Sunday, 4 December 2016

Making a Block, Green Architecture, and Taking a Break

Here are a few of the things we have done the past couple of weeks in gifted.

Image Manipulation

All of the students now know how to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to remove the background from an image.  They can save the image as a PNG file and import it into Scratch.  Students are finding this a handy skill to have--they are using it on a wide range of images!

Green Architecture

Brainstorming 'green' architecture features. 
Students brainstormed different ways that buildings use energy and resources.  We then went on to learn about different ways that architects are trying to make buildings 'greener' or more sustainable by reducing energy consumption, reducing water use, and choosing materials that are better for the environment.  We looked at the Hearst Tower which has lots of windows and few inner walls to allow for more natural light.  It also has an icefall in the lobby to cool and humidify the space.  We also looked at buildings that have giant blocks of ice in the basement for cooling and others that use shower towers.  We discussed ways that we can help conserve energy in our homes in the summer and in the winter.  Most of the classes finished off with a fun and competitive Kahoot online quiz to review what we learned.


This past week we learned how to use the 'Make a Block' block in Scratch.  It's very handy when you are repeating the same lines of code over and over again.

Students continued to create programs that feature:
  • reset code
  • broadcast message / when I receive message blocks
  • animations
  • changing backgrounds
  • imported images
Below are some photos of the Thursday afternoon class and the programs they've been working on .

Taking a Break

Last week was the last week of classes until January.  Gifted Program classes stop a couple of weeks before winter break so that students can fully participate in the extra activities and events occurring in their home school.  During this time I will be doing assessments with students who have been referred to the program.

Have a great December and enjoyable winter break.  I look forward to working with the students again in January!

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

How to Change Your Image

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


Last week the Penticton Primary group's class fell on the Curriculum Implementation day, so we did a bit of catching up this week.  We learned about ancient roman architecture, as described in this post.  We also did the amazing egg activity (eggtivity?!)

Changing our Images

The rest of the classes learned how to remove the background from a photo using Adobe Photoshop Elements.  Each student chose a building that interested them, located a photo of it online and downloaded it.  Then they followed these instructions on how to remove the background and save the image as a PNG file.  From there they imported the image into Scratch.  See some samples below (link)


All of the classes continued to work on their programing skills in Scratch.  This week we focused on how to animate our sprites.  Oscar did a great animation that involved two crabs climbing up the twin towers.  Also with the crab sprite, Finn animated it to appear that it was eating a large watermelon.  All of the students are adding complexity to their programs.  Our goal right now is to build our skills with lots of smaller programming activities.  In the second half of the year we will tackle a  B I G programming project!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Musical Chairs

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

4 Chairs Design Challenge

This week the Summerland AIM/ASPIRE class and the Penticton Wednesday morning class were given a design challenge.  They each had to design a chair for a specific client with specific needs.  Students has to choose two client needs to focus on and then design the chair to meet those needs while also incorporating their (the designer's) own sense of style.  Once students had identified their client's needs, they made drawings of their design and then they created models of their design using cardboard, then pipe cleaners, and finally toothpicks.  We discussed the benefits of making different iterations of their designs and related it to the process architects and other designers use.  Below are photos of some of the designs (link).  This activity was adapted from this lesson created by folks at the Institute of Design at Stanford.


Students continued to build up their programming skills using Scratch.  We are learning how to;
  • reset our programs so they always start with the correct background and sprites (characters) in the correct location
  • use the 'broadcast message' and 'when I receive message' blocks
  • animate our sprites

Architecture and Remembrance

The Wednesday morning class viewed the slides below (link) and discussed the link between architecture and Remembrance Day / war memorials.  

Thank you for dropping by and checking out what we've been up to this week!

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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Some Concrete Examples

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

Once Upon A Time

During Circle this week we played a storytelling game called Once Upon A Time.  Each person wrote a noun on a piece of paper.  One person started the story by randomly drawing a piece of paper and including that noun in their sentence which began, "Once upon a time...".  The next person drew another slip of paper and added to the story by adding another sentence including the new noun.  The final story was often very strange!


