2nd November

Wednesday 2nd 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
Raymond Huber - discussion about writing

Sharing Night Planning (30 min)
pick a mental edge activity...give it some content : )
Afternoon = 75 minutes
Learning Journal Checklists. Term 2/3 (10 minutes)
Change/Affective Domain: (45 mins)
Hero study - Te Whiti: practising research skills - skim reading for notes; Choose a Hero - start searching for values : )
Clean Up (10 mins)
Reflection (10 mins)

Today we were lucky enough to have Raymond Huber come and talk with us about his writing, his interest in bees and the way these two intersect. He engaged us for a full hour with a wealth of interesting thoughts about his creative process. A big thanks to him and to Susan Scharpf for organising this for us. In and around this highlight we started our Pakiki election campaign which is a way for us to become interested in the national elections and to explore some important values which contribute to our investigation of caring thinking ( I wonder how many of these values we will see in our national elections?) The children are in "parties" based on values and have to build a campaign to convince the others that their value is the most important. Passion projects are continuing - Annie was able to get in touch with an author who is a specialist on the subject via email. We are looking forward to hearing more from her, there are very few specialists on embroidery as Annie and I have discovered. We have started planning our sharing nights, continued to collect our examples for learning journals, and chose our heroes, who we plan to study via the central research question "what are the values your hero demonstrates". It was great to see the students engrossed in their reading about their chosen person - it even provided twenty minutes or so of spontaneous silence in the class ( a rare thing indeed!).

Cheers team, see you all next week.

26 October

Hi all and welcome back to Pakiki for term 4. Here is today's diary.
Wednesday 26th 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)

This term's theme centres around our mental edge topic - caring thinking. We started by exploring the meaning of empathy, watching some YouTube clips showing animals demonstrating inter-species empathy (on our fancy new 50" T.V!) and responding to these by writing in first 'person' (or first animal) explaining the reasons why we chose to act so empathetically. When I did this lesson with the Tuesday class we had a range of responses that demonstrated a good understanding of empathy. However, today we got a serious mixture of altruistic ideas and psychological egoism - most interesting, given we hadn't discussed egoism at all. Oscar, e.g. suggested his animal (a leopard) acted kindly because, having noticed the cameraman, it decided it wanted to be on YouTube; Zoe's, like the Hansel and Gretel witch acted 'kindly' to the orphaned baby in order to fatten it up for eating later! I'm not sure if these older children's responses show a greater sophistication or a greater cynicism, perhaps it's both.

We balanced our passion project time across the day so we could all have access to the computers. This seemed to work well. In the middle session we looked at heroes and the values they hold. We compared these to the values a villain might hold. The class' answers were showed they understood a hero works for others, a villain is selfish and so on. The kids also stressed the importance of perspective in making decisions about who is a hero or not, what is a hero to one group may well be a villain to another. The students then created a hero of their own and had to establish the values that motivated them. For some reason, this seemed harder and while conferencing my way around the class, asking what values the children themselves had, many had great difficulty expressing these. This turned out to be a good pre-assessment activity allowing me to see how deep the children's understanding of values really were.

In the afternoon we were spread out doing passion projects, finishing earlier work and playing chess. We got back together before the end to introduce our unit on Aristotle and his idea of virtue ethics. We contextualised Aristotle, unpacked the meaning of virtuous, and explored his idea of 'flourishing' (eudaemonia) discussing whether we agreed with Aristotle that to flourish was the true purpose of being human. More Aristotle next week.

Cheers all!
See you next week,

5 October


Hi all

Last Wednesday for the term. Here's a photo of the diary - the Scams warm up was a big hit - the students had 10 minutes to write as many sentences that made sense using SCAMS as an acronym for their sentence. The aim was originality and fluency. We followed this up by thinking about ways and places that help us achieve a sense of being calm. We listened to some 'calming' music (Tibetian monk meditation music : ) and got as relaxed as we could. We then set about expressing our state of calm. Some students went for paint, others wrote, others created small sculptures. This was a creative lesson that the students were well focussed on. As they completed their products we moved onto choosing our term products for the learning journals. This also involved self-reflections. THese took some time but as students completed choosing and reflecting on three products they were able to go on with their passion projects.

In the afternoon we played chess. The aim today was to concentrate on mapping out each move the opposition made before making one's own next move. We finished the day with a philosophical discussion on the concept of happiness. We asked if happiness was the most important thing in the world; explored words that helped us define the idea and considered whether one could make oneself happy or if happiness was only something that happened to us. Here is a shot of some of the ideas recorded during the discussion and some concluding statements from students.

phil_1_wed phil_wed_2

28 September

Kia ora koutou,

Buddy day today : ) A day of meeting new people, strengthening connections between Pakiki and home school, Pakiki students practising teaching skills, and keeping on trying to make learning fun. We were a cosy group of 32 in our Pakiki class and managed ourselves beautifully.

The day started with a lesson on a mental edge creative thinking task - the BAR key. Madeline and Eila explained how the bar key worked, gave a demonstration with audience participation and set a task bound by the criteria "improve an animal for its usefulness to humans" (sadly, the ethical dimension of this criteria went begging - but there's only so much time. Maybe another day). Animals were developed and designed with gusto - pest-eating land sharks, possum munching koalas, stretched dogs for riding, fly devouring pet dragonflies were some of the creations on show. William and Alex challenged us technically with a task to make a flying device whose wing span had to be 3 times the width of its wings. 20 minutes later we were outside testing said contraptions with stopwatch and measuring tape. The winning entry was created by Boen, Casper and Casper's brother Oscar - well done! Jake and Tyran gave us a quick pre-lunch lesson on 3d art, while Zoe and Annie had us painting emotive responses. After lunch we played text detectives and tried to find evidence, from short biographies, on the habits of mind of a number of famous changemakers. Annie recited the start of Martin Luther King's most famous address, we found out that on top of writing great stories Roald Dhal also invented a machine that saved many children's lives. We also found out a little about Helen Keller, Louis Braille, and Galileo. The winning group included Alex, Callum, Joel and William who found 13 instances where their subjects, The Wright Brothers, had clearly demonstrated habits of mind (anyone heard of Richard Pearse?! Check it out here:
http://www.nzedge.com/heroes/pearse.html). We ended the day with some emotional drama fun with Katy and Ella.

