Archive for November, 2011
Student’s in Ms. Haberdash and Ms. Spruill’s second grade classes began the year with an intensive study of Math Exemplars which include problem solving and communication and involve students in critical and creative thinking to solve multi-step problems. They also began to think about the grade level theme of SYSTEMS and will continue considering inputs, interactions, outputs and generalizations of systems (systems have parts that work together, systems are made up of smaller systems, etc.). Teachers are compacting the math curriculum (allowing students to demonstrate mastery on learning objectives using a pre-test and providing them with extension activities in these areas) using Math Extensions. This grade level just finished a gifted unit on magnets in which they learned how to design experiments and they are currently engaging in a study of language (metaphors and similies and analogies in poetry, literature and writing) in the William and Mary Unit Beyond Words.
Students in Ms. Cuthbertson and Ms. Myers’ third grade classroom began the year sorting out their grade level theme, STRUCTURES. They’re considering how the generalizations apply to various aspects of the curriculum—parts of structures support and are supported by other structures, a structure is no stronger than its weakest part, etc. These students have also begun doing Math Exemplars and are working hard to improve the communication aspect of their problem solving. Some students have engaged in lessons from the William and Mary science unit What’s the Matter? In language arts, students have begun exploring Junior Great Books which engage children in reading, analyzing and discussing challenging literature. These students have begun a year-long curriculum of identity study in which they learn about the challenges, strengths and skills of several eminent people and look for connections to their own experiences. Students will occasionally reflect on whether any of these careers might be a good fit for them. Finally third graders have begun Word Masters which is a competition that asks students three times a year to learn multiple meanings of 25 challenging vocabulary words that they will use to solve analogies in a competition three times a year.
Fourth graders in Ms. Saunders and Taylor’s rooms began the year making sense of their grade level theme, RELATIONSHIPS. Throughout the year, they will apply the generalizations of this theme (everything is related in some way, all relationships are purposeful and relationships change over time) across the curriculum. These students have begun a study of exploring Junior Great Books which engages children in reading, analyzing and discussing challenging literature. They have also begun Word Masters which is a contest that asks students three times a year to learn multiple meanings of 25 challenging vocabulary words that they will use to solve analogies in a competition three times a year. Students are writing photo journalistic articles as a part of their work with the gifted unit River Adventure in which they are considering the idea of global interdependence from the perspective of the following experts: a geographer, an historian, a political scientist, a social scientist and an economist.
In content, at the beginning of the year, they completed a gifted weather unit in which they collected and analyzed data as a meteorologist would. This group has been studying Math Exemplars and M3 which include problem solving and communication and involve students in critical and creative thinking to solve multi-step problems. Finally they have begun learning to play bridge with Ms. Miller who represents the American Contract Bridge League. Through weekly lessons, students are learning problem solving, planning ahead, concentration, memory and collaboration skills as a result.
Fifth graders in Ms. Swager and Ms. Sykes’ rooms began the year diving into their grade level theme of CHANGE, and will work to apply the generalizations they developed (change is inevitable, change may happen naturally or be caused by people, change is necessary for growth, etc.) throughout the year. These students have been studying Math Exemplars and M3 which include problem solving and communication and involve students in critical and creative thinking to solve multi-step problems. They have also begun learning to play bridge with Ms. Miller who represents the American Contract Bridge League. Students are learning problem solving, planning ahead, concentration, memory and collaboration skills as a result.
In Language Arts, they have also begun Word Masters which is a contest that asks students three times a year to learn multiple meanings of 25 challenging vocabulary words that they will use to solve analogies in a competition three times a year. This class is finishing up their first novel study with the book Journey to Topaz as a part of the William and Mary Unit Persuasion. This will be a year-long study that has students look at rich literature from a variety of cultures and weaves the theme of change throughout the study. Students have begun writing and presenting a series of speeches for which they are evaluated using a rubric. They are learning to use feedback to find an area of focus for improvement, and will be tracking their growth from one speech-giving experience to the next as they learn to make eye-contact, create attention-grabbing openers and memorable closings, demonstrate their knowledge on a topic and persuade an audience.
Believe it or not, it’s time for fifth graders and their families to begin considering the options for middle school. To help you make an informed decision, the following opportunities exist:
Middle School Info Night
We’ll keep you close to home for this event and bring representatives from two of the schools to you for some one stop info shopping, so that you can hear about their offerings and ask questions. Next week, you’ll receive an invitation to join us at New Castle Elementary along with families from other schools surrounding Landstown. We’ll meet on December 6 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. Please return the RSVP if you are interested in participating.
Middle Years Program at Plaza (MYP)
In addition to hearing from an MYP representative at New Castle on Nov 6, you’ll be receiving an invitation to an open house at Plaza Middle School on Tuesday, January 3, 2011 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Look for that invitation to come home with your child the first week of December. In the meantime, you can check out a short video on the program using this link:
You may request an application for MYP from Ms. Marvaso, our school counselor, any time.
Kemps Landing Magnet School (KLMS)
In the VBCPS Gifted Services flyer that you recently received in your child’s Tuesday folder, you were informed about the KLMS School Information Night. You may attend on Monday, January 9, 2012 or Tuesday, January 10, 2012. They begin at 6:30 p.m. You can request an application for KLMS from me at any time.
