29th November.
Howdy all,
sorry about the long wiki-delay. Pakiki life has been so busy with learning journals; sharing and awards nights that I had to streamline operations and sadly, for a while, the wiki went on hold. It is great to be back. We had a fun day today trying to finish as much of our passion projects as we could before the end of our year.HIghlights today were Paxton being the first Tuesday Pakiki Kid to finish his hero study (on Nelson Mandela); Jack Lundy making great progress on his comiclife; Noah problem solving and acquiring a new skill (putting text on imovie for his tap dancing tutorial); Christopher's whirligig experiment and George's excellent chemistry reflections; Tobias writing Tuesday's first election policies. The BIG highlight of the day, for me, was Sophie finishing her spooky story Bubblegum and Blood. Sophie started in the morning, battled writer's block, found her writing mojo after morning tea break and then wrote from 11- 2:30 without stopping! She even wrote while she was eating her lunch. I have added the finished product as a file (with the author's permission, of course) for those who want to have a read; I highly recommend it. Way to go Sophie!!!! Here's the rundown of the day:
Tuesday 29th November
Habits of Mind for the day = Questioning and Posing Problems
Warm Up: Figure out the quote. What do you think Aristotle means?
Kaplan - new ideas to explore - origin; impact
Dictionary search - questions for your project.
Independent Work Options:
Change/Affective Domain:
Hero study! Reading about your hero. Taking notes - remember brief! Design a product to show your Heroes values and how they acted on them.
Passion Projects:
Reflect, Aim, Fire! or....if you are waiting for computer choose these (a) Starting on your election campaign (b) Chess (c) checking term 2 Learning journals
Mental Edge:
Caring Thinking - Values - Pakiki Election: writing policy
Philosophy reflections
Clean Up

And here's Sophie's story : )

Ka kite!
Mr. K
1 November
Tuesday 1st November
280 minutes
Morning = 115 min
Warm Up (10 mins): with Deb
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: (60 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)
planning your activity - mental edge + content.
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)
What is it to be a human
Clean Up (10 mins)
Reflection (10 mins)
Game (5 mins)

This was today. We started our Pakiki election campaign. The children have become party members of the honest, fairness, respect or caring party. Their task over the next few weeks is to sell their party to the others before the voting begins. At the same time they are going to be exploring some important values that fit into our exploration of caring thinking. Today they unpacked their particular value and started thinking about a party name. Passion projects are trucking on - Tobias has his robot dancing now, wahoo! We got Christopher's wings to demonstrate lift, if only briefly. Our sharing night planning is underway - we have to put together a mental edge activity we have learnt this year, tie it to some content we have learnt at Pakiki and prepare the activity to teach to the parents on sharing night. It should be fun : ) We also took our hero study to the next step with students choosing someone who has done amazing things for others from a range of literature I brought from the library. It was great to see students reading and thinking about their chosen hero. The central research question for their study is "'what values does the person demonstrate?" In the afternoon we investigated Aristotle again, today looking at his idea of human nature. First thought we unpacked what we thought human nature meant. Aristotle thinks we are physical, social and rational beings with the latter our most important feature and that which distinguishes us from other animals. We got to finish the day by watching a video of a cat who showed a few more figuring out skills than your average feline and the question the children were left to think about is to what degree do they think animals can show rationality.

Cheers team,
25 October
Welcome to term 4 Tuesday. We were lucky enough to have two wonderful helpers today - Tor, who was able to help with the morning session which included the always mildly chaotic passion projects; and Barbara (Sophie's grandmother) an ex-teacher who was anything but 'ex' today, and who graced us with a whole days fantastic help. Cheers Tor and Barbara! We also were able to make use of our wonderful new television - a big thanks to Gary Denton who donated this to us. It is great to be able to take advantage of a range of multiliteracies to engage our students and the big t.v. makes this much more feasible. Here's the days programme (note the corrected maths, eh kids: )

Tuesday 25th 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

Clean Up (10 mins)

Reflection (10 mins)

We managed to get through the whole day, except for the sharing night session - though in respect to Aristotle we got a ten minute game of 20 questions (animal, mineral, vegetable) in at the end. Well done Tane for answering so splendidly and thinking of a good animal for us to try and figure out. The highlight for me was seeing these wonderful 7-9 year olds listening about and debating Aristotle's notion of eudaemonia : ) Due to our focus on 'caring thinking this term we unpacked 'empathy' by first watching a couple of clips of amazing animal moments (a hippo saving a baby gazelle and a leopard mothering a baby baboon). In response the children wrote (in any form they liked) from the perspective of one of the animals. The aim was to see if we could imagine what feeling the animal must have had so that it would decide to save an 'other' species. Much of the writing I read was great - we had a news interview with Harry Hippo, ballad style poetry, lists of thoughts and much more that I can't remember now (sorry!) Hopefully we will get a chance to publish some of these before the term is done. Our change and affective domain integrated unit this term is heroes/ We are going to study a real-life hero and focus on the values they hold and the changes acting on these values have brought to the world. Today we focussed on defining a hero and wondering whether there were common values that all heroes share. We then created heroes of our own and outlined the values they had - what drove them to do the things they did. This was quite challenging but everyone came up with something and many recognised the heroic do things for others. I challenged the children to ponder the idea of psychological egoism. This school of thought argues that people only do altrusitic acts to satisfy their own ego and not strictly to help others - think of the shepherd who looks after the flock not for the sake of the sheep but for the profit of the meat, or a person who helps the poor and starving driven by a sense of their own spiritual goals (the students may have forgotten this as it was only a bit of an aside during our discussion, but if you get the chance foster their critical minds with a discussion over dinner : )

In the afternoon we found and collected our learning journal activities from term one and then introduced Aristotle, explored the meanings of acting virtuously and eudaemonia; and debated whether 'flourishing' was the best aim of being a human. Fun stuff. I think that's about it today. Thanks again to Barbara and Tor. Safe travels home Barbara : )

See you all next week,

4 October
Our last Tuesday of the term started with a warm up called SCAMS. The task was to think of a sentence where each word started with its respective place in the SCAMS anagram. We shared a few quickly and got the idea that a sentence needs a verb and a subject. The aim was originality and fluency. After a few were successfully managed some students challenged themselves to try the anagram backwards as well.

We followed this by discussing the state of being calm. This was another affective domain lesson that followed on from our work on frustration, anger and confusion. We unpacked emotive states that make us calm and things we do to help ourselves feel calm. Once that was done we settled into a comfortable spot in the class and listened to a few minutes of TIbetian meditation music. When we awoke from that trance we set about expressing our state of being. We had some poems, art, a list of ‘fresh ideas’, and some sketches. What was awesome was that we didn’t have any stress over the work , or any subsequent work during the day, even though some of it had been stress inducing for some students on previous occasions. I’m not sure there is a correlation but I figure every little bit helps : )

After our calm-ness we tackled the difficult task of choosing and reflecting on work we had done this term. Again the students were challenged to choose what they thought were the three best pieces of work across two curriculum areas they had done this term. It is not necessary that the work was finished because part of the GKP philosophy is to understand the importance of the process. For some of the students this was a relatively easy task, for others a bit more of a struggle BUT we all got there in the end.

We also worked further on our passion projects and once again had the excellent help of Tor - thanks! I spent a reasonable amount of time today with Kieran and his song. He has done a good job of notating his melody so today we went through it and lined it up with the lyrics as best we could in the time available. We also corrected the occasional odd sounding note. Well done Kieran! Your commitment and independence on this task has been excellent and there are times when your melody matches the lyrics brilliantly.

After lunch those of us that needed to completed the self-reflections for the term and others worked on invention ideas (others still, who just couldn’t resist went back to passion projects - it is hard to deny this kind of commitment and enthusiasm). In the inventions world Noaha nd Jack invented, designed and made bubble wrap shoes. They are now starting to construct an ad campaign for them. Frances worked on analysing an invention that causes pollution - the car. In unpacking the information she found out she had to work hard on increasing her vocab - good on you Frances. I really like the way you were willing to continue on even when the going got tough! Tino pai!