The Pantheon--a giant egg?
Most of the classes continued their exploration of the influence of geology on ancient architecture.  We learned about the advances of the ancient romans due to their access to volcanic ash and volcanic rocks.  They were able to make mortar using ash and lime and later they invented concrete by adding rock fragments to the mortar.  Concrete had many advantages as a building material.  We also looked at the the benefits of the arch and the dome, which the Romans used extensively and usually built using concrete.  In particular we learned about the amazing Pantheon!  It's dome has a diameter of 43 meters and for 1000 years was the largest dome of its kind.  It was built using a variety of volcanic rocks of varying density in the concrete: basalt for the bottom parts of the structure, tuff a bit higher up and extremely lightweight pumice in the concrete of the dome itself.

To further reinforce the idea that domes are very strong we did an activity with a raw egg.  The students were challenged to hold the egg in their palm, wrap their fingers around the egg and squeeze really really hard.  No one was able to break the egg!  Although the Penticton primary group hasn't tried this activity yet, so who knows, perhaps one of them has the strength to do it!

Scratch Programming

Part of the Penticton primary class coding away.
All of the classes continued learning more about computer programming using Scratch.  Some of the students did the activity Debug It! where they were asked to debug 5 scratch programs that weren't working as they should.  Other classes learned how to create code to reset their programs (e.g. if they create a character who walks across the screen, the next time the program runs they need to make sure the character starts from the correct starting point again).  They also learned how to make one sprite (character) respond to another by using the 'broadcast message' and 'when I receive message' blocks.  Some of the students used these skills to program conversations between characters.  Below are a couple of examples of student programs involving conversations between sprites.

By Finn.

By Ellen.

  All of the students are creating interesting programs and they are very enthusiastic about using Scratch!

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Rocks and Architecture

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

Rocks and Architecture

We learned that in ancient Egypt and Greece architecture was influenced by the type of rock that was available to use as a building material.  Sedimentary rocks, such as the limestone blocks in the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt, do well under compression.  The pyramid shape mimics that of a mountain with the blocks at the top only having to support their own weight.  The blocks at the bottom have to support the weight of all the blocks above them and the pyramid shape helps to distribute the load.

The Pyramids at Giza
We also learned that the huge and beautiful sandstone columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt are actually made of huge puck shaped stones stacked on top of each other.  (You can't just take a long slab of sandstone and turn it 90 degrees to make a pillar--the rock will fracture.)  Stacking the stones like pucks to make columns takes advantage of the fact that the horizontal layers of the sandstone do well under compression.  The Egyptians had to have many columns close together to support the sandstone roof since the rock spanning the columns does not do well under tension.  
Columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt.  It looks like a storehouse for wide columns!

In Greece we learned that the presence of marble allowed the ancient Greeks to build more slender columns with larger spaces between them because marble is a much stronger rock.  Look at the 'slinky' columns in the photo of the Erechtheion, a temple devoted to Athena and Neptune on the Acropolis of Athens.  The columns are tall and well spaced out due to the strength of marble!

The Erechtheion, the Acropolis of Athens.
Next week we will look at how geology shaped the architecture of ancient Rome!

Programming with Scratch

This week we explored the idea that when you are programming you have the 'tell' the computer every step you want it to carry out.  You have to be specific and you have to use a common language. The students went on to follow a Step-By-Step set of instructions on how to make a 'sprite' (character) in Scratch dance. 

Thanks for dropping by to see what we've been doing!

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Scratching the Surface

First Class for Wednesday Morning Group

Our Wednesday morning group had their first class this week.  (Last week was the Naramata Run, so we waited a week until everyone could be there).  The students did the Me in 3D activity I described last week--I've added photos of their creations to the slideshow (link).  They created a cute cat, the Stanley Cup, emojis, aliens, a pie, as well as a plate of pancakes and bacon--yum!

Architecture Introduction

All of the classes discussed what architecture is, then we looked through some great books to find examples of interesting buildings or other structures.  Students were asked to either share three facts about a building that interested them, or share three buildings that they liked and explain why they liked them.  Through this activity we learned about an amazing variety of buildings and other structures!

