Sunday, 7 December 2014

December 1st to 4th

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

Watercraft Building Challenge

The Summerland ASPIRE class were challenged to build a watercraft out of the following materials:
  • duct tape
  • paper cups
  • 25 cm strip of plastic wrap
  • 10 straws
  • paper towels
  • 15 steel washers (1" diameter)
The watercraft had to hold 15 steel washers and stay afloat for a minimum of 10 seconds.  Before building their watercraft we discussed buoyancy and the different types of designs we see in various watercraft.  Niamh and Benjamin quickly built a minimalist watercraft that did the job; sometimes the simplest designs work best!  See the slideshow below for the other student designs (link).

Balloon Rockets

The Summerland AIM group built balloon rockets.  They used balloons which they inflated and taped to straws.  The straws were threaded onto monofilament (fishing line).  They started out racing the balloons two at a time on two monofilament lines running horizontally and parallel to each other.  The group discovered that using a shorter straw (half the original length) worked best and that the size of the balloon didn't matter as much as the air pressure in the balloon; a fully inflated small balloon went faster than a larger balloon that was only partially inflated.  After the horizontal races we tied some monofilament line to a ceiling hook and tried launching the balloons vertically and on the diagonal.  You can check out the results below (link).

Improv Bingo and Funny Faces

The Penticton grade 1 - 3 group played the drama game Funny Faces.  It is very similar to charades and requires students to act out scenarios while the rest of the class tries to guess what they are / what they are doing.  The students did a wonderful job acting.  I look forward to seeing how they do with more challenging drama games.

The Penticton grade 5 group played a different drama game; Improv Bingo.  A character, place, goal, obstacle and object are chosen at random and small groups of students create skits incorporating all of these.  One of the challenges in this activity is working together with others to agree upon a skit.  This group excels at collaborating and as a result they can quickly come up with and act out creative scenarios.

Research Projects

All of the groups have been researching topics related to our theme X Marks The Spot; The Search For Treasure.  The grade 1- 3 groups continued to work on their World of Treasures Slideshows, the Summerland ASPIRE students shared what they had discovered during their research, and the Penticton grade 4s and 5s continued researching with some students starting to work on their presentations.

First Term Wraps Up

This week was our last week of classes for the winter term.  There are no classes for December 8 - 19th.  Classes will resume the week of January 12th.  I wish students and families well--have a great last two weeks of school and a wonderful holiday!

Monday, 1 December 2014

November 24th - 27th

Here are a few things we did last week in gifted classes.

Snap Circuits

Building a circuit.
Some of the classes have already used the Snap Circuits set, but this week it was the Summerland AIM class's first time working with it.  They made a circuit that required you to clap loudly to turn on a light, and they also learned that the orientation of an LED is important when setting up a circuit.  The students are keen to work with the electronic circuits again!

World of Treasure Slideshow

The Summerland and Penticton AIM groups (grades 1 - 3) continued to work on their World of Treasure slide shows.  Students are learning about gems, precious metals, pirates and many other treasure related topics.  I look forward to sharing their slideshows with you soon!

Visit From Shaw TV

Wayne demonstrating how to conduct an interview.
The Penticton grade 5 group got a visit from Shaw TV's Wayne McDougall.  Shaw is interested in the radio project that we did last year with Peach City Radio.  (If you haven't listened to the student radio shows, this post outlines what is on each episode and where to go to listen to or download it.)  Wayne shot video of students working with audio and he interviewed myself and some of the students.  The 30 minutes or so of video that he shot will be turned into a 3 minute spot that will run on Shaw TV in about 3 weeks.  I'll post dates and times here.  Once the spot airs, it will be archived on Shaw's YouTube channel.  After shooting video, Wayne spent time talking to the students about the process of filming, conducting interviews, and turning the 'wilds' (raw footage) into a finished product.  He shared tips on how to conduct a good interview and fielded questions from the students.  Students also got to see some of the footage that Wayne shot.  It will be interesting to see the final product!

5 Card Photo Story

The Summerland ASPIRE group (gr 4 & 5) came up with some amazing 5 Card Photo Stories.  They've done these in the past and are becoming real pros!  They are given 5 photographs and a limited amount of time to come up with a story incorporating the photos.  It's a opportunity to be creative, think outside the box, and to hone their presentation skills.  Below are the photos they had to work with.


All of the grade 4 and 5s continued to gather information on their 'X Marks the Spot!' research project.

And those are just a few of the things that we did last week in gifted classes.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

November 17th to 20th

X-Marks the Spot Research Project

This week all of the grade 4s and 5s had at least some time to work on the X-Marks the Spot research project.  Students are investigating famous people, places or things associated with treasure.  Once students have gathered their information they will be putting it together in a format to present to their peers.  More on this in the weeks ahead!

World of Treasure Slideshow

The grade 1 - 3s have also been busy doing research for their 'World of Treasures' slideshow.  Students are searching for images and information on a wide variety of 'treasures'.  The images and information are being added to collaborative slideshows.  Students have found images and information on some of the following:
- gems (emeralds, topaz, diamonds)
- gold
- money
- treasure chests
- shipwrecks (e.g. the Titanic)
- friendship

My Favourite Thing

STOP! by Michael Gil, on Flickr
Some of the classes this week played the drama game 'My Favourite Thing'.  In this game students are given a prop and asked to tell a story as to why this prop is their favourite thing.  Students are encouraged to be creative and think outside the box.  One prop we used was a hand held stop sign like flag people use.  It was used to; stop a comet from crashing into Earth, defeat an alien robot in a game of ping pong, flip another alien out of someone's house (using it much like a pancake flipper) and so much more!  Through this activity students not only get the opportunity to be creative, but they also benefit from hearing their peers' stories and talking about what worked well in each story.

December 1st to 4th--Last Week of Classes Before the Winter Break

Gifted Program classes will wrap up the week of December 1st to 4th and resume again in January.  The classes wrap up a few weeks prior to winter break in order to let students fully participate in any special activities that may be going on in their classroom or school.  It also provides me time to assess students who have been referred to the Gifted Program.  

