Ben's Blog

Welcome to my blog. I invite my parents, teachers (including dance teachers), Aunties, Uncles, cousins, Grandparents and family to please contribute.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Telling Daddy Stories

This morning while mum had a sneaky sleep in in the boys room, the kids came and jumped on me. Ben wanted a Disney Winnie the Poo book, so I got him to tell me the story. Asking Him about the story reminded me of Christopher Robin's questions in the originals. So the book finished I got them to tell me a story with lots of "And what happened next? Did Ben go to? I bet he was bouncy, was it a bouncy dragon?" I got a story about Annabelle fairy, Bennie Dragon and Bridget Fairy (Alex was quietly pulling apart the paper towel roll and tin foil roll in the kitchen it turned out, he's into ripping things at the moment.) Ben bounced around and flapped his wings, then one wing got hurt, then another, then he died with Ben doing a magnificent death scene. He apparently fell on Belle fairies crystal city and they put cream on his wings to fix them. Then he helped Belle to go to the crystal cave to fix the crystal city up with more crystals which he attached with hammer.
The story had just finished when Alex arrived, needing a new nappy. Though the group broke up, Ben made himself some wings from a picture frame and flew around the house.
Later Granddad arrived in bus and even took Ben for a ride as he turned it around.
"Dragon bounce bounce I did have powers."
"My wings flapped and I fell off, my wings did, my wings were stuck. I flew up to the sky, 'I can fly, I can fly' I sing that song 'daggy daggy daggy dwagon' 'doggy dooggy doggy dwagon''doggy doggy doggy dog' 'dogg, dogg, dogg dwagons wings.' Belle and Bridget they fixed my wings up. With my wing it turned into a hammer and I bang bang BANG, just like that and a nail, my other wing turned into a nail and I fixed it and ow my wing hurts, now my wing hurts. 'bang bang bang beeeeeee eeee. bang bang bang, beee eee e e e , oo my wing hurts ooooo' "gruff voice" He got a hammer and a nail and I was hammering to hard. 'I'm hungry'" gruff voice "and the dragon said 'he's hungry I'm HUngry."

making a pie

I'd been listening to a history of pie making on the radio, talking about how meat used to be baked in the bread due to a lack of pans, to save the juices, went Ben said he wanted to make a pie. So I thought why not. We rolled out the dough and placed on it a chicken and some vegetables.
"Getting a pie, hey that's a fish he's eating our pie."
We wrapped it up and washed our hands again.
"We're folding it up."

Some Pumpkin seeds added decoration
"Pumpkin seeds on the top."
Cooked we checked the internal temperature, to make sure the chicken had cooked through.
"We burnt them."

"Cutting the pie."

"We going to eat it, we're going to eat the fish, no chicken is fish. Fish is burnt."
There was tea for two nights and the carcasses made me a rather nice soup the next day for lunch. We also made a pork pie with a piece of steak, some feta and herbs.
"Making some more."

"we wrap it up."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adventures with Nana Pat

Ben's Voice:We go and see that, that was so funny, little man's mumma was a pirate, that was so funny. Dress up in pirate, dress up all funny.
Cafe in the car. Book shop. The waves were cross and we found an owl (pine cone shaped like an owl) we got stinky shells, that was one of Belle's, they were so stinky aye Belle.
We went to train world and Thomas was there and Thomas was upstairs and Thomas was downstairs. Two Thomas. I watched Thomas on video. One, two , three (girls prompt) Number thirty five.
(We saw) Auntie Pam, Caroline, Amy, Cameron.
Riding the tractor and motorbikes.

Annabelle's Voice: At Nana's he was getting his feet grubby on Nana's drive way. After those days Nana washed our feet before bedtime. Ben fell asleep as quick as a wink. And we listened to a new one on the radio and it was called the watermelon man and it had a book with it and then I got tired after reading some books and I fell asleep and I got up before Bridget and Annabelle.
This Holidays was the second time Ben got to go to Nana Pat's with Belle and Bridget. When they go mum has a book she writes up with the girls and that they add their drawings and stories too.
It's called "Bridget and Annabelle's adventures and Ben's too."

Nana Pat's Voice: (With notes by dad)
Bridget, Annabelle and Ben came to stay with Nanna and Granddad today. Mummy and daddy and Alex went home. (Amy and Cameron also turned up, people are always arriving at Nana's.)
On Wednesday we all went to Napier to see 'the man whose mother was a pirate' by Margaret Mahy. (Margaret Mahy is one of mum's favourite children's authours and she has lots of her books at home she reads with the kids.) We dressed up as pirates. (Auntie Pam says Ben wasn't quite sure why she was dressing him like a pirate, but he didn't mind.)
It was a really good show, we liked it. Aunty Pam took Milly yesterday.(Auntie Pam works across the road from Nana and Granddad's at Arataki and is always involved in their adventures, as is the kids Cousin Caroline (a.k.a. Jack) who also works there. Milly is Aunite Pam's granddaughter.)

