Fall 2017 GT Newsletter

Welcome to Our New Newsletter!

Communication between the GT program at CCSD and our community stakeholders is key to our collaborative success. We hope that our new newsletter format will allow that communication to be more vibrant and dynamic. If you have any questions about the newsletter or anything in it, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us on the GT team. Thanks!

The GT Program at CCSD

As we start of new school year, it is a time for reflection and goal-setting. With that in mind, we wanted to share with you our current vision, mission, and commitments as they relate to the education and support of our GT students.

Our Vision

We will provide challenging and engaging learning all day, every day, for each gifted learner to meet his/her potential.

Our Mission

The mission of the College Community Gifted and Talented program is to recognize the academic and affective strengths and needs of all gifted learners, actively supporting their growth.

Our Committments

Gifted and Talented students are a diverse group with a range of strengths and needs. It is our responsibility to provide intellectual challenge and academic support for this distinct group.

Talented and gifted programming is integrated within the educational system through collaborative efforts among administrators, GT teachers, classroom teachers, support staff, parents, and community.

A comprehensive staff development program and a diversity of resources must be provided for all school staff involved in the education of gifted learners.

Gifted learners develop skills and talents, self-direction, and life-long learning through exploration of their passions and interests.

Talented and Gifted children have unique social and emotional needs that will be addressed through the collaborative efforts of school and parents.

Identifying the needs of gifted learners is an ongoing process. Student progress should be monitored over time, and educational goals adjusted, as appropriate, through the student’s Personal Education Plan.

The Gifted and Talented Program provides a range of program options and a continuum of services.

Advocacy protocols provide opportunities for ongoing identification of student needs for services provided in the Gifted and Talented Program.

GT District Parent Meeting

On Sept. 11 a GT district parent meeting was held at Prairie Point from 6-730 p.m. GT Specialists shared information about the program and services offered from elementary through high school.

Parents in attendance were invited to sign up to participate in our Advisory Council on Gifted Education or ACGE. This group meets biannually, and meetings this year are on Nov. 27 and April 9 from 6-730 p.m. in the high school study hall rooms.

If you were not able to attend the meeting and are interested in participating in district parent council meetings please complete this brief survey:

4th Grade GT by Michelle Anderson, Erin Hoffman, and Julie Zastrow

It’s been a busy fall for the fourth grade students! As a part of our first unit, students learned about what it means to be gifted, aspects of the gifted brain, some social elements of giftedness, and we began the exploration into careers. After working together as a large group, students have now moved into their subject specific areas of identification. Some students are in the reading group, where we are learning about the spread of disease and the six-step Future Problem Solving method. The math students are doing some application problems with multiplication, as well as practicing multi-step word problems, and the visual spatial students are just now learning what visual spatial means. The video below explains what Future Problem Solvers engage with and how they use a six-step method to developing solutions to problems.


Sometimes at this point in the year we speak with all of the gifted students about appropriate ways to talk to others about being a gifted learner. Some students are so excited about this new ‘identity’ that they want to tell the world, and that can possibly seem like bragging. While we want kids to be humble while talking to people outside of the immediate family, it isn’t always easy for a fourth grade student. Quite frankly, over-thinking being ‘smart’ can be a burden later in life and can lead to students pretending that they understand classroom material when they don’t. It can lead to students becoming unmotivated to ask for help for fear teachers and parents will think they aren’t intelligent. I would like to recommend some reading for you. The following article by Ian Byrd is excellent for considering long-term implications for being called ‘smart’ as a child. While you are having discussions with your gifted learner about appropriate ways to talk about being gifted, please remember to point out that it’s okay to not understand everything, or to ask questions. Remember to praise their efforts or their actions that impress you.

Thank you so much for all you do for your family! Please know that we are here for you if you have any questions. We will be in touch soon to set up fall conference times.

Prairie Creek by Tricia Tendick

Mock Trial: “You may now call your next witness to the stand.” This term will be very familiar to 6th grade students who are learning about mock trial. They have learned how to open the court, swear in witnesses, write opening and closing statements, do direct and cross examinations as well as re-cross and re-directs. One of our mentors, Mr. Carter, has taught mock trial for several years and served as our judge at our first trial. To help reinforce the concepts that the students are learning, they are doing an additional case with Mrs. Oberbroeckling, who also has years of experience with mock trial.

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Debate: A group of 5th grade students debated two different topics during the first WIN cycle. One group debated whether hunting should be banned and the other debated whether or not college should be free. Groups noted their position, stated their reasoning, and then researched evidence to support their position. Great debates on each side!

