Friday, December 7, 2012

Creative Personality

Giftedness and creativity are intertwined concepts. Most people never investigate what these concepts actually mean. For a gifted educator, this is our daily conundrum. We are tasked with finding and nurturing both. Although I don't see the concepts as separate, in this post, I would like to address just the concept of creativity.

Part of the SPACE curriculum is focused on helping students understand giftedness so they can better understand themselves. I am currently teaching two curricular units to address the affective needs of gifted students. The first unit is the Take Five: Five Traits of Competent Kids by Dent and Craig. The second unit is Learning to Be a Durable Person by Hennenfent. Both units help students understand themselves and their gifted traits better. Both address the issue of creativity and how creative traits can be misunderstood.

Recently in a discussion with my adult daughter, we discussed issues she was having due to being the "creative" person in her job. She is a graphic designer for a web hosting company. As a former SPACE student, she was able to recognize how everyone in her company uses creativity, but she is seen as the only "creative" person in the company.  On the other hand, her supervisors and co-workers do not see their own creativity. This conversation reminded me that we live in a world where creativity is misunderstood.

This point was further reinforced in some professional reading I am doing. I am reading Investigating Creativity in Youth by Fishkin, Cramon and Olszewski-Kubilis. The book addresses over sixty years of research into the concept of creativity and how to develop creative talent. Sixty years of information and still most of the world does not understand creativity. Will the unique individuals ever be well understood?

Probably not.

Does this sadden me? Yes. Does this leave me hopeless? No.

Creative individuals are such unique beings. They are hard to understand. They are different. That is why there are programs like SPACE.  Creative individuals need love, support, encouragement and the resources to develop their potential. Sometimes we need reminders of how important it is to support the growth and understanding of creativity. Today was one of those days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fourth grade Happenings

The fourth graders have been busy this semester studying Art and Justice. We analyzed a variety of injustices through literary and art analysis. The students read poetry, short stories. They investigated a variety of visual art pieces. The topics covered included bullying, poverty, racism, religious intolerance, and child labor. The students selected one of these topics to do independent research to learn more. One group is looking at the injustices of World War II and another group is investigating child labor.

The students have also had fun developing their skills in art and literature. Each week they work in either a poetry, writing, drawing or art lab to refine their skills in these areas. The students will produce a persuasive visual or written piece to demonstrate their learning later in the semester.

Besides Art and Justice, students have been learning algebra in the unit, At the Mall. They have learned about expressions, equations, variables, prime numbers and factors. The students have also learned the mathematical problem solving strategies of guess and check, work backwards, organized list and the cover up method. A major component of this unit is to learn mathematical communication. The students have learned how to share their mathematical thinking both verbally and in writing. They are learning how to defend and explain both the procedures they use and the strategies for solving the problem.

Third grade Happenings

The third graders have been learning about the five traits of competent kids. They have learned how they qualified for SPACE by having above average ability, task commitment, and creativity. The students have learned that it also takes courage and caring to make a difference in the world. They have set goals for ways to improve in the five traits and are beginning a project to showcase what they have learned.

The students have also been studying matter. They have learned the characteristics of a scientist and about the Wheel of Scientific Reasoning. They have acted like scientists by observing and listing the properties of various objects. We have investigated mass, volume and density. They conducted an experiment to determine if the properties of an object change if the mass of the object is changed. The students helped the cafeteria manager solve an issue. Corn starch was creating a "goop" that we were unsure of its state of matter. The students learned that pressure could change corn starch and water from a liquid to a solid. Another fun experiment was determining if the properties of an object change if the temperature changes. The fun part was eating the product- ice cream! We will be doing more experiments and will soon design our own experiment to test our own hypothesis about matter.


Chaffee had two teams compete in the Hampton Cove FIRST Lego League Qualifier. The students who competed were in the two 5th grade classes. The students worked very hard to get ready for the tournament.
The tournament consists of three areas where the teams are judged. The first area for judging is based on a presentation of a solution to a community problem. This year the topic was Senior Solutions. The students learned about the various problems that senior citizens face. They read articles about challenges for seniors and interviewed seniors. Next they had to chose one of the challenges and create a solution. Team 1188 chose to make a model of a robotic medicine dispenser. They made both a lego model and a CAD model. Team 1239 chose to make a robotic dog that helped with medicine, falling, exercise and communicating with friends. Team 1239 presented their idea as a commercial.

The second area of judging was based on completion of missions. The tournament has a competition field with a variety of objects constructed of Legos. The teams must program an NXT robot to complete as many of the missions as possible. Both teams had to first learn how to program the robots. They used curriculum from Carnige Melon University to learn how to move forward, backward, turn and use sensors. Then they had to apply their learning to the missions. It was challenging but both teams were able to successfully accomplish a number of the missions.

The last area of judging was teamwork. The teams were given a problem to solve at the tournament so the judges could observe how they worked together to solve the problem. This year it was a story telling problem. The teams had lots of preparation for this event through our unit last year called Team Challenge and on working together on the other areas of judging.

