Monday, July 9, 2012

Does TEAMWORK make YOUR team work?

In the morning, I will leave with most of my co-workers and administrators to "retreat" together for a couple of days.  While I don't have an agenda of the upcoming events, I am assuming that we are gathering together to learn and to bond.  What kind of activities will help us to do that?  What kind of team-building "lessons" would be best to help us be more of a community?

I have to admit:  I am a little apprehensive about the trip.  I'm not sure about the sleeping arrangements, the bathroom situation, or the activities.  I wish that I had some sort of agenda, had some sort of idea what we are going to be doing, where I am going to be sleeping.  This apprehension makes me wonder how our kiddos feel when they come into our classrooms.  Are THEY nervous as well?  What are we doing to make them feel less apprehensive, less nervous, more at home?

I am a GT Specialist, so I don't have the same students all day.  I have kids in and out all day, all week.  So my procedures most likely differ greatly from the ones that grade-level teachers have.  I greet the students every day as they walk into my room and again as we begin our time together.  I wonder, though, if they are nervous about what we are going to do.  I work to make my classroom pretty, neat, engaging, and interesting.  Does that make them feel more welcome?

One thing that I do as some of our "first week" activities include making puppets of themselves to introduce themselves to the class.  I hope that this works as a first-step toward building community within the classroom.  I enjoy letting them share with one another and learning about each other.  It also helps me to learn more about each student.  What kinds of community building activities do you enjoy in your classroom?  Share your great ideas with all of us!!

Love, Carol Ann

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Slide???

So, what about the summer slide for all those gifted kids?  Do they suffer from that as well?

I think so.  This isn't true for all gifted students; some kids want to be totally off for the summer, or they are totally engrossed in other activities.  But for many gifted students, they want (or secretly want) to continue learning all the time, especially if you can incorporate their particular areas of interest.  So how do you do that, particularly for your own little smartie pants at home? 

Well, it may not be as much trouble as you think.  In our super-technological age, kids are computer literate at such a young age.  My daughter is moving into seventh grade next year, and she ALWAYS wants to learn something.  What I have done with her this summer (outside of library events and VBS) is give her a project to work on.  She is very interested in fashion and loves to create drawings of her own creations.  So, in order to capitalize on that interest, I gave her a fashion project.  She is to research three different designers from different countries and learn something about those different countries where they are.  Then, she may choose one or more of those designers and create a fashion line using that designer's style, yet adding her own twist where she wants.  She will create a Prezi to show her learning.  She is so excited!

You might say, "But my child doesn't care about fashion!  She's into softball!"  Or, "He loves Legos!"  So, adapt.  There are softball stars from different countries; Lego lovers from all over the world; and so on.  The same type of activity could be adapted to meet the interest of your child.

You may think that most gifted kids are NOT interested in this sort of activity, or any sort of summer project that involves learning.  Well, you might be surprised!  One of my third grade Smarties at school asked me if I would give them a project to work on over the summer.  I was shocked.  So I asked the group if they would be interested in doing that.  And out of 13 kiddos, only two said that they didn't want to.  Can you believe that??



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