November 3rd

Thursday 3rd November
280 minutes
Morning = 115 min
Mental Edge: (45 Mins)
Caring Thinking - Values - Pakiki Election (i) join your ‘values’ party (assigned by me : ) “honesty”; “fairness”; “caring”; “respect” (ii) practice Y- chart together on “bravery”. Now, in your groups, brainstorm what your value looks and sounds like and why it is important.
Passion Projects: (70 mins)
Reflect, Aim, Fire! or....if you are waiting for computer choose these (a) Starting on your election campaign (b) Chess (c) collecting term 2 Learning journals
Middle = 90 minutes
Sharing Night Planning (30 min)
- WHAT are we are doing?

Change/Affective Domain: (45 mins)
Hero study - Te Whiti: practising research skills - skim reading for notes; Choose a Hero - start searching for values : )
Chess (15 minutes)
Afternoon = 75 minutes
Learning Journal Checklists. Term 2/3
P4C Aristotle (35 mins)
Being a human and having good habits:
Clean Up (10 mins)
Reflection (10 mins)
Game (5 mins)

Here is the days mission. We started our election campaign based on values that link to our caring thinking theme this term. The students got right into this and were busy making brochures, posters, slogans and so on every chance they could get. Today the main aim was for them to unpack their particular values. THis should be a hotly contested Thursday election, come the last day of term. We also began planning our sharing night, played chess, discussed Aristotle's view of what it is to be human, practiced our note-taking and skim reading skills on Te Whiti, chose the heroes we want to study and started reading and taking notes on them. Samara managed to finish her poster already - she always seems to be a day ahead. All throughout the day we plugged away at our passion projects with some excellent progress. Jeannie won the independence award for complete focus on her project today. Owain made great strides on his disease presentation and is now ready to dig a little deeper to finish it off. Sophie's art is stunning, Xanthe edited her play, Jack made cards and tokens for his fantasy board game and Liam and Tim both finished more of their comics and animation respectively. Anna has a plan to put the icing on the cake of her architecture study and Samara wrote another poem or two on her school theme. Jaiden has to compare Greek religion with some other to add some depth to his Greek mythology, Daniel has finished his marble board and began testing Newton's laws of physics. Olivia O finished her song (hurray) and Olivia S has another few pages of writing for me to edit tonight : ) We are in the exciting bit of her story now, as it draws to a climax.

A fun day, cheers team, see you next week Scott.

October 27th

Welcome back for term 4. Here is our diary for today:

Thursday 27th October
280 minutes

Morning = 115 min
Mental Edge: (30 Mins)
Caring Thinking - Empathy: ‘What is the hippo thinking?” “What is going through the leopard’s mind?”

Passion Projects: (70 mins)
Reflect, Aim, Fire!

Learning Journals (15 mins)
Learning Journal Checklists.
Middle = 90 minutes
Change/Affective Domain: (60 mins)
What is a hero?
Design your hero

Chess (30 Mins)
strategy - what does the opponents move mean for you?
Afternoon = 75 minutes
Sharing Night Planning (20 min)
- what we are doing
- getting into groups

P4C (35 mins)
Happiness and Virtue: Introducing Aristotle
Reflection (10 mins)

We did a grand job of getting through most of this today, spreading passion projects out across the day so children could share the resources easily. The day started with a discussion of empathy. This is part of the wider term focus which is 'caring thinking'. We watched some animals acting surprisingly altruistically toward animals from another species. We then created a piece of writing (using a genre of our own choice) that considered what had motivated the 'empathetic' animal. We had a range of responses and most students provided a mixture of empathetic and selfish answers (e.g. regarding a leopard that was nurturing an orphaned baboon baby - "the baby baboon looked so helpless that I couldn't leave it"; to "I was just playing with my food").

We followed this up with a mixture of passion projects and chess. Then we focussed on heroes and the values they have. This is part of an integrated unit on change and values looking at real heroes who acted altruistically. Today we introduced the idea of values and beliefs and thought about the kind of values that motivate heroic figures. The students then got to create a hero of their own, highlight the values that motivated him/her and the actions that they engaged in as a result of their value systems. Again, at this time we had a mixture of things happening. Some children created their heroes then played chess, others who had played chess in the morning, did their passion projects then created heroes. Just before lunch we began collecting more of our work for learning journals which are due at the end of this term.

In the afternoon we focussed on Aristotle and his ideas about acting virtuouslly. We looked at a quick bio of Aristotle and then unpacked the meaning of virtue, discussed his notion of eudaemonia ('flourishing') and argued about whether we thought this was the proper aim of being a human, as Aristotle himself thought.

Cheers team, was great to see you all back.

See you all next week, Scott.
6 October
Today was a very busy final day of term for the students, collecting and reflecting on the 3 pieces of work from this term that they have chosen to put in their end of year learning journals. In and around them we managed to play chess; warm our brains up with creating sentences with originality and fluency from the acronym SCAMS; discuss the state of being calm and how each of us achieves it, listen to some Tibetian meditation music to get calm and then produce a product that reflected on being clam; do some philosophy on happiness (we responded to the statement "you can't be happy all the time"); and worked on our passion projects. Superb effort team. Here is a photo of some records from the philosophy discussion we had.

Have a great break all.
I'll see you next term,

29th September
Buddy day today : ) A day of meeting new people, strengthening connections between Pakiki and home school, and Pakiki students practising teaching skills and reinforcing learning they had done throughout the year. We were a cosy group of 32 in our Pakiki class and managed fine.