Thanks for checking out what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Treasure Brainstorm

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

Treasure Brainstorm

Our theme this year is X Marks the Spot!  The Search for Treasure, so we did some brainstorming about the people, places, and things we think about when we hear the word 'treasure'.  After the brainstorm session, students got down to the business of choosing and researching a topic having to do with treasure.


The Summerland AIM students (grades 1-3) started putting together a collaborative slide show with images and information about various treasures that they are interested in.  They will continue to build on this in the weeks ahead.

The Penticton grade 4 and 5 groups started gathering information on their treasure topics.  Once they've collected enough information they will be choosing a format in which to present their information to their peers.  Possible formats include creating a game, recording a radio interview, drawing a comic strip... the possibilities are endless!  

Treasure Tasks

This week it was the Penticton AIM group's (grades 1 - 3) turn to do some treasure tasks as described in the last post.  Students created detailed drawings and complicated structures related to the different treasure puzzles we put together.


This week and last Individual Education Plans (IEPs) were sent home outlining your child's strengths and the goals for this year.  If you did not receive your child's IEP, let me know and I will send you a digital copy.

More Photos Added to Name Plate Slideshow

In the last post there was a slideshow of student Name Plate posters.  I've updated the slideshow with more photos.  Check out the slide show here.

Thanks for checking out the TWIG blog!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Name Plates

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

Name Plate Posters

For the past couple of weeks, students have been working on making Name Plate posters. The goal of the Name Plate is to illustrate who the student is. On the posters the students have to include:

  • their name 
  • representation of family (however they wish to define family)
  • representation of things they enjoy doing, are proud of, or make them unique 
This week, students had the opportunity to present their posters to their peers. All along the focus has not been so much on artistry (though there has been a lot of that!) as it has been on explaining the items that they chose to include in their posters. Through the presentations, students got to know each other better, to make connections ("Hey, I like Minecraft too!"), and to practice their presentation skills. Students were also asked to comment on each others' work focusing on what each student did well with their Name Plate.

Below is a slideshow of the student work. Not all of the Name Plates have been photographed yet, but I will be adding them all over the next week. If you know one of the Name Plate artists, perhaps you'll be lucky enough to hear what they have to say about their poster!  (slideshow link)

Treasure Tasks

Last week students did a puzzle treasure hunt where they had to find the hidden pieces of a treasure related puzzle and put it together.  This week the grade 4 & 5s as well as the Summerland AIM group were given a series of tasks associated with each puzzle to choose from.  For example, some students made drawings and told stories about a booby trapped treasure chest.  Others made lego models of a treasure hunters ship and described the journey they took and the treasure they found.  

These are just a few of the things that we did This Week In Gifted, thanks for checking in!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Here are a few things that we did This Week (and last!) In Gifted.

The first two weeks of classes have been all about getting to know each other.  In order to feel confidant taking risks and being creative it is important that the students feel comfortable with each other.  All of the classes have spent a bit of time playing name games.  The Penticton 4s and the Summerland AIM groups are really fast with the Name Game Ball Pass.  The Penticton 1-3 class had fun with My Name Is... And I Like To... My favourite is The Name Game Shootout that the Penticton 5s and the Summerland ASPIRE class have been playing.

We've also been working on Name Plates.  Students are creating posters featuring their names and depicting family, as well as the things that they enjoy doing or are proud of.  The different ways that student have used materials (pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, tissue paper wrapped in cello tape...) has been inspiring.  Students have depicted family in a variety of ways; some depicting activities or items that represent family to them.  For example a few students have represented family with a Christmas tree, the Tardis from Dr. Who (as this show is something this student's family enjoys together), favourite colours of different family members, first letters of each person's name with pictures of things they enjoy, to name just a few.  To work on their presentation skills students will be presenting their posters to each other explaining what the different items and images on their posters represent.

This week we also touched on our theme, X Marks the Spot--The Search For Treasure, with a puzzle treasure hunt.  We will be getting more into our theme in the weeks to come.

Thanks for checking out what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Classes Starting Next Week!

That's right, next week Gifted Program classes start up!  I prepared the video below to introduce 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 year ahead.  (VIDEO)

Last Friday I sent out e-mails with class times and dates.  Here is a summary:
Classes start the week of October 20th.
Mondays 12:30 - 2:30p Penticton grade 1-3 group in room 32 at Wiltse Elementary
Tuesdays 12:30 - 2:30p Summerland ASPIRE (gr 4 & 5) in Portable 2 at Trout Creek Elementary
Wednesday mornings 8:45 - 11:40a Penticton grade 5s in room 32 at Wiltse Elementary
Wednesday afternoons 12:30 - 2:30p Penticton grade 4s in room 32 at Wiltse Elementary
Thursdays 12:30 - 2:30p Summerland AIM (gr 1 - 3) in Portable 2 at Trout Creek Elementary

Looking forward to seeing the students!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Student Radio to Air on Peach City Radio starting June 16th!

I'm excited to let families know that student radio shows will begin airing on Peach City Radio starting on Monday June 16th!  Each week a new 30 minute episode will be released.  Each episode will play four times over the week and then it will be archived and available for listening on demand.


Each new episode airs 4 times over the course of the week as follows.
9am Mondays
1am Tuesdays-- **Note I had earlier listed this incorrectly as 1pm.
9pm Wednesdays
3pm Thursdays
After approximately 6pm on Thursdays the episode will be available in the program archive area here for on demand streaming or download anytime.


For 'live' episodes check out the schedule above and then go to and click on the big Listen Now! button on the right side of the screen.
Listen Now! button on the Peach City Radio website.

For archived episodes go to our program page here and click on the episode title to stream the episode or click on the download icon to download it.
Download icon


Below are descriptions of the episodes.

Episode 1 -- Airing the week of June 16th (Now in the archive here)
What do ants, manatees, sharks, chipmunks, and rabbits have in common?  They are all featured on episode 1 of The Creation Station!  Also on this episode you'll get to hear some sweet tunes and learn about Morse Code, Pig Latin, and Swedish.
Contributors to this week's episode were; Braidy, Jordan, Ellen, Luke, Katie U, Dija, Kailey, Ryan A, Ryan M, Rhett, Jessica, Lauren, Elijah, Sean, Aoife, Grace L, Ricki, McGarry, Harry, Gina,  Stephanie H, and Zack K.

