Thursday, February 28, 2008

two new masters papers

This week I have started two new masters papers. The first is Curriculum and Assessment, which is a first trimester course. The second, this afternoon, is Research Methods, a full year paper.

So that, in a nutshell, is what I will be grappling with this year. Curriculum, Assessment (yes, capital 'A'!!) and Research Methods.

First things first: the C&A paper has a lecturer I had last year, he has a very clear style (to me), gives good workshops, I know how to write the essays he likes to receive, and the assessments are 1500 words and 3000 words respectively. All good. (Except that they're due in April and May. Hmmm.)

So I am thinking about curriculum.

Here's a question for any teacher-types: What is a Curriculum? Well, I think it is the sum of knowledge (however that is defined) which is to be dispensed in a formal educational setting. Like a school. Or an EC centre. Or family childcare....?

Well yes, but family childcare is supposed to be like a home - and there isn't a curriculum for the learning which is dispensed in an informal setting like a home. (Despite the fact that all children spend most of their time in homes and communities - informal settings - and I can guarantee that they do most of their learning and 'knowledge gaining' in those settings.)

So we have a grey area. This is, of course, what makes study fun. This means there is room for more information, argument, opinion or even political determinism.

Tomorrow.... Assessment!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Summer noises

It certainly has been sunny days.... and the cicada's have been going crazy.

They are usually up high in the trees, or whatever, and we can't see them. (Well, I can't anyway.)

But yesterday we struck it lucky. This cicada was singing it's little heart out on the fence by playgroup. We were able to get close enough to have a really good look, and I got this photo.

I suppose there's a library book which would answer our questions (my questions...) about cicadas....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Building construction

I think I'd better blog about the building site across the road from playgroup.

There used to be a scruffy old dairy across the road from our playgroup. Late last year it was knocked down, and developers started building a construction which fills the site, and looks like it's going to be 3 or 4 stories high. Word is (this from the chemist staff) it's going to have two shops on the ground floor and 3 levels of apartments above. We'll see.
They have scaffolding up all round it, which makes it a pain for getting the little girls and the double buggy past, but apart from that slight nuisance it is continually fascinating.

The little girls often ask if we are going to see the diggers. (Actually they have just stopped doing that as there haven't been any diggers for weeks.) We always stop when we are safely behind the fence at the top of the playgroup steps to check on progress. And there are usually interesting things happening to comment on.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flora's quilt

I have just spent the weekend in Nelson, at a Playcentre promotions team meeting. A side benefit of being away on 'business' was that I got to visit my friends there for dinner one night.

This was rather serendipitous timing, as Flora has had a significant birthday (one with a '0' on the end) a few days ago. She wasn't planning a party but this was a good opportunity to wish her many happy returns. (Just why you'd want to turn 40 many times over I don't know....)

Anyway, I made this quilt for her.

I bought the fabric with the little pictures of veges and herbs on it last year, thinking I would make something like this for Nick's birthday. (Nick is a serious foodie.) But he didn't have a party either (slack lot really!), so he missed out. This way he gets to look at the quilt too, so not all lost.

I cut out the motifs ('liberated' them, in quilter parlance), bordered each one, and then had the puzzle of fitting the odd sized blocks back together. Once I found a place to start it came together fairly quickly. I made the inner border like that because it was off balance visually before I did.

Flora was delighted!
Happy Birthday Flora.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

sleeping peacefully

We are back into the normal routine now, with school in full swing, and the girls settled in again. One thing which has changed this year is the sleeping arrangements.

Up until the end of last year, each of the two year olds had a porta cot in her own room at sleep time. This was very convenient, as it meant that I could settle each child to sleep when she needed it, and one getting up wouldn't disturb the others.

When the children get to be about two years, this system needs to be reviewed. Sometimes a sudden review arises because a child learns to climb out of the cot! As the children get heavier, I have to be realistic about lifting them as well. In the past, two year olds have been settled to sleep on the sofas, or small mattresses, in the living room.

I decided to start that transition a couple of weeks ago, so that, now, all the two (and a half) year olds sleep in sleeping bags in the living room. It's working very well. They are aware of having to be quiet so the others can get to sleep, and it is both social on the one hand (seeing the others go to bed when you do), and peaceful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Inspiring video clip link

I have just received this message from a playcentre friend of mine. She recommended the video clip below, and, having heard it, so do I.

While our education system is moving slightly away from the narrow approach of the 1987 reforms, we still need to keep hearing messages like this to inspire us to give children the benefit of a 'holistic' education (that's 'early childhood speak' !) rather than a limited 'left brain' education.

She writes:

Kia ora koutou.
I attended a seminar last week with the teaching staff of the northern zone schools - Churton Park to Chartwell - as part of the cluster's focus on the topic of 'Thinking' and the new curriculum.
The facilitator was Mark Treadwell and I found his presentation particularly stimulating.
A couple of points made during the morning made me reflect (once again) on the great things Playcentre is doing, and reinforced my conviction that it is on exactly the right track in providing the BEST for our under fives.
1. The greatest skill we can give/teach children is oral communication: communication and in particular, oral communication.
Mark presented statistics on workforce make-up, showing the immense changes i.e. 19th century largest percentage of workforce employed in manufacturing, industrial and agricultural sectors, the decrease of these through 20th century and increase in service sector, then 21st century with large service sector again and rapid growth of creative industry sector. Bottom line - 21st century children need to be creative thinkers with outstanding oral communication skills.
2. An additional challenge facing teachers today is children arriving at school with reduced language and sometimes social capability. This is considered a result of "the natural language pathways for pre-schoolers being eroded" by parents not being available (ie both parents in paid work), children spending increased time in childcare, and therefore not experiencing the traditional parent-child social and language exchanges.
We also watched a video clip of Sir Ken Robinson - see below - who looks at the origins of our system of education, and its limitations and goes on to extol the value of creativity and the importance of fostering it in our children.
'Hope you enjoy it.
Kia kaha Playcentre!
'Hope to see you all soon.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Katie is now the proud owner of a guitar!

We bought it today on Trade Me. We have been looking out for one for a week or two, and placed a bit on this one earlier in the week.

It was due to close at about 5.30, but the last 5 minutes were very exciting. We had been leading the bidding, and then someone passed us, with 20 minutes to go. We upped our bid by $1. In the last 5 minutes the bids were raised about 10 times - including a persistent bidder who had not made any bids up until that time!

Must have been very exciting for the seller.

Anyway, counting down the last few minutes was very nervous. If a bid is placed with less than two minutes to go, the clock reverts to two more minutes. That is, the auction won't finish until there have been no new bids for two minutes. We kept refreshing the screen, watching the time left go down - and the other sod would have placed another bid!In the end they gave up (obviously). The guitar cost us $72, which we were happy enough with. Here she is playing a chord.