Kia ora ...it's week 7!

Ok, first a quick summary of weeks 3-6 for all our avid followers...sharing night research presentation! We did have little moments of rest but for the most part the last few weeks have been about deadlines and the missions involved in meeting them. I'm considering it prep for the kids more advanced education years, like when 4 essays are due on the last week of semester. I was very impressed with the way we managed the deadline mission - I tried to install what I'm told is a good learning habit - i.e. don't leave everything to the last minute (though I am sometimes guilty of another version which I like to call "pressure makes diamonds"). So, we started a little earlier then in previous years and figured if the presentation is finished, and we have time left over, we can reflect and make additions if we want. And some of us did. The students showed remarkable persistence, willingness to strive for accuracy and general stamina in turning the thinking they had done over the last term and a half into presentable work - i.e. to present their research findings. Thanks again to the sharing night visitors who provide the students with a genuine audience to present their work. Maybe next year the students can go one step further and present their work conference styles and then you won't have to endure another one of my speeches?!

With sharing night over we shifted gears a little today. The students were able to plan a lot of their own day (actually this was week 3 of this because they had got themselves nicely ahead of schedule for their deadlines). I do enjoy seeing this in action. Some students can quickly set their day plan up and get to it while others look around wondering who is going to tell them what to do. The aim is I don't tell them to do anything. I help them when they need, encourage and marvel at what they are doing and suggest places and depths they may take it BUT the work they do is planned by them, for them, and NOT for me (of course, I help those who find planning tricky and encourage risk taking for next week). That is not to say they have complete control over their day. I did set a couple of "must dos" which they could do at anytime, and one which we did together. We started the day talking about and watching a video on neuroplasticity and growth mindset - which is basically the idea that intelligence is not fixed and the brain is plastic in its ability to learn and process (our day plans were written with some of the insights of the video in mind - brain breaks, exercise breaks, food, water etc). I love debates around intelligence which of course play a part in my PhD research, so, I tend to get a little excited about it. I noticed not all the kids shared my enthusiasm - one student wrote in our class meeting book "neuroplasticity is boring and I want to do more drawing!" Ha! what about drawing a brain? Or an abstract image of neural pathways? Or a cartoon explaining key ideas in the neuroplasticity field or...??? Anyway, you can't win them all over (said student did in fact complete some quite useful research in a very quick space of time and got back to his drawing...yes, I know who you are :) I was in fact surprised by how many students committed much of their day working on the neuroplasticity topic. Samuel, Tane, Tigue, Tobias, Meaghan and Noah all researched away for long periods. Tane, who had been looking at this topic for a while, created a neuroplasticity experiment with an action man, a video camera, a ruler and some willing participants. His experiment drew on the rubber hand experiment and the Big World, Little People experiments; I had videos of both for the kids to explore (please google) . Even though it wasn't a success (due to lack of resources not design) well done Tane and thanks for being so into it :)

The students also played with talent development - e.g. today Ren improved her horse drawing skills immensely in a short space of time; Angus and Nicholas M worked on drawing star wars characters with superb results; Marshall developed his jingle selling company logo - looks great; Beau problem solved fixing level 3 on his scratch game. They had brain breaks (this is a work in process). I had a exercise break football drill (football short pass tennis) which some of the team (Noah, Tobias, Marshall, Beau) were particularly keen on and had eagerly scheduled into their day plans. I reminded them the point was they took breaks as needed rather than as scheduled and there was supposed to be a reason...writers block, stamina dropping, needing inspiration etc etc; not simply that it was 2 o'clock. Anyway we negotiated a compromise, where I pushed them harder and then they took their break, but I can see there is some thinking and tweaking needed to develop this into the programme and for the students to fully grasp the intent. Of course, so much of everyone's days are timetabled it's no wonder we lean toward that approach but I'll do my best to break the habit and they use 'micro-breaks' as needed. Breaking the timetabling habit hasn't been a problem when it comes to eating, mostly thanks to Noah. Noah has spent two years developing starvation at 10 each morning. Who can deny a growing brain the opportunity to eat? He just then swaps the 5 minutes he spends eating at 10 for 5 minutes extra learning during the scheduled break, or if the task is appropriate just eat and think at the same time. I guess a glide-time classroom is what I'm talking about here and the self-planning does go some way toward this. The key is that the kids want to do the learning then there is no concern they are not going to plan their time appropriately and get the most out of their day. Like I said, work in progress.

Well that's about all for today's chat, I hope someone is out there listening - I looked at the wiki stats today and it does appear some people do take a look - in fact we get our most viewers from China - so 你好。to all of you if you are tuning in today.

Ka kite,
take care,
Scott.




Kia ora from week 2 of term 4,

We had a vastly reduced Thursday team this week with St. Brigid's away on camp, Bradford on a marae visit and an absentee for sickness. That didn't stop the rest of us from ploughing on with our archaeology. We invested the first section of the day writing up notes on our real research. All the teams have now got at least 2 published pieces of 'real' research. We are making progress. The focus and stamina was again great to see. In the middle of it all Tane managed to record a tutorial on how to create a pick-a-path story on scratch. I like it when year 6 students produce something like this because it can become a 'legacy' piece of work that lasts and is useful long after they have left.

In the middle session we swapped to our created civilisations and began publishing our interpretations of evidence and artefacts we had investigated. Again this was a productive wee session and by the end of the 45 minutes everyone had something to show for their endeavours. We rounded out the morning by organising our archaeology folders so that we can go straight to the next task next week, and having a game of chess which was almost relaxation after the morning's efforts.

In the afternoon we worked on taletn. This included completing progress reports, and in the case of Sophie and Ren overall reflections. Sophie and Ren got their completed picture books put together and bound with a lot of wonderful assistance from Tor - they look great and the girls were rightly proud of their achievements. Next week it will be LIly and Meaghan's turn. In other talent news, Marshall recorded his catchy composition which he may sell to one of the video game makers - or he could include it on his own video game he made earlier in the year. Tobias began making an advertisement to highlight the attributes and skills a kinetic artist needs, the video game creators and scratch pick-a-path crew all printed up screen shots and continue to develop their porduct. Angus created an instruction page for his cat chase game, Beau continued to work on a troublesome boulder in his maze game and Tane worked on his third pick-a-path story with a much more challenging animation set in this one.

Looking forward to seeing the full team next week.
Take care,
Scott.

Welcome back to term 4,
we are full steam ahead this term to complete our archaeology studies so we can present our research findings.

This morning we co-constructed what information we think was important to have on tour presentations. The students came up with all I had prepared earlier , except for one heading - it's great to be barely needed. Great! This planning took a while but hopefully the ownership and direction they got from creating their own board layout will make the process flow for them. The student's first step was to identify important areas of their research they definitely wanted to present. They also needed to decide how they were dividing their roles within the group. One of the key challenges at this stage is they now have to convert their notes into full findings. SO far this has been done very well. We had some good progress form all the students today wand Paolo, NIcholas W and Nicholas M, Tobias and Sophie all completed secitons. We finished the session by reflecting on time and self-management as well as our use of positive disintegration theory.

