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Archive for the ‘Gifted Education’ Category

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

 

Madison came into my gifted class when she was in second grade.  On day one, she wrote 3 blog posts and was hooked on writing.  Now in 4th grade, she came up with an idea for a story writing club.  This was a result of problem solving.  She loves writing stories, particularly fan fiction to Warrior Cats, but she didn’t think many people were reading her blog posts.  She thought if we had a blog that was specific to writing stories, maybe those kids who are interested in writing as well as reading stories could join.

 

With a new subscription to Kidblog from my district’s gifted program, we teachers are able to have multiple sites with the same students.  Story Writing Club was born. The day after I set up the blog was a Saturday, but Madison checked in and wrote this post.

Hello. This was originally my idea, so.. I guess I’ll make the Welcome – To – This – Blog – Post. 

This is a blog where you make your stories- nonfiction, fiction, or any genre. Chapter by chapter, or just a normal picture book.

Word, by word, by word, we are changing ourselves into authors. Word. By word. By. Word.

Think of your ideas as silk or cotton. Weave them together- make cloth. Now it’s time to put the cloth together to make a wonderful story.

I hope you enjoy making wonderful stories out of many ideas.

Buh-bye!

I introduced the idea to all my classes (I teach 3 groups of gifted students at 3 different schools).  To date, eleven kids have signed on.  And they can’t wait to write.  This is an highly motivating free time activity.  Madison created a story about cats, of course.  She is also very talented at digital art.  This is an image of one of her story characters.

When students writing stories they want to write, they learn the stuff of writers that I could never teach them.  Jacob was writing his second chapter today, and he exclaimed, “You know the berries from chapter one? Well, turns out he needed them in chapter two.  I didn’t know that would happen.”

Jacob wrote, “He took out the berries that Triton saved in his booksack. The creature seemed to love them. Triton tossed the creature a berry, in a second it gobbled up the berry.”

Sometimes writers follow the story and find their way.

I love that my students are experiencing the joy of writing with little direction from me.  We often talk about student-driven learning but rarely do we really have the opportunity to make it happen.  I applaud Madison’s resourcefulness in building a community that would support her passion.  These are lessons that don’t make it into the standards but will support my students in being the best they can be.

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

 

New York, NY, September 13, 2001 — Urban Search and Rescue specialists continue to search for survivors amongst the wreckage at the World Trade Center.
Photo by Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo

I never know if it’s the right thing to do.  I didn’t write it into my lesson plans.  I hesitate every year about teaching 9/11 to my gifted students.  But there’s a part of me that thinks they need to know the truth.  The need to have some seed of understanding about the meaning of that tragic day.

In my email on Monday morning, I read “Teach this Poem” from the Academy of American Poets. I forgot that I had signed up for this email, but I was glad it came.  The lesson gave me strong footing for talking about the unspeakable tragedy of 16 years ago.

First we looked at a photo of the destruction, writing down things we saw.

Some words collected from the image

dust
ash
destruction
devastation
war
dark
despair
collapsed
ruined lives

Then we read Lucille Clifton’s poem Tuesday, 9/11/01.  We noticed in the structure of the poem spaces, no capital letters.  This structure, someone said, expressed how raw and true her response was.  One student read it aloud.  The others hummed at the end, that hum when words hit you right in the gut.

I looked at their faces, the faces of my students who were innocent of terror and fear, but they heard it, they saw it, they got it.  And this understanding made me so extremely sad.

At the end of class, Faith came to me and said, “I need a hug.”

She knew it was me who needed the hug.

How do we best teach this history that is still so new and raw?  Pictures, poems, words, talk, tears.  That’s how.

My students wrote their poetic responses. Some wrote the facts they learned.  Some wrote their own feelings.  Some wrote through the eyes of the helpers.

I wish I didn’t have to teach this day.  I wish this day never happened.  I hope my students walked away with not only the details of the tragedy, but also a heart of kindness, hopefulness, and (please God) peace!

 

Madison’s journal page

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Dawson is new to gifted classes, but he is not new to helping others.  I found out on Friday that he had a bake sale on Thursday to benefit a local diner.  I asked him to tell me all about it.  We talked about the efforts that went into the process, talking with the principal, advertising, and making all the treats.  His goal was $50.  Selling each treat for 50 cents takes a while to reach $50, but he was determined.

He wrote this on his Kidblog post:

I’m so excited I can’t wait till I get to see the happy looks on the homeless people’s faces! I just can’t wait. By the time the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders come, I will have no more food. Some of the comments they gave me were ” Delicious brownies Dawson”, and ” Wow, great cookies Dawson”.

When Dawson finished his post, I asked him what else he was passionate about.  Without hesitation, he said “Reading.”  He had figured out a way to get all his AR points by reading every night before bed.  He also learned that reading before you go to sleep actually creates melatonin and helps you sleep better.  Did I mention that Dawson is in 4th grade?

