Saturday, 7 December 2013

First Term Winding Down

This week was the last week of gifted classes for everyone except the AIM class (Monday's AIM class will continue up to and including December 16th.)  It has been a great first term!  Here are some of the things that we did to wind things up.

Marshmallow Challenge with the ASPIRE Group

20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, 1 metre of string, 1 metre of masking tape, 1 large marshmallow, and 18 minutes in which to build the tallest structure that will support the marshmallow.  This is the challenge that the ASPIRE class faced.  Working in pairs they attacked the task with enthusiasm!  The first successful towers were erected after just over half the time had elapsed.  Interestingly enough, these were the only successful towers to be built within the time limit.  Marshmallows, it seems, are heavier than they look!

After the challenge we discussed the difficulties the task presented and what worked for the two successful groups.  The Marshmallow Challenge and the lessons learned from how people tackle it are described in this TED Talk by Tom Wujec.  Interestingly, recent MBA graduates do consistently poorly on this challenge, while recent kindergarten graduates do consistently well.  Last year the Penticton classes did the Marshmallow Challenge and I wrote about it here.

Radio Shows

The Penticton grade 3 to 5s continued to work on turning their communication research into a short radio show.  Many of the students are close to completion.  We listened to some great work by the following students:

  • 'Bug Talk' by Jordan and Braiden on how ants communicate
  • Connor's show about binary and ASCII
  • Nicola's breaking news about Braille
Each of these projects demonstrated key aspects of audio recording that we had been learning about; providing appropriate music / sound effects, speaking clearly, and making the material interesting and engaging.  There are lots of other great projects nearing completion, and others we just didn't have time to listen to this week.  Students will get to hear those when we meet again in January.

Flag Construction

As I've mentioned on earlier posts, the grade 1 and 2 class has been doing a lot of work on flags.  Last week they designed their own flags and drew sketches.  This week we attempted to recreate their flag designs, first using construction paper and then using felt.  This was more ambitious than I had anticipated, but the students were very patient and did a great job.  We just didn't have quite enough time to finish all of the flags, but hopefully we will complete them in our next class in January.  Below are photos of two completed flags.

Gerry's flag

Katie's flag

Research, Audio and Storytelling

The AIM students continued with their communication research this week.  Some of the students also started to learn how to use Audacity; the software we are using to record audio.

AIM students also tried their hand at writing and presenting 5 card photo stories.  In previous weeks the ASPIRE class as well as the Penticton grade 5s did this same activity.  Students were shown the photos below and asked to come up with and present a story to the class that involves all five of the images.  We talked about the basics of a good story and then the students got down to it!  We were treated with some very funny stories.  After each story students were asked to give appreciations; pointing out what the storyteller did well in their story.  Students are getting quite good at giving specific, positive, and constructive feedback!

Below are the photos that were the basis of the stories (link).


The ASPIRE class and the Penticton classes have wrapped up for the first term.  AIM class (Summerland grade 1 - 3) will continue up to and including December 16th.  Classes for everyone resume the week of January 6th which is the first week back at school after winter break.  You can view a calendar with key dates for our classes here.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Recording, Storytelling, & Designing Flags

Here are some of the things we did... This Week In Gifted.


This week all of the grade 3 - 5 students started or continued researching their topics under the broad theme of communication.  A few bugs were worked out in Trout Creek that lead to things working better on the computers for the ASPIRE group.

Designing Flags

As was mentioned in two earlier posts, the Penticton grade 1-2 group has been learning about flags and the basics of good flag design.  This week they put what they learned into practice by sketching out designs for their own flags.  It was difficult to stick to using just a small number of colours, but I think you'll agree, that these students have come up with some wonderful designs.  Next class they will be making good copies of their favourite flag designs.


The Penticton grade 3 - 5 students continued to work with Audacity again this week.  The goal was to record what they had learned from their research.  Once they have that audio, they can start to add music, an intro and any other sound effects that will compliment their work.  The students are learning a lot and are enjoying sharing the tips and tricks that they are picking up as they go.

Last Week of Classes

The week of December 2nd is the last week of classes for the ASPIRE group as well as for all of the Penticton classes (*AIM classes will continue running up to and including December 16th).  That means that there will be 2 weeks where students are attending their home classes, but not attending gifted class.  During this time I will be conducting assessments for new students who have been referred to the Gifted Program.  Gifted Program classes will resume for all students the week of January 6th (the first week back after winter break).  In January I will be sending home a brief report of each student's progress in Term 1.

Monday, 25 November 2013

WW II Deception, More Flags, and Audacity

What a week!


Last week the Penticton grade 3, 4 and 5s tried to work with the audio software Audacity, but the technology was not working for most students.  This week was a whole different story.  Everyone was able to get the software working and students started recording, editing, playing with effects, downloading music and sounds...  the list goes on!  This class was all about 'playing' with the software and finding out what it could do.  Students were encouraged to take risks.  It was exciting to see how engaged the students were, and to see them sharing their new found expertise with each other.  At times it was very loud in the classroom (something about recording your voice makes students yell) and at others it was very quiet as students listened through their headsets to their recordings.

World War Two Presentation

The Summerland classes (AIM and ASPIRE) were treated to a presentation by ASPIRE parent and World War Two history enthusiast, Myron Dueck.  Mr. Dueck created a presentation that discussed WWII in the context of our theme; Top Secret Communication.  Mr. Dueck gave students a brief summary of the events leading up to WWII as well as the war itself.  He talked about the Enigma Machine, which the students had been introduced to in an earlier class, as well as methods of deception used by the different sides in both WWI and WWII.

USS West Mahomet in dazzle camouflage, 1918. 
One method of deception that Mr. Dueck describes was the use of dazzle camouflage .  It was used on ships mostly in WWI .  Instead of trying to camouflage something as large as a ship, the idea was to paint it to make it difficult to tell what type of ship it was, how many ships there were, and which way the ship(s) were heading.  The photo to the left shows a ship with dazzle camouflage.

In addition to the images in his slide presentation, Mr. Dueck also brought in some artifacts from his WWII collection.  The grade 1 and 2 class, who are currently learning about flags, would have been interested to see the German flag from a U-boat.  It was specially constructed to enable it to withstand being submerged in water.  Students also got to see a bayonet, as well as some ceremonial daggers, a grenade (empty of course) as well as other items.

The students had lots of questions and the hour that we had originally planned on for the presentation stretched out for almost an hour and a half and at that, Mr. Dueck left them wanting more!  A big thanks to Mr. Dueck for giving this presentation, and a thank you as well to the AIM parents for accommodating a change in schedule so that the AIM students could also be there for this presentation.