That’s all from this term,
have a great break team Tuesday,

27th September
Kia ora koutou,

Buddy Day! Today most everybody was able to bring a buddy from their home school along to introduce them to Pakiki kids. 31 of us squeezed into the Pakiki class and were treated to a series of lessons given by the Pakiki kids themselves. It was great for the children to meet each other and to make further connections between the home school and ourselves. The buddies proved to be great ambassadors for their respective schools.

We started our day with quick introduction, then a droodles lesson from Finn and George. They introduced some droodles and challenged the children to find answers then set the buddies off to create their own. Noah and Ben had the children continue to warm up their thinking skills with a lesson on logic puzzles.

We followed this lesson with a technology challenge led by Annelise, Sophie and Kieran, This was a net challenge where the children needed to try and save Barbie from a terrible fall. Two teams were co-winners but everybody came up with some kind of design. Tobias and Paxton taught us how to move chess pieces and helped the pairs as they had a go at chess. After lunch, Odette (who seemed particularly at home with the teaching role : ) and Frances taught us how to make adaptations using the BAR key, after negotiating what criteria determined a frame for the children to work within. We ended the day with Christopher and Jack guiding a scamper art activity.

All in all a fun and purposeful day. A big well done to the team of teachers!

See you all next week,
Mr. K
13 September
Kia ora,
Today started with a mental edge B.A.R exercise - bigger, add, replace an invention of your choosing. We used the L.A.C.E brainstorming tool to work on invention ideas then set to it. This activity aims at encouraging creative thinking and we sure got some of that with toilets that teach you how to dance ( a time saving idea, apparently); planes and tanks that have their weapons replaced so they can be used for dispersing fireworks and street parade confetti/streamers;
We followed this with an affective domain activity that focussed on anger. We unpacked what we thought it looked and felt like, what can start it and who it might be directed at, and what colours we thought represented it. Then we looked at some paintings of anger that I had discovered. We discussed the different ways the artists had represented their emotions then we set about creating our own anger paintings. We closed our eyes, a pencil and newsprint in front of us, then we slowly worked on imagining ourselves in an angry state, where we were, what we felt had triggered the anger and so on. We then expressed our anger through lines on a page. Lastly, we chose colours that we thought best represented our own anger and painted. I will take some photos and try and figure out how to make them a small enough resolution to put up on the blog - sadly this will probably have to wait for my macbook to return from the repair shop : (
After lunch we were lucky enough to have Tor come and help us with passion projects. This assistance is very much appreciated and provides more opportunity for the students to get the individual assistance they need. (If you ever hear a politician, or an academic for that matter (John Hattie, I'm thinking of you), say that class size and student/adult ratio is irrelevant for good learning please remember they are either ignorant, lying or manipulating research for political gain. Just remind them that even BETTER learning takes place when the numbers are low - I'll get off my soap box now and just say thanks again to Tor : ). Today, some kids made very good progress - Milo and Kieran need to be acknowledged for the hard yards they put in. Christopher is a hair dryer away from putting 3 flight experiments together, George has his chemistry planned and ready to go, Annelise discovered who Jennifer Graham is and might wonder a little about ethical issues around dissection (or maybe just why someone like Jennifer Graham would put up such a fuss?). Jack has photos of dragons in battle for his first comic, Finn figured out comic life and discovered a few pitfalls along the way. Tobias got two robots built and ready to boogie, NOah completed a few slides on his tap dancing keynote, Ben problem solved his way around the catapult wheel issue (well done Ben) and Tane can be commended for the way he overcame his frustration when his digital lego house disappeared in a computer crash millisecond. HIs rebuild was much better - well done Tane! Frances completed the first installment of Kitty Cougar, we can't wait for next week, Sophie made a decision about a key part of her story's plot and Odette discovered a review can't just say what a book is about but has to tell us what is good, bad or indifferent about it. Paxton caught well up to speed on his project by choosing and adding some more drama to his Pakikilandia myth - great perseverance and striving for excellence Paxton!
After lunch we were privileged enough to have the New Zealand String Quartet perform for us. They were amazing musicians who have been playing together for 5 hours a day for 17 years! They did a very good job of engaging the students who, in turn, did a fine job of listening. What an afternoon treat!
I look forward to catching up with you all again next week.
Take care, Scott.

6 September

We started with some creative thinking as a warm up - to think of and record unusual used for a broken tv. Frances’ idea of setting one up as a garden ornament with a remote control wielding garden gnome was the days favourite, with Finn’s adaptation of an aerial for a home-made fishing rod came a close second.

After our brains were going we switched to affective domain and thought about the emotion ‘frustration’. We explored synonyms, what it feels like, looks like and what might be some common triggers in our lives. Then we practised making frustrated faces, then broke into groups to mime a frustrating experience. Having immersed ourselves in frustration I introduced them to a short poem I had written called frustration about losing a pen. With a poetic structure to work with (though they were not restricted to it) and a shared vocabulary, they were set off to write their own frustration poems. This class seems to really enjoy poetry and before long I had some fine pieces of work, and some excellent drafts to work with the children in reshaping. Well done Pakiki.

We swapped from poetry to passion projects in the middle session of the day. Phew! Anyone who feels like hanging out with us for a section of the day would be very welcome at passion time - with 16 projects on the go it is a challenge to give everyone the same amount of me on a given day. Having said that many children made very good progress. Milo accumulated notes on the symptoms of tuberculosis, gaining some new knowledge and working on the skill of note taking. Christopher explored some great experiments to test the four principles of flight he discovered last week. George set about working out which chemistry experiments he was interested in and took notes on scientific method. Tobias got most of a robot put together, Kieran wrote the melody for the first 5 bars of the lyrics he had composed last week, Frances created a series of drawings to use to create her Kitty Cougar comic strip and learnt how to draw some profile shots, Tane discovered what a cantilever was and began creating his lego house. Noah has answered the majority of his questions about tap and found out that, surprisingly, the Australian tap style is louder than the American (does that tell us anything ;) Odette, who had a writing frenzy in the morning session, compiled notes on the making of a good review, and read some children’s reviews of Roald Dhal stories. Jack has a simple plot ready to begin turning into a stop-motion movie next week, Ben got stuck on attaching an axle to his wheel on lego digital designer but we have posted questions to those more knowledgeable who might be able to help. Sophie started her plot to go with the characters and setting she produced last week for the scary story she is writing and Annelise read through information on how to dissect a mouse, as well as designing and beginning to construct the latest in bubble wrap umbrellas - the funbrella : ) All of this in an hour and a bit! Keep it up Pakiki Tuesday.

After lunch Justin, the electrical technician from the university, arrived and helped us dismantle (don’t believe the reflection audio - we did not ‘smash them up’!) the electronics we had been kindly donated. Each of the children had the challenge of discovering the name and purpose of one component and it was great at the end to hear them sharing their newfound knowledge of capacitors, microchips, oscillators, resistors, speaker magnets, circuit boards and so on. Big thanks to Justin who worked wonderfully with the children, frequently asking them what they thought rather than simply giving them the answers.

A great tidy up to finish the day - thanks team.

Hope you all had fun, I was very impressed with your efforts. See you all next week.


30 August

Hi all,
We started our day with a maths warm up = finding as many ways and some complicated ways to get to 27 without using either the digits 2 or 7 in the equation. We then got down to seriously starting our passion projects. I gave each student an empty target sheet for the day. They had to fill out what they aimed to achieve with their passion project that day and to reflect on their progress at the end of the session. The students settled well into their tasks. Sophie, who was planning her scary story using a "How to write Chillers' text as a guide, worked so hard she went straight through the interval break. Tobias got his garageband loop organised for his robots to dance to, Kieran has written a couple of verses of his song's lyrics - a bit of a doom and gloom number about the difficulties humans face and create. Jack started planning a simple computer game about a rock star, including hazards to avoid and objects you need to grab. Frances constructed her comic strip character - Kitty Cougar while Finn started storyboarding his first comic strip which includes the character Fred and a vampire. Christopher started learning about flight, he found out about the variables of lift, gravity, thrust and drag (can you remember how they interact Christopher? : ) Ben started designing his catapult, Odette chose the three texts she wants to examine and started making art work for her reviews. George, who was away last week, got planning on his science ideas.