As a teacher of gifted kids, I am used to being blown away every day.  They can say the most amazing things.  But Dawson’s only been in my class for 2 weeks, and already he is showing the kind of leadership I can work years to instill in my students. I couldn’t help myself; I had to egg him on.

In the end, he created this public service announcement that we recorded and emailed to all the teachers.  What a joy!

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

 

This summer I have been nurturing myself.  I know that’s a good thing, but in doing so, I lost some of my stamina.  I always do.  During the summer months, I sleep a little later, linger a little longer, and relax into a slower pace.

When school starts back up again as it has for me this week, I have to build my stamina for getting up before the sun, going longer between meals, and being alert.  Our kids have to build their stamina, too.

 

Nurturing myself this summer included yoga classes.  Yoga is all about stamina, sustaining a pose for minutes at a time, all the while your muscles are vibrating and telling you to release.  When I stood in warrior pose on Saturday, I thought about how this relates to my school year.  The instructor said, “In warrior pose, you are both guarded and open.  Your arm shoots straight out like a drawn sword while you stand wide legged and open for attack.”

I will be a warrior for my students.  I will guard them and be open to them.  I will honor their presence and push them to new limits.

When I learned that I would be teaching some new students and different subject areas, my sword went up, and I resisted.  But once I started delving into the content, I felt my stance relax.  I got this.  My focus shifted to the thrill of planning for new learning.  I hope this will happen with my students as well.  Once they get into the swing of things, their focus will shift, their stamina will rise, and they will become warriors for their own learning.

Click on the link below to add your own DigiLitSunday post.

Don’t forget to join us Monday, August 7th at 7:30 Eastern for the new #TeachWrite chat. Questions with times are available here.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Saturday morning yoga, my instructor, Susan, says “You should not tell yourself that your body can’t do something. Challenge yourself to try, and your body may just surprise you.” So when she said we were going to do head stands, I stopped the “No way,” and said, “Ok. I’ll try.” I opened myself to her knowledgeable instruction. She guided me step by step. And when I was upside down, I felt powerful, giddy, invincible.

I want to take this learning into my classroom and into my teacher-self. Our school year begins on Wednesday. Scheduling is a nightmare for anyone who has to look at a master schedule and plan for all the various pull-outs and special classes. I am one of those teachers that messes up the master schedule. This year I will be servicing three schools. Three different schools with three different schedules pulling out gifted students in 5 different grade levels. I know you must be saying by now, impossible.

Teachers, isn’t that how we roll? Turning impossible into possible. Whatever it may be, a move to a new classroom, grade level, or position, a new administrator to get to know, a crazy schedule to make work, we put on our super hero capes and take off, letting the winds of self-doubt fly past us. Flexibility is in our stride.

 

If I can do a hand stand, I can go confidently into this school year. But just in case I need a guiding mantra, I made a Canva poster out of Cornelius’s charge and my friend, Dani Burtsfield’s photo from Glacier Park in Montana.

 

 

Be sure to join me in the new #TeachWrite chat on Monday, August 7th at 7:30 EST.  For more information and a list of questions, go to #TeachWrite Chat.

 

Link up your DigiLitSunday posts below:

 

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

The end of the school year came too quickly this year. The Two Writing teachers blog series, however, helped prepare me for the inevitable- summer writing slide. Kidblog.org published this blog post of mine around summer writing.

The gifted program in my district has always recognized the need for summer reading.  We carefully choose a list of books and send home a required reading packet.  Last year we tweaked the requirements and the kids actually responded that they enjoyed doing the work.  The packet was designed around choice and activities that were interesting and motivating.

What about summer writing slide?  My students actively write every day of their time with me.  Will they keep writing over the summer?  Not likely.  So I took it upon myself to encourage summer writing.

I found a stack of summer postcards in my endless supplies of teacher stuff.  On each card, I placed a label with our kidblog site address, my home address, and my email address, three different ways my students could keep in touch over the summer.

Friday was our last official day together as these last two weeks are full of end of the year activities.  I brought out marbleized journals.  We start the school year decorating a journal for the year, so why not close the year with decorating a summer writing journal?

Have you started thinking about summer slide?  What are your plans?  Share your blog posts in the link below.

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Since I first read Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer, I have implemented the 40 book challenge.  I teach 1st-6th grade gifted kids.  These kids are usually readers when they walk into my classroom.  My bulletin board houses sticker charts all year long.  Students add a sticker for every book they read.  Every nine weeks grading period I remind them to update their charts, but other than this, I leave them alone.

I do not believe in gimmicks to get kids to read.  What I do believe in is finding space to read every day and knowing a student well enough to place a just-right book into their hands.  My students have not all met the challenge, but this year a majority of them did.  This week we colored bubble numbers celebrating their achievements.

This Animoto video is a showy one. I didn’t get a posed picture will all of my kids, but here are a few proud readers. Enjoy!

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