Scratch Surprise

We did our first activity using Scratch.  Created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a programming language especially designed for kids.  Scratch has a low bar for entry (you can quickly create something without a lot of background knowledge) and a high ceiling (you can program pretty complicated stuff).  This week the students' were given the task of making the Scratch cat do something surprising.  Some students made it change color, meow, glide about a stage, zoom around the screen and much more!  Over the year we will be learning more about computer programming--I'm excited to see where the students will take this!
The Scratch Cat

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

Saturday, 15 October 2016

First Week

This past week was the first one for the afternoon classes in Penticton and Summerland.  Wow, it was great to finally get together!  We welcomed old friends and met newcomers too.  We discussed our theme, architecture (or arKIDtecture!), and got a bit of an overview of what we'll be learning and doing this year.  We spent the rest of our time together getting to know each other by playing 'Two Truths and a Lie' and doing an activity called 'Me in 3D'.

For this last activity students made a creation in 3D that represented something they were interested in.  Students used a variety of materials and once their creations were complete they presented them to the rest of the class.  It was a great opportunity for students to chit chat and get to know each other while being creative and sharing ideas.  Check out the slides below (link) of some of the creations.  We have students who like dirt biking, music, math, gymnastics, Greek mythology, food, building structures, cats, Lego, family, snowmen, and dinosaurs to name just a few.

Note: not all structures built are pictured.

Next week we'll dive deeper into our theme and the Wednesday morning group will have their first class.

Thanks for stopping by to find out a little of what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Friday, 23 September 2016

Welcome Back!

The school year is well underway and hopefully students are settled into their new classes and routines.  E-mails have been sent out to families with their child's gifted class time. Below is the overall schedule for Gifted Program classes this school year. In addition, if you click on the 'Calendar' tab at the top of this page you will be taken to a calendar showing all of the class times for the year including school holidays and professional development days. Afternoon classes will start up the week of October 11th, while the Wednesday morning class will start October 19th (due to the Naramata Run occurring in the morning on October 12th). More information will be posted here and e-mailed home closer to the start of classes. 

I'm looking forward to working with the students.  The theme for this year (to be revealed in a future post!) is going to be a lot of fun!  

 8:45 - 11:40am     Penticton 5s @ Wiltse Elementary    
12:30 - 2:30pm   Summerland AIM/ASPIRE
@ Trout Creek Elementary
Penticton 4s @ Wiltse Elementary Penticton Primary @ Wiltse Elementary  

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Last Class

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

Open House

Moms, dads, grandparents, and younger siblings of our grade 1 - 3 students joined us this week and got a look at what we've been up to!  Students shared their 'Police' files which contained their mug shots, fingerprints, shoe prints, hair samples, writing samples and more.  They fingerprinted family members and showed them how to view hair samples under the microscopes.  They also demonstrated how to do ink chromatography and how to match torn paper samples.  Students showed family their own projects on identification as well as some favorites that their peers had done.  

Thank you to all of the family members that were able to make it to the Open House!

All Mysteries Soved!

The Penticton grade 5 class was the final class to solve their 'Sabotage on the Spaceship Forensic' mystery.  They worked hard and were pretty much unanimous in their indictment of the perpetrator of the crime!  Here are each of the 'accused' from the different classes.  
Summerland AIM/ASPIRE: Niamh
Penticton Grade 5s: Graham
Penticton Grade 4s: Dija
Penticton Grade 2/3s: Charlotte
Many of the accused claim that they were framed, but I'm not buying it!

Examining fiber samples.

Comparing ink chromatography strips.

Matching shoe prints to the print left on the putty at the scene of the crime.

Comparing hair and fiber samples.

Matching finger prints.

More microscope work.

Shared Projects

This week and last, students got the opportunity to check out the identification projects created by students in the other Gifted Program classes.  Copies of almost all of the projects (a few still have to be converted and uploaded) are located here.  Students need to log in using their regular username and password (the one they use to log in to the school district computers).  

When on the site, click the green 'Projects' icon.

Projects are grouped by class.

Special Guest

On Wednesday afternoon Sue Thomson, District Principal for Student Support Services, visited the Penticton grade 4 class.  Students did a great job showing Ms. Thomson their projects and some of the other things on which we've been working.  The Gifted Program is one of many programs and services which Ms. Thomson oversees--we were happy to give her a first hand look at what we do!

