THE POWER OF STILL IMAGES & DRAMA IN STIMULATING IMAGINATION

At the moment our 17 month old grandson is totally enamoured with reading books, so usually we spend considerable time reading whatever he has chosen. What is fascinating to watch is how much his imagination is stimulated; how long he can concentrate and focus his attention on still images; how much information about the world he is absorbing, articulating responses initially through sounds and now a repository of “words.”

His older sister, aged 4, recently re-enacted her book “Tangled” (based on the movie about Rapunzel). Using her dolls and an assortment of carefully selected “props,” she replaced the scenes depicted in the pictures with her own interpretation. Adding her own dialogue she let her imagination transport her into the story, all stimulated by the images she referenced in her book.

So a reminder to everyone who is a parent, grandparent, caregiver. Give the children every opportunity to “read” books using still images. The pictures and illustrations in books don’t rely on an ability to decode language but are “effective in getting children close to people and situations; and able to take children into complex situations in a straightforward but valid way.”1

This week our Year 5 – 8 students and a number of parents were treated to a musical spectacular performed by students at St Peter’s, Cambridge. Starlight Express was brought to life by an ensemble that had obviously spent hours rehearsing. The entire cast and crew transported the audience into an imagined world where personified trains battled for supremacy in an international race. We were captivated.

Dramatic performances breathe life into narratives and provide an audience with the opportunity to suspend disbelief. Theatre is centered on thinking and imagining, two processes that are also evident when we read.

If it is wet this weekend get out the picture books and some props for you and the children, and let the power of still images and drama stimulate your imagination.

1. https://networkonnet.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/marvels-amongst-the-kauri-part-1/

DE-CLUTTERING A TO-DO-LIST

As well as provide students with a restful and often much needed break from school, the holidays can present families with quality time to share experiences. Though sometimes the plans made don’t always come to fruition.

Often times we set ourselves things to do – tasks or undertakings to accomplish, but  circumstances are such that we don’t necessarily get to complete anywhere near what we wanted to achieve. The thing is, we shouldn’t angst over this or feel bad. In fact, I would suggest that at times we need to “abbreviate” our to-do-lists and just focus on the essentials or else, as you endeavour to neatly organise your life by creating lists, the stress can rise.

In an article by Cari Romm titled “Why You Should Try Decluttering Your To- Do-List,” Romm shares a strategy suggested by Stephanie Lee in terms of dealing effectively with to-do- lists and that is, to explicitly focus on each days tasks with the following statement in mind….. “If this was the only thing you did today you’d be satisfied.” 1 Do that thing – everything else can wait.

When my family are around, they sometimes point out to me that my to-do-list is excessive, so spending time with our grandchildren over the holidays the idea of de-cluttering my to-do list took on new meaning.

We played games (pirates is still a favourite); drew; picked flowers; went to the beach; collected “stuff;” built a Tinkerbell house; tidied the garage together; made a range of “Frozen” playdough objects……… Yes, spending time with the grand children was the only thing we did each day. And we were well satisfied.

 Tinker Bell’s newest home

1. http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/04/why-you-should-trydecluttering-your-to-do-list.html

 

IF YOU CONSTANTLY TWEET ON TWITTER ARE YOU A TWIT?

I don’t really get into following Twitter but I couldn’t resist looking at what Piers Morgan posted during the Olympics about Olympians and winning gold.

Here’s a few of his postings at the time for you to consider:

“America has a much better ‘win’ mentality than Britain. We love celebrating losers.”

“Everyone who fails to win Gold is a loser, yes. Not a derogatory comment, just a fact.”

“Ask real winners like Ferguson, Mourinho, Phelps or Bolt if coming 2nd or 3rd means anything.”

Here’s my take on his comments. Most of us like to win, no question about that. My family will tell you that when it comes to family games – ten pin bowling, monopoly, mini golf… I am highly competitive and aim to win. Listening to Mark Todd for example, talk about losing their grasp on a potential gold to fourth, his disappointment was palpable – he and the team really wanted to be the Olympic champions but they weren’t. Yes Mr Morgan, this is a fact but, does that mean however, that we should not still celebrate the fact that the team is ranked 4th in the world in a sport dominated for some time by European countries with resources that far exceed what we as a country can offer? How many of our athletes missed on medals but are ranked in the top 10 in the world? I would argue that we are not losers – far from it. These athletes still inspire, motivate and indirectly encourage others to get out there and give of their best which is probably why they were greeted by so many well-wishers when they arrived home this week. And it was great to hear some of the athletes who did win “unexpected” medals talk about how they hoped they were inspiring others to take up their particular sport.

Perhaps in our classrooms we should adopt Morgan’s approach and apply it in all facets of our lives and tell our students they are losers if they cannot understand a concept, if their test result is only 80% or if they can’t catch or pass a ball with accuracy. Were we to adopt this approach, I would resign tomorrow. As teachers we need to recognise and honour every accomplishment that our students display. Encourage them to aim for gold – absolutely, but destroy their confidence and self-esteem by letting them know that they are losers – yeah, right.