We had investigated this theory in term 3. It is basically thinking about how we can recognise positives and negatives that influence our learning and focus. As a personal development plan for this term we are attempting to act on the things we recognise and to reflect on our self and time management. As such, we each wrote a reflection around this idea on our performance in the morning session. We will do this each week and see if the students grow their ability to not only recognise what strengthens or inhibits their processes but can act on it. Already today, Marshall, Lily and Caitlin showed excellent awareness of this part of their learning.

For a kind of mental break we followed our intense mornings work with 15 minutes of our latest archaeology video - which argues that Atlantis is actually a civilisation on the island of Crete that was destroyed by a super volcanic eruption about 1000 years before the Greek empire. Most interesting so far and it gives us room to compare arguments with the earlier show we watched. We finished the morning with chess.

In the afternoon we focussed on talent. Paolo practised drawing small mammals (for his comic strip), Tobias applied metacognitive skills to his already thoughtful reflections, Ren and Sophie worked with Tor publishing their picture book -(looking great so far!), Marshall recorded his tune and started analysing "a Day in the LIfe' by the Beatles, Nicholas W and Nicholas M, Angus, Samuel, and Beau all problem solved their way through more code. I was particularly happy with the persistence Nicholas W was showing. Tane is developing another scratch pick-a-path with some interesting recorded pieeces. Meaghan and Lily both continued planning, Meaghan had to check her scale matched reality with some maths and measurement. while Lily developed a theme for her theme park. Caitlin and Noah put the finishing touches on their story and illustrations to be ready for the publishing phase which is imminent.

Look forward to getting back to it next week - take care,
Scott.




Kia ora folks,
it's been a while - you may have thought Thursday were operating in secrecy! Or maybe we are just trying to avoid keystroke monitoring by not having any internet conversations :) Actually, we've been mad busy all term! Mr. K has been lecturing at uni in his "spare" time and this has put a brake on after school activities beyond marking and planning; the students have been so busy with their civilisation double unit that I have been working them till the last minute every day!

What is this double unit? Well it is linked to our discovery concept topic. We decided it was not enough to simply research a civilisation that has been studied via archaeology, why not invent a civilisation as well! In doing so we are looking to see if we can apply the thinking skills and processes we have been examining across the year in our own creation. So, step one, we have been watching, analysing and critiquing video such as time-team and an Atlantis archaeology documentary (thanks Amadeo!). During this time we have been exploring language and thinking such as interpretation, speculation, supporting evidence, hypothesis. We have been noticing the way the teams link their evidence to existing knowledge - knowledge about the area, about the civilisation or others like it, and the way their own perspective impacts on their interpretations - sometimes erroneously (e.g. archaeologists have long thought viking women were not soldiers mainly becuase they couldn't imagine women on the front line but very new DNA evidence is strongly suggesting that some of those warriors buried with their swords are in fact women). We are getting great at calling for the video to be stopped as we notice the language of speculation, the ways archaeologists are cautious or overstate their claims (according to us), suggesting possible alternative interpretations and so on.

The second step has been to explore a place that has been studied already. We have people investigating Viking time Scandinavia, pre-Spanish Meso and South America, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. The main reason for the research is to provide links for the civilisation they are creating which is from the same area but is either a slightly different time or place. The knowledge they gather from the real civilisation becomes part of the supporting evidence they use for their own created civilisation. At the same time they are refining research skills. This is always needed and includes questioning, searching, note-taking, being open to new questions that come our of your findings, presenting and sharing.

The third step has been the gradual development of their own civilisation. Primarily this is being done through the interpretation of artefacts. A collection of 'artefacts' are in the class. The students are given or select one and then they have to decide what it is, basing their interpretation on evidence from the cultural knowledge they have of the area. The last step here is to make judgements about what this artefact tells us about the various aspects of life in their created civilisation.

Today the morning was dedicated to these tasks. The groups were split up so that two members worked on presenting their research (most of the groups have a substantial amount of notes). The other members worked on interpreting and finding supporting evidence for another artefact, then the members swapped. The effort and efficiency of some of the researchers is really impressive - Paolo, Ren, Tobias, both Nicholas', Marshall, Tane, are names that immediately spring to mind while others show their strengths in creative work.

In the afternoon we played chess and honed our notation skills. There has been a little resistance to notation but I am sure practising this discipline will benefit the students, and I hope they all start to recognise this benefit themselves. After lunch we switched to talent projects (well done - all the author/illustrator teams are either ready for publication OR very very close). Finally, we philosophised on what constitutes civilised. Last week we had unpacked some examples and drawn a number of criteria out of that discussion. Today we started taking these criteria and exploring them deeper. The students went straight for what I think was the most difficult one - "if everyone agrees it is civilised then it is". Half of the class were in agreement with Tane that this just can't be correct. Tane said "e.g. if everyone agreed that cannibalism was right this still must be wrong". Meaghan supported this but both of them struggled with the difficulty here that Tobias pointed out - that if everybody or "every thinking thing" to use Tane's wonderful phrase, agreed then who would be left to sense wrong? And yet it still seemed, to at least half of us, that things can still be wrong or uncivilised - we just sensed or intutited this must be the case (it was interesting how we naturally switched to talking about right and wrong here). I introduced to the class briefly concepts like natural justice, intuition, inalienable rights, religious law as ways that humans have tried to grapple with this conundrum - to find a way to say right or wrong that goes beyond "thinking things" and their potentially incorrect judgements. We didn't have time to hear much from the other side - those that think it is just about agreement - that will be next week.

These are very hard concepts, especially when the students are willing to jump in as deep as they did today, and they are still learning that it is impossible to provide the complete answer - hence why they are age-old questions. The real value is not perhaps in finding the answer but in the process and the challenge. If you feel it is something you would/can continue and support at home please do :)

Take care, ka kite ano,
Scott.



Hello!
We have had lots of fun and since we were having so much fun we forgot to do a blog last week, so I will do a blog this week and try to make sure everyone remembers to do a blog.
We watched another Time Team episode, ( not exactly my idea of fun! ) and we paused every time there was an because, we think, and more. We did some architecture stuff and had to examine things from our country. I hope we will do more next week.
- Caitlin



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This morning started with a wonderful trip to the geology museum that Amadeo had organised. We got to look at and learn to identify the different rock types, hang out in the museum and track the different eras from the Cambrian. We looked at fossils from each period and noted the way life was growing more complicated and more varied. In groups we went into one of the geology labs where Brent demonstrated how they cut the rocks and prepared them for examining through microscopes. Those who wanted to even got to take a rock or 2 home. Finally, we spent time with palaeontologist Sophie who talked about her work and demonstrated some of what she does. At the moment she is busy clearing a prehistoric dolphin out of a large limestone block. She is hoping it will be the most complete skeleton found here. We were each given a small block of limestone and using some of the palaeontologists’ tools and excavated shells that were over 20 million years old! A great trip – thanks to the Geology department and to Amadeo!