We looked at the museum too for a while. We had lunch at 'Breakers' then we had to shift the car. We went to see Aunite Jenny for a short time, then climbed up 31 steps to train world. Ben liked that. We walked back to the car along the beach, the sea was rough, we picked up seashells and pumice and came home to see Auntie Pam and show her our shells. (Trips to Napier and stops at saint beads, the trains, the museum, the aquarium etc are a common theme of their adventures.)

On Thursday Auntie Karen(Whose lives two houses down from Nanna's), rang to say that Phillip (her son) and Lisa had had a baby girl (Lily Rose). We went to the village and got some stuff from the supermarket and some petrol. Then we went and got cousin Kath (Nana's cousin) and did meals on wheels. We had lunch at Pernel. Auntie Leigh (Nana's sister in law who does the flowers and cakes for everyone's weddings) came too. On the way home we stopped in the village to buy a baby card for Phillip and Lisa. We has just got home when Oenone (From St Lukes) rang to say we were supposed to be at June's place so we jumped in the car and went back to Havelock. Nanna had her photo taken. Aunty Pam had afternoon tea with us.

Nanna gave everyoone a shower and washed their hair this morning, then we went to the village for morning tea at Cafe 32 (Another common theme, as is Pernel). Bridget had hot chocolate, so did Ben, Annabelle had a fluffy. Bridget had a muffin, Ben and Belle had 1/2 a lemon cake each. Nanna had a coffee. We walked to the supermarket and got some bread and came home to play with the motorbikes (Mum has a great collection of ride on bikes, all the kids, and then grandchildren have ridden on her bikes, drawing large pictures in chalk on the concrete is another favourite) and in the playroom.
We found out why the seashells were stinky, some had dead bits inside. Bridget, Annabelle and Ben don't want to go home, But mum, Dad and Alex are coming at Lunchtime. So they'll have to go.

(After Lunch Mum, Dad and Alex came, Laura and her Steve turned up along with Amy's Boy Cameron who is Ben's age. When we left Ben cried, he wanted to stay at Nanas.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Trip to Scooby Doo

Mum took us to Gran and Gran's Then Annabelle and I got to go to see Scooby Doo on stage. (Bridget and Alex didn't want to go.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Clearing the section

We're clearing the section so we can fix up the fences.
"Playing a game." Gran and Gran came down with their chainsaw and mulcher to help out, while dad was at conference.
"Granddad's falling, brooom, brooom, brooom."
Dad back and conference written up, we got another fine day and everybody joined in.
"We building a motor. We're doing wheel barrow rides."
Ben's claimed the hat like dad's, dad picked up at the supermarket. Dad had gloves so got mum to get some for Ben too. Ben helped shift the wood.
"carrying logs.. big hat like Dad's... two gloves... they got green on like Gran's."

Disappears behind couch "Don't know, just want to be a doggie...I'm stuck here.." emerges from behind couch again looks at picture. "Building a motor."
Ben likes to be a doggie for Annabelle, and often calls Alex doggie. One of the reason we're fixing the fence is so we can get pets.

Dad's voice: The way Ben latched onto the hat I brought, (amongst other things) reminds me just how important a rolemodel I am in his life right now. We found lots of ways for him to help out with the clearing and he was really keen to join in.

Kindergarten Disco

"Reading my book, with you dad...mines book... kindy book." "Me and Wendy and Maggie (Nicki) the movies (disco) and danced, I danced at the movies" breaking into song "dance, dance, dance, I danced, I danced, I danced I danced, I danced, I'm a rock star" disappears down the corridor in a flurry of air guitar.

Dad's Voice: So tired, last night of the term and what a busy one it was, and still lots to prepare for the conference. So costumes not up to our usual standard. It was good to get a chance to see Benny's book, lot's I hadn't seen. Ben was to busy to sit with me for long though. It was one of the reasons I started thinking about an e-profile for him after I noticed them as I checked out other kindergarten blogs. He had a good time as usual.

Further thoughts on E Profiles

What is the purpose of a profile and the stories within it?

Three of the basic purposes are
1) Documentation of experiences
2) Assessment of learning
3) Evaluation of teaching experiences to guide future teaching experiences.

