As soon as we finished in Aberbargoed Primary, we headed to Scotland. We were working in two schools there for the week - Harrysmuir Primary and St Mary's Episcopal Primary School.
Some good friends of ours asked if we would like to go mountain climbing on the weekend. Of course, we accepted the invitation! Gandalf was accompanied by two other mascots who had been given to us by one child in Class 7. (Lynne also took her folding hairbrush - even though it was considered one of the least essential items of equipment!).
A wet, long, hard climb with an unexpected 'paddle'! Lynne slipped on the rocks whilst attempting to cross a small, fast-flowing stream/river and ended up in the water. Only a minor injury, so all was ok.
Today was all about reflecting on the experiences of the last two weeks. Class 7 and 8 used a variety of methods to think about the learning experiences and record their reflections and connections.
We were absolutely delighted to receive 'thank you' cards from both Class 7 and 8. It was a lovely, thoughtful surprise at the end of Day Ten.
It has been an exhilarating, exhausting and rewarding two weeks in Aberbargoed Primary School. Thank you to everyone involved - children, staff, governors, visitors, parents and family members - for helping to make it a memorable sequence of linked learning experiences for Class 7 and 8. We look forward to returning in 2017.
In the meantime (as promised to the children of Class 7 and 8), we will post photographs of our mountain-hiking experiences.
Excited. Apprehensive. Enthusiasm. Nervous. Definitely a morning of mixed emotions as Class 7 and 8 did their final quality checks before parents, carers and other invited guests arrived for the exhibition of their learning.
Both classes found it incredibly valuable to be guests at each others' display tables. They asked each other searching questions and made useful suggestions. In at least two cases they inspired each other to make significant changes to their presentations.
However, what impressed the adults in the rooms was the mutual respect each class had for each others products. Perhaps they don't yet have the maturity or capacity to articulate their emotions but there was a real sense of understanding the efforts of others because of the similar efforts they had made themselves. It was a real privilege to witness. A wonderful moment.
After a single rehearsal in the hall, to check logistics, a running order and test the technology, we returned to classroom and the countdown began.
At 2.00 pm, after a brief introduction by headteacher Mr Lewis, Class 8 opened proceedings
with a song they had composed (alongside Phil Davies of Write Inspired) called 'The Ice Song', with Class 7 joining in the chorus.
The children of Class 7 led both classes and the audience in a call and response chant. This was a surprise for the audience, as they were not expecting active engagement so soon!
As the children left to prepare to receive their guests, the audience was treated to a short iMovie comprised of still photographs of the previous week's activities. As it ended, they were hailed by a Year 6 child in full hiking gear to join him on a expedition to the exhibition. They duly followed.
The large number of guests were immediately engaged in a variety of activities. They were entertained, informed and educated. Adults were taught to use digital technology to create animations and to use QR codes. They attempted to build igloos from sugar cubes and researched different penguin types. They discovered facts about Ernest Shackleton's adventures and prioritised the contents of Andrew and Lynne's rucksacks.
The children answered questions, gave explanations, organised and enthused their guests. One parent was overheard saying, 'I would love to go back to school and learn like this!'
Forty-plus guests took time to complete the feedback forms which will be shared with the children tomorrow. They are all a delight to read. Considering the smiles, laughter and looks of joy that were observed this afternoon, the overwhelming positivity of the responses shouldn't be surprising. However, it was very welcome. Aberbargoed Primary School Class 7 and 8...you were absolute stars!!! :-)
For photographs of the exhibition day, please click here.
Both Class 7 and 8 continued final preparations for tomorrow's exhibition. Class 8 considered the overnight feedback we had prepared and responded positively to 'what went well' and 'even better if'. They frequently referred to their original resources list but also incorporated new ideas as they evolved.
Class 7 completed their 'table labels' and gathered the resources on their equipment lists. All are keen to engage with their visitors tomorrow!
As part of their exhibition displays, each team highlighted a 'skills chart' which indicated which skills and attitudes they used and which they felt were the most important for success in a specific activity.
Both Class 7 and 8 began their preparation for an exhibition of their learning. Each team became responsible for a specific section of the exhibition. Some of their reflections from previous challenges had suggested that their products could have been better if they had taken more time to plan, rather than rush into the task - albeit with boundless enthusiasm!
