Friday, November 28, 2008

"That little kid is having some fun, I am going to have some more dangerous fun."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not managing Christmas cards but ...

If you read my blog, you know what I'd be likely to write in a Christmas Letter, if I was so organised as to send one, it would be this:

I've been keeping well in the important ways (although I had influenza for weeks of winter and my knees aren't so hot... I hope that I'll be back to playing Ultimate Frisbee in the not-too-distant future). 

Iris starts school in February, and before then we have a mad Summery rush of end-of-year ballet, violin, and school shows, celebrations and vacations. Sean's family has a new holiday house near Lake Taupo and we'll have Christmas there, we pop back to Wellington, have a New Year's Eve party, and then whizz off again to Auckland and the Coromandel. When we come back we'll have the girls' birthdays' party and then Iris will start school! I hope she's readier for this transition than I am. 

I don't know what life will be like with two school children. Except for continuing to read aloud in the school library on Friday lunch times, I have planned to have no plans for the first term, both so that I can support Iris if she needs support, and so that I can sort of find out what I'd like to do next. I remember after my MA when people asked what I was going to do next I said that I didn't know but that someone (who was Sean, as it happens) had told me "Don't do nothing". I feel like I'm close to that choosing spot again and that again, I don't know, but I won't do nothing. 

Iris and Hazel and I have all been learning the violin for the past 6 months and we've been very lucky to have found one of those people who has a calling to teaching. She also does Feldenkrais Technique and that's been interesting too. Unfortunately she has plans to go overseas in about February and the next just-right person has not yet fallen into our laps. 

Hazel's starting to enjoy reading to herself! Hooray! Although her current obsession is for Philip Pullman's Northern Lights series and she can't read that fluidly enough to satisfy herself, but she is finding some children's chapter books are both within her skill and her interest ranges. She enjoys school by-and-large, is strongly interested in writing, drawing and natural history and good at mathematics. The thing I hear about most at school is the monkey bars however. 

Sean's work has been progressing, and he took up Mountain Biking about a year ago and loves it. Our 40th birthdays are both in 2009 and for mine (Feb 15) I plan to have a party at home, for his (May 13) he plans that we'll all go to Thailand! He's been spending a lot of time on the web and reading guide books. 



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm really enjoying Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Best years of my life, quite possibly.
Ballet show, asmbly, violin show, sch visits, PC f'well, endT4, wk do, Taupo Xmas, NY pty, Cmandl trip, b'days, sch, 40th.
Ready 4 sch+PC, on duty, get I fr N, 1hr chat. Pm tea, admin, calmly to rehearsal, 45min chat R. Dine, bdtime, admin, hswk.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"They ran, her little sister was too slow. After, the Mum looked down, and only the little sister's hand bones were left."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learning dispositions.

I believe people are learning animals. I learn like the mako shark swims, because to do anything else is to be a fish out of water, but I don't learn as fast or fiercely as a baby. 

Learning dispositions are a human birthright, and if we want people to be life-long learners, or even happy, we must try to avoid inhibiting them. 

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Podiatrist says I'm allowed to play the odd point! Though squats and running programme more important.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The tow truck is pink.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My cervix looks fine. Iris fell on her head last night, she looks fine too. The birds sing at our picnic tea party.
Iris fell out of bed onto head last night, suspect poor dot has headache today.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Smartness and kitchens.

A favourite paper of mine: The Intelligent Use of Space by David Kirsh. Go on, it's fun.


Spirals of teaching and learning.

In Thinking Children there's an example of spirals as a schema; certainly some people really love spirals and use them as a primary notion for exploring and interpreting the world.

When Wilton Playcentre was at work on its COI we studied ourselves studying the children, some of whom were into spirals. We studied ourselves with action research spirals: we'd do something, notice what we'd done, recognise and think about what we did, respond by working out something else to do and then do that. This is a research spiral because it's sort of circular but as we added what we thought of to what we did before the details are a bit different each time, like a spiral we didn't find ourselves exactly where we were before.

Our school's having a curriculum community meeting on Thursday. The New Zealand Curriculum tells the school to design and review our own curriculum; there was a survey recently (which my family failed to answer) and the meeting will look at some of the findings from it as the first step of consultation on the curriculum.