After the passion projects we turned to affective domain. Today we did some cameo writing. I constructed a three paragraph text - each paragraph talking about three important elements of childhood - family, school and passions, and feelings and ways we deal with them. The children read it together then identified parts they liked (or would like to improve). I explained to them we were co-editing my writing and in a way they were helping me, in a very similar way to how I help them with their writing. We shared our ideas and I recorded some of the writing 'tricks' and techniques that were in the prose. The children were then given a target-style sheet with three rings - one for each part of the plan of their own prose. They were asked to plan and begin writing prose about themselves in relation to their family, school and passions and one kind of emotion they experience. Many children took to this activity in a constructive way. Frances, Odette, Tobias, George, Jack and Finn were notable in the way they tackled a topic that was clearly a little difficult. Well done to all those who tried hard at a hard lesson - to look at yourself. This is, no doubt, particularly difficult as a young child but a valuable skill to slowly start to acquire., and one we can keep working on in different ways.

After lunch we were hoping to have a visit from an electrical technician who was going to help us dismantle some electronics that have been kindly donated by the Pakiki community. Sadly, he didn't make it, though he is coming next week - at least we are organised into our groups and have selected the electronics we are going to take apart! It was awesome to see the way the class were able to handle the disappointment at the technician 'no-show' - well done team!! Instead we did some bar code art. This is a continuation of the use of art as a way to think creatively (a bit like the SCAMPER art from last week). This time the students took a bar code and created a picture out of the lines as a way to represent themselves. There was a notable gender divide in the way this was done - lots of bar code castles and armouries from the boys : )

Cheers all, see you next week!
Mr. K.

Welcome back Tuesday after an extended break, courtesy of the snow. We warmed ourselves up today with a what if ...there was no moon. The children noticed a bunch of things that would change - language, tides, the kinds of boats we would use, poetry and stories - there would be no hey diddle diddle even! We then worked on our creative thinking with some SCAMPER art. The children had to rip up a piece of paper then think what their ripped up shape might 'become' as part of a scene. There were some very nice pieces as a result. Frances created a wonder pig, Annelise a set of personified chess pieces, elephants, anteasters, hedgehogs, and owls were also on show. Well done everyone.

We continued preparing for our passion projects today. First, we analysed the interviews we had conducted. We watched Kieran's interviews on the projector and analysed these as a class so people had some skills before heading out to look at the other interviews (by the way, well done for doing these homework interviews and thanks to those who agreed to be interviewed!). We searched for similarities between the interview answers to build on the patterns of passionate people that the older classes had found last week. Tuesday's crew added some new ones today - 'it is never too late to start a passion'; 'research and look for help' were a couple of our new contributions. These patterns now serve as a kind of set of habits of minds of passionate people that we have found in our own research - good searching team, now it is our turn to demonstrate we can have these habits ourselves!

We then set about planning our passion projects. The planning involved thinking about a couple of topics the students might like to do, rating them on a set criteria, choosing the winner then detailing what the project would aim to achieve, the resources that would be needed and the questions that would need to be ask. Finally, the students conferenced their plan with me and together we tuned it into a manageable project. This took some work and I was glad to see Sara Sinclair (the educator from the Otago Settlers Museum) arrive to help in the afternoon. This allowed me to continue to conference with the children I was not able to get to mid-morning. Cheers Sara!

While I was conferencing, Sara engaged the children with a quick pre-assessment on the inventions study and went over the invention activity choices the students are to work on over the term. At the end of the day a few of us got to see Kieran's awesome Leonardo Da Vinci study - I never realised Da VInci contributed as much to the war effort at the time. Thanks Kieran, I look forward to having a longer view of your hard work when I am not so busy with other missions. All in all another busy day, where the scamper art proved the highlight for most : ) Passion projects start in earnest next week so be ready team.

Cheers, Scott

Kia ora,

Today we got to visit the Gasworks museum, see coal gas being made and check out all the fantastic old machinery that was still going, with our guide John B. This place is great - one of only 3 operational in the world and well worth a visit. Despite it mostly being an informational tour (though we did get to toot a steam whistle!) the children really enjoyed it. When we returned to the class the kids practiced their pmi skills by doing a plus minus and interesting about the visit and the only minus they could come up with was the smell (although George said he liked it and had no minus' to speak of) but there were many positives and interestings shared.

Before the visit we watched a brief clip from the Simpsons which satired a gifted classroom via stereotypes. We then discussed stereotyping some more and collated the kind of characteristics we thought were used in portraying this stereotype. I challenged the students to spot any other gifted stereotypes they might see, read, hear in their worlds and to post anything they find on the wiki.

Earlier we had honed our creative thinking by passing around the 'SCAMPER Bag' - the children had to think of one aspect of the chosen item that they would substitute for something that they felt would make an improvement; and honed our critical thinking by working on another cort tool - consequences - the investigation was what would be the positive and negative consequences of being the brightest kid in the class. The challenge was to think of the short term, medium term and long term consequences (this lead to a quick discussion on the relativity of time).

In the afternoon we built on the trip to the gasworks (which started to provide the city with streetlights) by doing a quick look at some light inventions over time. The students put together a timeline jigsaw, then chose one invention to explore influences that had lead to this change (this is one of the 'debateable truths' or generalisations about change that the GKP programme asks us to explore - that change can be influenced). All of the groups were able to find at least one influence
: )

Cheers all! here's a few of thetrip photos.

Jack toots the whistle
Let there be light
Kieran and the crew check out the traction engine

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome back to the first week of the new term. We had a busy thinking day to start things off and get us geared up for our new learning. This involved introducing and practising some new mental edge tools - L.A.C.E and P.M.I. We also spent time discussing stereotypes and how they might apply to gifted children. The idea of a stereotype was quite a difficult concept for the children to grasp so any discussion you can do at home would be beneficial in supporting this. As an activity, the students drew what they thought represented a way others might stereotype a gifted student. Next week, we will continue to unpack the idea and the children will drew a representation of how they see themselves as a gifted student.

We talked about our passion projects, which is a major focus over the next two terms. The students choose a passion area of their own and work towards producing something that showcases their efforts. Today we unpacked what it is to be passionate about something. The students decided it was doing something you loved; being very interested about something; wanting to do something and being good at something. Their first task, which is homework (a Pakiki first!) is to interview someone who has a passion area. Today we developed questions we would like to ask and the students each took home a sheet with these on it. They are able to record the interview process with any appropriate medium - video, audio or written. The idea is for them to start to see what it means to develop and nurture a passion.

We played some suicide chess today and some were able to use the chess clock we had donated to us to play speed chess. Tobias had a time victory over George in the first Pakiki speed match up.

After lunch we introduced the change topic for the term, which is inventions. We thought about the way inventions change over time, then drew one from the past and what we thought it might look like in the future. We also read Leonardo and the Flying Boy and talked about the habits of mind that were evident throughout the story.

Great to see you all again Pakiki Tuesday - catch you next week!

Mr. K

Kia ora all,

I have a different approach today and have uploaded some of the work the students did. We have myths about some of their invented worlds; a new rap from Tobias and Tane about Egypt and the Romans conquering it; poetry from Jack and Kieran (sorry Odette, I thought I had your poems on the pen drive but now I can't find them!) and photos of the paintings the art group completed today. I want also to say a big thank you to Roz and Sam who have been helping our Pakiki kids with art and maths respectively over the last couple of weeks - we really appreciate your expertise!!




The maths group deep in thought under the tutelage of Sam!

Cheers all - enjoy the wonderful work!

