4th Grade Participates in a Twitter Chat

As I have been trying to promote teaching students programming skills, I was interested in a Twitter chat on that topic that was scheduled for today.  I asked the hosts of the chat if they would mind if my 4th graders joined in, and they were thrilled to have some kids give their opinions about programming.  Some of the questions were, “What do you like most about programming?”  “What is the hardest thing about programming?”  “What age do you think children should start learning to program?”

Interestingly, we hadn’t had a chance to work on our programming lesson for the day before we did the chat.  So, the majority of the students seemed to feel that programming needed to be learned at age 8 and up; some felt that it shouldn’t be learned until college.  After we did some work with the “Daisy the Dinosaur” app this afternoon, I asked the age question again, and most of them agreed that kids as young as 4 or 5 could certainly be introduced to basic programming skills.

Even though “Daisy” is a pretty basic intro, the students made a lot of connections to systems thinking, and it was a good foundation for getting the idea of what programming was all about.

Today’s pictures were taken by David, our 4th grade photographer, as students worked on the Daisy app.




Our Classroom Is an Obstacle Course

As I mentioned last week, I am beginning to teach programming to each grade level. To start things off, I have been setting up an obstacle course in the classroom with tables and chairs and various items. The students have to write a “program” using only symbols to direct people around the course.

3rd grade had to do a bit of revising of their programs a few times, as they realized they had forgotten some key steps.

Because 4th grade has so many students, they paired up to write their programs. The synergizing was evident throughout the room as the groups worked together to perfect their programs – and some even added a little creativity to the mix! A couple of groups included victory dances in their programs, which amused everyone. (Great way to Sharpen the Saw!)

Quite a few of our 7 habits were used by the students as they worked on this activity. I mentioned the need to Synergize, but they also had to Begin with the End in Mind as they planned their programs, Seek First to Understand as they followed each other’s instructions, and Think Win/Win when they disagreed with their partners.

5th grade will be working on their programs tomorrow, and I will be curious to see how their personalities are reflected in this project!

Another example of Synergizing – created by a couple of boys during our indoor recess today!

Project Wrap-Up and New Beginnings

This is our final week of the Global Cardboard Challenge.  The students in 2nd-5th were able to share their projects with their classmates during recess this week (5th will do this tomorrow), and are now taking the projects home.  If your child has a super large project, please make arrangements for transporting it by next Friday.

I know that I keep gushing about the creativity that the students have shown during this process, but I must say one more time that they have really astounded me with their ideas!  I am so glad this was an overall success, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.  It was definitely a productive use of our time.  I posted some more pictures of projects on my professional blog last week because I really want to encourage others to participate next year as well.  Here is the link.

As we say good-bye to our cardboard creations, we are embarking on new journeys in GT.  One of them involves computer programming.  I am planning to weave a programming piece into all of the grade levels this year because I think it is such a valuable skill.  Today the 4th graders got an unexpected introduction to this when I learned of a brand new augmented reality app that allows the user to program a 3-d robot to perform certain movements.  One pair of students even got their robot to perform a ballet move!

I just wrote a post on my professional blog about the gender bias that is still very evident in fields like programming and engineering.  I am determined to work very hard this year on persuading the girls in my classes that boys are not the only ones who can develop skills in these areas, and that they might even find it interesting!  I hope parents will join me in making an effort to eliminate the stereotypes that are often attached to these subjects.

Using the iPad to program the Atlas robot

Global Cardboard Challenge

First of all, I want to thank all of the parents who participated in last week’s “surprise” by creating videos for your kids to tell them how special they are.  I was blown away by the power of your messages, and I think it will be something the students will always remember.  They are keeping the pictures that “triggered” the videos in their GT folders, and will be able to refer to them throughout the year.  It helped me to get to know you better, too, and I feel like the project has really made our home/school bond greater.

I also want to thank everyone who was able to attend the Parent Orientation on Tuesday night.  Please don’t worry if you could not make it, however.  I will be sending out links to the information later this week, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Our cardboard challenge has been progressing wonderfully!  There is so much creativity and engagement going on that I can’t believe I have never tried this before.  We are definitely going to participate next year, and I have even bigger plans…

Speaking of building things, you might be interested in this great website, Built by Kids, that I just featured on my professional blog.  If you aspire to spend more time on projects with your children that involve your hands and old-fashioned hard work, then this site has plenty of ideas and how-to’s to get you started.