More Flags

The Grade 1 and 2 class continued to learn more about flags this week.  First of all, the students looked at flags from various countries and discovered that there are 6 main flag colours: red, blue, yellow, green, black and white.  Other colours are used, but they tend to be less common.  We wondered what Penticton's flag looked like.  Did you know that it looks like this?

Penticton's flag.

The students quickly figured out what the different symbols on the flag represented.  We then looked looked at the North American Vexillological Association's 'Good Flag, Bad Flag' section to learn more about good flag design.  The students quickly learned that with flag design, you really want to keep it simple, avoid complicated designs or lettering and stick with 2 - 3 basic colours.  Next class students will be designing their own flags.  We'll see how they follow the guidelines of good flag design.

Thanks for reading and finding out what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Research and Flags

Here are some of the things we did... This Week In Gifted.


The Wednesday afternoon grade 1-2 class started looking at flags as a way that we communicate who we are.  We looked at the Canadian flag that is flying out front at Wiltse Elementary.  We brought the flag down to the bottom of the flagpole and many of us were surprised at how big it was.  We talked about what it means when a flag is at half-mast.  The students then went on the computer to explore different flags of the world.  Many of the students were inspired to make coloured sketches of the flags they found.  Below is a slideshow with some of our favourite flags.  Included are some of the student sketches and then some of our favourites (the flag images came from Flags of the World and The World Flag Database.)  

Researching Topics in Communication

Last week students brainstormed a variety of possible topics under the broad theme of communication.  This week the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday grade 3, 4 and 5 classes all spent some time doing research on their topic.  The ASPIRE students (Summerland gr 4 & 5) faced challenges as the computer system was operating very S L O W L Y.  The students are finding out some interesting things in their research.  For instance, Olivia found out that when there is a noisy background frogs communicate by flapping their hind feet in the air.  Who knew?

Audio Recording with Audacity

The Wednesday and Thursday morning grade 5 classes have been the guinea pigs for trying out Audacity.  Audacity is a free open source software program for recording and editing audio (it can be downloaded here).  We will be using this program to record our radio shows.  We encountered a few problems with the program not launching, so not all were able to try it out.  Great problem solving though by Connor and Josh.  Hopefully the bugs are worked out now and it will work for everyone.  

The Wrap Up

These were a few of the things we did this week.  Thanks for checking in with us!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Brainstorming, Scytales and Straw Bridges

Here are some of the things that we did... This Week In Gifted!


This week all of the students in grades 3 to 5 brainstormed topics to research under the broad heading of communication.  We started out with each class as a group suggesting topics. 

Communication Research Topic Ideas

Then students worked individually or in pairs; writing topic ideas on post-it notes and sticking them onto large sheets of paper.  Using post-it notes meant that if a student wrote down an idea and wasn't happy with it (either the idea, or that it was misspelled or messy) they could just discard it.  Handy for those perfectionists in the group.  It also meant that they could move ideas around on their page and group similar ideas together. 

Post-it note brainstorm

We talked about the DOVE principal of brainstorming:
D--Defer judgement
O--Oddball or outrageous ideas encouraged
V--Vast number of ideas
E--Expand or elaborate on ideas

The hardest DOVE principal for most students is deferring judgement.  We talked about how the key is to start getting ideas down.  Because one idea often leads to another, and another.  Eventually you end up with an idea that really strikes your fancy!  At times in the brainstorming process we stopped and looked at the ideas others were coming up with.  The ideas we liked, we borrowed, or they made us think of new ideas.

After brainstorming, some of the classes were able to start researching the communication topic in which they were most interested.  All of the grade 3, 4 and 5s will be spending time more time on this research in upcoming classes.


What is a scytale?  Ask our grade 1 & 2 Wednesday afternoon class!  We continued our exploration of steganography (hidden messages) by creating our own scytales.  Scytales have been in use since at least the 7th century.  A message is encrypted by wrapping a strip of paper (parchment or leather were used in earlier times) around a cylinder.  The message is then written on the paper.  When the paper is unwound, it just looks like a random collection of letters.  To decipher the message, it must be wound around a cylinder of the same diameter as was used originally.  We used long strips of paper and wound them around some wooden cylinders.  At home you could use cardboard tubes from paper towel rolls or wrapping paper rolls.

Straw Bridge Challenge

The Summerland ASPIRE class did the Straw Bridge Challenge.  Last week they were given the instructions for this challenge, but they were encrypted.  Students had to use their code breaking savvy to decrypt the instructions.  This week it was time to do the challenge.  Each small group of students were given 
  • 15 thin drinking straws
  • 25 cm of masking tape
  • 1 pair of scissors
The goal was to make a bridge that spanned a 30 cm gap and was strong enough to support a coffee can.  The can could be rested on the top of the bridge, or suspended below the bridge using string.  The next part of the challenge was to see how many golf balls could be placed in the coffee can before the bridge collapsed.  

This activity encouraged students to think creatively.  They also had to be able to communicate well with their partner(s).  Below are photos of some of the bridges as they were being built:


The photos above show three very different approaches to the bridge structure.  The top bridge was the strongest; holding the coffee can and 2 golf balls.

Non-Verbal Communication

Finally, all of the classes have been looking at non-verbal communication.  Whether it is by playing Charades / Funny Faces or by acting out a narrative walk.  So beware; the students are becoming skilled at interpreting the non-verbal signs we all transmit! 

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Caesar Ciphers, Enigma and Steganography

The past couple of weeks have been busy!  There are seven different classes in the Gifted Program.  Though they are all working on the same theme, Top Secret Communication, each class is doing slightly different activities depending on the age and interests of the students.  Here are some of the things we have been doing in the past few weeks.

Caesar Ciphers

All of the classes have made their own Caesar Cipher Wheels and have been busy encrypting and decrypting messages.  Students in grades 3 - 5 have all become quite adept at decrypting Caesar cipher messages, even if they haven't been given the key!  One letter words are a big tip off, since they can only be the words/letters "a" or "I".  If there are no one letter words, have no fear!  The students know to look for three letter words that are repeated (as they may represent "the" or "and").  Words with contractions (such as "I'm", "can't" or "she's") are also helpful in breaking Caesar Ciphers as the final letter is usually "m", "t", or "s".
Caesar Cipher Wheel

A wonderful website that the Wednesday and Thursday morning grade 5s have been exploring is the Crypto Club site.  It has tools to help you encipher and decipher messages using a variety of ciphers, including the Caesar Cipher that we have been using.  It also has some fun challenges and games for students to try out.

The Enigma Machine

A student from the Tuesday morning grade 3-4 class brought in her Pocket Enigma, which led to an exploration of the history of the Enigma Machine, how it worked, and the staggering number of possible settings for it.  In many of the classes we have watched this video (or will be watching it soon) on the history and mathematics of the Enigma machine.


