Monday, 7 August 2006

Challenging History @ St Joseph's

A great opportunity to be involved with the teams from St Joseph's in our NZ History Challenge. It was a bit like being down at the Irish bar on quiz night having these 3 teams working competitively in such close proximity as this pic shows! There was a lot of secretive discussion & the odd student who wanted to trade answers (hey that's not part of the game :-)
What an awesome activity for developing information literacy skills, communication skills & cooperative skills - yep & competitive as well. Students used the Internet to search for key words from the clues given, skimmed & scanned the pages to read around the topic and decide if they really had found the answer to crack the question. (Ctrl F was pretty useful to quickly find key words in a page when they weren't sure if they were on the right track). Questioning skills were also developed as students worked out the best way to ask the other teams questions that could only be answered yes or no and bring them closer to the answer. It was interesting to compare the younger teams (y4 & 5) with the y7 & 8 kids. It wasn't reading skills that separated the two groups (they were all capable readers) but the older students were able to analyse the information and draw inferences from it that helped them in their research - younger students needed a lot more guidance with this.
It was interesting to see how little our children know of our own History - which is why this was such a great topic. None of them had heard of the NZ Wars - we study 'Anzac Day' every year - how often do our kids learn about the NZ Wars? - probably more important in shaping our country.
Well actually having said that, the Taranaki Wars in particular Titokawarau & the Waitara Conflict are the subject of 2 Web Challenge entries from St Josephs. Another teams entry is about Te Maunga Taranaki. I spent some time with the helping them set up the structure of their pages though that is the easy part - the most important part is researching what they want to know and presenting it in an original way so others can learn from it...

More on Smart Boards:
Staff were discussing the possibility of introducing SmartBoards to the school, having visited Manaia and having them demonstrated in the school at our last Lead Teacher workshop here. Funding is a big issue especially when there are other priorities in a school - like the roof leaks & you need sports uniforms. You really have to justify this for such a big ticket item. You really have to be sure that this is an investment that is going to make a difference to our children's learning. Fine if you have a huge wad of EDI cash or have a DigiOps project going, or maybe even are able to tap into the very generous funding that Yarrows Taranaki have been distributing to Taranaki Secondary Schools (i will be investigating this further to see if we can't try & get our Primary Schools onto this) - then you're not competing with other resource needs in the school. I think the jury is still out on this - if you want to read further check out Artichokes comments in my last blog post or read Graham's comments on an earlier BardWired blogspot post.

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