We returned to chess where John was already waiting. We got straight down to playing. I’m not sure how things went around the room because I was engaged in a great game with Caitlin. She played a strong opening and was holding on by the time we went into the endgame. We had to stop but we took a photo so we can finish next week.

After lunch we went into talent time. Noah has finished his story and is beginning to create illustrations – he’s adapted a great looking robo dog for his main character, Bob. Sophie wrote with good stamina and Ren practiced a new shading look, based on some cool illustrations in a book she was reading. Lily and Caitlin have been given an end line for their stories (by me) to help them keep their storyline concise. We are hoping for some speedier progress but writing can be a cruel master – it is important to find a space that helps. The scratch crew were as engaged as always. Marshall helped Beau with some tricky bits as he tries to make a two-sprite maze game (along the principle of pacman). Paolo and Tane have been beavering away at a slender-man game (very strange – I don’t understand the attraction but then I’m probably too old). Nicholas W has almost finished his witch game – I am challenging him to introduce a way to avoid the dragon sprite he has brought into the game. Tobias let me read through his latest report on the marble sculpture – great reading. The range of skills this project is introducing Tobias to impresses me.

We finished the day with a team meeting and set our own deadlines (with some slight input and suggestion from me) to complete our projects. After school I created a poster for us to have up and remind us when each of our products is due. Great day – thanks all! Another visit to look forward to next week – this time archaeology!

p.s. we’re thinking of Ms. Leia who is due tomorrow, I think. Best wishes from Thursday!


Thursday May 29

Today started with some impromptu talent time as people drifted in. The students are highly engaged in their own projects (well done to Noah for finishing his story draft today!). We followed this with a long review session. We reflected on our medical research projects, assessed the depth and complexity of our questioning. Then we continued the reflective them and began constructing our student reflections for the mid-year assessments. Well done, especially the students who are new to Pakiki this year. We have often found that reflections are challenging for new students but it is rewarding to see them develop their skills in this area over their time with us. After this we had a look at the beginning of our new discovery unit which is a mixture of paleontology and archaeology. We spent time unpacking what was different about these - there was more to this than you might think and it ended up being a rich discussion. We also did some pre-testing so I could see what people already knew. This involved constructing a timeline and brainstorming areas of the past we have prior knowledge about.

There was some excellent focus in John's chess lesson today which looked at some end game strategies. After chess and lunch (they are pretty much combined these days :) we took another look at a broad timeline from the creation of the earth till now! THe main point here was realising how condensed the period of life on earth is relative to its entire history. We finished the day with a longer talent session - one story ready for editing phase and another close to - well done Noah, NIcholas M and Angus - the visit from the author last week was perfectly timed I think.

Cheers all, See you next week.




Thursday 22nd May

Hi, Today we started off with medical discoveries by making a presentation on the thing we find most interesting and after morning tea we judged each other's presentations. Then John came for chess and we did a challenge which I can't really explain. After lunch we had a bit of talent with a special guest coming along for the writers. I succeeded in eradicating a long standing bug in my maze game and also getting my EXTREMELY annoying tooth out. It was a great day and I think we all agree that.

Laterz
Samuel
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Writing with Elizabeth Pulford
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Presenting our medical research
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Thursday 22nd May.
As Samuel said above we started our day with a research challenge - the idea was the students were in small teams (pairs mostly) and had till 11:15 to decide on and complete a presentation of their medical research from the last few weeks. We started by unpacking as many ways of presenting that we could think of ( I was hoping someone would go for interpretive dance but it never happened :( . We then co-constructed a class criteria to judge the presentations on at the end. The students came up with excellent criteria - relevance, educational worth, entertainment, capture interest, creativity, clarity and complexity. Fantastic - I didn't have to come up with any :) Then we set to it. Wow - what a team of engaged, determined and switched on learners. There were a lot of skills involved here that went beyond the actual act of research, e.g. the groups had to negotiate a presentation approach that accommodated everyone, to divide labour appropriately to finish the task in the set time. The majority of kids worked on this from 9 am right through their playtime (they were told at 9 they could eat morning t whenever they were hungry - just not around a computer :) and we all made the deadline (with a few minutes grace :) All the presentations were commendable with some standouts. Tobias and Lily won the competition (the groups scored the other teams with the criteria sheet, I added mine and we averaged the scores out). They used Prezi which Tobias is very skilled at. What I liked most about their presentation was the attention to exploring some questions that showed depth and complexity and the links they were able to make between their subjects. There were other highlights across the presentations e.g Tane, Beau and Caitlin's humourous but informative look at bionics, Ren and Nicholas W taking on the challenge of comparing Maori medicine with cutting edge medical breakthroughs, Tigue and Nicholas M's informative look at haemophilia and penicillin; Marshall, Noah, Samuel and Angus showed a different approach to researching DNA; Meaghan and Paolo combined their knowledge about x-rays. All of the students demonstrated skills on presenting using different electronic media - scratch, prezi and keynote. The era of the poster appears to be over.

After presentations John played 8 consultation game of chess against 8 pairs of children all at once. Well done to the power team of Tobias and Nicholas W who managed to beat the master :) After lunch we had a very special guest Elizabeth Pulford (see photo above) who worked with our authors. SHe was superb and had them fine tuning their thinking about story writing with a nicely timed lesson about plot and how we stick to it. I look forward to building on their new thinking next week. THe scratch animators and illustrators had to be content with me :)

It was a day that highlighted how independent and resourceful these Pakiki Kids are. Superb stuff team!
Best wishes to Ms. Leia, Jason, Corban and Baby to be from the Thursday crew.
Take care, catch you all next week, Scott.





