Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Breakout challenge

Last week I gave the year 5&6's this digital breakout - made by a teaching colleague at another school. It was looking a little at elections - a fun challenge and they will hopefully learn something along the way. It is a challenge that some parents might like to try - they are lots of fun! You need to find the codes for the digital 'locks' (in the panel on the left of the page), and enter them to 'break out'. All of the clues are on the page. Hint - some pictures are links that can be opened in a new tab for further clues...

Only a few children have broken out so far - can you???


End of term 3

Well this term has whizzed by in a flash and is almost finished. We fitted a lot in but also had some interruptions this term with camp, shows, me being unwell etc, which meant we didn't do as much as I had planned.

There is no Quest this week due to show rehearsals and performances. I am hoping someone videos the show so I can get to see the talent in action, as I am supervising students in a holding room so won't get to see the performance.

Last week at Quest with the year 3-6 students I tried something I heard about from a teacher at another school. The students all signed up for 'Penpal Schools' online. This looks great, and for those who are communicating well seems to be making them think and consider others' opinions.

Children can log in at any time to their account to discuss the chosen topic with their penpals (and also to chat to their penpals.) Our topic is "joining forces for the environment". Children firstly fill in a profile (no last names or other identifying data), and are matched with a penpal from somewhere else in the world. They then get to watch a video and read some information (in our case about the environment) and then discuss that with their penpal. They are awarded points for the amount they write. As the teacher I get to see everything the children and their penpals write and can comment, report or delete if anything is not good. They have all done a great job so far and it is fascinating to get a little insight into their opinions. Today I have commented on each child's work so far - so hopefully they will see a little message from me. Please encourage them to sign in to their account and chat to their penpals and show you what they have been learning. It is a learning journey and some have cottoned on to the idea more than others. I would like to try this again next term when I have the chance to have a follow-up lesson once we have started the topic, so that they can look and discuss more in depth. You can find out more here:

The juniors looked at earth movement - layers of the earth (crust, mantle, core) , tectonic plates (we did a puzzle), how the earth moves, and how it is measured (Seismographs). They then had a challenge to design a building that was strong enough to withstand our fake earthquake (desk moving) using just spaghetti and marshmellows. This is always a fun technology challenge and a good one to try at home sometime. I was impressed with their team work, perseverance, and ideas. And just look at the concentration on those little faces! :)

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Links to our local College

At this time of year those with year 6 students will be enrolling them at Intermediate and Colleges. I have had queries from a few of you about provision for gifted and talented students at our local school, Whangaparaoa College. So I asked their GATE coordinators - Aleisha Hazlewood and Michele Duggan.

Here is what Aleisha sent me:

The provisions currently available at Whangaparaoa College include:

·         Withdrawal groups (1 hour per week) for gifted learners in Year 7 and 8. Each term we focus on accelerating different skills including literacy skills, numeracy skills, and scientific/problem solving skills. We plan on using science badges next term.
·         We are also providing a withdrawal programme for our gifted visual artists in Year 7. They will be illustrating the stories written by our gifted writers. This will be published in a book at the end of the year.
·         We have a separate gifted programme for Mathematics. Learners attend weekly on Friday mornings before school with one of our subject specialist teachers – David Godfrey. He focuses on extending their mathematical problem solving skills as well as acceleration when needed.
·         Code club with Gary Mueggenburg after school on Thursdays.
·         EPro8 competition with Gary Mueggenburg (engineering and problem solving).
·         Mathex from years 7 – 10. The Year 7 and 8 Mathex programme includes weekly practices over the course of Term 2.
·         For those learners interested in social justice issues (particularly relevant for those sensitive learners who worry about issues going on in the world) Erin Lowry and I run Justice League. We open this up to year 7 and 8 learners every few weeks.
·         Our gifted Maori and Pasifika learners (as identified using Maori and Pasifika definitions of giftedness) are catered for with opportunities to lead in kapa haka. We also make the most of opportunities run by external organisations that develop leadership skills, such as the Sisters United Conference that’s coming up in October.
·         At a senior level, gifted learners develop leadership skills through Prefect and House Leader roles. They are given opportunities to participate in Model United Nations conferences, lead the 40 Hour Famine, and the Justice League group. Many of our gifted leaders also take part in the Duke of Edinburgh programme.
·         Learners who are gifted in music/art/drama/dance are extended through opportunities run by the specific departments in those areas.
·         Those gifted in sporting abilities have ample opportunities to excel through our sports department. I can send you through more details about our gifted learners in sports later.
·         Debate club is run through the English department.
·         Michele Duggan still runs a Shakespeare club.