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

21 September

Today was a big focus on planning for buddy day next week. At Pakiki, buddy days are taught by the Pakiki students. The students pari off and choose something they have learnt (a skill or activity) and construct a lesson. It is a quick lesson in teaching practice but it does allow the students a chance to reflect on the work they have achieved this year, so far. The students have to write a learning outcome, then construct a n intorduction activity, the body of the activity and a summary. Additionally they need to record what counts as success and to list the resources they need. All together this took up the bulk of the day. We were lucky to have Susan Sharpf to help in the afternoon. Susan listened to the students practise delivering their lesson. This exercise was important because it let them discover 'holes' in their lesson or resources, and gave them a chance to talk out what they were planning, before getting in front of a busy class group. Next week we have Nathan and Aidhan builiding on our Pakikilandia and civilisation studies by presenting a creative thinking activity about social structure; William and Alex are conducting a tech challenge around flying paper planes; Annie and Zoe are doing an affective domain lesson on emotions in art; Madeline and Eila are doing a B.A.R. lesson that adapts animals; Casper and Boen are also discussing adaptation in a creative and critical thinking lesson; Ella and Katy are doing a drama lesson on emotions (another affective domain lesson); Tyran and Jake are doing a 3d art lesson (from their talent project) and Oscar and Sofia are doing a habits of mind lesson based on examining heroes. It should be a busy and fun day for all.

IN the morning we did manage to squeeze in a fluency and elaboration thinking activity wondering what if peoples thoughts appeared as speech bubbles above their head and did a reverse key on what we might do to save the rainforest ( because it was a reverse key we were wondering what we would do to destroy the forest - only to figure out more about what we needed to change to save it, of course. : )

Cheers team, looking forward to next week!


31 August

We started the day with a mental edge warm up working on creating ways to get to 27 without using the digits 2 or 7. There were a couple of particularly tricky equations, one of which fooled me (well done William : )

Following this we got genuinely started on our passion projects. It was a great sight to see the entire class focussed and industrious as they worked on ideas they are clearly interested in. As Annie said "you can't underestimate Wednesday Pakiki" and who ever would! Ella and Katy were the only ones who worked on something else during this time. They were anxious to finish their bubble wrap idea - the bubble wrap umbrella and had some good success (photos will be up soon). These two worked on their passion projects after interval.

Meanwhile, the rest of us switched from passion projects to affective domain. The students co-edited a piece of prose I had written about my family, my passions and how I adjusted my emotions as a child. They identified things they liked, suggested some changes and we discussed briefly some of the writing 'tricks and techniques' I had included. The students then were challenged to write their own versions as a way to reflect on themselves. I really enjoyed reading their creative responses. I will put some of these up over the next couple of days, once I get a chance to publish them.

In the afternoon for our change activity we had Justin, an electrical technician from the university computer science department, come in to supervise our dismantling of the electronics that our Pakiki community had kindly supplied. He also tutored the children on some of the components and what their roles were in making the thing go. The students were very engaged in this activity!

Thanks for a fun day at work team, see you all next week.


24 August

Hi all,

Today's warm up was a fluency and elaboration task - what if there was no moon. Changes in literature, astronomy and the tides raised. Nathan suggested we might create our own artificial moon. Sofia figured, at least there wouldn't be werewolves. After, I introduced the students to the invention matrix - a list of tasks the children can choose from around the inventions unit. Many of these aim for creative and critical thinking. The Pakiki Wednesday team was awesome at selecting and getting straight down to the business of thinking and making inventions. We had quite a group interested in the bubble wrap inventions. They had a look on the bubble wrap young inventors site for inspiration and then were away. Katy and Ella are making bubble wrap umbrellas, Eila is designing bubble wrap animal slippers and Sofia likes the idea of a bubble wrap calendar. Sophie made a series of invention cartoons and I put her onto chindogu, the Japanese art of useless invention, because her lightbulb hat, skating cloths and time plate reminded me of this fine art - silly/funny at the same time as making you think. Madeline is designing a versatile pen and pencil set with attachments - very clever. She has continued to refine her idea which is an excellent habit. Many of the boys were investigating flight machines, Jake was modifying military hardware (surprise surprise !) and Tyran has started to make a helicopter.

After inventions we planned our passion projects. This is a big task with a lot of conferencing (during this time those who waited worked on castling in chess). The students were awesome in laying out their ideas and being willing to repeatedly refine and detail their plans further, as we negotiated the shape of their project. I am looking forward to starting in earnest next week.

In the afternoon we had help from the visiting Sara Sinclair. This was fantastic. She adapted a scamper art plan of mine, which aims at creative thinking, and the children created funky 3d images our of blindly ripped paper. I've attached a couple of photos. Meanwhile, I was able to conference a few more students' passion projects. Hurray for Sara!! : )

Thanks kids

17 August

Kia ora koutou,

Today we started with a reword the quotes warm-up. The students were given a quote from a famous person and were challenged to reword it without using certain letters. This was followed by a problem-solving session with Dr. Eric Scharpf. He had reworked a lecture he gives to his university students and presented this to the pakiki kids. The children took notes and then applied the steps they had been given to the goal of creating a clear display for others to refer to when they were problem solving. The students set about this creatively and we had some excellent ideas to choose from. We then sat down and critically examined each groups effort. The critical thinking that went on here was excellent and engaging - well done team. A vote was taken but the result seemed unfairly skewed by gender so the decision is still pending and may require some executive input : )

After we reflected on our passion interviews. Most of the students have completed these (well done!). Today we discussed the positives and negatives of interviewing as a research tool, and then listened to and read the interviews we had. The students practiced their note-taking again and were instructed to look for patterns that emerged along the way. They noticed several patterns across most of the interviews - family support, starting their passion at a young age, advise for young people was to get started, and that the passion, in some way or other, had centred itself into the lives of the interviewee.

In the afternoon we did a group pre-assessment on our inventions topic. This lead to an impromptu P4C (philosophy for children) discussion on what counted as an invention for us. That was fun and, once again, I found myself encouraging the children to discover Immanuel Kant and his ideas about perception and reality. Once we had came up with a definition we could live with (or at least start with) we moved onto a theatre sports game to end the day. This involved creating an imaginary invention and selling it informercial styles. This was a lot of fun and not a bad effort for a first ever go at theatre sports. Well done Sophie, Eila and Annie who won today's round.

Time to focus on your passion projects team. See you next week when we will plan them out.

Ciao, Scott.

