GT Academy Newsletter

Sablatura Middle School / Pearland ISD

August / September 2016

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Students Explore Interests Through Mini Courses

The Community Outreach group has been busy educating Sablatura students about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. They displayed posters around the school, planned and distributed gold ribbons for Go Gold Day, and made cards for young patients. They learned about ways to support families with children going through cancer treatment from Kelsey with the Candlelighters organization. Purdue and TCU competed in a Penny War to raise funds for this organization, and we will know soon which team earned an outside recess because of their good deeds (and competitive spirit). What will they plan next?

Students in the Neuroscience mini course began learning about the parts of brain by constructing clay brains. They also made neon neurons and can tell you about synapses and how important it is for our brains to work on difficult tasks in order to get stronger. An athletic trainer from Pearland High School came to speak to us about the importance of protecting our brains from concussions. These future neuroscientists have performed virtual brain surgery and will dissect a sheep brain as they travel to the Houston Health Museum on a field experience.

The Sablatura patio is looking good, thanks to students in the Horticulture mini course. They have learned about proper watering techniques, pest control, fall vs. spring gardens, and the challenges of gardening unique to our area. They will visit Maas Nursery in Seabrook to learn more about varieties of plants and the science behind gardening.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” - Thomas Edison

Students in Junk Box Wars are taking Mr. Edison’s advice, studying engineering and learning how to work in cooperative groups. The challenges we have attempted so far are Paper Towers, The Weakest Link, Puff Mobiles, and Pumpkin Chuckin’. Our current challenge is Magnificent Mini-Marble Maze!

In the Classroom

Mrs. Stenvall's Atoms - Sixth grade students love using toys to learn about the Periodic Table of Elements! Students used colored plastic balls to demonstrate how electrons zoom around the nucleus of an atom. They also used Legos to demonstrate how elements bond to make compounds. Students later used pipe cleaners and plastic beads to model the atomic structure of various compounds. The chemistry unit is fun!

Reading With Mrs. Sisk - Sixth graders are investigating summary and elements in a work of fiction using “fractured” fairy tales. Amazing visuals are emerging from the creative and gifted students here at the academy.

Mrs. Boyd's Sunken Ship - Fifth graders took on the role of underwater archaeologists swimming through the room to examine objects from the remains of a sunken European explorer’s ship. Students worked together to research various artifacts. They categorized the artifacts as navigation tools, motives for exploration, or new products from the Americas.Many connections were made between exploration in the 1400s and 1500s and exploration today.

Students are learning how to organize their thinking with Thinking Maps in Mrs. V's World Culture class. Thinking Maps are a way to make our abstract thoughts concrete. They give the students a way to see their thoughts which leads to higher levels of critical and creative thinking. In World Cultures we have been using Thinking Maps to differentiate and visualize the many different forms of government, from democracy to dictatorship.

Flipping for Math

Tips for Success:

  • Knowsys - Knowsys systematically improves college readiness by focusing on building a solid foundation in academic vocabulary. Students are introduced to new words every two weeks and are encouraged to study the words using flashcards or the Knowsys App. Knowsys tests are part of students' ELA grade.
  • ALEKS - "Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained." Students are expected to work on ALEKS at least one hour each week, outside of class. A grade will be taken every two weeks.
  • Tutoring - Students are encouraged to come to tutoring before school to make up work, redo an assignment or ask questions about assignments. Teachers are available to help most mornings at 8:00.
  • Corrections / Late Work - Graded work is sent home each week in Tuesday Folders. Students have until Friday of that week to redo assignments for a maximum grade of 70. Students should get in the habit of checking Skyward periodically to make sure all assignments are turned in. Points will be deducted each day for assignments turned in late (-10 points if one day late, -20 points for two days late, etc.)
  • Binders / Agendas - Students have been taught to keep a colored folder for each class and their agenda in zipper binders. They should be writing objectives, assignments and homework reminders in agendas daily. Don't forget, 5th grade Reading Logs are due each Monday! Papers should be filed into the proper folders each day, and binders should be cleaned out once a week. But do not throw those papers away! Keep them in a box or tub at home "just in case." You can then get rid of them at the end of the semester. Mrs. Mueller likes to do random "Binder Checks" to see who is staying organized.

It Takes GRIT!

  • Middle school is an adjustment for many students, especially at the GT Academy. Students must keep up with assignments from more classes and teachers than elementary school, the pace is faster and the curriculum is more complex. Throw in locker combinations, usernames and passwords, online assignments and working collaboratively in groups, and some days can be quite challenging! It is important for students to remember what they have learned about GRIT (Gumption, Resiliency, Integrity and Tenacity) as they develop into responsible, independent learners.

Team Purdue Picnic

GTA fifth graders took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and enjoyed eating lunch with friends. New friendships are developing as students are finding that their classmates have many things in common with them: playing chess, being an awesome doodler, having a fascination with nature, difficulty getting organized, an interest in physics or being really creative or funny. We have a great group of students at the GT Academy, and its going to be a great year. Buckle up and hold on tight... here we go!

* Parents can read more about gifted students' friendships in the article linked below.

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Cam the Spectacled Caiman

Also known as caiman crocodiles, the spectacled caiman is known for its texture between the front of the eyes which appear like spectacles. The male rarely extends to 2.5 meters while females extend to two meters. The color is olive. What is on their menu? Reptiles and amphibians, and their favorites, fish and water birds.

Save the caimans! Spectacled caimans are hunted for their skin and they are on the endangered list in many countries including El Salvador, though they can be found in Central and South America.

By: Caleb Williams

Read more about gifted students:

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT)

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)

Duke TIP Digest of Gifted Research

2e- Twice Exceptional Newsletter

The Gifted Guru

Byrdseed Gifted