A fun filled day at Pakiki yesterday. On the audio player at the top we have a rap written by Jack and recorded on garageband, all about the leadership of Montezuma and how it contributed to the decline of the Aztec empire. Most of the class enjoyed this process and it was great to see what a team they could be working silently while Jack recorded in the classroom! This rap was part of the more in-depth look at the themes of decline we have been looking at over the last couple of weeks. Other products for this theme include Christopher's art, Tobias and Tane's Egyptian rapping puppets, and Paxton's crossword ( I would have remembered more if I had time to write this yesterday! : )

At talent time the artists chose a part of one of their sketches they wanted to enlarge. This allowed them to practise the skills they had been shown last week by Roz. The writers worked with me writing poetry. After last weeks animal poems (which the writers wrote to thank Bartha Hill for her help) were such a success I thought we would have a go at haiku. In my reading about haiku, I found that traditionally they were about the seasons...so for a genuine experience I got the writers to put their jackets on and head out into the southerly blast we were having. I thought 2 minutes in the cold would give them the sensory taste they needed to write authentic poetry. It must have worked because I thought their poems were awesome. Not only was their writing great but their whole attitude to writing poetry is something a teacher dreams of ... well done Kieran, Odette and Jack. The mathematicians meanwhile were lucky enough to have Sam come in and help them with their maths. Sam is studying maths and physics at university and has been passionate about maths since he was the age of our Pakiki kids. Thanks so much Sam, the team were excited for you to come and share your talent and passion and they look forward to seeing you again next week.

We warmed our day up with a 'what if' session, which asked what if animals could talk. We also practised our thinking skills with some question-asking revision around a video clip called 'Stories from the Stone-Age'. This lead nicely into our Pakikilandia civilisations, many of whom have "evolved" humanoid creatures to about the stone-age. They were working today on myths that explained some important part of their societies environment. We sat together and read "Paikea" (the story of the whale rider from Whangara) to help us unpack the elements of a myth.

The students have been asked to think about the 3 products they would like to be included in their learning profiles from this term's work. Over the next couple of weeks they will choose these and complete a self-assessment on the product they have chosen.

Cheers team, enjoy the rap!

see you all next week, Scott.

14 June

Chiotlaki! (guess the language for a marshmallow)

This morning we started with a new warm up - droodles. These are a cross between a riddle and a doodle and were invented by an Italian painter in the 16th century. I remember them from primary school as a series of drawings with people wearing sombreros. The children got to interpret several droodles and one or two even started drawing some of their own. We the did some shared reading about pareidolia, which is the psychology that droodles are based on. This is the idea that humans tend to order random or chaotic patterns - like e.g. seeing shapes and faces in clouds and rock. We took a quick look at some other psychological stimuli that demonstrates the way the mind compensates and 'sees' what it likes based on previously acquired knowledge and experience about the world.

We followed this by going over our criteria for Pakikilandia, taking stock and self-assessing what we had achieved this far. Some of the children then continued with their Pakikilandia - creating and explaining adaptations on a humanoid, while others went onto talent time. The maths group were busy working out the velocity of toy cars travelling down a ramp. THey did a fine job of this and next week they will be challenged to convert their findings from metres/second to kilometres/hour.

After play we had the MInisters of Change and Decline, from our empire study, present their combined reasons for why their empires had fallen. We collated this information and then we chose a way to represent one of the four themes that had emerged - invasion, resources, leadership, and greed. The students chose an array of interesting products to represent their chosen theme. We have plays, puppets, videoed dramatisations with toys, crosswords, art, animations and powerpoints going on. Some of the children have taken an broad approach that explores the meaning of the theme, while others have taken specific examples of it from our studies. The idea is to highlight the inevitability of change to empires, to tackle what might be causal influences and then to analyse something about the current time period and see if similar themes are evident. Time may be against us in achieving all of this but there will be a lot of learning on the journey, even if we don't get all that we aim for achieved.

After lunch we went into talent groups, and the maths group from the morning did their Pakikilandia. The artists all demonstrated excellent attention to their task today. Finn found out more about Napoleon, including amazing facts about how much food and drink he was given as a daily allowance when in exile. The writers were again with Bartha HIll, and from what I can gather from Odette's reflection they were working on a fake newspaper report, A few of the students managed to squeeze in some suicide chess amongst our busy schedule.

Cheers all,


7 June

Sain baina uu! (Hello in Mongolian)

Our first Pakiki Kids open day was a success, especially for the Mongolians who took out the empire challenge mostly due to a splendid display in the quiz. Everybody got into the spirit of the day with fantastic costumes, food and participation. Thank-you so much parents for all your efforts behind the scenes. To those adults who were able to come along thanks for your support and the way you joined in which contributed to us having such a fun day. Pakiki Tuesday kids, you can be pleased with how well you managed yourselves and the good-natured spirit you engaged in the competition. For those who weren't able to make it - we had a series of competitions based on skills and knowledge we have been learning and practising over the last few weeks. Once again - well done the Mongolians!! Photos will follow (I can only load them from home). Don't forget to add your reflections.

Till next week, bayartai!

3/4 of the winning Mongolian Horde - watch out for a photo of Paxton comingsoon!
here's Paxton, as promised!

An Ancient United Nations

31 May

Phew, it was a very busy morning today with all of the children starting and completing their civilisation posters. The notes had been gathered already (as much as we had time for anyway) and it was time to go with open day next week. We started with a brain warm-up, calculating as many ways as we could think of to get to 23. The children seemed to enjoy this maths challenge. Then we thought about our Kaplan's again. This is quite a complicated set of thinking tools that are taking time for the children to grasp, but it is a long-term project. Today we looked at a 'typical' nine year old student's poster and asked ourselves in what way we could use Kaplan's to enhance the work. I then focussed specifically on ethics and multiple perspectives, two of the ideas that I believe most get the children to explore their own thinking. The poster was of a world war two pilot, and today's children found it difficult to consider ethical challenges that might be involved in this, though some of them did start to get the idea and came up with the notion that it was unfair if you were to be put in danger of harm without a choice. From this idea I told them about an experience with corporal punishment I remembered from school (not my own punishment I am pleased to say). This was a situation without choice and was potentially harmful. They were away and almost everybody had a point of view they could explain and rationalise. Brilliant stuff team Tuesday. They were then challenged to go their notes on civilisations and choose one of these Kaplan's tools to make an "I think...because" statement about something they had found out.

Once this was done we bounced back to the mat to watch a short youtube clip on making a successful poster. We took notes on what we thought were important points and then got to it! Thank goodness for Tor Devereux who came to help out in the morning. We absolutely would not have made it without her support - kia ora Tor! As it was with the two of us on the go typing the children's words and the children focussed and hardworking, turning their notes into sentences and then thinking about and constructing their visual language, we completed every poster between 10 and 12:30 : ) I didn't believe it was possible and it sets an excellent precedent for the older children. Let's see if they can match Pakiki Tuesday's goal setting, perseverance, and excellence. One of the children commented that determination was their habit of mind this morning and even though it isn't actually on the habits of mind list, Jack and I both agreed it should be. Only a small number of children commented in their end of day reflections that they enjoyed this project but many commented that it challenged them. It was not overly creative, was intense because of time constraints and provided challenging new skills, so I understand the lack of a feeling of 'fun'. However, what I would like for them to enjoy is the sense of achievement at persisting at something despite the challenges, and achieving a result. As so many gifted individuals remind us talent without persistence typically amounts to little. Today Pakiki Tuesday demonstrated both talent and persistence (not that they had a choice on the latter ; ) I am also satisfied they have developed new skills to build on.

In the afternoon we moved into our talent groups. Bartha Hill returned to work with the writing group. She has really captured the writers who often remark on this part of their day to me. The maths group knuckled away at a very difficult problem but were rewarded by getting to watch a maths video about designing hot wheels cars. The art group continued with their sketches. Anneleise is constructing a wonderful underwater scene that emerged out of a tree sketch, and Sophie has been inspired to do something similar, Christopher completed his 4/5th sketch in 4/5 days - a birds eye perspective of a formula one car in action, Tane was inventing a new kind of car and Milo finished his Roman soldier, which I think is his finest artwork to date. Well done.

Thanks all, I wonder if you feel anywhere near as exhausted as I do?? : ) See you all next week.

