Tuesday, 21 May 2019

It's A Wrap!

Gifted Program classes wrapped up last week.  Here are some of the activities we did in the final classes.

Design Challenge

In our second to last class, the Tuesday afternoon group and the Wednesday morning groups were given rubber bands, sheets of paper and tin foil and asked to use them to design something to solve the problem "I need to create a safe light source for a home with no electricity."  The solutions students came up with were creative and varied.  Many involved using the reflective properties of the tin foil to reflect sunlight into the home.  Check out the construction process in the slides below (link).

Name That Noise

Students from the Tuesday class, as well as a small group from the Wednesday morning class, took the field recorders and recorded some sounds from around the school.  The sounds were played back to the class to see if they could... name that noise!

Mustache Ceremony

Wait, what?  Mustaches?  All I can tell you is that on the final class for the grade 5s, we do the Mustache Ceremony.  It involves mustaches.  It also involves highlighting the accomplishments of each grade 5 student for the years they have been in the Gifted Program.  It may also include some funny dancing and waving of objects by Ms. Thompson.  Pictures of mustachioed grade 5s are in the slide show.


On the last class you definitely have to have a party!  Depending on which class we're talking about there was; cake, muffins, cookies, watermelon, chips, pretzels, cheezies, pickles, doughnuts, juice...  Thank you to everyone who brought something to share.  We had an abundance of food!  See the slides for some party pics. 

Reports and Parent Meetings

At the beginning of June year end progress reports will be sent out.  I will also be scheduling parent meetings  to review how the year went and to plan for next year.  Information will be sent out in a week or so. 

Monday, 6 May 2019

Field Trip

On April 30th the grade 3s, 4s and 5s, along with four wonderful chaperones toured Global Okanagan and CBC Radio in Kelowna.  Our hosts were wonderful, we learned a lot, and the students were keen and asked great questions!  Please check out the slides below to see what we got up to.
Link to slides.  To see full screen click on the full screen icon (next to the gear) in the embedded slides below, or click on this link.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

CFUZ Visit and Zip Line Challenge

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

CFUZ Station Visit

The students in the Tuesday afternoon class from Summerland hopped in Ms. Thompson's van for a visit to the CFUZ Peach City Radio Station.  We toured the small station and got to sit in the studio with the headsets on and speak into the microphones.  It was a small taste of what we'll see on our field trip to CBC Radio and Global Okanagan. 
We were not actually on air at the time, but we were using the microphones.

Radio Production

In all of the classes students are in the process of finishing up recording and editing their radio segments.  The segments will be aired later in May and early June.  More info to come!

Zip Line Design Challenge

Students in the Wednesday morning class were given the challenge of designing a carrier that could transport a ping pong ball down a 4 foot long zip line made of fishing line.  They were allowed to use the following materials:
  • bamboo skewers
  • plastic straws
  • metal washers
  • small paper Dixie cups
  • masking tape
Prior to starting their designs we discussed how the design process involves:
Some students were lucky enough to come up with a design that worked well right off the bat, but everyone, regardless of how successful their initial design was, went back to the drawing board to improve their design.  Some went over and above -- designing carriers to transport 2, 4, 8, 10 and even 22(!!!!!) ping pong balls!  Check out some of their handiwork in the slides below (link):

Monday, 22 April 2019

5 Card Photo Story

Here are a few things that students got up to last week in the Gifted Program:

5 Card Photo Story

The Wednesday afternoon class exercised their creative storytelling chops by playing 5 Card Photo Story.  Students were shown 5 photos and given 5 minutes to come up with an interesting story involving all of the photos.  The stories were presented orally to the class.  Students worked individually or in groups of two or three.  Here are the photos they had to work with (link):

We ended up with some very outlandish, and very funny, stories!  Some stories were even acted out.  After each story the audience was asked for their appreciations -- letting the storytellers know what they did well.  The students did a great job, both as storytellers and audience members. 

