Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Possibilities for Learning

With enrichment classes up and running, students were introduced to the new possibilities for this year. Exploring our classwebsite, Learning Hub, students discovered a great variety of choices to enrich them this year. Enrichment units to get everyone excited about learning include:

All third and fourth graders will develop their scientific research and experimental process skills as they participate on design teams to build and test Jet Toy Cars for the Earth Toy Designs, Inc.

Fifth and Sixth graders will dive into creating an action plan for their Passion-based Learning Project. In addition to making choices about the other units, all sixth and fifth graders will initiate plans and publish our first segments for the GIEP Podcast Show

Visit our classroom website to read more about each of the different new possibilities!

What is Your North Star?

Third and fourth graders extending their thinking about the questions associated with how they learn, engagement, and purposeful learning by viewing and reading the book The North Star by Peter Reynolds. The story tells the tale of a young person who is following "This Way" signs to reach a destination. Along the way the young person gets lost and discovers that find your way is to follow your own North Star. "The book and related site are dedicated to teachers, families, students, life-long learners and those brave enough to follow their dreams."

We talked about our passions and strengths that can be our personal North Stars. They can help guide us in turning to our interests and strengths to help us with new kinds of learning.

Students recorded their own ideas using an Etherpad document to answer the question, "What is your North Star?" A variety of North Stars appeared including baseball, science, drawing, computers, reading, math, puzzles, soccer, and writing.

Sounds like we are going to have a busy year!

A Vision of 21st Century Learning

Our enrichment classes started out the year by pondering questions associated with how they learn, engagement, and purposeful learning.

Students watched two incredibly insightful movies, “The Networked Learner” and “Pay Attention” (, which were created to make educators, teachers, students, and those concerned about elevating our students to success THINK! Our society has expectations that students be able to analyze, evaluate, critic, gather and manipulate data, and most importantly create to further the pursuit of knowledge or the cause. Content is easily accessible- in fact it is practically in our pockets (Iphones, data phone, IPODS, etc.).

After watching both videos, students were asked to reflect upon these questions:
• How do you learn?
• What are your passions?
• What does it mean to be a student today?

Students used an Etherpad document (collaborative spaces that allows multiple users to contribute to one document) to record their reflections and ideas on these questions. The conversation was opened up and topics such as advocacy, responsibility, strengths, weaknesses, and choice were built into passion and engaged learning.

Fifth and sixth graders were asked at the end of the discussion to identify a topic for their personal learning answering the question:
What am I going to do this year in enrichment that is going to make a difference in my life, and in the life of others and serve my passions?

Here are some of valuable collaborative ideas that were developed in regards to how we learn
( these are student's raw ideas in note taking form :)

Taken from the Etherpad...

What are your passions?

  • programing,math,robotics,health,computerized work,WRITING!!!!!!!!!!!!Homework,inveting
  • I like to try to invent the things i think would save energy (electrisity,human)life easier healthier.
  • I would like to study the brain i think it is awesome
    designing things is something we could do I liked that last year.
  • Some of my passions are math, science, I also liked the Design Kids project last year. I also like history. It would be cool to do a history project. I would also like to do another mueseum. I also like programming. I could look more in depth to numbers by coming up with difficult algebra eqations. By going on discussion boards and discovering mathematicians ideas. See if I like or not.
  • I like math.
  • Some of my passions are math and animals.I dream to become a vet. I also like the design kids project and the oreo stacking project. Turning off computers was really fun and I got to run around the school.
  • I love computers so anything with computers is fun for me. I like to learn on the computer and doing something like outside or hands-on instead of sitting in a desk. If I watch someone treating an animal it could inspire me to want to help and become a vet.
  • My passions are animals( like veterinary type) and math. I also like writing.

How do you learn?

