Monday, 4 May 2020

Online Quest


Zoom sessions and online work is how Quest is running this term. We try to share ideas where we can, and meet for zoom chats so we can see our friends and brainstorm ideas. 
This term we are looking at the concept of progress through a wide variety of topics.

First up - Transport, as requested by Harrison. We looked at transport types and changes over the years, as well as possible ideas for the future. Some designed great new transport methods with futuristic power sources, some created models of vehicles and tried to transport goods, some researched different transport methods. 
Are solar powered cars the future?
Next we looked at toilet paper and thought about the progress in hygiene as well as comfort! We looked at ancient Roman toilets, and how they shared a sponge on a stick to 'clean up' - ugh! We looked at ingenious ways people use toilet paper for other purposes at times, such as the toilet roll challenge by footballers, creating paper wedding dresses out of toilet paper, and upcycling used toilet rolls to create something new. 
What Is The Toilet Roll Keepie-Uppie Challenge? Celebs And ...

Next up - buildings and progress with design, materials and use of space. We went on a virtual trip to Italy via Google street view to visit the leaning tower of Pisa and think about why it might be leaning. Children chose from various ideas to look deeper at an aspect of design, materials or use of space. We had towers made of creative materials like bagels, toilet paper rolls, tins, toothpicks, as well as interesting designs for tiny houses and large buildings. 
If you haven't tried this you might like to try building out of toothpicks and marshmallows. How high can you make a tower before it collapses?
Learn with Play at Home: Mini-marshmallow and toothpick building ...

Lockdown learning!

From normal life to lockdown learning was a very quick jump, so our first couple of weeks were mini lesson looks at life in lockdown. 

First of all we looked at the positives for each of us and for the world with this pandemic,  such as less pollution, and people uniting with things such as sharing ideas, teddy bear hunts, singing together etc.

We looked at how people learn when they are stopped from regular learning - such as Isaac Newton in the Great Plague of 1665, where he was forced to leave University and retreat to his family home. It was during this time that Newton came up with many theories and observations - such as gravity (the famous apple incident), splitting light, and calculus. 

Isaac Newton Worked from Home During the Plague and 'Discovered ...

We thought of ideas that we might like to try while at home - a perfect time to do some learning or thinking about something that interest us! 
Stay safe in your bubbles everyone. 

26 March Shorts Newsletter | NZ On Air

Animal Communication systems

We started off this week with a test of our noses - could we find a scent to match the scented paper we were given? Some were easy, some were difficult! This led us to a discussion on pheromones and how some animals use scent to communicate. We looked at how ants lay down a scent trail to show others in their colony where a food source is. We looked at scientific studies that have observed and analysed this behaviour. We thought about other ways animals might communicate and the things they might be needing to communicate. We compared this to how we communicate and thought of similarities and differences.
Trajectory of ants for following the pheromone trail. | Download ...

Some children chose to go outside and locate an ant colony and experiment with which foods they prefer by observing which food type they would go to more often. An exercise in patience and observation skills!

Some researched different communication types for various animals - just think about how a cat or dog communicates in so many ways - with their ears, tails, body, sounds, facial gestures etc. If you want to see an interesting communication type, just look up the peacock spider from Australia to see how it communicates!
Peacock Spider 7 (Maratus speciosus) - YouTube
Some children acted out communication forms of animals, some made kahoot quizzes, some created lift the flap pictures to show inside an ant colony or beehive. There are so many ways we can go deeper with our learning and stretch our thinking on a topic.

Calendar systems

A bit of science and history in this learning, as well as a spattering of languages (te reo and latin). We looked at different calendar systems and how they are based either on a solar calendar system (based around the length of the time the earth takes to go around the sun) or a lunar calendar that tracks the phases of the moon. Some calendars are lunisolar calendars that take both into account.

We looked at ancient calendars such as the Maramataka or Maori calendar, and alongside that looked at te reo for days of the week and months of the year, noting both transliterations or loan words from English words - Mane (Monday), Turei (Tuesday) etc, and the maori  words - Rāhina (Monday), Rātū (Tuesday) etc.