End of Year Parent Meetings

Students brought home a schedule for the end of year parent meetings.  I will be e-mailing copies of the schedule early next week in case it didn't make it home.  My goal is to meet with every child's parent to review how the year went and to plan for next year.  If you are unable to meet at the time I've scheduled you, please contact me and we can make alternative arrangements. 

Thank you for stopping by to see what we've been up to!


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Mustache Madness

A strange thing happened with the grade 5s this week.  They all sprouted mustaches, I'm not sure what's up with that...


This week the Wednesday classes performed ink chromatography on the ransom note and suspect pens as part of their sleuthing for the Sabotage on the Spaceship Forensic Mystery.  (See more on the mystery in this post.)  The Summerland AIM/ASPIRE class, as well as the Penticton 2-3 and 4 classes compiled all of the evidence and made their conclusions as to the identity of the persons responsible for stealing the computer chip that runs the life support systems on the Spaceship Forensic.  The culprits were quickly apprehended, the chip was restored and disaster was averted!  The Penticton grade 5s will solve their version of this mystery next week.

Last Week of Classes

Next week (the week of May 16th) is the last week of Gifted Program classes.  The Gifted Program covers grades 1 - 5, so it is time to wish the grade 5s well as they move on to grade 6 in the fall.

Open House

Parents of students in grades 1 - 3 are invited to drop in on our last class for open house.  For Summerland grade 1 - 3 students the class is on Tuesday May 17th from 12:30 - 2:30pm at Trout Creek Elementary room 32.  For Penticton grade 2/3 students the class is on Thursday May 19th from 12:30 - 2:30pm at Wiltse Elementary in room 32.  Parents are invited to drop in at any time during the class and stay for as long as they are able.  Our class starts with 25 minutes of social time, followed by circle and then we move into class activities.  Students will show you the different activities we have been doing including their identity projects.  We hope you can make it! 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Okanagan Science Centre Field Trip

Last week 27 grade 3 - 5 students along with 7 fabulous chaperones visited Okanagan Science Centre in Vernon.  We learned about DNA and how to extract it from strawberries!  We also got to explore the interactive galleries at the Science Centre.  When we were done at the Science Centre we walked over to beautiful Polson Park and enjoyed lunch on the grass and then the students played on the playground.  You can view photos of our trip here.  A big thank you to Tammy Drobe, Sarah Larsen, Jacq Carson, Jane Advent, Terry McCartan, Yanti Rowland, and Jill Wrigglesworth for chaperoning.  I am very proud of the students--their behavior on the trip was excellent!

Here are just a few of the photos from our day at the Centre.  Please check out this link for more pics.

This week we have our second to last class.  Next week (May 16th - 20th) is the last week of classes. Parents of grade 1 - 3 students are invited to our open house next week.  Drop in between 12:30 and 2:30pm on Tuesday May 17th for Summerland/Trout Creek students and Thursday May 19th for Penticton students.

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

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Sabotage on the Space Ship Forensic!

Here are a few things that we've done this week (and last) in gifted class.

Sabotage on the Space Ship Forensic!

We are pretending that we are the crew of the Space Ship Forensic.  The crew is on a multi-year mission to explore the far reaches of space.  Apparently one of the crew members misses Earth and has sabotaged our ship! A note was left for the captain--the author of the note has stolen a computer chip that is important in keeping the life support system going.  If the captain does not return the ship to Earth, the chip will not be returned and everyone will perish!   Each of the classes is using their forensic skills to sift through clues in this puzzling case.  Here are some of the things the crew is investigating:

  • identifying the handwriting on the note
  • using ink chromatography to match the ink to one of the different brands of pens available on the ship
  • matching a fingerprint found on the envelope with the fingerprints of the crew
  • matching the torn top of the note to the paper pad the note may have come from
  • matching hair, fibre and footprint samples found at the scene.  
Stay tuned as we puzzle our way through this case!

