Issue 9, February 28, 2014



Since its birth in January 2013, Massey University’s new Institute of Education has grown significantly and continues to reach a number of milestones. One notable example is the Ministry of Education’s decision to select the Institute as one of its preferred providers of the Exemplary Initial Teacher Education programme for primary and secondary teachers.

The programme, which starts next year, will take high performing undergraduate students from any discipline and give them three days per week of classroom-based teaching experience alongside Massey’s signature blended learning model. This 11-month programme leads to a Master of Teaching and Learning qualification and eligibility to register as a teacher.

Developed out of the former College of Education, the Institute of Education focuses on providing research-led postgraduate programmes for initial and continuing teacher education, and professional preparation, teaching and learning in occupation and community settings.

Associate Professor Sally Hansen, Institute of Education director

Massey’s new teaching grads front up

Students may be feeling a tad wistful their summer break is over, but Ben Valentine and Jacqui Sturgess are among the country’s latest batch of newbie teaching grads glad to see the school gates open.
Read more.

Early childhood director wins travel scholarship

A Massey University early childhood education director will travel to Italy, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia after being awarded a prestigious study grant. Read more....

Technology aids children’s reading comprehension - study

A study has found 10- and 11-year-old boys who used technology in their reading comprehension learning made gains of up to six times the nationally expected average.

Mathematics study examines PN and NY classrooms

New research will examine the cross-cultural differences in mathematics teaching in classrooms in Palmerston North and New York

Massey researcher wins top Māori award

A Massey researcher has won a prestigious Māori award for her work in helping indigenous children with special needs succeed in the education system.
Read more....

How to be a better teacher of writing

By Professor Tom Nicholson

The statistics are not great. More than one in three pupils struggle to meet National Standards in writing, and this only gets worse in the higher grades. In many cases, this slide in development occurs because pupils either struggle with their spelling and the belief that they don’t know how, fear that they might get it wrong, or both.

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything, and this is true of writing as well. Teaching spelling skills gives the novice writer accuracy and fluency. Teaching how to design a piece of writing helps them to build their own ideas and find their own voice. As these are the secrets of good writing, being able to teach pupils to write competently and clearly empowers them to achieve across all areas of learning at school and beyond.

Diagnosing writing

To identify the needs of the pupil, teachers can use a well-known model called The Simple View of Writing to firstly identify the heart of the issue. The simple view recognises that there are four kinds of writers:

  1. The writer has strong spelling and ideas for example, “The birds were singing a boetiful melody.”
  2. The writer has weak spelling but strong ideas for example, “The brisd were sig a boo midy.”
  3. The writer can spell well but can’t generate ideas well for example, “The birds.”
  4. The writer has mixed problems, and can’t spell or think of good ideas for example, “The brisd.”

Teaching writing: Once the issue has been acknowledged, teachers can adapt their teaching approach to suit.
The struggle to spell: Spelling is important for writing. The year six pupil who writes, “I hean a Big Dag at homesm” (I have a big dog at home) has a lot more issues than the year one pupil who writes, “If I woz a dog I wood chas stiks orl da” (If I was a dog I would chase sticks all day).

Research suggests that poor spellers improve if we explain to them how the developers of the printing press in England in the 1500s made up their own spelling rules. For example, the doubling rule (i.e. a double consonant after a vowel) signals to the reader that the vowel has its short sound, for example the rab in rabbit is pronounced rab as in cab, not rabe as in babe. Another rule they made up was to spell the sound ai at the end of a word as ay because they did not like a word to end in “i”, hence we spell say, not sai.

Writing struggles: Beyond formulaic writing or finding interesting words on Google is research displaying better ways of combating a pupil’s writing struggles. One of these methods is the use of a story web. When pupils read a School Journal story, teachers can project each page onto the whiteboard and build a story web by circling words that explain the setting and describe the characters, by numbering the steps in the plot, and at the end of the story, by circling words that relate to its overall message. Pupils can then write story summaries using these ideas. A written summary based on a story web is a proven way to help pupils become better writers.

For educators and classroom teachers interested in these methods and others, Massey’s new course on Teaching Writing in the Classroom is an ideal pathway for up-skilling. Taught by two literacy experts, Professor Tom Nicholson and Dr Brian Finch, the course is in its second year and will suit students who are enrolling in post-graduate papers like PG Certificate Education, the PG Diploma Education or PG Diploma Literacy Education, who enjoy a challenge and the freedom to learn.


Whether you want to advance your career, up-skill in a specialised area, or take on a new challenge, Massey’s extensive range of postgraduate programmes can help you realise your potential and become a leader in shaping our future nation.

With the Education Minister recognising that New Zealand needs to strengthen its teaching profession, institute Associate director Professor John O’Neill says, “recent government and professional association initiatives to extend career pathways for teachers and leaders reinforce the importance of professional learning and development”.

Postgraduate certificates are equivalent to one semester of full-time study and the perfect starting point for further education. Five certificates including Education, Speech Language Therapy, and Tertiary are available.

Postgraduate diplomas are the next choice if you want to develop your certificate, or gain a specific endorsement. The 120-credit qualification is equivalent to one-year full-time study. There are a number of programmes available including Early Years Education, Adult Education, Maori Education and Special Education.

A two-year research master's degree is a great way to become attuned with how concepts like globalisation and advanced technology are impacting education. A range of endorsements and programmes are available including E-Learning and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

“Whether you have been in the industry for two years or 10 years, postgraduate study will combine your teaching and education experiences with programmes that are specifically designed to help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to prepare you and your colleagues for the challenges and changes that education faces,” Professor O’Neill says.

With our 54-year strong world-leading distance learning programme, and the ability to study part-time, Massey can cater to your circumstances and help your transition back into university life.

Study postgraduate education and join the Engine of the new New Zealand.

Institute of Education Showcase

Albany campus | March 27, 5pm
Click here for more information

Seminar on Human Rights in Education

Manawatu campus | February 28, 12pm-1pm
Click here for more information

Information Evenings

Wellington | February 12 & July 2
Auckland | May 13-14
Click here for more information

Future NZ

Wellington | March 27
Hawkes Bay | April 30
Click here for more information

Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa   |   Disclaimer   |   © Massey University