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Archive for the ‘Gifted Education’ Category

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

I saw my students for the first time on Monday.  The first day of my gifted class is traditionally the day to decorate your journal. (Some people call them notebooks, but I have always called them journals.) I bring in decorative paper, magazines, stamps, stickers, and this year, washi tape. The students have full freedom of choice about how they decorate their journals.

I love this as the first day activity for a few reasons.  One is it allows us the time to sit around the table and talk casually. I decorate as well, so we are working together.  I also love how this simple activity tells me so much about my students, how they work on a project, what interests them, and how they handle creativity.  Perfection can be an issue with gifted kids, so this project helps me see these types of characteristics. And also it’s just fun, so kids are excited to come to gifted class every day.

My journal for 2018-2019. I incorporated cards and stickers from friends to make my space personal.

When a sea turtle is too large for your cover, use it on the back and turn it sideways.

Sticky note leaf shapes become a palm tree for this Queen Writer.

Daniel was not discouraged when a magazine cut out didn’t work. He found this cat that he liked much better. There are no mistakes.

Rainbows and washi tape!

If this first day is any indication, this is going to be a good year!

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Rebecca at Sloth Reads.

As school winds down, I keep teaching.  I haven’t pulled out a movie yet.  I haven’t started packing (not significantly, anyway).  I want to savor every moment with my kiddos and want them to enjoy every moment left with me.

On Wednesday, we held our annual Gifted by Nature Day when all the gifted kids in the parish elementary schools gather in City Park for a day of nature, learning, and play.  This year our theme focused on fractals.  Do you know what a fractal is? Here’s a collage of fractals in nature:

Fractals in Nature

 

To follow up on the learning from our day in the park, I reviewed fractals and provided art supplies for students to paint a chosen fractal from nature.  Did you know that the Fibonacci series is a fractal?  Of course, we had to write fib poems.  I used this post by Catherine Flynn as a model text.  I wrote a model fib poem based on a fractal in nature.  Then sent them out to create.  Here’s a gallery of art and poems.

 

Lightning

by Jasmine, 6th grade

Boom
Clap
The sound
Lightning makes
Spreading through the sky
Sharing its color with the world
Fascinating us with its beauty, but deadliness

Peacock Feather by Lynzee

Fib
Bird
Feather
Natural
Beautifully swirls
Fractal stares from a peacock’s wing

by Lynzee, 3rd grade

 

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

I know May is supposed to be my favorite month of the year.  There’s Teacher Appreciation Week with its gifts and food, food, food.  There’s Mother’s Day with more gifts, more food.  And then there’s this end of the school year count down.  How many more days are left?

The end of the year is not a joyful time for me.  I am looking back on the year and thinking; Did I do all I could?  Did I make a difference? Are my students ready to move on?

I’m faced with packing up the classroom (make that three classrooms), making them stark and uninviting, covering computers, cleaning out cubbies, trash, trash, trash…

But the hardest part for me are the last days when my students come sporadically (I teach gifted pull-out). How can I plan anything with substance?  We review for summer reading.  We create writing anthologies. We play games.

Then there are the goodbyes.  I teach my students year after year, so when they leave me, I’ve usually had them for multiple years.  Letting go is hard.

Here I am looking at the countdown my students have written on the board, 7 days left.  Seven? Seven!  Where did the time go?  I’m not ready.

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

 

Students proudly read their poems to Amy VanDerwater.

My students and I spent the month of April glued to The Poem Farm.  What would Orion’s adventure be today?  What technique was Ms. Amy VanDerwater teaching us?

After a month of writing poems, we couldn’t wait to meet Amy in person, virtually. Before any question was asked, Amy asked my students to share poems that they had written.  The pride! The joy! And her amazing responses!

Amy talked about her writing process, showed us her messy notebook pages, and gave us wonderful advice for writing.

Mason asked her how to write rhyming poems.  She gave us all a wonderful lesson on rhyming.  You can use rhymezone or a rhyming dictionary, she explained.  Then she showed us a notebook page where she had written the alphabet.  She works through the alphabet to try to find a rhyming word with the meaning she wants to convey.  She emphasized that the meaning is most important, so if you can’t find a word to rhyme, try a synonym.  After our Skype visit, Mason immediately wrote a poem using the techniques she had taught.

I am holding onto Amy’s advice for my own writing as well.  She talked about how she wrote a sonnet, a form that I have yet to try.  But now I think I will.  Somehow, Amy makes me feel more brave about writing poetry.

One of her last pieces of wisdom came from a poem she read aloud to us.  Her reading was as if she were cavemom and we were here cavechildren whom she was telling to write so our writing will live on.

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

March is coming soon.  And you know what that means, a month of slices every day.  The Two Writing Teachers has been hosting the yearly Slice of Life Challenge for 10 years. 2018 will be the 11th Annual Slice of Life Challenge. This is my 7th year to participate.  About 4 years ago I got my students involved in this challenge.  When I bring it up, many of my students who have been in my class for more than a year groan, then smile.  They say, “It’s terrible. It’s horrible.  I’ll never do it again.”  and then “But this year I’m going to try to get all 31 slices done.  Just watch me!”