The day started with a change activity that also covered creative thinking. Earlier in the year we had look at adaptation as a kind of change. Liam and Mitchell had devised a lesson where the students had to adapt an animal to a particular environment. Whales had come on land; pumas were in the ocean, gorillas in grasslands, and so on. Whatever changes one made had to make sense and be rationalised. Lots of fun and thoughtful ideas. Jeannie and Xanthe had the house shaking with a drama warmup then used our inventions topic to construct a freeze frame drama lesson. I think the picture frame team (won. They did have a simple but effective presentation; Mitchell and his buddy, Ryan, and Liam's toilet was a more complicated contraption. Jack and Daniel guided a chess lesson that ended with a quick chess quiz, which almost everyone seemed to do well in. Hopefully, they have helped some more students get interested in chess. The two Olivias did a good job of setting up in their lunchtime so they could deliver an affective domain art lesson looking at the state of being confused. The students responded with paint. George and TIm delivered a scamper art lesson. I love the name creations that bring meaning to an abstract piece of art that often comes out of this lesson. I also liked Owain's puppet - bird, very creative. We had a technology lesson in the morning with Jaiden and Owain that sort to make some kind of catapult device with rubber bands providing the energy. The aim was to keep a tennis ball in the air for as long as possible. There wasn't a lot of success sadly, but George and his team created a winning design that did get airborne and looked to have potential for refining further. Jazmin and Jeannie did a contour drawing lesson that was a lot of fun. It culminated with an attempt to draw a large cheese piece as a still life. There were a high proportion of very good results - plenty of artists in the Thursday class : ) Shading and depth would have been a good follow up lesson. Anna and Samara delivered a lesson on persuasive language. The students randomly selected a shindoku (the art of useless invention) and then had to find a persuasive way to advertise it. There were some catchy jingles, excellent infomercial accents and cunning ways to accentuate the positive.

Well done the Pakiki crew for a great day of teaching and hosting your friends and thanks buddies for a fun Pakiki day - hope we see you all again!
Noho ra.

8 September

We started the day with a brain warm up - find seven unusual, but sensible things to do with a broken t.v. The winning entry was Anna and Sophie with a painted chess board on the back of a flat screen t.v. We followed this up with a good hour and a bit on our passion projects. This was a busy time with sixteen projects on the go at once. Owain finished his disease timeline and is began a focus on the bubonic plague, George started his design of the next world famous tourist sculpture (he has previously investigated several existing famous structures), Sophie is working on the first painting of Cappuccino the rabbit, Samara finished collecting information on the poetry forms she is interested in and began writing, Jeannie wrote tirelessly and completed the first chapter of her short story, Jazmin completed the plot outline for her picture book including some revisions, Xanthe wrote and typed up the first part of her play about bullying ( a star effort today!), Anna tried to find out if the mathematical 'golden ration' was at use in ancient Greek architecture, Daniel found a great experiment with marbles to test Newtons three laws of physics, Liam and Tim worked on a stop-animation program and tested and evaluated it for us, Jack took notes on early versions of fantasy writing such as The Odyssey, Jaiden worked on heroes in Greek mythology, Mitchell created the first peiece of origami he wants to include in his instruction video, Olivia O. wrote four lines of lyric for her song and practiced improvising and Olivia .S. wrote more of her Dragon's tale and started creating some illustrations for it. Good effort team.

After play we explored the emotion 'frustration'. We brainstormed our ideas about, practised looking frustrated, enacted a group mime depicting scenes that create frustration in us, and then wrote poetry on the topic. THe poems were great - thanks team for engaging wholeheartedly in this as a whole unit! As people finished and had their work revised and published they continued independently with chess, inventors ideas and passion projects. In the afternoon we went full throttle on our invention matrix with a number of awesome bubble wrap inventions being created. We had a bubble wrap boat (prtottype number 1) from Tim with the bubble wrap being used as a flotation device, bubble wrap sundresses and hoodies (Samara, Sophie and Jeannie), bubble wrap knuckle bones from Liam ( I'm sure these ones are marketable) made out of old bits of electronics wrapped in bubble wrap with crazy faces, a bubble wrap comfort beer (POPpa bear), a bubble wrap sleeping bag (Olivias). . Anna focussed on devising a criteria around the idea that bubble wrap inventions need to be eco-friendly. Next week, when the inventions are finished and advertisements are created, Anna will judge them based on her criteria.

A great day team, I had a blast.

See you all next week - and for those coming, don't forget the recital on Tuesday!
Ciao, Scott.

1st September

Today started with a maths warm up with a challenge to achieve fluency and accuracy, and to see if you could come up with an equation I couldn't solve (that's not THAT big a challenge : ) I'm glad to say, though I needed a calculator for one part, I survived todays challenge. We also got into our passion projects in earnest. The children set a target for the day then got into their work. It is a challenge to have 16 students doing 16 different things in the class but it is very rewarding to see the motivation that comes from students being able to do something that they are passionate about.

Passion projects were followed by a writing exercise that asked the students to reflect on aspects of their lives. We first read a piece, described what we liked about it and what we thought needed improvement, then set about writing our own. Self-reflection can be tricky and it proved that way for a few of us but everyone completed something. Once we publish I will load some of them onto our wiki for you all to read.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Justin, an electrical technician from the University of Otago. He was helping us safely dismantle the electronics that had been kindly donated. He also buzzed around the dismantling groups and answered questions about what different components were named and what role they served in the overall design. It was fantastic to have someone of his skill and knoweldge on board and he has a great approach with the kids, so a big thanks to Justin!

Just to remind you that the New Zealand symphony quartet are visiting us Tuesday week and there are still some spaces available if non Tuesday Pakiki want to join. Please email me if you are interested.

Ka kite!

25 August

Sorry about the break - I seem to have had a run of busy Thursday afternoons and consequently missed a few blogs! We started Thursday with a what if ...there was no moon. The aim of these is fluency and elaboration - lots of ideas and building on the ideas you have got. The students noticed potential changes in astronomy, literature, geography and some other areas. After the moon thinking we introduced the passion plans which the students had taken home the week before. Across the day I conferenced each child individually about their project. Each project was fine-tuned as best as it could be into a manageable project with a clear product. Ultimately, each student will have to be able to construct a small teaching activity, based on their project and a thinking tool we have used this year, and teach this to those who come to our sharing night in term four.

The students were also given an inventions/inventors matrix. This provides a number of choices of product and investigations for the children to engage with. The class and I negotiated that they would aim to have completed five by the end of the term. The students made a start on these designing inventions, creating plays about inventors, comparing inventions and studying inventors.

