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!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Ancient Greek Life

This week we looked a little at Ancient Greek life - similarities and differences in schooling, and looked at what the Western world learned / gained from the ancient Greeks.

Kids had the choice to try some things from Ancient Greek schooling - the Greek alphabet (they were fascinated that 'alpha' and 'beta' are the first two letters and some letters are similar to our alphabet while some are very different); Greek art (decorating vases), Greek games, looking at Greek Myths. Some looked at Homer's Odyssey, some researched other aspects of Greek life.

We talked about the purpose of school today, and the purpose in Ancient Greek times. We compared Athenian education to education in Sparta. Some children were amazed to hear that in Sparta their schooling consisted of learning to fight, steal and lie! Quite different to our schooling thank goodness! Many of our current education subjects originated from links to Ancient Greek education (from Athens and other city-states - not Sparta!) - poetry, art, music, literature, maths, science etc.

We talked abot the pros and cons of different parts of schooling. One group discussed boredom at school and we came up with ideas for if we feel bored. We looked at reasons for feeling bored (if something is too easy, too hard, not interesting to you) and solutions (talk to someone - politely!- and ask for help / extension / new ideas), stretch yourself, change your mindset, use the opportunity to think, plan, imagine, dream etc. While I am not advocating for boredom, I feel that a certain amount of unstructured time can be useful for children (and adults) to allow us time to be creative and think. I really like this video of a young man who came to that conclusion about his schooling - that in order to think and create, he had to stop learning. Jacob Barnett was 14 when he gave this TED talk - he has autism and is extremely gifted. However, at several stages in his schooling he was 'stopped' from learning because he didn't follow the regular path and people didn't know what to do with him. I find his story and his amazing attitude really inspiring.  Hopefully schools can be more enlightened and help provide more effectively for our gifted students, but there is still hope even if students do not always feel provided for - they can learn from Jacob Barnett and use that time to start thinking and start creating.

The older groups were given the opportunity to have their say about the future of NZ education if they wished - I was impressed with how many were keen to do this. This survey is open to everyone - children and adults. It closes 31st May - so have your say if you wish.

Next week there is no Quest as I am away on a couple of trips - the chess interschools on Tuesday, and the Auckland Writer's Festival with some year 5&6's on Wednesday. Quest will be on as usual the following week. We will be looking at another Greek myth and beginning to think about creating our own myth.

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 ...