Sunday, 25 November 2012

Week 7: Projects, Straws and Spaghetti

Here are a few of the things that happened this week in gifted.

The Ediphone Arrives

One of our students, Kristen, brought in an Ediphone that belonged to her grandfather.  All of the classes were intrigued to find out what it does and how it works.  Kristen's family believes that the machine is from around 1917.  The Ediphone was an early dictation machine.  A person speaks into the speaking tube and their voice is recorded onto a wax cylinder.  For more information on the Ediphone, check out this site.  Thank you Kristen for sharing this with our classes!

Inventor Projects (Morning Classes)

The grade 5s continued to work on their projects.  Eli, Joaquin, and Marcus are each showing their distinctive styles and interests with their Smart Board quiz games.  Angel and Melina are each creating great movie posters.  James has made a good start to his project involving the creator of Minecraft, a game I am clearly going to have to learn a lot more about judging by its popularity with students!  Chase, Charlie and Zack have created most of the models for their diorama.  Nathan's card game is coming along well and Lyndsy is ready to start recording her radio interview.  Meanwhile Brody and Evan have made some great figures using Pivot Stick Figure animation software.

The Thursday morning class started on their projects this week too.  More on how they are doing next week!

Spaghetti Towers

The Tuesday morning grade 5 class were challenged to build the tallest free-standing tower that they could using only 30 mini-marshmallows and 30 sticks of spaghetti.  Bonus marks were awarded if they didn't use all of their supplies! 

What Are You Doing?

This drama game is popular with a number of the classes, especially the the Wednesday afternoon grade 1 - 2 class.  The focus is on thinking on your feet, being creative and getting up and acting in front of your peers.  For more info on this game, ask your child!

Hockey Card Wrap Up

The afternoon classes worked on their hockey cards and almost everyone is now done!  Our walls are now covered with these creative cards.

The Straw Shape Challenge

Last week the morning classes tried this activity, and this week almost all of the afternoon classes took a shot at it.  Students created triangles and squares using straws and paper clips.  The idea was to demonstrate that triangles are more stable shapes because they are better able to balance the forces of compression and tension.  The students were then challenged to build a stable three dimensional shape.  As a follow up, we checked out this interactive online lab

Straw Structures from this week and last:

Final Note

There are only two more weeks of classes before Gifted Program classes wrap up for the fall term.  For more information, please check this short post.

Fall Term Wrapping Up Soon

This is just a short post to let you know that the fall term of the Gifted Program classes will soon be wrapping up.  The last classes will be the week of December 3rd to 7th.  The winter term of the Gifted Program classes will start when school resumes on January 8th.  Reports on the Fall term will be sent home in mid-December.

The rationale for ending classes 2 weeks before winter break is that this is the time that many schools are preparing for school wide concerts and other seasonal activities which many students do not want to miss out on.  It also allows me time to assess the many students who have been referred to the Gifted Program.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Week 6

As the term progresses, the activities that the different classes are doing start to diverge a bit.  Part of this is due to the age of the students in each class, and part of this has to do with the morning classes being longer than the afternoon classes.

