Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Kaitiakitanga - guardianship / protection

This week is Maori language week. We explored the concept of Kaitiakitanga - caring for the land, being sustainable to ensure there are resources for future generations. We though about taonga (treasures, things we value) and how we could be kaitiaki (guardians).

The older groups began their projects to make a difference in the world. They can work alone or in groups. I am so impressed with the level of ideas and ambition that many have - we have children researching how to raise money to donate to organisations, some designing bird feeders, bee gardens, inventions to help the planet, some carrying out surveys, some raising awareness by writing a song, making a website, creating posters, making a powerpoint, writing a book, making videos etc.

The year 1&2 Quest groups looked at the native garden and the importance of trees. We used our 'thinking hats' to help us stretch our thinking about trees - yellow hat - positives about trees; black hats - negatives; green hats - ideas for how to look after trees. Next week we are going to plant native tree seeds that were donated, and care for our seedlings until they are big enough to add to the native garden (probably next year sometime if all goes well!)

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

What can we do to help?

Over the past few weeks we have been exploring ways people are helping to make the world better. We looked at helping the environment, helping animals, and helping people.

We saw examples of people who are doing something to help - either with actions or by raising awareness. We thought about what we could do to help.

This week we looked at helping people. We started by looking at philanthropist Bill Gates with the Gates Foundation, and all the people they are helping with their money.

Then we thought about how we could help people without using money. We role-played situations such as seeing someone fall over, seeing someone looking lonely, and thought about what we could do to help.

We then learnt about the bystander effect - it has been found that if people are in a group they are less likely to help - it's all about the 'diffusion of responsibility' - the presumption that someone else will do it. Here is an interesting video where they experimented with this.

Some of our senior students decided to try their own social experiment about the bystander effect at morning tea time. I hear that Whangaparaoa School kids are very helpful and generally didn't take long at all to step in to help when they thought someone needed it - nice to know!

Our example of people helping others in our community was to go and look at the Community fruit and vegetable stand by the Motutapu Rd carpark. This is run by the kindy, and supported by the school. It is where people can donate surplus fruit and vegetables for others to help themselves to - a good example of community support.

In the next few weeks we will be looking at actions we will take to make the world a better place. Senior students will have the option to follow an idea they are passionate about, although there will be suggestions of actions for those who don't have their own ideas.  My hope is that students will feel empowered to make a difference and know that their little bit can help. I love this quote from Auckland Zoo's director, Kevin Buley. 

"We can sometimes feel overwhelmed and think, that as individuals, we can’t really make a difference. But we need to remember there are millions of us, and every little positive action we each take counts - there is enormous power in our collective efforts."

Friday, 24 August 2018

Problems in the world and who is helping

Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at what we see as issues in the world. We  pretended to be the United Nations - brainstorming, sorting and prioritising issues we think the world has. Then we looked at the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development - a list of 17 goals the UN has for improving our world. Interestingly not many children had the first few goals on their lists. We discussed why this might be and came to the conclusion that most of us in NZ are lucky and don't have these needs. We looked at people around the world who exist on $2.50 a day or less - some talked about the minimum wage in NZ being almost as much for an hour as these people have for a whole week - pretty sobering to think about!

We have also begun to look at who is helping, and are starting to compile a list of organisations and people who help in the different areas - those who help people, the environment and animals.

This week we looked at plastics and pollution. We looked at Riley from Young Ocean Explorers and how many of her messages are raising awareness of and encouraging less plastic use and picking up rubbish. We looked at 12 year old Arlian Ecker from Australia 'Plastic Free Boy' and his mission to get people to cut down on using plastic. We looked at Buzz Feed's 'I tried to live trash free for 30 days', and also at peope doing 'Plastic attacks' at supermarkets. All of these people in different ways are trying to help decrease pollution and plastic use. Many of you already use re-useable bags in the supermarket, and our government is helping by bringing in a ban on single use plastic bags. We reflected on how our school is trying to help cut down on rubbish with paper recycling and composting.

