Tuesday 2nd December

Kia ora everyone. Today we kept up the momentum of new learning and started the day with a challenging and interesting talk from Thom Elston, Neuroscientist. Thom enthusiastically shared some of his knowledge of brains, neuro plasticity and the wonders of new learning. Clearly it impressed the children. They responded with wonderment and awe at how small neurons are and their ability to develop new pathways. Here are a few reflective comments to share from the experiences.

Emily : I really really liked when Thom ( Neuroscientist) came today it was really fun because I liked learning about how our brain works and about how we learn. I liked learning about phantom limbs, it was fascinating to learn that your brain thinks that the limb grew back. It was challenging to concentrate because it was difficult to understand what all the complicated words were but when he explained it I understood.

Michael - Today the best part has been chess. It was good because I learned lots of new things and I liked that we were all set up and organised before John arrived. A new thing I learned when was checkmated, forked and skewered by Thomas. I liked how Thom explained about neuroplasticity.

Elizabeth : The best thing today was when Thom came and we learned about Neuro science.

Tuesday 25th November

A big thanks to everyone who came along and enjoyed our sharing night. It is always a highlight of the PK year and this year was no different.

With that behind us as a group we took the opportunity to reflect on our learning from the project and thought through how we might try to do this differently next year. It was great to read in the student reflections the project being described as challenging, interesting and fun.

For most of the morning the children had a chance to get stuck into the personal talent development projects. These have been a little neglected over the last fortnight. It was great to see so many great projects, stories, drawings and animations come to a close and be published ready for learning journals. Some highlights from the session included discussing communism, the iron curtain and the Berlin Wall with Felix. Helping Ayla publish her story "Grandpa's present" and seeing how far Michael and Thomas have come in their work with Scratch.

After lunch the children revisited their work in the Growth Mindset. Three focus questions/statements were written on large pieces of paper and the students were invited to add their comments in felt tip. This was used to begin the session. The posters said : Mistakes are important because, When I make mistakes I feel and what would happen if we didn't make mistakes. As a group we found it interesting and a bit contradictory to see that most people agreed that mistakes were important and part of the learning process, you can;t be good at everything right away… however when we made mistakes many of us felt sick, uneasy and like we should get everything correct. After discussing the differences in the type of fixed mindset thinking - "If I'm bad at something there is no point in practice because I am just not want to do it" and the Growth Mindset thinking " If I find something really hard then I should find a teacher, ask a friend, seek feedback and keep on trying" . We discussed how useful or detrimental these thought patterns can be when taking on new risks in our learning . To reflect on this learning, the students went away independently and designed their own growth mindset "quote" to encourage other PK students to keep on trying without giving up. This task will need to be finished next week because we blinked and it was home time. Time flies when you are having fun !

See you then

Miss L

Tuesday 4th November

Kia ora to everyone who tunes in to read the PK wiki each week. A little more this week about the “how” we learned and a little less about the “what”

Some of what we aim to do at PK is to help the students understand themselves as a learner and as a gifted individual. Through regular reflection and learning about learning styles, how we learn and traits of giftedness we hope to give students tools which they can use on the future to manage their own learning and become truly self managed.

Today I decided to hand over a large part of the day to the students to structure and manage as they saw fit provided they were working towards our shared goal of ‘presentation work for sharing night’

The students started their day with a brief video about the role that neurons, electrical impulses and pathways played in their learning. Using a fitness analogy ‘we only get stronger when its harder’ the students developed their understanding of why new learning can feel difficult at first and why practice makes perfect. Even if it makes us feel uncomfortable. Some of the students were forced to question their initial ideas about intelligence and considered the notion that brains or intelligence can change.

In addition to this mind blowing learning, the students learned more about the optimal conditions for learning and listed brain breaks, snacks, water, fresh air and happiness or little stress as things they needed to add into their day plan so that they were able to work hard to think deeply and complete the tasks they needed to today. Students made decision about where they worked, how they would manage their distractions and what they could reasonably achieve in the given time. That together with a new found understanding of why challenge is important for their learning set the tone for a day of hard work and determination.

Each group was given a planner and collaboratively they planned their day and set some goals. By developing their own schedule for snack breaks and even creating their own brain breaks ( physical activity ) they took charge of their day. It was impressive to see the students coming in from a quick run around the building or a water break straight back to work feeling refreshed and energized. Groups scheduled in meetings with me to bounce ideas off of, receive feedback on their work and to evaluate their ideas. I was truly a facilitator today. As a result of this industrious spirit, most of the groups met the goals which they set at the start of the day to bring them closer to completing their work for sharing night.

See you next week, I'll try and get a few snaps as the students put together their sharing night boards.

See you then.


Tuesday 28th October

Kia ora everyone ! Not sure where last week's blog went …. sorry about that

Today I handed blog comments to the kids today and so below are some samples of what the kids felt they learned today and descriptions of challenges which they have overcome.

Lola - I learned that I can draw better then I thought.

Emily - A challenge I overcame today was when I won at chess but I had trouble.

Ayla - I learned about note taking and how to be a writer.

Ella - Today during talent an author came and taught us about senses and about giving each other feedback.

Sinead - I learned about what the Taj Mahal looks like and about what a writer does.

Katherine learned about how to use her senses on her writing and was challenged in fluency activities.

Today the writing talent group were treated to a visit from Author Kay Buckingham. Thanks Kay ! The students took the opportunity to work with Kay on adding more detail into writing by adding description through their senses ( HABITS OF MIND !!! ) and about how to improve their work by receiving feedback from peers. Here is a quick snap of Kay with the group.

28th October Gay B with writers .jpg

Tuesday 14th October

Welcome back to term 4 everyone. Today was a solid day of thinking in the PK classroom so I thought I would capture a few examples of and share them with you.

This mornings creativity work was focused on originality. The students were give the following three scenarios and asked to give three creative explanations for them. Th scenarios were 1.) Sacha has 10 unsharpened pencils, why? 2.) A builder has left a house half finished, why ? and 3.) A bus was travelling backwards down the road, why?

There were some fantastically, creative suggestions made. Here just a few ....

The builder went home to get his sandwiches.

The bus went backwards as it was driving towards a shark ...

Half a house, half the pollution?

The builder injured himself and gave up.

Because you can sharpen pencils but once you have sharpened them you can't go back.