General Schedule

For all of the classes we follow the same general schedule.
  • Social Time.  As students arrive they take out games, toys, puzzles, or books.  It is an opportunity to reconnect with students from other schools, whom they probably haven't seen since last week.  Some popular activities during social time lately have been:
    • the magnetic construction kit -- there have been some amazing structures built and we've all been learning a lot about magnetic force
    • the robotic set -- it was rediscovered at the end of October and has been very popular!
    • Lego (of course!)
    • Maze books
    • and the wooden cube puzzle
  • Circle.  During circle I outline what we will be doing for the class.  Then we go around the circle and everyone has an opportunity to speak on a specific topic or to pass if they wish.  This week students were asked to mention either something interesting that happened to them since we last met, or something they were looking forward to. 
  • Game / Brain Teaser.  Many of the games that we do involve some or all of the following; presentation skills, creative thinking, and/or working as a group. This week, depending on the class, students
    • played Concentration
    • were challenged to line up by height... without talking
    • played What Are You Doing?  (very popular with the Weds afternoon class!)
    • played Wink Murder
  • Challenge Activity.  We don't do a challenge activity every class.  This week the morning classes did a straw building challenge.  I don't want to say much more about is as I hope to have the afternoon classes try it out soon.
  • Recess.  The morning classes have a recess break outside.  Right now we are taking our recess at a different time from Wiltse Elementary.  Part of the rationale is to encourage the students to continue to bond as a group.  For both morning classes the 'big thing' is to go on the saucer swings. 
  • Lesson / Project.  This week the Tuesday morning class (grade 5s) started on their inventor projects.  Students are either working alone or with a partner.  They have all chosen an inventor and are doing research which they will present in one of a variety of ways (movie poster, radio interview, diorama, quiz game ...)  The other classes continued to work on their 'Hockey Cards' (mentioned here).  If you get a chance, please check out our growing gallery of hockey cards along the south wall of the classroom.  Students are enjoying checking out their peers' hockey cards and many are excited to find other students that they recognize from their home school.
  • Wrap Up.  At the end of the class, once we've cleaned up, we meet again as a group and summarize what we've done and what we'll be up to next week.  During this time we've also been checking out different Rube Goldberg machines.  This week most of the classes saw the OK Go video This Too Shall Pass.  

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Week 5: Hockey Cards

This week the main focus was to continue to work on the 'Hockey' Cards students started last week.  On the front of the card is the student's name and their photo.  The photos were printed as faint black and white shots and the students coloured them in.  Many students drew in colourful and creative backgrounds.  On the back of the cards students included some general information about themselves including their interests and favourite inventions.  Completed cards will be posted around the classroom so that students can learn more about their peers.

For Fun

Last week I showed students the video of Joseph Herscher's 'Creme That Egg'; a crazy Rube Goldberg machine.  The students were very taken with it so this week we followed up by watching the video below; another Rube Goldberg machine by Herscher called The Page Turner.  There is so much to see and to try and figure out with these installations. 

Answer to 'How Many F's?'

At the end of last week's post was the following puzzle.  How many F's are there?  Answer is below.


If your answer is 3, you are not alone.  You're not correct, but at least you are not alone!  The correct answer is 6.  Most people get 3 because they don't count the F's in the word OF which occurs 3 times.  The students and I discussed the possible reasons why so many people get the wrong answer.  Some of the suggestions were that:
  • 'of' is a small word so we ignore it
  • 'of' doesn't add much to the sentence so we ignore it
  • the f in 'of' makes a vee sound while the other f's do not

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Week 4: Brainstorming


This week in gifted class the main focus was on brainstorming what this year's 3D object was going to be.  Every year in the elementary gifted program the classes have collaborated to produce a 3D object that fits in with the year's theme.  This year's theme is invention.  Here are some of the past year's themes and the 3D objects that students have built.

3D object
2011/12Games3D Game Table
2010/11deBono’s 6 Thinking HatsGiant Hat
2008/07TimeTime Machine

Prior to brainstorming we talked about the DOVE technique:
D  defer judgement -- judging slows the creative process, can shut people down
O  oddball / original -- spurs on other interesting ideas
V  vast number -- allows us a lot to choose from
E  expand / elaborate -- most good ideas are built on previous ideas

Here is a word cloud showing some of the terms students brainstormed.

Over the next week or so I will be sifting through all of the wonderful ideas generated to come up with a starting point for our project. 

Hockey Cards

Students started working on 'hockey' cards featuring themselves.  In addition to giving students the opportunity to share some information about themselves it also gets students to work on computer skills such as properly editing and saving documents.  Some of the classes will be using the hockey card format to create cards for various famous inventors. 

For Fun

It was great fun watching student reactions to the following video of an intricate Rube Goldberg machine.

We also looked at this puzzle, though I'm not sure that puzzle is the correct term.  How many F's do you see in the following sentence?  Ask your child for the correct answer or check back here next week ;-)