Steganography, as the Wednesday afternoon grade 1-2 class can tell you, is hidden or concealed writing.  This past week the grade 1-2 class explored steganography as we experimented with invisible inks.  Students painted pictures or messages using lemon juice, milk, vinegar, tonic water, and Tide or baking soda (both diluted in water).  After the paintings had dried we revealed the hidden images/words by using heat (on the lemon juice and milk), painting over them with red cabbage juice (on the lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda) or by shining a UV light on them (for the tonic water and Tide).  

The Wrap Up

These are just a few of the things the students have been doing.  In the weeks ahead we will continue to explore ciphers and code making and breaking as well as looking at non-verbal communication.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Getting to Know You

Yipee, classes are finally under way!  It was wonderful meeting students who I'd not worked with before and to reconnect with those I already know.  The goals of the first week of classes were to get to know each other, and to start encrypting and decrypting messages.  We also talked about this year's theme; Top Secret Communication!  We will be looking at communication in general, as well as investigating codes and ciphers.  We will also be creating our own virtual radio station.  Students in all the classes had some great ideas for the virtual radio station; I'm really looking forward to that coming together later on in the year.  

For the first part of the year we will be spending time learning about different ciphers and codes.  In week 1 we learned about the Caesar shift cipher (try saying that 10 times fast!)  Students encrypted and decrypted messages using this cipher.  Here's another message to decrypt (it has a Caesar shift of 3--use the alphabet strip below to help you solve it):

Question:  Why didn't the teddy bear eat his lunch? 

I know, it's a groaner.

That's all for now, thanks for checking in.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Classes Start Right After Thanksgiving!

It's finally almost time for classes to start up!  I prepared the video below to introduce myself and this year's theme; I encourage students to watch it with their parents.  Hopefully the video will get students curious and/or excited about the theme.  And for those students who don't know me, perhaps after watching the video they will feel like they know me at least a little bit.

I will be e-mailing reminders home to families with their child's class time and day later in the week.  Classes start right after Thanksgiving Monday; I can't wait!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Parent Night Resources

Thank you to all of the parents and caregivers who were able to make it out to the Gifted Program Parent Nights on Tuesday at Trout Creek Elementary School and on Wednesday at Wiltse Elementary School.  I know that this is an incredibly busy time of year so I'm glad you were able to make it.  It was a pleasure to reconnect with parents and guardians as well as to meet so many new faces!

Below are the slides I used in my presentation.  The first set of slides are my introduction to the Gifted Program and the information on emotional intensity.

If you click on the gear icon at the bottom of the slides you can view the speaker's notes.  They appear for the section on emotional intensity and are excerpted from the online article 'Emotional Intensity in Gifted Children' by Leslie Kay Sword.

These second set of slides are the ones on perfectionism that I showed; they were created by Lisa Van Gemert.

I used the following 2 links extensively in preparing my presentation:

For more resources, the SENG website (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) has a treasure trove of resources on giftedness.  It's definitely worth a look.

Classes start up right after Thanksgiving (Oct 14th) and I will be in touch before then with reminders.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns please get in touch with me at (250)770-7694 ext 6283 or e-mail me at cthompson at summer dot com.  I look forward to working with your children; it's going to be a great year!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Welcome Back!

Welcome back!  I hope that students and their families have had a good summer and that the transition to back to school this week goes well. 

Gifted classes will start up right after Thanksgiving (the week of October 14th).  This week I will be working on finalizing class lists, as well as securing dates for parent nights, hopefully to be held in the fourth week of September.  Once this information is finalized I will be sending it out to families and schools.

I am looking forward to working with the students; October seems so far off!  Along with students from the Penticton, Kaleden, and Naramata schools it is my pleasure to be working with students from Giant's Head and Trout Creek this year (I can't wait to meet you!) 

It's going to be a great year!  I've got some ideas and plans in the works, but they are always just a starting point; the passions and interests of the students really drive where we go. 

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me at Wiltse Elementary (250)770-7694 ext 6283 or at      

Hmm, I wonder what this is?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Last Week of Classes

It was our last week of classes for the school year.  Here is what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Invention Showcase

In each of the classes students shared their inventions with each other.  

For the Wednesday afternoon K - 2 class students checked out each others' playground inventions and decided on the top four that they would purchase if they were buying new equipment for their school.  It was a tough job because there were so many excellent inventions!  

In the Tuesday and Thursday morning classes students presented to the whole class.  Some students had prepared Power Point slideshows, animations, radio advertisements, or brochures.  The audience responded to each presentation with questions and / or appreciations.  Kudo's to Chloe and Tyler in the Thursday am class for providing such great feedback!  They were both very specific and positive in their comments.  

In the Tuesday and Thursday afternoon classes we rotated around the room and students shared what they had produced.  We saw student created Scratch computer games, Pivot Animations modelling how different inventions worked, hand drawn brochures, and Ashley from Thursday pm brought in a life sized model of her lamp that charges cell phones.

It was a great final week of classes!  Each of the classes has really gelled as a group.  

Reports Sent Home

Students were sent home with their spring term reports.  If you did not receive the report for your child, please contact me and I will e-mail you a copy.

Parent Interviews

For the last two weeks of May I hope to meet with the parents of all the students in the gifted program.  The goal of the meetings is to review how the year went and to update your child's IEP (Individual Education Plan) for next year.  Paper copies of the interview schedule were sent home with your child a couple of weeks ago and a digital copy was e-mailed on Friday.  If you cannot make the time I've set for you please contact me to make alternative arrangements.

And What About TWIG?

Thank you for taking the time to read TWIG and to see what we've been up to over the year.  I won't be posting weekly updates any more, but I am planning on writing a few more posts before the summer break.   


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Open House

Here are a few of the things that we did... This Week in Gifted!

Open House

Last week it was the field trip for the grade 3 - 5 students, and this week it was Open House for the classes with grades K - 2 students.  We were lucky to have moms, dads, grandma's, grandpa's, great aunts and uncles, little brothers and sisters, nannies and a puppy drop by to visit us!  A big thank you to everyone who was able to make it!  It was busy, and crowded and a little chaotic at times, but we hope that you got a good glimpse at some of the things that we do each week.  I know that the children were pleased to show our visitors what they've been up to.

Finishing up Projects

The Tuesday morning and the Thursday classes spent a large part of their time putting the finishing touches on their inventions.  Glitter glue was applied to packaging, animations to advertize inventions were produced and  Tori, Ronesca, and Stephanie did a live performance of the advertisement for their robot invention.  The Tuesday and Thursday morning classes were also introduced to the wiki that James (a student in grade 5) set up for us.  Students added information to their pages detailing what their invention is called, what it does, and how much it costs.

