THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM….

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It is often said that… THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM….

Two weeks ago, Leo Holley, Henrietta Davenport, Bridget McGirr and Hugo Bruning proudly represented
Matahui School at the first round of the EPRO8 challenge, which this year, was held in Katikati. They had
every reason to feel proud, as we are of their achievement because they won the event. An outstanding team
achievement and so I thought I would interview the students to see if the old adage is in fact true. Read on.

What made you all want to be of this team? It seemed like it would be fun, especially as you get the
chance to invent and experiment with making things like robots and other mechanical devices.

How did the team prepare for the challenge? (initial burst of haughty laughter). Actually we didn’t really
prepare which didn’t worry us – except Bridget. We probably should have because we would have been able
to save time because we would have had a better understanding of how to wire things up. We also wasted
time constructing some framing as we didn’t recognise the importance of using triangles in the construction
phase.

So given you didn’t prepare as well as you might have, why do you think you were so successful in
the end? We worked so well as a team. Everyone was good at something different so we were able to
divide up tasks and shared the responsibility of completing each challenge we faced. We listened to each
other without criticising. We collaborated and co-operated, probably better than some of the other teams.
When you learned you had won what emotions did you experience? A whole range – happiness;
excitement; surprise and delight.
Where will this success take you next? We will be heading to the semi-finals and if we do well there then
it will be on to the finals.

What do you think you learned from this experience? We need to do some preparation this time so that
we are more organised. We found out that we need to spend a little more time planning before we launch
into creating and making. And, we learned the value of effective teamwork.

So, it would seem that there is no “I in team, certainly not if you are in a Year 7/8 Matahui School EPRO8
team!

FOOTNOTE: According to the judge who scored the EPRO8 Challenge, the scores reached by the top
eight teams at the Katikati event was so high, that they would have scored in the top three at any of the
other events held thus far. WOW!

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A CHANCE?

Books are large part of our family life, especially as we have grandchildren who adore them. The
fact is that their grandmother is constantly on the lookout for new titles that will challenge and
stimulate the children.

One of our most recent acquisitions is a book written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae
Besom called, “WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A CHANCE?” The dedication at that beginning of
the book for Shale and Ever reads; “When something extraordinary shows up in your life, I hope
you see it for what it is……a gift.”

Over the past week something extraordinary happened to Aroha and Cameron in Year 2. Both did
something extraordinary with chances they were given.

Aroha had the chance to see “The Project” on television and decided that the challenge set by
Jesse, one of the hosts, for schools to reduce or eliminate access to sugary drinks, was one she
could manage to do something about. Rather than let this chance slip, she resolved to inform
parents and caregivers about the health risks in providing children with any sugary drinks. I hope
you all read her letter.

Cameron’s family found one of the “Tauranga Rocks.” These rocks have been hand- painted and
hidden in secret places across the city. At home the family shared a discussion about hand painted
rocks and this got Cam thinking. He took the chance to meet with me to discuss the idea that
students at Matahui School should paint rocks and hide them, so that when we have events like
VIP Day, our visitors could find the rocks and take them home as a reminder of their visit. Cam is
pictured with samples of the rocks he painted. Whilst we may not hide them, we will certainly offer
them to visitors as a very personal koha.

How fantastic that we have students who demonstrate the confidence, initiative and wherewithal
to do something with a chance.

Max’s recommended read for the month:
“WHAT DO YOU WITH A CHANCE?” Kobi Yamada
Compendium Inc 2017

THE NATURAL CURIOSITY OF CHILDREN = SCIENTISTS

Children have the capacity to demonstrate heightened curiosity and genuine interest in the world around them. They naturally show the propensity to explore, investigate and discover; they are in essence, scientists.

The way Matahui students connect to the environment may not necessarily be unique, but it is significant. They enjoy going outside and the school playground becomes a microcosm of scientific opportunities – a living laboratory. When I shared Saxon Russell’s story (which KVH weaved into the report below) with the students in each class and informed them that the beetle he had discovered at school might be a horticultural “nasty,” they headed out on an intense search.

Prior to leaving school a six year old student at Matahui School in Katikati found a stink bug nymph, had his mother take a photo and proudly showed the critter off to his Dad. Being the small world that it is, Dad’s work sometimes relates to the kiwifruit industry and he had been contacted in the past by KVH about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) so knew to make a report.

Formal identification by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) found that the bug was a native Australian Green Shield Bug.

 This is a fantastic example of the great awareness of our environment, and all the living things in it (of which biosecurity is such an important element), being built up from the ground level by teachers and principals day-to-day in, and outside of the classroom. Raising public awareness is what we are all about, and our goal is for the whole country to form a team of 4.7 million biosecurity conscious New Zealanders by 2025. (Kiwifruit Vine Health 2018).