In the afternoon we focussed on creative thinking. The students were given a blank piece of coloured paper and told to close their eyes. They were then instructed to rip the piece of paper in an interesting way. When they reopened their eyes they were challenged to create a piece of 3-D artwork out of the paper they had torn. It was awesome to see some of the creative ideas people came up with!


A big welcome back to the Thursday team. Today we had a bit of a messy start to the day. Five of the students were away the last day of last term, so they had a couple of things they needed to complete, so, after a quick overview of what the term has in store we started the day with chess to give the others time to get on with their left-over work (mostly self-reviews). This wasn’t the ideal start to the day but once we got back together we quickly got back into the groove and our brains into overdrive learning and practising some thinking tools.

We started with a PMI activity (plus, minus, interesting) on the statement “It should be compulsory for all people to carry a cell phone at all times.” The students were thoughtful and fun in their responses, wondering e.g. what happened when you went swimming or if babies had to have phones. We then invested 5-10 minutes critiquing this thinking tool - we unpacked how it related to other tools we had used and noticed that Kaplan’s multiple perspectives made what counted as a plus or minus dependent on who was doing the thinking. We also considered whether setting a criteria for judgment would lessen the pluses and minuses simply being opinions.

WE followed this by thinking about what our passion projects would involve over the next two terms. The students are very keyed up about these and are encouraged to think and plan carefully, so hopefully they have some home conversations about this. Their first task, which is the first Pakiki homework ever : ), is for them to interview an adult outside the family who has a passion. The aim of this is for the students to get an insight into how passions develop and are nurtured. Today we discussed this and co-wrote some questions for them to use in their interview. They are not restricted to these but it gives them a guide to work from. Parental support would be useful for some of them who were concerned they couldn’t think of anyone. Please feel free to contact me by email (on the website) if you want to discuss this any further.

We spent the middle session doing philosophy on what civilised meant. I had wanted to do this last term but we were so busy it never happened. The students debated long and hard on this tricky word’s meaning and settled on a heavily claused definition. It is exciting as a teacher to see the thinking that goes on in the philosophy sessions, and to see some children so excited at being able to articulate their opinions and rationales. After philosophy we moved onto an affective domain topic that explored giftedness and the stereotypes that surround it. This group had a very sophisticated understanding of what a stereotype was and were well aware of how this can affect gifted children. We drew what we thought others thought a gifted person looked like. Then we collated our characteristics and unpacked where this stereotype might come from. The students were able to recall a number of cultural media (tv, movies, books etc) that contribute to the stereotypical perception. I have included these as a file below - if you find anymore please add them on as it is an interesting critical engagement with the images we are surrounded by that allows students to think through these images rather than simply soak them up unconsciously.

After lunch we read Leonardo and the Flying Boy and identified the habits of mind that Da Vinci exhibited in his work. We then chose an invention that has been around for 100 years and showed what it looked like one hundred years ago and ‘invented’ what we think it will look like 100 years from now.

Well done team, after a slow start there was some stunning thinking today.
See you all next week,

7 July

Kia ora koutou,

Today we were lucky enough to have an expert, Dr. Eric Scharpf come and visit us to give a talk about problem solving. Dr. Scharpf did an awesome job of describing how to approach problems with some memorable examples - who can forget the foolish fly who just keeps trying harder but still gets nowhere. We followed this talk up with a tech challenge - to build a catapult. The idea was the kids would put into practice the problem solving method Dr. Scharpf had taught us. We tried, but not a lot of success in our catapulting sadly : ) Never mind we - remember, do we do if at first we don't succeed?(marshmallow for successful answers).

After the tech challenge we set about making sure we had 3 published and finished products that represented our best work to hand in next week for the end of term. That pretty much took up the whole day : ) Some stars, who were ahead of the play, got onto reviewing their work. I have a few pieces of work to share and will try and grab some more to put up tomorrow. Enjoy all and take care.

Haere ra e hoa ma!

Ready...Aim...Fire! Hey Tim, is it meant to go backwards?

A happy bunch of problem solvers - thanks Eric! : )

30 June

A great working day at Pakiki today. I could barely get them to stop for lunch or morning tea - fantastic. Olivia and Samara worked through lunch creating a Pakiki News poster to present their investigative report on the decline of the American empire and what, if anything, this might mean to us in N.Z. At one point Jaiden was hiding under the table so he could keep working on his Pakikilandia while we were doing reflections : ) This is NOT your normal classroom! We also had a great discussion on what would happen if animals could talk (to us, that is - as Olivia pointed out they already talk to each other). We discussed important facets of religion and created religions for our Pakikilandia and from this devised 'laws' that guide how our civilisation runs. Tim and Sophie used their talent time to create a cover for Samara's story. Tim also worked on making his fox drawings cuter, at the request of the author. Jeannie began creating her 'how to draw like me' instruction manual and Anna finished her digital lego pathenon which we are trying to burn to disc. The amount of steps involved in creating the design was vast - well done Anna. Mitchell, who is a bit of a lego design expert, helped out with advise and some direction as well as continuing with his own instruction manual for how to work the program. Jaiden and George have basically finished their ancient wonders imovie and were putting finishing touches on the soundtrack. Daniel and Jack filmed 'strong opening moves and how to finish off a game' for their chess tutorial. Speaking of chess, we had another round of the suicide chess league. Jack has managed again to keep hold of his strangle hold at the top of the ladder. Owain and the other Romans made a swathe of puppets for their puppet show about empire decline and Jazmin and Sophie worked tirelessly trying to finish their "Mongopoly" (Mongolian monopoly) and Xanthe, George, TIm and Anna have made excellent progress on their Cortes takes over the Aztecs board game.

Cheers for a fun learning day team - see you all next week, Scott.