Radio Production

All the classes continued to work on their radio segments.  We now have the following segments:
  • Animal Fun Facts episodes 1, 2 and 3
  • Cinderella Fractured Fairy Tale
  • Humpty Dumpty Fractured Nursery Rhyme
  • Fake Ads
    • Noah's Mechanical
    • Smart Jacket
    • Jam Ad
    • Cheat Chip
    • Polly's Perfect Popcorn
    • Auction Ad
  • Marlowe's World of Ice
  • Iain's House of Jokes
  • Pancakes vs Waffles Debate
  • Name that Sound 
  • Roberto Baggio story
  • Rose Angevin story
These segments, as well as others that are just wrapping up production, will be stitched together into a number of half hour episodes that will air on CFUZ - Peach City Community Radio.  Students and their families will all be informed prior to the episodes airing.  The episodes will also be archived and a link to the archive will be sent out once the episodes air.

Coming Up...

This week the Tuesday afternoon class will be heading over to the CFUZ - Peach City Community Radio Station in Penticton.  Students will get a chance to sit down in a bona-fide radio studio and see how the magic happens.

Next week on Tuesday April 30th all of the grade 3, 4 and 5s will be going on a field trip to Kelowna to tour the Global Okanagan television studios as well as the CBC Radio station!  Regular gifted program classes on Tuesday April 30th and Wednesday May 1st are cancelled.

Gifted Program classes wrap up in mid-May; the Tuesday afternoon group has their last class on May 14th and the Wednesday groups have their last class on May 15th.  Shortly after that progress reports will be sent out and parent meetings will take place.  The goal of the meetings is to review how the year went for your child and to plan for next year.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Two Truths and a Lie

Last week was our fist week back after Spring Break.  Since it had been three weeks since we were together it seemed like a good time to play...

Two Truths and a Lie!

I'm always amazed at how popular this game is with students.  The students were told to tell the class two true statements about their break and one false statement.  The group had to vote on which statement they thought was the lie.  Before choosing their statements we talked about different strategies to make it difficult to determine which statement was the lie.  I have good news and I have bad news; some of the students were very good at tricking us...

Interview Skills

The Tuesday afternoon group watched part of a short video (link) with tips on interviewing people.  We then got some practice interviewing each other.  Students were paired up and asked to find out 3 interesting things about their partner, but they couldn't outright say "Tell me three interesting things about yourself".  Some great questions were: What do you want other people to notice about you?  Where do you dream of travelling?  What is an unusual thing that you can do that most of your friends cannot?  

Work continues on our radio segments for the Creation Station.  We have not aired any of the segments yet, that will be happening later this month (hopefully).  All students and families will be informed prior to shows airing so that you, and all our other fans, can listen live or access the link to listen on demand.  Stay tuned!

Field Trip

Every year the grade 3s, 4s and 5s in the program are invited to attend a field trip related to our theme.  Classes will get info on this year's trip during their class this week and field trip forms will be sent home with them.  Just like our theme, I like to keep the details of the field trip top secret until the last minute.  Thus, no info will be leaked at this time!  

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Radio Sampler and Improv Bingo

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

Radio Sampler

Students listened to a short sample of the different audio segments that have been produced so
far this year.  The quality of the work is great and the students enjoyed hearing what others have been creating!  It seems to have spurred students on to want to complete segments they have in production and to start new segments.

Improv Bingo

The Students in the Wednesday morning class played Improv Bingo.  It is a fun drama game where students have to quickly come up with a short skit that they act out.  In this case the students had to include (link):

There was a lot of discussion about why you would have a blizzard in the Sahara, but eventually folks accepted that it had to be part of the skit.  Before getting into their groups to brainstorm ideas we talked about how to work positively with your group members, ensuring that everyone was able to contribute and participate fairly.  When it was time to get to work, the students were amazing!  They generated ideas and everyone looked like they were happy with how their group was working.  This is pretty incredible.  When I've done this activity with other groups there are always times I have to step in to help mediate conflicts or deal with tears.  Not with this class!

The skits were hilarious!  One skit involved a giant lollipop god who was generating the blizzard (which was actually a DQ Blizzard), another involved creative use of furniture to depict a character struggling with a beefy 5 foot tall butterfly.  There were creative uses of lollipops, amazing acting, excellent use of narrators, and so much humor!  At the end of each skit the audience members were asked to give appreciations and to comment on what the group did well.  This helps all of us understand what elements people enjoy and what makes a great skit.

The Wednesday afternoon class did a modified version of Improv Bingo.  Instead of doing skits, students worked alone to come up with stories which they told aloud.  Again, there were creative and humorous stories!