VBMS Gifted Visual Arts Program
Students who are identified gifted in art may also opt to attend Virginia Beach Middle School (VBMS) full time where they will participate in the gifted arts program daily. They will be holding an info session on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at VBMS and will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Landstown Middle School (LMS)
The LMS gifted resource teacher, Ms. Diane Tarkenton, will be coming to speak with the gifted students during the school day in December to explain gifted services at LMS.
If you would like your 3rd or 4th grader screened for gifted services, the deadline to have your paperwork in to me is Friday, November 18, 2011. Contact me for a parent referral form ASAP.
Please also keep in mind that all applications for MYP, KLMS and ODC academic, art and dance are due to me by Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Please request your application ASAP so that I can let the teachers know that they will also be completing paperwork.
There is an Information Night at ODC for Art and Dance on Thursday, December 8, 2011 that begins at 6:30.
There is also an info night for the ODC Academic program on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 (current grade 2, 3 & 4 students) and Tuesday, February 21, 2012 (current grade 1 students). Both begin at 6:30.
So you child is gifted but…she also has difficulty staying focused and managing time. He seems impulsive and reacts to situations with strong emotions. She’s very disorganized and has trouble getting started and following through on the goals she sets. These are just a few ways in which bright and capable students may also experience significant challenges. These seemingly contradictory realities were the topic of the recent parent workshop on executive functioning. In case you were interested but unable to attend the session, I’ll provide a quick overview of the workshop here and tell you about a couple of great resources to help you learn more.
Here are a few key points to understand about executive functioning:
- Executive functions are skills that the brain develops to sort out and manage the complex operations of the brain
- Though the brain is prepared for the development of these functions before birth, the skills must be developed and some kids don’t do it on their own
- Developing executive skills can improve one’s experience in and out of school (important to help your child see)
- Time and persistence are required to improve executive functions which may involve changing a habit or rewiring the brain
- An individual may have one area of struggle, but often there is a clustering of challenges, e.g. an individual has difficulty initiating tasks and then struggles to stay focused once she finally begins
Here is a list of the functions with descriptors:
Response Inhibition—The capacity to think before you act, to resist the urge to say or do something to allow the time to evaluate a situation and the impact of the what is said or done.
Emotional Control—The ability to manage emotions to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior.
Task Initiation—The ability to begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, responses, or problem solving strategies.
Organization—The ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information or materials.
Goal-directed Persistence—The capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off by or distracted by competing interests.
Metacognition—The ability to observe how you problem solve. It includes self-monitoring and self-evaluative skills.
- Self-Monitoring—Recognizing what is going on inside your own mind, body, environment, and relationships.
- Self-Evaluative Skills—The capacity to evaluate how well you did and to make good decisions about how to proceed.
Working Memory—The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future.
Sustained Attention—The capacity to keep paying attention to a situation or task in spite of distractibility, fatigue, or boredom.
Planning/Prioritization—The ability to manage future oriented tasks.
Time Management—The ability to estimate how much time you have, how to allocate it, and how to stay within time limits and deadlines.
Flexibility—The ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information, or mistakes. It relates to an adaptability to changing conditions.
Shifting—The ability to move freely from one situation, activity, or aspect of a problem to another, in reaction to internal or external cues.
In the workshop, we had participants do the following:
- Parents completed a list of their strengths and challenges
- Parents completed a list of their child’s strengths and challenges
- They looked for similarities and differences in their own executive functions and those of their child’s
- Parents reflected on how they managed their own strengths and challenges
- Parents considered what specific steps they might talk about with their child in an effort to create positive change
Some tips on talking with your child:
- Emphasize that these are a set of skills that can be improved
- Be careful what children overhear about what you say about them or yourself to others—this has a greater impact than what you say directly to him
- Be specific in your planning and your feedback—“try harder” is not specific
- Chose to focus on just one skill or just one cluster at a time
- Make goals that are achievable but that stretch the child just enough for growth
Keep in mind:
- While planning and negotiating with your child is essential to getting their buy-in, you are ultimately the adult and in charge
- If you share similar skill weaknesses with your child, you may need to commit to improving your own skills
- If you have a strength that is your child’s weakness you may need to explain what you do to be successful—don’t assume because it’s easy for you it should be for her, too
- If your plan isn’t working, talk with your child about how you might adjust it
- If you feel your weakness with a skill prevents you from providing a strong model for your child who also struggles in this area, consider getting help from an outside source
Check out these great resources:
- Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
Though this is just the surface of a very extensive topic, isn’t it great to know that there’s a reason your child has strengths and challenges and that you can do something to create positive change!
Adapted from the presentation created by the VBCPS Office of Gifted Education, 2011
Bright Child/Flexible Mind:
Reducing Frustration in Your School-Aged Child
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Advanced Technology Center Theater
1800 College Crescent, Virginia Beach
This session is designed to share ideas on how to help energetic, curious, intense children develop their abilities at impulse control, shifting from one task to another, and regulating their emotions. This presentation is for parents of bright or gifted children who sometimes let their intellectual or emotional responses interfere with their ability to get along with others or to be successful in school. For some students, managing these executive functions appropriately and effectively can be the difference between success and ongoing frustration. At this presentation you will learn research supported techniques and have the opportunity to share in the discussion with other parents about what works, and does not work, for them. This session is free but registration is required by calling Sandra Gizzi at 263-1461.
Presented by Shannon Cray and Emma Cole
Predoctoral Residents in Clinical Psychology, Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Please allow additional time for parking!
**Please note: If you attended the workshop on executive functioning, this date has been scheduled instead of those listed in the power point due to a scheduling conflict.