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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.

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,
gathered,
sorted,
cut,
stitched
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 
arrives, 

the rainbow comes out
from every direction
and all around
you. 

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

The last two weeks have offered a wealth of writing inspiration as we participated in #write0ut, a National Writing Project and National Park Service collaboration. Teaching gifted kids challenges me to find quality writing activities that will inspire, motivate, and engage my young students. #Writeout 2021 did not disappoint. And the resources will remain available on the website here.

My students have created storyboards with Storyboard That about geological changes over time.

Chloe’s storyboard about Louisiana’s loss of wetlands.

They wrote poetry. Things to do if you’re a puppy by Avalyn:

Pound on a window when you want
to go on a walk, purr when you want pets.
Go outside and dig when you’re bored.
Lastly 
only bark when you’re in danger.

Avalyn, 2nd grade

On Friday, we ventured outside to the playground. At one school, there is a large live oak. My students sat underneath the tree for writing inspiration and gathered natural materials to create an art piece.

Katie gathers leaves for her notebook.
Avalyn observes a live oak tree.
Jaden’s are collage and poem

Golden petaled flowers
spring up from the ground

Leaves slowly drift
from each branch

Clouds painted
on the sky’s canvas

Tall great trees
with green leaves

Spider webs
glisten in the sunlight

Squawking birds
angrily yell

Fellow rodent squirrels
sprint across branches

For nature
For habitats
For life

Jaden, 6th grade (form inspired by Irene Latham)

Another #writeout prompt asked students to make a poster. We used Canva and Adalyn create this one. On Canva it’s animated. You can view the animated version here.

Created by Adalyn, 3rd grade using Canva

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones
.

Bridget Magee, our Poetry Friday hostess, just released an anthology around the number 10. I ordered it from Amazon and received it yesterday. I jumped right in and read poems from many of my Poetry Friday friends. Here is what Bridget wrote about her motivation for curating and publishing this anthology:

As the TENTH child born into a family of TEN children in the TENTH month, I am fascinated by the number ten. Add TENACITY to that fascination and the idea to create this anthology was conceived.

Bridget Magee, introduction to 10 x 10 Poetry Anthology

Every week I post a photo that begs to be a poem here on Reflections on the Teche as well as on my classroom Fanschool space. This week I was particularly struck by how the photo of a close-up of dragonfly wings inspired metaphors. Stained glass, mosaic art, prehistoric maps are a few that appeared in the small poems in the comments.

I was able to grab the student’s own writing to teach and reinforce the concept. Children can use figurative language long before they have a name for it.

dragonfly wings by Amanda Potts

Avalyn wrote “like a chandelier” in her notebook, and I took the opportunity to teach her about what she had just done. She had created a “simile.” I told her she could use the colored markers to underline it in her notebook and write the word simile in the margins. Her next line was “a clear shower curtain and the outline of your window.” I directed her to choose another color to mark the metaphor. Then I read her my poem and allowed her to mark my poem with the same colors. I was almost giddy with delight to be able to notice and note a gem in my second grade student’s writing.

This experience makes me wonder about photography and writing. Did the writing change if I told the children the photo was dragonfly wings? I told Jaden what the image was before he wrote, so he decided to google “dragonflies” and included a science fact in his poem.

Wings
like glass designs
shedding light
zipping through the sky
30 wing beats every second
bzz-bzz the dragon fly
slips by.

by Jaden, 6th grade

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about retirement. I envy my poet-teacher-friend Mary Lee Hahn who has a poem about retirement today. But moments like these in my classroom writing alongside such gifted and talented writers inspires me and makes me a better person. I think I’ll stick with it a little longer.

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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.

#WriteOut sponsored by the National Writing Project in partnership with the National Parks began yesterday with a wonderful video and prompt from Golden Gate National Recreation Area. My students and I had a productive day of writing in response.

As a teacher of writing, I am interested in prompts that lead to creative and imaginative writing. This first prompt did the job. Because there was a way into the story (a character enters a portal), students created a variety of different responses. Each one carried their character through the portal in interesting ways. Avalyn, second grade, chose herself as the character who finds the portal on the monkey bars and travels to the desert, then the rainforest, and back home where she lives happily ever after. Her story is here.

Katie and Jaden, 6th graders, chose to be animals in their stories. I think their chosen animals say a little about who they are. You can read their stories on Fanschool here and here.

Chloe’s story reminds me of a book I read this summer on Netgalley, Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt. It’s a book to grab up if you teach middle grades. It’s a lovely story of a camel who saves tiny twin kestrels from a dust storm. I loved all the characters in this book and love that it weaves in a history of camels in Texas. Chloe hasn’t read this book yet, but the creative magic wand waved over her with these words:

Once in a desert, a camel walked into a purple glowing light. He knew it was a portal. He shifted and swayed until he stopped, opened his eyes and saw a horse running around a castle that had the words “Mississippi Land” on it.