Episode 2 -- Airing the week of June 23rd (Now in the archive here)
In this episode we look at a variety of languages and ways of communicating -- for people and animals!  Under the topic of how animals communicate we hear from Stephanie H about puppies and kittens, Niamh about birds, and Leigha tells us about using German commands with dogs.  In terms of how people communicate, Katie B tells us about sign language, Nicola about Braille, and Joycey and Kristen explain how to speak Chip Latin.  We also have the story A Squash and a Squeeze from the Penticton grade 1 - 2 class (Ellen, Luke, Katie U, Jayda, Kailey, Ryan A, Ryan M, & Rhett), music selections from Logan, a lesson on how to beatbox from Tristan as well as information on Robert E Lee from Fynn and George.  What a show!

Episode 3 -- Airing the week of June 30th (Now in the archive here)
In this episode you'll hear Guess That Song... And Riddles! from Danica and Nicola, Morse Code from Amy, and Igpay Atinlay from Maia and Jamie.  Tori and Olivia K will tell us about Dolphin Communication, Kehler has our station ID, Katie D will let us know about Satellites, and Jaras, Miles and Graham will share what they've learned about The Enigma Machine.  You'll also hear Bird Feed! from Josh D and Isaac M and Bug Talk (the one about grasshoppers) from Braidy and Jordan.  Ricki and Gebrielle will tell us about Semaphore, Olivia L will describe Foot Flagging in Frogs, and Marcus will wrap things up for us with The Music Channel.

Episode 4 -- Airing the week of July 7th  (After July 10th will be in the archive here)
In this episode you will hear Ashley with Communication Online, Connor with information on ASCII and Binary, Thea and Grace with Echolocation, Oscar and Harjas with Science and Stuff! (Hieroglyphics), Josh K with our Station ID and Holden with his Super Story.  You will also hear another segment of Bug Talk with Jordan, Braidy and special guest Eloise.  Stephanie T will tell us about Italian Communication and Chloe and Stephanie H will spin us some tunes with their Music of the 21st Century.  Enjoy!

Episode 5 -- Airing the week of July 14th  (After July 17th will be in the archive here)
This episode is packed with information! Contributors are; Kieran (Morse Code), Josh K (Lynx Communication), Ty (The Enigma Machine), Kehler (Radio), Chloe and friends (Frank’s House of Chairs), Liam and Jimmy (Braille), Sasha and Paul (The AGR Show), Braidy, Jordan and Guests (Bug Talk / NexGen Communication), Mykenna (Sign Language), Oscar and Niamh (Roald Dahl’s poem Wonka Vite), Eloise (Wolf Communication), Connor (Removing a Computer Virus), Caitlin S (Animal Communication) and Stephanie H and Chloe (Music of the 21st Century). Enjoy!

Episode 6 -- Airing the week of July 21st (After July 24th will be in the archive here)
This is the final episode of The Creation Station.
Contributors to this episode are; Harry and McGarry (4m’s Show: More Sleep For Kids), Tori and Olivia K (Dolphins), Danica (Morse Code), Chloe (Steganography), Jordan and Braidy and guests (NexGen Communication the one about hockey), the Wednesday morning grade 5 class (Thank You Chris Walker), Brandon, Isaac G, Koen, Max and Zack K with the CBC Tapes, and we wrapped things up with music from local musicians Aidan Mayes and Mandy Cole.
What a ride it's been!


The board members and programmers at Peach
 City Radio have been fabulous in supporting the students and me with our radio project.  I have attended a number of workshops through Peach City Radio to learn the ins and outs of community radio.  In addition, Peach City Radio board members Dave Del Rizzo, Jackie Del Rizzo, Craig Henderson, Tim Tweed, and Larry Saidman visited the classes and shared their expertise and experience with the students, and in some cases they were able to listen to student shows and offer feedback.  Their passion for community radio is amazing!  They are all volunteers and I am grateful to them for their support and for hosting our show.  In particular I'd like to thank Dave and Jackie Del Rizzo.  Dave contacted me last spring and after conversations back and forth via e-mail he, Jackie and I met to sketch out some initial ideas.   

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Open House, Zip Lines, and More

Open House

Last week the older students went on a field trip.  This week for the younger students it was Open House time!  For the AIM and Penticton grade 1/2 classes it was an opportunity to invite parents in to see what we've been working on.  Thank you to all of the parents who were able to drop in!  Both classes showed parents the recording work that we've been doing using Audacity.  We also showed them the deciphering tools we have been using on the Crypto Club website.

In the AIM class we put the parents to work; partnered with a student they took part in the Straw Bridge Building Challenge.  Each parent-student pair was given 15 straws and 25cm of masking tape.  Their task?  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.  Everyone was successful in building a strong bridge!  Caitlin and her dad blew away the old record for this challenge by building a bridge that supported 11 golf balls and 5 pairs of scissors.  We ran out of golf balls, thus the scissors.  Who knew we needed more than 11 golf balls?

AIM students and parents with their straw bridges.
The Penticton grade 1-2 class showed their parents the work they had been doing in Bitstrips, an online comic strip creation tool.  Students have been learning about how we communicate non-verbally using gestures, facial expressions and body language.  Bitstrips allows students to pose characters and adjust facial expressions.  Students helped parents create a character that looked just like them!  Later, students and parents deciphered a secret message and then used different materials to create messages in morse code.    

Zip Line Building Challenge

The ASPIRE class were given a new building challenge: design and build something to carry a ping pong ball from the top of a zip line to the bottom in 4 seconds or less.  This challenge involved dealing with friction and balance.  Students were quickly able to construct a vehicle to carry one ping pong ball.  They didn't stop there though; they were very motivated to see if they could carry two or more ping pong balls.  Watch the video below to see their results (link).

That's A Wrap!

The Penticton grade 3-5 classes did final work on their radio shows.  We also took the opportunity to listen to recently completed shows.    

Upcoming Events

Last week of classes: May 12th - 15th
Parent Meetings: starting May 26th.  Schedule with individual times will be sent home this week.   