The builder was attacked by an evil scientist who created an attacking bird.

The builder found a secret cave .

The builder found a dinosaur bone in the earth and needed to stop construction.

What reasons do you come up with ?

From creative thinking we took a leap and worked on Philosophy. Today's concept to be explored was Power. What does it mean to you? What role does it play in civilizations? I have tried to record the students comments in the photos below, but I dare say i missed a few as we engaged in a deep and complex discussion. The focus of today's lesson was justifying our comments with examples, detailed explanations and "because" statements. Our discussion took place in both small buzz groups and in a whole class discussion. It was great to see the students taking a risk and sharing their thoughts on power.

There were some excellent comments which lead to a deeper discussion. Katherine felt that people with power had knowledge about how to make the world better, so this was something people wanted and therefore the gained power through this. This lead to an interesting discussion around how power was obtained. Quite a list was made: violence, fear, democratic process and wealth were some of the examples used to help justify students' ideas. Here are a few pictures of the board throughout the lesson.

Philosophy discussion Tuesday - Power .jpg
Philosophy discussion Tuesday # 2 - Power .jpg

After philosophy it was time for a quick brain break so back into buzz groups we played a dice rolling activity game. This was a quick chance for us to jump up and move our bodies.

A quick revisit to our work in intensities then we put ourselves knee deep into the discovery projects.

After 3 weeks away from these projects, I wanted to spend a good chunk of the day refocusing our energy into this and making a good amount of headway. After looking over the exemplar of the finished project, the grouped sat together and discussed today's goals. I tried to get around each group, asking the tough questions and ensuring that the civilization creation had an evidence base.

John, Felix, Michael and Nicholas' group made some good decisions today about their Spartan based civilisation. Felix and John developed a reasonable origins story laced in drama, traitors, long journeys by ships and communions with the enemy. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

Katherine, Sinead, Elizabeth and Ayla's group spent most of today checking their story, adding an increased level of depth and authenticity through research and starting sketches about their Indian/ Egyptian architecture for their civilisation.

Cora, Lola and Max spent time exploring language today while Emily, Ella and Thomas spent time gathering more research to allow them to charge forward with their origin story next week. I will start with you next week team.

This work is coming together nicely. Next week, we won't spend quite so much time working on discovery, but we may consider ways that we can work more efficiently. Bring your ideas next week.

Miss Leia

Tuesday 23rd September 2014

It was great to meet so many of the PK student buddies today. Bring a buddy day is a highlight in the PK calendar and today was no exception. Everyone worked hard to get involved, be as creative and critical with their thinking as they can be and make new friends alongside their learning.

Creativity was on top today and the students started by exploring the ideas of originality and elaboration. The students were give a piece of coloured paper and asked to rip it into an unrecognisable shape, paste it onto white paper and then using felts, biros and pencils use their creativity to turn it into something. There were a range of creatures with elaborate powers, limbs and names. It was great to see everyone responding positively to the challenge of making their first draft even more elaborate, detailed and awesome.Everyone dug deep and make significant changes which lead to improvements. Well done.

It was next that the PK students were able to revisit their earlier discovery learning and combine it with a tech challenge. In teams of 4, the students were asked to build a structure from a deck of playing cards and sellotape. The catch was that their structure needed to be linked to the civilisations which they have been researching. This required a bit more research in some cases so the computers were fired up, the books came off the shelves and information was found. Cora, Billie and Max’s group were very successful with their onion domed Russian structure. Top points for originality and thinking outside the box about how they could bend the cards into the type of structure they wanted. There was some great learning being done by Nicholas’ group who were building an Greek amphi theatre. During their justification they were able to tell everyone a little about the types of theatre and performances which were done in these amphi theatres. Being left with some unanswered questions about this topic has meant that they have some space for new learning next term. Well done teams, this was not an easy challenge !

We had a short philosophy session this morning to give the buddies a taste of what philosophy was about and to stretch ourselves in our critical thinking. Today’s topic was The good life. What does it mean? What does it mean to me ? What is my idea of the good life? After talking about some images which I shared which might reflect the good life, we had a discussion as a group to see if we could come up with an agreed definition of a good life. Very quickly we saw that everyone had a different idea about what a good life was. Some felt that lots of free time was the key to a good life while others felt that life was flawless when you had lots and lots of material wealth. Max summed it up by saying that he thought there was no one right answer for what made the good life and that everyone would have their own idea. Some students started to consider this idea more thoroughly by thinking about other people’s perspective. How might the good life look to someone on a war torn country and what might it have looked like to someone during the plague? HHmmm There was so good thinking being practiced this morning.

John came along for chess this morning and encouraged the PK students to teach their buddies what they have learnt in chess this year. It was great to see the PK students recalling their knowledge of the pieces and giving lots of detail in their explanations. Buddies and Pakiki Kids together were having some good chuckles and fierce competition around the chess boards.

After lunch the students continued their thinking within the context of Ancient Civilisations but this time with a creative slant. The buddies were introduced to the SCAMPER creativity tool which a checklist style way of generating new and innovative ideas. Each team then proceeded to choose an artifact from their civilisation an apply SCAMPER to it.The final product was then presented as if it were to be displayed in a museum. This was a huge challenge with each of the groups drawing labelled diagrams of their new and improved artifact with additional archeological notes which provided the explanation of this artifact, its use and its story. Well done to all the buddies who got themselves fully involved in the task, made great suggestions and asked challenging questions. The room was a buzz with activity. The SCAMPER activity will be in display in the PK classroom after the break.

A huge thanks to everyone who made buddy day 2014 such great fun. It was great to meet all the buddies. Have a safe holiday and travel safely. I will see you all after the break to complete our discovery work in preparation for sharing night.

Tuesday 16th September 2014

A quick update today everyone - the PK teachers are busy preparing great activities for buddy day next week.

The significant part of the morning was spent on the discovery research projects for sharing night. As a whole group we spent time clarifying our understandings of the task and the expectations. Everyone had a chance to ask specific questions and talk through challenges. Once we were all a little clearer about where we were headed, it was up to us to set the direction and take the first step for the day. A little planning and a goal for the day was needed.

Each team needed to inform me today of their name, origins and location of their civilisation. In addition 3 areas of a civilisation such as leadership, architecture and beliefs needed to be chosen for further research, creation and interpretation. This set the wheels in motion for a morning of challenging, engaging and sometimes frustrating thinking and research. The children used Kaplan's "details" thinking to help add depth and justification to their thinking. There were a number of students today who "lifted their game" in their thinking. Well done.