I was very proud that Team 1239 was awarded a third place trophy for their teamwork. Both teams did a great job. They learned a ton and had a lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

AAGC Conference

I attended the Alabama Association for Gifted Children conference September 27 and 28th. One of the keynote speakers was Sylvia Rimm, who is an expert on helping parents of gifted children overcome underachievement. She also has some great general advice for parents.
Dr. Rimm covered the Top 10 Needs of the Gifted and Talented. This is great information for parents.
1. Need high expectations for themselves. GT students need to feel smart and the best way to feel smart is take on challenges.
2. Need a good work ethic. GT students need to work hard and see that the harder you work the more you achieve.
3. Need competitive resilience. GT students need to know that you win some and you lose some.
4. Understand that they have areas of strength and weakness.
5. Need differentiated curriculum so they can take on challenge and have a good work ethic.
6. Need GT peer environment. They need a safe place for their giftedness especially in Middle school years.
7. Need united positive parenting. They need both parents working together on the same beliefs and values.
8. Need to know that their parents respect teachers.
9. Need good role models.
10. Need a reasonable balance between achievement and affiliation.

Check out for more information.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New School Year

Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year. I am looking forward to working with some new students and some students from last year. Every year brings new changes and this year, we have two changes to the start of the SPACE year. The first change is that district policy for this year is that pullout services will not start until September 4th. I will begin picking up students that week. The second change is that I am at Chaffee four days a week and Providence one day a week. I will be at Providence on Tuesdays.

The Digital conversion is making lots of headlines. In SPACE we do not use the textbooks that are online, but we will use the laptop/netbooks for our research. It will be wonderful to have immediate access for all the students instead of having to move to the computer lab. With the digital conversion change, my email address has changed. My email is I am much easier to contact by email.

I am looking forward to a new year of learning and growing. Feel free to contact me with any concerns, questions or needs. I am flexible and willing to meet your needs, but I need to know what they are. Let's keep the lines of communication open.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thank You

Thank you to all the families for their support during teacher appreciation week. It was lovely to receive all the flowers, fruit, sweets, school supplies and cards. How thoughtful you and your children are.
We are closing up our 11-12 school year. It has been a very successful year.
I will miss all those moving to sixth grade. I hope you all have a wonderful summer and I will see some of you in August.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Empowerment and Illumination

"Those moments of empowerment and illumination are built on the foundation of hard work that often doesn't look either shining or glorious" Linda Christensen, Teaching for Joy and Justice.

We have had lots of moments of empowerment and illumination lately. Students have been working hard on some long term projects and they are producing some shining and glorious work.
Third graders have begun using the Independent Investigative Method to research methods of preserving memories. They will shortly decide how they want to share what they have learned.

Fourth graders finished their censorship study. After researching the current topic of the SOPA and PIPA bills, they enjoyed a debate. They learned a great deal, and were shown how the Internet can be used to create change. Through an Internet blackout and activism, the SOPA and PIPA bills were removed from the senate and house.

Fifth graders have been working hard on their autobiographies. It was hard work writing the essay and going through two edits to improve it, but the students are very proud of their essay. All the essays were combined and printed for each student to read and share. It was exciting to see the final project.

The fifth graders have also been working on learning contracts for a while. Many are finally finishing their projects. We have had a movie produced, posters, Lap books, ABC books and costume designs created recently. It is fantastic to see kids get to take a passion, work hard to gain knowledge, and then share their learning in a creative way.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Emotional Sensitivity

High levels of emotional sensitivity are associated with giftedness. High levels of emotional sensitivity can be a strong asset, in that these children can be more sensitive to the environment surrounding them, sensing beauty, joy, and feelings more than others. It can also be an problem when that sensitivity sees suffering, injustice, and world issues with more intensity than their peers. They may be overwhelmed by the sufferings they perceive. Parents need to discuss what are the possible ways that the child can reach out and help; what is beyond an individual's control; and how to process their feelings.
Sensitivity can also appear as a drive for excitement, fast-paced change, and active pursuits. Children may come to believe that living on the edge is preferable to reflective, contemplative states. Both states are necessary for growth, and students need to learn how to find a balance between active pursuits and states of reflection. Without reflection, students may just be hurrying from one activity to another, and may not be learning and growing.
Here are some suggestions (Loveky, 2004) on ways to develop these strengths and mitigate the accompanying issues:
  • Do things as a family to help those in need.
  • Visit local charities.
  • Discuss how things may be beyond your control and how a partial solution is better than none.
  • Promote the child's desire to help by structuring and planning the process for helping.
  • Help them control their impulsivity and look at the consequences of their helping actions.
  • Discuss selfishness and when thinking of oneself first is best and when it is not.
  • Plan small tasks that can lead to the larger whole of helping.