I’ll leave you with this thought – if we didn’t have losers, how could we have winners?

DOES GOOD NEWS EXIST? YOU BET!

When our children were small we gave up watching the news on television the day our daughter asked …”Why are there always bad things happening in the world?” She is now 32 and guess what, when we watch the news it seems that nothing has changed. Most of the stories presented reflect a high degree of political and social unrest in many parts of the world. Moreover, the level of violence against humankind seems to have escalated. Add to this the bad press surrounding the Olympics, be it the potential impact of the Zika virus, the doping scandal that has rocked Russia, or the security of athletes in Brazil, and you wonder where the good news exists. Well let me tell you……

Watching and listening to Ella and Bryden Nicholas speak from the heart about their kayaking one cannot help but recognise the motivation, drive and positive energy these two young athletes exude. Furthermore, when they speak about their cultural heritage and the pride they have in representing their country they illustrate what the Olympics ethos aims to achieve. They are excited about being a part of a world event that draws in countries across the globe. As a school we share in their excitement and revel in the fact that they epitomise what we want for our students when they finally leave Matahui School. There is not just good news, but GREAT news……..thanks Ella and Bryden for being such shining lights.

MOTIVATION, DRIVE, COMMITMENT = OLYMPIANS

Whilst the Olympic Games this year may well have been tarnished with so many athletes being banned, Matahui School has reason to celebrate. This week Mennie Scapens forwarded me a short film clip featuring Ella, Bryden and Jane Nicholas. Both Ella and Bryden are off to Rio to both represent the Cook Islands in the canoe slalom at the Olympics. What is even more outstanding is the fact that this will be Ella’s second Olympic Games.  Watching the interview with Ella it was not difficult to imagine the pride her family must feel in the accomplishments of their children. Check out the link on our Facebook page.

And let’s not forget Dylan Schmidt who attended Matahui for a time. Even back then he was showing incredible skill and commitment in trampolining and now he is off to represent New Zealand as the country’s first ever trampoline gymnast.

Our sincerest congratulations and best wishes go with these amazing young people who continue to excel and demonstrate what can be achieved with motivation, drive, enthusiasm and commitment – what wonderful role models. You can be assured that our entire community will be glued to the broadcasts of the Olympics, especially when you are featured. Exciting times ahead!

Kia kaha.

STUDENT VOICE…WHY WE NEED TO LISTEN

STUDENT VOICE…
It is important that within the context of school that students know that they have a voice. To know that they will be heard and people will listen. It is also important that they realise that in having a voice there are protocols which need to be adhered to in order for their voice to resonate.

There are times when a conflict may arise in the playground that requires adult intervention, or a student finds something they feel compromises student safety. I have students come to my office to share their ideas, opinions and perspectives on a range of topics that are important to them and this goes way beyond asking me to help resolve a problem. They are aware that there are effective ways to communicate starting with being polite, respectful, and sensible – basic protocols.

There are instances where they come to share initiatives that require a decision from me and at these times I am reminded of a comment made by Monte Selby, an American educator and musician I heard speak at a conference……”When kids come to your door with a proposal, an idea, or an event that they want to organise don’t just say no. Ask them ……”What do you need to do to make me say yes?” Wise words when giving students a voice that can ultimately translate into positive action.

At the moment I have two groups considering what they need to do to make me say yes. One group is keen to play rugby with slightly more physical contact and the other group are aiming to reinvigorate the Matahui Pet Day. In both instances I believe they know that they have been heard, that I have listened and am prepared to support them in making their ideas a reality.  But, they are also aware that they need to demonstrate considerable responsibility to ensure their voice translates into action, by finding out what they need to do to make me say yes.

So next time your children come to you with a proposal, an idea or event they want to organise or see happen, ask them ….”What do you need to do to make me say yes?”

“MUM, DAD, WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY?”

posted in: Principal Blog, Teacher Blogs | 0

I often write about learning and the focus tends to fall on the qualities or traits our students exhibit so, by way of a change, I thought I’d share some thoughts with you about adults as learners. The following ideas came from an eLearning Industry paper produced in 2013 which centred on how to create and structure the right course content for adult learners. Take a moment to read through these and see whether or not the characteristics we display as adult learners bear any resemblance to those we might demonstrate as children. This would make a great dinner time discussion. Have the children ask you……… “What did you learn today?”