23 June

We welcomed back George today after a long and splendid sounding world holiday. George had kept a diary for much of his travels and shared with us some of his highlights. It was great that at the same time as we were studying ancient civilisations George was actually seeing the remains of some of them. We droodled again, at the start of the day, creating many of our own. After droodles the students were given the option of one of three activities - their change products, talent time, or Pakikilandia. Over the course of the day all three activities needed to be attended to, but the students cold decide for themselves when they did what. Planet Jazz and the BIG O worked really well together on the keyboard arranging notes and they ended up finishing their song. Jack and Daniel videoed their educational chess tutorials including about the pin move, the skewer move, the fork move, Castling, and on passant. Liam came up with the stunning idea of doing a food web that no-one else thought of at Pakiki , and now Mr K will make all of us do it. Tim drew stunningly detailed pictures of wolves and foxes for Samara's story. Mitchell started planning his game 'Mongopoly' based on Mongolia. Mr Klenner slaved tirelessly for your children [he told me to write this]. Many of us progressed up the Chess ladder winning games, but some people lost and snaked down.

Have a relaxing weekend and I'll see you all next week. Written by Olivia O'Neill

16 June

Today we were introduced to the world of droodles. Droodles are a cross between a doodle and a riddle and have been around since at least the 16th century. They are a lot of fun and a great brain warm-up. Today we took a look at some classic droodles, created some of our own and briefly discussed pareidolia, which is the psychology behind droodles. After our droodling we had a quick-fire Kaplan's quiz (I was impressed with how much many remembered) and went over the criteria for our Pakikilandias. Some of the students then went on with that, while others went into talent time. I checked on Olivia S, Mitchell and Owain and made sure they were up to speed with their talent projects. Olivia's logic puzzle book is coming along well, despite losing her original draft! Owain was prepared to work with me through interval to make sure he continued to meet the timeline he had set himself in his industrial revolution study and Mitchell has begun typing up his instruction manual for lego digital designer.

After play we shifted tack by discussing and collating the reasons behind the change and decline of our empires. We broke the reasons down into four themes - invasion, resources, leadership and greed. We then went into our groups, drew one of the four themes out of the hat, and decided on a method of representing our theme. The Egyptians decided on a dramatic representation of greed. Their first effort, while dramatically entertaining, was a little light on the link between greed and decline. To their credit they worked through lunchtime and came up with an improved version which we videoed while it was performed to the class. Another two groups are creating board games - Mongolpoly (the Mongolians, of course) and Cortes' Invasion (the Aztecs). The Roman group is creating a script they hope to turn into a puppet show. What they have written so far is a nice balance of humour and historical accuracy.

After this we engaged in the first day of our Suicide Chess league. Players challenge one another to try and reach the top of the table.

After lunch those who had already done talent time moved onto Pakikilandia, and vice versa. The pictures Sophie and Tim are creating for Samara's story (the first draft of which was finished today!) are coming along very nicely. We have a sparrow, a wolf, an owl in woollens and a fox on the way. Olivia and Jazmin's song is being well constructed. Jazmin wrote another verse and there is only a chorus needed. Having studied the parthenon, Anna is now trying to design her own Greek temple on lego digital designer ( she will be able to benefit from Mitchells instructions if he completes them in time), Daniel and Jack have been putting together a chess tutorial video which Owain helped them complete the first draft of today ( I look forward to watching it on the weekend boys). Jeannie began writing her art technique to go with the sketching she had been doing. Jaiden is still fighting imovie to finish the project he and George started. I believe George will be back next week. It will be great for us all to hear about his travels.

Well that's about all the memory can recollect.

Cheers team, see you all next week!


9 June

Assalamu aleikum (guess which language : )

Thanks for your contributions to a fun open day on Pakiki Thursday. Well done to the Egyptians who won todays challenge in a tight race. The Romans took out the quiz and the debate but the posters and tech challenge went to the Egyptians and it was enough for them to bring it home. The Mongolians put in strong performances across the board, including a great chant challenge and ended up second equal. The Aztecs battled bravely with one less competitor and showed some excellent debating skills and teamwork. All in all it was a great day with fantastic costumes and wonderful food. Photos will be up soon (I forgot to bring the camera home sorry and photos will not upload from the school server).

Have a great weekend team - see you all next week.


p.s the word for the archaeological dig I was thinking of was midden - specifically it is a dig that shows products that tell us about day-to-day life, like the dumping of waste products!

The victorious Egyptians
"Let the games begin"

26th May

Today we started with a maths warm up - finding as many ways as possible to get to the number 23, using a minimum of 2 operations, following BEDMAS, without using the digits 2 and 3 in any of your equations. We followed this by looking some more at Kaplan's Depth and Complexity tools. We looked at a typical 9-10 year olds information poster then used Kaplan's tools to suggest ways we might extend the poster into deeper thinking. We then got on with our civilisation studies. We have a deadline to work to here and the students are, for the most part, responding well to the pressure. One student has finished her poster already, including two statements that relate to Kaplan's tools - well done Samara : ) After a hard session on this we watched a short clip from Walking with Cavemen. We then set about creating a primitive humanoid to inhabit our created worlds. Again, the focus was on adaptations - why does the creature have the features it does ? How does it interact with its wider environment? While this was going on several students continued with their talent time projects. Suicide chess completed the morning. After lunch most of us went on with talent time. A few of the things going on - Jeannie did a fine job of learning how to draw a 3d spiral (an Egyptian arm bracelet), Jazmin and Olivia are working on another songwriting project, Jack and Daniel made a movie tutorial of some tricky chess rules using Pakiki kids brand new flip video camera (thanks Susan!). Liam made a very good start to his tutorial explaining how he made his scratch video. We will test his instructions by letting someone who has no experience try and follow them and Liam can then work to fill in any instructional gaps we find.

Have a good weekend team!


19th May

Today started with a bridge technology challenge. The students worked in pairs to build a bridge that was a minimum of 25 centimeters long, spanning between two chairs, out of newspaper, string and masking tape. The bridge was not allowed to be anchored in any way. Before we started we watched a short video showing the worlds strongest paper bridge. We also looked at photos of different kinds of bridges, identified the three main types - beam, truss and suspension and we discussed the forces of tension and compression. The children constructed some fine bridges. We tested their strength with wooden blocks then picked the three strongest to have a 'bridge-off' with books as the live load the bridges had to endure. The finalists were two truss models - Samara and Xanthe's using paper to make their triangle supports, Sophie and Jazmin's utilising string; Liam and Owain's was a simple beam bridge. Whilst aesthetically the girls two bridges were definitiely superior, the simple beam bridge, which was well reinforced with masking tape, proved to be the strongest. Well done boys - and everyone. It was great to see such a successful approach to this challenge.

