Friday, December 9, 2011


I have been reading the book, Different Minds by Deirdre Lovecky. This book is geared toward twice exceptional gifted children, or gifted children who have an accompanying disorder.

Chapter Five: Finding Flow: The Wellspring of Creative Endeavor has some suggestions on enhancing creativity. This is helpful for all gifted children so I thought I would summarize the suggestions.
1. Have quiet places where children can retreat to daydream
2. Creativity depends on both divergent and convergent thinking skills. Children need to develop both.
3. Creativity is correlated to big-picture thinking. Children may need help in making connections to larger themes or issues.
4. Creative work has often been inspired by witnessing the pain and hardship of others. It is okay for children to see age appropriate issues and develop their empathy.
5. Creative work can be used to overcome obstacles. Use your creativity to bolster a weakness or embellish a mistake.
6. Special interests can lead to or impede creativity. Computer games, Pokemon or Game Boy are not creative activities. Limit non-creative activities and spend more time on open-ended activities.
7. Much of the research on the early lives of creative people suggests that reading is an important activity.
8. Adults should model their own creative work. Discuss the joys and hardships of living a more creative life.
9. Have adults work with children to help them get started on projects. Let them see that the process of flow in doing something creative, feels good.
10. Help creative children who never finish anything by selecting one of their ideas to work on.

"Gifted people who are creative do not stop being creative, even if they achieve little in the way of recognition. It is not recognition that makes them creative but their own inner connection to their material. The process of becoming one's whole self, of using all of ones' potential to benefit oneself and others, should be the goal of gifted people." (Lovecky, 2004)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Happenings

Third Grade is busy learning about inventions and simple machines. The students have investigated levers, pulleys, inclined plane and wheels. We will add the gears and screws later in the month. Creative Problem Solving was used to address a school problem, noise in the cafeteria. Next students will look at problems and the inventions developed to address the problem. Then the students will find a problem and invent their own solution.

Fourth Grade has been using Creative Problem Solving to look at the issue of natural disasters. One of the classes has decided to create a website to help others learn about natural disasters and how to manage the problems they create. The second Fourth grade class will create a PowerPoint presentation to show their solution to the Sound Tunnel problem

Fifth grade has been working hard to get ready for the FIRST Lego League qualifier on November 19th. They have investigated food contamination and invented a solution that they will present. The students have also worked hard in learning to program, and in addressing the missions.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FIRST Lego League

We are in full gear to get ready for our FLL qualifier in November. Fifth graders will program an NXT robot to navigate the challenge field. We could use any adult help in building the lego components of the field kit. This is one thing adults can do for the group. Since our preparation time has been reduced, I am not using students to build the field set up. Their time can be better used programming and preparing our presentation on food contamination.

We have used the IIM model for researching food contamination. We set our research goals, gathered notefacts from government websites, videos and food experts, organized our notefacts, and evaluated our goals. Next we will use Creative Problem Solving to identify the problems, pick an underlying problem, list solutions, use criteria to decide on the best solution and then create a presentation for the competition.

Time is our biggest challenge. In order to give us more prepartion time, we will have practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 3:30. Adult help is welcome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September Happening

Third Grade-
Third grade SPACE classes finally get to start the week of September 12. For about a month, we will have one SPACE day until Ms. Laymon can finish Second Grade Child find activities. After those are complete, students will have SPACE twice a week so they can get 3 hours of GT service.
We will begin learning Talent Unlimited Thinking skills, logical thinking and the Creative Problem Solving process. We will soon start our Invention Unit

Fourth Grade-
Ms. Laymon received a grant for Power Up: Inventive Thinking. Students will learn the Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking Model, get to use new software to develop their creative and critical thinking, and get to practice creative thinking through Science Olympiad practice problems.

Fifth Grade-
Fifth Graders have begun the FLL Robotics 2011 Food Factor Challenge. We have begun to research food contamination, the problems and solutions. We will begin building our robots and learning how to program them with Labview software. Lots to do!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Many Thanks

Thank you so much to all the families for the classroom donations. They are GREATLY appreciated. Yahoo!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome to our New School Year 11-12

School has started. I am happy to see all the students from last year and look forward to meeting new students. I hope everyone had time to see family, relax and maybe try something new this summer. I am looking forward to all the new things we will be doing this year.

Supply lists will go home today, and any time you want to drop the supplies in the classroom is fine. We will start classes for 4th and 5th the week of August 15th, and 3rd graders will start mid September.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Art Work on Exhibit

Our Dream Rocket Panel has been selected for two gallery shows. The first show is August 1, 2011 to September 1, 2011 at the New Britain Public Library in New Britain CT. The second show is September 15, 2011 to November 1, 2011 at the Educational Gallery Group in West Palm Beach, FL.
Way to go Fourth Grade SPACE students!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Glad to be safe

I am thankful to have all family, friends and students safe after our bout with severe weather.

We are on the home stretch to the end of the school year. Third Grade had started doing our end of the year evaluations before the county lost power and school was canceled. Fourth and fifth had not started. Today one of the fourth grade groups did our notebook cleanup and metacognitive tags. The students pick work and comment on it using tags that have sentence stems. For the next two SPACE classes, we will complete as much of our report card as possible. There may be items that we don't get to, because we run out of time.