It was an impressive session with the start of some deep and complex thinking happening. I spent some time with Felix, John, Michael and Nicholas' group working on their civilization which was a descendent of the Spartans. We worked together on developing open and rich questions which, once answered, would help shape the "origins" part of their civilisation's story. Who were these people and what logical and provable explanation was there for why they had left Sparta? Michael and I used a graphic organiser to classify and organise his research findings and to ask even more questions about what life as a Spartan might have been like. We were shocked to find out out how young Spartan boys were sent to military training - we agreed that this would be sad for the boys and the families.

Ella and Thomas worked on their civililisation which was also inspired by the Ancient Greeks. Thomas was focusing on the religion or ideaology used during this time and he was considering what types of rituals his civilisation might have used and why. The session finished with Cora and I researching about onion domes of 15th century Russia. We found out a little more about their Middle Eastern origins and considered the movement of these architectural ideas around the globe throughout the ages. Max helped his team heaps during this project by worked towards more open ended questions and honing the research - key words. Great work Max.

These projects are coming along team - keep up the great thinking.

See you next week for buddy day !

Miss Leia

Tuesday 9th September 2014

Another great, challenging day.

This morning the children took last week’s divergent thinking task and worked on their designs by elaborating on their original design. Adding details, making it more complex, labelling parts and changing their minds. This, along with the Mozart playing in the background made for a great start to the day’s thinking and hard work.

The day started with some deep and complex thinking around our civilizations. The children took some of the features of a civilzation such as economy, art, architecture and language and extrapolated what these included to identify the finer details. Everyone walked around the room adding their ideas to posters to do this. The thinking was excellent. Nicholas reminded everyone that art was often to remember famous people - so we’d better find out about some famous people, others mentioned about economies and currency and architecture being built with local materials. All essential things to remember when creating your own civilization.

From here, the groups went on to research and continue creating their own civilization. I had a great session with Cora and Billie’s group. They were clarifying and debating their earlier ideas and have made some decision about the direction which they are going to take. Ayla and Katherine’s group spent some time with me developing a better understanding of the task at hand, reviewing their research techniques and making some decisions about the type of architecture they might have in their civilization. This project will start to ramp up over the coming weeks so it is great to spend this time now stretching our thinking.

Before chess, the children started exploring Dabrowski’s theory of emotional over excitabilities. This was an aha! moment for many of the children as they were easily able to identify their own intensities. Common sensitivities which caused distractions from classroom work included: bright light, noise, movement and imagination. Discussing these excitabilities gave the students a chance to connect with like minded peers and understand a little more about themselves. This topic will continue throughout the term and we will explore them more and consider how we can use them to our advantage and make decisions which might help manage any frustrations.

After lunch, we wished bon voyage to Ben who will be returning to PK in 2015 due to travel. We hope you have a safe trip !

Getting on with the afternoon program, the children set to work on their talent development projects. Ben and Max worked with me to develop their new project. This was the favourite part of the day for both boys and they are excited to get started on their independent historical model activity. The writers also came and had a writers workshop with me to focus on the structure of a narrative. Ella, Cora, Billie, Ayla and I had a great discussion about the complication in stories and ways which an author can unfold a story without telling everything straight away or in a direct fashion. I look forward to reading these stories as they progress. I know Amadeo kept the science group busy as they finished their projects - Sinead didn’t want to stop working on hers ! I had a couple of quick discussions with different children who were making learning decisions such as seat choice to help manage their intensities, this was great. Learning and applying is what we are aiming for. I wonder if more might be noticed over the week.

Thanks for trying so hard today everyone, you’ve made my day grand.

Miss L

Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Thanks everyone for a lovely welcome. It is great to be back in the classroom. Amadeo joined us today to finish off some projects with the children which was great for everyone and will help smooth the transition between the teachers.

I started the class the way we mean to go on; with some hard thinking. A bit of divergent thinking to get the juices flowing. The children were given the challenge of coming up with as many different uses for a shoe. The focus was on fluency on ideas and originality. Highlights included Max's shoe which was able to cross rivers through its inbuilt floats and motor at the back and Billie who developed a cheese grater from old shoes. There was some very interesting and creative ideas which showed some of the great potential for innovation we have here.

Putting back on their archaeologists' hats, the children were plunged into the ancient Middle East. We are going to be doing a great deal of research in the later half of the year so it was a good chance for us to focus on our research skills. While watching a short video about Petra, the students took notes in short form: single words, pictures and linking ideas rather than whole sentences. Many were surprised at how much information they could record in such a short time. This information was used to feed into an archaeological activity of discovery which investigated and interpreted the origins of an artifact. A glass bowl was displayed.. Where did it come from? What was it doing in Petra? Did it come from a neighboring country via trade? The questions and deep thinking were great this morning. Each group chose a theory as to where this bowl came from and what it was used for then went about researching.

The aim was to present a logical and justified argument to support their theory. Ka pai Thomas, Emily and Katherine who got the ball rolling and thought outside the box. Excellent suggestions with good logical supporting arguments. One of the challenges was to mix both an interpretation of the artifact and the factual research together to create a reasonable "story" . Watch this space as this thinking unfolds over the next few weeks.

After lunch today was a chance for us to bring our talent projects together and redirect our energies where necessary. The science group finished off their projects for Amadeo today pulling together a term's research about elements. I helped Elizabeth plan an art project about sketching and focusing on fine details and started Cora's plan with her about writing plays. Billie and I caught up on her project which is an amazing story about a young girl receiving a book for Christmas which has main character which is just like her ... can't wait to see where this adventure goes ! Next week, we will move more people towards planning a project which they will manage a little more of.I look forward to seeing so many of these talents blossom.

It was a busy day but I have been assured there was a lot of thinking going on - there was several tired faces at 3pm.

I look forward to moving these projects on further with you next week everyone.

Take care

Miss Leia

Tuesday - 1 July 2014

Hola amigos!

As we start July I look back in the last few weeks and I cant believe how much we've done! Its been an amazing Term full of exciting fieldtrips to the University, open day last week, and lots of great moments in the classroom where we have kept thinking, learning and having fun with the topics we are covering.