We have also looked at people who use their talents to get a message across - eg Dr Suess writing 'the Lorax', People writing songs, poems, painting, making posters, making videos and movies etc.

One person we looked at was Prince Ea - his slam poetry is thought provoking. We watched this sobering video and discussed what his purpose was and how it made us feel.  

Over the next few weeks I want to get children exploring people and organisations who are helping (we have some great ones right here on the coast!) and deciding what they can do to help. I hope that they will all find something they can do to help make our world better, and to empower them to understand that they can make a difference. 

Many of our gifted children worry about the future and can get anxious when they hear about problems in the world - hopefully this will help them see that there are people who feel the same, others who are helping, and that they can make a difference too. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Amazing world

This week we looked at what is good about our world.
I wanted to start with this as next week I plan to get children thinking about problems / issues in the world / country / neighbourhood, and I wanted them to realise that there are lots of positives too.

We looked at Louis Armstrong's 'What a wonderful world' song - many children sang along - lovely!
We also looked at how other people record their positive feelings about the world - through written work, art, videos, song.

This global film project by Coldplay, using their song 'Amazing Day' is a lovely way to see some of the wonderful things in our world. Amazing Day by Coldplay

We brainstormed things that we think are amazing in the world, and looked at giving reasons for why we think they are amazing.

Here are some of their ideas:

The ocean because you can go surfboarding.
The sun because it gives us light.
Shells because they give crabs a home.
Horses because they are so cute and fun and friendly.
Trees / forests - because it gives you air. Without it the world would basically be extinct. And it is a habitat for a lot of living things.
Water because without it I can't sail!
Dogs because they guard people.
Snow because I like going skiing with my family.
Animals because they give me joy.

Nachos because I like the delicious crunchy corn chips with mince piled on top.
Mountain biking because there are lots of things to learn.
Sport because it encourages me to keep going.
Fashion because it makes you look good - dress to impress!
Books because they give me inspiration to write.
Fortnite because it is the most popular game in the world.
I-pads because they have the best games ever made.
Pokemon because you can trade.

Goode Brothers because they give pizza lessons!
School because that's where I get to learn and make new friends.
Mount Ruapehu because I love skiing.
Forests because there is lots of life in them.
Rotorua because I mountain bike there.
My house because it's where I grew up.
Home because it makes me feel safe.
Queenstown because it's beautiful.

Dad because I am proud of him.
Elvis Presley for being the King of Rock.
Your family because if you are sick or hurt they can help you.
Mum and Dad because they buy you food and clothes.
A good friend because they are kind and caring.
Paleontologists because they discover ancient information.
Friends and family because they got me were I am.
Mum - she is kind and funny.
Friends because they are kind and inspire me to do new things.
Dan Reynolds because he is the singer of Imagine Dragons.

Next week we start to look at issues in the world and to find out about people and organisations who are helping, and we'll eventually look at how we can help if we feel strongly about something.

Friday, 22 June 2018


Philosophy basically translates to the love of wisdom. It started in Ancient Greece, and some well known Philosophers are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Philosophers discuss and think about the big questions.
Over the last couple of weeks my senior (yr 3-6) groups have looked at a bit of philosophy, discussing a variety of things - from success (what is success, what helps us be successful?), to fairness.

The juniors also looked at philosophy a couple of weeks ago - looking at what makes a good pet and discussing their ideas and reasons for what they thought. They talked about temperament, looks, personal preference etc. Lots of good discussion about a seemingly simple topic.

Philosophy is all about being able to express your own opinion without fear of others making fun of you. Children are encouraged to discuss and debate (respectfully, and with reasoning) but also to take time to listen and consider others' opinions first.

I am off to a P4C (Philosophy for Children) course over the next two Saturdays, so hopefully I gain some ideas there too.