Thursday 15th May

Kia ora all - it's been a long break from the blog sorry. Afternoon meetings and missions have stolen a few sadly. Nevermind here I am now. Great morning session at Pakiki with Claire Gallop who is writing a PhD on ethics in philosophy. Claire talked about ethics generally and medical ethics specifically. We went over some famous ethical cases - Jenner's smallpox experiment, false causation with Stubbins Ffirth's efforts at figuring out yellow fever, Burke and Hare the body snatchers and a few slightly more contemporary issues like Mike the chicken! There was some great questioning from the Pakiki crew - e.g. Nicholas M noticed that we seem to be happy to eat animals but not test on them and found that a little contradictory. We bounced straight from Claire's discussion to our own medical research. THe first task was to ask an ethical question or raise an ethical issue about our own topic. There are some great research questions at work and some really interesting fields - Nicholas W's look into cutting edge medical technology unearthed some amazing advancements and growing and printing biological body parts from cells; Caitlin, Tane and Beau are looking into bionics. Beau and Tane are connecting this to the progress made since the latest wars in the middle east and Caitlin i s looking more into the progress being made toward completely artificial humanoids - lots of ethical issues to wonder about here. Noah, Marshall and ANgus are investigating DNA and genetics; NIcholas M is looking at hemophilia; Paolo and Meaghan x-rays; Tigue antibiotics; and Sophie and Ren are looking at the medicinal properties of plants and how Maori used them. It would be fair to say that despite the great questioning and interesting topics progress on the research is a little slow - there's nothing to slow a student down more than gathering information, I find. Additionally an hour a week isn't a lot of time really. Having said that students are putting together some fun and informative presentations using technology and we will strive to complete something each.

Chess was another look at the end game and there were a few vocal participants. Seeing real progress in some students chess games - Nicholas W especially. We moved onto talent in the afternoon. The authors are focussing on the problem and solution - there is a tendency amongst all of them to spend too long getting to the problem so we worked on that. Ren and I worked on perspective drawing to make furniture look correct and the scratch team busied themselves with the next part of their games. SOme are getting quite complicated and most of the students have already outstripped my knowledge. The other exciting thing going on in scratch is the way they are turning to the internet to utilize the multitude of help resources out there for budding scratch programmers. Instead of turning to me they are using the own initiative to problem-solve - brilliant.

I promise to get some photos up over the next couple of days!

Cheers all, Scott.


Today we had a person come and teach us about medical ethics. People have been arguing about ethics for quite a while about what it means. she told us about some scientistists and if the experimentss were good or bad. She explained some famous moments of medical ethics like the bodysnatchers and people who do experiments on themselves.
By NIcholas Wright.


hello

TODAY we had ffffffffffuuuuuuuuuunnnnnn doctor steeveen robitson came to pakiki he taught us about birth and chromosones and genes and all that complex stuff we watched a video about him and he showed us some real dna !!!!!!!!!!!(not under a microscope, and in real life.

by Ren and Sophie :) !!!!!!

Today we had a visit from Dr.Anita who told us about D.N.A and chromosomes. That's a big word. and I bet samuel at chess with two queens and a rook. - Paolo :3



























27 March

Today in the morning we did a bit of talent before doing some stuff about medical inventions and breakthroughs and after that we played some chess .Then we had our main stint in talent

and at the end of the day we had a cool game of twenty questions - Noah

:) "Some stuff" about medical inventions? You don't remember any more detail than that Noah!? To be fair, Noah did not have much time for his reflection today...still..."stuff"?? :)

Anyway I will try and fill in some gaps. The students rolled in at various times and a good number went straight to Scratch others were reading and there was a general buzz of ready to go. Rather than stop the engagement I wandered around handing back the work, chatting about next steps and things I liked, and flagged a meeting get together to start the day. The small number of kids that weren't engaged I directed to talent, zendoodle and photos for the class habits of mind t-shirt shot (Thanks to Tor for helping out on this amongst heaps of other things). By 9:30 I figured we were zoned in now and we could do the next step in our ongoing community inquiry about giftedness. Today I had designed a philosophy type game adapting some stuff of Clinton Golding's that I always use. I wasn't too sure if it would work but I thought if I expect the kids to take a responsible risk - hey?! We didn't do it anyway :) because when we sat down to start, one of the kids took over - go Nicholas M. I started us off by reviewing what we had said so far via our quotes on "what is giftedness" and "where does it come from". I had summarised our thoughts into some ideas that had emerged (potential/demonstrated; excellence/passion; natural/developed/trained etc). I had the kids scrutinize these, find quotes as evidence to support my ideas and look for mistakes or ideas there was no evidence for.

The philosophy game was going to come next to explore their ideas about giftedness and relativity but Nicholas beat me to it. Tane or Paolo (i've forgotten) remembered that Gagne said 10% was the line of giftedness (it's rewarding when they remember theorists names and ideas :) This started another numbers debate - Caitlin said 20%; Tobias said 5%; Paolo 3%. I connected their numbers to educators who had said similar things - Terman, Renzulli etc. Then Nicholas said he didn't think "gifted was the kind of thing that depended on a number or that numbers couldn't capture what it was...and "anyway 15% OF WHAT?!" he asked... what if you were the best in your class but class wasn't that good ( i brought up the example of Eric Moussambani (Eric the eel from the Olympics). The kids hands were up and I put my game away for another day...or not...sometimes I think they barely need me or my silly games. We ended up with 3 perspectives - those who believed in the numbers (with varying degrees); those who followed Nicholas (whose view we had called x to stand for its qualitative and relative nature) and y which Paolo had thought of (and I named in line with x). Paolo's revised ideas were that everyone has a gift but that not everybody gets an opportunity to do or learn the thing they would be good at so some gifts never get to come to fruition. By now it even more interesting to me was that kids were changing their minds. Paolo had gone from arguing only for the top 3 to arguing everybody (but everybody doesn't get the chance) Changing minds doesn't happen as often as you might think in these discussions - they tend to stubbornly argue their point :) But these kids were thinking hard and being convinced by good reasoning - started by Nicholas M. Paolo, Tobias and Caitlin all revised their views. Tobias joined Paolo. Caitlin added to her 20% theory added that she thinks the gift has to be useful. Another important point which we might return to next week...maybe I can readapt my game :)

The rest of the day was busy with Dabrowski's nadpodbudliwosc; finding out how some medical discoveries were made (quick look at leeches :); chess; and talent in the afternoon - Pakiki stuff which I would tell you more about but my parents have just texted to say they're visiting and will be here in 20 minutes - time to go! ...will reveal some Dabrowski and an awesome visitor next week.

Ciao,
Mr. K.


Thursday 20 march

Kia ora,
We started our day with our customary quick meeting and another zendoodling - today had a mandala focus. Tane picked the Indian connection from the music in the tutorial. I had a quick perspective maths investigation for the kids but so many seemed to already know all about it that I ditched it. Instead we reviewed subjective judgements - as I had feared most of them had forgotten what it meant but they picked it up much quicker this time - we used it to analyse and comment on our inspiration and aspiration collages which are on the wall. When that was done we reviewed our homework - where/when our passions and talents came about - and discussed Gagne's (Francois - gifted education academic) claim that gifts are the possession and use of untrained and spontaneously expressed superior natural abilities. We unpacked the language and then discussed our opinion of Gagne's point. Paolo was in agreement and took a gift to be something that "I am good at" rather than something "I got good at". Nicholas partially agreed but felt that some gifts were developed through exposure to learning etc. while others "just are". Samuel argued a similar point. Nicholas W added a nice metaphor to explain their point - if a person was an ipad then gifts and talents would be the accumulation of apps. Caitlin argued her gifts came from her family - they all share a passion for similar learning activities and are given many opportunities to engage in them. Marshall had a very Gagne-esque view that gifts were spontaneous but talents were worked at ( I wonder if he's heard me chatting at home?) Meaghan felt she just "came across" her gifts. Gradually the discussion shifted from my initial question to the kids discussing how things you are talented at are not always the things you like. They also were keen to discuss teaching methods that stifle their gifts/talents. I started to get nervous at this point :) Many of the kids, including Tane and Nicholas W were quite adamant that not being able to choose or always being told what to do did not help them nurture the learning they were best at.