This time, the teams in both classes considered and listed the resources they would need. They also made sketches and notes of what their display area could include. Class 8 began making their 'display boards' while Class 7 began their 'table labels'. Whilst all teams had to work to compulsory and optional criteria, they also had opportunity to exercise their creativity and decision-making.
Tomorrow they will refine their products and also make their final decision about how they will present their section to Thursday's invited audience!
Today, teams in Class 7 and 8 combined their creative and collaborative talents to produce a penguin colony. Each team had to research the different species of penguin, then choose three to design and make, using a plastic bottle and a variety of craft materials.
Each team decided about how to organise themselves. All the designs were original and the children inspired each other to improve on their penguins as they progressed. Take some time to see the variety of designs on the Children in Action page.
Next Class 8 coached the children of Class 7 on how to animate the face of their penguin using the Morfo app on the iPad. We now have colony of talking penguins who can tell you their species and special features!
During the afternoon, mixed teams of Class 7 and 8 attempted the Pathfinder challenge, using skills of memory and communication but mostly learning to develop trust and interdependence. The children reflected on their feelings during the task and also the skills and attitudes which contributed to their success.
This morning, Class 8 became scientists. Using their knowledge of thermal insulators, they set up their own investigation to discover which commonly available materials might keep the water in our bottles from freezing - bubble-wrap, aluminium foil or...one of Andrew's socks! Everyone observed the safety rules when using the thermometers and time-keeper were especially effective in making sure that measurements were made at regular intervals.
However, each team also had to make a display board of their results. There were some very creative products and the children had the opportunity to evaluate each others' work via a carousel gallery. Content versus cosmetics was a topic of conversation following their walkabout. The task showed how some groups had shown considerable progression in the ability to delegate tasks.
Class 7 designed and created invitations for a forthcoming event. They shared ideas which they could choose to incorporate into their individual products. They also encouraged each other with different elements and some were teaching others to do 'bubble writing'.
Continuing the theme of collaboration, the day ended with everyone helping each other to add this site onto the home screen of their iPads. They were delighted to find themselves on the 'Children in Action' page and once again assisted each other in navigating there.
'Another day, another dollar.'..but in Aberbargoed Primary School it was all about pounds and pence!
Today the children took on the role of financial advisors using their mathematical and organisational skills to help us solve some purchasing problems.
Class 8 teams created a price comparison chart for items we need to buy before our next level of trekking. Using digital technology, they were able to search outdoor clothing and equipment stores and recommend the 'best buys' and stay within a budget. They were so creative that we have money remaining to buy even more items on our wish list!
Class 7 also used digital technology to find the cost of items in our rucksacks so we can advise a friend wishing to take up mountain-trekking. They were able tell us the most and least expensive items and also the total cost. We shall inform our friend that these items were bought over a long period of time, not all at once!
Once again, the children have applied their reflections to their team work, improving their times on team-building tasks and providing solutions to problems which arose. They also impressed us with their financial skills showing an awareness of discounts, special offers and recommending alternative items.
Our morning began with Class 8 reflecting on their recent experiences as team members. What was it like working with people they didn't normally work with and what would they ask for in an ideal team member? Answers were insightful and refreshingly honest!
Teams compared their 'diamond ranking' of our rucksack contents, explaining and justifying their different choices. However, one thing they all agreed on was that our snowman mascot, Gandalf, was the least essential item! :-0
Just before another successful attempt at the 'I sit' game, Class 8 became our 'personal shoppers' and produced price comparison charts, to guide us in our purchase of new equipment. Tomorrow we shall discover if we will have enough spare change for and ice-axe each!
Class 7 became design engineers for an afternoon. They collaborated in building prototype igloos...from sugar cubes! A variety of designs emerged, not to mention a few 'sticky moments'! During our reflection time, the children were able to give us great advice about what we should do and things we should avoid...particularly a collapsing roof!
Today was all about improving quality and building on team-work attitudes and skills. Both classes were impressive at working together to increase their speed during timed tasks - moving equipment and the "I sit" community game.
Class 8 successfully worked on improving the quality of their team emblem and presenting their results to each other. They also had fascinating discussions when deciding which of the items in our rucksacks were most and least important whilst mountain hiking - more on this tomorrow!
Class 7 were outstanding during the group memory task involving rucksack contents. The focus on detail and commitment to success was evident throughout.
Team-work can be great fun and it can also have its difficult moments - different ideas, different opinions, the need for compromise, the need to disagree in a constructive way. These are high-level attitudes and skills...and we witnessed children actively developing these today. Brilliant!