The Tuesday afternoon class had another go at My Favourite Thing, the storytelling activity described in last week's post.  The creativity from this group is wonderful!  One of our students from this class is moving away at Spring Break so we wished her well with some donuts -- but everyone had to tell a creative story about why donuts were their favourite thing in order get in on the food!

More Project Time

All of the classes had lots of time again this week to work on their audio projects -- either writing scripts, voicing them, or editing the audio.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Music and My Favourite Thing

Stingers, Bumpers and Music

This week we discussed the function that music plays in radio and video.  Music helps set the mood, and often in radio there are short clips of music that listeners identify with the show and that are used to help separate different segments of a radio program, these are called stingers.  If you listen to CBC radio's Daybreak South in the morning you are probably familiar with the music they use in their stinger for the start of each segment after the news breaks (it's upbeat and groovy).  The CBC radio show Q uses the intro music from the BROS' song Tell Me

Radio shows also use bumpers.  A bumper is a short segment of audio that is prerecorded and usually consists of a voice over music, for instance a bumper for our radio show might say "you are listening to the Creation Station on Peach City Radio!"  Bumpers serve as transitions from one audio segment to another.

Where to find music to use with an audio segment though?  This week we looked at a music site called Incompetech.  This site has royalty free music and graph paper -- an intriguing combination!  (I have to admit to using the site for both of these items.)  Royalty free music is music that is free, or that you have to only pay for once, that you can use in different projects for as long as you like.  If you've ever tried to add a favourite track of music to a video that you are uploading to YouTube you may have had the unpleasant experience of having your music blocked.  This is probably because you do not have permission from the song's distributor to use the track.  Royalty free music can be used without this problem.  Incompetech's site is really handy because you can search for music based on how it feels (ie the mood it conveys).  Maybe you need a piece of music that is bouncy and humorous sounding, or perhaps you are looking for something eerie and dark.

My Favourite Thing

Students exercised their creative and divergent thinking muscles this week by playing 'My Favourite Thing'.  In this storytelling activity students are shown an ordinary object and they have to explain (in 2 or 3 sentences) why it is their favourite thing.  The Wednesday classes told some great tales about a frying pan, sponge, fake flower, and other items.  The Tuesday class came up with riveting yarns about a tissue box, a small plastic hand, and part of a marble works track.

Project Time

Students continued to work on their radio projects.  All of the classes got quite a bit of recording done.  The Wednesday morning class tackled another fractured fairy tale, this time written by Char G.  The tale involved 10 voice actors and the students did a great job working together to get the recording done!   

Check out the photos below of the students at work (and at play!)

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Logo Design

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


Now that we have a name for our Radio Show, The Creation Station, it's time to come up with a logo.  We did a concept attainment lesson on what makes a good logo.  Students were shown the slides below (link).  We looked at logos that had been divided into 2 groups; the 'Yes' group and the 'No' group.  The students had to decide why the logos were placed into each group.  In the end we discovered that 'Yes' group represented logos that followed good design principles (simple, few colours, images that related to the product) and the other group did not.  Student then worked on their own logos.

More Radio Work

Students continued to work on their radio segments.  We are building up some great content!  We will begin airing episodes once we have generated enough material.  Stay tuned!

Encrypted Welcome

The Summerland group welcomed a new student to the class.  I had received information that this student had some pretty good 'spy' skills, so an enciphered welcome message was in order!  Once the students deciphered the message, one of the veteran students added an additional line to the message for our newcomer -- nice move!  (link to slides)

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Drumroll Please!

A Name For Our Radio Show

Over the past few weeks the students and Ms. Thompson have suggested names for our radio show.  Last week students voted and this week our radio show name was revealed.  Drumroll please!

Our show name is...


When we have enough content for a few episodes, we will be airing it under our new show name!

Speaking of Content...

The students have been very busy the past couple of weeks.  We now have the following completed audio segments:

  • an ad for Noah's Mechanical Shop
  • an ad for Sophie's Homemade Jam
  • Fun Facts About Animals, Episode 1
A couple of other segments are almost complete, while many more are in production.

Check out the slides below for photos of the producers at work! (link)

What is it?

This week we played "What is it?"  Students were shown an ordinary object and asked to think outside the box when answering "What is it?"  You would not believe some of the crazy things students came up with for a spoon and a rubber koosh ball!

