The Gifted Gazette

Simkins Elementary: Volume 1 Issue 6

Calendar of Events

March 17th-Early Release

March 24th-3rd Quarter Ends

March 25th-April 1st-Spring Break

Spotlight on Curriculum

Third Grade: Math Quest

Math quest is in full swing and teams are getting very close to the treasure. We are halfway through our problem solving strategies. Students have learned how to use the problem solving strategies of draw a picture, look for a pattern, and create a table or chart. In class we have been discussing how these problem solving strategies can be applied to many different math word problems. Students have been fine tuning their mathematics skills be answering such question as what is the problem asking you, what information do you have, will this strategy always work, and tell me about how you had to adjust your thinking. In addition to the problem solving strategies teams have been working on their communication and collaboration skills as they work through group problems each day.

Third Grade Reading: Who Is My Neighbor?

Students did an absolutely amazing job on their immigration projects! I was so impressed with the time that students put in to create their projects. Thank you for helping your child make their project a success. This month in reading students have traveled back in time and visited Ellis Island and Angel Island. We have discussed the history of each immigration destination. Students got to experience first hand what it would be like to have to pass an immigration test. If any of you have family vacations coming up do not be surprised if your child requests to visit one of these tourist destinations. We have also explored the Statue of Liberty and the symbolism behind this statue. Students are also currently working on creating questionnaires that they will use to interview students in our school who immigrated to the US.

4th Grade Math: Squared Away

Aye aye, matey! The tides have been turbulent but we can all finally say we are "squared away".4th grade math students have been having a lot of fun exploring our pirate themed unit on rates, ratios, and proportions. Students have completed square one and are currently working on square two. Students have learned how to set up ratios and proportions, they have learned how to find equivalent fractions using multiple strategies such as cross multiplication, creating a table, and multiplying or dividing by one. We have also thrown a little algebra in and students have had to solve for unknown variables. Be sure to ask your child the name of their pirate ship and what their job is on the crew.

4th Grade Reading: The Power of Literate People

Imagine receiving the following letter in your child's folder. What would your first thoughts and reactions be?

Notification to Parents/Guardians of Fourth Grade AG Students

In AG we are conducting an experiment about Literacy (Reading and Writing).

We would like your cooperation in this experiment. Please adhere to the following rules for one full week:

  • Students may not read ANYTHING. That includes books, newspapers, magazines or comic books, ads on the television, directions on video games, handheld or console, any lists or other communication from anyone including you.

  • The goal is to remove all reading material in any form from them.

  • We understand that this may inhibit their ability to complete their homework, however we ask that you support this request despite that inconvenience.

  • Following these directions will require students to leave the room when any reading material is being displayed to which they may be exposed.

  • In addition we ask that students refrain from writing anything. This includes handwritten things as well as computer generated writing. They may not take notes on anything, write letters, write texts on the phone, write on a chalkboard or whiteboard, or display the written word in any way.

  • These guidelines must be implemented beginning tomorrow and continued for one full week.

  • Thank you for your cooperation. We need 100% participation in this experiment.

I imagine that your reactions were similar to the students in class when I handed them this piece of paper. In class we have been discussing the importance of literacy and barriers to literacy. Some of the barriers we have discussed in class include dyslexia, poverty, English as a second language, and child labor. Students were asked to create a list of the top 10 reasons why reading is important. I have included their list below for your reading pleasure.

Top 10 Reasons To Be Able To Read Kids Versions

1. If you don't know how to read and write you may only be able to get a job in sports.

2.Reading allows you to read your bible and learn more about God and Jesus.

3. It helps your imagination grow.

4.If you could not read traffic signs while driving you could wreck or die.

5. Literate people have a smaller chance of going to jail.

6.You will not be able to pay your taxes or buy a house.

7.You would not be able to follow recipes or order at restaurants.

8.You would not be able to read to your children.

9. You would not be able to speak properly.

10. You would not be able get into a good college if you can not read.

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5th Grade Math: Think Like A Scientist

In math 5th graders have been exploring how to create, collect, and analyze data. Students have learned about the 4 reasons why we collect data, they have explored the different ways that we collect data, and they have conducted their own data investigations. Students have used the data that they have gathered to create bar graphs, line plots, and stem and leaf plots. We hosted our own long jump competition which was modeled after the summer Olympics and students used that data in a variety of ways. What do you think is the average jump of a female Olympian in the long jump competition? We also joined in on the March Madness fun and students used women's basketball team score data to find the mean , median, mode, and range of their season.

5th Grade Reading: Wherefore At They?