The Discovery topic of 'Digging the past' has shown us how scientists uncover material from under the ground to find out what happened in the past, and try to predict what might happen in the future. It has been fascinating to learn about how that is done, and join paleontologists, archaeologists and anthropologists at the university to uncover ancient remains with them. We were lucky to be able to take some limestone blocks from the geology department with 20 million year old fossils in them, and we have been working on them in the classroom too. Understanding how evolution works and thinking about what being civilized means have been interesting ideas that have challenged our way of thinking about where we come from and where we are going.

Talent projects are shapping up to full completion in the first weeks of Term 3. Everyone has been enjoying the progress and learning to cope with all the problems and challenges that arise.

Now comes the well deserved holidays!
Thanks for an amazing time at Pakiki,

Tuesday - Day 13

Kia ora everyone.

Well what a great send off from everyone today and a great day to send me on my way. The students have, as usual, been a barrel of laughs and an inspiration with all of their hard work and great thinking.

This morning was a busy hive of activity taken up mostly by the completion of talent projects. The story tellers got to show off how they have progressed with their oral language skills and ability to think on their feet by performing their pieces to me. It was great to hear some adaptations on some old classics from Ben, Nicholas and Emily. The maths group completed their research and in some cases started a second project. There will be some very informative wall displays about pi and Roman Numerals coming the PK classroom soon. John and I had a good discussion during talent about fantasy artist William O'Connor, we started to talk through the possibility of an O'Connor inspired talent project - what a great challenge to set yourself John ! The researchers were busy today, Felix had completed his project about the influence of the French on New Caledonia and was busy reflecting about his learning while Max used the thinkers keys to write some of his own research questions to inquire about Leonardo Da Vinci. I look forward to hearing about how these new projects progress in the coming months.

The students who whizzed through their talent work commitments this morning joined me on the carpet for a philosophy session about " Beauty" While initially some students thought that this might be an easy thing to discuss and to define, it was a little more difficult once we got started. The students were asked to focus on justifying and explaining their thinking with examples and many made a big effort to do this. There were some interesting and challenging comments made by several of the students. Ella felt that beauty was about perspective and that different people thought that different things were beautiful. Felix helped us build a criteria for things which influenced our personal definition of beautiful. Cora added that the opinions and culture of your family would have an impact on what you thought was beautiful and John added that he felt stylists and current trends impacted people's choices.... This gave us plenty to think about as we started to reflect on our own definition of beauty and what helps us form this definition.

This afternoon, the students revisited two concepts. Firstly, they revisited their initial understanding of discoveries and had a chance to update me on their revised thinking of the 'debateable truths' It was clear that everyone's thinking had been challenged over the last 13 days and that not only what defined a discovery was being re thought but also the impact of different discoveries on the world and humanity was being considered. There is clearly some work still to be done on understanding the differences between inventions and discoveries - perhaps time for a revisit of classification tasks?

Secondly, the student had another go at completing a SCAMPER task for a mini moro bar. There was some very creative thinking and innovative ideas shared during the session. I heard about moro bars with exploding candy, ice cream added, peanuts eliminated, turned inside out, melted into ice-cream sauce, frozen, made longer, turned into cake and made into the shape of eyeballs. The students were practising the creative thinking skills of fluency and originality and it was clear that improvements have been made in both. Ka Pai team.

The day ended in a buzz with everyone feeling that they had been challenged and asked to think hard. Great ! I can sleep easy tonight.

Thanks for the awesome day kids, I will see you in September when I return.
Miss Leia xx

Tuesday - Day 11

Great to see everyone back after a great term break. With only 3 weeks together until I am on leave, we raced on in to our learning today and got the term underway.

The morning started with a review of our earlier learning about intelligence. We used Renzulli's ideas about intelligence and giftedness to discuss and question what traits and characteristics gifted people sometimes have. Lola disagreed with some Renzulli's ideas but felt that creativity was something worth fostering to help society move forward. John and I pondered what a world without creativity might be like, we decided that a world with no toys, everyone with the same haircuts and clothes would be strange indeed ! The students were left questioning whether creativity, ability or task commitment was more important to them and which they thought might be more important to their teacher/parents. More thinking to be done in this area....

With our new found appreciation of creativity the students learned a new creativity tool used to innovate and create called SCAMPER. In Scamper, people are given a specific item and make changes and innovations which change and improve the item creatively. After breaking into small teams the children were asked to "Scamper" specific items which were related to medical discoveries or illness. My experienced PK students, who have "Scampered" before were asked to use all the scamper tools from substitute and elaborate to innovate a typical hospital. With gummy bears lining the corridors and upside down hospital rooms, it definitely sounded like a fun place to be ! Thomas and his team were asked to innovate chicken soup - the cure all remedy. There were innovations of bowls made out of chicken ( Ben ) and noodles with chicken inside them ( Thomas ) and soup with cleans your mouth ( Sinead ). Bandaids were innovated by Lola and her group, there was an interesting innovation of special fabric which could extract poison and infection from a wound ( leech inspired ) great ideas Lola ! while Max innovated an ice pack by attaching a voice sensitive robot on wheels which heard when its owner fell and raced over to you with an icepack in a refrigeration unit to aid your pain. For a first time using Scamper, I was very impressed with the level of elaboration and originality from the students. What a creative start ! Well done folks!

This afternoon, the students continued with their talent projects. The story telling group had a chance to have a first run through of their performance and to watch themselves for the first time. After some self and peer assessment the students' reflected on what they would like to improve on for next week and ultimately before they perform on the final day. A powerful activity - even if watching yourself on film was a little cringy !

Ayla began the illustrations for her digital story book and made great progress with her 4 pictures which will complete her story. Some very hard work today Ayla, great effort and focus.

The maths group continued with their research. Sinead and I watched Vi Hart on You Tube so that we could learn a little more about where spirals can be found in nature and about how the Fibonacci sequence can be continued. Cora decided that Catalan numbers are something that she would like to learn about later on in the year and Thomas solved some problems he was having in presenting his work about counting in Japanese. Great to see many of the students getting stuck into their projects with great enthusiasm. Over the next fortnight, many of these projects will be coming to an end and we will start to look at the next challenge. If this term has been anything to go by then I am excited about the upcoming projects.

A great start to the term everyone !

Tuesday - Day 10

Kia ora everyone !