Thanks for checking in and seeing what we've been up to... This Week In Gifted!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Field Trip, Marshmallow Challenge, and the Black Chamber!

Field Trip

This week the Penticton grade 3-5 classes and the Summerland ASPIRE class visited CBC Radio and Global Okanagan Television in  Kelowna.

At Global Okanagan our dynamic guide, Barbara Vanstone, showed us the ins and outs of creating news programs and television advertisements.  Some groups were able to talk to the news director who explained how he chose what was going on the news each evening.  We got to see what he had planned for that evening's news.  A couple of groups got to speak with Doris Maria Bregolisse.  Doris is an anchor and reporter at Global Okanagan and she spoke to the students about her job.  One thing we learned is that although the news set and anchors are in Kelowna, technicians in Vancouver or Toronto actually do the filming and produce the show.  They operate the cameras remotely and communicate with the anchors through headsets.  We got to go on the very green news set (see photos below).  The walls are painted green so that they can chroma key (green screen) in a computer generated background.

At CBC Radio, Daybreak South host Chris Walker was our guide.  He and Daybreak South producer Marion Barschel spoke to the students about how the show is put together.  Chris took the students into the studio where they got a chance to read a one minute news bulletin and the opportunity to operate the sound board.  We learned that it is not easy to read the news clearly, fluently, and in under a minute!  The news bulletins did not go on air, but I hope to get the recordings to share with students and their families.  A few lucky students from the last group on Thursday's trip were chosen to read the Mind Breakers quiz questions for next week's show.  The questions should be aired each day next week at approximately 6:55am.

Thank you to the parent chaperones who joined us; Tammy Drobe, Sharon Herman, Sarah Larsen, Julie MacIntyre, Dave Singleton, Sherralee Sailes, Michelle Kincaid, Heather Allen, Keith MacIntyre, Joy Wang, Jo-Ann Apolzer, and April Smith.  Your help was greatly appreciated!

Below are some photos from the trip or check them out here.

Marshmallow Challenge

This week the AIM students took on the Marshmallow Challenge!  Their task was to build the tallest structure they could out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 metre of tape and 1 metre of string.  They did not have to use all of the materials, but their structure needed to be freestanding and be able to support a large marshmallow on top.  They were given the materials and 18 minutes to complete the task.  What we learned, among other things is that a marshmallow is heavier than it looks!

Welcome to the Black Chamber

The Penticton grade 1/2 class operated their own black chamber this week.  What is a black chamber?  Black chambers are secret rooms operated by nations where they attempt to decode messages sent by their rivals.  The students first set about deciphering some messages that were enciphered using the Pigpen Cipher.  We then looked at, and listened to Morse Code.  Students enciphered their names using Morse Code, the Pigpen Cipher and the Caesar Shift Cipher.   Perhaps Room 32 is becoming the current day Bletchley Park?! 

Upcoming Events

May 5th: AIM Open House.  AIM parents/guardians are invited to join us for all or part of the class.  The class runs from 12:30 - 2:30pm.
May 7th: Penticton Grade 1/2 Open House.  Parents/guardians are invited to join us for all or part of the class.  The class runs from 12:30 - 2:30pm.
May 12th - 15th: Last Week of Classes
Parent Meetings: Dates and times to be announced.

Thanks for checking in to find out what we've been up to... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The ROT 13 Cipher and Research for the Field Trip

Guvf jrrx fghqragf yrnearq nobhg gur EBG 13 pvcure.  Qvq lbh xabj gung gur EBG 13 pvcure vf n glcr bs Pnrfne Fuvsg pvcure gung vf cbchyne va bayvar sbehzf gb uvqr chapuyvarf be fcbvyref?

The paragraph above may look like gobbledegook, but chances are that students who attended gifted class this week recognize it as the ROT 13 Cipher. Below is a diagram showing how to encipher and decipher messages using this cipher.

Image from Wikipedia (link)

Crypto Kids

Continuing with our Top Secret Communication theme, the Penticton grade 1/2 class tried their hands at the ROT 13 cipher (above) and they also learned how to use some of the cipher tools on the website. A few of the students were keen enough to make it all the way through the cipher challenge called 'Desert Oasis'. Pretty impressive, especially considering this site is designed for middle schoolers!

Field Trip Research

Students in the ASPIRE and Penticton grade 3 - 5 classes did some research into the places that we will be visiting on our field trip next week; CBC Radio and Global Okanagan Television in Kelowna. We know a bit more about what programs are produced in both studios and who some of the on air personalities are. Students also generated some good questions that they could ask when we are on our trip. Stay tuned... next week I share what we learned on the trip itself! (*Note: students received a newsletter with the field trip itinerary. If you have any questions, please contact me.)

5 Card Photo Stories

The ASPIRE and Penticton grade 5 classes took another shot at storytelling with 5 Card Photo Stories. They are given 5 photos and asked to write a short story that incorporates all of the photos. I don't know why I wear socks anymore because they always get knocked off when we do this activity; the stories the students come up with are amazing! There's humour, death, explosions, humour, twists, turns, cliff hangers, and did I mention humour???

Radio Marathon

This week the students really pushed hard to finish off the shows they have been working on. The variety and quality of the shows are amazing. Students took home permission forms this week in order that their shows may be shared on Peach City Radio. The student mini-shows will be compiled into a variety show of sorts called The Creation Station. I will be putting together a number of 30 minute episodes that will be submitted to Peach City Radio to be broadcast on their live stream and then archived on their site.

Thanks for checking in and finding out about some of the things we did... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Trustee Visit, Roving Reporters, and Upcoming Events

Trustee Visit

The AIM and ASPIRE classes played host to school trustee Linda Beavan this week.  The students did a great job of showing Mrs. Beavan some of the things that we have been working on.  The AIM students shared their mini radio shows with her and impressed her with their knowledge of how to work with audio.  The ASPIRE students explained how the Caesar cipher works and then got down to solving a Caesar cipher challenge called Desert Oasis on the Crypto Club website.  Mrs. Beavan appreciated the warm welcome students gave her, and the opportunity to see what we do in the Gifted Program.  We appreciated her taking the time to visit!