In the next session the children developed their Pakikilandia by focusing on a main animal. We watched a section of a video of the BBC Life documentary, focussing on the various adaptations of several animals. We built a glossary of words to do with adaptation and made sure we had a clear definition. Then the students set about creating an animal and explaining its adaptations in terms of the wider environment of their created civilisation. At the same time I was able to conference individual children about their talent projects.

We continued with our chess skills with another round of suicide chess. This continues to be well received by the children allowing a fun way to complete a short game while at the same time focussing their chess knowledge on how to spot attacks and plan a sequence of moves.

After lunch, together we read about the Mongolian empire's decline and practised discerning key information and taking short notes. Then the kids broke into their groups to try and finish the note gathering information for their respective ministerial roles. Many have now finished this - well done to you people. It is really interesting watching how some children rise to this analytical part of the day, while others find it more difficult and prefer the creative aspects. While there are no real clear cut boundaries here, it is still noticeable and intriguing from a teacher's point of view. It reminds us the importance of perseverance, and the willingnes to be open to new learning as habits of mind we all benefit from.

Well done Thursday - see you all next week,

12th May

Today we had a visitor from Wellington. Jo Bates works at the GKP unit in Petone and is my tutor teacher for the year. On Tuesday I was lucky enough to spend the day in her class grabbing ideas and talking through my role. It was a very valuable time. Today Jo came to observe me and to hang out (and help out) in the class and again we were able to have a valuable discussion after.

Today we watched some short videos on plant life cycles and pollination and then produced an in depth focus on the staple crop in our imagined civilisation. This had to include the life cycle, and the method of pollination for the plant. We continued to learn about Kaplan's Depth and Complexity thinking tool. Today we considered our civilisation study and chose a depth and complexity idea that could help guide our research. After lunch we did talent time as usual. Xanthe is making good progress with 3d drawing, and Jeannie tried a new method of sketching that includes elements of our contour drawing work. Jazmin had a keyboard and headphones all to herself to help her find a melody for her latest composition. Olivia helped her out at times too. Sophie and Tim are putting together characters for their flip book and have the card ready to start on that. Owain got some valuable help from Jo to make sure his study of the Industrial revolution answers the question he wanted to find out. Jaiden did some problem solving with imovie and Liam has basically completed his scratch animation. He will need to reflect on it in relation to his plan.

After talent time we played suicide chess. The aim of this game is to be the first to lose all your pieces. The player says 'Take Me' at the end of each move where they have successfully sent a piece to a threatened position. Some teaching points in this game are to reinforce the knowledge of how pieces move and to be able to identify when a piece is under threat. It seemed to be a hit and has the added value of allowing students to finish a game in a short space of time.

After lunch we talked together about how to be successful at note-taking. We brainstormed ideas than set about implementing them in our own note-taking for our civilisation ministerial role. We have only one more week of taking notes then we will present our findings to each other and in a way that we can share with the class and use them for our debate on open day.

That's about it from a very busy week!
Cheers, Scott

5 May

Hi all, first Thursday back for the term : ) Today we started with Kaplan's Depth and Complexity tool. This is a thinking tool to help dig below the surface of a topic. It will be our main thinking tool for the term. The children unpacked the meaning of the different stages and created artwork to use as a display to help remind us in the future. Our theme for the term is civilisations, and this morning we read Weslandia, the story of a boy who creates his own civilisation to escape the bullying and boredom of his everyday life. We unpacked the kinds of things that he developed in building his civilisation and then set about brainstorming our own. The children seemed to enjoy this creative thinking and we will continue to develop this over the term. We also spent time reflecting on our talent areas and maing sure we are aware of what our next step is and how we are going to demonstrate the things we have been practising and learning.

In the afternoon we broke into our civilisation groups, most everybody was able to get into a group they wanted. Well done to Mitchell and Anna for showing a willingness to take their second choice so that we had even groups across our civilisations. It can be hard to make this kind of decision but there are benefits to demonstrating this kind of team attitude. The students spent the rest of the afternoon researching their chosen topic. This research will go over much of the term.

It was a busy day back today and the children seemed to fit right back into the Pakiki schedule which was good to see. We hope George is having a great time in Europe (by the way George, if you are reading you are an Aztec - hope that suits!).

I have the reflections up in audio today. I have finally figured this out : )

See you next week!

Thursday 7th April


Well done to the drama crew who performed at Logan Park High School over the last couple of nights. I went down and videoed both nights and they were superb. Hopefully I can get a hold of a television for the classroom and we will watch it next week.

A busy day again at Pakiki today with some students finishing off work. Olivia S, Jack and Daniel all finished their mosaics and Olivia O spent most of the day notating her Socrates song. Next Thursday lunchtime I am hoping for fine weather so everyone can be outside and Olivia, Jazmin and whoever wants to sing with us can record both Olivia and Jazmin's songs. At the same time as all this finishing was going on the rest of us learnt about and critiqued Bloom's taxonomy. We then set about categorizing questions according to Bloom's different kinds of thinking. The Wednesday class had made a resource of various 'Bloom's questions' which is displayed along the ceiling centre beam, and we categorized these questions. We have worked on our questioning skills all term so it will be interesting to see how much depth in questioning we can achieve next term when we begin our civilizations projects.

Following this mental edge activity we worked on SCAMPER as part of our change theme. This required taking an everyday item and Substituting, Combining, Adapting, Modifying, Putting to another use, Eliminating and Reversing it so as it enhances and changes the item. The students love the creativity that goes on in this task. We had giant food makers, a telescope that destroys doom-bringing meteors, cars that cook as well as run on biofuel, robot rubbish bins, mirrors that allow close-ups and shots from the back, multi-purpose hairbrushes, super sofas, beds and playstation entertainment areas, an automatic dog feeder, a mobile cooking facility, an information gathering device, super kitchen utensils, robo-toasters and hologram books. The task requires a draft design, a paragraph of explanation and a finished copy that draws on the accuracy required in technical drawing activities. It is fantastic to see the commitment that is put into such a creative task.