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

Friday, 15 February 2019

In Production

This week all of the classes were busy, busy, busy on our big radio project!  Students were writing scripts, voicing scripts, and editing audio.  The ideas that are bouncing around are amazing!

Highlights from this week's classes:
  • Students who were initially uncomfortable with recording their own voices are giving it a try and doing really well!
  • The number of students who have asked "After I do this radio segment can I do... (insert amazing and creative idea for a new radio segment here)?"  By the way, the answer is a great big "YES!"
  • The interesting collaborations that are popping up.  Kids are approaching each other to work together on different radio segments; it is very cool to observe!
Here are some examples of the radio segments students are working on:
  •  A radio drama that is the retelling of a classic fairy tale (two students directing and producing, with another six involved as voice actors.)
  • A number of fake (and funny!) ads 
  • Jokes and Riddles
  • The history of one of the original six NHL hockey teams
  • A debate show (two students directing and producing with two on air debaters)
  • An investigative report on the real story behind a classic fairy tale
  • The story of a fictitious hockey team
 Below are some photos of the radio producers at work (link).

Radio Show Name

Over 40 radio show names were submitted by students and Ms. Thompson.  This week students voted on their first and second choices.  Ultimately Ms. Thompson will decide on the name, but she wanted to have a good idea of which names appealed to the students.  The big reveal will happen next week and then we can get down to designing a logo, website, jingle... and all the other branding that a radio show would normally have!

Update on Station IDs

In the past few weeks the grade 4 and 5 students recorded Station IDs for Peach City Community Radio - CFUZ.  This gave them the opportunity to practice:
  • using the field recorders
  • voicing a script
  • transferring audio from the field recorder to their computer
  • editing the audio in Audacity
  • exporting the audio as an MP3 file
Some of those Station IDs are now playing out on Peach City Community Radio; they sound very professional!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Beginning To Make Radio!

The students have spent many weeks learning how to use the field microphones and how to edit audio.  This week we began putting those skills to work.  This week students began creating their own content for our radio show!

Content Creation

Students started researching topics and creating scripts for the radio segments they wish to produce.  Some students are working alone, while others have formed small groups to work on a project.  Radio segments on the following topics are being produced:
  • jokes and riddles
  • facts about animals
  • fake ads
  • a fractured fairly tale
  • hockey
  • soccer
  • comedy / debate show
Some of these segments will be fairly quick to produce, while others will be longer endeavors.  I can't wait to hear the finished products!

It was quite exciting to see students dive into creating audio content!  Below are a few photos of the students at work (link).

Radio Show Name

We are working on coming up with a radio show name.  Students can still submit names here.  Once we've got a name it will be time to start branding -- logos, jingles, you name it!

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

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Snow Day and Radio

We've had two weeks of classes since I last posted.  Here are a few of the things we've been doing.

Let it Snow!

Wednesday January 23rd arrived with a big new dump of snow.  The morning class made the most of the sticky snow, constructing a pretty big snowman!  Check it out in the slides below (link).

Audio Recording and Editing

All of the classes are working on their recording and audio editing skills.  Each week we usually record a group story.  Students get to practice using the field recorder and everyone's technique is improving.  We have also been learning how to edit audio in Audacity, an open source audio editing program.  Students have been learning how to:
  • import audio
  • cut audio
  • fade in and out
  • add sound effects
  • move audio clips around
  • play with various audio effects such as adding echos, reversing audio, speeding audio up, and many other cool things!
This past week students began working on recording short station IDs, editing them, and exporting the audio in the proper format.  Next week we will finish these up, and then students will dive into producing original audio content that will be part of our radio show!

What's in a Name?

We are working on coming up with a name for our radio show.  The show is focusing issues of interest to kids with content created by kids.  My intention is to continue the show even after our class project is over, with other kids and teens.  On the forms that I sent home a few weeks ago the tentative name for the show was 'The 3 R's; Reading, wRiting, and Radio',  but this is just a placeholder until we come up with a name that really sizzles!  Some of the students have already suggested names, but if they (or their families!) have some other name ideas, please submit therm here.

Ready, Set, Design!