Roving Reporters

The Penticton grade 1/2 class continued their Roving Reporter project.  They have been recording interviews with fellow students where they have been asking about people's favourite things (tools, candy, movies, colours...)  In the process they are learning about how to record and edit audio.

Improv Bingo

The Penticton grade 5 classes as well as the AIM class played Improv Bingo this week.  Students did an excellent job in their small groups sharing ideas and they came up with inventive and very funny skits!

Field Trip Update

The following classes will be going on a field trip to Kelowna to visit CBC Radio and Global Okanagan TV:
- ASPIRE class (Tuesday April 29th)
- Penticton grade 5s (Tuesday April 29th)
- Penticton grade 3/4s (Thursday May 1st)
Thank you to the parents who have volunteered to chaperone!

Radio Shows Wrapping Up

Most of the students have completed their mini-radio shows or are almost there.  In the coming weeks I will be talking to students about sharing their shows on Peach City Radio and sending home permission slips in order for their work to be aired.

Upcoming Events

Below is a listing of upcoming events.  These events can also be found on the calendar here.

Wednesday April 23rd
SD 67 2014/15 Budget presentation to the public.  6:30p Penticton High School Library.

Tuesday April 29th
Penticton grade 5s and ASPIRE class field trip to CBC radio and Global Okanagan TV in Kelowna.

Thursday May 1st
Penticton grade 3/4 class field trip to CBC radio and Global Okanagan TV in Kelowna.

Monday May 5th
AIM Open House: Parents/Guardians of AIM students are invited to join us for all or part of the class.  Students will have a chance to show you what we've been up to.  12:30 - 2:30p in Portable #2 at Trout Creek Elementary.

Wednesday May 7th
Penticton grade 1/2 class Open House: Parents/Guardians of students in the Penticton grade 1/2 class are invited to join us for all or part of the class.  Students will have a chance to show you what we've been up to.  12:30 - 2:30p in room 32 at Wiltse Elementary.

Last Week of Gifted Classes May 12th to 15th.

After classes wrap up I hope to meet with every student's parent to discuss how the year went and to plan for next year.

Thanks for checking in and seeing what we've been up to... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Unexpected Visitors

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

Cheap Cheap!

The Penticton grade 1/2 class had some unexpected visitors this week.  At the beginning of class we were lucky enough to be visited by the new baby chicks that Dija's family had just picked up.  Who would have thought that 24 two day old chicks could be so noisy... and so cute!  Their stay was brief, but memorable.  Children were able to hold the little brown fluff balls.  The chicks were so noisy that they attracted the attention of the junior kindergarten class next door who ended up coming over and having a look.  Thank you to Dija's parents for bringing the chicks by.

Field Trip Forms Rolling In

As mentioned last week the Summerland ASPIRE class as well as the Penticton grade 3 - 5 classes will be visiting CBC Radio and Global Okanagan Television (CHBC) in Kelowna.  One group will be going up on April 29th (ASPIRE and Pen gr 5s), the other on May 1st (Pen gr 3s and 4s).  Thank you to everyone who has returned their permission forms and money.  Thank you also to those parents who have volunteered to come on the trip as chaperones.  I still need a few more parent chaperones, so if you are able to help out please contact me.  If your child hasn't returned their forms yet, please do so for the next class.  Thank you!


We are nearing the end of our radio project; many students have completed a mini show and some are working on a second (or third!!) episode.  We've learned a lot during this project about how to edit audio, import music, fade music in and out and some classes have learned what the mysterious Auto Duck feature does.  

Pigpen Cipher

The past couple of weeks we've been decoding messages that were enciphered using the Pigpen Cipher, pictured to the left.  Enciphered messages look complicated, but the cipher is actually very easy to use and to remember.  The pigpen cipher is thought to have been used since at least the 18th century.  In popular culture the pigpen cipher shows up in the Dan Brown novel The Lost Symbol, in the 39 Clues series of children's books, as well as some video games.  (Image and information from Wikipedia, accessed April 12th, 2014) 

To the right is a message enciphered using the pigpen cipher.

Can you tell what it says?  It is the name of a game that many of the classes played this week.  Students listened to the sounds below and tried to identify what they were.  We talked about how sounds can evoke other sensations and memories.  For example the sound of a lawnmower may remind you of a warm summer day or the smell of freshly cut grass.  

Below is the answer key, enciphered of course!

Thanks for checking in to see what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Newspaper Tables & Intermediate Field Trip

From the sounds of things the students had a relaxing Spring Break.  They were ready to dive back into our activities though, and here are some of the things that we did... This Week In Gifted!

Field Trip 2014

It is time once again for the intermediate field trip.  The Summerland ASPIRE class as well as the Penticton grade 3 - 5 classes will be visiting CBC Radio and Global Okananagan Television (CHBC) in Kelowna!  The ASPIRE and grade 5 classes will go up together on April 29th while the Penticton grade 3/4 classes will go up together on May 1st.  Students took home information on the trip and permission forms.  I also e-mailed copies of the forms on Friday.  If you have any questions about the trip, please let me know.

Field Trip 2014

Newspaper Table Design Challenge

Last month the ASPIRE class took up the challenge (here), this week it was the Penticton Grade 5 classes chance to give it a whirl!  The challenge is to build a table that can support a heavy textbook.  The table has to be at least 20 cm high and you can only use the following materials:
  • 8 sheets of newspaper
  • masking tape (unlimited)
  • 8.5" by 11" piece of cereal box cardboard  
Prior to receiving the materials, we discussed potential designs, and we looked at how rolling the newspaper into a skinny tube resulted in very strong supports.  Students then sketched out their designs and got to it!  Lots of students incorporated triangles in their structures, some cut their tubes into smaller lengths to make straightforward table legs, others went crazy with the masking tape.  Students who finished up fairly quickly challenged themselves further by seeing if they could fortify their structures so that they could hold up 2 or 3 heavy textbooks.  See below for photos of tables being constructed or click here.