We rounded out the morning session with finishing reflections and habits of mind activities. Those who were done worked on a SCAMPER - some created chindogu-like inventions such as the musical, hairbrushing umbrella (Meaghan) while others went for more plausible options - Caitlin's musical backpack and Samuel's solar and pedal powered GPS system come to mind.

After morning tea we turned to discoveries. We reviewed our discussion about distinguishing discoveries from inventions and outlined a few of our own. Then we took a look at the medical mavericks unit I had planned. About 2 minutes into this Tane shared the Big bang discovery that scientists working in the South Pole have claimed in the last couple of days (that they have heard the sound of the big bang). This got everybody a buzz and there was much talk of multiverses, parallel universes, imploding universes, religious explanations and critical questions - e.g. how can they prove the noise comes from that event? What started the big bang? What's outside the universe? We even had some conspiracy theorists suggesting the scientists were seeking to make their name (Sophie :) It seemed a little mundane to try and wheel them back into medical discoveries and I was wondering if we hadn't already organised visitors I might just postpone medicine and run with astrophysics this term instead because it was clearly a hit topic - note to self - never plan too far ahead! Maybe I'll do this one later in the year.

Anyway, I threw them a couple of exciting medical maverick stories to get them going and we brainstormed medical discoveries we knew about. Then we had a go at ranking them. Vaccines come out top, bandages a close second just in front of antibiotics. Marshall was very keen for leeches to get some votes but he didn't get much traction - though we all had a laugh (actually I read somewhere leeches were making a comeback in the medicine world - better check that out). We then had a youtube clip to watch that counted down their own top 10 discoveries. The plan was to watch it and alter and add to ours and/or argue that they had it wrong but technology let me down. Despite Samuel's efforts "you need more RAM" was his head-shaken assessment after looking at my systems (under supervision of course) we couldn't make it happen so we moved to chess (it was noon by now anyway) with the promise to watch it next week.

After lunch we had Bob Corona, Paolo's dad, come and visit. He is an illustrator, comic and graphics professional and has worked on the famous Sonic the Hedgehog amongst various other illustration projects. It was awesome to have Bob share some of his work and the processes that were involved. This included the class acting as "author" and giving him the brief to create an illustration for a book about some bobble-headed newly graduated wizards fighting over a do-nut. Bob then worked exclusively with the groups creating the science picture books while I worked with the scratch team. Despite the hour a week I am spending on scratch to keep ahead of the kids some of them (Marshall in particular) seems to be racing past my ability. Today Paolo shoed he could animate and worked on sending broadcasts to have new levels in a game (he has a great homework-finding game idea). Beau and Samuel were also working on broadcast. Tane was developing his maze level game and Marshall, who made a multi-levelled game with interacting sprites and a porkchop, was ready for a new challenge - so he is using Youtube tutorials to develop a shooting game - a must it seems for all budding game developers. Nicholas W, who joined us late, has shown a great knack for it and has already created a single level game that has 2 sprites interacting. He can develop this further next week. I'm not sure what the others got up to with Bob but he was very impressed with their direction and I am looking forward to looking through their work as soon as I finish this :) Better get to it!

Till next time team,
Ka kite!
Scott
p.s. Meaghan's student blog below - cheers!

Today at Pakiki we done so much.Before play we caught up on any reflectons we hadn't finished and also had a discussion on what our giftedness was and also talents and disscussed how we came across them. After play we did Discovery we were meant to be talking about medical discovouries but we ended up starting off with talking about the big bang theory how the scientists gathered evidence that it actually happened but after wards we talked about medical discouvouries and we voted on which medical discoveries was the most helpfull. The one we rated 1st was vaccine.after that we did chess. After lunch Paolo's dad Bob came to teach us about illustrating books for talent. Meaghan.



Thursday 13 March
Hello all from a day with no internet - I surprised myself and we managed like we had never experienced that particular revolution. This morning started with our usual meeting. The students zendoodled while marked work was handed back and commented on. An impromptu discussion emerged while we had a look at Tobias’ zendoodle. Nicholas M had set the doodle theme as “wiggly”. We talked about our aesthetic judgement of Tobias’ creation and begun unpacking the difference between subjective and objective assessment. We started with subjective judgements - it wasn’t easy to get this concept (an alternative reading was I did a poor job of prying it out of them - must ask Tor what her take on it was :) Anyway, we got there in the end. Then we turned to objective judgements - how was it easier or what was different about judging and argue for the “wiggliness” (Tane liked that word) of Tobias’ doodle then it was to say what we thought made it aesthetically pleasing? Nicholas W figured we could use a protractor or some such tool to measure the degree of wiggles, or we could count the wiggles etc. Any Thursday parent who is reading this please ask/reinforce the idea of subjective judgements because they left with a fairly good idea about this and I would hate for it to slip away :) (with some luck they’ll say something like - personal opinion, unique perspective, what’s in your mind about something etc. These are the ideas they came up with that I was happy to run with for now).

We swapped from this to a game of 20 questions. This was to sharpen our questioning skills. We discussed what kind of questions were required (closed - today Nicholas M dubbed them quark questions - gold star for him!) how we can make closed questions broad and how we could use these to “discover the clues” (Beau’s words) we needed. Longest game ever! This was mostly my fault as I made them analyse the worth of the questions we were hearing :) Caitlin chose the word and I recorded the knowledge we were getting. We got there (Marshall worked it out but everyone pitched in as we got close) with 4 questions to spare. A valuable exercise I thought and some clever thinking shown. Though there was some debate, I liked Samuel’s approach to define which part of the alphabet the word started with (it only cost 2 questions). Hopefully I can keep thinking of more questioning games to hone their skills in this often overlooked but very important task - if you know of any please let me know :)

We moved onto completing an array of leftovers. As the weeks tick by absences and students’ speed differences mean different kids are working on completing different things and only the odd few have finished it all. This makes for a bit of mess but we manage. Children were finishing mind collages (they’re almost all on the wall now); habits of mind t-shirts and photos (photos mostly up; t-shirts not quite there - but check out Lily’s artistic design which I think we’ll adapt/copy/modify etc for the rest); what is gifted start of year statements and some other bits and pieces. Some kids were by now in zendoodle zone (this can happen) and required extracting (not wholly successful - when someone is creating passionately it can seem criminal to shift them). Children who had finished were able to work on talent projects - Tane worked on a neat but simple fish game which demonstrated some understanding of game play and showed he had mastered a lot of the movement in scratch we have worked on up till now. Tobias began writing a proposal for his kinetic art project which is being worked on in and out of Pakiki). Caitlin was pretty crook with a boring old cold so she read and rested a lot (mostly the former :) and drank a lot of water.