I can’t believe that we have made it through an entire term. Time has flown !

Today we were lucky enough to have Dr Anita Dunbier - Breast Cancer researcher come to Pakiki to tell us about her work as a medical discoverer. The children were able to revisit their prior learning about genetics and DNA while exploring the idea of using knowledge gained from looking more closely at people’s genes to help find cures or ways of preventing diseases like Cancer. The students noticed that like other medical researchers which we have met and studied, Dr Dunbier has a passion and interest in helping people and was clearly very determined and used lots of persistence. This gave us lots to think about and link to the work we have been doing in the Habits of Mind.

Here is a "before and after" brainstorm by the children, recorded by me. We recorded our thinking so that we could see how our knowledge had shifted after meeting and listening to our visitor. Some great thinking about the Big Ideas of medical discoveries coming through in their comments. Tuesday - Anita Dunbier .jpg

Today, I have asked the students to reflect on their term at PK. I have taken just a few comments from their reflections to give you an insight about what we’ve been up to and what they’ve been learning.

I liked learning about Pi , but the Renzulli diagram was puzzling ... - Thomas

I have ben thinking much more deeply in my creativity. I have learnt more about thinking and better ways to use my thoughts. - Cora

I have been challenged using Kaplan’s D & C - Nicholas

I learnt that I understand more about what I read if I put it in my own words. - Billie

I was confused about what PK was at the start, then I realised what is was about. I loved using my creativity to design my own island. - Katherine.

I liked the Tech challenges- I discovered that I am better at thinking. - Ben

I think discovery helped me heaps ! - Lola

I have learned more abut philosophy, it is about thinking deeply. - Felix

I liked learning about how you are intelligent and gifted. I can think more deeply about things now. - Elizabeth

I love my talent project, mine has helped me a lot this term. - Ayla

Designing my own island was really fun, that and tech challenges are really good for creativity. - Ella

I understand more now about the golden rectangle. - Sinead

This term, I have learned more about my strengths and I overcame a fear. - Emily

I’ve kind of learnt something about thinking. - Max

I’ve learned about what the Habits of Mind is, how it helps me and what we can use it for. - Michael.

I’ve learned more about the zest and determination needed to be a successful researcher. I see plenty of this zest and determination in our students here at PK ! - Miss Leia

Tuesday - Day 9

Sinead - Today I really enjoyed talent time, starting my roman numeral poster. Today a challenge was writing open research questions about penicillin. It was hard because I'm used to asking closed questions.
John - Today, I liked reading books at lunchtime but I got cold feet because at playtime my shoes and socks got soaked.

Cora - Today I liked playing soccer at lunchtime and I felt good that I did a lot more than last time in talent. I did more because the computer helped me. I was concentrating more. Today our talk about intelligence was interesting because there was a lot to learn and you had to think about it.

Lola - Today talent time was very good because the story teller came. The day was even better because I did a lot better at medical discoveries time because I wrote as quick as I can, very neatly and I thought very hard ( even though my head is hurting now. ) I learned about writing good open ended questions.

Thomas - I’ve had a good time today, and I really liked it because we got to do some questions about penicillin.

Michael - Today the story teller came and she taught us another string trick. During Pakiki Kids we did an Intelligence poster and I commented on a few things.

Elizabeth - Today i got started on my roman numerals project.Then it was morning tea I played with Katherine and Sinead.When we came back we talked about what is intelligent and what it is not. I enjoyed it. After that it was chess.I versed Emily but she won.Soon after it was lunchtime I played with Katherine.Then we got into partners and wrote ten good questions. Me and Thomas were together. Last of all we played the question game.I had a lot of fun at Pakiki kids today!

I enjoyed talent time today because I got to do more research on victorian architecture . Today I got to type in info off my info chart. -pakiki-kid’s.---max-1880!!

Today the storyteller came again.It
was so fun.I learnt how to tell a made
up story without making it sound to silly.
Then we had chess.Elizabeth was my opponent.
We had a great game.HORRAY I won the game!!!!!
Bye - Emily


Today was a very exciting day. We've just done a few things for discovery like big open questions about penicillin. We did some chess which was fun Today we also did some talent and I am about to do pi ( not the food!) which is my third one after Roman numerals and Babylonian numbers. - Ella

Talent groups today was so fun. I got to finish my "big numbers" poster. The best part about my poster was all the numbers in the background really stand out in green. Today in chess, my challenger was Cora, like every other time. We didn't get to finish our game because when we found out that soon we were going to pack up to go outside we packed up straight away and always want to go outside. Well I've been enjoying every hour from the second I get in till the last footstep out the brick wall. I love Pakiki. - Billie.

Tuesday - Day 8

Kia ora everyone,
I thought I’d jump on and give an update from today and about how the first term is progressing.

Today has been exciting for the PK students with paediatric geneticist Dr Stephen Robertson giving the students an informative talk to the class. Dr Robertson came and taught us ( teacher included ! ) about genetics and about his work in medical research .

There was some fantastic new learning and many stunned faces when we had the chance to observe real DNA with our very own eyes and learn about the building blocks which make up the human body. The PK students kept Dr Robertson on his toes with some excellent questions which demonstrated their ability to “remain open to continuous learning” and to “pose questions” . Great stuff kids ! Well on the road to discovery, I was very proud and the depth of questioning which came from the students. See our facebook page for a great picture of the students observing DNA.ayla

Talent h Domain

As we approach the end of the term, many of the Tuesday students are approaching the editing and presentation phase of their talent projects. Our aim for these projects is to be finished early next term, so there is no rush if we are still currently working them out. We have been able to source some mentors for the student's projects but are still seeking some in the areas of visual art and maths if you are keen to help or know someone who might be able to, please let me know!

I had a chance to conference with most children today and saw some great thinking, learning and challenges happening. John and Katherine were working hard on their sketching projects and were exploring concepts such as proportion, shading and adding detail. The maths group were very industrious today and were busy researching their chosen concepts which range from pi and Roman numbers to infinity and how different cultures count on their fingers. Today Elizabeth printed off her research findings about Incas and their counting methods while Thomas took some time to reflect on why he enjoyed this activity and the new learning which he has had over the term in talent.