Adult Learners’ Traits

  1. Self-direction
    Adults feel the need to take responsibility for their lives and decisions and this is why it’s important for them to have control over their learning.
  2. Practical and results-oriented
    Adult learners are usually practical, resent theory, need information that can be immediately applicable to their professional needs, and generally prefer practical knowledge that will improve their skills, facilitate their work and boost their confidence.
  3. Less open-minded
    Adults are more resisitant to change. Maturity and profound life experiences usually lead to rigidity, which is the enemy of learning.
  4. Slower learning, yet more integrative knowledge
    Aging does affect learning. Adults tend to learn less rapidly with age. However, the depth of learning tends to increase over time, navigating knowledge and skills to unprecedented personal levels.
  5. Use personal experience as a resource
    Adults have lived longer, seen and done more, have the tendency to link their past experiences to anything new and validate new concepts based on prior learning.
  6. Motivation
    Learning in adulthood is usually voluntary. Thus, it’s a personal choice to attend school, in order to improve job skills and achieve professional growth.
  7. Multi-level responsibilities
    Adult learners have a lot to juggle; family, friends, work, and the need for personal quality time. This is why it’s more difficult for an adult to make room for learning.
  8. High expectations
    Adult learners have high expectations. They want to be taught about things that will be useful to their work, expect to have immediate results, seek for a course that will worth their while and not be a waste of their time or money.

Reference:

8 Important Characteristics Of Adult Learners

MAKING SPACE FOR IMAGINATION

posted in: Class Blogs, Principal Blog | 0

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
Pablo Picasso

I recently read an article by John Spencer centred on imagination and how, though it changes over time (as we grow older) it should never shrink, diminish or disappear, rather it should be something that expands and continues to evolve.

So the last couple of days I have been a “Manny” or the Poppa equivalent of one. The sense of wonder, delight in exploring, creating and inventing that I was exposed to in following our grand- daughter gave me the opportunity to be part of the imaginative worlds she created. She gave me a mandate to “tetend” with her – how special.

CGO

She also gave me a chance to heighten my imaginative skills in terms of how I engaged with her in “play.” So when it came to dinner time and encouraging her to eat vegetables, it seemed the most natural thing to do was to create a vegetable animal – so successful I might add that she ordered a second though did not really like the “ears.”

VEGETABLE ANIMAL

At Matahui School we actually have students who ooze imagination and creativity (and actually, so do their parents).After our earthquake evacuation practice drill a week ago, a question was asked – What do we do if there is a Tsunami warning? The answer – We move to higher ground which means we adopt a different structure for this evacuation. The following day our Year 3 and 4 students filled a wheel barrow with water and built from wood, what in essence was a tidal wave maker. They subsequently asked for white dye to help simulate waves and red dye as there would be blood if people got hurt – the power of imagination – brilliant.

Here is the thing – you don’t need to be a grandfather to reconnect with your imagination. Albert

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

References:

Quotes on imagination

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/imagination

John Spencer article

http://bit.ly/1Og4DwE

CREATIVITY – THE BEGINNINGS

The first part of our school mission statement says ….”Inspiring creativity…” Well I was recently treated to a wonderful example of that whilst spending time in a mathematics class. The students have been learning about number – addition and subtraction.  One of the students was so excited to show me a new form of mathematics she had created…..”Real Fact Art Maths.”

EP

If you look carefully at the graphic depicted you should notice the beehive from whence the bee came – note how it is hanging from the branch of the tree. The bee subsequently flies to the house where it happens upon a finger (obviously attached to a human though it is just the finger you can see along with the bee’s stinger). So why the broken heart you might ask? Well here is the equation…..Bee + stinger in finger = dead bee (hence the broken heart). A wonderful combination of mathematics and science.

It is such creativity that leads to new understandings. This student clearly understands how mathematics works, especially addition. Moreover, it is such creativity that leads to new ways of looking at the world and sophisticated discoveries. I hope that you will be inspired as much as I was when I Emma Poppy shared her “Real Fact Art Maths” with me.

LEARNING…….. BEYOND THE CLASSROOM

Parents are genuinely interested in what and how their children learn at school. In the past two weeks at Matahui School parents/caregivers have been invited to visit and observe the students learning during an Open Day. We have also had two camps, one for the students in Room 3 and the other, for all our Room 5 and 6 students. In both instances parents have been actively and directly involved in supporting our curriculum and student learning within very specific outdoor learning environments.

However,  learning outside the classroom takes yet another form and one that is incredibly exciting. It occurs when what is being focused upon in the context of the classroom environment spills out into the playground. Two examples follow.

During our bicycle safety programme the students used all the knowledge (both practical and theoretical), and skills they were presented in class to create their own off-road cycle track which they designed, built and managed with remarkable success.

As part of a recent science investigation Room 3 students developed marble runs whereby they needed to think about all factors that would affect the distance a marble could roll – the goal being to see who could get a marble to roll the furthest. Well, this experiment that also involved a high degree of mathematical understanding, morphed into playground play.

 

DENLEY-ISAAC-CREATORS-3-225x300 DENLEY-ISAAC-CREATORS-1-225x300 DENLEY-ISSAC-CREATORS-2-225x300

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