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.