The Calendar most used by Western civilsations these days is based on the Gregorian calendar, which came from the ancient Roman Julian calendar. It's interesting to see how many names of the months are derived from the Julian calendar. We also looked at how the Romans changed the calendar to try to get it to line up with the seasons each year, and then changed the names of a couple of months to include July (after Julius Caesar) and August (after Caesar Augustus). I think it was eye-opening for some to see how our systems today date back so far. 

Kalendae, Nonae, Idus

We looked at the reason for calendar systems (usually so people could keep track of seasons etc which influenced planting and harvesting. And we thought about the reason for a leap year, as this year is one. This goes back to the length of time the earth takes to orbit the sun, which is 365.25 days, so every 4 years we need an extra day to make the time up and get the calendar in balance again. 

This is an enormous topic and we really just got a small taste so that children could see the complexity and origins of some systems. This was also a good one to look at reasons for some systems and how they can help keep order. There are some good videos online about this topic, such as this one about leap years from Ted Ed. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Marine Ecosystems


Food chains show how energy moves in an ecosystem. We looked at foodchains in a marine ecosystem with kelp (rimurapa) , kina, snapper (tāmure) , crayfish (koura). We learnt about the importance of kelp in our ecosystem - did you know that seaweed and other marine plants produce over half the world's oxygen??!!

Kina love to eat kelp, snapper and koura love to eat kina. Unfortunately, people also love to eat snapper and crayfish, and in some places overfishing happens, meaning the food chain gets out of balance and kina take over, eating all the kelp and causing kina barrens. There are many areas of kina barrens Tikapa Moana (the Hauraki Gulf).

We looked at the wonderful Young Ocean Explorers videos  about all of these issues and thought of what could be done to keep our ecosystem balanced.

Lots of children chose to try out the 'learn to draw' series on Young Ocean Explorers - I sent photos of some of their pictures to YOE and they love them! 

Friday, 28 February 2020

Philosophy - what is precious?

This week we used philosophy to start us off on our concept of systems for the term. I was aiming to get children to think about systems for discussion, and a philosophical inquiry is a great place to start. We discussed the rules of our inquiry - one person at a time talking, listen and consider others' responses, allow others to have their own opinions, discuss respectfully (no put-downs, question the idea not the person).
And along the way we had a wonderful inquiry into what we think is precious. This all stemmed from a comment I heard from someone at school last week - 'Look after water, it's precious right now'.
That got me thinking - is something precious only when it is scarce? Are some things more precious to some than others?
First we sorted items / statements into what we thought was precious / not precious, and children had to justify their decision. This encourages deeper thinking, to have to give a reason. We then discussed in groups which items we would change and why. We thought about what was the most precious thing to each of us - remembering that different people have different ideas and that's ok.

Image result for king midasWe looked at the Greek myth of King Midas and thought about what he thought was precious, and when he changed his mind.

Image result for taonga
We looked at taonga - the Maori concept of treasure or something precious.

We discussed whether water is more precious now than it usually is, and why this might or might not be.

There was a lot of great respectful discussion that hopefully opened up thinking and got children to see that there are similarities and differences in the way we all think.

Here are some quotes on precious - do you agree or disagree...and why?

Image result for precious quotesImage result for precious quotesImage result for precious quotesImage result for precious quotesImage result for precious quotesImage result for precious quotes

Monday, 3 February 2020

Welcome to 2020!

A very warm welcome (in fact currently 31 degrees warm in my classroom!) back to Quest for 2020. I look forward to working with all the students again, learning and exploring ideas together.

This term we start by looking at the concept of systems - ideas like ecosystems, communication systems, hierarchies, systems for learning etc come to mind, but I will also be asking children for their input along the way.

Quest will start in week 4 this term (Tuesday 25th Feb and Wednesday 26th Feb). Below is the weekly timetable. There may be some changes along the way due to clashes with swimming, sports, class activities etc, but I will try to remember to let you know if we are going to change.

See you soon!


Online Quest

TERM 2 Zoom sessions and online work is how Quest is running this term. We try to share ideas where we can, and meet for zoom chats so we ...