Read the whole story here
Join Write Out!

I wrote alongside my students and may work on my story for a regional Louisiana picture book idea. There, I put it in writing. I know it needs a lot of work, but what do you think about a mosquito and banana spider that take a ride through the swamp on a brown pelican?

The Write Out prompts and resources will be remain available on NWP’s website, so even if you don’t have time to work them into your lessons now, tuck them into a back pocket. They are gems!

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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.

Every class we begin with notebook time. My students know to open their notebooks as soon as they walk in. I’ve started teaching some little ones, second graders, and it’s not so well established yet with them, but we’re trying. One thing that Brayden knows already is that on Mondays we write a Slice of Life. But first, we played Mad Lib Poetry, created by Taylor Mali, that I read about on this Poetry Friday post from Denise Krebs.

Brayden answered the prompt, “Name an object that represents your mother” with “butterflies.” This stayed with him, and he wrote his Slice of Life about his mother. “My mother is a butterfly. She is beautiful.”

With my different groups of students, I wrote the Mad Lib Poem 3 times. Here is one of my versions:

I was born in the year of Donny Osmond albums.

My mother was a grand piano
and my father, a pointillist drawing.

Is it any wonder that I grew up to be an amazing cross
between Alice in Wonderland and a great blue heron?

Take a worried look at me. I am weary and feeling old.

Is it any wonder that I still have nightmares
about teaching a whole class
of second grade boys?

Margaret Simon, Mad Lib Slam Poem form by Taylor Mali

Denise shared that Taylor’s Metaphor Dice are on sale for teachers at 60% off. Grab them while you can.

On Friday with my 6th grade writers, we played three rounds of metaphor dice. This is a great game for this grade level. They grapple with the strange combinations and amaze themselves and me by what they write in 2 minutes. I think this is a great activity for critical and creative thinking.

I liked how this next poem came out as a little love poem.

My heart is a burning kiss,
burning like the fire inside
that makes bread rise,
the heat that helps babies grow,
the warmth that feeds the seed
which is to say
your tender kiss
melts my heart
into pure gold
that withstands
the test of time.

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.
Chloe and her proud teacher, Margaret Simon

She did it! My student, Chloe, won the Lowell Milken Center’s Discovery Award for the Most Outstanding Elementary Unsung Hero Project. This prize comes with $1000 for Chloe. I am beyond proud.

I teach Chloe for her ELA block for gifted education. This means that I have taught her since she was in 1st grade. In 4th grade she told me her great grandfather knew Martin Luther King, Jr.. Then last year, in 5th grade, I came across an article from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) about the Baton Rouge bus boycott of 1953. I asked Chloe if her great grandfather’s name was T. J. Jemison. She wasn’t sure, so I texted her mother and confirmed it. That’s when I started looking into the Lowell Milken’s Discovery Award. The prize for 2021 opened February 15th, so I sent an email asking if T. J. Jemison would qualify as an unsung hero. Norm Conard responded immediately and told me to move forward with the project.

There were three types of projects Chloe could do: a documentary, a website, or a play. We agreed on a documentary and started researching. By March, we had set up a Google Meet with her grandfather Ted Jemison who lives in Houston. Chloe wrote the questions and led the interview. I recorded and saved it. Chloe then listened and scripted the interview. Every step of this process seemed daunting and required patience, motivation, and persistence.

By the end of the school year, Chloe had written the documentary script, gathered photos, recorded her voice into a We Video, clipped primary source video generously given by WBRZ (a Baton Rouge news station that had done a feature interview with T. J. Jemison), and written a 500 word process paper. Whew!

The hardest part of this project was keeping a 10-year-old child focused and motivated those last few days of school while her regular class was watching movies and playing outside. We both nearly gave up. A few weeks after school ended, Chloe was still editing her documentary video. I was able to get it entered before the July 1st deadline. Then we waited.

Two weeks ago I received an email from Lowell Milken to call them to set up a Zoom interview with Chloe. They would not tell me if she had won, but they said that I should invite the principal and her parents. I also invited our superintendent and the Sped supervisor. Finally on Sept. 22, ten minutes before the interview was going to start, I told Chloe about it. We had enough time to brainstorm some questions that they may have for her. I set her up in front of my computer, signed in to Zoom, and opened the door to let our guests in. She held up beautifully under pressure.

Chloe in her Zoom interview with Lowell Milken Center

Parts of her interview and a preview to her project were recorded by the Lowell Milken Center. This whole process is why I do what I do, inspiring a young girl to be the best she can be and to make a difference. I am grateful to her parents for their amazing support and to Lowell Milken Center for providing such an amazing opportunity.

To watch Chloe’s documentary (about 12 minutes) click here.

Chloe with her parents and grandmothers

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