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Archive for the ‘Gifted Education’ Category

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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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Poetry Friday is with Tara at A Teaching Life.

 

Gifted by Nature Day was coming up, and I had forgotten that it was my job to do a poetry activity.  Yikes!  What would I do?  Some middle school students would be doing a play based on The Jungle Book.  Their teacher explained in an email to me that the theme would be Be Yourself. 

I typed into Google search “Bio-poems.”  I didn’t want to use the same ole bio-poem form.  Up pops one of my favorite performance poets, Allan Wolf.  On his website, he had this mentor I Am poem.

I created a document that outlined each line.  As each student completed their art activity, they came over to my poetry table.  My first question was “Do you know what alliteration is?”  Most of the kids didn’t recall this term, but that’s OK.  I taught them very quickly, and they said, “Oh, yeah!”

Writing that first line proved the most difficult.  The students I was working with are gifted, and there’s nothing better than watching a gifted kid feel a challenge. Encouragement came from other kids who had found a first line.

Wyatt was happy to share his first line. “I am an All Star Athlete.”

Noah, who loves to hunt, created, “I am a hard-headed hunter.”

A young Laotian girl named Patra sat next to me and said with complete honesty, “I am a little, lovely lark.”  I encouraged her to use that metaphor throughout her poem. Her teacher texted me a copy to feature here.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I wonder what it’s like to fly.
I hear people talking.
I see the puffy, fluffy clouds.
I want to fly.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I pretend to fly.
I touch feathers.
I worry when I’m late.
I cry when–I don’t cry much.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I understand Laotian language.
I say, “Ha! Ha! Ha!” (me laughing)
I dream about flying.
I try to do my best in school.
I hope to grow wings!

I am a little, lovely lark.

Patra, 3rd grade

Jacob missed Gifted by Nature Day, so I presented the activity to him back at school.  He decided to take his poem in a different direction and become a planet, specifically Mercury.  You can read his poem here. 

This form worked for multiple elementary grade levels from 2nd graders to 6th graders.  If you chose to use this activity in your classroom, I’d love to hear from you.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Do your students ever ask, “Why are we doing this?” Friday we celebrated the completion of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Kathleen from Two Writing Teachers shared a Google Slide Show in which she posed these questions to student bloggers:

I discussed these questions with each of my class groups. Sometimes I wonder if my students really understand why we do this. I can see the benefits daily. Each day, they try to do better, write more, and add more craft into their writing. But it’s more than that. They grow as human beings, too. They share a piece of who they are and who they are becoming.

Noah said, “I learned that when you write on the blog, you are showing other people who you are.”

Sometimes these are hard lessons. These kids are at an age where they are still figuring it all out. They try stuff. They write things that may not be true to who they are or want to be. This blog space becomes a safe place for them to express whatever is on their minds.

Erin said she has learned to be more open. Kaiden has expressed emotions through figurative language. And even Tobie said he learned he wasn’t so bad at poetry.

With all the balking about writing every day and even the multiple posts of things like Google tricks, writer’s block, and “Idontevenknowwhywearedoingthis” posts, my students grew as writers and as people making their way in the world. I am grateful to the Two Writing Teachers, especially Kathleen and Lanny who led the classroom challenge. Another year down and many lessons learned.

I am sharing Kaiden’s clever poem about writer’s block.

A vacuous screen

filled with a picture

of a polar bear

in a snowstorm.

Snow swirling,

chills sinking

into your skin

in this winter wonderland.

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

Poetry Friday is with Catherine at Reading to the Core

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins!  His 76th birthday was on March 22nd.  

I introduced my students to the poetry of Billy Collins with this poem, The Trouble with Poetry.  The poem gives good advice about writing poems.

“The trouble with poetry is…
it encourages the writing of more poetry…
the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.”

I asked my students to steal a line and write their own poem.

The trouble with reading poetry is
that it’s so fun to read you can’t stop.

The trouble with poetry is
that you are to sit in the dark room
and wait for a flame of idea to pop up.

The trouble with poetry is
that Mrs. Simon makes us look for
what the poem means which is super hard.

The trouble with poetry is
thinking about ideas which is like hitting
yourself in the head with a rock.

The trouble with poetry is
that sometimes people steal ideas
and don’t give credit.

The trouble with poetry is
that you think your idea is bad
when it is really good.

The  trouble with poetry is
that you can have a writer’s block.