After play we sat down to take stock of our talent groups. I had planning books for each student so that they could consider where they had got to thus far and devise a careful plan for the six weeks left in this task. This requires clear goals and monitoring of the progress toward achieving these. Part of the programme includes the encouragement of autonomous learners and a willingness and ability to revisit and revise plans is an important part of this. Once the students had carefully thought through and recorded their plans, and shown them to me, they went on with the step they were up to. This took us through to lunchtime.

After lunch we philosophized about change via examining the counterpositions to the generalisations we had looked at the previous week. There was some exciting discussion here with Olivia S, Jeannie, Liam, Jaiden, Mitchell and many others making interesting and thoughtful contributions to some quite deep ideas about whether we can truly know cause and effect, whether things actually change or not, whether we can influence change or not. This is some of my favourite moments of teaching in this class - not that I have to do much actual 'teaching' more just leading what is always an intriguing discussion. It is awesome to hear how sharp and attentive these students' minds are to this kind of critical and creative thinking.

After philosophy we went back to SCAMPER (it was all I could do to keep most of them away from it from when we had stopped earlier) which took us to the end of the day and our reflection time. After reflections many of them went back to their projects while they waited for parents. This is NOT a mainstream classroom - hurray!

Cheers team, see you all next week for our last of the term - and once again well done drama crew - tu meke!

Thursday 31 March,

Kia ora all.

We had a very creative morning today. The students, who have been working on Socratic questioning over the last few weeks were challenged to find a creative way to represent a Socratic question of their choice, that would be hung from the ceiling. Their ideas were fantastic. Owain chose a money symbol to represent the who does this benefit question; Samara, Sophie, Jeannie, and Anna created a tree of knowledge with different branches and leaves representing a different question each. Jaiden made a cell phone, Jack made a gavel to ask “would this stand up in court?” Daniel is creating a brain to represent “what does this mean?” and Olivia S created some spring cards for her question, which will attach to the ceiling and face down to the floor (very clever). Olivia O wrote a cool song - she constructed the melody and chords on the piano, and herself, Jazmin, and I wrote the lyrics. Jazmin also created a Socratic mobile. Liam made a plane with Socrates as the insignia and the questions on the underside of the wing. Xanthe has two people arguing for the question “who could solve this dispute?” and George made a set of scales for his question about balance. Mitchell made a caricature of Socrates with a lightning bolt and Tim painted a large eyeball to ask “could this be looked at a different way?” It was a fun and creative morning and the products displayed in the classroom will benefit all the Pakiki classes. Well done team.

After morning tea we broke into options of talent groups, completing mosaics, studying chess and finishing perfect day products. I taught Sophie and Jeannie about castling, reinforced Anna’s knowledge about castling and en passant, played Xanthe at chess encouraging her to always ask herself why? whenever she makes a move, and whenever her opponent moves, and helped Liam occasionally when he struck a problem he was trying to solve with this scratch programming. It is a testimony to the class how they are willing to work independently only calling on me occasionally to help them with problem solving or to check over their work. Samara created a protagonist for her story, George and Jaiden tried to find out how to grab a small youtube video to complement their imovie project, Jack studied chess puzzles from the 5001 chess puzzle book, Olivia O and Jazmin arranged their song, Olivia S worked on another difficult logic puzzle, TIm worked on chess strategy, Mitchell added to his lego design. Daniel finished his mosaic and Owain played Daniel at chess and found out the answer to one of his research questions about the British navy in the early 18th century.

After lunch we had a long drama session with the Logan Park crew. We were split into two groups- those who were taking part in the drama production being held at Logan Park next week, and those who weren’t able to. The first group worked with James on their script for next week, and the second group worked on a robots vs people script and played the drama game ‘bang’. We finished the day thinking about generalisations connected to the concept of change and trying to find examples to match these. Next week we will undertake the harder task of trying to find counterexamples to undermine these generalisations.

Cheers all, see you next week! Good luck to the drama crew tomorrow and next week. I’ll come and check you out one of the evenings : ) Enjoy!!!!!

Thursday 24th March

We started our day with an egg challenge - the children had 20 minutes to create an egg carrier out of 2 paper clips, 10 straws, and 30 cm. of tape. When the 20 minutes were up each team had to transport their egg 20 metres without moving their feet. We timed to see who could get the fastest. Daniel and TIm won the challenge with a time of 29 odd seconds. 2nd were Sophie and Samara with 33 sec. Well done to all. At the end of the challenge the students had to reflect on the habits of mind they had used and give examples. They had to assess themselves on their teamwork and on their results.

Following our tech challenge we spent some time looking at leadership. The students brainstormed leaders they knew, then we unpacked the styles of leadership these leaders displayed and the different ways they gained leadership. Next the students stood in a circle in 3 seperate groups. A folded card was put in the middle of the circle. No instructions were given. The card read "you are the leader for this activity...." so whoever took the initiative and picked the card up automatically gained leadership. It was most intriguing watching this play out and listening to the leaders go about their business. Liam, Olivia O'Neill and Jaiden picked up the cards. The leaders instructions were to organise their team to create a drama sculpture and give it a name. They then displayed their sculpture to the class and others tried to guess. The sculptures were very well named and interesting to the eye.

We settled down to revising our Socratic questioning after that. We listened to an African folktale about a king of gods, a baby competition and a monkey. The children had to write 3 Socratic questions. Many of the kids asked exactly the probing kind of questions Socrates would have hoped for, boring in on assumptions being made, and demanding clarification on certain points. We later brainstormed creative ways to display our Socratic questions for future reference. Olivia Sule came up with the idea of putting them on the ceiling. I like that, so when you look up as you wonder about something there will be ideas to help you ask questions.