The story telling group ( Michael, Lola, Ben, Emily and Nicholas) were lucky last week and had a chance to work alongside a Mentor to develop their understanding and skills in story telling. Today they were able to work together to record some of their new learning and reflect on how far their learning has come over the last few weeks. They are looking forward to more work with Kaitrin next week. I look forward to watching the final performances of their chosen story ! Max, Ayla and Felix are at various stages of their individual talent projects and are continuing to explore ways which they can add depth and complexity to their projects whether that is with a complex story line or by contrasting architectural styles. Felix has been exploring how the French language has spread around the world over time and has been questioning the concept of an official language . Some exciting work !! Ayla and I spent some time today editing and re crafting her creative story which will eventually be a digital story book, a big task as Ayla will be the author and illustrator of the entire book - a great challenge !

So as you can see, a busy time for us as we approach the end of term. If anyone would like to discuss the talent development programme or any other facet of the programme, please feel free to email to make an appointment. You are more than welcome !


Tuesday - Day 7

Kia ora everyone!

Today was grey and miserable but we were bright and smily in here today. We spent time this morning developing our talent projects and checking that we were on the right track.
Philosophy this morning was a challenge as we addressed and asked some of the big questions of the world such as " what does it mean to be right?" Great to see so many children wanting to clearly define the terms before engaging in debates.

In personal development today we focused in again on challenge and what challenges us, how we are currently dealing with it and how we might do it better in the future. Some great insightful discussions with the students here today, you might like to discuss challenges at home as a whanau?

In our discovery work we looked at the black plague and the changes in knowledge over centuries. Who would have thought that hand washing would be so important? Especially before people understood germs !

Well, here are some comments from the kids so that you can hear it from their perspective.

See you next week.


Katherine- today we played a question game were you ask a question and the other person answers the question with a question.
eg ''how are computers made?.''
''why should I answer that?''.

Michael-Today in the reading and storytelling group. We had a storyteller come to Pakiki kids and tell us a string trick and tell us diffrent storytelling tecniques for our group.

JOHN-today we did talent projects.I did art.It was VERY fun!At the moment we are doing work on the bubonic plague.We also played the question game.After morning tea we did p.4.c(philosophy for kids).Just before lunch we did chess.During lunch I played against the teacher..... AND I WON!WOOOOOOHOOO!!!!!!:-) ( MISS LEIA REQUESTS A REMATCH ! ) I vow to become a minecraft-addict.(pass it on).p.s tell your self your awesome if you are(or now are)a minecraft-addict:-)pp.s some advice,always,ALWAYS,AALLWWAAYYSS !!!!!!!!!!!!put a smily face after any sentence.

Emily-Yay today the storyteller came. I learnt to make a different
voice to sound really good,We are about to play the question game.

Ayla-Talent was great because I finished my story

Sinead-I really enjoy doing talent time.

Lola- talent was really really good because a story teller came. We learned a string-trick. I really liked it.

Blog - Tuesday Day 6 Today. I have re people to record their learning for you all.

Take care


Miss Leia - Today I really enjoyed P 4 C because we were evaluating decisions made by characters in a story and we learnt about Descartes. I found it quite challenging to consider different people's opinions and it started to make my head hurt to think deeply about these things.

Ben I like reading in my group my friend Lola is in my group but I'd rather use the computer more often.

Emily- I like the idea of a storyteller coming and 'telling us a
story and giving us tips on telling one. I hope we get to tell
a story to the class at the end of the year.I love my group.

Ella- Today my favourite thing was the talent project I'm in the mathematics group I have finished my first task now I am deciding what to next. It is really exciting being in the mathematics group because maths is one of my favourite subjects.

Thomas-it's been good today I liked talent groups because I finished my pi poster.

Elizabeth - Today I was in my maths group and finished my project for Roman Numerals.I am now doing different ways of counting.

Blog Tuesday 18/3

Welcome everyone!

A brief recount from me today of all the great learning we have been up to today.

This morning I introduced the idea of perspective. Using Sandra Kaplan’ depth and complexity tool we started a discussion about experiences, emotions and thoughts from different people’s perspectives. This was a great discussion and introduction into our philosophy session. The session started with the reading of the “Horrible, no good mixed up day” By talking about the story as a group, the students noticed the pitfalls of taking a negative approach to challenging or frustrating events and decided that some of the bad events in the story like ; not getting the shoes you wanted, toy in the cereal box or the teacher liking your work were not that bad after all - it depended on your perspective. Max noted that some children in the world would be happy for shoes at all and Lola mentioned that toys in cereal boxes weren’t worth getting upset about. It was fantastic to see that many of Tuesday’s class were taking risks and sharing their thoughts and opinions with the group and using because statements to back up their opinions and ideas. Great progress philosophers!

We continued with our discovery unit this morning and considered what type of thinking and “doing” we were partaking in when we were discovering. We leapt into some experimenting and made many discoveries. Each group was given a full glass of water and some paper clips. After predicting that they would all float ( they are metal after all) the students discovered that in fact you can if you place it carefully onto the surface of the water, make some float. So we put on our thinking caps and started making suggestions as to why this might be happening... There were some great connections being made to existing knowledge and some creative suggestions too. Luckily, Amadeo had come along for the session and he was able to shed some light on the scientific principles behind the mysterious floating paperclips. At the end of the session, the students were able to look back at the generalisations for the discovery unit and test them. Yes indeed discovery generated some emotions - lots of students were surprised ! Did they find what they were looking for ? not really, they discovered something else... hhhmmm is it still a discovery if you find something different than what you were expecting? We ended the session wondering how many other discoverers set off to find one thing and instead found another.

Talent time today was exciting as many of the groups were starting to face a challenge in their project. I did not get a chance to get to every student today but if I didn’t get to you today, we will catch up and solve your problem next Tuesday. The groups I did get to were working hard to overcome the challenges which they were facing. Thomas and I spent some time learning about the different parts of a circle before he launches into his pi investigation and John and I refocused the theme of his project after talking through some challenges which he was having. The group investigating the Golden rectangle were deciding what information to place on their posters ( I have resourced some more for you for this week ) which would inform their audience and the Roman Numerals students were finding their way through this ancient counting system. Katherine enjoyed a wonder around the classroom to observe people’s noses all in the name of improving her portrait work and will be applying this to her sketches next week. All round some great progress made today with quite a bit of persistence being exhibited by several students. Next week, we will pick up where we left off and continue to reflect about our projects while progressing with our knowledge and skills in our strength areas.