Connecting and ordering.

Connecting and ordering are also schemas. Again there are people who love to do them, and people who use them as a primary way of exploring and interpreting the world.

At the bottom of The New Zealand Curriculum's Design and Review page is this picture of how Te Whāriki (New Zealand's early childhood curriculum) relates to the school curriculum.

This chart intrigues me, and for now I'm going to assume that, as the country's curriculum people were put to work on it all, the relationships between the strands and the key competencies is as straightforward as it suggests.

I notice that The NZC orders its key competencies thus:
  1. Thinking
  2. Using language, symbols, and texts
  3. Managing self
  4. Relating to others
  5. Participating and contributing.
I don't yet know why it does that. I also notice that it orders the strands of Te Whāriki (New Zealand's Early Childhood Curriculum) in the same order.
  1. Exploration – Mana Aotūroa,
  2. Communication – Mana Reo,
  3. Well-being – Mana Atua,
  4. Contribution – Mana Tangata, and
  5. Belonging – Mana Whenua

At Wilton Playcentre we found having the strands in Te Whāriki in the following order to be useful.
  1. Belonging – Mana Whenua,
  2. Well-being – Mana Atua,
  3. Exploration – Mana Aotūroa,
  4. Communication – Mana Reo,
  5. Contribution – Mana Tangata.
I think that was how we organised them on our Teaching and Learning Story Forms even before our Centre of Innovation action research spiral on our documentation, assessment and planning, but we've certainly done it since then. We find this order useful because, although all the strands work together, people do tend to need to feel safe before they can feel like they belong somewhere. Little people need to have their well-being and belonging well under their belts before they feel ready to try exploration, communication or contribution. Contribution is very tricky without communication or having explored the environment first.

Given the relationship between the strands and the key competencies I wonder whether the following would be a useful order for considering the key competencies (or not).
  1. Participating and contributing
  2. Managing self
  3. Thinking
  4. Using language, symbols, and texts
  5. Relating to others.
I suppose I'll find out after I learn what the key competencies really mean. Towards that end I plan to read some of the resources available at

In case you're curious, Te Whāriki orders its own strands thus:
  1. Well-being – Mana Atua,
  2. Belonging – Mana Whenua
  3. Contribution – Mana Tangata,
  4. Communication – Mana Reo,
  5. Exploration – Mana Aotūroa.
Which would make the NZC key competencies come in this order:
  1. Managing self
  2. Participating and contributing.
  3. Relating to others
  4. Using language, symbols, and texts
  5. Thinking
Something tells me that the meeting on Thursday is going to be a bit introductory. What I'd like is perhaps more like a reading group on these sorts of things. I wonder what my EduNerdNight people are up to these days.


I find tech comparisons soothing.

Telecom has offered me a new phone again. I've liked Nokias by and large; looking at this picture of all Nokias ever I think I had the S110 (which everybody seemed to have at the time) from July 2000 until I got the 3200 with its glorious transparency and excellent torch (I still miss those features, they should be options for every phone). I've had my 6235 since about this time in 2006.

If I were to get a new phone it would have a better camera than the 0.3 megapixel one I have. I'd like it to have a torch and a transparent case, but I've not much hope of that. I think I'd like it to have a removable storage card or come with a USB cable, not sure which would be better for me.

Phonedog: I was comparing Nokias 3200, 6235i, 6275i and red E65 (though it doesn't know that the first two had cameras, which makes one wonder what else is inaccurate).
Nokia: I was comparing the 6275i, E65, E90 communicator and N95 8GB


The New Zealand Curriculum.

"It takes as its starting point a vision of our young people as lifelong learners who are confident and creative, connected, and actively involved."
Hazel and I agree, this is a good vision to start a curriculum with.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A is for alphabet.

A is for ammonite,
B for believers,
C is for clamouring,
D - don't deeply delve, dear.

E is for escapade,
F for free-flowing,
G is for gentrified,
H - A - Z - E - L here.

I is for Iris B.
J for judicious,
K is for kitchen kiss,
L leans left litigious.

M is for mighty mouse,
N for nutritious,
O is for ominous,
P pods plumply precious.

