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Implementing the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum

It is expected that teachers have begun their journey to implement the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum, and Essential Resources wants to help you on this journey.
NZ histories curriculum

Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum is a crucial part of the refreshed te ao tangata | social sciences learning area. Why?

Me tiro whakamuri, kia anga whakamua
If we want to shape Aotearoa New Zealand’s future, start with our past.

The social science curriculum challenges students to be curious about people, places and society and engage with current issues. To do so, they need to understand how our histories have shaped the present day.

To help students along this learning journey, the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum uses the Understand, Know, Do progression model.

These three elements (Understand, Know, Do) should not be viewed as separate or sequential. Instead, they should be woven to create deep and meaningful learning (Ministry of Education, 2023).

How can you incorporate the Understand, Know, Do elements in your classroom practice? Let Essential Resources show you how.

Understanding the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum

Progress outcomes have replaced achievement objectives in the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum.

Progress outcomes describe the knowledge and understanding expected of students. These are not distinct from one another. As mentioned above, they are woven with the progress outcomes of the Do element to create the learning that matters (Ministry of Education, 2023).

The Understand element is the six big ideas students will develop an understanding of. For example, “Māori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand.” These big ideas are the same for all phases of learning.

The Know element is national, rohe and local contexts students will build their knowledge of, such as culture and collective identity. For each phase of learning, there are different progress outcomes under the contexts.

For example, under the context of culture and collective identity in the Know element, a progress outcome for phase 1 (years 0 to 3) will be, “Māori are the tangata whenua. They were the first people of this land and have stories about their origins and arrival.”

Lastly, the Do element is inquiry-based practice where students think critically about the past and interpret stories about it. These practices, such as thinking conceptually, are also broken down into progress outcomes for each phase of learning.

For example, under the practice of thinking conceptually, at the end of phase 1, students should be able to “define some social science concepts and explain how they relate to an investigation.”

Phases of learning have replaced the current curriculum levels in the refreshed curriculum. The phases ‘chunk’ learning. These make it easier to see progress.

There are five phases of learning:

  • Phase 1 – Years 0 to 3
  • Phase 2 – Years 4 to 6
  • Phase 3 – Years 7 to 8
  • Phase 4 – Years 9 to 10
  • Phase 5 – Years 11 to 13 (Ministry of Education, 2023).

It is up to teachers to choose the topics and learning experiences that weave together each of the elements. Topics within primary school could include ‘What happened at Waitangi?’ or ‘Should our kura go plastic free?’

‘Weaving’ all three elements together will require more thought, planning and possibly, writing, which is where iUgo comes in.

A part of the Essential Resources family, iUgo is a powerful online teacher planner that allows you to create long-term plans to individual lesson plans. What’s more, it comes preloaded with the refreshed New Zealand Curriculum framework.

Having the elements and progress outcomes already loaded means you simply must select the relevant ones – saving you lots of planning time. Sign up for a no-obligation free trial on iUgo to gain access to the history unit plans, plus individual lessons.

How do you implement the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum?

You have chosen a topic that covers the elements of the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum. How can you best implement the topic? What resources are there to support you?

A handy piece of advice is to let the Do element guide your implementation. By creating lesson plans with one or more of the practices you will be fulfilling the curriculum, plus creating meaningful learning experiences.

An example of this can be seen in our recently released Aotearoa New Zealand History and You series.

These Aotearoa NZ history resources are designed for primary and intermediate schools. They encourage learners to engage with the complete human history of Aotearoa, from the arrival of the first people to the current era.

The first book in the series introduces students to a big idea, for example, ‘Where did Māori come from?’ Then, it provides activities for exploring the big idea before putting it into action.

One of the activities gets students to find stories about what happened when Māori and Europeans first met. It asks them to find information from people they know, the library and the internet.

This activity aligns with the Do progress outcomes:

  • use at least two different types of information from a variety of sources
  • retell a story from the past and talk about how other people might tell it differently (Ministry of Education, 2023).

It also supports the Understand big ideas and the cultural and collective contexts under the Know element (eg, “The stories of groups of people from different periods in our history convey their reasons for and experiences of migration. These stories have shaped their culture and identity in Aotearoa New Zealand”).

Aotearoa NZ Histories and You

Discovering Aotearoa New Zealand

The Discovering Aotearoa New Zealand is another three-book series of primary school resources that support the refreshed curriculum.

The imaginative and interactive activities and games help students to learn Who we are, What makes us New Zealanders and Our lives in this motu. These develop inquiry, numeracy and literacy skills.

For example, Aotearoa New Zealand food web activity gets students to cut out cards of living things in Aotearoa. They then use the clues provided to arrange them on a piece of paper and draw arrows to create a food web.

As it stands, the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum will be a shift for teachers. No longer are there discrete achievement objectives. Rather, the progression outcomes need to be entwined with one another.

Essential Resources has Aotearoa NZ histories resources packed with content to support the refreshed curriculum and foster deep and meaningful learning.

Keep moving along the path towards acknowledging Aotearoa NZ histories.

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