On January 23rd the Wednesday morning class did another 'Ready, Set, Design' challenge.  (At the beginning of January, all of the classes had tried a similar challenge which you can read about here. )
The challenge: design a way to collect and transport water.
The materials: 2 balloons, 3 popsicle sticks, a long length of yarn
The goal is to use the materials to make a prototype that will meet the challenge.  It is great to see the creative ways that students interpret the challenge and use the materials.  The discussions during the design and construction phase are really interesting.  At the end of the 15 minute time limit students present and talk about their design.  Assistant Superintendent Todd Manuel was visiting our class during this activity and enjoyed seeing how the students worked through the challenge.  Check out the slideshow below for pictures of the process (link).

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to the past few weeks in Gifted!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Exploring Audacity

Audio Editing

This week our main focus was to learn how to work with audio using the computer program Audacity.

Students learned how to:
  • download audio files from both the sd67 portal and from sound effects websites
  • import audio into Audacity
  • cut sections of audio
  • add a second audio track
  • move audio tracks
A screenshot showing audio tracks in Audacity.
Students chose one of the audio recordings of the 'When Suddenly...' stories we had made in earlier classes and then chose sounds effects to go with the stories.  The emphasis was on exploring and learning new skills and not trying to come up with a final polished product.  

We are using Audacity because the school district has it on its list of approved software, but it would be my first choice anyway since it has lots of great functions and it is free, open source software.  If any of the students really gets into working with audio, they can download a free copy for Mac, Linux or Windows.  See the Audacity tab on this website for more info as well as short some short video tutorials on how to do the basics in Audacity.

Microphone Skills and Storytelling

This week we tried a different storytelling activity called 'Once Upon A Time'.  Before starting the story each person was asked to think of a person, place or thing.  We then went around the class with each person contributing a sentence to the story, but they had to include their person place or thing in the story.  It was pretty fun and we got some interesting stories!  We recorded the stories again using the field recorder.  Students are getting quite good at holding the microphone the correct distance from their mouth and at a good angle so as to avoid getting popping sounds (plosives). 

Coming Up

Pretty soon students will be ready to do their own recordings and editing them.  That's when things will really get interesting!

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

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Ready, Set, Design!

This week was our first time together for over a month -- I think it is safe to say that we were all pretty excited to get back into the groove!  We also welcomed three new students to the program -- I'm optimistic that we didn't scare them off and that they will be with us next week too...   

When Suddenly...

We combined learning how to use the field recorder and practicing our storytelling skills.  "When suddenly..." is s storytelling activity where each person in the group adds a sentence to the story and ends their bit with the words "when suddenly..."  Students said their part of the story into the field recorder -- we are learning how far away to hold the recorder, at what angle to hold it and how to adjust if we are whispering or yelling.  In the weeks ahead students will learn how to edit audio, starting with editing these stories!

Design Challenge

All of the classes did the Ready, Set, Design Challenge.  It is based on an activity described here.  Each student (or pair) received a paper bag containing a slip of paper with the challenge “I need to keep my hands warm”, as well as 2 paper coffee filters, 3 thin plastic straws, and 3 large paper clips.  With the materials in the bag, students had 15 minutes to come up with a prototype that addressed the challenge.  And it was challenging!  They could use tools to work with the materials, but they couldn't add anything new to the structure (like tape).  The materials were a little difficult to work with, but all of the participants came up with interesting solutions. 

At the end of the 15 minutes students shared their designs with the class.  We had solutions that were similar to mittens or muffs, solutions that involved blowing warm air into the cavity where you placed your hands, a double ended lamp, and so many other possibilities.  There was lots of revising and rethinking during the design process.  The conversations between students were great!  I haven't tried this activity before, but I think it is a keeper!  Below are some photos of students working on their designs (link).

Structure of a Radio Show

In preparation for our big radio project, we listened to the first 8 - 10 minutes of Road Trip Radio Episode 1 (link).  The goal was to get a sense of what a variety style radio show sounds like.  We identified the following parts of the show:
  • introduction with theme music
  • what the show is about
  • fun facts
  • coming up later...
  • interviews
  • you're listening to...
Students are starting to generate ideas about what they'd like to include in our show.  Those who aren't keen to have their voice on radio, can be involved in scripting, recording, editing, sound effects, researching... well you get the picture -- there's a lot more to it then recording your voice!

Coming Up

Over the next few weeks students will be learning how to edit audio and they will be getting more experience with the field recorders.

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