Last Week of Classes & Interviews

Coming up is our last week of Gifted Program classes.  Where has the time gone?  The following week parent interviews begin.  I sent home a schedule of times with your child this week.  If you are unable to attend at the time I have down for you, please contact me to arrange a different time.  I look forward to those meetings; we'll have a chance to talk about your child's progress this year and to review their individual education plan in preparation for next year.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Field Trip

Last week was a different week in gifted.  Regular classes were cancelled and the grade 3s, 4s and 5s went on a field trip to visit the Engineering Labs at the University of British Columbia campus in Kelowna (UBC-O).

Field Trip

The folks at UBC-O put on a wonderful morning for us.  A big thank you to Renee Leboe who organized the day and to all of the faculty, staff and students who showed us some of the amazing things they do in the Faculty of Engineering!  Thank you also to the parents who volunteered: Jo-Ann, Tammy, April, Simone, Jennifer, Christina, Petra, Geof, Christine, Jason, Julie, Dave, Roberta, Sarah, Angela, and Lisa.  Your help was much appreciated!

It was a whirlwind tour.  There were 5 stations, but due to time constraints some groups were only able to visit 4 of the stations.  I tried to touch base with all of the groups and take photos; please have a look at the slideshow below or go here.

Here is a quick run down of the stations:
  • Wonderful World of Light with Dr. Jonathan Holzman and Graduate / Undergraduate Students
    • here students saw:
      • a table sitting on a cushion of air to prevent building movement from impacting the experiments
      • different coloured lasers!
      • transmission of data using visible light
  • Alkalinity Determination of Tap Water by Titration with Dr. Deborah Roberts and Michelle Tofteland, Laboratory Technician.  
    • here students got to get hands on:
      • wearing lab coats, goggles, and gloves
      • performing a chemistry procedure to determine the pH of tap water
      • things turning colours! 
  • Demonstration of Wind Tunnel and the Diesel Engine with Dr. Hamayoun Najjaran and Dean MacLellan, Laboratory Technician.
    • here students saw:
      • how a wind tunnel works
      • how diesel engines are tested and tweaked to improve fuel efficiency
  • Lasers!! with Ryan Mandau, Laboratory Technician
    • Ryan showed the students what the $300,000 laser he uses can do such as
      • boring a tiny hole through a penny
      • etching tiny writing on a penny
  • Campus Tour with Engineering Undergrad students Shelby Ravestein, Sandra Iroegbu, and Muriel Chidzambwa. 

Open House

For students in the Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon classes, we are having an Open House this week on May 7th and 8th.  Parents and Guardians are invited to join us during their child's class time (12:30 - 2:30) to get a glimpse at some of the things we do.  You are welcome to drop in at any time and to stay for as long as you are able.  Hope to see you there!  Note: this is just for students in the afternoon classes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last Week of Classes and Interview Times

Next week is the last week of Elementary Gifted Program classes (May 14th, 15th and 16th.)  Once classes are over I will be meeting with parents to discuss how the year went and to plan their child's Individual Education Plan for next year.  A schedule of times will be going home with your child this week.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Advertising our Inventions

Here are a few of the things we did... This Week In Gifted!

Sell That Thing!

The Tuesday afternoon and Thursday classes looked at different strategies that advertisers use to try and get you to buy their products (the Tuesday morning class did a similar thing a few weeks ago).  We watched a number of different TV ads and identified different strategies.  Students then played 'Sell That Thing!'  They went forward in time 5 years using the portal and were charged with creating advertisements for some of the inventions that their peers from the other classes had designed and that were now ready to be marketed.  Students had 5 minutes to come up with an ad that they then acted out.  The ads were creative, funny, and did a great job of using the different strategies!  This type of activity is challenging as students have a limited time to come up with a skit and often team members have quite differing views on what they'd like to do.  I was impressed in particular with the Tuesday afternoon class in terms of their ability to work collaboratively, solve problems and include all team members.   This group of grade 2 and 3s has come a long way since the beginning of the year!


The Wednesday afternoon class continued to work on their playground inventions.  Students are either creating 3D models of their inventions using craft supplies, or making a Pivot Stickfigure animation of their invention.  Some of the inventions are whimsical and others packed with adventure! 

The other classes continued to work on their inventions.  The focus now is on deciding how to advertise their inventions; poster, TV ad (as a skit), Power Point presentation, Scratch animation, poster...

Cubism Art Projects

Students in the Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon classes finished up their cubism drawings.  You can view student artwork from these classes as well as the Thursday afternoon class in this post.  For slideshows of the Picasso style portraits created by the Tuesday afternoon class see here and the Wednesday afternoon class here.


There are a number of important events occurring in the upcoming weeks:
  • Field trip to UBC-O Engineering labs Wednesday May 1st.  This field trip is for students in grades 3, 4 and 5.  
  • Regular Elementary Gifted Classes Cancelled Tues April 30, Weds May 1st, Thurs May 2nd.
  • Open House Tuesday May 7th and Wednesday May 8th during the afternoon classes.  Parents of students in those classes are invited to join us for all or part of the class.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about anything mentioned here please contact me, Claire Thompson, at (250)770-7694 ext 6283 or cthompson at summer dot com.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Cubism Art

This post is devoted to the cubism drawings that the Tuesday morning and Thursday classes have been working on over the past few weeks.  The Thursday morning class was lucky to have local artist and parent Jo-Ann Apolzer teach them the techniques (see this post for more info).  Students used chalk pastel and / or pencil crayon on paper.  In their pieces students were attempting to incorporate the characteristics found in the great cubist works.

Almost all student work is represented below.  As the last few students finish up, their work will be added here.  For each of the slideshows, click on them to have them show up full size and with captions showing.  Enjoy!

Tuesday Morning Class

Thursday Morning Class

Thursday Afternoon Class

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Playground Inventions

Here are a few of the things that we did... This Week In Gifted!

Playground Inventions

Students in the Wednesday afternoon class were hired by PlayZone (slogan "Our Work is Child's Play!") to invent new playground equipment.  After looking at photos of traditional and not so traditional playground equipment, it was decided that we really needed to do a bit more research.  So it was outside to check out the playground equipment at Wiltse!  I think it is fair to say that many of the students have been dying to do this all year ;-)  After a good session of 'field research' students went back inside to start designing their playground equipment.  Some are making models using a variety of craft and recycled materials, others are using Pivot Stick Figure to make animations of their equipment.  Students will be working on their playground inventions over the next few classes.