Children with great emotional sensitivity can be difficult to raise, but if we take the time to direct and channel those feelings into positive actions, they will grow to be kind, caring adults who make our world a better place.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Censorship Survery for Thursday Group

The Thursday fourth grade group also created a survey. We would love to have your responses!
Click here to take survey
Thank you for your help!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fourth Grade Survey

Fourth graders have been studying censorship. They have created a survey and would greatly appreciate your responses. Please go to Click here to take survey

Monday, February 6, 2012

Advocating for Gifted and Talented Students

Gifted and Talented students have unique needs and their best advocates are parents. How does a parent best address problems or issues with educators? The first thing parents need to do is establish a good line of communication with their child's teachers. Make sure you know how that educator will communicate with you and the most effect method to communicate to that educator. Educators and parents are overloaded with responsibilities and sources of information. Being able to determine whether notes, phone calls, emails or face to face meetings is the best, will save a lot of time and frustration.
Both parties also need to recognize that what one member of the team (parent-educator) may deem to be highly urgent and of top priority may not be so for the other member. A family may be going through a crisis and a missing homework may seem petty. On the other hand, your child's trauma over hurt feelings, may not be a priority for an educator who has other students experiencing violence, divorce or poverty. All parties need to be respectful and recognize that we come to the issue from different perspectives.
Both parties should try to communicate directly. Educators and parents can be very difficult to get in contact with, but working through a third party can cause more problems. Every effort should be made to work together first. Third parties such as Principals, Special Education Directors, Superintendents, and State Department officials should be a back up when the issue is not settled to satisfaction. Many issues can be easily solved by working in cooperation with the educators serving your child.
Lastly, how should parents and educators deal with the intense emotions involved. When our children are involved, people can get very emotional. Parents love their children and want to protect them from hurt and disappointment. Educators want to do what is best for children as well. We got in the business, because we feel called to help children grow and develop. The child's best interests is why both parties should work together and develop a solution that respects both sides. Try to look at the issue from the other party's view point and don't get stuck in only one possible solution. There may be a compromise that will work for all.
Issues and problems will occur. It takes a whole community to raise a child. We each have strengths, talents and roles that help in raising a child. Respecting each other and addressing the issues with an open creative mind will ensure that your child has the best possible advocates for them- parents and educators.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Simple Machines Essays

Here are some simple machines. A screw twists and keeps things together. A pulley is round and can lift a heavy load. Wheels and axles can more things more easily and roll smoothly. A wedge is shaped like a triangle and separates things. A lever has one side that goes up and one side that goes down, and the middle is called the fulcrum. An inclined plane makes things slide and the higher the inclined plane the faster the object goes.


There are six simple machines. The screw, which keeps things together. There is also the pulley which lifts heavy loads. The wheel and axle move smoothly. We aren’t done yet! Who could forget the wedge? The wedge separates things. Now the lever looks like one side is up and one side is down. Last, but not least, inclined planes make things slide. Simple machines are important to life.


A simple is in every machine on earth and in space. They’re silent helpers in life. Take a screw, people think without a screw life would be normal. No, life would be very different. Without a pulley, maybe your house wouldn’t exist. A pulley helps you lift extremely heavy loads. A wheel and axlel are very important today. Without wheels and axles, cars, buses, trains and bikes wouldn’t exist. The wedge is very important to lumber jacks. Without wedges almost every wooden thing on earth wouldn’t exist. I don’t know much about levers, but I do know that levers help lift things up. Last but not least, inclined planes help take stress off of lifting loads. See, simple machines are important to life.


There are six simple machines. The first one is the screw. It helps keep things together, and it twists when you use it. The next one is pulleys. They lift heavy load and are round. The wheel and axlel roll things smoothly and can move things easily. The wedge separates things pretty well. It is a cool triangular shape. Levers are pretty nice. One side goes up while the other side goes down. What is interesting is that the middle is called a fulcrum. The last is the inclined plane. When you use one, things slide, but if you make it taller the faster it slides. Simple machines are important to life.


There are six simple machines. A screw is a simple machine and it keeps things together. Another simple machine is a pulley and it lifts heavy things. The next simple machine is a wheel and axle. It rolls smoothly. The other one is a wedge and it separates things. Then, there is a lever. One side goes up and one side goes down. Last but not least, the inclined plane makes things slide. Simple machines are important to life.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Happenings

We have been busy finishing up our units for the first semester. Third graders made inventions. As part of the inventions unit, the students learned a lot about simple machines. They used Kidspiration to organize their learning and wrote an essay, which we decided we will post to this blog. The third graders are finishing their unit on Five Traits of Giftedness as well. We are making file folder books to show how each student demonstrates the five traits of above average ability, task commitment, creativity, courage and caring.

Fifth graders finished their robotics unit and competed in the FIRST Lego League. We have started Record Breakers, a math unit on world records. Lots of fun. We have also been working on Autobiographies. We have read autobiographical pieces by prize winning children's authors and analyzed them using Paul's reasoning web, and the literary analysis web. We have begun working on our own autobiographical pieces which will focus on a theme.

Fourth grade finished their unit on natural disasters. One of the classes built a model for their solution and explained the model with a poster. The other class created a website using Publisher. Hopefully we can get our computer tech to add the website to the school website soon! We are also working on our mathematical analysis skills through the unit, Analyze This! The students are learning about representing and interpreting data. They love collecting the data through surveys and other activities.