Marty wins again

More good news for Room 15 teacher Marty Lukes. He won the New Zealand Athletics 100 km Championships, part of the Great Lake Relay, in Taupo last weekend.

If you read this news story you can also see he was an inspiration to the other athletes in the race.

Good on you Mr Lukes.

Poison Pizza

Marge: Now be good for Grampa while we're at the parent-teacher meeting. We'll bring back dinner.

Lisa: What are we gonna have?

Homer: Well, that depends on what your teachers say. If you've been
good, pizza. If you've been bad... uh... let's see... poison.

Lisa: What if one of us has been good and one of us has been bad?

Bart: Poison pizza.

Homer: Oh, no! I'm not making two stops!

We really want to see all of our parents and students between 1 and 12 March. Parent/student/teacher interviews are the first connection of the year. They are a time for us to listen, for you and your child to help map out the most immediate priorities for learning, and let the teachers know what makes each kid tick.

Meeting face to face is one of the most effective ways of reporting and communicating about learning. So book your time slot now on the web, on the phone, or in the office.

Tribute to Uncle Seymour

Apologies to those who have already heard my thoughts on Seymour Papert in presentations and speeches I have made at various conferences over the last few years because I am repeating them here.

This morning I took a couple of 'roamers' along to the junior school discovery time. Surprise, surprise within 10 minutes the 5 and 6 year olds were into the 10 and 11 years olds' geometry headspace. "Can you make this go forward? I wonder how long this room is? if 90 degrees makes him turn left will 180 degrees make him turn right around?"

I spent a lot of time with Ethan who was very determined to programme the roamer to head away from him, turn 180 degrees and come back. It took him six minutes of trial and error. Six minutes of solid thinking, the sort of arduous thinking that builds the human brain.

The logo legacy left by Seymour Papert remains unrivalled as a tool for letting children operate at mental levels well beyond their developmental range in a way not possible without this technological assistance.

Lots of jargon in this posting but the links should help clarify, best way to understand what I am trying to describe is to pop on into school any Friday morning between 9 and 10:30 am. Our little logo programmers will be happy to show you their roamer mastery.

Thank you for these gifts to the children of the world Seymour and all the best for your recovery.

Keeping up the momentum

Last week the teachers of Year 1 and 2 children spent Friday in our teacher development centre planning to make sure the gains we made in junior school literacy during 2009 are continued and built upon in 2010.

It is great to have all of the junior teachers aligning their practices and so committed to our on-going targets for reading and writing.

From this week onwards all of the Year 1 and 2 classes will be learning together during discovery time. This will be a reassuringly familiar time of the week for those children who moved up from Te Puna this year. It is a wonderful opportunity for all of our 5 and 6 year olds to learn together and strengthen their bonds and friendships.
Learn more about discovery time here

Back into learning for 2010

The pupils came back to school this week but the staff were already well and truly into the new year at that stage.

At the end of January the Waimairi staff (teaching and support staff) spent two days at a school development retreat at Wainui, Banks Peninsular.

The first day of the retreat was facilitated by Tony Ryan. Tony is one of Australasia's leading thinkers on building a culture of thinking and well-being in schools.

There were two main themes of the day. The first was maintaining the 'zest' for teaching. If we are to deliver the best education to our kids then we have to be in the best physical and mental health possible.

The second was the need to approach 'thinking' as the overarching key competency as we implement the revised NZ Curriculum. Thinking really is the key and it is in this way we are approaching how we develop the key competencies at Waimairi this year. The good news is that it is not rocket science. Everyone left with ways to develop our children's thinking abilities which are not taught on top of content but part of our curriculum content.

We also learnt about how to keep our adult brains fit and functioning into old age. The key is engaging in demanding mental activity, learning genuinely new things. So with that in mind the evening was spent learning to juggle, a very new experience for almost everyone in the room. Waimairi parents should watch out for the staff trying lots of new things things year, we are all going to step out of our squares and learn new things. For me it will be a musical instrument. Keep me honest by asking me how it is going as the year progresses.

If we teachers force ourselves into new learning it reminds us of the sort of feelings we induce in our students day in and day out. Frustration, anxiety, not wanting to be seen to be getting it wrong and developing a realistic understanding of our own strengths and limits.