Friday, 30 November 2018

Presentations -- Part 1

When Suddenly...

This week the Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon classes participated in the storytelling game "When Suddenly..."  As a group we build a story sentence by sentence.  One person starts it off and ends their piece with the words "when suddenly..." and that's where the next person takes over.  You really have to be on your toes, keeping track of what has already been said and then moving the story forward from there.  We recorded the stories, and will be doing more of this in the future with an eye to doing some audio editing to really jazz up the stories.

Double Trouble

The Wednesday afternoon class had a guest in the classroom, Mrs. Thomson.  Yes, that's right!  It was Thompson and Thomson.  Susan Thomson is the Director of Instruction for Student Services, and the Gifted Program falls under her purview.  She dropped by to see what the students were up to.  They showed her how to decrypt a Scytale message and then shared with her the work they were doing on their communication mini-research projects.

Baby Talk

We've been looking at the myriad of way that we communicate with one another and this week we watched a short video with two babies having a conversation.  The students picked out the different ways the babies were interacting -- they were doing many of the things that we do, we just couldn't understand what they were saying.  Some of us think that they had a big plan to break into the fridge...  (link)


In the Wednesday morning class we started on the student presentations.  We learned about how bees communicate, the history of emojis, the importance of the Rosetta Stone, and the Commercial / Telegraph Code.  More presentations from all of the classes next week!

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to... This Week In Gifted!
I'll leave you with a photo from Social Time in the Wednesday afternoon class.

Saturday, 24 November 2018



This week the students learned how to encrypt and decrypt using scytales.  A scytale is a transposition cipher -- letters in the message are rearranged.  Scytales were originally used by the Ancient Greeks and especially the Spartans.  They involve a cylinder with a strip of paper (parchment or leather back when they were originally used) wrapped around it.  A message is written on the scytale, when the paper is unwound the message is just a strange jumble of letters.  Here is an example from Wikipedia explaining how it works (
To encrypt, one simply writes across the leather:
       |   |   |   |   |   |  |
       | I | a | m | h | u |  |
     __| r | t | v | e | r |__|
    |  | y | b | a | d | l |
    |  | y | H | E | L | P |
    |  |   |   |   |   |   |

so the ciphertext becomes, "IryyatbHmvaEhedLurlP" after unwinding.

Scytales from the Tuesday afternoon class.

Wordlink and Pass the Koosh Ball

The Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon classes each played Word Link; a game where you start off with a word and then the next person says a word that goes with it and the next person says a word that goes with the new word and so on.  For example you might start with the word bear --> stuffy --> nose --> cold --> ice --> hockey etc.  It is always interesting to see where you end up!

The Wednesday morning class played Pass the Koosh Ball.  Students stand in a circle with one person in the middle with their eyes closed.  The kids in the circle pass a ball from person to person until the person in the middle says "Stop!" and then a letter.  The person who has the ball at this point has to pass it along and then name off 5 words that begin with the letter.  If they can't do this before the ball gets back to them, then it is their turn in the middle.  5 words doesn't sound like much, but when you are under pressure it is amazing how hard it can be!

Communication Mini-Research Project

Students continued to work on their research projects.

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Recess with the Wednesday morning group.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Communication Research

Here are a few of the things we've been doing this week (and last!) in gifted.


Last week the grade 4s and 5s learned how to encipher and decipher keyword ciphers.  They used letter frequencies to decipher keyword ciphers when the keyword and keyletter were unknown to them -- a pretty challenging task!  They then put these skills to work playing the game Rogue Computer.  

My favourite student quote last week came from a student in the grade 2/3 afternoon class.  The students were working on deciphering Caesar Ciphers in order to solve the clues in the game Desert Oasis.  It's pretty challenging work when you don't know what the shift is and have to use letter frequencies.  To no one in particular a student said, "This is hard!"  I waited and watched.  "This is hard!"  Again, I waited and watched to see if the student was hitting his limit and needed intervention before frustration took over.  "This is HARD... but it is so much FUN!"  Yes!

This week the students were introduced to a new cipher -- the Pig-Pen.  They were able to decipher the message on the board in short order!

Students in the Tuesday afternoon class tackling the Pig-Pen Cipher

The Wednesday afternoon class at work on the Pig-Pen Cipher

Body Spell

This week the Wednesday morning class played the game Body Spell.  Students were in two teams and each student had letters drawn on their hands and feet.  They were then given a word that they had to spell with the letters on their body -- crazy!  They handled the small 4 and 5 letters words quite well and easily progressed to the 7 letter word they are spelling in the photo below (the letter on the sideways foot is a 'T').

Communication Mini-Research Projects

This week all of the classes started doing research on topics related to communication.  These will be small projects just to whet everyone's appetite before we get into our bigger radio project.  Some of the topics students are investigating are: hieroglyphics, the Rosetta Stone, the Enigma Machine, American Sign Language, Braille, Morse Code, the telegraph, the history of emoticons/emojis, communication in different types of animals (bees, seals, whales...), codes used in WWII, computer coding... It's going to be fun sharing what everyone has learned!

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

Monday, 5 November 2018


Here are a few of the things that we did this past week in Gifted.

Snap Circuits

The Tuesday afternoon group at Trout Creek is enjoying building more complex circuits with our Snap Circuits kit during social time.

This circuit uses a solar cell, resistors, a simple LED, a 7 segment LED display, motor, speaker, resistors...

Keyword Ciphers

The Tuesday group also learned how to encipher and decipher messages with the keyword cipher.  The rest of the groups will be spending time on that this week.

Halloweeen Hijinx

The usual students did not show up for the Wednesday (Halloween) classes.  Instead there was Minnie Mouse, a cowgirl on a horse, a grim reaper, a dark fairy, a demon (sorry Skyler -- I couldn't remember the full name!), the Childlike Empress, Spider Girl, and a mummy.  Yikes!  Also, Julius Caesar took over teaching the class (he does know a lot about Caesar Ciphers after all.)

The morning gang at social time.
Love those creepy fingers!

Field Recorders and Movies

In preparation for our radio project, the Wednesday morning group learned how to use the three H1 Zoom recorders that we have as well as a voice recorder on the mini-iPad.  These are all portable audio recorders.  Students experimented with interviewing each other and getting a sense of how far away to hold the recorders from their mouths.  All of the classes will be getting a chance to work with the field recorders in the weeks ahead.

In addition, the morning class made a short silent movie.  The Dark Fairy (aka Sage) suggested making the movie since we had all of these characters in their amazing costumes.  It was a collaborative effort and came together really well!

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