24 May

Today we warmed up by asking what would the world be like if school was no longer compulsory. Most of the children focussed on changes that would be made to themselves, however, Ben cleverly noticed that builders might have less work. Following the warm up We started with a lesson on using an index that focussed on looking beyond the one word you started looking for. The children were challenged to find as many words as they could in an index I had photocopied, about buildings, and then children. This encouraged them to think more broadly about the kinds of keywords that might also include information about a given topic. They did a very good job of this, working in pairs, and were very excited about their discoveries.Then we got down to the business of getting as many notes taken on our civilisation as we could. This was a hard working period for the kids driven by our desire to have some finished product come open day : ) It is always good to have deadlines but I could tell after an hour or so I was not going to get anymore of this kind of learning out of them. Having said that a number of children finished their note taking and were able to start writing these notes up - well done Finn, Odette, Milo, Paxton and others for such great focus.

After play we watched a small part of a LIfe documentary (the David Attenborough ones that have been on PrimeTv) about adaptation. We then created an animal for our Pakikilandia civilisations, outlining its features and explaining these in terms of adaptations to the particular environment it lives in. Everybody seemed to enjoy this and the class was a buzz with shared ideas. I was busy conferencing with children about their note-taking but I could here group discussions going on about their animals, how it survives and what features it has. It is an important thing for teachers to remember, I think - sometimes class chatter is still on-task, and these kids were busy exchanging ideas about what they were doing. Great stuff Pakiki.

After lunch we had a special visitor - Bartha Hill, who is an author from our community. She came to talk to the class about being an author and to work specifically with our storytellers group. This is a wonderful opportunity for these children, and she hopes to publish a shared book of their stories at the end of her time with us. The art group will be able to contribute to the illustrations for what would be a great product if time allows. Our time is limited at Pakiki, of course, with only one day a week for learning so sometimes product is difficult to achieve compared to what can be done in a 5 day a week class. However, there is a lot of valuable process learning going on and this writing opportunity will, at the least, be a fantastic example of this even if we don't reach the finished product we hope to. The writers were very engaged with Bartha and many commented in their reflections how much they enjoyed it. Tu meke!

Till next week, ka kite e hoa ma.

17 May

It was good to be back in the class armed with a few new ideas. Today we trialled the beginning of a more seamless approach with different groups of children doing different things at different times. This allows me to spread myself a little further, which in turn lets me hold small tutorial groups more regularly. I feel the teaching is improved as I get to spend more time with each group. Today we focused on a staple crop in our construction of our own environment (we are calling the world Pakikilandia - the kids have particular names for each of their own places). We watched some small clips of a plant life cycle and the act/art of pollination. The children then had to provide a detailed close-up of their plant with labels and a scale. They then constructed its life-cycle and means of pollination, with, if appropriate a close-up of the pollinator. While this was going on the maths talent group worked with me on rations and some algebra that works out the feasibility of a solar power plant in space. They then did their Pakikilandia after play while the other two talent groups went on with their learning. The art group expanded their sketching portfolio with some of them trying a new sketching technique that builds on the skills they gained from contour drawing. The story writers wrote introductory passages, taking their cues from the plot graphs they have created for their stories, and making sure they were painting a picture of the scene of their story.

After lunch we had a lesson on note taking and researching out of books - using index and contents to guide your search. Then we set about taking notes on our ministerial role for our civilisation. I was very impressed with how hard the children worked at this, which for most is a new and challenging task. Well done Pakiki!


10 May

I was in Wellington visiting another gifted class, and getting to meet my tutor teacher today which was very valuable. The children had Mr Phillips and from what I hear they had a very good day constructing electronic circuits. Sorry no reflections today.

3 May

Well, back into it for a new term. Was great to see everyone today and thanks to Tor for lunchtime help out and those parents and kids who brought along some resources or sent me some online - I do appreciate your support. This morning we reconnected working in groups on a tricky tech challenge - building a bridge. The ideas was to construct a free standing bridge using string, tape and newspaper, that could hold up the weight of a 300g toy car (Barbie's jeep : ). It was tricky. Christopher, Jack and Finn probably had the design of the day with rolled up newspaper for leg support and guy ropes. Nice work team. The rest of the morning we started to unpack what 'civilized' might mean (not that easy to pin down actually), read the picture book Weslandia and started to create our own civilisation as the main character in the book had done. This allowed the children to engage with some good creative and critical thinking and we will continue to develop their worlds over the next few weeks. To coincide with all this attention to civilisations I have bought the class a computer game called Spore, which allows the player to start as an ameoba type creature swimming around. Success lets them graduate to a land critter, then join in tribes and so on until they develop into a full civilisation. It is g rated and very cutesy but does engage with fundamentals of earthly life - food, land, socialisation, conflict etc.

After play we continued with talent groups. This will go on for a five more weeks. By then each group ought to have a portfolio of work to demonstrate. Today the enviromaths group learned about environmental forestry techniques and worked on some maths problems to do with ratio. The artists continued sketching - I worked on perspective with Christopher and detail with MIlo, Ben and Tane. The story writers continued developing their own stories - Jack constructed an antagonist for his, Frances and Emma begun a main character and Kieran, having already done all this was trying to start writing.

After lunch we practiced Chess notation - we recorded how to notate check, checkmate, castling on the king and queen side. The trickiest part some people are finding is notating from the black side where everything is reversed and one is working from right to left with the rank and counting backwards on the file. But practice makes perfect so we'll keep at it next week : )

After chess we begun exploring the civilisation and empire study we will do for the term. The children went into groups of 4 and chose their civilisation. Then we did a quick reshuffle so everyone could get into the society they wanted - this worked out splendidly - I just hope Anneleise wants to be an Aztec : ) (she was away today) . The children then had to choose which Minister they were going to be. This dictates which area of their society they will study. If you can please ask your child what they have chosen and perhaps there will be a chance for them to do a bit of study at home. We don't really have homework with Pakiki Kids but I get the feeling researching and gathering information will be a bit harder for the younger Tuesday class as they learn the art of notetaking, selecting important info etc. along the way. I have some videos on archeology I will be showing a few minutes of here and there to help hone this skill.

Thanks team for a great first day back. I'll see you all next week : ) By the way I have added the recorded reflections today! First time : )


12th April

Last Tuesday of the term and everyone has been thinking and working very hard so the break will be well deserved. We started today by revisiting the egg transporter tech challenge. We begun this a few weeks ago but the weather had conspired against us and we hadn't got around to finishing it. TOday the weather was perfect. The winning time to transport the egg 20 metres was 45 seconds today, though two other groups were close behind and Anneleise's construction was probably the best at independently and safely holding an egg. Well done to all the terms for having a go at what was a difficult challenge. Jack and my construction failed miserably, so I know how hard it was!

After our challenge we had a quiz on the questioning techniques we have been working on across the whole term. This will help me determine where I should target further support in questioning at the start of next term. After play we broke into our talent groups once again. THe art group started with me and we co-constructed a plan for the next few weeks that we will be working in this way. The artists want to improve their sketching skills first and foremost so we will concentrate in that area. They intend to each produce a small booklet of sketches which they will share as a class resource. Our next step will be to include in our sketch book a technique tip that someone looking through it might be able to work on themselves.

The enviromaths group worked further on their wind-power problem. Today they were averaging numbers to find a value for k they could use to find out what P would be for a 25 m.p.h wind. This required learning about averaging numbers, some problem solving to work out which numbers from their previous work they would need to calculate and finally, accurate calculating of decimal numbers to find the value they needed. They did this well with some guidance. The next step for many of them is to improve on the clarity of their recording, especially the way they lay the problems and solutions out. This will make revisiting and continuted working on a problem over several weeks a little easier. The story tellers were still constructing characters and settings for their stories. They needed to sketch and describe in a paragraph some aspect of the setting they are planning on using.

After talent groups we set up chess. We revisited algebraic notation and today we notated our moves in the back of our ignorance logs. This is a handy skill for chess players, and is one I am learning along with the class. It isn't overly difficult but does require attention to detail as we learn to 'read' the board.

After lunch we had visitors from the college of education. Several students, who are posted at NEVNS, asked if they could come and see what we do and talk a little with me about the programme. I was glad to have the extra hands and always happy to spread the word about Pakiki kids. The students were busy finishing off SCAMPER activities and getting stuck into Thinkers Keys about themselves. Jack has designed a very cool model demonstrating some wonderful imagination. He will be able to build this next term. Noah has drafted a greeting card about himself, and many others are constructing crosswords. We grabbed an old newspaper and let those who needed examine how a crossword is put together. Then they wrote the words (keeping them hidden) and the clues. SOme of them began to actually form the crossword, though these won't be finished till next term.