My Favourite Thing

The Tuesday classes played 'My Favourite Thing'.  Students in teams of 3 to 5 are given an object and then they each in turn have to tell the rest of the group why it is their favourite thing.  Students have to think on their feet, be creative and lateral thinking is encouraged.  Both classes did an excellent job, with students coming up with funny and creative stories.  It was the first time for the afternoon class and I was really impressed with how they did!  The best part was that even though initially two students wanted to pass (just observe, not participate) in the end everyone participated with my 'passers' being some of the most prolific :-)

More Cubism

This week it was the Tuesday morning class's turn to try creating pastel and / or pencil crayon drawings incorporating features from cubism (as described in last week's post).  The two Thursday classes also spent time on their cubism drawings this week.  The diversity in the works produced is amazing; it is fascinating to see each student's individual style show through.  I'll be posting completed drawings here soon.

Field Trip Prep

I went over the itinerary for our upcoming grade 3 - 5 field trip with students and we discussed behaviour expectations.  The field trip is on Wednesday, May 1st and we are going to visit the Engineering labs at UBC-O in Kelowna (more on this in this post); it looks to be a great day!  Thank you to everyone for returning your field trip forms.  Thank you also to those parents who volunteered to help out and join us on the trip.  I'll be in touch with you soon.

Open House for the Tuesday and Wednesday Afternoon Classes

Most of the students in these two classes are in grades K, 1 and 2 and so won't be going on the field trip.  We will, however, be having an open house for parents.  During the regular class times on Tuesday May 7th and Wednesday May 8th parents are invited to drop in and see what we're up to.  Children will have an opportunity to show you some of the things they have been working on, and parents will be able to participate in some of our regular activities.  Parents are invited to drop in any time during the class and to stay as long as you like.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Thursday Guest Artist

Here are a few of the things that we did... This Week In Gifted!

Cubism and a Guest Artist 

The Thursday morning class was treated to an art session with local artist and Gifted Program parent Jo-Ann Apolzer.  The class started with us using the Inventors' Portal and going back in time to visit Gertrude Stein in her salon in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.  Students heard about the various famous artists who used to gather there.  They also saw many of Picasso's paintings, focusing on his cubist work as well as the work of other cubist artists.  Students shared their observations about the characteristics of cubism.

After that, we returned to the present where Jo-Ann introduced a number of techniques for the students to try in order to make their own cubist works.  Students used chalk pastels and / or pencil crayons on white printer paper.  They experimented with:
  • mixing colours
  • blocking off areas using Post-It notes or painter's tape
  • creating sharp, dark edges
Some students traced images which they then started to 'fragment' in the cubist style.  Others created abstract pieces. 

The Thursday afternoon class went through the same process, though without Jo-Ann.  I learned a lot from Jo-Ann in the first class which I was hopefully able to pass on to the students.

Next week I will post images from both classes of each student's favourite piece. 

The Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon classes finished up their Picasso portraits.  Photos of the Tuesday afternoon class portraits can be seen in last week's post (now all student work is represented) and the Wednesday afternoon portraits below (some students still need to finish theirs and they will be added soon).

Advertising Strategies

The Tuesday Morning class explored the different strategies advertisers use to sell products, referring to the list on the last page of this document.  They then went forward in time 5 years using the portal and were charged with creating advertisements for some of the inventions that their peers from the other classes had designed and that were now ready to be marketed.  Students had 5 minutes to come up with an ad that they then acted out.  The ads were creative, funny, and did a great job of using the different strategies!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Invention in Art

Here are some of the things that we did, This Week In Gifted!

Field Trip!

It was been a tradition that the grade 3 - 5s in the Gifted Program go on a field trip in May that ties in with the year's theme.  This year our theme is Inventions and Inventors.  For our field trip we will be visiting the engineering labs at UBC-O in Kelowa on May 1st!  The students will be taken on a tour of selected labs and there will be some hands on activities too.  If your child is in grade 3, 4 or 5 they were given the field trip information sheet and permission form this week.  Please complete and return the forms as soon as possible.  If you need another copy of the info and forms please e-mail me and I will send them along (cthompson at summer dot com).

Below is a short video I showed the students to introduce the field trip.

Portraits in the style of Picasso

This week the Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon classes went back in time to visit Gertrude Stein in her salon in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.  There they heard about the various famous artists who used to gather there.  They also saw many of the paintings of Picasso focusing on his cubist work.  Below are the paintings that the students viewed.  They noticed that in Picasso's cubist paintings he used geometric shapes, showed objects from more than one view, and sometimes it was difficult to tell what some of the objects in the paintings were. 

After being introduced to Picasso's work, the students started working on a portrait in the cubist style (based on this post and the image in the final slide above).  Below are completed portraits from the Tuesday afternoon class.

My Favourite Things

The Tuesday morning and Thursday morning classes played a new game this week called 'My Favourite Things'.  Students in teams of 3 to 5 are given an object and then they each in turn have to tell the rest of the group why it is their favourite thing.  Students have to think on their feet, be creative and lateral thinking is encouraged.  Both classes did an excellent job, with students coming up with funny and creative stories!

Invention Project

The Tuesday morning class and both Thursday classes worked on their invention projects.  Students are either designing their own original invention or designing a program in Scratch.  Things are looking great!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Before the Break

Here are a few of the things we did, the last week before the break.

5 Card Photo Stories

The Tuesday and Thursday classes did 5 Card Photo Stories.  This was the first time doing this with the Tuesday afternoon class and they did a wonderful job!  Students working alone or with a partner have 5 minutes to come up with a story involving 5 photos.  For a more detailed description and sample photos check out this post from a few weeks ago. 

Funny Face

The Wednesday afternoon class played 'Funny Face'; a charades style game.  The class was divided into two teams.  One student from a team would come up and be given a scene or action to act out (for example; "be a dancer", "go for a walk in a windstorm") and their team-mates would try and guess what they are acting out.  This would alternate back and forth between the two teams, with everyone having an opportunity to act out a scene.  This class has many talented actors; they did an excellent job acting and making good guesses.

Passport Please!

The Wednesday afternoon class has been designing their own passports or ID cards.  Last week students decided what to include on their passport / ID cards and this week they finished them up.  Each passport / ID card is unique, not just because they identify unique individuals, but because each individual decided what information to include and how to lay it out.

Our Own Inventions

The morning classes continued to work on designs for their own inventions.  Students spent time researching to see:
  • if their invention already exists
  • what technology their invention will require
  • if their invention is realistic
  • what components it will require
 Some of the inventions on the drawing board are:
  • mood paint -- paint it on walls and it changes colours when you touch it
  • running shoes with jets in the soles -- they help you land safely if you fall from a height
  • a variety of robots that can act as pets or do specific tasks for you
  • a mousetrap involving a rubber net
  • multi-coloured paintballs -- single pellets contain more than one colour of paint
  • traceable, re-usable air pellets
  • a magnetic zipper
These are just a few of the inventions, and my brief descriptions have not done them justice! 