Today as part of their personal development domain work, the students started to articulate their thoughts on what giftedness is. This was an interesting discussion and lead to some reflection about the newly understood idea of perspective. There were a range of ideas about what giftedness is and where it came from. Some students felt that it was something which was acquired over time through study, hard work and experience, while others felt that it was some thing which you were or weren’t born with. There were several different ideas about whether kids could be gifted in one or several areas and there were some great questions about what might happen if you were gifted at something which was not taught at regular school. As a first impressions activity, it was great to see that the children were starting to think more deeply about these ideas and some are allowing themselves a little more time before they come to any definite conclusions about their thoughts. A complex topic, we will be developing our knowledge of gifted definitions and the opinions of different theorists throughout the year.

So after a great day of more thorough thinking, the day ended with more questions than answers ! Not a bad way to end with a great bunch of inquiring minds.

See you all next week,

Miss Leia

Blog - Tuesday Day 4

Kia ora everyone. Day 4 today and things are really starting to hum. There were a few new and exciting challenges for the children today. The morning started with an in depth Philosophy session. Based on the story Hemi's pet, the children explored the concept of word definitions and things not always being what they seem. This was done by debating what could be a pet based on "normal" definitions Can a human be a pet? What about a little sister? How we define pets became a great springboard for further discussion. The students went on to debate their ideas about what defines a school and what would make the idea school. This has lead to some very interesting reading for the teacher :) Sorry if I've started any discussions at home about tigers and lions making good pets ! ( Sinead, I'm still not sure about the dolphin :) ) The students all did very well and many of the kids took responsible risks and shared their thoughts with the whole group. Well done team.

Today was the second day of Talent Development projects and it was great to clarify any uncertainties about the work and really get a grasp on the task at hand. John had a chance to get onto You Tube and do some work with sketching and shading with his fantasy inspired drawing project and Katherine continued looking at portraits and how shading can enhance the depth of a sketch and add texture in a lifelike style. The maths group finished watching Donald Duck in mathemagic land and began researching their first activity, most people were exploring either Roman Numerals or the Golden Rectangle so I look forward to catching up with these groups next week. Ayla got her creative story underway while Max and I started discussing influences on Victorian architecture. In the reading corner the story telling/ reading talent development group watched a short film about traditional story telling and then began digging into a large assortment of myths, legends and fables. It was great to hear today that most of this group today established a better understanding of what the purpose of myths were. Perhaps we could consider writing some of our myths later on in the year... ?

John arrived keen to develop our chess skills, in particular to revisit the move of 'en passant' and how to better use the bishops. he gave us a great in depth lesson about the direction in which the bishop can move ad about how to 'control" squares from a distance using a piece such as the bishop. Everyone broke off into small mini games and honed their skills in this area.

After lunch we took time to develop our 'class treaty' a quick discussion about different treaties and how they differed from a set of rules, suggestions were passed forward to help form a list of non negotiable expectations. Lola lead an interesting discussion about when there might be grey areas in telling the truth.. This really made us think Lola ! We further discussed questions such as- How do we avoid hurting others feelings? What about when you are unsure of the person's ability of keeping a secret? It was great to hear the students questioning ideas and wondering if things were always as they seemed or was there sometimes grey areas to be negotiated. ( a little bit of this mornings P 4 C rubbing off ? ) At the conclusion of the treaty we had a complete list of very high expectations for each other. We will have to give it a go and reflect on the usefulness of this treaty in the reality of everyday life in the classroom.

To finish off the afternoon, we brought together our recent work with the Habits of Mind and creative thinking. Each student was given a blank T shirt template and was given the task to complete a T shirt design which was eye catching, contained a relevant image which would "stick" in others' memories and a catchy slogan.There were some awesome and catchy T shirts. Emily's "crystal clear" campaign for communicating with clarity and precision caught my eye as a T shirt I'd buy as did Thomas with his tiger themed t shirt. Could we have some budding clothes designers coming our way? Watch this space.

I'm looking forward to continuing our creative and intellectual challenges next week. I am asking for a great deal of thinking from this class and they are stepping up to the challenge. An awesome attitude after only a month together!

Kia Kaha team. Miss Leia

Blog - Tuesday Day 3
Kia ora everyone,

If you are joining the blog for the first time this term, a warm welcome. Each week a brief recount of what it is we get up to throughout the day will ideally be written by the children. However, sometimes the day runs away as it did today and instead, I will give a brief run down on the day, of course from my perspective.

We began the day by discussing the topic of challenge. This is something which we aim for everyday at PK so it was good timing to talk about this early on in the year. Many of the students shared personal stories of challenge and how it made them feel. Responses ranged from happy and motivated to feelings of frustration, anger, headaches and sore tummies. We used a “pit” analogy and drew a graphic of ourselves feeling negatively towards challenge at the bottom of the pit, unable to move forward with the challenge. Lola made some interesting suggestions about moving quickly through the bottom of the pit and not letting any of the negative feelings ‘stick’ Cora joined this discussion and suggested speaking positively to yourself - like a coach as a way of helping yourself out of the pit. ( Nice one girls! ) Billie suggested resting, calming down and taking a break before starting again and many of agreed that this was a good strategy too. Ben thought that buckling down and doing more research was a good way to overcome a problem and instead of avoiding just tackling a problem head on was a strategy that would work for him - this is starting to sound like some of our Habits of Mind Ben :) good thinking.

It was with this discussion that we revisited the Habits of Mind again and reviewed some of what was done last week. This week, we analysed specific activities which we would typically take part in during a week. Things such as doing chores, new learning or writing a story. For each activity the students matched a possible HOM which they might be using at this time or a HOM which might help them through an activity if they find this challenging.

Good to hear that many PK Tuesday students will be attempting to find humour when they are cleaning their rooms next... and using lots of persistence.

In Talent Development today, the students were placed in their talent development groups. This term there are projects taking place in creative writing, research and storytelling, maths, visual art and social sciences research. Today’s focus was on organising the groups, taking a look at the task and beginning a ‘first day’ task to diagnose what we know about our particular focus discipline. I look forward to letting the students tell you more about their projects on the blog as the weeks go by.

John tried out our new demonstration board for chess today which was a huge help for the students to better see the lesson. There was a continued focus on the pawn today and the children were introduced to the move en passant. Some of us were familiar with this from last year Emily and Nicholas remembered this from last year and Thomas was able to share his understanding with the group about the use of en passant. I think I need another brush up lesson as I’m still developing my understanding of when it might be used in a game.

