Archive for the ‘Gifted Education’ Category

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Rose Cappelli has the round up today at Imagine the Possibilities

Earlier this week I posted my Pile of Good Things Poem prompted by Stefanie Boutelier at Ethical ELA. Stef encouraged us to use technology and shared a design she made in Canva. I shared the prompt with my students on Monday. My little ones in 1st and 2nd could put together this idea for a poem. I am amazed at how easily they use technology at such an early age. Second grader James turned his pile into the shape of a tree.

I’ve been thinking about my pile of not so good things lately. You might say it’s a gripe poem, a pile of pet peeves.

My Pile of Peeves

Scent of cat pee
Anxiety at 3 AM
Morning cafeteria duty
When I’ve lost something
Hitting Send before proofing
A colleague diagnosed with cancer
An unconsolable child weeping over a mistake
The sound of my alarm when I’m actually sleeping
In carpool line, putting a student back into a toxic environment
The big white truck with extra tires passing me to make a right turn from the left lane.

Margaret Simon, ongoing draft depends upon the day

The Kidlit Progressive Poem schedule for April is full. You can copy and paste the code found on this post. Contact me by email if you have any questions.

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I am privileged to have the opportunity to write poetry with gifted kids. Their minds are open and in tuned to ideas. Most days they can’t wait to tell me what they are thinking about. Most days they want to write, welcoming the blank page. This week I shared with two of my young students (2nd and 3rd graders) photos of the full moon that I had collected from social media. I actually had another idea for them, but as we were looking at and discussing my picture of the moon above my neighbor’s house, they were full of questions and wonderings and a poem emerged. It was a happy moment because somedays little boys would rather be running outside than writing a poem with their teacher.

Click the image to see a larger view. Photo by Margaret Simon.
There are still a few dates available to sign up for the 2023 Kidlit Progressive poem. Click Here.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Remember Alice? The sleep-deprived child from my Slice on Saturday? She wanted me to let all my readers know that she took my advice and read The Lightning Thief, our current class novel, before falling asleep rather than watching TV. If you’ve ever read The Lightning Thief, you may not think this is such a good book to read before going to sleep. Talk about wild crazy dreams filled with Minotaurs and such. But the book helped Alice fall asleep at a reasonable hour, so she was enthusiastically ready for class today. 

She also wanted me to share her Basquiat art piece. 

I asked my students for an idea for today’s Slice of Life, and they pointed to a painting I created years ago in a creativity class for my gifted certification. That class was one of my favorites. I loved my teacher and the projects we did. I went searching for the binder. More than any other class, this one taught me how to embrace my own creativity so that I could encourage it in my gifted students. This was a reminder I needed today.

I found the binder, my final project, in a cubby and hugged it close. I’m so glad I kept it. Looking through the binder was like looking into a time capsule. So many things I had forgotten. But my painting with my teaching philosophy remains on the wall of my classroom today. I still believe in it and try to live it everyday. 

In the painting, I analogized creativity with opening a door. In my classroom, I want to make the students feel safe as in a birdhouse that gives them the freedom to explore ideas, discover relationships, and ask questions. A cat symbolizes curiosity; the tree, exploring possibilities; and the planet, discovery. The purple mountains symbolize expanding the horizon, and the wildflowers, flexibility.

Margaret Simon, circa 1999

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I teach gifted kids in grades 1-6 at two elementary schools in my district. We use a pull-out program, so I see my kids every day. Alice (not her real name) comes to me at the end of the school day, after second recess and before dismissal. Yesterday she was tired, and I could tell. Her eyes were half closed and she had very little patience for the suggestions I was making about her work.

Alice is very talented, not just in academics, but also in art. However, her perfectionism can get in the way. We were doing an art project in the form of Jean-Michel Basquiat. We watched a video from a Pace artist from the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Following the directions of the teaching artist resulted in a Baquiat-esque painting. Alice did not like what happened when she created her background. “I hate it,” she cried. And tears fell down her little cheeks.

I knew this melt down was not just about the art. She was tired. She had an idea in her head of what she wanted her art to look like, and it wasn’t happening. She’s a calm child. She didn’t tear up the paper. She didn’t cry loudly or need to take a break. I let her figure it out, and by the end of class, she had cut out one of her practice drawings and glued it to a solid background. And I think she left for the weekend somewhat pleased with how she had gathered the strength to at least have something to put in the hall display.

But before all this happened, we talked about her exhaustion. I know that gifted kids have a hard time shutting down their brains to sleep. I also know that research shows you should turn off all screens at least an hour before going to sleep.

Alice: “I’m just tired.”

Me: “Did you watch TV before you went to sleep?”

Alice: “Yes, I always do.”

Cringe on my face, “You know research says that TV stimulates your brain so you won’t get restful sleep if you use it to fall asleep.” I tried to sound logical and not degrading.

A: “I just can’t stop thinking! I need a Notes app for my brain!”

I couldn’t help but laugh! Then I explained to her how a notebook next to her bed could be her notes app for her brain.

She admitted that she would probably totally forget this conversation by the time she would be going to bed. I think we could all use a Notes app for our brains.

Basquiat-esque Art by Margaret Simon

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Image by Linda Mitchell
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for my lesson on Friday. I really don’t have a good excuse. It just happened, so I opened my desk drawer and pulled out metaphor dice. I wasn’t really sure how this writing tool would work with my young students. This year my gifted classes include third and fourth graders. Do they even know what a metaphor is?

The beauty of Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice is their adaptability across every grade level and writing ability. In fact, they can be the just right teaching tool or game you need on a Friday when you don’t have a poem in your pocket.

After a few rounds of metaphor dice writing, my 4th grade student Adelyn said, “Do you ever get so involved in writing that you forget to breathe?” I think that sums up a successful writing session.