These are just some of the pics of finished projects, and a couple of pictures of tickets the kids made to invite classmates to play or view their creations during recess next week.  I will try to post a few more next Wednesday.  (You can click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of each pic.)

We Are Back!

Hooray!  It’s so nice to be back with the students!  They energize me and give me so many new ideas!

I am really enjoying all of their contributions to our Cardboard Collaboration Celebration!  I need to work on getting better pictures, though!  I took a bunch of 2nd-4th, and only found a couple that I thought were clear enough to post today.  No worries, though.  The kids still have some polishing up to do on their projects next class, so I will try to get better photos.  Or, maybe by next week, we will have some class photographers in place who can do it for me!

I read an interesting article this week that I thought I would share with parents.  It’s called, “The Six Words You Should Say Today.”  If you have a child who is involved in extra-curricular activities, in particular, you will probably connect with this article as I did.  And, speaking of that, I would like to, once again, thank all of you for participating with our “special project.”  We had 100% participation in 2nd-5th grades – which is around 40 students right now.  Thank you so much!

And now for some fun! Last week, on my professional blog, I posted a free augmented reality activity that you might want to try if you have an iPad at home, “Rock Launcher.”  It has nothing, really, to do with education, but the sounds alone will make you smile.

Don’t forget that the Parent Orientation for 2nd-5th grades will be next Tuesday, October 1st, at 5:30 PM.  I will try to get you out in plenty of time to attend the PTA meeting afterward, if that is part of your plans.  I will send home information for anyone who is unable to attend.  But, if you do come, you will have a chance to check out our Cardboard Challenge Creations in their various stages of completion! (Just don’t judge me on the cleanliness of our workspace!)

GT Starts Next Week for 2nd-5th!

Our classroom – waiting to be filled with students!

By this time next week, I will be knee-deep in classes, and I will be able to, hopefully, post some of our Global Cardboard Challenge Creations.  GT students should be visiting my classroom this week during recess to “Adopt a Box,” and should bring a sketch of their idea to the first GT class (2nd-5th) next week.  Please encourage your child to think of a brand new idea!  I had one student say he was going to make an airplane, and I asked him if he could think of something no one else could, and he said, “a hotdog machine!”  Now, that’s what I’m talking about!

Boxes – waiting to be “adopted”

Also – parents, don’t forget your “homework” that I e-mailed you.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, please e-mail me to find out.  I have gotten many submissions, but I don’t want any one to be left out.  Remember, the deadline is this Friday!

The GT Parent Orientation has been scheduled for Tues., Oct. 1st, at 5:30 in my classroom. You should receive a flyer about this next week.

This is an interesting article on, “3 Simple Ways You Can Inspire Your Kids Right Now,” from Gifted I Am.  And, if you feel like looking at a crazy optical illusion that will blow you away, this was on my professional blog last Friday.

I hope to see some of you tonight at Churchill for the “Transforming the Future” community meeting!


Creativity Abounds in Our Students!

The countdown is on!  Only one and a half more weeks until 2nd-5th grades GT classes will begin!  I am thrilled to find out, however, that some of my students are still using GT thinking even though we are not meeting right now!

Cooper, one of the 2nd grade GT students, turned in a completed summer packet that I sent home at the end of last school year!  Not only that, but he has been using his creative thinking to make his own cardboard box game!  Here are some of the pictures his mom has shared with me.

Cooper’s Hockey Table


Cooper’s Customized Hockey Pucks

And, then we have several students who opted to join in on the International Dot Day Fun that I mentioned in last week’s post.  After they turned in their colored dots, I took some pictures with the iPad of how they look when scanned with the ColAR app.

My room is starting to look much better with creative artwork to decorate it!

If your child still wants to participate in Dot Day by coloring one of the augmented reality dots, please see last week’s post for instructions.

Also, I want to thank those of you who have donated boxes for the Global Cardboard Challenge!  My plan is for the kids to dive right into this our first week of class.  Don’t worry; I will take lots of pictures of the chaos when we tackle this project!