Radio Projects

While the grade 5 classes did the paper table challenge, the other classes continued on with their radio shows.  The AIM students were putting the final touches on their shows as well as coming up with some funny advertisements.  The grade 1/2 class continued to explore using Audacity with a focus on importing in music.  Many students have got their first show "in the can" so to speak.  Soon I hope to be able to put together a couple of half hour episodes featuring the radio students have produced.  

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Peach City Radio!

This week: visits from Peach City Radio!

Peach City Radio 

Most of the classes were visited by board members from Peach City Radio. We learned that Peach City Radio is a community radio station and is run entirely by volunteers.  Currently Peach City Radio streams online (here) and also archives shows for on-demand listening (here).  I have attended a number of workshops and information sessions that Peach City Radio has hosted and they have been instrumental in me being better able to help the students with their work.

Each of the presenters from Peach City Radio gave their unique perspective on and experience with radio.  We listened to segments from each of their shows and students asked lots of great questions about making radio.  Below are photos of each of our visitors.

In most of the classes our guests were able to listen to the radio shows that students have been working on.  Students were able to ask questions one-on-one and receive feedback from radio experts!  This was a real highlight for both the students and our guests.

In almost all of the visits each class recorded some station IDs for Peach City Radio (the entire class reciting "We're listening to Peach City Radio" or something similar).  The station IDs recorded by Tim Tweed with the Tuesday morning class will air on the stream tomorrow, Monday March 17th, at 9:59 am (Tenatious-T shout out) and 1:30 pm (Peach City Radio shout out).

Peach City Radio has offered to host our student shows!  In the weeks ahead I will be putting together half hour episodes containing student content.  Before any student work is posted, parental consent will be sought as well as permission from the students.

Our guests, and the shows that we listened to were as follows:

Jackie Del Rizzo

Tim Tweed (the Tenacious T!)
Craig Henderson
Larry Saidman

Dave Del Rizzo

Trustees Stopped In

Also joining us this week for one of the Peach City Radio visits were School District 67 trustees Ginny Manning and Linda Van Alphen.  They enjoyed getting a chance to listen to the student projects as well as to see the students in action as they worked on their shows.  It was a great opportunity to showcase what we do in the Gifted Program.  

Thank You!

A big thank you to all of our guests this week for taking time out from their busy schedules to come and share their expertise and to find out a little more about what we've been up to!

Grade 1/2 Class Experiments With Audacity

The Penticton Grade 1/2 class has been involved in recording 2 short stories, but up until this week they hadn't had a chance to use the audio recording software Audacity.  As with the other classes their first introduction was a chance to play and experiment.  The students quickly figured out how to record their voices and then they were off and running, trying out various effects.  There was a lot of uproarious laughter as they listened to their voices sped up, slowed down, with echoes etc.  After the break we will experiment more with Audacity.

Spring Break

We're off on Spring Break now.  Classes will resume again the week of March 31st and continue until the May long weekend.  After that time I will be meeting with all parents to discuss how the year went and to plan for next year.  This is also when I do assessments for students who have been referred to the Gifted Program. 

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to... This Week In Gifted!   

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Paper Tables, Improv Bingo, and The Dead Ringer

Lots of different activities this week!

Paper Tables: The Design Challenge

The ASPIRE class finished up the design challenge that they started last week.  The challenge was to build a table at least 20 cm high that would support a heavy textbook.  The trick?  Students only had access to 8 sheets of newspaper, masking tape, and one 8.5 x 11" sheet of card stock with which to build the table.  It was fascinating watching the students build their structures.  There were quite a variety of methods and designs implemented.  At times students were discouraged or worried that their design wasn't working out.  In the end though, success and lots of big smiles!  Below are photos of the different designs (link).

Improv Bingo and Funny Faces

The AIM class continued to hone their communication skills by playing Improv Bingo.  A character, place, goal, obstacle and object are chosen at random and small groups of students create skits incorporating all of these.   For example, one skit involved a rubber man at the library trying to cross the finish line but a book wouldn't open and he needed to use an egg beater.  One of the challenges is working together with others to agree upon a skit.  The students are getting quite good at positively sharing their ideas and compromising when necessary.

The Penticton grade 1/2 class played a different drama game, called Funny Faces.  It is very similar to charades and requires students to act out characters or activities while the rest of the class tries to guess who they are / what they are doing.  Students are getting quite good at using and interpreting non-verbal cues.

The Dead Ringer

The Penticton grade 5 groups looked into the story of the Dead Ringer.  In a previous class some students shared that they had heard a news story that stated the technician responsible for the Olympic ring that did not open in the Sochi Olympics opening ceremonies was killed by the Russian government.  This week we investigated this further.

Students read the original story (here) and discussed whether they thought it was true.   One student noticed that one of the witnesses in the article was Guy Lafleur of the Canadian bobsled team.  Wasn't Guy Lafleur a famous Montreal Canadiens hockey player?  Hmm.  Some other elements of the story seemed fishy too.

Eventually students started to search to see how this story was reported by other news agencies.  Other students decided to find out a little more about the agency that originally reported the story.  After some searching it was discovered that this story was a hoax and that the site that originally posted it, The Daily Currant, was a news satire site.

We discussed how easy it is today to forward on 'news' stories.  Often people do it without really thinking about what they are reading is true.  We talked about questioning the credibility of the source the story comes from.  We also talked about how easy it often is to do a quick search to find out if the story is a hoax or not.  It was a neat exercise in critical thinking that opened up a lot of discussion.

Radio Shows

Many of the classes continued to work on their radio shows.  Lots of students are finishing up their first show and starting in on a new project, whether it be another episode of their show, fake advertisements, logos etc.  Next week, members of Peach City Community Radio Society will be visiting many of the classes to talk about community radio.  We're looking forward to what they have to share!

Thank you for taking the time to read about what we've been doing... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Logos, Design Challenge, 5 Card Photo Stories, and 'A Squash and a Squeeze'

Logos, tables made from paper, and 5 card photos stories.  These are some of the things we did... This Week In Gifted!


