December AG Newsletter

for Allen Jay & Archer Elementary

Our 2nd Quarter Unit Information

What Makes A Hero?

Who is more of a hero, Superman or Christopher Reeve? Students are reading and analyzing his biography to look for heroic characteristics he possessed. Many people know he played the original Superman! We will be having a Socratic Seminar to discuss the who makes the better hero, Superman or Christopher Reeve and why.

The Last Leaf is a short story written by O'Henry. We will be looking at this short story and finding the unsung hero. Students will write their own poem about this unsung hero describing his character traits.

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." - Christopher Reeve

How Do We Use Rates, Ratios, and Proportions?

How many times have you wondered whether you should buy the 4 pack of toilet paper or the 8 pack? Which is the better deal? In 4th Grade Math we will be working with fractions to create ratios, rates and proportions. Students will see how fractions can help us solve larger problems by using ratios, rates, and proportions.

For this unit we will looking at unit prices on items. When you go to the grocery store take a minute to look at the price tags and find the unit prices with your students. This will help you quickly tell which is a better deal. Often times even when something is on sale it will show what the sale price is per unit also.

How Have People Fought For Freedom Throughout History?

Have you heard of Paul Revere, Cesar Chavez, Maya Angelou? In 5th Grade ELA we will be studying how each of these influenced how we view freedom today.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is a poem by Maya Angelou, a well known African American author. We will look at the metaphor used in this poem and learn how to use our own metaphors in writing. It is important for the students to understand how she was able to overcome many struggles to become successful.

Cesar Chavez fought for the rights of the migrant workers. A great book that we will use is called "Harvesting Hope". There are also many other books that students will use to learn more about how Cesar Chavez helped win the fight for worker's rights in California. We will use our understanding of narrative poems and how they tell a story to create a poem about Cesar Chavez's story using a metaphor throughout the poem like Maya Angelou did with her poem.

How Are Fractions Used In Everyday Life?

Did you have to use your understanding of fractions when making Thanksgiving dinner? Did you need to figure out just how much stuffing to make for a certain number of people or how to double or even triple the recipe for a favorite dish? In 5th Grade Math we are studying how fractions can be used in real life.

We will look at how we use fractions when figuring out recipes, serving sizes, and more. Have you ever wondered how large catering companies can figure out how much food to make for an event based on the number of people? We will see just how important knowing fractions can be for creating a menu to have enough food to serve a given number of people.

3rd Grade Whole Class Services

We are wrapping up our 3rd grade whole class services this month. Starting in the 2nd semester students who qualify for AG services will be served through pull out services just like the 4th and 5th graders.

Our last lessons are focusing on the characteristics of successful people and how they use them, such as being inventive.

Students who are in the pool for AG screening have already taken the IOWA Reading and Math tests. Now we are waiting on scores to come back so that we can see who needs the next step which is the NNAT2, an aptitude test that is ALL pictures. Students who need to take this test will have 30 minutes to solve approx. 50 problems. It is all about figuring out which piece is the missing piece.

2nd Grade Talent Development

Each 2nd grade classroom is currently receiving 7 lessons on a variety of thinking skills to help identify students who may benefit from Talent Development services for this year only.

We are working on patterning, sorting by attributes (color, size, shape, thickness, etc), classifying, analogies, and equation building.

Students who show great analyzing skills for these different lessons may have the opportunity to continue to build those skills during enrichment lessons later in the year. Parents of these students will be notified once we complete the whole class lessons. Students at Allen Jay Elementary will be receiving letters to go home to their parents by the end of the month. Students at Archer will receive letters to go home sometime in January.

Social/Emotional Corner from the AG Department

It’s all in the Mindset

A couple of years ago, Thomas Greenspon, a licensed psychologist and family therapist, spoke about how students view their giftedness. Although there are a variety of external factors that have a significant impact on how gifted students behave, such as their IQ, poverty, race, it is important to examine what gifted means from the child’s perspective. Being gifted is a human quality that can be considered negative or positive. For example . . .

  • Gifted children may believe that giftedness means intellectual challenges should come easily and he/she should not have to work at it
  • Gifted children may believe that he/she must be perfect at everything
  • Ridicule and bullying can convert giftedness into a nightmare of alienation and self-loathing
  • Gifted children may be identified as trouble makers or ring leaders yet be a simultaneous source of pride and shame

Some individuals believe that either you are born with intellectual talent or you are not; it’s fixed. Others believe that intelligence is like a muscle which can be improved through “exercise.” Students having a “fixed” mindset may become discouraged by challenging tasks, thinking that the difficulty reflects lack of intelligence. However, students with a “growth” mindset feel challenged and enriched by tasks requiring effort.

Gifted individuals may have a sense of whether their intellectual prowess and creative talent is a good thing or not in the opinion of others. Their actions are therefore based on whatever price or anxiety this brings. A larger issue for many gifted students is whether they feel they are valued as people and if so, on what basis? Are they valued for what they can accomplish or is it for the effort they put forth? Such thinking may impact how a student approaches a task. They are able to sense whether high achievement seems to be expected of them, or whether making an honest effort is.

When being gifted is a positive experience, gifted children see themselves as capable and the world is an exciting place in which to feel secure and connected. However, when being gifted has negative connotations, this sense of acceptance is not assured, and actions are taken to reduce anxiety and to have a sense of connection. If a gifted child is valued for his effort, he may feel challenged, energized, and affirmed even if achievement does not happen to be stellar. If the child is valued instead for his performance or achievements, he will more than likely feel defensive, anxious, and as though he is always one failure away from discouragement and lack of acceptance.

It is imperative for gifted children to have the sense that they are valued for who they are, rather than what they can do. The home environment is the ideal place to build this environment of acceptance. There are four elements critical to the creation and maintenance for such an environment:

  • Empathy-What does giftedness mean to your child and is it a good thing?
  • Encouragement-Describe what you like and value about your child, separate it from what he/she can do.
  • Self-Reflection-What are your expectations with regard to your child? Of yourself?
  • Dialogue-Start a conversation as a way of making sense with regard to giftedness and what it means to you and your child.

Kathleen Mayer

Source-Tips for Parents: How Students See Their Giftedness and Why It Matters: A Different View of “Mindset.” By T. Greenspon (2011).

Guilford County PAGE Information

Click here to find out more about Guilford County PAGE and how to become a member.

Ms. DePrez's Big Adventure

The last week of November I went to San Diego, CA to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer. We walked 60+ miles in 3 days to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. I walked with (and for) my stepmom as she was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2013. She had surgery and radiation and is currently cancer free. I hated to have to miss my classes however there was a sub scheduled for all the days I was out. Unfortunately my sub for Monday got placed in a grade level classroom but otherwise all students continued to be served as if I was there!

+The walk is a 60 mile walk however when you figure the walking around camp each day and at the opening and closing ceremonies it was really between 70 and 75 miles!

Contact Information & Websites

I enjoy working with your children to help them reach their potential. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

My email is

Allen Jay (AJE) phone # 336-434-8490 (voicemails left at this number come to my email)

Archer phone #336-294-7335

My Class Website: or

GCS AG Website:

On the GCS AG website be sure to check out the tab called Elementary Resources for a variety of different sites dealing with the units we are currently teaching.