For Minecraft Fans

Zach and Tyler from the Thursday am class showed their class the Pixel Paper Craft website.  This site has printable plans for a plethora of Minecraft characters, mobs, skins, backgrounds etc.  Zach brought a very detailed and complex character that he made from the site; Bendable Steve.  The Minecraft loving paper crafting people in your house might enjoy making some of the projects from this site over the break.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Remixing and a Robbery

Here's a look at some of the things we did... This Week In Gifted.

Identifying a Bank Robber

The Wednesday afternoon K - 2 class were taking care of some banking at the Gifted Program Bank of Penticton when it was robbed!  The bank robber made off with an unknown amount of cash and bonds.  Police interviewed witnesses immediately after the robbery to try and ascertain his or her identity.  It was discovered that the robber was a kid; a boy with light brown slightly wavy hair and blue eyes.  There was some disagreement as to the colour of shirt he was wearing.  It was notable that he was wearing shoes (as strangely most of the employees and customers were in their stocking feet.)  Unfortunately the bank robber has not been apprehended yet, but we think his name might be Graham...

After the robbery the class discussed different ways that we identify people and we looked at a sample BC Driver's license and a sample Canadian passport.  Students then worked on designing their own ID card or passport to use with the tunnel in for the Inventors' Workshop.  (The tunnel has a 'scanner' at one end to scan identification documents.)

Designing Our Own Inventions

The morning classes started to work on ideas for their own inventions.  Students will be deciding on an invention, researching whether it already exists, determining what components are needed for the invention, coming up with drawings and/or models of the invention as well as promoting it.  This will be an ongoing project.


The Tuesday and Thursday classes discussed what a remix or a mash-up is.  We then did a quick 'Creature Construction' where each student is asked to draw a creature in three parts.  First, each student has a minute to draw a “head” for their creature. They fold the paper over so that the head is hidden, with little prompts for where to continue the drawing. After the head is hidden, they pass the creature to another student.  Next, each student has a minute to draw a “middle” for their creature, using the guides from the head, but without peeking! After the middles are hidden (and
prompts drawn), they pass the creatures on.  Finally, each student has a minute to draw a “bottom” for their creature. Once the creatures are complete, students unfold the papers to see the collaboratively constructed creatures.  The resulting creatures can be pretty funny looking! 

After that warm up activity students went onto the computers to make a Pass-It-On story in Scratch (see this earlier post for a description of Scratch).   Students had 10 minutes to set up a story; choosing a background, characters and adding movement and text.  Just like the 'Creature Construction' they then rotated to another student's story and added on to it.  We rotated one more time.  Through this process students got an opportunity to learn from each other by seeing how different things were programmed in Scratch.   (This lesson activity is adapted from session 7 in the Scratch Curriculum Guide).

Sunday, 3 March 2013

5 Card Photo Stories & Inventing New Ways to Sled

Here are some of the things we did, This Week In Gifted.

5 Card Photo Stories

This week the Tuesday morning and both the Thursday classes played a game based on Five Card Flickr.  I showed the class the following five photographs (press play to scroll through images).

Then the students paired up and had five minutes to come up with a story that included all five of the photos in any order they wished.  This activity involves collaboration, creativity and presentation skills.  The variety and quality of stories was amazing!  We had one story involving a Russian spy (disguised as a the black dog) and James Bond's son (boy in the tunnel), another ended with the school bus running over the malevalent dog, one story explained why school buses are yellow (apparently they used to be red) and of course a number of stories involved the dog eating the cake :-)

Sliding Inventions

The Wednesday afternoon grade K - 2 class were "hired" by S4 (Slippery Snow Sleds and Sliders) to invent a new way for children to zoom down snowy slopes.  First we reviewed the current range of sleds and sliders that children use, then students paired up to brainstorm new sliding inventions.  Students illustrated how their invention would look and work in a variety of ways; some made drawings, some created Pivot animations, and others used Lego to construct their inventions. 

Online Brainstorm Session

The Tuesday and Thursday classes tried a different format for brainstorming this week.  We've done whole group brainstorming sessions and we've done small group sessions with one person recording the group's ideas on paper.  This week students tried brainstorming on a virtual bulletin board.  Students were generating ideas for new inventions.  In the coming weeks they will start to plan out their own inventions. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Scratch & Other Things

Here are some of the things that we did, This Week In Gifted!


Scratch Logo
Last week the Thursday afternoon class got a start on the programming language Scratch.  This week the Tuesday classes and the Thursday morning class got their introduction to it as well.  The Tuesday morning class and the Thursday morning class had a few students who were already familiar with Scratch.  These students did a great job showing the potential of Scratch and providing tips for their peers.  A big shout out to Kehler in the Thursday afternoon class who volunteered part of his time helping out his peers.  He also gave a wonderful intro to Scratch for those students who were away last week!

Warm Up Games

Almost every class we play a warm-up game.  The general purpose of the games is get everyone participating and having fun.  This week some of the classes played Improv Bingo; a drama game that focuses on collaboration, creativity, and presentation skills.  Other classes were introduced to the game Password.  It is based on the old gameshow of the same name and it focuses on creative and critical thinking.  The Thursday morning class played a mean game of Concentration where the focus is on staying sharp and concentrating on the quick play.

MaKey MaKey and Pivot

The Wednesday afternoon class continued to work on the MaKey MaKey's and Pivot Stickfigure.  They are becoming quite adept at setting up the MaKey MaKey.  We also have quite a number of short, fun Pivot animations that students have created.

More Presentations

The Tuesday and Thursday morning classes had some more Inventor Project presentations.

On Tuesday the class got to play Joaquin's Smart Board Jeopardy game.  Joaquin's peers thought that he did a good job formatting the game and that the difficulty level of the questions was just right.  I loved how he set up the Final Jeopardy question.

There were a number of presenters in the Thursday morning class.  Paul presented his comic strip about a fictitious inventor.  Paul's comic told a good story and his peers like the effects that he used.  He conveyed his enthusiasm for the project in his presentation.

Braiden and Carson presented their radio interview of Thomas Edison.  It was full of lots of great facts and it was clear that the boys enjoyed performing the interview.  Braiden and Carson's peers thought that they had put together a good script and they appreciated the fact that they took a risk in working with a format that was new to them. 

Danica and Ronesca presented their diorama on the life of Thomas Edison.  They gave a great presentation highlighting a lot of interesting and perhaps not well known facts about Edison.  Their peers appreciated Ronesca and Danica's attention to detail including the chalk dust to make it look dusty and the way the facts were displayed.

Front shot of Danica and Ronesca's diorama

Close up shot.

