Sunday, 19 November 2017

People who help the environment

There are many people around the world who are doing their bit to raise awareness of issues and to help the environment.
Last week we looked at the 'Black Mambas' - a female anti-poaching unit in the Kruger National Park who protect Rhinos. Why are Rhinos endangered? Why are they being poached?

This week we will look at Sylvia Earle and others who champion the ocean and encourage others to love and protect it.

Older students will debate Trump's recent trophy-hunting rule reversal - looking at possible positive and negatives.

When looking at sustainability it is important to help students find ways they can help to give them hope for the future. By looking at others who are helping we can get ideas for how we can help.
Image result for ways kids can help the earth

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Ocean Health


This week we looked at the health of our oceans.
Why is the ocean important to us?
What is affecting the ocean?
How can we help look after the ocean?

We specifically looked at coral reefs, as indicators of ocean health. We looked at how global warming and acidification, due to CO2 being absorbed into the water, is damaging the reefs - bleaching and killing the coral.

We tried mixing CO2 and water with an indicator in it (blowing into purple cabbage water). It turned a slight pink which indicates a weak acid. For the scientists - H2O+CO2 = H2CO3 (carbonic acid)
Oceans are thought to absorb almost half the CO2 from the atmosphere, which is produced by burning fossil fuels.

There are some great little videos that help understand these very difficult concepts.

Importantly, we looked at ideas to HELP our oceans - kids came up with ideas like using electric cars (but what about the electricity stations - they cause pollution, someone stated) So then we looked at ideas for clean energy like solar and wind farms. 
Children talked about walking or biking instead of using cars all the time, using less electricity, not dropping rubbish, using less plastic etc

Back in May I shared the recipe for making indicator solution with purple cabbage. It's a fun way to experiment with everyday substances to identify acids and bases. Here it is again...

Purple Cabbage
Hot tap water

Slice some cabbage into a large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Leave for 5-10 mins, then strain and keep liquid. This is your indicator solution (it changes colour to indicate pH) - it will be blue or purple, depending on how long you leave it and the temp of the water etc -it will work regardless of the colour it starts as. 

Now you can pour some of the solution into several glasses or any clear containers. Experiment with adding different substances to find if they are acidic or alkali. Acidic things around the home are generally sour things - vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, citric acid etc. They will turn the solution pink. Alkali things are generally soapy - like washing powder, soap, baking soda - they will turn the solution green or blue tones. Don't forget to keep a 'control' so that you can see what colour the solution started as. Kids will have lots of fun with this. Remind them that mixing some solutions from opposite ends of the pH scale could cause a reaction - eg baking soda and vinegar - but they will want to experiment with changing the colour and trying to neutralise the pH again (getting back to the original colour).

WEEK FOUR - there will not be Quest next week sorry as I am taking the TravelWise Team to a TravelWise Celebration on Wednesday, and two teams to the EPro8 engineering challenge on Thursday (instead of working Tuesday). Year 3-6's can look at their penpal information - watch the video, read information and discuss next week's topic 'A Groundbreaking Crisis' with their penpals. 

WEEK FIVE - we will be looking at people who are helping our planet - starting with the 'Black Mambas' who are working to protect Rhinos. 

SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGE - Wenderholm Regional Park 31st October. We took 3 teams to participate in this - a fun day full of map reading, team work and problem solving while learning about caring for our environment. There were about 350 students from many schools there - a great day! Here are a few pictures of our day - complete with a couple of the challenge stations - predator recognition, and first aid. 

Friday, 13 October 2017


This term at school we will be looking at Sustainability. This is a topic I feel strongly about and I know a lot of children I teach share my passion to care for the environment. This is a tricky subject to  look at with gifted children as many are very sensitive and if we focus too much on the problems and not the solutions then it can become very overwhelming. So we will be looking at what concerns the children, introducing a range of issues to learn about, and most importantly looking at people who are helping to look after the planet and thinking about what we can do.

Free illustration: Question Mark, Question, Help - Free Image on ...

The year 3-6 students will also be completing 
a longer project with penpal schools this term (they did a 1 week trial last term, with varying degrees of success!). I will be guiding them more so that they can get more out of it. Some of them did a great job with our introduction to Penpal Schools, some of them will learn how to be more regular and clear communicators! We will be learning how to introduce ourselves clearly and ask good questions to get information.

Free photo Bridge China Nanjing Fuzimiao Surroundings - Max PixelWe are going to mark the location of our penpals on a map and find out more about where our penpals live.

Our next penpal topic is “Protecting the Planet” and we will be looking at what we can do to help look after our planet.

We will be researching different issues that our planet faces, and looking at people who are finding solutions, and discussing these with each other and with our penpals.

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. :)

People who help the environment

There are many people around the world who are doing their bit to raise awareness of issues and to help the environment. Last week we looke...