Thursday, 29 October 2020

Sharing a Shell

 When a tray of shells in Discovery Time becomes an investigation...

One morning, when the Autahi children came to school, they found a tray of shells on the blue table.

Sometimes Carl and Beth put things on the blue table for children to explore, but nobody finds them all that interesting. And that's okay. But this time, a lot of people got quite excited. They enjoyed the shapes and colours of the shells and used magnifying glasses to look at them more closely. They recognised some of them from the beach, but weren't sure how they got there or how they were made.

Soon, lots of questions were bubbling up. We decided to collect all our questions so that we could investigate them some more.

We began reading some stories and information pamphlets about shells.

Some of us enjoyed sorting the shells into groups. We also tried estimating how many shells we had in our collection.

Lots of us were interested in what kinds of creatures live in shells. We did some drawings of our ideas.

And then we had a go at choosing a shell and making the creature that might live inside out of playdough. Here are some of our ideas. We made snails, fish, worms, mussels and kina.

Making these models helped us to think more deeply about how creatures use shells and also what the creatures look like. It also helped Carl and Beth to understand more about how the Autahi children see the world, and what they know about shells, sea creatures and their habitats.

We finished up the week by returning to our question about where these shells come from. Why are they on the beach? Some children had been doing some talking and thinking at home, too, and had some new ideas. One of our learners suggested that they could be 'abandoned' shells (what a great word!). So - who abandoned them? And is it okay to take an abandoned shell from the beach?

As you can see, we have many more question to explore. We will continue investigating, guided by Autahi's inquiring minds. In 'The Power of Inquiry', Kath Murdoch writes that pursuing a spontaneous inquiry can be 'exhilarating for teachers and students alike'. We treasure that excitement and sense of discovery. At the same time, we are looking for ways to guide our learners 'beyond the facts and towards concepts', connecting to big ideas, such as ecology and sustainability.

Look out for more developments in future Blogs, and ask your child about our inquiry.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Exercising our Character Strengths

 In Autahi, we talk about our Character Strengths all the time. But what do we mean?

You have probably seen this poster around school. You can also find it on the school website.

As part of our Positive Education Model, we learn about the Character Strengths that we have as individuals. Each of us has Strengths that are more highly developed - and that we probably use more - as well as Strengths that we are working on. We are all building our characters because recognising and tapping into our Strengths helps us in our work, relationships and wellbeing, too. 

Here's an example from Autahi this week.

We have been revisiting our writing goals. In Autahi, when we talk about learning new things, we often use the image of climbing a maunga, small step by small step. We each have particular skills that we are focusing on, such as stretching out words and recording the sounds we can hear or remembering capital letters for our sentences. Some of us are also building our stamina to write more, or trying to use different, exciting words. We remind ourselves of our goals each time we write together, and it is a challenge. But this is where our Character Strengths can help us.

We did an experiment to help us think about which Strengths we can can draw on when we're climbing a maunga and learning new skills. 

Skipping is perfect for this because it can be tricky and takes a bit of practice. Some of us were a bit put off at the beginning. But thinking about using Bravery to try something new helped us to have a go. Some of us found skipping very frustrating. But we drew on our Perseverance to keep going. Some of us used our Strength of Humour: having a laugh when we got tangled up helped a lot. Other Strengths we found helpful were Hope, Love of Learning, Teamwork and Judgement.

Exploring some of our Strengths like this helped us to understand which Strengths would support us with our writing goals. We each chose the top two skills that we found most helpful. 

As we think about our goals and climbing the learning maunga, we will also think and talk about the Character Strengths that make us powerful and ready for the challenge.