Workshop Update

All of the classes have been contributing ideas to the Inventors' workshop and gradually working on it.  This week both Thursday classes had some time to work on the Inventors' Workshop.  Chloe selected some great fonts and printed them up for our sign.  Connor and Fynn took Paul's idea to use gears to represent the letter 'o' in the sign and found and printed up some good images.  Harry and Olivia K helped to start arranging and taping together the letters for the sign.  Gina, Koen, Carson, Olivia K, and Olivia L all printed up photos of inventors and their inventions to go on our timeline.  We've also added a side door to the tunnel.  

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Better Mousetrap

Here is some of what we worked on, This Week In Gifted!

Building a Better Mousetrap

In the Tuesday classes and the Thursday morning classes we imagined that we worked for the company Pest-B-Gone.  Our task was to try to come up with a better mouse trap than the traditional snap trap.  In small groups students went through the process of brainstorming ideas.  We've been working on brainstorming the past few weeks and the students are really getting to be pros!  Then each group went through the difficult process of narrowing down the choices until they were left with their top choice.  We discussed different ways to narrow the choices and the problems that can arise (eg feeling like not everyone's voice is being heard, everyone choosing their own ideas).  In general the groups did a great job of compromising, discussing and trying to come up with good solutions.  Oh, and some of their mouse trap ideas sounded like real winners!

Inventor Projects

This week Eli shared his Inventor and Invention themed Jeopardy game with the Tuesday morning class.  He did a great job of following the Jeopardy format and he was able to involve all of the class in playing the game. 

In the Thursday morning class we were treated to comic strips from Zach, Tyler and Jordan.  All three boys demonstrated that they can spin a good story in comic book form!  Zach had some fun hiding a chicken in almost every frame, Jordan included a classmate as a character in his strip and used some neat special effects and Tyler broke out of the mold and had a not so happy ending. 

Also in the Thursday morning class, Gina shared her diorama with us.  She created a scene with the inventor of the light sphere, Gary Fong, at home with his family and his invention.  Her peers liked her attention to detail; she crafted miniature teddy bears for Gary Fong's twin babies and she also had little milk bottles with spilled milk.

More MaKey MaKey

The Wednesday afternoon class got another opportunity to work with the MaKey MaKeys.  These grade K - 2 students continue to impress me with their independence and ability to deal with challenging tasks!  


Scratch logo
Students in the Thursday afternoon class got the opportunity to try out Scratch.  Here is how Scratch is described on the Scratch website:
"Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. "
Students quickly figured out how to:
  • import characters and backgrounds
  • record sounds and include them in their program
  • make characters move around, change colours and even dance to music
It was an afternoon of exploration and I am looking forward to seeing what students create in the classes to come.  And as one of the students pointed out, Scratch integrates well with the MaKey MaKey.  Hmm, it appears that my master plan is no longer a secret ;-)

Monday, 11 February 2013


Here are some of the things we worked on, This Week In Gifted.

Brainstorming and SCAMPER

Last week the Tuesday pm class learned the SCAMPER technique for brainstorming (described here) and this week it was the Tues am and Thurs pm classes turn.  All three classes also reviewed the DOVE technique for brainstorming:

D efer judgement
O ddball and Original ideas are encourage
V ast number -- the more ideas the merrier
E xpand and elaborate on other ideas

They were then challenged to brainstorm as many uses as possible for a brick.  I don't know if it was because the Tues pm class had a week to fully absorb the SCAMPER technique, but they got almost double the number of uses, at 81, than the other two classes.  We will put these brainstorming techniques to use as we start to design our own inventions in the weeks ahead.  

Being Good Listeners

In the elementary gifted class it is usually not hard to get students talking.  Being good listeners though, that's where we need some work!  This week we discussed how to let a person know, with your body and with what you say, that you are listening to them.  Some of the things students suggested were:
  • turn your body towards the person who is talking to you
  • nod occasionally to indicate that you agree with what the person is saying
  • keep your body still
  • ask questions
  • think about what the person is saying 
We then partnered up and put these ideas into practice.  The students did a great job!  Apparently Hemingway once said; "I like to listen.  I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.  Most people never listen."

Inventor Projects

Brody and Evan from the Tuesday class presented their Pivot Stickfigure animation.  Their animation depicted what it would be like if an evil scientist from today went back in time and kidnapped Leonardo da Vinci.  The boys included some neat effects in their animation and they also added audio.

A number of students from the Thursday morning class presented their projects.  Tristan created a comic strip.  He also chose to have an evil scientist go back in time to kidnap a fictitious inventor.  Tristan did a great job incorporating realistic comic strip effects.  Brandon shared his comic strip on what Leonardo da Vinci may have invented as a child.  Chloe and Nicola showed the class the diorama that they created depicting Albert Einstein's home.  They also acted out an interview with Einstein in which they shared a number of facts about the inventor's life.

Chloe and Nicola's diorama
Over the next few weeks the rest of the students will be presenting their projects.

MaKey MaKey and the Wednesday Class

The Wednesday class gave the MaKey MaKeys a try for the first time.  It can be challenging at first to get the MaKey MaKeys set up correctly, but these grade K, 1, and 2s did an excellent job!  We only have 5 MaKey MaKeys so not everyone got a chance to work with them, but we will rectify that situation next week!   

Sunday, 3 February 2013

SCAMPER, the Tunnel and More

Here are a few of the things that students did... This Week In Gifted!

More Brainstorming

All of the classes spent time brainstorming on how to finish up the tunnel for our Inventors' Workshop.  Lots of great ideas were generated and the classes worked on:
  • adding small coloured skylights at one end
  • putting coloured paper on the outside so that it looks less like a bunch of boxes
  • making a new cover for the porthole  
The tunnel is really starting to look good as cosmetic touches are being added to the outside!

Tuesday Morning Class

We had more inventor project presentations and almost all of the students are done their projects.  Angel and Melina created movie posters for each of their inventors.  Angel shared what she learned about Marco Polo and his discovery of paper money, also known rather whimsically as Flying Money.  Melina gathered quite a bit of information about Steve Jobs which she shared with the class.  Nathan created a matching card game about Tim Horton and was able to answer many questions from his classmates about this Canadian icon.  The entire class got to try out Marcus' interactive SmartBoard game 'Who Wants To Be An Inventor?' covering a variety of inventors and inventions.

Tuesday Afternoon Class

We worked on using the SCAMPER technique to develop our lateral thinking skills.  SCAMPER stands for:
Modify / Minify / Magnify
Put to other uses
Rearrange / Reverse
The lesson we did was based on Lesson 2 posted here.  The students did an amazing job using the SCAMPER tool.  We talked about how this tool can help us problem solve and how this type of thinking is one way that inventors can come up with new inventions.  We were looking at different ways a chair could be SCAMPERed.  Ricki thought about a chair made of globes, Liam turned the chair into a table and Joycey a frame for a tent.  And these are just a small selection of the great ideas this group came up with!