They also serve a purpose to
4) Provide a guide to the reader of the values of the contributors, shaping their values in turn.
5) Provide a physical resource people can use as an inspiartion to share stories and make links with one another.
6) Be a teaching tool/ experience in itself. (Such as a literacy, language, numeracy and social artifact ) "Look there's you and Tracey playing together" Whose name is that one? "How many balls did you have?"

Compare more traditional question and answer testing.
Some things are supposedly easy to test, such as can a child add 1+1, or count to ten, you simply give them a written or oral question and voila there's your result, pass or fail. However the reality is they only give a summative assessment of a child's ability to answer the particular question, at the particular time, in the particular format.

An example of this can be seen in programmes like "Are you smarter than a fifth grader," where adults find they are no longer able to answer questions they would have once known the answer to. Knowing something in one circumstance were you are tested does not mean you will know it in another time and place.

Another example would be the anecdotal stories that filter back about the before school checks, and school reading checks. How children taken out of a familiar environment and tested by an unfamiliar person either refuse to participate or are unable to. Eg Assessor"can you count to ten?"
Child "No I don't know how to do that." Then later at home"Gran shall we count to ten you do the even I'll do the odd numbers."
(Hence the need for parents to speak up and feed into these tests, after all who knows a child best, a parent or some one who's just met them.)

Traditional tests also don't assess a person's ability to apply that knowledge in everyday life. Such as dividing a cake evenly or realising by using the square of the hypotenuse you could work out a measurement you need when building a fort.

Nor do these tests reveal much about underlying reasons for the results. "Why did they know this but not that, how could I help them to apply what they know?"

Also they don't usually show what stage of learning acquisition the person is at.

A)Are they exploring only just aware of a new skill to learn.
B)Aware of what they are doing wrong and exploring how to do it successfully.
C) Able to do it successfully if concentrating.
D) Able to do it successfully even while concentrating on other tasks.
E) Able to access and adapt the learning to other contexts.
F) Able to use it creatively to innovate new possibilities for it's use.

What can also confuse these tests is which intelligence is being tested, is it a person's logical mathematical intelligence after all or is it actually their socio cultural (are they comfortable sitting the test, uncomfortable, to comfortable) or linguistic intelligence ( did they understand the question and at what level)?

It is possible to create well designed tests and situations to provide more accurate feedback on the things mentioned above but with standardised assessment this is rarely the case as they tend to rely on the person fitting the mould, not the other way around.

Their other failing is they tend to test what is valued by the questioner when the test was designed, rather than what will be valuable to the learner. After all what is worth learning, what is valuable to the learner will change over time and between individuals and circumstances.

A test can reveal a specific focused piece of information, but fails to tell you about those things outside it's scope. It is like a traditional computer programme, efficent at what it does but non adaptive and non intuitive.

Do profiles do it better?
Profiles are designed to be holistic documents that can touch on every aspect of a child's life rather than taking a test's narrow focus. However they don't just look at the big picture of a person's life and learning either. In quatum physics there is a dilemma that something can be a wave and a particle, but you can only observe it as one thing or the other in any given observation.

Profiles aim at the twilight between the wave and the particle. They rely on the native intellegences and intutition of the people contributing to them. Their knowledge of the person being documented, their knowledge of the culture within which that person is learning, and their knowledge of people in general; to select, track and guide, significant moments and learning in that persons life.

After all knowledge is a cultural thing, "meaning" changes over time and constantly evolves.

They can also include test lenses, but rather than veiwing them in isolation place them into a context.

As well as documenting and assessing what learning is taking place, they evaluate the teaching and experiences contributing to it.

And profiles can assess and foster the underlying dispositions that will affect a person's take up of new skills, such as willingness to persevere.

Interestingly profiles however also provide a form of cultural feedback, they inform the reader (whether the child or an adult) about the cultural values of (what is valued by) the people writing the profile.

Why the eprofile rather than the paper one?
One of the key aspects of profiles is that in recognition of their intrinsic bias towards the values of the writers, they should include as many different voices and points of view as possible. This hopefully averages out the bias. Ideally profiles should be a partnership between all the involved parties.

In practise paper profiles have a limited presence. They can be here or there. While multiple copies can exist, as they are added to they rapidly lose synchronicity (what is in one version differs from what is in another.) Ownership and control of the profile tends to fall with people with whom it resides, typically those with the greatest familiarity in adding to it, the teachers.

This is evidenced in the ceremonies and rituals of our earlychildhood services. Parents signing profiles out, asking if they can borrow them, having them passed over when the child leaves.
Within the centre children have access to them but only under the guidelines the teachers impose. After all we as teachers don't want to see our work ruined.

