GT Updates 5/13/16

It has been another one of those topsy-turvy weeks with STAAR testing and power outages, so I am going to do one blog post to summarize the last 5 days.

On Monday 2nd grade was not able to have class as I was helping with STAAR testing.  Fortunately, I finished in time to meet with the 1st graders in the afternoon, and they finished their GT Mother’s Day projects.

Tuesday morning’s STAAR testing meant I couldn’t meet with 3rd grade, but Kinder got to meet and play more Robot Turtles, adding challenges (and even getting to the point where they could”write” a program!)  On Friday, Kinder met with me again, and we reviewed Inventor Thinking by reading Cinderella Bigfoot and trying to think of funny substitutions we could do in other fairytales.

On Wednesday we had no electricity, which meant the planned STAAR testing was cancelled, but we kept our STAAR schedule – so I was able to meet with 4th grade for some of the time.  They worked on trying to add colored sand to their 3-d printed mandals, which was a learning experience for all of us!

Thursday was our last day of STAAR testing, and I was able to meet with 5th grade after the test.  The students worked on thinking deeply about drones, and then we had a somewhat surprise visit from Dr. Smith and his co-worker, Robin, from Smith & Shedd Veterinary Hospital.  I say that it was a surprise because we had planned it a few weeks ago, and it somehow dropped off my calendar;) Fortunately, we weren’t STAAR testing at the time!  Dr. Smith and Robin really helped several of the students with their Genius Hour research, and gave us some fascinating things to think about regarding animal abuse, puppy mills, and hunting.

As you can read, the week was busy and required a lot of flexibility!  We should be back on track for our last two weeks of GT!

1st Grade Works More on Frames

The first graders worked really hard on some more GT frames this week, but we can’t share them yet!  They are for their moms, and we don’t want to spoil the surprise!

The students also worked on some more “Find the X Tile” activities, and they are finding that the problems are the perfect level to challenge them without being too frustrating or too easy.  We will try to have some pictures for you next week!

1st Grade Works on GT Frames

1st grade students learned a lot about table manners in different parts of the world this week by playing a game called, “Don’t Gross Out the World.”  Ask them how they can give compliments to the cook if they are visiting the Inuit people in Canada!

They also worked on depth and complexity this week by filling out “frames,” where they addressed the Big Idea, Multiple Perspectives, Unanswered Questions, and Rules.  For our practice, they did frames about their classroom teachers, and you can see the results below.

1st Grade Works to “Find X”

The first graders worked on some tough math challenges this week.  They used convergent thinking to look at math clues in order to discover the value of “x.”  By using removable stickers with a graphic organizer, they were able to gradually digits from 0-9 as they applied each of the clues they were given.  It was a challenge for them, and they learned some new math vocabulary (like “sum”), but they all tried their best to succeed!

We also talked about food around the world and some of the reasons it may be different, such as living in cities or the country, availability of electricity for refrigerators, and what animals and plants grow well in that region.  In addition, they played a game on the iPad to help refresh their memories of the continents.

1st Grade Shares Postcards from Points of Interest

During the research each student is doing on his/her country, they were asked to find a famous place located in the country to select as a “point of interest.”  They wrote down some facts about their points of interest and saved pictures of them from their research.  Then the students got their pictures taken in front of our green screen.  We used an app to superimpose their images on the ones that showed their points of interest.  Finally, they used Photo Mapo to create digital postcards.  On Monday, the students shared their postcards with the class, and we all looked for the locations on our giant world map.

The students also talked about convergent and divergent thinking on Monday, doing some fun puzzles to practice convergent thinking and designing Fiesta medals for divergent thinking.  The students will be revising their Fiesta medal designs next week.


1st Grade’s Shamrock Shenanigans

The first graders worked on more research this week, finding out more about special places in each of the countries they are studying.  They will be doing a project next class in which they will be making postcards from those places of interest.

In addition, the first graders practiced creative thinking by doing some more brainstorming.  This week, they brainstormed what else shamrocks could be.  Here are their ideas:

1st Grade Shares Animal Research with Chatter Pix

The 1st graders made clay versions of the animals they chose from the countries they are researching.  They then used the ChatterPix app to relate what they had learned about the animals.  Take a look at their work!

1st Grade Practices Flexible Thinking

The first graders worked on flexible thinking this week.  I gave them die-cut hearts, and they brainstormed what they could draw that would include a heart – but not as a body part or valentine.  We worked a LOT on the brainstorming piece so they could generate ideas that would be unique.  You can see their final pictures below!

A talking purse

A talking purse

Photo Feb 08, 1 31 13 PM

A brilliant light, like the sun


Hockey Puck

Hockey Puck


Pencil Top Eraser

Pencil Top Eraser

Air Vent

Air Vent

1st Grade Examines Japanese Artifacts

I shared some of my souvenirs from a visit to Japan with the 1st grade students this week.  They got to touch lava rock from Mt. Fuji, examine Japanese yen up close, see a signed Japanese baseball, page through a 5th grade science textbook, and pass around some “lucky” cats.  After this, the students looked at a special illustrated Maps book that shows different countries along with their animals, important places, unique foods, and other information.  They chose what they would like to learn more about for each of their countries.

1st Grade Compares Population and Areas of Countries

The first graders made guesses about the relative land area of the countries they are reaching, and then we used an electronic resource called Culturegrams to see a graph of the actual sizes.  We did the same thing with the populations of the countries, and many were surprised that more land does not necessarily mean more people.  When I showed them population density they were even more amazed!

Using the augmented reality app called Quiver, the students were able to see how their flags might look as they wave over the country.  They also liked looking back at their original continent sheets to see  their maps become 3-dimensional globes.