March 2016

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First of all...

Here are some great resources for parents of gifted children. The first is the Davidson Institute, with interesting articles for parents of exceptional students:


Next is NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) NewsSource:


And finally, SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) website, where you can subscribe to monthly email newsletters:


* 4th Grade STAAR WRITING - March 29th - No GT Classes *

KISD Film Festival Finalists Announced...

You can view them at:


It's exciting seeing videos produced by former students. But I am especially proud of my student Tate Strzinek for his Documentary entry "Sgt. Schott - A Survivor of Iwo Jima". Be sure and view some of the finalist films with your child, in hopes that some will be interested in entering the competition NEXT year.

And now, a look at happenings in the Excel Classrooms...

HARK - Woodland Springs

"Super Thinkers" (2nd Grade GT) created thank-you cards for the Irving police department. Sargeant Dix visited the classroom to pick up the cards, and invited the students to see his police car. Before leaving, he placed handcuffs on me, then pretended to have misplaced the key. The look on the kids' faces was priceless. We enjoyed the pictures of the police staff holding the thank-you cards.

"Kool Kidz" (3rd Grade GT) - made cards for two different groups. One group was Christ Haven's Children's Home, receiving "somebody loves you" cards. The other recipients were the ER doctors at Cooks Children's Hospital, "thank you for taking care of children" or ...for saving lives".

All grade levels had the opportunity to write their heartfelt acts of random kindness on post-it notes during Random Acts of Kindness week.

HARK - Keller-Harvel

"Smarter than a 5th Grader" (2nd Grade GT) decided to thank the local animal shelter for taking care of and finding homes for many animals. They created a poster of cards and presented them to the Keller Humane Society representative who visited the classroom. To their surprise, she brought her own dog who also works at the shelter. After the students asked some great questions, they each had an opportunity to spend time petting the puppy.

"Super Smooth Smarties" (3rd Grade GT) wanted to thank a different group - members of the FBI. Not only did they create a poster full of thank-you notes, Mr. Axline, an FBI officer, visited the class and answered the many questions. No handcuffs with his visit (whew!). He did bring an official (probably not, but it is very cute) FBI eagle for the classroom.

Again, ever grade level participated in writing heartfelt acts of random kindness on Tuesday, Feb 16th (since Monday was a holiday).

Challenge of the Week

In addition to deciphering the instructions for the day written in word puzzles, I give them an additional brain tingling challenge. I NEVER tell my students the answers to my weekly challenges. They will remain on the board until every class has figured out the solution, and explained how they arrived at the answer. So, parents, please don't tell your child the answer if you figure it out first. Of course, if THEY figure it out first, they have my permission to help you with it. And yes, even Kinder solves the challenges.
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Fourth Grade - Building bridges

Construction continues. All purchases are made from the Excel Warehouse Lumber Company. One class had a nice surprise today - Lumber Sale - 50% off. Only a few fines have been assessed by the OSHA inspector, which is good. The Building Inspector hasn't had to close down any building sites, which means bridges are being constructed according to building plans he put his paw print of approval on. Some companies have begun creating their billboards similar to those at construction sites. I LOVE watching them solve problems, talk about how hard it is while also telling me how much fun they are having!

What's next?

Bridge Breaking Competition!

Third Grade - ancestor adventure ends with travel to country of ancestors

Third grade began our next unit - TOYS - with a look at TV commercials advertising toys from the 60's - today. These videos sparked great discussions on target audiences and advertising strategies:







Next stop...develop own toy company, create business plan, design and market a new toy!

Second Grade GT - Going WILD!

It's a jungle out there! But it's a zoo in Excel. After visiting SwitchZoo.com where the second graders combined species online, each second grader has created a brand new species. They researched the perfect habitat for this new creature, and will now design a zoo habit to house the critter. Quite a challenging task, designing it with an aerial view. To help, I demonstrated with a rough draft drawing of a zoo habitat for my new species HippieChipper. (This was definitely a spur of the moment creation - long haired, two tailed, wood chipping critter.) Challenging, but fun!

First Grade - Inventive Thinking to analytical thinking

And more for first grade...

Following a class look at this cool website:


I read the book Animologies. First graders then came up with their own analogies.

Here are some excellent apps for analytical thinking:

Sorting Machine


Guess the Code




Next stop...MAX the MAGICIAN (searching for patterns). We're also creating paper hats with student generated patterns on the brim.

Can't forget Kindergarten GT - now in session...

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I'm not promoting Easter, but the kids do enjoy this cute hip hop song about the Easter Bunny. If you want to share with your child, here's the link:


It is a joy and privilege to teach and challenge your child in Excel classes. I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable long weekend!

Gayle Barron, GT Specialist

Keller ISD Advanced Academics

Keller-Harvel Elementary

Woodland Springs Elementary