There are many more extracurricular activities that come up during the year that are open for our gifted learners to take part in. In addition to this;

·         We will be starting the Ethics Olympiad later this year.
·         We are in the process of planning a gifted and talented ‘club’ which will provide opportunities for gifted learners to get together with like-minded peers and socialise. We plan on having a tuakana-teina approach to this so that some of our senior learners can help mentor the younger ones.
·         Acceleration is used on a case by case basis when necessary.
·         Each teacher is expected to differentiate for their gifted learners’ needs.

In terms of next year and subsequent years, we are moving to a cluster group model for our gifted learners. There’s plenty of research that shows this model can help meet the social and learning needs of our gifted learners (and we will be continuing all the other methods outlined above e.g. withdrawal groups, extracurricular activities etc.). Palmerston North Intermediate School has successfully implemented this model. As far as I know, any streamed classes that are already in existence are continuing on and being phased out over time.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Kindness - thoughts from children

Last week at 'Quest' we looked at social movement and how many people joining together can help to change the world. As it was Random Acts of Kindness day on Friday we started by thinking about kindness as a social movement. I asked the children 4 questions - they jotted their ideas down. I love hearing their views and seeing what lovely human beings they all are.

I know they spread kindness where they can - this was a good reminder for them all (and me!).

1. HOW do you feel when someone is kind to you?
Happy, Bright and happy, great, grateful, yayish, I get a shiver and say something back, Awesome, motivated, I feel honoured, That life is good, Makes me want to be kind to that person, Warm and mushy inside, good, all smiles, a lovely tingle, happy loved and liked, happy tears, I want to smile and laugh all day, cheerful, joyful, proud of the other person, excited, cool, happy and special, all the good feelings there are, better than ever, glad, super dooper happy  

2. WHO can we be kind to?
Anyone except bad people (this raised some debate - and it was decided that we should try to be nice to bad people as well to show them how to be kind and to make them feel better), Family, Friends, Mum and Dad, anyone, homeless people, Anyone because you never know what people are going through, all living things, anyone and everyone, teachers, anything that is alive, people who are kind to you, Anyone - even if you don't want to, caretakers, nice people, the world, humans.

3. WHAT can we do to be kind?

Help people, smile, give someone flowers, hug, be a friend, use manners, make everyone smile, greet them, make them laugh, handshake, say hi, helping with someone's problem like depression, be nice, give money, if someone drops something help them pick it up, give a gift, smile and say can I play with you, tell jokes, say nice words, if someone falls over help them up, do someone's chores, care for them, help people, help someone when they are hurt, go to someone's birthday if they invite you, don't bully, play with them, anything good, don't be rude, give sad people a compliment, help them when they are sad or scared, not be complete idiots! compliments, open doors, hug someone, help someone in need, give homeless people money, be nice to someone even if they are not nice to you, help homeless people as in give them a bottle of water, smile, be helpful

4. WHY be kind?
To show love, because we want everyone to smile, because it is nice, to have friends, because it is polite, to make the world better, to make others feel good, to spread happiness, because it is nice to be kind, to make the world a kinder place, it makes life better, 'cos why not? To brighten up someone's day, if you are kind then others will be as well, because when you make someone feel good it makes you feel good too, to cheer them up, to make someone feel loved, to make someone's day! to make people smile, because it is respectful, to make people's life better, it's a good thing to do, do what you want them to do - be kind, because it makes people happy.

These are all simple but powerful ideas from children aged 5-10. Imagine if we all had hearts like theirs - our world would be wonderful! Thank you parents for raising such caring children. :)

Parent Evening - 'Gifted 101'

What is giftedness? At a recent parent evening I talked about the different domains (areas) of giftedness and how we identify and cater for ...