Well done Pakiki on a great first term, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Now you can rest up while I plan more adventures for next term.

Take care all and enjoy your break!
See you in a few weeks.
Scott Klenner.

Kia ora

5 April

This morning we spent some time with questioning. We have done a fair bit of this over the term but it is an important skill for our work to come. Some of the vital keys to knowledge, I think, are Socrates' adage that the person who knows she or he is ignorant is wiser than one who thinks he or she knows everything already; and the connected idea that, as Einstein said "The important thing is not to stop questioning". But it is also important that we know the kinds of questions to ask depending on the kind of ideas we want to find out about. Today we adapted Bloom's taxonomy to help us ask questions. Bloom thought that there were different stages of knowledge, some more important or that required "higher" thinking then others. I am not so sure about his hierarchy, but using his classifications of knowledge (very broadly these are remembering, using, creating and evaluating) is useful. So...this morning we talked about Benjamin Bloom, looked at our adapted model of his ideas and then started asking "Bloom" questions about the magical pictures in Chris Van Allsberg's The Mysteries of Harris Burbick. The students came up with some intriguing questions and it became clear that many of them were accidentally planning a story to match Van Allsberg pictures. Noticing this I thought, let's write, so the students wrote very short stories ( the target was seven sentences, though many exceeded this) in relation to the picture they had been examining. Milo did very well going beyond the writing amount of writing he normally achieves. He should be very proud of his efforts. Ben and Christopher wrote entertaining short stories along a horror theme, which many children seemed to tap into (the picture was of an ominous but tiny basement door with the handle slowly turning). Most also managed to add an element of humour to their monster or alien stories. Finding the humour in things is one of Costa's scholarly habits of mind and an indicator of giftedness, and I enjoy reading it. When we finished writing we shared our tales to each other and considered things we liked and things that we thought needed improvement. Many of the children had insightful ideas for adjusting aspects of the story and a lot of the students took these ideas on board and made some changes. Oddette and Jack were particularly thoughtful in their contributions and showed all the early signs of great literary critics.

After play we focussed on chess for 40 minutes. We started by revising the do's and don'ts of castling, which we posted on the board; and then we looked at strong starting moves looking particularly at moving the king's pawn two spaces forward so as to open up two 'big' pieces and to have a piece in the centre of the board. The students then went to play and were instructed to try both of these moves today. Most children did (though Kieran felt he always loses when he castles - knowing how good his dad is at chess it would be great to dig deeper into the pros and cons of castling :) I played Sophie and she has improved significantly. We struggled away, analysing each others moves and encouraging each other to ask "why" we made a move, and "why" the opponent made his or her move. After 30 minutes, when we had to stop, things were still very tight. Well done Sophie. After chess we turned to talent groups. We were very lucky that Paxton's Dad came early to help with lunch and was able to assist the enviromaths group in plotting their data on a graph. This was great help and allowed me to spend more time with the other groups. It also opened up a new learning experience for them next week, as the students can now cross referencing their graphing results with their algebraic ones. The artists did contour drawing of each other's faces. This is drawing only focussing on the subject and not looking at the pencil on the paper. This is very challenging but they tried very hard. Once they had done 3 quick sketches like this they were able to do normal still life style sketching seeing both subject and page and, of course, this now felt much easier and they were encouraged to use their extra 'eye focus' to include all the details they could see in their sketches.
The storytellers were designing the chief protagonists for the story they are going to write. They had to consider the personality, as well as the physical aspects of their character. Kieran made very good progress at this and was onto creating his setting. Frances and Emma were still creating detailed plot graphs from last week, but this attention to the elements of the story will facilitate their story writing as it comes.

After lunch we had Val Ward, the principal of Clutha Valley visiting (and helping :) We went back to our change concept and investigated the debatable truth "change can be positive, negative or neutral". We dug deeply into this, providing examples and deciding whether we thought they were positive or negative. Then we chose one we disagreed with and recorded and shared our rationale. This sowed the seed in the minds of the children that judgement about change was dependent on perspective. It was great to see some students, like Tane and Tobias, come up with this idea through their own thinking. We finished the day tidying up our SCAMPER projects, while those who had finished already moved onto using thinking keys to create products telling me more about themselves. As always, I look forward to learning more about each of my students.

Cheers team, see you all next week : )
Mr K.

Bonjour mes amies!

Tuesday 29th March

Whew - big day today! We worked on a technology challenge attempting to make an egg transporter that can carry an egg 20 metres as fast as possible. Our materials were 10 straws, 2 paper clips and 30 cm. of tape. Many of us found this challenging and we lost a few eggs in trial. We ran out of time to do the timed race but will start our day with it next week. The reason we ran out of time is because we had an artist visiting. We were so lucky to have Jack Tilson in this morning. Jack is an art student in his 2nd year at the Dunedin art school. Jack brought in some paintings of his and his art colleagues to show and talk about. He did an amazing job of emphasising the freedom of artistic expression to the children and they responded wonderfully. They were so excited, yet fully on task and interested in his comments and help as he roved around the classroom encouraging, suggesting and applauding their efforts. We painted from 9:30 till 10:45, creating a healthy mess and some wonderful pieces of, for the most part, abstract expressionism. Well done Pakiki artists and Jack. After we cleaned up a bit we reviewed our work, reflected and made comments and read a wonderful art book Tane had brought along which was all about Jackson Pollack's work. Very fitting Tane - thanks to you and Natasha for bringing that today. Also, thanks to the parents for being so supportive with some creative materials for the students to use. It really was a fabulous morning.

After our reflections we broke into our talent groups. Today Finn, Tobias, Paxton, George, and Noah were finding out about wind power and their maths involved using algebra to find out how much power could be generated with differing amounts of wind speed. This is grade 6-8 maths, so the boys did a fine job with some of them figuring out, with very little help, what they needed to do to find the missing variable and others needing a little more help but then excitedly attacking the equations once they understood the process. Meanwhile the artists (who were getting a lot of art today) were made to write : ) They had to examine the art piece they had chosen to sketch last week and write 5 things they liked about it, with the aim to use some of the language of art we had been exploring - line, shape, colour, value and so on. This proved tricky for some of them, especially justifying why they liked something, but they persevered until each of them had something (no-one got to lunch till they had at least 3 things : ) Well done Annaleise, Milo, Tane and especially Christopher who worked into his lunch hour independently to get the job done. It isn't always easy to justify your opinions but it is a great skill to acquire and you all took constructive steps in developing that skill today.

The storytellers were introduced to the protagonist today. They had to read a short story, quickly graph its plot (which they had learned to do last week) and start to analyse the main character whose perspective the story followed. They made some good progress, especially Keiran who created several interesting characters. Knowing that Keiran loves music I had offered him the opportunity to listen to a ballad today (not a 'modern' ballad, which seems to mean something like a slow and normally sad song, rather a lyrical song that told a story). The song I chose for them was "El Paso" which is the story of a gun-slinging cowboy who dies for the love of his life. I chose this one because as a boy I loved the romanticism surrounding tales of the wild west and thought that young boys might still like cowboy stories (it seems they still do); because it had the elements of a full piece of fiction including an interesting perspective (the story is in the first person, told by a cowboy who at the end of the song is mortally wounded yet somehow is still able to tell the tale); and because musically it has impressive harmonies and wonderful mexican style guitar playing that travels through the song in a question and answer sequence with the vocals. Keiran and Jack listened to the song twice right through and once with me stopping it occasionally and encouraging them to outline the characters, setting, problem, climax, and resolution. Slowly, they grasped the plot well. Jack even started to notice some thoughtful complications, such as that one of the high points of the story was both a resolution and a new problem. Well done to both these students for trying something new and doing a fine job of it.