One thing I can count on is their competitive spirit.  I do offer a prize of a free book if they write all 31 days.  I only require (for a grade) 3 slices a week.  So this week we are getting ready.  Noah already has 3 slices drafted.  He is in the warm up position, revving his engine.

We started a padlet for writing ideas and will add to it as the month goes on.  You can view our idea padlet here. We talked about a class hashtag and decided on #GTSOLC18. I set up a category in our kidblog site just for the challenge.  I will be putting up sticker charts and a space for badges.  A few years ago, Kathleen Sokolowski made badges and shared them in this Google Doc.

Kathleen set up a padlet this year for the classroom challenge.  If you click here, you can see all the classes participating.

I am looking forward to joining my students on a monthlong writing journey.  It will take us to places we are not expecting.  Would you like to come along?  You can view my students’ writing at Mrs. Simon’s Sea.

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Click over to Buffy’s Blog for more Poetry Friday.

 

I know the importance of reading nonfiction texts with my students; however, I am not a fan of assigning an essay after every reading, especially in December.  I wanted my students to think critically about the text, to absorb it fully, and to demonstrate comprehension.  So I turned to the found poem.

To write a found poem, the writer must make decisions about which text to keep and connect to.  This requires critical thinking skills. For a found poem to work, the words and phrases need to be placed creatively.

We read “Shattered Sky”, a narrative nonfiction story in the November issue of Scope magazine published by Scholastic.  In this story, my students read about a little known disaster in Halifax Harbor in 1917, one hundred years ago.  They were fascinated.  The author of the text, Kristin Lewis used craft moves to heighten the emotions of the story.  I instructed my students to underline phrases and words that brought about an emotional response.

When we had written and were sharing our writing, Faith said, “I am amazed at how different everyone’s poem is.”  And she was right.  Each one was different.  Each student had found a unique voice.  Each poem reflected a different aspect of the article.

When Andrew posted his poem on our blog, he titled it “I like this poem, so you should.”  Mason thought it was the best poem he’d ever written.

This exercise of finding a poem gave my students confidence to recognize craft moves as well as create a unique piece of nonfiction poetry.

 

Poem for Halifax

December 6th
They ring a bell
The image they see
They want to repel

Children getting ready, grabbing their schoolbooks,
Fathers, ready to work, grab their coats, off the hook.
Dartmouth and Halifax, buzzing with activity,
while mothers make oatmeal, hot and ready.

Two boats, Mont-Blanc and the Imo
With explosives and munitions, ready to blow.
There was no saving them, as far as we know.
Neither ship changed course and tore into the other and
put on a dangerous light show

Orange and blue fire ignited the boats
People rushed to rescue, thought they could help.
They succeeded but some retreated up.

Andrew, 5th grade

Shattered

The water had a thin mist of terror of WWI

The chimney swirled of smoke and ash

The people of Halifax were doing their everyday things

From eating to cooking and going to work

Then a sudden rumble and crackle of the two ships of cargo collide

They rush outside as every thing burst into flames and then boom

A sad tragedy will forever live in our hearts.

Mason, 5th grade

See more found poems at our Kidblog site.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Not every student is made to be a mentor.  A common thought about gifted kids is to encourage them to mentor other students.  As a teacher of gifted, I’ve seen students who work well with other students and I’ve seen those who don’t.  I feel it is important to know a student well before pushing him/her to help other students.

I haven’t taught Chloe long, but I knew she would make a great mentor. She is confident without being condescending.  She’s enthusiastic about whatever we are doing in class and spreads that enthusiasm.  So when I asked her if she wanted to teach her regular class about color poems, she literally jumped up and down.

At NCTE I grabbed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano. I also picked up a teacher’s guide which led me to the color poem pattern from Read, Write, Think.  (Polly writes a color poem that her teacher loves.) Chloe wanted to write a color poem like Polly.

First she chose her favorite color, pink, and made a list of pink things.  We talked about figurative language and how she could use it in her poem.  Chloe wrote this poem:

Pink is cotton candy.

Pink is a horn of a unicorn.

Pink is my blanket.

Pink is a flower.

Pink tastes like bubble gum.

Pink smells like a rose.

Pink sounds like a violin.

Pink feels like a pillow.

Pink looks like my mom’s lips.

Pink makes me beautiful.

Pink is magnificent!

When Chloe shared her poem with her classmates, they were ready to write their own.  Having a form helped.  Her friends selected their own favorite colors and used the form to guide their writing in their writing notebooks.  As she walked from group to group, Chloe checked in to see what they needed help with.  She was patient and helpful.  Her classmates were focused and serious about their writing.  Chloe was a proud teacher.

Writing is hard work!

 

by second grader Kelsie.

 

 

 

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