Fifth grade students have been having a lot of fun exploring the Arts this semester. We have had some great conversations about the importance of art in education. We have discussed how nature , human emotion, and geometry influences artistic expression. Students have analyzed the famous painting A Starry Night and they have learned about the very interesting life of Vincent Van Gogh. Students also had a lively conversation centered around the phrase "Art Is In The Eye Of the Beholder". So let me pose the same question to you... Is This Art?

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Barnett Newman, “Onement VI,” owned by Microsoft founder Paul Allen

Last week in New York, as major auction houses took in more than $473m, the spotlight was on Impressionist & Modern Art. This week, the focus shifts to the more uncertain field of Contemporary Art, with several hundred works coming up for sale. The action starts tomorrow at Sotheby’s, where a blue abstract by Barnett Newman, “Onement VI,” owned by Microsoft founder Paul Allen, is expected to sell for $30m-$40m.Sotheby’s anticipates another highlight will be an untitled blue sponge sculpture from 1959 by Yves Klein, with a low estimate of $20m. The following evening at Christie’s the stars will be Roy Lichtenstein’s “Woman with Flowered Hat,” for which the auction house didn’t provide an estimate, and works by Jean-Michel Basquiat (“Dustheads,” est. $25m-$35m), Jackson Pollack (“Number 19, 1948,” est. $25m-$35m), and Francis Bacon (“Study for Portrait,” est. $18m-$25m).

Adapted from: “Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn”

We can deepen our own and our students’ understanding of mistakes, which are not all created equal, and are not always desirable. After all, our ability to manage and learn from mistakes is not fixed. We can improve it. An appreciation of mistakes helps us overcome our fear of making them, enabling us to take risks. But we also want students to understand what kinds of mistakes are most useful and how to most learn from them.

Types of mistakes

The stretch mistakes

Stretch mistakes happen when we’re working to expand our current abilities. Stretch mistakes are positive. If we never made stretch mistakes, it would mean that we never truly challenged ourselves to learn new knowledge or skills. We want to make stretch mistakes! We want to do so not by trying to do things incorrectly, but by trying to do things that are challenging. When we make stretch mistakes we want to reflect, identify what we can learn, and then adjust our approach to practice, until we master the new level of ability. Then we want to identify a new area of challenge and continue stretching ourselves.

The aha-moment mistakes

Another positive type of mistake, but one that is harder to strive or plan for, is the aha-moment mistake. This happens when we achieve what we intend to do, but then realize that it was a mistake to do so because of some knowledge we lacked which is now becoming apparent. We can gain more aha moments from mistakes by being reflective. We can ask ourselves “What was unexpected? Why did that result occur? What went well and what didn’t? Is there anything I could try differently next time?” We can also ask people around us for information we may not be aware of, or for ideas for improvement.

The sloppy mistakes

Sloppy mistakes happen when we’re doing something we already know how to do, but we do it incorrectly because we lose concentration. We all make sloppy mistakes occasionally because we’re human. However, when we make too many of these mistakes, especially on a task that we intend to focus on at the time, it signals an opportunity to enhance our focus, processes, environment, or habits.

Sometimes sloppy mistakes can be turned into aha moments. If we make a mistake because we’re not focused on the task at hand, or we’re too tired, or something distracted us, upon reflection we can gain aha-moments on how to improve, such as realizing we’re better at certain tasks after a good night’s sleep, or that if we silence our gadgets or close our doors we can focus better.

The high-stakes mistakes

Sometimes we don’t want to make a mistake because it would be catastrophic. Aside from life-threatening situations, we can sometimes consider performance situations to be high-stakes. For example, if going to a prestigious college is important to someone, taking the SAT could be a high-stakes event because the performance in that assessment has important ramifications. It is okay to see these events as performance events rather than as learning events, and to seek to minimize mistakes and maximize performance in these events. We’re putting our best foot forward, trying to perform as best as we can. How we do in these events gives us information about how effective we have become through our hard work and effort. In a high-stakes event, if we don’t achieve our goal, let’s reflect on the progress we’ve made through time, on the approaches that have and haven’t helped us grow, and on what we can do to grow more effectively. Then let’s go back to spending most of our time practicing, challenging ourselves, and seeking stretch mistakes and learning from those mistakes.

Let’s be clear

Mistakes are not all created equal, and they are not always desirable. In addition, learning from mistakes is not all automatic. In order to learn from them the most we need to reflect on our errors and extract lessons from them.

If we’re more precise in our own understanding of mistakes and in our communication with students, it will increase their understanding, buy-in, and efficacy as learners.

Briceno, E. (2015, November). Mind/Shifts. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from This article was first published in the Mindset Works newsletter.