After lunch we played chess. We learnt about castling and the rules that surround this move. I had noticed that everybody had got some aspect of this wrong in the chess tests we did earlier in the term, so it was a good time to clarify and have a go. After chess we introduced the idea of "debateable truths" and tried to think of some. There was much excitement at the suggestion that "Aliens exist" might be one and we had a spontaneous debate erupt, which unfortunately I had to put a stop to because we were out of time (might be fun at home?). We are looking at these because we have four ideas to examine around the concept of change. These might be thought of as generalisations or debateable truths but given they include notions such as cause and effect and knowing my David Hume, amongst others, I prefer to go for the later term. I will put them up on the news page and if you get the chance you might discuss them, debate them, find examples or counterexamples at home. We will look at them in more depth next week.

A big day at Pakiki kids - well done. Now I better go clean up the art mess still in the kitchen : )

See you all next week, ka kite!


Tuesday 22nd March.

We had a belated pi day morning, thanks to Tobias sparking my interest last week. I went home and started investigating Pi and what a fascinating 'quasi' number it is! The idea of irrational and rational numbers provide plenty of philosophical as well as mathematical thought and I ended up searching and reading for some time beyond what I had intended. Along my way I found some strange history. Did you know that apparently it was Hippasus, a student of Pythagoras, who discovered irrational numbers when trying to show the square root of 2 as a fraction. Supposedly Pythagoras could not accept the existence of irrational numbers but could not discprove Hipassus' work and so Hippasus was thrown overboard and drowned! Sounds like one for the horrible history series. We talked a little about Pi, and Tobias demonstrated his amazing memory taking Pi to many decimal places. Then we played with some circular exercises, using a ruler and pi to find out circumferences of things in the room; measuring circumferences and diameters then checking the accuracy of our measurements by seeing if, when we divided our two figures, we got close to Pi. Pi really is an intriguing bit of number magic. Next we'll think about phi , another amazing irrational number!

We spent some of the day looking at another person, like Hippassus, who died for his beliefs - Socrates. We read together a little about what he became famous for and then looked at the kinds of questions he asked. Then we listened to a folk story from Africa and asked our own probing questions to find out more! Some very Socratic like questions did emerge - Why did the king of the Gods choose to have a competition? and what did he mean by beautiful? Well done Sophie for your careful thinking on this one, as well as so many other of the Pakiki kids who started to get a sense of what it is to question like Socrates.

We had warmed up for all this thinking by singing and doing some quickfire brainteasers that Finn had brought along. After play we moved into our talent groups. The students were fantastic at their choices. Anneleise, Christopher, Ben, Milo and Tane collected more paintings in their own private art collection, then they had a go at sketching aspects of their favourite one. It is fantastic to see how willing they are to look, sketch, look again and revise their efforts trying to achieve more accurate representation of the lines they see, or the perspectives in the painting. Well done all the artists, but Anneleise deserves special mention for the tireless and concentrated effort she put into sketching elements from Van Gogh's The Bedroom. The enviro maths group were also awesome today. They figured out how many kilowatts of power I had used in a year, how much that cost, and how many solar panels I would need to cope with my family's power usage. They then figured out how long it would take for the solar panels to pay for themselves by saving me in power bills. Great work team - excellent mathematical calculating and problem solving. The story tellers read stories, then we discussed the element of plot and graphed the plot of their respective tale, looking for setting explanations, problems, conflict, a climax and any resolutions. We had a lot of fun working out the graph for Kieran's book The Revenge of the Three Blind Mice.

After lunch it was back onto SCAMPER activities for our change concept. There are some really excellent ideas and designs going on. Some of the children were finishing today (bravo!) and they then had to think about the thought processes they had put into their idea/ design as part of a metacognitive self assessment. This isn't immediately easy for them but they will get the hang of it over the course of the year as they are asked to reflect on their thinking regularly.

Good day Tuesday's crew. Oh, here's the brainteaser that still has a few stumped - so you can work it out at home.

"Imagine you are the pilot of concorde. The plane has flown from the USA to Europe over 100 times. It was built in 1997 and is the pilot's first command. What colour eyes has the pilot?"

Talofa from Tuesday 15th March

I have just found out it was Pi day yesterday (thanks Tobias and Tor : ). Here’s a little challenge - see if you can find out how many decimal numbers pi has been expressed to so far (Tobias knows : ). Today we started with a technology challenge - an extenda arm which had to hold the weight of a marble as afar off the desk as possible. The trick was the structure that held the arm and marble needed to be free standing. We looked on google images at a series of cranes and talked about the strength of triangles (which we had found out about from a previous challenge). Keiran, Sophie, Finn and Christopher won the challenge with a 14 cm. reach - well done team. What made their construction work was a triangular support and excellent use of the scissors as a counter-weight. Paxton, Jack and Milo created a ramp that protruded from the desk and cleverly used two of their ice cream sticks to lodge the marble in place. All the teams were successful in making their marble stretch out from the edge of the desk, so well done all. At the end we reflected on the habits of mind this task required, and on how well we had worked as a group and the success of our device.

We missed out on Socratic questioning this morning because time was against us (it’s coming next week : ) but we did do some philosophy as we unpacked what in our lives was truly important. The students each had a card with something on it that they had to decide was in the important, not important or I don’t know category. Then we debated where things had been put. The children could add on to others points, agree or disagree and were prompted to provide reasons, examples and counter-examples. After a healthy discussion we came up with a summary statement - given to us by Noah that “Living is important”. This reflected the dominance of the discussion that survival was the most important thing - though Keiran thoughtfully pointed out that to some people this might not be the case - that they may think something is more important than their individual life e.g. a suicide bomber.

After play we started our talent group activities. We have an art, storytelling and environmental maths group. Today the first two groups were exploring the elements that make up their particular talent area. Next they will explore and analyse some examples of art and fiction respectively. Jack and Keiran read about Theseus and the minotaur, while the artists explored the google art project. Once they have done some analysis and have learnt some language appropriate to the field they will start creating. Meanwhile the maths group are exploring environmental problems and the maths that is involved. Today they looked at solar energy. They will now have to compare the cost of setting up solar power with a lifetime of electricity bills to see which is more economical and weigh that up against environmental concerns.

In chess today we begun to learn how to notate the chess board. If you get the chance reinforcing this skill at home would be great. I have marked the chess tests we did last week and now some children are trying to solve chess puzzles, while another group plays a game. We will alternate which group is where. I worked with Frances, Finn, Tobias, Christopher and George as they set about solving some checkmates in one move. They did very well and seemed to enjoy the task.

After lunch we got into finishing our SCAMPER projects. There are some brilliantly inventive products on display, e.g. Anneleise has designed a lava lamp watch - when you shake it it displays the time. Many of the children had to write their paragraphs today, explaining the purpose of their product. Tane, Ben, Christopher, Sophie and Milo have all completed their writing and are onto good copies. There is an excellent attention to being accurate and precise in drawing our good copies, started by Frances’ attention to detail and taken on by most of the other students - well done here as this is so important when designing.

Cheers team, see you all next week!

Guten Tag!

We got musical to start the day singing Octopus’ Garden by the Beatles. I hoped this might be a fun tune that wasn’t as tired as Yellow Submarine but it seems the latter is still a kids’ favourite. It was great to see how many children appreciated many of The Beatles catalogue and we were also lucky to have an impromptu performance from Keiran and Finn of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

After singing we thought deeply about thinking. We asked what we liked to think about, what different kinds of thinking we could think of, and then got deep and wondered are thoughts real or not. George, Tobias and Finn all noticed that one of the issues of metacognition was we could only had at our disposal thinking to think about thinking. So we were using thinking to think about itself. Is this a problem?

The students moved onto their mosaics ( an ongoing project) and many got finished today, including writing the things they liked to think about around their mosaic portrait. Well done Anneleise, Emma, Noah, George, Tobais, Tane and all the others who have finished so far.

After play we looked at the talent groups we have on offer. The children were able to choose between painting, environmental maths, and storytelling. The Children were able to use the persuasive writing skills they had practised the week before to argue which group they wanted to be in. They were very keen on their respective choices and you could tell they were serious about making their arguments work. You could have heard a pin drop for the first twenty minutes of writing. Jack and Milo brainstormed their arguments and then turned them into an animation on the ipads proving that literacy isn’t restricted to one kind of text. Well done team, I hope you all can get your first choices, and I’ll let you all know next week.