3 August

Welcome back to all for the third term. Today we had a thinking day to get us started. We worked on some new thinking tools - L.A.C.E, which is a brainstorming tool that encourages lots of ideas and creative ideas from left of centre. Today's L.A.C.E topic was "What if the world were a cube" - the students cam up with a number of thoughtful and fun responses. We also did a little work on p.m.i (plus, minus, interesting) in response to the statement - " carrying a cellphone should be compulsory for all people at all times." Again the students responded thoughtfully and we were able to make strong connections between this tool and other tools we use (such as multiple perspectives -Oscar did a particularly good job of making this connection ). Completing our mental edge work for the day we had a philosophy session on what "civilised" means. This was something I had wanted to get to last term as part of the empire study but we never found time. It turned out a good way to reflect back on our work and we had some excellent discussion around whether eating animals, cannibalism and the internet were examples of civilisation. There was a number of insightful ideas ( I especially liked Casper's argument for why we should not eat animals). In the end we agreed there was no way to say any one behaviour was always civilised or uncivilised (even cannabilism!), but it depended on context. The definition the students came up with was that "Being civilised has something to do with being able to choose one's actions for oneself but the choice has to be thoughtful and contribute (or even be necessary) for survival."

This discussion tied in nicely with some affective domain work we did on stereotypes earlier in the day. Here the students were encouraged to consider what stereotypes meant, in what way they were useful and dangerous, and how they might give rise to perceptions of giftedness in our community. It was astonishing to see the difference in the understanding of what a stereotype was, and the clear and fixed stereotypical images the nine and ten year olds from todays class had (and had been subjected to) compared to the innocence and lack of stereotyping the younger children had in Tuesday's classes. I wonder what happens to our kids in between those years? Anyway, the students drew an example of a what they thought was a stereotype of a gifted person held in their wider community. They were invited to (but did not have to) destroy the picture as a symbolic gesture to rid ourselves of the burden of that stereotype. Next week I will ask them to draw how they see themselves as a gifted person.

The students were introduced to passion projects, which are in-depth, self-selected studies the students do over the next two terms. We explored briefly what a passion is and were encouraged to start thinking about what topic we wanted to engage with. Before a final decision is made, however, the children are to interview an adult who is passionate about something. We brainstormed questions we think are important to ask and put together an interview sheet. This is the first time the Pakiki kids have homework! Good luck team : )

We played some suicide chess and three pairs were able to play speed chess, using the chess clock that was donated to us. That was a lot of pressure and fun all at once.

After lunch we introduced our change topic for the term, which is inventions. The children reflected on understandings of an invention from the past and projected what it might be like in the future. We also read the story - Leonardo and the Flying Boy and noted the habits of mind we saw Leonardo Da Vinci using. The students were very impressive at this (and meticulous!)

A fun thinking day. I loved the philosophy. Cheers team, see you all next week.


6 July

Today the scientists got to head into the university with Alex's dad, Tony, and visit the biochemistry lab. Highlights seemed to have included the algae room, the very fast centrifuge machine, the cold room and the hot chocolate : ) Meanwhile we completed paintings, started paintings and created brochures for next weeks play. Some students got onto peer reviewing and everyone chose what they think are their best three pieces of work to hand in at the end of term.These will need self-assessing next week. In the afternoon we went back to our change products. Nathan and Oscar worked on their song, Boen, William and others got onto their board game, Annie began creating a 'maggot' statue which her Pakikilandia people worship as a creature that brings new life. Zoe has made a 3d creation of her lands staple crop. I've included some of todays efforts below for you to enjoy.

Tyran's cartoon popart

Cheers, Scott.

29 June

Kia ora all,

Another full day at Pakiki kids. The scientists had the thrill of Tony arriving laden with equipment from the biochemistry department, including a handful of photospectrometers! I am not exactly sure what they got up to - I will have to email Tony for a run down - but they sure were excited : )

We had started our day with a mental warm up wondering "what if animals could talk". I was pleasantly surprised at the level of discussion this raised - some great thinking and wondering going on Pakiki Wednesday. Once we were warmed up we revised our questioning skills by constructing questions around a short video clip "Stories from the Stone Age". After this we briefly considered the important elements of a myth and the purpose of religion; both phenomena which are common to most, if not all, societies. We then set about devising religion and myths for our own Pakikilandia civilisations. Some of the playwrights used this time to make flyers advertising their upcoming production - the Magic Mirror Man.

In the mid-morning session we continued with our change products - there was a team of 'journalists' constructing newspapers and another team constructing a board game. The latter group, mostly made up of scientists, continued with this in the afternoon, after their biochemistry session with Tony. The artists began painting today. Jake and I discovered and experimented with a great technique for removing the sketch lines from a painting and Tyran and Madeline started to construct their 'pop-art'.

Well done team!


15 June

Chiotlaki! (guess the language and win a marshmallow)

This morning we learnt about and played with droodles. Droodles are a cross between a doodle and a riddle and have been around since the 16th century. The children got to try and put phrases to a series of droodles I had collected and got the chance to create some of their own. They are a lot of fun and a great warm-up for the brain.

We followed this up with talent time. The scientists were very fortunate to have Alex's biochemist Dad, Tony, come in and facilitate an experiment about the browning properties of some fruit and vegetables. Tony was awesome with the kids - a natural teacher and a real scientist as well. He was able to direct and challenge the students and will be back for a series of guest appearances over the next few weeks. Thanks so much to him, we look forward to next week.

Meanwhile the artists worked on a couple of things - Jake and Tyran got to combine two of their passions (vehicles and war) and draw a trireme (ancient greek war ship). This is very handy because I had been looking for something like this to highlight our philosophy posters about Theseus' ship - thanks boys! They took very different approaches to the task but both come up with some solid artwork they can be proud of. Meanwhile, Madeline put together several pieces from the room and created a still-life to do with mice and cheese. It is very cool and I have photocopied it for her to paint next week. We are hoping to turn it into a modern pop-art look.

The playwrights worked with me for a while - I listened through their play, with a focus on vocal expression. I then had them record themselves running through their script on garageband. They then listened to the recording and made notes on what parts they were unhappy with and how they wanted it to sound. They then redid this. Next week we will move onto actions.

After play the children went on with Pakikilandia. First, we went through an extensive criteria and self-assessment list. I encouraged the children to take stock of where they are at, record their assessment of what they have done thus far and to continue from there. Many are at the stage where they are creating myths and legends to explain particular phenomena in their worlds. Very creative : )

We followed this up with the establishment of the Pakiki Kids Chess Ladder (suicide chess at the moment). The students can challenge each other, in line with some rules, and try and move up the ladder. We established current rankings by a lottery. At the end of the day we collated the information available from the Change and Decline Ministers. We then were able to divide the causes of change and decline in our studied empires into four main causal threads - invasion, leadership, greed and resources. The students are now set a task to decide on, and complete, a method to represent one of these themes of change and decline.