Here are some of the children's ideas on success - looked at last week by some groups, during Gifted Awareness Week (GAW). The theme for GAW this year was 'Catalysts for success", so I thought I'd ask their opinions. We discussed different ideas and that everyone experiences / reacts to things differently. What do YOU think are catalysts for success? What helps us succeed?
Here are the kids' ideas...

Professor Francoys Gagne has a 'Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent' (DMGT) to help us define and identify Giftedness and Talent. I like his model, as it also shows catalysts that can help develop giftedness (Gagne says this is a natural 'innate' ability) into a talent (an outward expression of a gift, developed to a high level). Note- it is not only external catalysts such as people and opportunities, but also internal catalysts (drive, perseverance etc) that is useful. Some people have a lot of these catalysts, and some only a few. Some go on to develop great talent, and some don't. It really depends on the circumstances and the person themselves. But people can still be gifted even if they don't show a developed talent.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Myths and Fables

This week at Quest the year 5&6's had a visiting speaker from Massey University. Anastasia Bakogianni lectures in classics and specialises in Greek Mythology. She gave a very interesting talk looking at the main components of a Greek myth (a hero (traditionally male), a quest, a mythical beast (often female!), sometimes a love interest, help from a God etc). She looked at how Greeks often had warriors in their stories, as that was part of their lives back then. She showed examples of Greek myths and how many ideas have been used / changed for more modern stories, such as Percy Jackson stories. She also mentioned a tv series from the 80's called Hercules, which was filmed in NZ, and Xena warrior princess. Thanks to Jenny Lawn ho also works at Massey University for organising this.

The younger Quest classes have been looking at Aesop's fables. Aesop also lived in ancient Greece, and was reportedly a slave. His oral stories earned him fame. They are short stories, often with talking animals as characters, and always with a moral. We looked at some of the traditional fables and then looked at how other authors have copied some of the ideas and changed them a bit yo create their own stories. 'Frederick' by Leo Lionni is a good example. It follows the ideas from Aesop's 'Ant and Grasshopper'fable, with a difference.  Frederick is a mouse whose family is busy gathering food ready for winter. Frederick however spends his days sitting in the sun and staring at flowers, and dreaming and thinking. He is different. When winter comes they all have enough food to eat because of the hard work by the other mice. And Frederick begins to recall the sunshine and the flowers by telling stories and poems and helps the mice imagine a warmer time. So he was useful after all!. We looked at how different people have different stengths and it's important to have lots of different people in the world as it makes it a more interesting place. We looked at what they think their strengths are. So many varied strengths - great to see them all proud of what they do well.
Choices included  making a Kahoot Quizabout Ancient Greece, writing their own fable, researching about what grasshoppers do in the winter, reaing more fables etc. 

Next week we will be looking at writing our own myths / fables and thinking about presenting them - stop motion video, play, slideshow etc.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Greek Myths - Heracles

There was no Quest last week due to the chess interschools and the Auckland Writers Festival trip.

This week we have a guest speaker coming on Monday evening. We are very lucky to have Lynn Beresford from Indigo Assessments and Counselling coming to talk about the Social and Emotional needs of gifted children. 7-8.30pm in the staffroom Monday night - gold coin donation.

We will be looking at Greek Myths again this week - looking at the labours of Heracles (Hercules in Roman mythology). This is a good opportunity to look at challenge and choices we can make when faced with a challenge. We will be looking at strategies we use when facing challenges and hopefully sharing ideas so that we have a range of strategies we can try.
We'll also think about using our imagination to create ideas for our own myths.

Next week the year 5&6 groups will be having a special guest speaker - Dr Anastasia Bakogianni - lecturer in classical studies, specialising in Greek Mythology, from Massey University. Thanks to one of our Mums, Jenny,  for suggesting and organising this - it's great to have experts for our kids to open up a world of learning possibilities for them!

Kaitiakitanga - guardianship / protection

This week is Maori language week. We explored the concept of Kaitiakitanga - caring for the land, being sustainable to ensure there are reso...