Fifth grade actually did run out of time to complete their evaluations. Because of the Camp McDowell trip and the fifth grade ceremony, I am not going to be able to meet with fifth grade this month. It is unfortunate not to be able to help the students bring closure to their elementary SPACE experience, but I will get to celebrate with them on awards day.

This severe weather experience has helped point out what is really important, and how some things are not in our control. We will complete what we can to finish the year, and all is good when we are safe and surrounded by the love of others.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Self Evaluations

Today third grade conducted a self evaluation on their Creative Problem Solving packet. It was a very tough experience. They were very uncomfortable with not being able to reach the highest level. We had lots of discussion regarding why I would have a standard that they could not easily reach. We talked about how people need to know what they don't know so they can grow. We talked about the fact that successful people don't have report cards to measure their ability. Perfectionism was very apparent today.
The good part of perfectionism is that these students have high standards for themselves. The tough part of perfectionism is the highly self critical side where they feel badly about their performance when it is actually a good performance.
Parents you can support your child by having a talk about how to deal with self evaluation and looking at the growth they have achieved instead of the growth still possible.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dream Rocket Panel

Our panel is up on the Dream Rocket website ( It might be hard to find. Check under the theme Equality. You may also see our project on Flickr ( or Facebook ( I hope the Facebook link works. We cannot check Facebook from school.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Are we creating achievers?

According to Sylvia Rimm (1995), children actually develop self-confidence through struggle and become achievers only if they learn to function in the face of challenge. Most of our elementary gifted students don't get the opportunity to face challenge in the general education situation. In their general education classroom, they already know up to 80% of what is being taught. They typically "catch on" quickly to that which is new, and rarely have to struggle.

At Chaffee students may get three or four years of not being challenged before they are placed in the gifted program. The first year in the program can be a source of discomfort for them. Suddenly they have to struggle. They may not understand the first time. They are given new and challenging tasks. Struggling with a problem and "failure" is a new experience. They haven't learned how to work through a problem, and how to try different methods.

What do parents do about this new sense of self, their child may be struggling with? Should parents protect their child from this very real sense of discomfort? Do we want our children to be upset and uncomfortable? Our immediate action is to remove the problem. Our protective instincts rise up. Unfortunately, our children will not grow without struggle. We need to be their support, but we need to help them address the challenges in life not run from them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Communicating Expertise

I had a situation with a parent in which I didn't think the parent was knowledgeable about my expertise. They asked for my expertise, and then treated the feedback as though it was from a peer.
My question is how does a teacher communicate their expertise and still maintain a posture of openness.
I have erred on the side of not communicating my accolades. I am reconsidering this.
How do parents perceive teachers who put their degrees on the wall? Would a parent be interested in a posting of my vitae on line? Do parents need to see my academic surtitle? Or does none of it matter when we are discussing your son or daughter?
I am interested.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Report Cards

SPACE report cards should come home for fourth and fifth graders this week. It is taking us longer for third grade so they should come home next Wednesday.
The report card consists of the Process Skills Rating Scales by Karnes and Bean. I have chosen to use the critical thinking and reasoning, the creative thinking skills and the independent study skills for students to rate. These skills are skills the SPACE program works to develop.
The students are very uncomfortable with rating themselves and not using a A, B, C standard. Parents may be as well. One of the goals of SPACE is to help students be more self refective and to be able to critique themselves and their work with honesty. Having students self evaluate their ability on the skills mentioned above helps them both learn the skills we develop and to be self reflective. The student also learns that evaluations can be used as a measurement on a path to self growth. They identify their strengths and areas for improvement. For many of our gifted students who get all A's, they loose the opportunity to understand that evaluations help us see where we are, and envision a path for personal growth.
If you have any questions about the report card, please email me. The report cards do not have to be returned.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January Happenings

It seems like we haven't had school this month between snowdays and the days I was out. Here is what we've accomplished:
Third Grade
We have discussed how inventors come up with ideas. Using Creative Problem Solving, we came up with an innovative way to reduce the noise in a school cafeteria. Last week we learned how inventors turned mistakes into inventions such as chocolate chip cookies, and Post-It notes. Next month we will work on our own Inventions. We have been invited to participate in
North Alabama Mensa Kids Trek Inventors Day on February 12th from 2 pm to 4 pm at Huntsville Public Library.
Fourth Grade
Fourth graders have decided and planned their project for presenting their Images of Greatness research. We will have lots of Lapbooks, video biographies and presentations. Students who are including claymation in their project can use the clay left over from other projects or get clay from the dollar store.
Fifth Grade
Fifth graders are working on finishing our "What are Your Chances" unit, and will create a game using probability to ensure their chances of winning. We have begun our "Autobiographies" unit and will analyze autobiographical short stories and novels. We will be writing our own autobiography as well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Duke Talent Search

I am sending home information regarding Duke 4th/5th grade Talent Search. Students qualify for this program in one of three ways. The first way to qualify is to have a score in reading, math or composite of 95 or better on the SAT X testing that was done last spring. The second way to qualify is to be enrolled in a gifted and talented program (SPACE) and score a IV on the ARMT reading or math given last spring. The final way to qualify is to score in the top 5% on an aptitude test which is the IQ test given to qualify for SPACE.
The program does have a cost associated with it. The benefits of the program are outlined in the brochure and your family can determine if they would like to participate based on the services given. Students who sign up will be recognized at either our K-4 awards day or the 5th grade awards ceremony with a ribbon from Duke.
Feel free to email me with specific questions at . Congratulations to all those students who qualify!