Thanks to all this week, especially Tony : )


8 June

Avete! (guess todays language : )
Empire Challenge morning was great fun today. We had a series of competitions to establish who was the greatest Pakiki empire. Today the Romans prevailed - optime! We competed in drama, technology, music, history and debating. Most everybody got dressed up for the occasion and brought a delicious shared lunch of food from our cultures. We had quite a few teachers and parents in over the course of the morning. Thanks so much to everybody who joined in. Special thanks again to Tor who must have earned Pakiki fan # 1 status : ) Also thanks to Sarah and Kate who were both doubling up again today. The students did very well in a tight race. The Aztecs (Alex, WIlliam and Casper) scored the days high 26/30 in the quiz after all the teams demonstrated their note taking skills as they gathered information from rival empires. The Romans (Annie, Katie, Madeline,, Nathan, and Sophie) and Egyptians (Eila, Ella, Sofia and Zoe) did a splendid chant challenge and the Egyptians marginally took out the technology stage. The Mongolians were strong in the debate and made a fine ger, as well as a solid score in the quiz. All the teams did well - some overcoming having team members away. Over the rest of the term our consideration of empires will turn to critically examining shifts, decline and influence.

In the afternoon we watched a small part of Walking with Cavemen and discussed adaptations of people. We talked about simple language and tool abilities, the adaptation of brain development, language and tool making. I also introduced the idea of considering the text (movie, in this case) critically. I asked the children to wonder about what could be taken from the evidence ("no more than you could stow in the back of a landrover"). Over the next few weeks, our mental edge teaching will start to explicitly consider critical thinking and ideas around critical literacy. The questioning tools we learnt in the first term will be invaluable for this.

The students finished by working on their Pakikilandia - exploring and developing their humaniods awareness of her/his surroundings, language and tool making. Most of the students worked well on this though had a tendency to overdevelop their humanoids adaptations. Having said that it was fantastic to see the likes of Madeline, who had developed her language and was successfully translating words and pronouncing them. It was a pleasure to see the words she chose to translate were those of her immediate environment - Pakiki kids classmates! In doing so Madeline is also demonstrating the point of the lesson - the awareness of one's surroundings and its role in adaptation.

Cheers all,
Ego vobis valedico!
The Nile in flood. More photos to come!

1st June

Today was all about creating a visual presentation of the notes the students had been taking on their respective civilisations. I am pleased to say we got all the posters finished, which was quite a feat. Notable mentions to William, Boen and Jake, for helping classmates (and an extra one to WIlliam for his super tidying efforts : ). Most everybody can be pleased with themselves for their willingness to redo and enhance their work, at my 'request'. Nathan I hope you can remember what happened to the 'two Romes' in the end (you never know it might be in the quiz next week). On the whole we had a slight gender split with speed of finishing - and surprisingly the boys were faster here! Though to be fair KT used her time well and Madeline did a project and a half, to make sure she was on the money. Also, many of the girls created their own colour which took longer. However, some students have made contracts with themselves about making conscious decisions to rearrange their work space and habits to improve their output efficiency next time.

Some of those who got finished early made thaumatropes and googled 'retina retention' so they could explain what was going on in scientific terms.

Thanks for your efforts today team. I'm going home for a rest, one of us has to do it all again tomorrow : ) p.s no audio reflections today - I had them do self-reflections on their civilisation studies thus far instead. Cheers, Scott.

25 May

Today we started with a maths warm-up - the challenge was to find as many ways as possible to come up with the answer 23, without using the digits 2 or 3, using a minimum of 2 operations and following the rules of BEDMAS. We then did a quick index lesson. THe teaching point was to encourage thinking and searching beyond the exact word you were after. The students were given a photocopy of an index about Ancient Rome. I gave them a broad topic (building) and in pairs they were required to find and justify as many words as they could that would fit that topic. Once we had reviewed our results (of course, it became a competition : ) we set about further honing our skills through our actual research. Time is ticking as we head toward the open day so the children are learning what 'deadlines' are. They were challenged to finish their note-taking, plan their poster in draft, and apply two of Kaplan's depth and complexity tools to their work. These assist the children in thinking beyond the facts and applying their own thinking to the information they have been given. I had an example of a typical poster by a child their age which we applied various Kaplan cards to - mostly ethics and multiple perspectives (my personal favourites). It was great to hear the ethical ideas and dilemmas he children could come up with once they started to get used to this style of thinking.

After a break we watched a short video on the origins of language and set about creating the humanoid part of our own Pakikilandia civilisations. The idea is to create an unevolved humanoid and slowly adapt it to its environment over a couple of weeks - adding the use of basic communication, tools and fire, then finally a sophisticated language system. While this went on one of the science groups tested out a balloon rocket -finding out whether they could increase speed and distance by changing variables like the type of string used, the shape of the balloon etc. We finished this session with another round of suicide chess. It is encouraging to see many of the children improve their ability to to see an attack move through this fast version of chess.

In the afternoon we moved into talent-time (except for the first science group who did Pakikilandia). Most of the artists furthered their learning in 3d drawing. I worked with Tryan creating a house and street scene using 2 vanishing point and helped Madeline concentrate on shading and line activities sketching our class rubber duck. The play folks focused on their characterisation and then ran through their play- though by the sounds of it this needed greater supervision to be more successful (any parents keen on playing director on a Wednesday?) Next week I will go back to working with them again. The other scientist group did a fine job of conducting and recording their experiments. We finished by watching a perfect day video Sophie and Eila had constructed at home with the use of a digital camera, a laptop and imovie. Very well done girls - entertaining with excellent use of music to give each scene the right attitude.

See you all next week team - be ready to finish your posters! : )

18 May

A busy Wednesday started with a "what if" warm up = we asked "what if school was not compulsory?" The children spend 10 minutes thinking and recording as many ideas as possible and elaborating on them -i.e. making links and giving reasons.

We followed this up by watching a brief video clip on animal adaptation, stopping frequently to discuss and then going into creating a creature for our self-created civilisation. We had to give a labelled diagram and explain its features in terms of how it has adapted to its environment. This was a good mixture of creative and analytical thinking as the children had to "invent" their creature but it still had to fit into their growing ecosystem and they had to rationalise each part of the creature. At the same time as this one of talent time science groups set about doing their experiment - "the full bladder" and successfully demonstrating how a bladder works using a tea bag, a balloon, water and a bottle. This was the most successful effort from our scientists to date and it was encouraging to see them demonstrating the importance of creating a controlled environment. Well done Alex, Boen, Casper, Nathan, WIlliam, Aidhan and Oscar.

During talent time the artists worked more on 3d shapes. jake and Tyran discovered the value of a vanishing point when drawing a bridge in perspective and Eila did a detailed 3d drawing of a notebook, continuing to work on the importance of parallel lines to make your picture look accurate and realistic. The playwrights ran through their play with me, then fine tuned their dialogue so that is made more sense to the listener, then ran through it again. It is starting to take shape nicely. The scientists who had done their talent group in the morning spent this time creating their creature. This splitting of tasks amongst the various groups makes it much easier for me to share myself out and, I think, allows for more quality teaching time with each group and individual.