Today I am sharing one of my metaphor dice poems.

My birth is a bright songbird
singing a morning lullaby.

Each new day is a birth–
a chance to discover joy,
to hear the bright song
of the cardinal or chickadee.

Wake up!
Every day is a birth day!

Margaret Simon, draft
My notebook+ metaphor dice

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On Poetry Friday, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posted on The Poem Farm a slide show created by teacher/author Emily Callahan. Her 4th graders have been writing proverb poems after Amy’s. I shared the slide show with my student Chloe. She was inspired to write a prequel to Ms. Callahan’s students’ prequel poems. Here is her Fanschool page, Prequel Crazy.

Here it sits
covered from the rain a chess board
broken into pieces.
I allow access to
the board.
He has found a new home. 
I glue it,
I wash it,
I rinse it,
I dry it,
I wrap it up
and drive along a bumpy road
the perfect gift 
to my daughter
She asks, ” Where did you dig this up from?”
“One man’s trash is another mans treasure
Maybe you can do the same
Like with a blanket?”

Chloe, 6th grade

I wrote alongside Chloe. A poem about my sister’s plan to create a quilt from my father’s shirts. I left the last line blank so I could make it a prequel to Chloe’s. We enjoyed this playful poem making. Thanks, Amy and Emily!

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

The girl sees patterns,
pictures in her father’s shirts,
into a quilt of many colors,
into a memory of many hugs,
into a dream of everlasting rest.
She sees more than anyone
a life lived as a husband, a father,
a doctor, an artist, a friend.
She touches every day what he wore,
a treasure in her hands.
Maybe you could do the same.
Maybe with a chess board.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I teach different groups of gifted kids, so I try to find ways to connect us. One of those is by blogging. Each week my students write a Slice of Life and comment on each other’s blog posts on Fanschool (formerly Kidblog).

Another collaborative project is our daily quote of the day. We often pull quotes from the 365 Days of Wonder, a companion to the book Wonder by R.J. Polacio. My first student of the day begins the Jamboard. We recently got the use of a Promethean, so she pulls it up on the board and taps out the words with the pen. Together we choose a background image. And throughout the day, each student adds a personal response to the quote. Their response also goes in their notebook as a creative notebook page they can decorate for themselves.

I love this little ritual for a few reasons. One, it gets us talking first thing, analyzing the quote, thinking about what it means, and sharing our responses. But I also love how my students are influenced by the positive message in the quote. They are just happier when we do this. And that makes me happy, too.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On Fridays with my 6th grade gifted kids, we unpack a poem. We discuss everything from form to figurative language, assign tone and theme, and write a poem in response. This is my favorite lesson of the week. The Promethean Board with the annotation tool makes it even better.

Yesterday we focused on Irene Latham’s spring poems. She posts a video each week designed for homeschoolers, but it works for me, too. This week we watched this video:

Using Irene’s Art Speak Padlet, we located the poems she highlighted and selected one to unpack. My first group chose “because every day is a symphony in spring.” So many things to see, imagery, personification, word choice, rhyme…

When yellow rings,
green cannot await
its return.

As white fades
in discord,

yellow rings.
Once again

as purple, pink
orange, and red
splash the fields.

Jaden, 6th grade

When green season 

the rainbow comes out
from every direction
and all around

Red triangles grow with yellow spots
on green string,

orange sky falls
and the orange sky rises.

Yellow lights
shine through the heavy white marshmallows,

green spikes
poke out of the ground.

The sky’s blue
falling down in may,

with purple and pink petals
that have been waiting for 
this season. 

Green season, 
green season,
full of delight
and color.

Katie, 6th grade

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I filled the last page of my notebook, the one I use every day as I write alongside my students. We use marbleized composition books. With decorative paper, magazines, and other things, we collage covers for our notebooks. The last few days I have been stealing a few minutes here or there to work on my new notebook. Here are my completed covers. I tend to be pretty critical of my own collage work, but I like these.

One of the elements on the front cover came from an ArtSpark postcard exchange with Jone MacCulloch and Amy Souza. I cut the quotes on the back from a 2021 calendar.

May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.

Tracee Ellis Ross

This week I am sharing videos from Margaret Alvarez about gratitude art journaling that I discovered in an email from The Network for Grateful Living. We’ve enjoying playing with these easy, yet creative ideas in my classroom. Day one was “Life is a gift” using watercolor shapes and sharpie designs. Day two we did string art. My students have been highly motivated by art journaling. These ideas are simple enough for my second graders while creative enough for my 6th graders. And it’s fun!

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Matt at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme

Three months ago I said, “Sure!” when my friend Stephanie asked me to participate in a poetry reading. I figured I had plenty of time. And here we are less than a week away. The poetry night is in conjunction with a Water/ Ways traveling Smithsonian exhibit. Stephanie, the assistant at the Bayou Teche Museum, wrote the grant and wanted to add arts into the presentations. I asked her, “Do you realize I write for children?”

The topic is water, so I plan to read from Bayou Song, a swimming poem from Rhymes and Rhythm, and two yet-to-be published poems from Swamp Song. There will be three poets laureate reading alongside me. I’m excited to meet the newest state poet laureate Mona Lisa Saloy. I’ve seen her present on Zoom, but this reading together will be in person.

Darrell Bourque is a mentor of mine. He was poet laureate in Louisiana from 2007-2011. And Jonathan Mayers is coming from Baton Rouge. He is the city’s poet laureate. Melissa and I have been friends since our writing group days in the 90’s. We will support each other as the two non-poets laureate.

In my classroom, the gratitude “Poet-Tree” is filling up with leaves of grateful poems. Yesterday a few teachers stopped by to tell me they were reading the poems and one even said she wanted to write her own and put it on our tree. Spreading poetry love!

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