After play, we argued about discoveries and inventions and the differences. This was meant as a recap because we did this last week but the kids were arguing fluently so we ran with it a little. Tobias decided something had to be found for the first time to be a discovery; then Nicholas M asked what if an animal discovers it first? (his e.g. a human sees a chimp using a stick to get termites and human gets the idea from there). At this point, being a class of animal lovers (aren’t they always?) they all agreed non-humans could make discoveries. Then we got back into our subjectivity stuff when someone (Nicholas W, I think) said that it’s a discovery so long as it is the first time for you. This lead to a split in discoveries being either first time ever or first time for you. Then I asked them to give me some examples of first time ever... mainly they tried out explorers and realised that actually it’s more like first time for the group you are attached to - e.g. Abel Tasman (first European) Cpt. Cook (first Englishman) Maori iwi/hapu (first for their particular tribe) and so on. They had to have this grouping for exploration given they thought non-humans could make discoveries N.Z must have been discovered by the birds : ) (Nicholas M told us that the Moa came here from what is now Sth America ) We ended this part of the discussion by recording the idea that an invention must follow a discovery, something we found out last week. We are treating this as our first class generated generalisation and we are going to test it out through the year.

Then we critiqued the Gifted Kids generalisations we had been given. These were: Discoveries create new knowledge (all agreed); occur in all human fields (Tobias disagreed - sorry your rationale got rubbed off the board)); leads to change (debate - Tobias said no; Tane said if new discoveries = new knowledge then the new knowledge is the change); Can be accidental or the result of purposeful activity; and Can be big or small. Last week we had talked about how sometimes generalisations can become so big they are meaningless. I argued that the accident or purpose one was one of these - if it is not an accident or on purpose what is left? The last one was tossed aside mercilessly by the class. Thursday’s students know that big and small are only relative terms and something is both big AND small at the same time - depending on what we are comparing it too (though I wonder what quarks or leptons are big compared too?). Anyway, they also figured if it isn’t big or small (i presume it actually means have big or small consequences) what’s left - middle sized? What’s that? We left the last one - Discoveries involve insight - because we were too brain tired by then.

Then I tried to have a go at the Gagne gifts and talents discussion/activity I had planned. Most of the time for this had been stolen by our impromtu discussion of subjectivity/objectivity ( that didn’t bother me - I mean everyone needs to know about subjectivvity and objectivity, right?) So, I made an on-the-fly adaptation, skipped the Gagne unpacking/discussion and went straight to the activity. I had printed (in black and white ; ) a silhouetted picture of a person’s life stages (one male and one female, of course) with the heading Gifts and Talents. The student’s task was to think where in the life-stage they think their particular gifts and talents emerged. Before the baby image were silhouettes of older folks - they represented those that come before - i.e. parents, grandparents and so on back. If the students knew about the gifts and talents of these people they were to add it in. The kids were surprisingly into this. I then set it for homework - a first for Pakiki! I will email everyone so you know it exists. I figure caregivers at home could help a lot with this part of the kids’ story - what they were like as babes and what themselves or grandma/dad etc were particularly good at or passionate about. I really look forward to seeing them next week. We will have our Gagne discussion then and see if it alters our thinking or if we want to alter his.

John rounded the pre-lunch session off with a lesson for one group on check mate moves and the rest of us played chess till the break. After lunch we got into talent. I wanted them all to refer to plans and begin the crossing off and modifying that a good project’s plans needs. This is a new skill for the students and I am keen to work on it becuase I think it is very valuable - even though I have to admit it’s a little painful! I had a lot of blank faces. Anyway, I whittled the class down as more and more got the idea and soon enough they were away. Tobias finished his proposal; Marshall and Tane worked on a scratch game; Tigue, Samuel and Beau worked on animating using costumes (scratch jargon). The illustrators started with me and we analysed some picture book illustrations - they then went and compiled a list of their own - well done Meaghan and Ren. The writers and I then checked their characters, wrote a guiding question for each of them to keep the science fiction idea intact and set about plotting their storyline in graph or sketch form. At the end I got back to the scratch crew for a quick tutorial on making a simple maze game. Phew. A big day at the office - I wonder if I tired any of them out as much as they did me - lol!

See you all next week. I’m looking forward to your homework (a sweepstake is running on how many come back).

Cheers team,
Scott.









Teacher's Blog

Kia ora,
Great to see the rain gone - seems Thursdays are the hot day of the week! This morning we started with a quick organization meeting. We looked through completed work and I had a stock-take sheet for kids to mark off as they completed their own piece. Work that had been seen by me and commented on was returned to go into individual brown folders. After our quick meeting we moved onto questioning. The art of constructing a good questions is highly valued at Pakiki and requires practice. We discussed different kinds of questions, practiced creating deep and limited questions of our own, and finally played a few rounds of the question game (stolen off theatre sports) where one has to communicate on a topic asking only questions - good learning fun. We continued the thinking skills activities with a "What if" - what if we could control gravity? The aim in this creative thinking task is to practice fluency and/or elaboration. It is interesting to watch how the different kids often tend toward one or the other some, like Paolo today, coming up with a wide range of ideas while others, like Marshall, taking one idea and digging deeply into it. We rounded the morning off with a discussion about giftedness bouncing off Renzulli's claim (among others) that intelligence is multiple - i.e. there are different kinds. I then facilitated a P4C discussion which had a bunch of contentious examples of "intelligence" and we categorize them as examples of, not, or maybe intelligence. I gave the lesson a bit of a twist and changed intelligence to gifted - it seemed to work fine. The discussion was rich and diverse with hands flying up to share ideas constantly. Both Nicholas', Caitlin, Paolo, Tobias, Marshall, Ren, Samuel, Meaghan, and Lily all made thoughtful contributions. Topics covered whether you could be potentially gifted; the role of other's recognition of you; the difference between being famous and being good; how lack of opportunity and prejudice prevents some people's giftedness from shining as well as whether or not you needed to be good at many things or just one to be gifted. What I enjoy most about these discussions is that the examples stimulate these conversations from the kids with very little left for me to do but ask probing and clarifying questions so they think as carefully as they can around the issue they have raised. We finished this session with the kids reflecting on themselves some more and completing Renzulli's triad model.