In the afternoon we practiced note taking and got further into our civilisation study. We are now starting to get a good amount of information and will soon be ready to start thinking of ways to present it. I have seen a definite improvement in many of the children's research skills.

Thanks team, see you all next week.

4 May

First day back of term was a great success - except for our bridge building : ) We started the day doing a tech challenge trying to build a bridge out of newspaper, tape and string. It had to be 30 cm long and 15 cm off the floor (or table). It also had to hold up a heavy'ish' toy car. Sadly, most of the cars plummeted off the bridges. More lessons in how to strengthen paper are needed. We reflected at the end on what happens if you roll paper tight and bind several of these together. I think we will give this challenge another go later in the term. Despite our failures it was a good way for the children to work in groups and reacquaint after the holiday break.

After the tech challenge we took a look at Kapler's depth and complexity tools. This is a way for children to dig progressively deeper into a subject or research area. This will be the thinking tool focus for the term and I will build it into our civilisation studies. We followed this up by reading Weslandia - the story of a boy who creates his own civilization. The students then got to begin creating their own civilisation with an empahsis on realising it has to be an integrated system. Their creativity was great and it was all I could do to get some of them to stop. Throughout the day I noticed several kids working away at it, creating their own languages and so on, between other learning activities. Awesome : )

Talent time had the scientists replicating the workings of an overfill stomach. They are showing definite progress in their methodoology and recording of their experimentation. Well done boys. The playwrights have finished their script (yet to be sent to the editor) and the artists worked on different sketching tricks and techniques. Chess was more practise on notation. Those who were still a little unsure recorded notation characters in their notebooks and the others proactised notating their games. Some of them are finding it quite easy now - if you get the listener or the paper challenge them to read through one of the notated games that are in these publications.

After lunch we picked our civilisations for the ongoing term study. Most everybody got the civilisation they wanted and we managed to cover all the four civilizations I have been collecting resources for. We then chose which ministerial role each person will take on ( this represents the area of the society they will research), discussing referencing and beginning to see what we could find out. The children were interested and motivated and I look forward to helping them hone their research skills. It was a fun day and I am looking forward to our civilization theme this term.

Cheers folks!

Wednesday 13th April

Last Wednesday for the term today. Well done Pakiki on a fun-filled terms work. This morning we started with a test - on questioning. This will allow me to see which, if any, areas are most in need of revisiting next term. We followed this up with thinkers' keys activities. This activity gave the students a wide range of products to choose from as a way to continue to think about themselves as gifted learners. Typically this wonderfully diverse bunch chose many different and interesting ideas - we had inventors creating encouragement machines (Jake and Tyran), robot rappers (Ella), debaters(Zoe), greeting card manufacturers (Casper), movie makers (Sophie, Sofia, Casper and Oscar), puppeteers (Eila and AIdhan), speech writers (Katy), and name changers (Madeline and Annie). Some of the others were finishing projects that needed tidying up - Alex completed his mosaic and Boen put the finishing touches on his perfect day movie, it turned out to be a blast!

This, along with some CRAFT and SCAMPER activities that have been running through the term, continued on through and after morning tea. We stopped at 12, cleaned up the organised chaos we had created and went outside for a game of kickball. We don't ordinarily get the chance to play games at Pakiki, with our days being so full, but given the beautiful sunshine and the fact that it was the last day of term I couldn't resist. I even went out and helped the Pakiki kids lunchtime football team play against the North East Valley kids at lunchtime - not that I was much help as it turned out.

After lunch we had college students, who are posted at North East Valley this term, come and visit. We broke into our talent groups each armed with planning sheets and proceeded to put together a plan for finishing our talent activities midway through next term. This required the groups to think about the specific area they wanted to work in, the new learning and skills they wanted to work at, and how they would present their work. It also asked the students to consider a way their final product could give back to the class. It was excellent to see a fair level of autonomy in planning. As I checked off each plan, for the most part, I only had to direct some finishing touches. The challenge is now for each student to see her/his talent time through to a finished product. Of course, I will be there to help problem solve, to find mentors and provide guidance and encouragement to higher learning steps. However, the onus is on the students themselves to see their talent time results in a finished product. I have full faith in you Pakiki kids!

After school I had the opportunity to discuss a little with the student teachers how our programme works. They were excited and impressed by how self motivated and skilled the Pakiki Wednesday team is. Who wouldn't be? Well done team, have a great break. I will see you all again next term.

bye for this term,

Wednesday 6 April

Kia ora
This morning we split into two groups - one team worked with Sandy on further robotics challenges. Some of the children were extremely focussed during this which is to be highly commended because it was not always easy and required a lot of problem solving. At morning tea and just before lunch Sandy and I discussed who out of the team might be ready to be offered a spot in a robotics team to enter dancing robots in the robots cup. Sandy based her decision on a set of demonstrated skills - problem solving, cooperation, communication and sustained focus. I will talk to the children next week who she has selected and see if they are willing to participate. It will be quite a commitment but we have 2 robots on loan for the rest of the year, and Sandy is willing to support us. We have been very lucky to have Sandy's expertise over the last 3 weeks and I'm sure everyone gained something from the experience.

Meanwhile the other half of the group worked with me. First, they were required to reflect on the thinking and other skills required in the two weeks they had worked on the robots. These self-assessments fine tune the children's metacognitive skills and, hopefully, allow them to focus on areas they can improve in future projects. To a large extent, I think they give students the opportunity to reflect and hone what the Ministry of Education would call 'key competencies'. This kind of reflection is not automatic for most students and requires teaching and encouragement, particularly to get them to justify the ideas about themselves they record.

After that, many of the children went into finishing mode for much of the day, and the robotics crew joined into this after lunch. The robotics has taken up quite a bit of our time (in a worthwhile way, I am convinced) so there were a few loose ends for many of us. Each of these loose ends also required written reflection upon completion. Most of the mosaics are now completed (finally! : ) and some of them are outstanding. Well done Tyran, Jake, Sophie, Eila amongst others, for some clever artistic thought and skill. Other students put finishing touches on their CRAFT products. Some children had already finished these so they got to have a lesson about Bloom's Taxonomy and how we might apply that to asking questions. We also reflected and critiqued Bloom's hierarchy. I was arguing that each form of knowledge relied on the other so a hierarchy was not an appropriate way to display them - Sophie agreed and argued that instead of a triangle going upwards, they should be laid out sideways reflecting their interdependence and their equality. While probably not everyone was convinced, we decided on a vine as a display that would allow for a sideways display but still show the different kinds of thinking. This would display questions for the different forms of knowledge and operate, not only as a display but also work as a classroom resource for future question asking. A team of us then got together and created the vine which we pinned to the centre beam across the ceiling. Leaves, daisies and the vines trunk were used to display questions that relate to Bloom's taxonomy.It looks great and well done to all that participated.