Comparitavely an e profile can reside in many different settings at once, and as it is added to it has the potential for the knowledge shared to be instantaneously disseminated.

Further in their potential to include audio and video it opens up the ability for the person with limited literacy, to add to it, including the most important potential contributor, the child.

This open up the sources of information avaliable, to and for all the people in a person's life.

Learning to view, use and contribute to an e profile however is a new skill for many of the people who could potentially be contributing to it. Already I've noticed most of the invitations we've sent out have not been taken up yet. This is after several days and even acknowledgements of receipt. A response typical of encountering a new skill. Whether the challenge is a technical one or a social cultural one.

This does not discount it's value, the same difficulty is experienced everyday by early childhood centres in getting people to contribute to profiles, including the teachers when they were first learning the skill.

How can this be over come?

Having listened to David Engwicht talk, on traffic calming by rebuilding communities, this morning on national radio. Especially on how street signs and lines can overwhelm people with instructions, and how people drive safer when able to relax and pay attention to the road conditions. I wonder if the standardised guides that used to be used for what should comprise a learning story contributed to the fears many teachers had when first encountering learning stories.

Of course a blank peice of paper or screen can be equally terrifying, "what are they expecting of me." You still need to see the road.

The best thing would be to bring all people involved on board and begin the journey together, teaching parents and teachers alongside each other. Absorbing and evolving enviromentally.
I suspect this is what was seen when learning stories were first introduced. Were consultation was held and parents and teachers consented to begin the journey together. With both learning together under the tutelage of a guide they were more likely to become equal partners and this set the tone for future practise.

On the other hand where the need to write learning stories was simply imposed, and teachers learnt on their own and then tried to educate parents, ownership fell to the teachers by default, as they became seen as the experts and owners of the process.

So consultation, followed by a group journey and group ownership by those opting in, is the prefered method.

The beauty of an e profile is that once established it can pass on as a growing living thing, changing as it needs to, but maintaining continuity. So once a child moves to school for instance parents can continue contributing as they had been, the school adapts to what the parents know already not the other way around. (Though will schools feel a sense of ownership if it is just presented to them?)

As teachers gain greater initial skill, through more practise, however and parents are brought on board not through choice but by it being standard practise, teachers will need to be careful to be resources in a multi part conversation, rather than it's sole voice.

And the technology people are using will move on, how long before blogs are out of date? The form profiles take should therefore be an ever evolving thing, decided in consultation with and owned by all contributors.

More problems?
Another difficulty is the assumption greater, smoother and faster communication is a good thing. In practise if those contributing are reading and understanding others contributions there will be a tendancy for their contributions to evolve and blend together. Better communication will speed up that evolution and spread it over a wider reach of the child's life. Learning occurs in the space betwen chaos and order. If life becomes to uniform due to better coordination will it become too sterile to spark good and adaptive learning?

A further difficulty is that access to e profiles is limited by computer availability. A child can pull a book off a shelf anytime (if it is there), without a computer they can't access an e profile.
As technology evolves however access will improve, already cellphones can be used to browse the web, though always at a cost.
Steps can be taken to ammelorate the access problem, just as profiles were moved from locked office draws into the play room and gained pictures to help early readers locate them, computer stations can also be set up in playrooms with named picture icons providing direct hyperlinks to a child's e profile, automatically logging them in if necessary were profile access is restricted.
Printed copies can also be maintained alongside electronic ones.

E profiles have a powerful potential, now I've been blogging a while I can see that straight away. I just have to remember it took me a year to get up the confidence to start to blog. Remember that only by seeing others doing it and how easy it really was, that I finally did get the courage to have a go. Only by being allowed to go at my own pace, pushed on by peopel expecting great things of me that I explored and learnt, got frustrated, make mistakes, fixed them and discover new aspects. E profiles are a journey about a journey, one I'd invite the reader to join if they haven't already.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Day Evaluation

Dad's Voice- Evaluating the e profile
So many pictures I want to put up, one thing I'll have to be careful with as, as this is an open blog and I haven't got permission sheets for photo's from Ben's Kindy, is making sure his kindy friends aren't clearly identifiable. The parent in me says stick them up anyway, scan, pdf and post his kindy stories without blurring, after all his friends are important to him, we didn't write those stupid privacy laws. The teacher in me feels the same way but also feels constrained by the privacy responsibility.

However I've already noticed how easy it is to contribute to Ben's profile all of a sudden. Instead of being just Kindy stories and the odd story from home, I suspect it'll be more the other way around, hopefully with a lot of family input.