Project Presentations Continued

Last week and this week we had the following presentations: 
  • Niamh presented her BitStrips comic 'Mystery'
  • Ty presented his Scratch Mystery Game
  • Katie and Logan had the class play their 'WWII Spies' Jeopardy game on the interactive whiteboard
  • Graham presented his BitStrips comic 'The Stock Mystery'
  • Mykenna presented 'Identifying Birds' which she created in Comic Life
  • Anya presented her slideshow on Koalas
  • Sophie presented her slideshow on Penguins
  • Gerry presented his slideshow on Identifying House Cats
  • Rowyn presented her slideshow on Tiny Spiders
  • Iain demonstrated his Forensic Board Game to the class
  • Dija had her story 'The Blanket Mystery' read to class

A scene from Niamh's comic 'Mystery'

A scene from Graham's comic 'The Stock Mystery'

Field Trip and Other Important Dates

This Tuesday, May 3rd, the grade 3, 4 and 5 students will be hopping on a bus and going to Okanagan Science Centre in Vernon!  We're looking forward to having a great day.  Thank you to the parents (and a grandparent!) who have volunteered to be chaperones for the trip.  

Students are reminded to bring:
  • jacket
  • recess snack and juice / water
  • bag lunch
  • suitable shoes for walking (e.g. no flip flops)
  • good behavior :-)
Things to leave at home:
  • money
  • electronic devices of all kinds
Penticton students are asked to be at Wiltse at 7:45am in the bus zone (next to the playground).  We will be departing at 8am.  Trout Creek students are asked to be at Trout Creek Elementary at 8:10am. I anticipate the bus arriving just before 8:20am and departing soon after.

Gifted classes are cancelled for the week of May 2nd - 6th due to the field trip on May 3rd.

Gifted Classes Wrap Up The Week Of May 16th
This is our last week of classes for this school year.  

Open House May 17th and 19th for students in grades 1 - 3.  
Parents of students in grades 1 - 3 are invited to drop in and see what we've been up to this year.  Parents are welcome anytime between 12:30 and 2:30pm.      

Friday, 15 April 2016

Scratch That!

Project Updates

Projects are rapidly wrapping up!  We had the following presentations this week:

  • Oscar shared his Lego Stop Motion Mystery Movie CS Investigation and his BitStrip comic Bank Robbery
  • Ben shared his BitStrip mystery comic Meow
  • Jessica presented her interactive Smart Board mystery Who Ate the Bagel?!
  • Kieran presented the mystery video game he created in Happy Wheels.
  • Jimmy presented his BitStrip comic Mystery #1
  • Ryan A presented his PowerPoint slide show on Mythical Creatures
  • Ryan M presented his 3 part BitStrip comic Who Did It?
Many more students are ready (or almost ready!) to present.  

Through the projects all of the students have learned new information and/or new skills.  Prior to starting their projects, students were introduced to BitStrips and how to use it to create interesting characters and stories.  Some chose to use this tool for their projects, but in many cases students chose a different format.  Kudos to those students who took on a tool that was new to them, especially the grade 2s and 3s who chose to use PowerPoint even though some of them had never used it before and so were learning on the fly!  Katie D, Logan and Jessica took on Smart Notebook (software for the interactive whiteboard), with little or no exposure to it before.  Many others chose formats with which they were familiar but took it to a new level--using Comic Life and learning how to use image editing software or programming in Scratch and learning how to use more complicated commands or learning how to add audio to a PowerPoint slideshow.  Throughout this process, students are sharing their new skills with their peers.  We are a community of learners where skills that one person learns are celebrated and shared with others--it's pretty neat!   

Scratch That!

So what are the students who have completed their projects doing?  Well, some of the Penticton grade 3s are taking on computer programming using Scratch 2.  Scratch is a visual based programing application that introduces kids to programming concepts.  Students can create animations, video games, interactive stories, and much more.  There is a low bar for entry (ie users can quickly program something fun that works), but Scratch also allows for more complicated programming.  A number of the Penticton grade 5s had a short introduction to Scratch a few years ago in the Gifted Program, and many of them have used Scratch this year for their main project.  

Screenshot of Scratch showing the main screen on the left with the programing scripts on the right.