At the end of the day we gathered around to watch Boen's 'perfect day' movie, which he had finished putting the soundtrack on. It was very entertaining in many parts. At times things went a little astray and we discussed how the length of each scene needed to be adjusted in relation to its entertainment value, so that things didn't get boring. To his credit Boen was willing to do most of this editing after school. He now has one scene to reshoot, a quick re-edit and he'll be done (fingers crossed : ). We have to mention Alex today as well. Alex won a scrabble competition on the weekend! Tu meke! He also demonstrated just how focussed and hard-working he could be when he puts his mind to it. Great stuff Alex - that kind of focus combined with the talents you already have will take you far. Remember our Renzulli model?

Cheers, have a good week. See you all next Wednesday!


Wednesday, 30 March

Another morning of robotics! Thanks again to Sandy for her time and commitment to guiding this with us. She has a great enjoy and attitude when working with our students and it is a real plus that she has been willing to bring her skills and equipment into our class. Many of the pairs finished the whole booklet today which was awesome. All of the pairs completed, at the least, the red riding hood challenge which was a great achievement. It was a full morning of robots and computers and by around 12 I could see several groups starting to fade with energy and enthusiasm. This wasn't surprising - there was some challenging thinking going on and a lot of looking at a screen. They did very well persevering through to the time they did. THose that were wanning I encouraged to try their best then read or sketch or to do whatever their talent areas were. It is awesome as a teacher to see children move to another learning area so willingly and with such focus.

On the other hand there was still a significant group of students who would have happily kept at the robots all day and it was great to see students so committed and enthusiastic about what were very challenging tasks. After robotics we did some written reflections on our morning. Many students noted that the challenge was what they liked the most - tu meke pakiki tamariki!

During lunch and morning tea I sent everyone outside to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. This was a great move because at both breaks some of the students formed a pakiki soccer team and took on the North East Valley students. Many of the Valley kids come and told me about the game with the 'pakiki kids' as I walked around the place. It is really encouraging to see us being a part of the larger NEV school community and the acceptance both groups can have together.

After lunch we thought long and hard about generalisations to do with change (they are posted on the news page if you want to have a look). This was challenging but the children gave it a good go and their efforts will be revisited through the year to give us an indication about how their thinking around this concept is developing. Following this thinking time we broke into a number of options continuing ongoing work - talent groups, completing mosaics, working on change activities like CRAFTS. The highlight was probably watching the scientists get their volcano to go. They had a quick lesson on what they learned from the mistakes of the previous week and they were organised with leaders and roles that were to be allocated. Not only have they been working on the rigours of conducting science (methodical is their catch word) but they are learning a lot about working with others. Despite some early wobbles in the latter part of this they got it together nicely and had some success with their experiment which was a lot of fun and enthused the whole class. They then wrote the results, thinking back to their initial hypothesis and many of them formulated a new hypothesis for further investigation into the same experiment. Well done scientists you showed real development today.

At the same time the artists from Clutha Valley continued to impress with their skill and dedication. Their 'machine' sketching is really quite accurate. The next step for you guys is to look very carefully about where things are positioned in relation to each other, and to not be afraid to simply go over with your pencil as you make adjustments - avoid the eraser whenever you can. There was a good amount of commitment and creativity going into the mosaics as well. I look forward to getting some of these on the wall to show just what the Wednesday crew can do!

Cheers Pakiki kids! Enjoy the rest of your week...oh and thanks Casper for teaching Penny and I about 'joyed'! Send me an example of its correct use in a sentence if you get the chance.

Ka Kite!

Wednesday 23rd March
Hi all,

Robots took over Pakiki Kids today. Sandy, the robot master from the university, arrived in the morning armed with a hoard of laptops and a battalion of Wall-E like machines. The computers were loaded with a program called mindstorm (a lego thing, I believe) and the students spent till lunch time programming their robots to move forwards, turn circles, go in reverse and so on. Once they had mastered these basic skills they were able to work on a challenge - to 'drive' their robot around a road and back it into a garage (all drawn on a large piece of cloth). This was fantastic fun with all the paris having a go - many with success and others well on their way. Well done to all the pairs. There was so much learning going on with literacy, maths, problem solving, cooperation skills. It was fantastic to watch and be a part of. Students utilised different methods and techniques, some which were more efficient than others. After our mornings programming we breifly reflected in our learning journals on the kind of thinking we had applied as indiviudals to the tasks we were set. Students identified a problem they had encountered and the kind of thought processes they used to overcome it. Thanks Sandy for a challenging and entertaining morning's learning. We look forward to more next week.

After lunch we broke into our talent groups. The artists finished their collections and several of them started sketching aspects of their favourite paintings. The storytellers read picture books and short stories and then tried to graph the plot outline, recording and highlighting elements of a piece of fiction along the way. The scientists had attempted to start their volcano at lunchtime - in fear that it wouldn't get finished by the end of the day. THeir fear was well founded, because in their haste they failed to follow the recipe for the volcano 'dough' and their structure wasn't able to stand (to be fair not all the scientists were in on this!). Lesson number 1 for the scientists is still being worked on - be methodical, organised, and careful in conducting your experiments. I'm hopeful next week they will take their time and aim for accuracy over speed.

That was it for our day. Not a lot to report today BUT a lot was achieved - thanks again to Sandy and her robot team, and to the Pakiki kids who made the robot learning so enjoyable through their enthusiasm and persistence. Well done Wednesday.

Catch you all next week.
p.s. I will put photos up tonight : )

Wednesday 16th March


A very exciting day today at Pakiki Wednesday. We have new members - welcome to Aidhan, who has transferred from Thursday, Eila, Oscar, Sophie and Sofia. It’s great to have new classmates who all fitted in so well to the Wednesday group. We got a visit today from our robotics visitor, Sandy, from the computer science department at Otago university. Sandy spoke to the students and introduced them to a NXT 2.1 robot. She also put robotics programs on our computers so in future visits the students can begin programming for themselves. Very exciting.

After our visitor we did some philosophy asking “What counts as important?” We got into a lengthy discussion about happiness and whether having a home was important. It was great to hear Eila, Sofia, Oscar and Sophie presenting their views confidently despite it being their first go at philosophy with us. Nice one! The students drew two conclusions from our discussion - (i) that what is important is the right to a good life but what that might mean is different for each person, depending on their psychology and (ii) that there is no such thing as important but there is such a things as more important than... This was Nathan’s idea. He seems to hold the value of comparison highly in terms of definitions - because he also argued that happiness could only be considered in light of its opposite - sadness, and that one cannot exist without the other. Some interesting philosophical thinking that I’m sure the 18th/19th century German philosopher, Hegel, would agree with.