Wednesday Afternoon Class

Students continued to work on their Pivot Stickfigure animations.  Many students have completed one or two components of their Pivot certificate:
Pivot Certificate


Thursday Morning Class

We played the drama game, Improv Bingo.  This class is known for producing funny and creative skits and they didn't disappoint!  Much of the rest of the class was spent working on their Inventor Projects.  We're looking forward to more presentations next week.

Thursday Afternoon Class

This group made a lot of progress on the tunnel.  Students here are also working on the Pivot Certificates pictured above.  Those students using the MaKey MaKeys investigated some of the following:

MaKey MaKey certificate


To inspire classes with their Pivot Stickfigure animations, some of the classes watched the following videos:

And that was our week, This Week In Gifted.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

We're Getting Animated!


This week in gifted saw the creation of more fabulous animations using Pivot Stickfigure!  The Wednesday afternoon grades K - 2 class, most of whom have never used this software continue to impress with how quickly they are becoming proficient at creating animations.

Questions for an Inventor

Students from all the classes generated questions that they would like to ask inventor Gary Fong.  Gary Fong invented the Lightsphere attachment for flash photography and lives part of the time in Kelowna.  After viewing examples of the different photographic inventions he's designed, students from all classes came up with questions they'd like to ask Mr. Fong.  Here are some of their questions:
  • What inspired you to invent the Lightsphere?
  • How long did it take you to invent the Lightsphere?
  • Do you find that it is easier to come up with new inventions now?
  • Are you working on any new inventions at the moment?
  • Why do you like photography?
We're hoping to pose those questions and others to Gary Fong soon.

Inventor Project Presentations

Josh and Zack K from the Thursday morning class presented their inventor projects this past week.  Josh made inventor cards on 4 inventors in the style of sports cards.  He also elaborated on one of the inventors, Benjamin Franklin, with a comic strip created using Bitstrips for Schools.  Zack presented the comic strip he had created (also using Bitstrips) about a fictitious inventor.  Both students did a good job and we're looking forward to more presentations from other students in the next few classes.

And those are a few of the things we did... This Week In Gifted.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Projects, Projects, Projects!

We are definitely back in the swing of things!  This week in gifted students were busy on a number of projects.

Inventor Projects (Tuesday & Thursday morning)

This week some of the students in the Tuesday morning class presented their finished projects.  Their classmates listened to the presentations, observed the projects, asked questions, and left feedback.  Each student was asked to leave a written comment on one thing the presenters did well with their project and one thing that could be improved.  We talked about providing helpful and meaningful comments.  The presenters did a very good job.

Chase, Zack and Charlie presented their diorama on the inventor of the parking meter, Carleton Cole Magee.  It was clear from their presentation that they learned quite a bit about Carleton Magee's life and what lead him to invent the parking meter!

Lyndsy did her project on James Dyson, the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner.  Lyndsy chose to do her project as a radio interview.  You can listen to her radio interview below.

I look forward to future inventor project presentations, and I hope to post more of them here!

Pivot Stick Figure Animations

I mentioned last week that some of the classes have started creating animations using Pivot Stickfigure.  As of this week, all of the classes have spent time using this software and the students are picking it up very quickly!  The goal is to create animations of Rube Goldberg machines.  In the previous term we watched videos of quite a number of these intricate contraptions so the students have a lot of good ideas on which to base their animations.

Inventors' Workshop 

During part of each class a small group of students have worked on the Inventors' Workshop which is slowly taking shape.  Right now the focus is on a tunnel leading into the workshop.

MaKey MaKey Inventor Kits

We have 5 MaKey MaKey inventor kits and each week portion of each class will get to try them out.  The idea is that you can make anything into a computer key or mouse just with aligator clipping.  So far students have tried connecting playdough, moist sponges, a wire whisk, and people to the MaKey MaKey.

The Wrap Up

It's been a busy week!  We will continue to work on the projects mentioned above over the next few weeks.  Check back for more updates!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Term 2 Starts!

After a month's hiatus from Gifted Program classes, we started back up this week.  As the school year has progressed the activities each of the classes are doing have diverged.  This is due in large part to the interests and ages of the students in each class.  What follows are some of the things students did this week in gifted!

Catching Up

Many of the students haven't seen each other for over a month so a little catching up was in order.  To facilitate this we played a modified version of 'Some Truths and a Lie'.  Students got into small groups of 3 or 4 and had a chance to talk about some of the things that they did over the break.  Then each person chose one true thing that they did over the break.  The group then came up with one statement that was a lie.  Each group read out their statements to the class (one true statement per person and the lie) and the class voted on which one they thought was the lie.  All of the groups did a great job of choosing their statements!

Inventor Projects (Tues and Thurs Morning Classes)

The Tuesday and Thursday morning classes continued to work on their inventor projects.  Some students in the Tuesday class have completed theirs and will be presenting them starting next week.  I continue to be impressed with the creativity students are demonstrating in their projects and I hope to start sharing their work here over the next few weeks.

Balloon Blasters (Wednesday Afternoon Class)

The Wednesday afternoon class built balloon blasters.  In partners students threaded a straw onto a string and tied the string between two chairs.  They then blew up a balloon and kept it pinched closed while they taped it onto the straw.  Once everything was secure they let go and watched the balloon blaster zoom along the string!  We discussed what made the blasters go and how to make them go faster.

Inventors' Workshop 

In December I was able to get 4 very  l o n g  boxes.  The Tuesday morning class had the great idea of combining two boxes to make a tunnel as an entry into the workshop.  Some students from the Tuesday morning and afternoon, as well as the Thursday afternoon class taped the boxes together and created an entry at one end.  All of the classes had great ideas on what else to add; it will be interesting to see things take shape over the next few weeks!

MaKey MaKey Invention Kits

This week small groups of students from the Tuesday classes as well as Thursday afternoon got a start on trying out our 5 new MaKey MaKey Invention Kits.  The video below explains how these kits can be used.  The kits can be a bit challenging to use and I was impressed with the patience and enthusiasm that students showed.


Pivot Stick Figure Animations

Small groups of students in the Tuesday and Thursday classes started creating animations with Pivot Stick Figure.  Students who attended Gifted Program classes 2 years ago were already familiar with this program and helped others get going.  We will be using Pivot Stick Figure in all of the classes as the term progresses.  One nice thing about Pivot Stick Figure is that is free to download and use on Windows computers.  You can download it here.  At school we are using version 2.2.7.

Term Reports

Just a note that term 1 reports were distributed to schools just before winter break with copies to be sent home.  If you have not received your child's report yet, please let me know.

Wrapping Up

It was a great start to the second term!  Many of the things that we started to work on this week we will continue with as the term progresses.