After a morning of rich discussion we went back to concept learning. We reviewed the categorizing techniques we used the week before and I introduced the students (again for some) to the ideas of induction and deduction. I challenged the students to unpack their own thinking processes during the categorizing and judging the value of various discoveries and then we turned to distinguishing between an invention and a discovery. We began to build a clearer picture of this distinction by the end of the session when John arrived for chess. Today he worked with one group and I watched and discussed the play between Nicholas W and Samuel who had a tight tussle.


In the afternoon we worked in our talent groups again. Tobias was lucky enough to have an artist mentor in to help guide his kinetic art project (actually I am also lucky this is happening because I know nothing about kinetic art except for what it is!). Thanks to Paul who has helped direct steps Tobias needs to take and who will be able to come in an aid in the project periodically. The writers worked on character development via some guiding questions that encouraged them to think deeply about their character. Nicholas M quickly caught up designing a spider character and using the idea of a spider as an astronaut to explore the idea of how vast and "space" like the world might be from something as small as a spider's perspective. Caitlin has a highly developed robot character who harbors a secret (Caitlin developed her character so fast and with excellent detail that she was graphing her plot before the end of the day) Noah worked on a character he had started the week before - a sad Robot who always has a tear forming. I am interested to see if he can convey the question of Artificial Intelligence and emotion in his writing. The illustrators watched a video for artists on developing characters in picture books and then worked not he techniques the professional was suggesting - breaking your character into composite parts, building detail and then reconstituting them. Well done Angus, Meaghan, and Ren for focussing and taking the risk to try this technique, with some good success! The scratch team started with me learning in a tutorial group. We went over some common issues I had noticed in the code they handed in at the end of last week and then they were sent off with the challenge to animate a sprite using the costumes function. The problem solving and enthusiasm was great from this group. In fact all the groups were highly focussed and engaged in what they were doing - well done Thursday, you continue to impress me with your ability to discuss thoughtfully, work industriously and enjoy your learning - keep it going team!

See you all next week
Scott.

p.s. each week we have a student blog to accompany mine. This was Caitlin's idea and she has organized a poster with directions and a roster - go Caitlin. Last week was Marshall and this week is Caitlin herself. Don't forget to have a read. Cheers!


Student Blog
Today we did talent, the groups are writing, illustrators, and scratch. Us writers had a sheet with questions about a character we each made up and I somehow managed to complete that and do my plot plan! The people on scratch had to make characters move around and put backgrounds in. Illustrators had to watch a video and draw things like Cats, spiders and more. We also learnt about discovery and did a sheet about that in groups of three and put discoveries in groups. We now have chess groups and my group did a chess lesson with John while the other groups played against one another. I learnt a lot today.
Caitlin



Teacher's blog
Kia ora koutou,

another hot Thursday of thinking and creating at Pakiki today. Today we started with a mixture of activities - everyone finished off their mind collage, those that had finished reflected on theirs and then started designing a habit of mind icon. A few students completed this and used random juxtaposition to combine and create something useful out of two unrelated things. Paolo developed a hat that provided nutrition so workers didn't have to have breaks (unions might have something to say about this) and Noah combined a giant television with a dog leash for mobile entertainment. He hasn't convinced me this is better than an ipad but they were definitiely random items being connected. We met as a whole class before the end of the morning session to begin considering what we thought gifted meant. We had a quick look at one theorist's model - Renzulli - and collated ideas as a group of what we thought were essential attributes of giftedness. Not surprisingly the responses were wide and varied. The students finished this by writing their current definition of being gifted. We revisit this throughout the year, as we learn more, to track our thinking in this area.

After morning tea we went on with our discovery investigations. Today we played with categorising different discoveries. I love doing this activity without giving the students the category headings. Before we started I asked them "where do you think the categories come from". Noah said "from the data" - great, now we're talking about inductive reasoning. "Anywhere else?" I asked. "Nope" - they all pretty much agreed with Noah. Ok, I thought, let them go and I'll ask the same question when we're done. Off they went busy assigning categories and placing different discovery ideas into them. We meet again and shared our efforts. We found we had many different ways of categorising and many different category headings but that they all made sense. "Ok - what's going on now - we have the same data but different results? Where, apart from the data, do the categories come from? I think it was Nicholas W who had the realisation moment first that we need our own thinking, that we kind of create the categories- awesome now we are talking about deductive reasoning. A great start to thinking about the way we abstract and generalise our world. There will be more on that all throughout the year and along the way we will figure out a lot about a variety of discoveries. We began to evaluate the benefit or harm of these discoveries but phew that's another major thinking topic and I reckon working on abstract categories was enough on this for today. Anyway, John arrived and it was time for chess (see Marshall's blog below for a recap of the chess highlights today :)

After lunch I had dedicated the whole time to talent. I am hoping to be able to do it like this regularly so the kids have plenty of time on projects they are keen on. This year we are starting with 3 groups - Scratch animators/gamemakers ( Marshall, Paolo, Tigue, Tane, Beau, Samuel); picture book authors and illustrators. The latter group will work together to research and construct a picture book that presents a scientific idea. We can test these books on younger siblings or students from the junior classes at the school. Today each group had a diagnostic task so I can make adjustments to the talent plans for individuals. The scratch team were awesome helping each other, persisting and striving for accuracy in trying to make a sprite draw certain set shapes. The authors and researchers were a little shell shocked that there first task included showing basic research skills. It is an often overlooked fact in school narrative construction that most authors and illustrators resarch their subject before they start. Today's research was on artificial intelligence. Eventually, with my help, they were away. They figured out the basic idea of artificial intelligence and began brainstorming plot problems and character development for a story about A.I, either from a human or machine's perspective. By the end of the session they had a bunch of great ideas and seemed really excited. Not sure how they'll go when I remind them this part was just for me to see where they were at with this approach to creating a story and next week they can choose their own science topic to research :) Maybe we'll just run with the AI robots to start with.

All in all a fun day with plenty of abstract thinking, some excellent productivity and creating and a bunch of laughs.