The trouble with poetry is
that you have to read it out loud to find mistakes.

by Andrew, 4th grade

 

Poetry Fills Me With Joy
Making me Float Above The Clouds
Like A Hot Air Balloon Soaring Above
After Being Filled With Hot Air
Like A Plane Being Filled With Fuel
And Taking Off
Like The First Letter Of Each Of These Words
Trying To Soar Off of The Screen

poetry fills me with sorrow
making me sink below the ground
like a balloon being popped
and crashing in the sea
like a plane crashing and burning
like the letters of this poem
trying to sink off the screen

By Kaiden, 6th grade

Billy Collins sarcastically expresses the feeling I get when I read poetry, and the reason I read poetry with my students.  Poetry breeds more poetry.  And I can’t think of anything better that a poem might do.  Thanks, Billy Collins, for encouraging my students to steal a line and try their own hands at writing poems.  

“ And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.”

 

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

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Some weeks a word will pop into my head for a DigiLit topic. Then I’ll mull over it and wonder why.  This is how it’s been with Innovation. Like Blended Learning last week, I am wondering if innovation is happening in my classroom.

I think of my young students who are writing for the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge every day.  Last year I put together a treasure box of writing prompts.  I decorated it and filled it with little odds and ends I found around my house.  One of these was a wishing rock.  Andrew put his hand into the box and came out with this rock.  I immediately thought of this Harris Burdick image.

“Maybe you could write a story to go with this image?”

“I’ve never written a story before.”

Andrew proceeded to type furiously into his Kidblog post.  The next day when he came in, he said “I can’t stop thinking about my wishing rock story.”

This is creativity working hand in hand with innovation.  You can read Andrew’s story here (part 1) and here (part 2).

My student, Noah, created a list post of “Things I Trust.”  Two of the curators of the Two Writing Teachers blog read his post.  They wanted to publish it to give other students ideas for writing.

Creativity and innovation happen in a classroom that is open to new ideas.  The let-me-try-this-out attitude.  I believe in my students.  They are more capable than I am when it comes to creativity.  Just look at Lynzee’s word cloud she created using the root word color.  She went on to write her post and change each word into a different font color.

 

Sometimes I feel like I just stand by and watch the brilliance of my students shine.  They are gifted kids, but more than that, they are open to the ideas floating around in the universe.  This openness will lead them on to produce wonderful innovations in the future, but for now, they are my little wonders.

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

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

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I was just informed that March is SOL challenge month. It’s a cruel, cruel world. We have to make SOL every single day. I don’t know if I will survive this deadly month. Okay, that was a little ( lot ) over the top of the ice cream cone. Yeah, that was a metaphor.

That’s kind of like saying over the mountain but in your mind picture a mountain sized ice cream cone with a ton of chocolate going right on the top and turning it into a chocolate avalanche. Did you do that? Good for you. Now I will grant you as many wishes as you want. NOT!! I am not a genie. But if I had one wish it would be not doing any Slice of Life challenge posts ever again. That is how bad I don’t want to do the Slice of Life challenge.

by Andrew, Feb. 21, 2017

“Andrew, the Slice of Life Challenge is voluntary. Are you saying you don’t want to try it this year? Should I make you a sticker chart?”

“I’m not making any promises. Yeah, go ahead, make me a chart.”

I teach my gifted students year to year throughout their elementary schooling. This is a blessing and a curse. I am blessed to know my students really well. I don’t have to pretest to find their reading levels. I don’t have to do writing prompts to see how well they write. I know all this.  They also know that when March rolls around it’s torture time. Time to write a Slice of Life every day!

Every year I try something new to motivate my students. Last year it was these buttons designed by Stacey Shubitz of the Two Writing Teachers. My students proudly collected badges until about March 15th when the newness wore off.

I also use incentives. One day of the month I hold a commenting challenge. The reward, one Skittle a comment. I soon ran out of Skittles.  I buy a book for each child who completes the challenge.  I usually buy 3-5 books.

Another thing we’ve done is connected with other classes doing the challenge. I’d like to do that again this year.  If your class is using Kidblogs, please request to follow by signing in to Kidblog and posting my URL, http://kidblog.org/class/mrs-simons-sea/. Click on the Follow button. Once I approve, I can follow you back. It’s fun and motivating to connect kids across the globe.

After seeing Holly Mueller’s students’ long slices, I implemented a word count rule. This has been both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is found when my students elaborate and expand their thoughts like you see in Andrew’s post above. The curse happens when they ramble on and type things like, “I’m up to 198 words, just 2 more to go!”

This is the nature of the beast that is SOLC! Blessings and curses! We are going to jump in despite the deep waters. Tomorrow we return from a break. Our challenge will begin. I wonder where this journey will take us.

I wrote a blog post for Kidblogs about the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge here.
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