Last week the ASPIRE group and the Penticton grade 5s investigated good logo design and tried their hand and designing their own logos, either for their own radio show or for the Creation Station.  This week is was time for the AIM group and the Penticton grade 3/4 group to give it a whirl.  First we looked at logos that had been divided into 2 groups.  The students had to decide why the logos were placed into each group.  In the end we discovered that one group represented logos that followed good design principles (simple, few colours, images that related to the product) and the other group did not.  Below are the slides that we viewed (link).  Student then worked on their own logos.

Paper Table Design Challenge

The ASPIRE group was given the challenge of building a table that was at least 20 cm high and that would support a heavy textbook.  Their materials?  8 sheets of newspaper, masking tape, and a 22 x 28 cm sheet of thin cardboard.  We'll be finishing the tables next week, but the photos below show where we are so far.  Many different designs are being attempted, it will be interesting to see how they work out!  (link)

5 Card Photo Stories

The Penticton grade 5 groups knocked my socks off (yet again) with their creative stories that were based upon 5 photos that I showed them.  The stories were creative, dramatic, surprising and inspiring.

A Squash and a Squeeze

Last week the Penticton grade 1/2s did a great job on the radio play of the story of Chicken Little.  This week we tackled 'A Squash and a Squeeze' by Julia Donaldson.  I'll post the audio once it has been edited.  

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

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Logos and Radio Plays

This week we worked on Logos, Charades, and a Radio Play!


The ASPIRE class as well as the Penticton grade 5 classes learned about good logo design and then got to try their hand at designing a logo for the Creation Station or their own radio show!  Prior to our logo activity some of the students had already been working on logos.  It was interesting to see how they reworked their designs after our activity taking into account the principles of good design.  I'll describe the logo activity in more detail next week after the other classes have completed it.


The AIM class as well as the Penticton grade 3/4 classes participated in the Charades activity which I described last week.  There are a few students who have an amazing ability to guess the right answer almost every time and many more who do an excellent job of communicating their clues non-verbally!

Radio Play

The Penticton grade 1/2 class knocked my socks off with their reading of the story 'Chicken Little'.  We did it as a radio play with each student reading the part of a character or the narrator.  Once the recording has been edited I'll post the link here.  There are many versions of Chicken Little; here is a link to the script that we used.

Audio Thank You Card

This week we sent off our audio thank you card to Chris Walker.  Chris visited the Penticton grade 3 - 5 classes in January (you can read about it here).  Here is a link to the card (  The choral parts were spoken by the Tuesday grade 3/4 class and the Thursday grade 5 class.  The individual comments were made by students from the Wednesday grade 5 class.  We received the following in response:

Thanks for taking the time to read about a few of the things that we did... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

February 11th to 13th

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

Radio Shows

Students in ASPIRE and in the Penticton grade 3 - 5 class continued to work on their radio shows.  Some of the older students have finished their first shows.  Those that have are deciding what to do next.  Here are some of their options:
  • create a new show
  • record a station ID
  • create radio advertisements
  • create a logo (either for The Creation Station or for their own show)
  • create a poster (either for The Creation Station or for their own show)

Non-Verbal Communication

In all of the classes we continue to explore the ways that we communicate non-verbally.  The ASPIRE class and the Penticton grade 5 classes watched a short Monty Python clip involving charades in the courtroom.  It was funny and a great introduction to playing Charades!

The Penticton grade 1/2 class continued to work on Bitstrips, a comic strip creator.  This week they were given the following comic strip and asked to pose or replace the neutral faced character in each panel with a character showing the appropriate expression.

Template Comic
Here is a completed comic by Jayda:
Jayda's comic
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 10 February 2014

And The Winner Is...

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


For the past few weeks we've been brainstorming names for the radio show which will contain all of the mini radio shows the students have been or will be working on.  Each class put forward their top two names.  This week it was time to vote!  Here are the names that made it onto the ballot:

  • Cfeffial Radio
  • Chatterbox
  • Communication Army
  • Container of Pickled Doves
  • Crazy Communication
  • Drive 2 the Town of Secrets
  • Ducks in a Bucket
  • Gifted Kids On Air (GKOA)
  • I do not know what to call this
  • It's Called... Communication!
  • Niobium Radio
  • Radio Times
  • Sky Fi
  • The banana toaster bo meatloaf dryer Philly bob match stick broom duster pocket money grandpa whopper hobbler hobbler hobbler ehhhht quack show 
  • The Cool Kids Radio Show
  • The Creation Station
Because there were sixteen names to choose from, instead of just voting for their top choice, students were asked to rank their top eight choices.  This is an example of Instant Runoff Voting.  In the first round of counting, everyone's first choice was tallied.  The names that were in first to eighth place after the first round of voting were kept and the rest of the names were eliminated.  In the second round of counting I then looked at the ballots that chose an eliminated name as their first choice and assigned their vote to their second choice (if that choice was already eliminated then I went to their next choice, and so on.)  After the second round of voting, the last place names (there were three names tied for last place) were eliminated and their votes assigned as above.  This process continued until there was one name that had more than 50% of the votes.

Every student in the gifted program was able to vote (100% voter turnout, not bad!)  It took seven rounds of counting to come up with a winning name.  Gifted Kids on Air (GKOA), The banana... quack show, and The Creation Station were the top three names right from round one of counting.

And the Winner Is...

The Creation Station came out on top, but it was a very close race!  Now that we have a name we can start working on, logos, posters, station ids and more.  

Communicating Emotions

This week the Penticton grade 1/2 class looked at the different ways that we communicate that we are happy, sad, excited etc.  We discussed body posture and facial expressions.  We then went on to Bitstrips to create characters showing different emotions.  Students are learning how to pose their characters and change their facial features to match different emotions.  

This and That

The AIM, ASPIRE and Penticton grade 3 - 4 students all spent time on Audacity recording their mini shows, some classes also did the storytelling exercise 5 Card Photo Stories.

The Wrap Up

Thanks for checking out TWIG.  I hope you'll check in again next week.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Flags, Improv Bingo, and Brainstorming Online

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

Explaining Our Flag Designs

Last week the Penticton grade 1 / 2 class presented their flags to their peers.  They created their flags to represent real or imagined places.  Below is a video (link) with photos of the flags and the voices of the students as they explained their choice of colours and symbols in their designs.  Two students were absent and so their flags have no explanations yet.