In discovery this afternoon, the students continued to explore some of the Big Ideas of discovery. There were some great discussions around the difference between invention and discovery. In a mad cap competition to end the day, the students made a list of different and discoveries and contrasted this against a list of well known inventions. Some interesting patterns and relationships emerged and students started to notice that in order for an invention to take place, there is often a level of discovery along the way. Great thinking kids, we will further explore these themes over the coming weeks.

Blog - Tuesday Day 2

Kia ora everyone - Another great day at PK filled with an assortment of thinking, creating laughing and all with a good dose of challenge.

Some highlights today have included....

The students starting to explore their personal learning habits and styles. After a brief discussion about the different ways in which we might learn including visual, auditory and kinesthetic the students completed a short survey to help them recognise some of their own habits and start to learn more about the way they learn best. We will be building on this initial view of our learning and the students will be using what they find out to help make learning decisions to support their learning further.

Creative thinking activities: There were two creative thinking activities today. The first was a “ Power of three” activity. The students were given some interesting and surprising questions and asked to give three possible answers to them. What else could you call and orange? What are would be some of the consequences of everybody going to school for only four days a week or what sports and hobbies can you combine to create a completely new sport? There were some awesome answers ! Here are a few which stood out: Soccer shot put - Elizabeth, Submarine shark racing - Lola, Toccer ( tennis with soccer balls ) - Thomas, Swimming/ Long jump - Ella and Iceskating Netball - Ayla and Sinead.

It appeared that the creative juices were flowing because later on in the day when the students were discoverers and creating their own “ discovered island” there were some fantastic, creative ideas. Descriptions of lands and trees dripping in lollies and magical animal infested forests were starting to take shape. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to complete this task and so it will be completed next Tuesday.

There were a few new concepts introduced today including the Habits of Mind. The Habits of Mind, 16 habits which can be used to help make intelligent decisions and lead decisions when one is faced with a new or uncertain situation. Habits such as managing impulsivity, listening with understanding and empathy and initiative are good Habits to embed in our own behaviours as learners and are something which we strive towards at PK. The students all pulled together to help make a visual display to remind us of these habits. Instead of drawing pictures and making posters, pairs of students made still images which were photographed to graphically represent the habits. There were some excellent examples of habits “in action” be sure to swing by the classroom next week to check out the photos up on the wall.

Also up on the wall are some fine examples of critical thinking. Within the contextual study of discoveries the students completed a PMI (Plus, Minus and Interesting) chart to analyse some of the possible consequences of different discoveries. It was pleasing to see everyone thinking very carefully about the consequences of dinosaur bones being discovered before turning their attention to different discoveries throughout time. John helped out heaps in this activity and thought realy deeply about dinosaur discoveries from different perspectives. Good thinking John! I look forward to thinking more about these discoveries over the coming weeks.

These were just a few highlights from our day. If you’d like to hear more about our first few weeks or more specifically about your child’s transition into PK 2014, please do not hesitate to make an appointment to see me or arrange a mutual time for a telephone call after school or in the evening.

Ka kite


Blog - Tuesday Day 1

A huge welcome to our Pakiki 2014, Tuesday, whanau. It was great to see so many smiling an enthusiastic arrivals this morning ready to start the day of challenge and learning.

After our official Mihi Whakatau ( welcome ) from our NEVNS hosts, we returned to the classroom ready to see what the day was to bring. The students and I played a few “getting to know you games”. By starting with a brief introduction of ourselves and by sharing a surprising fact about ourselves we were warmed up enough to launch into a full scale people Scavenger Hunt. We went on the search for the non broccoli eaters, the maths lovers and the avid readers in our class. Well done everyone who took a risk and questioned a person that they had never met before.

A large part of the morning was taken by the first challenge for the year and it was just that - a challenge ! The idea was to take limited time and classroom resources to build a periscope in a group of 4. After a brief discussion about periscopes and their purpose and location and the scientific ideas involving mirrors and light, the students got started building their periscope. All of the groups can be congratulated for developing a basic design and idea which in principle would have worked. However sadly, we did not have all day to do this activity so only one group were able to complete the periscope within the set time. There were some very creative designs. Ben developed a “window” style design which was a different take on a periscope while Sinead persevered with her ambitious design for a periscope which on our reflection needed slightly more sophisticated resources than we had available at the time.

Moving onto the Social and Emotional Development domain of our day meant that the students spent time reflecting on themselves as individuals. The students identified and shared some of their personal strengths and talents I look forward to helping them find more. After this the students let their creative thinking run wild and recorded as many ideas as they could for amazing experiences which they hope to have in their future. It was awesome to see so many kids dreaming BIG! From worldwide travel, to outer space travel these kids have got some exciting adventures planned. Excellent !!

John our chess tutor dropped by to say Hi! and to meet the Tuesday class. Some kids were lucky enough to squeeze in a game before lunchtime but there were definite connections being made among the already experienced chess players in the group.

This afternoon we explored the new content focus of “Discovery” Discovery is a very broad topic so we began by talking about what we thought Discovery was. There were very good examples of personal discoveries made thanks John and Lola for sharing the hedgehog stories! and some other classmembers started making headway with an actual definition of discovery- no easy task. Some, not all, of the ideas presented included: “discovery is about uncovering something new”, “sometimes by accident, but not always” “sometimes people have been searching for something to be discovered” “ explorers were discoverers” “sometimes discoveries can be bad” “ Scientists do discoveries, they need to do lots of research first and read about other people’s discoveries” and “ we can all be discovers” ....

With this idea in mind, the students became discoverers by delving deeper into the lives of the mystery people. By using inductive reasoning or what Lola and I called “jigsaw” thinking, the children explored a bag of artefacts, bits and bobs in a lost bag belonging to an unknown person and started to draw assumptions about the life of the person. By looking at the small clues, each group was able to make suggestions about the person’s life, hobbies, age, lifestyle... There was a great deal of thinking done during this activity today, some excellent justification of thoughts and some excellent inductive reasoning.

From skimming over the end of day reflections, I can see that there was a lot of new thinking done today, some new friends made and little energy left to go home with. I’m looking forward to doing it all again next week, I hope you are too.

Ka kite