“Saxon the Scientist” and his scientific Matahui buddies hardly left a leaf unturned such was the excitement of the challenge to locate and carefully capture the beetle he had seen. Our Matahui scientists recognized the importance of the task ahead and became part of an authentic scientific process, one designed to carefully monitor our environment. They have certainly become biosecurity conscious watchdogs.

We must continue to nurture the innate curiosity of the children we teach and give them authentic ways to demonstrate scientific thinking and methodology, especially in relation to the environment. They will learn that their actions can have an immense impact on the way we care for and sustain the planet on which we live.

 

KA MURA, KA MURI – WALKING BACKWARDS INTO THE FUTURE

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I read an article by Steve Wheeler* in which he referred to a Maori saying… “Ka mura, Ka muri,” which means ‘walking backwards into the future’.

We recently attended a family  tangi up North where we farewelled Nuki Aldridge, one of the strongest voices for Ngapuhi. He channelled his energy into the affairs of the north and will be remembered for upholding “He Whakaputanga” – The Declaration of Independence. He was a man who consistently referenced the “old ways,” and tried his hardest to maintain traditions pre-European.

At the tangi many people spoke about Nuki. In honouring him, they also remembered their   ancestors, calling upon their wisdom to guide them in the future path they now needed to follow without Nuki at the forefront. They were in essence “walking back into the future.”

Perhaps as Wheeler suggests, when we consider the future, we should possibly follow the Maori tradition and build our upon our future by referencing the past. In the case of Matahui School, we should consider what has gone before, what has been achieved and the course the school has taken in providing an environment within which students are nurtured. Compared to other long standing independent schools, we are young, but we have a rich history we can draw upon.

Wheeler could have been writing about Matahui as this school has always; aimed to educate our children to be resilient, responsive critical and proactive; expected them to solve problems the world has bestowed upon them, as well as new problems of their own making; expected them to approach challenges collaboratively because the changing future will demand this; encouraged them to be creative and learn the lessons of failure and success as they in turn “walk backwards into their future.”

 

*Ref: http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2017/11/walking-backwards-into-future.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/cYWZ+(Learning+with+%27e%27s)

 

THE LOST VILLAGE at MATAHUI SCHOOL

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THE LOST VILLAGE

 

On the 24th of August 2017, Allan Alach featured a thought provoking  article in “Leading and Leaning,1. ” by Carol Black which she wrote in 2016. She makes the following point….

“In many rural land-based societies, learning is not coerced; children are expected to voluntarily observe, absorb, practice, and master the knowledge and skills they will need as adults –– and they do.  In these societies –– which exist on every inhabited continent –– even very young children are free to choose their own actions, to play, to explore, to participate, to take on meaningful responsibility. “Learning” is not conceived as a special activity at all, but as a natural by-product of being alive in the world.” 2. And this got me thinking about the inception of “The Lost Village” at Matahui School.

We have a bush block which I affectionately refer to as Middle Earth. This is the area where students can go to construct huts. It is a space that encourages feats of engineering that result in creative architecture that rival what you find on Grand Designs. It is a space that the students at Matahui have claimed as their own and over the term, have transformed into the “Lost Village.” Venture over on any given day and you will hear and see the village folk collecting materials, designing and creating products and modifying huts.

            

The village itself is a hive of industry as it is made up of huts that double as “market stalls” trading in natural materials needed to enhance and develop all the dwellings that have cropped up throughout the bush block. The materials range from finely shredded bark strips that equate to rope or string, dead twigs, sticks, leaves and clay – all of which have defined and specific purposes.

The currency for trading is the Mahoe leaf which the village folk refer to as “skeleton leaves.” They are used to purchase the goods needed to create a variety of artifacts that can be sold in a market stall. There is a bank where a barter system operates. A skeleton leaf can be acquired if you have something “good” to trade like a solid, thick stick or a roll of exquisitely bound bark string.

I want to share with you aspects of a discussion I had with some of the villagers…..

“ Anyone can set up a market stall, but to be good at selling you need good stuff to sell.”

“ The clay mines are where you find two types of clay. The best is the white clay because it is special. It mixes with the other clay to make a good putty that you can use to make things to sell. Emma –Poppy is making a fox. Clare is making a white clay dolphin sceptre and Isabel is making a flower.”

The Lost Village is a world created by children. There is nothing fictitious about it – it is real, and a great study in economic development and growth. It is refreshing to know that our students “are free to choose their own actions, to play, to explore, to participate, to take on meaningful responsibility. “Learning” is not conceived as a special activity at all, but as a natural by-product of being alive in the world.”3.

References:

  1. “Leading and Learning” Allan Alach  (http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/)
  2. & 3.On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place in the Classroom Carol Black April 2016 “Leading and Learning” Allan Alach  (http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/)

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.

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