  • I like to learn by actually doing something hands-on.
  • How do you like to learn? like to learn by looking on the web getting info and then trying to make something that would help.
  • Computers,lectures,hands on,discovering on my own,research,read,notetaking,fun ways like my 5th grade game
  • I learn by going hands on and going out there and experimenting. I like to do brainproblems. But I'm bad at computers.
  • We should find things that are bad and making stuff that would make stuff better
    I'm all for hands on.
  • I would like to study the brain by listening to doctors and watch a brain surgeon go to work
  • I like to learn by doing physical activities, on the computer, visually, I also like doing hands on problems. Maybe a little bit of research, just a little. Short Lectures, sometimes being showed to.
  • I also like playing games while learning.Demonstrating things also works if the explanation is thorough. I also like to research and get to know the topic more.
  • I like to just take somehing mess with it and make it better I like to learn by actually doing something hands-on. Demonstrating things also works if the explanation is thorough. I also like to research and get to know the topic more.
  • I like to just take somehing mess with it and make it better

Stay Tuned to see how the Fifth and Sixth Graders embrace the opportunity to empower each other to make a difference! More to come. Feel free to post ideas or comments that contribute to our conversation and discoveries.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome Back to the 2009 - 2010 School Year!

It is always so exciting to see all of the students as they stream down the hallway the first day of a new school year. I believe that I had a chance to connect with each of them today. I am so looking forward to a wonderful year of learning with them.

Today your child should have brought home an envelope containing the first newsletter of the year along with an invitation to meet to review their GIEP for this school year.

Be sure to check out all of the latest news about GIEP!

We are already off and running this year! You are receiving an invitation to your child’s GIEP review conference along with one more copy of your rights as a parent of an identified gifted child. We will be meeting together along with the regular classroom teacher to discuss your child’s programming needs for this school year and to make needed revisions to their GIEP. Please let me know as quickly as possible if the date and / or time are not workable for you.
As a vital member of the GIEP team, I invite you to share your thoughts about your child’s strengths and interests in preparation for our meetings. I have created a Parent Input Form which can be accessed on our class website and competed online. Each question has a paragraph text box that allows you to provide as much information as you feel necessary to assist in drafting your child’s GIEP this year. All of the information you provide will be sent directly to my email and will remain confidential.
I will be meeting with students to identify possible choices of units for this year. In addition, I will be meeting with them individually to chat about their current interests and determine any additional areas of strength. Assessments for reading, writing, and math are being completed by their classroom teachers. I have also already spoken with each of their classroom teachers to review their programming from last year and to begin to plan for appropriate adaptations this school year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Summer Camp Opportunities

Are you looking for a different summer camp experience for your fourth, fifth, or sixth grader this summer? Then look no further.

PETERSBURG, KY - MAY 29:  Randy Stamper, of Cl...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

News of an Archeological Experience in which students participate in an actual archeological dig located at historic Joanna Furnace funded should be coming home with your child. This opportunity is funded by the Regional Summer School of Excellence

In addition, I have received news of a Space Exploration Science Camp opportunity at the Vanderbilt University Dyer Observatory's Space Exploration Science Camp where real science with real astronomers and space experts equals real learning and fun. For more information about this opportunity, go to or contact Lynn McDonald at or call 615-373-4897.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Learning With Monsters

The first and second grade STARS have been working very hard on their Monster Project. The Monster Project encourages the development of reading and writing skills while integrating technology into the classroom. Using monsters as a vehicle, students exchange written descriptions of their own monster through The Monster Project wiki, and then recreate their partner's monster without ever looking at the "real thing". During the project, students create, discuss, describe, interpret, analyze, organize and assess their monsters as well as the monsters of their peers.

The first and second graders have been using laptops from our laptop cart and have become very proficient at logging on and using Smart Notebook to create their monster drawings. Listen to what we have to say about their learning!

Take a look at the amazing drawings they have created!
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They are now very busy at work writing their descriptions of their monsters for their partners. They've learned that it is important to write in sentences and include a shape, size, color for each body part including where it should be drawn. We can hardly wait to share their descriptions for you to try!

We're Going Green! Shouldn't Your School Go Green Too?


On February 17th, we sparked our interest in the environment with a videoconference with a Gifted and Talented 7th and 8th grade class from Texas. There project and videoconference with us was being judged as part of the KC3 Kids Creating Community Content Competition. Here is a link of the video that was recorded of both or our schools during the videoconference competition.

Listen to our podcasts to hear what we learned, thought, and what we plan to do to GO GREEN here at East Vincent!

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