • given free time on a computer.
  • Achievement shifts were significant throughout the 3 years. The academic achievement was due to many initiatives implemented by the schools, however it cannot be discounted that Manaiakalani had some influence on the continued increase in achievement across the cluster.

The Project definitely provided a motivation for writing, an improvement in audience awareness and purpose and in presentation skills. Other school interventions also had an impact on literacy achievement; however the Project has provided a purpose and enthusiasm for literacy.

The students of Manaiakalani were provided with a “hook” (e-learning outcomes published in on-line spaces) which gave these decile 1 students a voice to be heard globally. Subsequently, participating in the Manaiakalani Project enhanced their literacy, engagement, oral language and presentation.

With the advent of netbooks in 2011, schools are starting on a new and innovative initiative that, with careful planning and implementation and adequate support and funding, could be the key to 21st century education in New Zealand.

Dorothy Burt,
17 Dec 2013, 01:57