Improv Bingo

The Summerland ASPIRE and AIM classes as well as the Penticton grade 5s played Improv Bingo.  In this fun drama activity students are given a character, goal, obstacle, place and object.  They then have a limited amount of time to create a short skit involving each of the elements, which are usually pretty wacky.  This week students worked in groups of 2, 3 or 4.  Successful groups had members who were very open to ideas, were inclusive and were also willing to compromise.  Prior to creating our skits we talked about the challenges of this type of activity and strategies for success.  The students came up with creative and very humorous skits.  It is amazing how the same starting elements can result in such vastly different skits!

Brainstorming Radio Show Names Online

This week it was the Penticton grade 3 / 4 groups whose turn it was to brainstorm a name for the radio show which will contain all of the mini radio shows that students are creating.  One of the grade 4s has been asking for a chance to use padlet again, and this seemed like a good opportunity to give it another whirl.  Padlet is a site we tried last year that allows you to post notes on a virtual wall.  I created multiple 'walls' and assigned 2 - 4 students per wall.  They did a wonderful job of brainstorming!  The neat thing about padlet is that everyone on the same 'wall' can add their ideas at the same time and also see the ideas of the other group members.  It is much more democratic and participatory than the traditional group brainstorm where one person in the group controls the paper and pen, and often only the louder/more dominant people in the group are heard.

Once students had brainstormed a list of names, they each submitted their favourite name for the class to vote on.  The top two names from each class will be put forward for all students to vote on.  Here is the link to the list the Tuesday morning class generated and voted upon.  The final vote for all students happens next week!

The Wrap Up

Thanks for checking in and seeing some of the things we did this week.  If you have a child in the program they can hopefully add to what is highlighted here and fill you in on some of the things I didn't mention.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Radio Show Brainstorm & Chris Walker

It was a busy week.  Here are a few of the things we did, this week in gifted!

Radio Show Brainstorm

All of the students are or will be creating mini radio shows.  These mini shows will be packaged together as part of one large radio show.  The challenge is to come up with a name for the large radio show.  (One of the AIM students suggested the analogy that all of the students' mini radio shows are like chapters in a book.  Now we need to come up with a title for the book!)  All of the students from the seven gifted program classes will be suggesting names and helping to decide which one will be 'the one'.  This week most of the classes spent time brainstorming possible names.  We talked about the DOVE principle of brainstorming:
Defer judgement
Oddball and outrageous ideas encouraged
Vast number of ideas
Expand and elaborate on the ideas that you have and the ideas of others
Over the next few weeks we will go through the process of narrowing down the list of names and deciding upon 'the one'.

CBC Radio's Chris Walker Visits

On Thursday Chris Walker, the host of CBC Radio's Daybreak South, visited the Penticton grade 3 - 5 groups.  Wow, what a presentation!  Chris talked about the technical aspects of radio (what radio waves are, how the sounds are transmitted from the radio studio to our radios etc).  He shared with us some video that he'd shot the day before with a couple of his colleagues who talked about what they do.  Chris also set up a mini recording studio in our classroom complete with mixing board, various kinds of microphones, speakers, and his laptop with his editing software.

We got to listen to one of Chris's favourite interviews.  It was interesting to hear him explain how the interview took an unexpected turn, and how he put the piece together.

The students had lots of excellent questions for Chris.  Some were based on what Chris shared with us and some were based upon the research students had done the week prior.  These are just a few of the highlights from Chris' visit.  If your child was at the presentation, hopefully they will tell you more!

Flag Finale

This week the Penticton grade 1 / 2 class presented the flags they designed to their peers and explained the symbols that they used and why they used the colours that they did.  Students did a great job of incorporating what they had learned about flag design.  The completed flags will be displayed in the classroom for the next few weeks before heading home.

ASPIRE Experiments with Audacity

This week was the ASPIRE students opportunity to try out Audacity.  Students learned how to record, delete, and cut audio.  They were then encouraged to explore the different effects that are available in Audacity.  Students experimented with effects such as echo, reversing audio, wah wah, changing pitch and many more!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

January 13th to 16th

Here are a few of the things we did... this week in gifted!

Storytelling Continues

Julia Cox visited the rest of the Penticton classes this week.  Regardless of the grade, when Julia asked "would you like to hear another story" the answer was always a resounding yes!  Students learned how determine how quickly or loudly to read a passage by following the clues in the text and and in the images.  They also learned the importance of pauses to increase tension in a story.  The students will be able to put what they've learned to use in their audio recordings and in the storytelling activities and games that we play.

Grade 3/4 class.

Grade 5 class.

Grade 1/2 class.


This week the AIM students were introduced to the audio recording software Audacity.  (Audacity is a free open source software program for recording and editing audio.  It can be downloaded here.)  They had the opportunity to explore and 'play' with the program.  They found out how to record audio, delete sections of audio, and add effects such as echoes, changing the pitch and speed, as well as reversing the audio.  In future classes they will be making audio recordings sharing what they have learned in the communication research project.

Researching and Writing Scripts

The ASPIRE students spent time doing more research on their communication topics.  Students will be sharing what they've learned by creating a short 'radio show' on their topic.  To prepare for their shows students spent time preparing their scripts.  We focused on ways to engage your listener.

Questions for Chris Walker

Next week Chris Walker, host of CBC Radio's Daybreak South, will be speaking to the Penticton grade 3, 4 and 5 students.  In preparation for his visit students listened to a segment from his show.  The Wednesday and Thursday classes enjoyed this segment on using the net to name your child.  They then spent time doing some research on Chris Walker and coming up with good questions to ask him when he visits.  Essentially, the students were asked to prepare to interview an interviewer!

Note: For the week of January 21st the Tuesday morning class is rescheduled to Thursday afternoon (12:30 - 2:30p) and the Wednesday morning class is rescheduled to Thursday morning (8:45 - 11:40a) so that students can hear Chris Walker.


I wrote about scytales last week.  This week it was the AIM class' turn to try them out.  They enciphered their own messages, and deciphered messages created by their peers.  Some even experimented with using scytales to make enciphered drawings--neat!