Q is for quiet quest,
R for receivers,
S is for synchronised,
T toe taps and tickles.

U is for usury,
V for vestigal,
W wandered West,
X-orizontal axis.

Y is for you and ye,
Z for zookeepers.
Why did I write this song?
D - don't deeply delve, dear.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Susan Harper is enjoying the Randall Munroe's view of the world again.


Iris's little hand tugs me into the future by my heart's strings; her two School Visits are in one month.
Quoth Hazel "Today is the day after tomorrow of yesterday's yesterday!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'd like these txt-blogs to be Tweets and update my Facebook status, but how? (I don't know why either).
What is Iris doing with the pack of cards with explicit Greek images and the staples?

Saturday, November 08, 2008


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Friday, November 07, 2008

Felt better about Playcentre days ending as today I read to kids in the school library and danced at the school disco.
Hazel was slow eating breakfast this morning because she was too busy reading, w00t!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I am restraint, I didn't start Musicophilia, I am going to finish Thinking Children, Mulengro or Thrones, Dominations first.

Dear USAmericans,

I'm very pleased with you guys (especially my Democrat friends and family) for electing this clever person who's not much older than me and whose CV is full of the kinds of things you'd look for if you were hiring a President for your giant scary country that I'm rather fond of ... but I'd be a bit cross if a person with a pakeha mother, a Fijian father, and a Maori partner turned out to be our first brown prime-minister.

I'm pretty happy about the US's shift to a president who knows more about foreign policy issues and is smarter than me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hazel told me to vote Green, Iris told me to vote Pale Pink With Sparkles. I guess I'll have to make up my own mind.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"I pooed and peeed in the toilet and nowhere else!"

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Iris says she uses her bottom teeth as a first class lever, I'm trying to remember if she's right.

... Later ...

She was opening a tooth-paste tube lid by putting the flip-top on one side of her teeth and the tube on the other side, then she lifted the end of the tube. She used the tube as the lever and her bottom teeth as the fulcrum, but I'm not sure if it was a first or second class lever?

I blame too much telly.


Writing of kids all day so mine're making popcorn and mac'n'cheese for dinner after long DVD. I'd be a bad single parent.

Workshop workshop.

Yesterday a subconscious urge struck me and I signed up for the "How to run a workshop" Playcentre workshop on November 19th; now I'm trying to work out why I did that.

Is it about schemas?

In 2004 we at Wilton Playcentre developed a 2-3 hour Schema Workshop as part of its Centre of Innovation research contract with the Ministry of Education and I've enjoyed giving that to Playcentre and other Early Childhood Education people about half a dozen times.

While we were working on that schema workshop I made a chart showing schemas in areas of play*. My chart is popular with people who find it immediately accessible and useful, but I suspect it would be more accessible, more useful, and therefore more popular, if it had some sort of brief introduction with it. Also, when I wrote it in 2004 I put on it everything I knew about schema learning theory at the time but I've learnt some more since.

So a few months ago I started working on my personal introduction to schemas because I'd like there to be something really short that I can give to people who ask me about schemas that they can use in the meantime, while they work out whether they're interested enough in schema learning theory to do any more reading about it. It started as a half-hour workshop that can be part of another meeting and I've given at a SPACE group and a session meeting (a meeting where a whole playcentre can get together to talk about the kids). My introduction didn't stay down at the half-hour length and so it could do with some work yet, and a Workshop workshop might well show me the trick of concentrating and shortening it.

* Schemas in Areas of Play.pdf
Harper, S. (2004) Playcentre Journal 121: pp 18-19
Also in Meade, A. and Cubey, P. (2008) Thinking Children: Learning about schemas pp 27-29

Or is it about something else?

You see, schemas are quite an interesting thing to know about, but I think I'm wanting to write about them in order for what I know about them to end up as a pamphlet so I don't have to be there to introduce them myself: A Letter of Introduction to Schemas perhaps.

What I'd like to stand up on my hind legs and lecture you about right now is Te Whāriki's belonging and well-being, flow, people's passions (of which schemas are a subset) and how desperately they matter when people interact.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

My family and I will be going to the Community Centre dance tonight, the beginning anyway.