Cheers Thursday,
Scott and Tor.
27.2.14

Student Blog
Today we used a new chess board with John. This chess board is like a big scroll which hangs up vertically on the board. It has slots for the pieces which are large and easy to see and find. My group were versing him and we won. I found this fun because we learned a lot and we won. Today I did scratch, which is an animating program. I was annoyed at first at how I couldn't get it how I wanted it. I found it a challenge to get it perfect because I kept failing my shapes but I got there in the end. I didn't find it hard to get everything going though, this made me feel less annoyed. I did a mind collage and plan where we had to write down things that answered the questions on the sheet about my learning and things I enjoy, then I had to find pictures of the things I wrote and stick them on a pages document along with a picture of me, then I had to collage it together. Next week I am looking forward to doing more chess and more scratch.
Marshall 27.2.14








Kia ora ano,
whew hot day - easily the best of the summer (not overly hard this year :). We started our day with a chat. I asked the students what was the highlight of their week so far. They couldn't think of one. It often amazes me how kids (and adults) get into the monotony of school et cetera and cannot see the trees for the forest - their days activities are a bland collection of "stuff". I urged some particulars out of them and Meaghan shared being led around an obstacle course, blindfolded, having to trust the instructions of others. A few had experienced this activity before. It proved a great segue into habits of minds learning which I am pushing this term. I laid out the habits of mind posters and kids spotted one they believed was important to doing the blind obstacle activity. They unpacked the link they had made to the necessary habit and the activity. It was impressive to see how much even brand new students could connect the habits and make important links between the habits. We created a human web intended to show this linkage by having kids stand on the posters (they're large and laminated). It would have worked better with string but as an impromptu 15 minutes thinking it worked well enough. The planned lesson had the students print their habit of mind photo from the previous week and reflect on what it means, in their words; when they have used it in the past and how they might imagine using it in their own futures. This last part proved trickier for many than I had thought. I reminded them the future is always not far away and that they didn't have to think too far ahead :) The final task was to create a logo for their habit of mind. I am looking forward to going through these tonight to see if we have some potential replacements for the stock logos de Costa provides.

When we'd all played around with our designs for a while I called us together again. I had found a great image of a child's art online that was a collage framed around a photo of themselves. It had given me an idea for an activity that would at once get the students to reflect on themselves - their learning aspirations and support - and at the same time give me some information about the kinds of learning they are interested in. This profiling helps us put together talent projects which the students will start in the near future. I had called this activity Mind Collages. The students were remarkably into it! They first completed a planning sheet which outlined the key ideas they wanted to represent. Once this was checked and elaborated on (where necessary) they used the internet to search and collate their ideas as images - this sometimes required actual photos of the person, place, study and sometimes required symbolic representations. We continued this for an hour after play (by this stage I was realising this was a slightly bigger project then I had anticipated) until John arrived for chess.

At chess the students started by self-assessing their own chess ability in a line-up. I divided the class along the line into 3 groups. This approach allows John to teach tutorial size instead of whole class groups, and makes it easier to tailor the lesson for each group. It also means I can work with the others in smaller groups. We have started a spreadsheet to record what each group learnt the previous week. I think it was reasonable successful today. One group was taught a rook game, another worked on tactics and strategies. The third group will have the first lesson next week - they worked with me helping them improve their game, as best I could.

After lunch I had planned for us to investigate the discovery concept again - to start thinking about the categories that we might divide discovery into and debate the grey areas between these and what actually counts as a discovery. However, almost every individual came up to me as they returned from lunch and asked if they could complete their mind collage. If they have the stamina why refuse, I thought. We will gain extra time for discovery talk next week by not needing to invest much more time, if any, in the collage's. And stamina they showed - everyone worked well on their collage until I made them stop at 2:35. Several students finished and those that haven't are only a short session away. Many of the students demonstrated creativity and imagination in the way they portrayed their final product. To conclude the day we shared the finished products and tried to unpack what kind of learner the images represented and what kind of discipline they might be inspired by. By the time we were reviewing the last collages students were well onto the thinking processes needed. They were suggesting learning areas, learning programmes, disciplines and professions they thought matched the ideas on the collage. We'll have them designing their own curriculum soon! Awesome.

Great day team - fantastic thinking and excellent attitude. Looking forward to catching up with you all again next week.
Mr. K





Kia ora koutou and welcome to Thursdays for 2014,

What a great first day - I was so impressed by the level of thinking happening on day one! We started our day with a quick name game for introductions and settling nerves. This was followed by the world's fastest marae protocol lesson before heading to a mihi whakatau where the new students were welcomed to North East Vally Normal School. Already we were into thinking mode unpacking tapu and noa and considering the hows and whys of ritual encounters. We scampered back from the welcome (in the rain) and moved straight into a technology challenge. This is a great way for kids to work together and get to know each other as well as allow the teacher to have a look at some class dynamics and thinking skills. Today's challenge involved making an attention grabbing device. The planning was excellent - universally the groups were able to listen to each member's group and find a way to "compromise" as Nicholas M had sagely suggested. It was encouraging to see students listening and finding ways beyond voting to settle on a group idea. By far the preferred method was to adapt ideas so that there was something of each person's in the final product. Aside from the great cooperative skills this shows it also demonstrated critical and creative thinking as they judged what was most important (in light of the set criteria) and adapted their ideas to accommodate each other. Fantastic! This took us through till morning tea.

In the middle session we explored habits of mind. These were developed by an educationalist, de Costa (his first name escapes me - maybe Art?), and are a central part of the Pakiki encouragement to think creatively, critically and to engage with the world and those around it. I find them a useful language to help children develop their thinking practices. Today the experienced students spent a few minutes independently listing as many habits of mind as they could remember while myself and the "newbies" unpacked what a habit was, what a mind was (sadly there wasn't the time for the richness this discussion deserved but we made a start) and what it meant to combine the two together. The experienced students then brought their lists back to us - thanks to Marshall and Tobias for ensuring we had a comprehensive list - Tobias chopped them up and used their efforts as a class resource, drawing a habit each out of a hat. Pairs worked together to define their habit and then to photograph each other in a pose that they think enacted it. These photos will help form a Habits of Mind wall display over the next few weeks.

At midday we were introduced and reacquainted with our chess tutor John. We invested some time in developing Pakiki strategies for chess success. These included the kind of thinking and behaviours that chess needs during the 40 min lessons John facilitates each day at Pakiki. The students then played chess and the beginners worked with John. The kids played chess into their lunchtime and many enjoyed more than one game - a great start to chess protocols - well done.

In the afternoon we settled with a short fantasy story - "Who Goes Down This Dark Road". What a great 8 page tale with rich language to explore as we went, ideas we could jump off of creatively, and a twist no-one saw coming (well, maybe Paolo had a hunch :) We completed our day with an introductory dabble into our concept topic "discovery". Today we used visuwords.com to explore meanings and synonyms. We came across some ideas and links that expanded our thinking of the term, each created a screenshot of our "discoveries" for our records, and briefly tried to summarise what we thought was important in the meaning of the word. Well done to everyone for coming up with unusual ways to think about it - Nicholas W and Tigue added to my vocab with a "blackwash". Tigue also demonstrated superb persistence overcoming what seemed to be a computer conspiracy working against him (each computer he tried failed :) to finish his task before the end of the day. We will use today's explorations as a launching pad for a more in-depth community of inquiry, on "discovery", next week. Hopefully this will provide us with our own preliminary definition to refer to, revise etc. as the year's conceptual learning evolves.

New students - I hope you enjoyed your introduction to Pakiki; returnees - great to see you all again. I was impressed by the ideas flowing today and I look forward to a great year's thinking with you all.

Catch you next week,
Scott/Mr. K.