Field Trip Planning

Thank you to all the grade 3, 4 and 5 families who sent in the field trip forms and $.  A big thank you also to all those parents who have volunteered to chaperone on the trip--much appreciated!

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

Saturday, 9 April 2016

More Project Presentations

This Minecraft tour of DNA was projected onto the big screen.

Projects, Projects, Projects!

Project presentations continued this week.  Marcus presented his Minecraft tour of DNA, Grace and Ellen each shared their Who Dunnit comics (Grace's created in Comic Life, and Ellen's in BitStrips), Kailey gave her PowerPoint presentation on Identifying Bears, and Jayda gave hers on Identifying Big Cats.  Through these presentations students are learning about a wide variety of topics, appreciating what makes a good presentation, and finding out about some of the mad skills of their peers!

Field Trip 2016!

Every year the Gifted Program students in grades 3 - 5 go on a field trip that ties in with our theme.  This year our theme has been Operation Identification and for our field trip we are going to Okanagan Science Centre in Vernon!  How does this relate to our theme?  When we are at the Science Centre students will get to do a hands on forensic activity.  After this, students will have the opportunity to explore the galleries.  There are lots of interesting and educational interactive displays on topics ranging from electricity and magnetism, to space travel and more.

Grade 3 - 5 students brought home Field Trip forms with more information about the trip as well as the permission slip and request for chaperones.  Please send the completed form and $ with your child next week.  Parents and guardians who are interested in being chaperones are encouraged to fill in the appropriate section on the permission form.  If you have any questions about the trip, please contact Claire Thompson.

Thanks for checking in and seeing what we did... This Week In Gifted!  

Friday, 1 April 2016

Gorillas and Airplanes

After two weeks off for Spring Break we were back at it; here are a few of the things we did... This Week In Gifted!

Investigative & Eye-Witness Skills

Students were partnered up with someone in the class who they didn't know too well.  Their job was to find out three things their partner did over Spring Break and report back to the class.  The students did a great job of listening and remembering.  Then came the hard part!  They were told to sit back to back with their partner and imagine the following scenario; they were just in the bank and their partner (who they had never seen before) ran in and robbed the bank.  Their job was to write out a physical description of the bank robber to help the police in apprehending the suspect.  We quickly learned that even though we just spent 5 or 10 minutes in one-on-one conversations with the 'bank robber', it was hard to remember what they looked like!  What color was their t-shirt?  How about their eyes?  Were they wearing jeans or tights or track pants or ...  Once their physical description was written, everyone folded the piece of paper into an airplane and we launched them.  The next step was to retrieve a plane and try to match up the physical description on it with the correct person.  Eventually all of the robbers were nabbed!

This activity led to a discussion of eye-witness accounts and selective attention.  To illustrate the point we watched the following short video (link).

Projects, Projects, Projects!

Yes, we are still working on projects.  Some students presented prior to Spring Break and are working on interesting side-projects, and many more are almost done.  This week Charlotte and Shaylene kicked off presentations in the Penticton grade 2-3 group.  After each presentation the presenter's peers and I ask questions (either about the topic or about the format they used), and comment on what the presenter did well.  Through this all of the students are developing their listening and critical thinking skills; we all benefit when we talk about what a person did well in their project.  The presenters also feel good having the strong points in their work recognized by their peers as well as by their teacher.  Looking forward to more presentations next week!

As always--thanks for checking in to see what we've been doing!

Friday, 4 March 2016

More Marvelous Microscopes!

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

A Few (Very) Small Things

This week all of the classes got to use the microscopes!  We learned about the parts of the microscopes by doing this online tutorial.  Then we switched over to the real microscopes and the students got to work viewing a variety of things; torn paper, color photos (mind blowing under medium power!), typed numbers and letters, fabric, eyelashes, hair...

Students also got the opportunity to check out a virtual compound microscope here and view blood cells, bone cells, cheek cells, and onion cells.  There was also a virtual scanning electron microscope where students tried to identify specimens such as skeletal muscle, a housefly mouth, spider eyes etc.

For access to the step-by-step lessons that link to the online microscope links students can log on to our Moodle class and click on the 'Microscopes' link.

  • Go here
  • Students enter their school district username and password
  • Click on the Microscope 'Book' icon and away you go!


