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 a 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. :)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

If laughter was a colour, what colour would it be?

Laughter and smiling are contagious - you only have to hear somene laughing and you often smile or laugh too. 

This week we talked about spreading smiles and kindness with social movement, as it is Random Acts of Kindness day (RAK) on Friday.

What colour do you think laughter would be? Smiling? Would they be the same or different? 

We looked at Orly Wahba and the work she is doing to encourage people to spread kindness and make the world better.  This is a great video if you haven't seen it - all about spreading kindness. Very inspiring.   Orly Wahba has also done a TED talk too if you are interested - It's only 10 minutes. In it she talks about how she used kindness cards to encourage people to spread kindness.

                                                                 Here's the TED talk.
And here's another little idea for RAK - spreading smiles via post-it notes. My Quest kids loved this simple idea. The grammar / spelling on this video is not the best - but you get the idea!  

Next week we will be looking at ocean currents - movement in the ocean. The good and the bad effects of currents, and how they work (eg thermohaline circulation - temperature and salinity of the water). 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Writing Competition

Do you love to write? Would you like to see your work published in a real book?
Here is a writing competition for anyone up to year 10 (14/15yr olds). This is run by Zee Southcombe - the author who visited the year 5/6 Quest kids in week 1 this term.

The competition theme is NATURE. You can write a story, report, poem etc. Have a go! Remember to edit your work - don't just send in your first draft - check it, improve it, re-read it. Good luck writers!

Details are on this website:

Monday, 14 August 2017

Animals and Movement

Last week the year 3-6 students looked at animals and movement. The year 1&2 students will learn about it this week.

The year 3-6 students have a fun movement challenge this week - Quizzes and activities to do with movement that we have learnt about so far this term.

We looked at LOCOMOTION - how animals move in different ways - the language of movement eg soar, flitter, creep, stretch, walk, glide etc We tried to classify animals into movement types.
We also looked at MIGRATION - when animals move to different regions. We looked at the reasons for this, some of the animals that migrate, and how humans can affect migration.

This elephant is walking through a hotel lobby. The hotel was built around mango trees that the herd has visied for years on their migratory trail. So the elephant just walked on in to get to the trees.

Here is a fun little video on Wildebeest Migration.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Movement of hands

Hands move in so many ways, and we use them a lot daily. This week we looked at how we use our hands, which hand is more dominant, how the brain controls our hands. We also looked at anatomy of a hand, and children completed a variety of choices. We looked at artist studies of hands, sign language, imagining if we didn't have hands, writing about hands etc.

Below is a fantastic story by Olivia - year 5, written from the point of view of a hand.

I am a hand. Yes, a hand. My life is tough. I am the Left hand, I live with my brother, Right hand and my master, Olivia. I awoke abruptly, I was slapped on the alarm to make the beeping noise stop. Owch! I see my brother still sleeping. Suddenly, Master sat up in bed, my brother was used to wipe sleep out of Master’s eyes. Plop! A big drop of porridge just dropped on my finger. I was then washed, I got soap in my eyes, painful. Then suddenly, I remember I have to write an essay today!! Right hand is lucky, he doesn’t have to write anything! I feel Master pick me up, Oh No! Not the nose, Not the nose! No No No No nooooo! I was shoved up Master’s nose I felt, dirty, I need a shower! A slimy booger stuck to my nail. At school, our teacher says to get the essay books out. I am shoved into Master’s desk, with Right Hand. We have started writing now, I already am in some pain. An hour later, after the essay, I can hardly move!! I guess life is better than my cousins, Left foot and Right foot, they sweat inside old smelly shoes!!

Some students watched this TED video by a neuroscientist. They asked me to share it so they can show parents. It's really fascinating - using signals from one brain to move someone else's hand!

Next week we will be looking at animals and movement.

Thursday, 27 July 2017


CHESS COACHING - we have an accredited chess coach coming to school on Thursday lunchtimes again this term to run lessons. Term 3 classes start next Thursday 3rd August. This is paid for by parents as it is run by a private outside company.
Here is the info / enrolment form if you are interested.   

 We also have chess club on Tuesday lunchtimes in B9 - that's free but much less formal as I run it and just supervise, and teach bits where I can - I am nowhere near the skill of the accredited coaches! But any child is welcome to come to that. Parents always welcome too if you want to pop in for a game or three :)

SCRATCH CLUB - I have some wonderful year 6 boys running a club on Wednesday lunchtimes teaching scratch programming - any year 3-6 children welcome. (younger children can come too but they would need their own device). I supervise this in B9. If your child has not done scratch before here are some good easy tutorials to walk them through the basics in their own time - the first one is on setting up an account.  Scratch can be found at
 There is huge scope for programming using scratch - children have programmed games, presentations, animations etc  I would love more girls to attend - the class is mostly full of boys - if anyone has ideas on how to get girls involved please let me know! 

SHARING KNOWLEDGE - This term we are looking at the concept of movement. If anyone has knowldege that they would be willing to share with the children in any of these areas please let me know - we love visitors! You do not need to be an expert in the field - just any knowledge or interest in the area that you could share is always appreciated :) Kids get so much out of hearing accounts of real people and real experiences / knowledge / jobs (and so do I!).  
Topics: Robotics; Plate Techtonics / earth movement (seismology etc); Animals and movement - how they move and migration patterns etc (vets / scientists??); social movements eg forest and bird, greenpeace, other change organisations; art movement (dance , artists, mime etc); sign language; ocean currents; animation / puppetry etc etc. If you have any areas at all that you would be willing to chat to the kids about (even other than those listed above), please get in touch. It could be as simple as chatting to one group (15-25 students) or to several groups, or a larger group of children - whatever you are willing to do. And it doesn't need to be long - the author who visited my year 5/6 groups this week chatted for about 30-40 minds with a slideshow, and then had about 20 mins of kids asking questions. You could do shorter or longer - whatever you are comfortable with.

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 a queries from a few of you ...