While some waited for the others to finish I had a series of riddles for them to solve. Here’s one for the parents (kids don’t tell them the answer!): “ A man was at a shop feeling poor. He sees a man take $50 notes out of his pocket. The first man says to the second “ I know all the songs known to man”. The man with the money laughs and says “I bet you all the money in my pocket you can’t sing a song with my daughter’s name in it, Sarah Lee Greyson.” Mr Greyson lost the bet. What song did the man sing?”

Chess today was a test provided by the Otago Chess Club. There are a series of tests that get progressively harder. Again, the children were very motivated. I look forward to marking them later.

After lunch we tried our hand at SCAMPER. This is an educational tool for creative thinking that fits into our conceptual curriculum - change. The students have to take an everyday item and substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate and reverse it. Their were some interesting designs - a BBQ/Fridge that put burgers together for you (Frances), a earthquake proof fridge/microwave/freezer combination (Christopher), Ben’s is an adaptation of a banana and a carrot that I am interested to hear more about. I know the carrot somehow slices itself?! Paxton has a self slicing, stay fresh bread in a bag that looks very handy, and Sophie designed a ‘cat-bus’ with complimentary food to take people on zoo tours. What an imaginative bunch!

Have a great week team, catch you all next week for the start of your talent groups : )

Quote of the Day:
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." - Albert Einstein.

Hoping to prove him wrong at least one day a week - eh Pakiki Kids?!

Ka Kite,
Mr. K

Ni hao!

Tuesday, March 1st.

The weather kindly cooperated with us today and we were able to get our net challenge done. The students worked in pairs to create a safety device that could save Barbie or Action Man from a fall off the school fort. Tobias, George, Anneleise, Sophie, and Kieran and Finn were all successful. We took the successful teams and tested their net further with Mr. K. dropping the dolls off the balcony attached to our classroom. Tobias and George and Finn and Kieran’s nets were ultimately successful even in this extension of the challenge. After the experiment we discussed the way air and energy are displaced. We noticed that the successful nets were the ones that covered a wide space and wondered if that was because the falling dolls’ energy was spread out on landing. We thought that might have been why she bounced off the smaller nets but landing softly on the larger ones. This lead us to talk about Galileo and his experiment of dropping different weighted balls off the Tower of Pisa; his home-imprisonment for realising the earth orbits the sun, his noticing that the time two swings complete their trajectory is the same regardless of the distance of the trajectory, and the idea of terminal velocity. Our Pakiki kids are full of scientific knowledge and wonder - tu meke! (By the way, I am no physics major so if any parents or friends have knoweldge in this area it would be great if they might like to join us for a lesson, given the level of interest the children showed).

After our discussion we practiced drip, puddle and lake questions. The students had remembered a lot about these and many were able to construct one of each for one of their classmates without any help. This is fantastic. As the year goes on we will adjust the language of questions from our water analogy to closed, quantitative and qualitative questions. The students will be encouraged in their studies to look for quantitative and qualitative questions to guide their research. We began this process today with the children choosing a well known gifted or talented person who they will study. They had to construct at least two puddle and one qualitative question to start their research. Many, following our discussion, chose Galileo : )

After play we tried some persuasive writing. The purpose of introducing and working on this task is linked to the talent groups we will start in a fortnight. The students will need to choose and then argue for the group they want to be a part of. Today we discussed the use of rhetorical questions, emotive language, and giving sound reasons that show cause and effect as ways to help your words convince your reader. The students had to imagine an animal they wanted as a pet ( a real or imaginary animal) and argue why it would be a good idea. There were many amazing creatures. There were also a number of rationales based on the disposal of supposedly ‘annoying’ siblings! I’m not sure that would convince too many but the children showed some excellent perseverance, humour and imagination in this task.

After our persuasions we played chess. There is some good progress being made in understanding the game. Jack and I read part of Finn’s chess tutorial book and then Jack went on a look-around the games to see how many people were thinking about controlling the centre of the board. I also introduced MIlo and several other students to the opening move of the king’s pawn moving forward two spaces.

At lunchtime we joined the rest of North East Valley School to meet at the bell and stand for two minutes silence to acknowledge the tragedy in Christchurch. This was followed by ten slow rings of the bell and the singing of the national anthem. This was a solemn and fitting occasion that the children managed well, though I am not sure the severity of the event is understood by many. Being kids this lack of comprehension is not surprising but it has been intriguing to me how little the children are interested in talking about the earthquake. I have chosen, for the most part, only to talk about it if they raise it themselves.

In the afternoon we broke into groups of three and used 5 toys to construct a ‘spot the difference’ photo series. This was done as a fun way to enter a philosophical discussion on change, and the children seemed to love it. Our discussion basically followed the story of Theseus’ ship and put simply asks, “if all of the parts of a ship are changed is it still the same ship?” The children’s responses were very interesting. Many thought initially the amount of parts that are replaced is directly relative to how much change has taken place and so, if it was all the parts, then we definitely had a new ship. Oddette said this wasn’t completely the case because the ship had a history that continued and Noah suggested their was something about the ‘air’ of the ship that remained. Finn, was well aware of the problem of Theseus’ ship and was the first to suggest that he thought the ship actually stays the same. Of course there is no one correct answer to the change/identity problem at the heart of this story which is why it engenders such a rich discussion. Well done Pakiki philosophers for engaging so thoughtfully. Next week we will link our thoughts to practising some art, and sketch sailing and space ships.

A great day, our thoughts with those in Christchurch.

Catch ya all next week (except for Oddette - have fun in Melbourne!)

Scott Klenner,

Kia ora koutou!

22 February.

Here is our first Tuesday log of our day. Hope this helps parents, teachers and students think about what we are doing at Pakiki Kids.

A busy and messy day at Pakiki kids today! Paxton surprised us all by bringing a logic maths book along. We found a puzzle he particularly liked and set off in pairs to solve it. Thanks Paxton that was a cool activity. Tane, Ben, Milo, Tobias and George all cracked the puzzle - well done. After deciding to delay our technology challenge because of the weather we set about using our questioning skills to solve some tricky riddles. We talked about drip questions, puddle questions and lake questions. Drip questions gather very little information - maybe just yes or no. Puddle questions tell us a little more and lake questions fill us with ideas and information. We also thought about SCUMPS - size, colour, use, materials parts and shapes as ways to find out more about something; and of course the classic 5 w’s and how questions. Many of the students discovered asking the right kinds of questions wasn’t as easy as they first thought. Costa’s habit of mind that focuses on questioning is curiosity, which is perfect for us because that’s what “pakiki” means in English. Next week we will take this further and start to do some ignorance logging - recording things we know we don’t know, things we don’t know we don’t know : ), things we think we know but don’t and so on.

After questioning we turned to our affective domain and continued trying to complete our creative mosaic self-portraits. This was definitely a lesson in habits of mind - perseverance and excellence being at the forefront. To achieve excellence required perseverance and many of the students showed this. Frances was meticulous in her care, Tane stuck at it and overcome his difficulties, as did Noah. Milo, Ben and Emma were all prepared to revise their work to better meet the criteria. Others created a Picasso type portrait - George, Christopher and Kieran all took this path. We pulled the pin on mosaics just before lunch. Some children had completed theirs but most are still going. We shall revisit during the term with the aim to have everyone at completion by the end. Persevere!

After lunch break we turned to chess. The newbies are gaining knowledge and confidence. Odette, Tane, Jack, Milo and Sophie had their first game with all the pieces on board and today discovered how the knight jumps in an L shape. We followed chess with a discussion about change, using our duck, Renzulli, to guide our turn-taking. The students could think of many ways our world changes and has changed. Paxton and George briefly discussed the difficult idea of time and the change between then, now and the future. That one is soooooo big and abstract we need to give it it’s own Renzulli time. The Pakiki Kids then went into groups and created inventions that had changed over time using drama. Anneleise’s group made a carriage and Odette told us that carriage is where we get the word car from. Finn gave us a wealth of information showing he has definitely been enjoying his “horrible histories”.

Well done Pakiki Kids - looking forward to next week with you all!

Ka kite ano,
Scott Klenner.