We also did more work on our projects.  Tessa, from the Penticton Grade 5 Class, presented her project in Comic Life on different ways that pets are identified.  All of the students will present their completed projects to their peers.  Their peers will ask questions and give appreciations (say what they thought the presenter did well).

Progress Reports

On Monday I e-mailed out progress reports for each student outlining what we have done so far this year.  If you haven't received your child's report, please contact me.

Spring Break

Next week is the last week of classes prior to Spring Break.  Classes will resume again on the week of March 29th.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

New Space and Microscopic Investigations

Here are a few of the things we've been up to for the past Two Weeks In Gifted.

Summerland AIM/ASPIRE Gets a New Home

Two weeks ago the Summerland group moved into a different classroom at Trout Creek Elementary.  It's very exciting because now we have:
- carpet!
- a sink!
- a 'treehouse'!
- easy access to the washrooms and water fountains!
I took great photos of the students enjoying their new space, but... my phone is on the fritz so you'll just have to imagine how thrilled they were with the 'treehouse' and other aspects of the room.

5 Card Photo Story

All of the classes tried their hands at a 5 Card Photo Story.  It works like this; students are shown 5 images, they then have 5 minutes to plan a story that involves each of the 5 images.  They can work alone or in pairs.  After the 5 minutes are up, the students take turns telling their stories to the class.  After each story is told, the rest of the students give appreciations--what they thought the students did well.  The students are getting quite good at coming up with interesting stories and with offering positive feedback to their peers!
Here are the images that the students had to use for their stories (link):


This past week the Wednesday classes (Penticton 4s and 5s) got the opportunity to work with some compound microscopes.  We talked a little about how microscopes are used to identify and match crime scene evidence.  Students looked at some of the following under the microscope:
- strands of hair (with and without glitter in it!)
- cloth fibers
- cookie crumbs
- torn paper
- coloured magazine images
- eraser bits
Again, I took some great pics of the students using the microscope, but my phone is on the fritz.  Imagine students in pairs eagerly viewing things through small student microscopes--sometimes with looks of astonishment on their faces at what they are seeing and you'll get the gist of things!  
We will be doing more with the microscopes in the coming weeks.

Project Time

Students are still working away at their projects.  Some projects are finished, or just receiving their final touches.  Other projects are further away from completion, which is just fine. 

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

Saturday, 13 February 2016


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


All of the classes exercised their storytelling skills this week.

My Favorite Thing

The Summerland AIM/ASPIRE group and the Penticton 2/3s made up some amazing stories on why some of these objects were their favourite thing:
- a tape dispenser
- a long cardboard tube
- a plaque magnet with two small birds on it
You'd be amazed at some of the stories; I know I'll never look at a tape dispenser the same way again!

Improv Bingo

The Penticton 5s did a great job coming up with skits.  They have had a little bit of practice with this drama / storytelling activity already.  In the past students chose their groups, but this time around students were randomly assigned to groups of 3 or 4.  It was a stretch for some students, but in the end everyone contributed to and participated in some great skits! 

This week was the first time the Penticton 4s participated in Improv Bingo and they did a wonderful job!  This is a small group, so we were able to work through two different scenarios.  I look forward to doing Improv Bingo with this group again.

With both 'My Favourite Thing' and 'Improv Bingo' we debrief to discuss what made the stories successful.  With 'Improv Bingo' we give appreciations--talking about what each group did well with their performance.  Students are getting good at giving specific, positive feedback.

Project Sneak Peek

Below are a few screen shots from Marcus' Operation Identification project on DNA.  He is creating it in Minecraft and I can't wait to see the final project!  More sneak peeks from other projects in the weeks to come!

Thank you for stopping by to see what we've been up to!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Project Progress

This week students continued to work on their projects. Here are a few sneak peeks from the Summerland AIM/ASPIRE class:

A screen shot from the planning page for Iain's CSI board game.

Niamh researching fingerprints for her BitStrips comic.

Three screen shots from Oscar's Lego Movie.

I look forward to sharing more project work in the weeks to come!