Another plus we've already put in one video. Old fashioned paper profiles were so hard to insert video into and no matter how descriptive your language and still shots, properly editted video can say so much more.

And another plus, wow, how immediate this is for feeding into his profile, and how easy to share it with our family and get their input. Already we've realised this doesn't just have to be limited to parents and kindy teachers, but can include dance teachers and other important peopel in Ben's life too.

Annie's Voice: "I want a blog."
Bridget's Voice: "Why can't I have a blog too?!"
Alex's voice : "Alex, my."
Dad's voice: "I guess you can too."
Ben's voice: "I want mummy (photo's) and Alex" I want to "keep it." It's a good idea. I would like more photos "and video" I want my kindy teachers to put things in, like "my toys, this (pictures of things I make.)"

Some of my Family

This morning dad asked me if I wanted to see my blog for the first time, I nodded my head excitedly with a big grin, yes I did, and first thing I wanted was a picture of Auntie Pam and Uncle Rhys. So here's one dad found of Auntie Pam."That's Alex, me, Belle, Millie and Auntie Pam at the wiggles."
These are some of my cousins.
"That's me and Cody and Granddad (Maurice) doing work."

"That's Nana (Pat)"
"Blowing bubbles."

"Blowing bubbles." I saw this picture and started to sing a bubble song I made up. "Me blowing bub-bles, me blowing bub-bles," to a conga line beat.

I guess more family photo's will have to follow

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Carolines 21st

Here's my Cousin Caroline at her 21st with her mum my Auntie Ba. All the girls were too sick, but Dad took me and Alex along to join the party because we love our cousins and we have heaps of them, about 17, plus a number of second cousins.
Here's Laura and my second cousin Ralph, her sisters boy.
Here I am playing some air guitar for my cousins. My ukulele and dad's guitar are some of my favourite special things.

Dad's voice: Family celebrations and parties are a big part of Bennie's life and he goes to a lot of them throughout the year.

I love dance and music

Here is me and Annie. Gran and Gran gave us their old piano and now the girls are having lessons at school. I like to play on it too, Annie tries to teach me.Alex also likes to have a go, next to me, I teach him.
I made this cool drum kit out of my toy boxes and a stool. Mum lent us some knitting needles and I even let Alex have a go. Then mum put on a DVD of INXS on the computer for us to play too.
Mum and Dad took me to the funky monkeys
It wasn't long before I was up the front dancing and so was Annie. Lookign back I really love the photo's of the dog.

Then they made bubbles
As part of my love of music I go to dance classes.
But dance isn't my only passion, one of the best things about going to dancing is the big red bus parked outside it. My Granddad Maurice loves buses and so do I.

Every time we go I ask mum to take a photo of me with it.

Both my sisters both go to dancing and I just loved to dance when I went to pick them up, so mum and dad asked me and now I go to dance classes too!

Here we are getting our wands.

Here I am practicing my side skipping.

Here's me and the girls, I'm the one not dressed in pink.

Julie our teacher helps us on the bar.
I can do it!
Dad's voice:
Benny loves to dance. For instance when I took him to the Matariki festival this year, he just had to go up to the front. I watched him there, studying the dancers as they came on and then trying out their moves. Then when a reggie band came on he was right up in front of them doing some amazing dancing.

One of the Whaea came up to me after the performances had finished and told me she thought Ben was an amazing dancer and I agreed.

I must admit I love dance and music myself and did a little modern dance at highschool. I remember leaping around my room, working out some choreography at home for ultravox' s astrodyne, off their vienna album, and our school even got a third place in a national competition for a group piece I was in. Cindy used to go to dance classes as well so I guess it's not surprising Ben loves music and dance. Dispite my rounder shape I can still been seen dancing to "Peter and the wolf" from time to time at work, and Ben just loves it when we dance with him.

My New Sandpit

We only had a tree to play in, so mum told dad she'd brought a sandpit second hand off playgroup and he was to build it for us. So we drove down and loaded it in the car, then dad and Bridget walked home as we had to fold down the back seats.

So Dad got busy with Alex and me helping him and we dug out a big hole in the back yard, put the logs together and then Dad attached trailer hooks and made a bungeed cover.
Next mum rang up and got a load of sand delivered. Much to dad's delight they got it right in the sandpit.
Then we tried it out.

Here's a photo I took of it. Check out my spiderman shoes.

Dads voice:
It was great fun digging out the hole with the boys. I had to get extra tools out because they both really love helping me. They also loved running up and down the hill of dirt we made.