After we set about finishing work we had started earlier. We made some excellent progress on our mosaics with Katy and Zoe creating and completing some wonderful pieces. Madeline and Sophie have taken on the arduous but rewarding task of cutting their photos into very small pieces to create a full mosaic effect. Meanwhile, Boen added sound effects that he had brought from home to his perfect day video - a great idea. We moved into talent groups next. The scientist’s have picked their first experiment - an erupting volcano, with the aim to find out where a safe place would be. They all made a hypothesis and wrote up the equipment they will need. They worked well together on this. The storytellers read through the success criteria that has been devised for them, and we unpacked the elements that make a fictional story. Their first challenge is to reflect and review on some of their reading with these elements in mind. Sofia has joined Katy, Annie and Zoe in this group. Annie finished her quote bookmark for the Sting book she is reading. The artists worked on contour drawing. Jake and Tyran found this challenging but were dogged in their determination and come up with some excellent sketches. When they were allowed to draw with their eyes on subject and pencil again the results were fantastic.

In chess we learnt the language that allows us to notate our moves and means we can engage with chess puzzles more easily. The children seemed to pick this up very well but if they have the chance to reinforce this at home that would be beneficial to them, I’m sure.

After lunch we worked on our C.R.A.F.T. activities. Alex worked out how to add sound to his animation and narrated a great advertisement for his solar car. WIlliam and Boen are creating an argument between the light bulb and the gas lamp. Casper was resourceful in correcting his draft of a list for a relief teacher. Aidhan has made an innovative brochure design selling the virtues of duplo over lego, and Sofia has a duplo poster with some very catchy slogans. Some of the children are finished and moved onto SCAMPER. This task requires taking an everyday item - redesigning it so there are changes and modifications (scamper stands for substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate and reverse). Oscar has designed a jetpack backpack and Katy a torch earring (that cannot be worn by boys!).

All in all an active Wednesday. TIno pai e tamariki ma! Ka kite ano

Wednesday 9th March

Guten Tag!

Today was a whole lot of chess which is good before the chess night tomorrow. We had a chess test before lunch and then a visit from three of the Logan Park High School chess team immediately after. I have to say the students we have been meeting from Logan are a credit to their school. They offered plenty of chess advice to the players they worked with and answered all our questions. William managed a win against one of them and Tyran and Alex also challenged the former Otago High School champions. We hope to see them again soon.

In the morning we messed around with an algebra problem. Here it is for those who want to have another go - no internet cheating, I want to see your working (so I can learn how to do it : )

“A bird collector wants to buy 100 budgies and wants to spend exactly $100. Blue budgies cos $10 each and green budgies cost $3 and yellow budgies cost 0.50 cents. The collector wants to pick at least one budgie of each colour. How many blue, green and yellow budgies can he buy?”

Boen worked vigorously on this one with help from Casper and Alex. Boen was so into it he skipped our technology challenge. The students had to make an extension arm that would support a marble. Nathan, Jake and Tyran won the challenge with 30 centimetres. Special mention must go to Zoe, Katy and Annie for being the only group to produce a truly free standing structure and to William who worked his one out on his own.

After, the children tried to finish up some things we have been persevering with over the last 4 Wednesdays. Madeline found some answers for her study of Amelia Earhart and Ella photographed, cropped and pasted her photos for her mosaic. Well done team. It is not always easy to keep at things over a period of time but it is important. Kia kaha!

We had a first go at our talent groups in between play and lunch. We have a group of science experimenters, a group of storytellers and an art painting group. At the moment the groups are analysing their respective topics. The storytellers are reading with an eye on spotting and recording the elements of a good story. Today they decided after reading to make a bookmark for their books. I challenged them to make sure the bookmark had a quote from the text that told us something about the personality of a main character. Annie found an interesting quote that gave food for thought for her character. The artists are pouring through museums and galleries of the world on the google art project. This allows them to create a collection of their own and to look at paintings in fine detail. The idea is that they will analyse what they like about the paintings as a way for them to think carefully about art before they start on their own. It was great to see Jake find some artwork that he really appreciated after spending a time thinking their was nothing that would match the style he liked. Great perseverance. The scientists were bubbling with energy and had to work in the kitchen so we could have some peace with our art appreciation and reading. Their task was to select an experiment and to investigate a scientific method for recording their work. Watch out for strange odours and mess in the kitchen come next Wednesday.

Well done Wednesday Pakiki
ka kite ano!

p.s. here’s a riddle for you as promised.....
I have seas without water
I have forests without wood
I have deserts without sand
I have streets with no paving

What am I?

March 2

Mambo! (hello from the Congo)

Well it was a hot and blustery day at Pakiki kids today but the Wednesday crew showed fantastic perseverance and a willingness to strive for excellence by working brilliantly through the afternoon session. They were sent off with a R.A.F.T activity - role, audience, format and topic all based around change words. They come up with inventive and interesting approaches to the task and what was most impressive was when they presented me with work and I challenged them to improve it they went back at it with gusto. Pretty impressive considering the heat. Ella and Katy both completed two whole tasks and showed initiative by going straight on with the second one without being prompted. We now think initiative needs to be added to Costa's scholarly habits of mind! Alex wrote an advertisement highlighting the improvement in changing from oil propelled to electric cars and is creating an animation for it complete with voice over. Nathan is doing a similar thing for his self-parking car - an invention he assures me actually exists, and William is championing the benefits of the electric light over the old gas lamp. He has cleverly used personification and created a dialogue between the actual lightbulb and the lamp. Kirsty and Tyran showed the important factors for a seed to grow and we used the elements program on the ipad to find all of the symbols for the nutrients needed in the soil. It took us a couple of goes through Tom Lehrer's element song to spot potassium was K ( how I could have forgotten dear old Kalium I don't know :) Casper created a list for a replacement teacher to know about and showed an impish sense of humour. I encouraged him to write a real one as well that might actually be able to be used for times I might need to be away.

Earlier in the day we developed our chess game (Katy played a great game against me) and Casper and Kirsty showed themselves as willing tutors for some of the other students who learnt how the knight moves. Our teaching point today was to aim to control the centre of the board. We also wrote persuasive arguments for the talent groups we thought should be run in the classroom. Again, the students showed a willingness to strive for excellence when they were continually encouraged to delve deeper into the rationales they were presenting. There is a definite preference for literacy, arts, and science/technology groups emerging so I shall see how well I can accommodate. If anyone has expertise in these areas and is able to help please let me know - we'd love to have you in.