After play we entered into talent groups. It was all go! The artists searched for works of art they admired and sketched a part of it. Then they critiqued their sketches thinking about line, shape and position - fantastic work Jeannie, Xanthe and Sophie. Tim was busy finishing his mosaic (well starting and almost finishing). It is a very creative piece with an interesting use of line and space. Well done. Owain critiqued a short history about Blackbeard the pirate and wrote further research questions that probed deeper into the historical period. Excellent - he then used the ipads as an internet resource to try and find out "why were the British navy in the seas around the U.S at that time?" It is great seeing primary school children beginning to direct their own research. Liam analysed some scratch videos others had made and used these to help fine tune his own plan and success criteria. He also read through some important langauge connected with animation and finished the second background for his own Scratch animation project. George and Jaiden are continuing collecting information about ancient architecture and have a challenging question to look at for next week trying to explore what influenced the different cultures to come up with such different designs? Olivia S worked exceedingly hard, and kept meticulous records of her logic puzzle. It was a real brain breaker but she finished it working into her lunchtime to do so! That kind of determination will take one far, so well done Olivia. Jazmin, Olivia O'N, and sometime myself continued to arrange and learn Jazmin's composition. It can now be played right through. It was fantastic to see the two of them working together, encouraging each other, and to hear other students humming some of the tune while they were working. Mitchell was working on small details, designing a truck on Lego Designer, and Samara analysed a chapter of a novel she had read and constructed her first piece of literary argument, linking an opening part of a chapter (an epigraph) to the main theme in the rest of the chapter. Daniel used this time to almost finish his mosaic and work on his chess skills with Jack.

Chess has become a preoccupation for both of these students and it is hard to argue against it given how many skills chess nurtures. One of the parents was asking me about the value of chess. Instinctively I felt it must have similar kind of rewards that learning languages and music have - rewards that go beyond the subject itself and improve other facets of learning. When I had the class to myself I did some googling and found a large number of studies that backed up my instinct. For anyone interested here is one site that has an overview Studies talk about improvement in IQ, memory, organisation, spatial and numerical abilities, maths and science testing, analysing and reasoning, problem solving, reading, imagination and the list goes on. One four study that involved 100,000 teachers concluded that chess can "accelerate the increase of IQ in elementary age children of both sexes at all socio-economic levels". Another study demonstrated that a class that played chess for a year had increases in reading levels above the control class despite the control class having an additional reading lesson each day. So... get playing kids, chess is valuable! Well done to Daniel and Jack for tapping into such a valuable learning tool!

After lunch we had drama with Logan Park. The weather was so kind that we went outside for some drama activities. THe children have been invited to participate in a production at Logan Park (there are forms in their bags if you haven't seen them yet). Of course, this is not compulsory but is an excellent opportunity for our students to be a part of a larger production. We have many talented drama students in our group. After drama we reflected and played categories to finish.

Well done Pakiki kids. You make a teacher's day!

Thursday 17th March
Yambo! (can you find which language this greeting is?)

Welcome today to Mitchell our newest Pakiki kid. Hope you had a great day - you sure seemed to lock straight in as one of our classmates. Today's Pakiki kids had a fine go at their mosaics this morning. These 'portraits' are a way for the students to show the different sides of themselves, including things they enjoy doing, thinking about or have strengths at. There were some very creative approaches. Sophie had herself in jail, Mitchell made a sphinx type creation, Jeannie was a disguised chupachup burglar, Xanthe filled her head with ideas, Olivia recreated her face with a multitude of expressions. I felt all of the creations were an excellent expression of the student's personality, and each had an originality about them which is what we were aiming for. Well done. You can see the finished efforts on the red wall on the way up the stairs or on the wall above the classroom computers.

While the kids made mosaics I called the talent groups over one by one and got them geared up for the mid morning session. The talent groups were well focused today. Artists practised sketching skills then wandered through the virtual museums on the google art project. The design team went about their respective tasks - Samara read through language to unpack fictional writing and set about analysing a science fiction short story. She did a fine job and learnt some new vocab along the way - don't forget the 'protagonist!' : ) . The other designers planned (Liam, Mitchell, George and Jaiden) for their respective projects, and Jazmin, Owain and Jack uncovered some tricky jargon that will help them with their work. The logic team, now including the maths loving Daniel, set about solving some seriously tricky puzzles. Olivia managed to find out how the criminal escaped and Olivia persevered at a tricky Einsteinian like puzzle worse than Einstein's own one (but which Olivia did what??!!)

Before our talent groups we took some time out to do something a little less energetic and read Plato. The students took turns reading the debate between Thrasymachus and Socrates, that takes place early in the famous text The Republic, about whether right is whatever is in the interests of the stronger or not. We were looking at this to sharpen our questioning skills by interrogating the probing kind of questioning approach Socrates takes. We ended up not only unpacking his questioning technique but unravelling the argument as well. Several of the children seemed to enjoy this discussion even though most of us found it hard going there was some good focus. Eventually I could sense brains were overheating so we stopped : )

After lunch our drama team came from Logan Park with their teacher Denise Walsh. They explored movement and expression as clowns, fleas and flea trainers, and tightrope waljers. It was great to see Jack tear himself away from a serious day of chess study to get involved. We finished the day learning how to notate chess moves and trying our hand at a harder chess test. The chess whizzes who already knew how to notate jumped online to work on some chess puzzles I had bookmarked for them.

Well done team, catch you all next week!


Thursday 10th March
Guten tag!

Sorry about the late blog this week folks. Thursday after school was all too rushed with preparing for the open night and Friday was a busy day with a workshop in the morning and the teachers and principals attending professional development in the afternoon. It was great to see so many parents on Thursday night and to get to meet so many of the students mainstream classroom teachers on the Friday.