Because of Mr. Terupt (Author is Rob Buyea): All 5th grade literacy teachers have been reading Because of Mr. Terupt to their students. GT students have been working on an enrichment activity where they are learning new vocabulary, making a sketch of Mr. Terupt’s classroom, and completing a map noting many of the good things that have resulted from Mr. Terupt’s teaching. We will end the unit with critical thinking questions. Students will complete these individually and we will also discuss them as a group. There are many challenging vocabulary words and we are playing vocabulary bingo to help learn them. The students are really enjoying this! It’s a fun way to learn the new vocabulary!

Future Problem Solving: Several 5th and 6th grade groups are coming up with challenges to their first FPS practice problem: The Spread of Infectious Disease. They will then choose one of those challenges from their future scenario and write their condition statement. From there, they will come up with several solutions. This is a great opportunity for students to collaborate, share ideas, and come up with creative solutions for their future scenario!

Unwind and City of Ember (Authors are Neal Shusterman and Jeanne DuPrau):

What would it be like to live in a society where unwinding is legal or where your only source of light comes from light bulbs that are being powered by a generator that is slowly falling apart? Sixth grade GT students have been given enrichment activities on these books that are being read aloud in literacy class to deepen their understanding of the material. We have had many great discussions!

Prairie Point by Lori Ling

· All students wrote SMART goals for their year at Point

· Focused on gifted and talented standards set by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in their Personal Education Plan (PEP)

· Explored extra curricular opportunities at Point such as: Future City Competition, School Play, Chess Club, Math Counts, High School Speech and many others

7th Grade:

In addition to learning about goal setting, students have been busy exploring the role of competition in our society through the Junior Great Book short story “Harrison Bergeron.” Students are also going deeper with what it means to be fluent and have original ideas to help move them forward in their learning. They will soon begin writing a speech on the Optimist Oratorical topic of “Where are my roots of Optimism?”

8th Grade:

Students have been exploring the concept of intelligence and how it connects with other areas of life. Students read and analyzed “Flowers for Algernon” while critically thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of low and high intelligence. Twelve 8th grade students have accepted the challenge of competing in Future City Competition and are busy designing and engineering a city of the future through the lens of the aging population. Students are working with several engineering mentors on their projects.

9th Grade:

Students have been busy writing their PEP goals including the start of a Service Learning Goal document. 9th grade is an important year for students to volunteer and record their hours and learning in preparation for high school. Some students have joined a lunch group where some of those learning opportunities are being discussed. Students are also able to share information with each other regarding extra curricular school activities and grow in their social/emotional skills.

Optimist Oratorical Competition

All 7th/8th/9th-grade students will have the opportunity to work with Mrs. Ling in preparation for the Optimist Oratorical Competition beginning February 2018. Over a hundred gifted and talented students from the Cedar Rapids area will compete in this State Competition in which one boy and one girl will receive a college scholarship. Information regarding the Optimist Oratorical Competition can be found here.

More information to come in a parent e-mail in December.

Students working on Future Cities

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Prairie High School by Lori Danker

Mrs. Danker offers support for students who seek extra challenge; need academic support; would like enrichment or seek opportunity above and beyond coursework; need advisement for college applications, scholarships, and career paths; want ideas for test prep; and/or have individual concerns that they want to share. ALL GT STUDENTS are encouraged to email Mrs. Danker or seek her out in the counseling office. All GT STUDENTS should be checking their GOOGLE CLASSROOM for information daily. ALL GT STUDENTS should have updated their Personal Education Plans for the year. Parents, School, and Community: thank you for supporting OUR KIDS!

Here are a few fall highlights:

DreamCon (ICON) Writers’ Workshop

Half day interaction with published authors at the Marriott Conference Center/Hotel in Cedar Rapids. Thanks to CCSD Board member and published author Jed Peterson for this opportunity and your ongoing support and to Mr. Ernie Cox for your mentorship!

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High Tech Guys' Day (Girls’ Day is in the spring)

9-12 grade students participated in breakout sessions using different aspects of technology and programs offered by Kirkwood. Thank you to Brenda Steinke and Russ Bush at Kirkwood, and Daniel Johnson for supporting this opportunity, and to former parent Tim Ferry for your awesome presentation!

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Mt. Mercy Math Competition

Prairie High School earned 5th place in this state-wide competition. Congratulations students! Thank you to Ben VanHemert, Rebecca Fillbach, and Laura Bader for your coaching and support.

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World Food Prize-Global Youth Institute

Congratulations to 12th grader Beth Uthoff for her achievement with the World Food Prize. Beth was invited to share her research at the Global Youth Institute in Des Moines. Alternate was 10th grader Caden Boyd. Thank you to Kelsey Tyrrell of the World Food Prize for her support!

Chess Club (open to all students)

Thank you to CCSD Board member and state chess official Jim Hodina for your ongoing leadership and support!

The Gifted and Talented Specialist Team

Email any of the specialists

Crest & Ridge--Michelle Anderson

Heights & View--Julie Zastrow

Hill--Erin Hoffman

Creek--Tricia Tendick

Point--Lori Ling

High School--Lori Danker