Prior to morning tea we worked out a logic puzzle. Nathan astounded and amused WIlliam and I with the way he quickly figured out how the German mathematician Carl Frederich Gauss worked out the answer to adding all of the whole numbers between 1 and 100 in his head. Brilliant effort Nathan. Us mere math mortals worked at it for a while before seeing the pattern. But at least we kept at it! : ) We continued to develop our questioning skills and were introduced to the question matrix - a tool for working out questions that require progressively deeper thought. We used these to fine tune our questions for our study on a gifted/talented person, then we set about trying to find answers. Katy decided to interview me and while I assured her she hadn't quite got what it means for a person to be gifted or talented I had to confess her interviewing technique was very good and her questions were definitely in the deeper end of the scale - watch out John Campbell!

Thanks Pakiki kids, I'll see you all next week!

23rd February

Kia ora ano!

We had a few away today with camps on at the moment. Nonetheless it was a fun filled day that started with more thinking about the art of questioning. We discussed drip, puddle and lake questions. The bigger the water the more information your question would get. The students gave examples of each and then asked me questions that would give a yes/no answer, a factual answer, and a judgement or opinion answer. We recorded our ideas and then looked at ignorance logging. Ignorance logging is where we consider things we know we don’t know, things we don’t know we don’t know; things we think we know but we are wrong and several other hindrances to ‘knowing’ something. As we think of something we want to find out we record it in our ignorance log. Today the students recorded 3 things they didn’t know about change; and several questions they could use to guide their study of a gifted person they wanted to learn about.

After questioning we completed a technology challenge. We had twenty minutes, ten pieces of 30cm long string and a newspaper to make a net to successfully catch and hold Barbie or Action Man who were dropped from the balcony. This proved more difficult then we first thought. Annie and Zoe were the only successful group.

Ager play we finished off our perfect day projects. Katy and Zoe worked very cooperatively to complete a board game and an animation. William completed his puzzle page and started on his mosaic ( a lesson in organization as Casper found out :). Boen finished shooting his video with the help of Jake as ace cameraman. Madeline thought hard about how to make her poster stand out and completed it colourfully. Tyran is showing a real artistic flair and got online to find tutorials on how to draw arms and hands. Half an hour’s practise and his drawing of these body parts had improved out of sight!

In the afternoon we had been hoping for a robotics visitor, however, we played chess - the newbies now using rooks and bishops with only the knights to go. Boen discovered chess was 1300 years old and started in India where elephants were used instead of castles/rooks (amongst other changes). Then Jane Johnson, the principal of Logan Park called on us to stand in for the robotics teacher, and listened to our philosophical discussion of Theseus’ ship. The question is if all the parts of a ship are replaced over a long period of time, but the name stays the same, is it still the same ship or has it changed. The children were very thoughtful and contributed brilliantly. The importance of design and memory became the keys to deciding whether it was indeed the same ship or not, according to the Wednesday team. Nathan honed in on the idea that a ship is in some sense alive or has some kind of spirit, and Zoe thought this had to do with people’s memory of the ship. The next question for us to explore is “if there is no-one to remember the ship as it was, or ists history is lost what happens to the ship’s identity?”

Another great day! Catch you all next week. : )

16 February.
Bonjour à tous!

Today was all about questioning. What questions can we ask that get us beyond yes and no, and single word answers?

We showed our dramatic flair and imagination by using body shapes to create household machines for others to guess. Someone suggested we all join together to create a whole scene for Mr K to guess. In a few minutes the thirteen of us had created a human animated kitchen complete down to moving taps. THis was fun and a nice way to catch up at the start of the day. Mr. K had hoped we would start some questioning trying to figure out the machines but our dramatic expression was so clear everyone could recognise the machine. Nevermind, the cooperation was superb - especially the whole class kitchen.

We worked more on questioning through riddles. One person said the riddle the other asked 6 questions to find out more about it before guessing what it was.

Then we interviewed each other about imagining what we would be doing in 20 years from now. This way we could think about what we love to do AND practice asking questions that made people answer IN DEPTH. Then we videoed some of us in action. Zoe proved a tenacious interviewer!

We got to think of our ideal day and brainstormed a multitude of ways to present them. Zoe showed excellent perseverance in completing the outline of her boardgame and some well drawn animal tokens as counters. She could hardly stop at lunchtime and went straight back to it after. Boen planned a story board and with Ella is recording a dramatisation to edit on imovie. Alex designed a google sketch ARTicheture and tagged the buildings with this favourite activities. Kirsty and Tyran started to figure out shading and shadows. Them and I had a quick look at contour drawing - drawing without looking at the page, but focusing only on the subject of your sketch. Katy created a day planner including a well thought out tantrum time so she could keep on reading. She then was the first one to use the animator app on the ipads to recreate her product. Brilliant. Ella was very industrious - she graphed her ideal activities rating them on the y axis, then practised her portrait drawing before being camera person using the digital camera the critical literacy/ and critical multiliteracies group Dr. Sandretto at the university kindly loaned us for the week. Next week Boen and Ella can co-edit their work. Many others created posters, mazes, graphs and puzzle stories to show their ideas and ideals.

Thanks to Penny who helped out at lunchtime. Annie jumped on guitar and showed off the way she can do alternating bass with her thumb and pick the treble strings with her fingers - she has the Johnny Cash rhythm working nicely.

This year our concept study revolves around the idea of change. So, after lunch we philosophized and wondered if everything changes. Many of us leaned toward thinking everything did but Katy disagreed and we soon found ourselves talking about what might be the tiniest parts of things looking for what might remain the same amongst all this change. Quarks and leptons and other wonderfully named miniscule parts of matter were introduced. Were these essential enough to mean some things didn't change? Mr K wondered if even though he was clearly changing he still felt in some way that he was the same person as he had always been. Nathan brought up the idea of the soul as maybe the thing that made it seem like we are identical in some way, even though we change in others. Talk turned to reincarnation and the wonders of dogs who think they are human :) We stopped then but we had recorded lots of ideas to come back to.

We brought to life our pot- plant discs by simply adding warm water. That was a remarkable little change activity kindly brought to school by Katy and her SImon, her Dad. It timed perfectly with our introduction to change. Once the pots had expanded we planted seeds so we can watch them change.

Throughout the day we worked on our contract to finish the mosaics we started last week. Alex has his photos ready to cut. Boen, William and Casper have made good progress and Kirsty is well underway.

At the end of the day we played speedball and recorded on garageband the things we remembered the most from our days learning.

Phew! Not bad for a four and half hour school day. Well done Pakiki kids.