On Thursday we started our talent groups. We have a design group, an art group, and a logic group. The children seem excited by these options which, while a lot of work to set up, I hope will give the children plenty of opportunities to explore a talent area with some depth and the help of some experts. We had a hiccup with the network being down, so many lessons had to be hastily remade - flexibility is an important skill. Nonetheless many of the children made great progress straight away

The artists did some contour drawing - they drew without looking at their pencils as they draw. The idea is the students focus on the subject of their drawing, practicing looking, rather than on their pencil. Today we sketched faces, and several items we had on the desk, including watches and Cheese n Quackers (our talking duck). We did several sketches, training our eyes and then allowed ourselves to look at our drawing for the final go. We talked about position and proportion. There was some definite progress made - well done artists. The design group have also made some good starts. Jaiden and George have decided to study ancient designs and have made a great start of gathering information about Egyptian design, Owain has been looking at how fair horrible histories represent the two sides in World War Two. THe Logic group have set about solving a series of puzzles - the first required them to organise numbered cards so that each second card was the next ordered numeral - #1 -turn the next card on the bottom of the pile - #2 ...etc. This week we will go back to what I intended as the first lesson, which is to learn the language of our respective talent area. I see this as an essential start to provide a shared language for analysis within each group.

After lunch we had our drama group back and finally got to discuss Thesesus' ship. This philosophical problem deals with a paradox of identity and change. I grabbed this quote about the problem off wikipedia. It is from the Ancient Greek historian Plutarch who sums the paradox up nicely:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.
—Plutarch, Theseus

The Pakiki students were very thoughtful and interesting in their discussion. They came to a summary position that everything changes over time but the ship was still the same because something still seems to stay the same. Though they were careful to add that what position someone takes seems to be only a matter of opinion. Working out what distinguishes something we know from merely opinion will need to wait for another discussion (if such a distinction can be made : )

Till next week, Tchau!

Mambo! ( hello from the Congo)

Thursday 3rd March

This afternoon the students were able to perform scenes from a play they are constructing with the drama group from Logan Park. Last week the Pakiki kids came up with the idea for the play and this week the Logan Park team arrived with the beginning of a script . The groups then practiced and performed their scripts to the rest of the class. I captured it on video and will upload at as soon as I get a spare moment to figure out how to do it : ). After drama we took barbie outside to test the technology net challenge we had constructed last week Sadly, for Barbie, only a few were successful (well done the Olivas, Anna and Samara, Jeannie and Sophie and Aidhan) and she is now a little worse for wear. Having endured a week of being dropped from the second story it is little surprise. We can say she gave of herself in the name of science.

Earlier in the day we wrote persuasively about the kind of talent time groups we want to start, and which one each of us would like to be in. Well done Liam for writing such solid reasons despite your protests. In chess we worked on the strategy of controlling the centre of the board and a few of us explored the en passant rule. Daniel and Owain played a mean game each against me. Daniel’s challenge is still going so we took a photo of the game as it was and will continue it next week.

In the morning we continued to work on questioning skills. We practised writing ‘drip’, ‘puddle’ and ‘lake’ questions. Once the students become proficient at these I will replace the water analogy with the idea of closed, qualitative and quantitative questions. The kids showed a great willingness to keep at their perfect day projects that they had started two weeks ago. Samara and Sophie finished their diarama; Tim learnt how to construct clear and creative block letters for his painting; Jeannie and Anna discovered the art of keeping their garageband loops on the beat; George is a keen garagebander also and worked on his skills (maybe he can add a soundtrack to his stykz animation?); Jaiden played with creative ways to improve his keynote presentation; Xanthe created an animation to go with her storyboard as did Liam. Daniel and Owain worked on cropping photos and Jazmin, Olivia and I (when I could bounce over there) worked more on Jazmin’s music composition - we now have the chords and melody for the verse, bridge and chorus and just need to practice a bit more before we record it.

Jack showed fantastic determination and perseverance to create a model plane - the Hawkeye destroyer - in between putting together his persuasive argument, playing chess and teaching us en passant, and practising his questioning writing.

At the start of the day we worked on some maths and logic puzzles. Everybody seemed to enjoy this but especially the Olivia O, Olivia S and Anna who became obsessed with solving Einstein’s puzzle. Well done those three for the perseverance to crack it!

Catch you all next week team!

Hola a todos!

We had a great team effort today. The Pakiki kids started and ended the day with drama with a surprise visit from several Logan Park year 13 drama students and their teacher Denise Walsh. They got the Pakiki crew involved in a host of fun drama activities and have promised to return for more next week. It is great to make links with these talented high school students and our team seemed to respond well. More than a few Pakiki kids acknowledged how much they enjoyed the drama in their end of day reflections. It was awesome to see those kids who don't rate drama as one of their favourites still involved and contributing with plenty of energy. TIno pai e tamariki ma.

In between we worked on our ideal day project and it was great to see the creativity and diversity amongst the children's work. Jazmin wrote a song - lyrics and a melody, which Olivia O and I started to put chords and fills to on piano and guitar. Olivia O and Xanthe created a movie of Olivia's perfect day - it will be interesting to see the similarities and contrasts between this movie and Boen's from the Wednesday crew, once they are all complete. Olivia S. was the first Pakiki kid of the year to get into some creative writing and it is descriptive and engaging reading. I look forward to her finishing (and editing - watch out for capitals :) Jaiden, Anna and Jeannie created keynote presentations showing a diary of a perfect day. Jaiden is planning to use one of Tim's garageband creations as the soundtrack. Anna and Jeannie's is good enough to be next week's day plan for me to use to teach with. Student's planning their school day - what more could a teacher want?! Tim broke in the paints with a poster and Samara and Sophie are creating a diarama. They were so enthused Susan and I had to force Samara to go and eat something while she worked through her lunch hour - "Ka tohe puruhi te tangata nei". Owain and George are creating an animation using Styxz- which is mac's version of pivot, and Liam is animating on animator HD an ipad app. Jack created a board game around the principle of battleships but with planes representing his passion. Aidhan is carefully constructing a comic strip and Daniel scripted and narrated what he'd most like to do using the puppet app on the ipads.

Somewhere amongst all this we played with words that mean change, the opposite of change or that we didn't know where to put them. This is the beginning of our year long exploration of change - a concept that seems a lot simpler than it actually is. No time to philosophize about it today, but next week for sure :)

A creative and industrious day - great effort Pakiki kids!

24th February
Mr K was away today. An ear infection and his wedding on Saturday meant rest was in order! The Thursday crew had Glenny (sorry if that spelling isn't 100%) on board relieving and I look forward to hearing how the day went next week when I am back! We might be able to report a little more at that stage. TIll next week, adios