If you have a 4th or 5th grader who is currently in GT, please ask your child to check his or her Edmodo account.  I just posted a new “request” for them to help me with a GT class mission statement through Edmodo.  The login and password should be the same as the school one.

You might be interested in this scientific post from my professional blog last week.  And, if you are as concerned as I am about the lack of geography knowledge many of our students have, here is a geography game website you might want to add to your bookmarks:  http://world-geography-games.com/

Have a great week!

International Dot Day

September 15th is International Dot Day, a day inspired by the Peter Reynolds book, The Dot. The book is about celebrating creativity, and not feeling like you have to conform.  I am testing right now, so I can’t formally meet with the GT classes, but I would love to have the students participate.

If you visit this site, you can download a dot to decorate.  Or, if you are unable to print it at home, tell your GT student to ask his or her teacher to visit my classroom and pick one up. (If your child is currently testing for 3rd grade GT, I will send one home.)

The student should decorate the dot in a creative manner.  Please emphasize making the dot unique!  When your child is done, ask him or her to bring me the dot.

If you read the website, you will see that these dots have special properties!  You can follow the instructions at home to download the app, or your child can wait until he or she comes to GT to see the dot “come to life.”

I hope that I will soon have a plethora of fantastical dots to decorate my bare classroom!  Also, don’t forget to encourage your child to start thinking about our Global Cardboard Challenge!

My Classroom Makeover – What Do You Think?

Are you worried?  Are you wondering, “What has she been doing all of this time?  I know she’s testing right now, but where are the kids supposed to sit?”

Don’t panic.  This is not my classroom.  (“Whew!” – right?)  It’s the classroom next door.  I am collecting boxes for a project for the kids.  I sent out an e-mail to the staff asking for donations – and they have responded with lots of boxes!  It’s fortunate that I have a place to store them!

The project is, “Global Cardboard Challenge.”  I would like all of my GT students to be involved.  However, we do not start classes until the week of September 23rd (2nd-5th), and the Day of Play is scheduled for October 5th.

So, Parents, you can help me out by watching the video at this link with your child to learn more about the challenge.  Have your child take a look at the picture above, and help him or her to imagine something awesome that could be made out of one or more of those boxes.  If possible, even work on a rough sketch, or gather some recyclable trash to supplement your child’s idea.  I will give your child time in class (except for 1st grade who does not meet with me until November) – but we won’t have much.  So, the more pre-planning that can be done, the more your child can accomplish with me.  If 1st graders make a plan and show it to me, then I will let them take a box home to work on the project.

Remember to encourage creativity.  Caine’s Arcade is great, but we don’t want to copy what he did.  The whole point of this is to use a box to think outside the box:)

Transforming My Classroom

As you know, the staff is back to work at Hidden Forest.  We learned at our Convocation on Monday that our district is working on “Transforming the Future.”  Coincidentally, I had already dreamed up a few transformations I want to implement in the GT room for this year. They are probably not on the same grand scale that the district envisions, but I think the students will enjoy their altered learning space.

For a sneak peek at what’s in store, you might want to read today’s post on my professional blog, “Rows of Desks are SO Yesterday.”  Below is a picture of one of my works in progress, “The Genius Bar”, that I am going to set up in the classroom – a resource and collaboration area for the students.

Don’t worry – this is definitely not the finished product!

As you can see, I still have a bit left to do!

With only a few more days left until the beginning of school, I am sure that you are as busy as I am.  But I do want to share this resource with you so you can take a look at it during your “spare” time.  This is a list of “55 Best Back-to-School Articles for Parents.” It will probably will not surprise you to learn that I have not read all of these articles.  However, I did read “From Perfection to Personal Bests: 7 Ways to Nurture Your Gifted Child,” and I highly recommend it.  Please let me know if you see any others on the list that I should mention in a blog post.

I am not sure if everyone received the e-mail that I sent yesterday, but I want to let you know that I will, unfortunately, be unable to attend Hidden Forest’s “Meet the Teacher” this Thursday.  If you have any questions or would just like to chat about how to make this the best year for your GT child, please feel free to contact me at teichh@neisd.net.  Also, we will have our annual parent meeting at the beginning of October, which is a great time to find out more about the program.

I’m going to get back to my transformation project now.  Shhh!  Don’t tell the kids about the surprise 😉