Some other things we did this week:
  • The Penticton 5s and 4s copied out extortion notes for our upcoming CSI mystery.
  • The Penticton 4s, 2-3s and the Summerland AIM/ASPIRE classes played the charades game 'Heads Up'.
  • The Penticton 2-3 class excelled at their first time doing the drama activity 'My Favorite Thing'.
Thanks for stopping by to see what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Quick Update

Just a quick post this week. We have been spending a lot of time the Identification Project. Students are finding good resources, putting things together and learning a lot along the way on using their desired format. Students using BitStrips are learning how to create nifty effects and how to pose their characters, students using scratch are finding out new coding tricks, and our youngest students who are using Power Point for the first time are becoming adept at adding photos. As always--thanks for checking in!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Shoe Prints

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

Shoe Prints

Last week it was hair samples, this week it was shoe prints.  As you can see in the images below, there is quite a variety!  Why are we collecting all of these samples?  We're building up a dossier on identifying features of each student (fingerprints, handwriting, hair, shoe prints) in preparation for a mystery that we will be trying to solve in a few weeks.  Stay tuned!


Students continued to work on their projects.  They are collecting information and images and starting to put the information together in the form of; BitStrip comics, slide shows, radio interviews, games (created in Scratch or using the Smart Board or classic board games), stop motion videos...  It is going to be fun to see the final projects!

Drama and Storytelling Activities

Each of the classes participated in a drama or storytelling activity.

The Summerland AIM/ASPIRE class and the Penticton 4s played My Favourite Thing!  In this game a random item is selected and the students have to come up with a creative story explaining why it is their favourite thing.  Both classes cottoned on to this quite quickly and the quality of the stories was really good.  Students came up with wacky uses for a variety of things such as a small pink bucket, a stuffed martian, a Rubik's cube and more.

Great acting was on offer from the Penticton 2/3s.  They played Heads Up!, a charades style game.

There were hilarious skits from the Penticton 5s as they played Improv Bingo.  In 1s, 2s or 3s they had 5 - 10 minutes to prepare a short skit which had to include the following:
Person: a tightrope walker with hiccups
Place: in the kitchen
Object: a crown
Goal: climb to the clouds
Problem: there's a drought happening
The skits were fun and the audience was appreciative!

I'm looking forward to doing more of these activities with the students.  The activities foster creative thinking, allow students to work on their presentation skills, and, in the case of Improv Bingo, involve good collaborative skills.

Thanks for checking in to see what we did this week!

Friday, 15 January 2016

A Little Off The Top

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

Hair Samples

In preparation for a forensic mystery that we will be solving next month I collected hair samples.  Though many were reluctant to part with even a few strands of their luscious locks, samples were obtained from everyone.  When we do our forensic mystery we will compare strands found at the scene of crime against our database of suspects (aka the students!)

Project Time

Students spent a good chunk of time researching and working on their projects.  Many students are finding out more about Crime Scene Investigation techniques, some are learning how to identify different types of animals, and others are investigating secret identities of characters in real life and in fiction.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Project Time!

This week was the first week back after the winter break. After students had a chance to reconnect we got right down to business!

Project Time

Students are starting work on a research project.  They will choose a topic related to our theme; Operation Identification.

Online Research

To help us understand how to do effective online searches for our project we went through part of this lesson on choosing good search terms. We also watched the following video (link) on how search works.

We also defined terms like internet, web browser, and search engine.

Choosing Topics

This week students started exploring possible topics.  As long as the student can link the topic to our theme, it is fair game!  Some students are thinking about researching:
- fingerprint analysis
- DNA analysis
- Sherlock Holmes
- Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) techniques
- how to identify different groups of animals
- disguises
- identity theft
Students just had a short time in class to consider topics and so if they haven't decided upon a topic yet, that is fine.  We will have more time next week to explore.

Looking Ahead

Once students have chosen a topic they will decide on a format to present their research.  Again, students have a great deal of choice in the format.  Some have already started on Power Point presentations, others are going to write a whodunnit incorporating what they've learned in the story, and still others are creating computer games.

I will be working with students to define the questions they need to answer in their research.  Each project is going to be unique and I look forward to seeing what they produce!

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to and where we're going!