GT Newsletter

August - September

Welcome to a New Year!

I am thrilled to start another year of learning with your children! Thank you for sharing them with me. Our classroom is a place to explore, take risks, laugh, and collaborate with other GT children. Meeting the social and emotional needs is an important part of the experience.

As much as we are all excited about the return to school, some gifted children may experience anxiety due to change and expectations. I am including an article that may be of help as you prepare your child to return to school: .

New Home

We have a new room!! Thanks again to Mr. Howell, Mr. Pillay, and Mr. Wu for their help. And, thanks to my husband, Pete, for being the spouse of a teacher who has the added pleasure of moving furniture and putting up bulletin boards!


I am so excited to announce that you can now follow our GT classes on Instagram. It is PRIVATE and only I can approve who sees what is posted. The only people I will approve are parents of students in GT and the other elementary GT specialists in Eanes so they can see what is happening in GT at BCE. It is a quick way to see what is happening in GT more frequently.

I will still post slide shows after major events to share with friends and family members. You can click on the Instagram icon on my main page or search for bartoncreekgt on Instagam. You will send a request to follow and I’ll approve.


GT Assessment Information Meetings:

October 1, 2015, 8:00 a.m. in the BCE Library

October 19, 2015, 8:00 a.m. in the BCE Library

Class Times

First Grade:

Tuesday - Thursday, 7:50-8:35

Second Grade:

Monday - Thursday, 12:00-12:45

Third Grade:

Monday - Thursday 1:20-2:05

Fourth Grade:

Monday – Thursday, 9:15-10:00

Fifth Grade:

Monday-Thursday, 10:05-10:50 (They will meet as an entire group on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesday and Thursday the class will be split due to class size. Kutchman’s class will come on Wednesday and Poole’s and Leach’s classes will come on Thursday.)

Dot Day

International Dot Day is celebrates creativity, courage, and collaboration. Last year on Sept. 15th, more than 1 million people participated in Dot Day (or Dot Week) activities. We will celebrate on Tuesday, the 15th. We will be designing “dots” that represent something special about ourselves and reflect our creative spirit. You can read more about International Dot Day at If you can help with your child’s class, or even a longer period of time, please contact me.

Fourth Grade Student Helpers Needed

I am continuing a tradition started a couple of years ago of asking for volunteers from my fourth grade class to come in one day a week to help set up the room for that day’s classes. They would need to be able to arrive by 7:35 a.m. to help. Of course, they may come in when they are dropped off if that occurs earlier. After they help, they are offered free time in the room in lei of going to sit in the cafeteria. They are also welcome to come in more than one day a week. If you think your child is interested, please let me know.

Grade Level News

First Grade

The first unit of study, Thinker’s Toolkit, is intended to provide a foundation of thinking skills for future units. Four core areas of thinking are highlighted: divergent thinking, convergent thinking, visual thinking, and evaluative thinking. Students experience a venue of hands-on activities and meta-cognitive discussions to begin to build an awareness of the four areas of thinking. Parents will be invited to a “Thinking Fair” at the end of the unit to provide an opportunity for the children to share what they have learned.

Second Grade

Robots! Robots! is the topic of our first unit of study. The children will explore the many uses of robots in today’s world and the potential uses in the future. Considering the pros and cons of robots and some ethical issues surrounding robotics is also part of their study.

The engineers will build robots again with the WeDo lego sets and then program the robots to perform predetermined functions. Building and programming will be differentiated based on what they are ready to tackle. This component of the unit focuses on coding. Coding is one of the big “Cs” of this century.

Third Grade

The “civil engineers” will begin the year with at study of bridges, The Span of Time, focusing on the challenge of how to build a balsa wood span with limited materials that will hold the greatest load. Luis Anaya and other UT student members of the ASCE will mentor as the engineers design and construct balsa wood spans for the UT Span Contest. In this project based learning unit the children will explore elements that impact building, such as forces, loads, shapes, and materials. They will also investigate different types of spans and how they have changed over time. The truss design will be the focus as teams of engineers prepare for the design and construction of their own balsa wood spans.

Team skills will definitely be emphasized during the many opportunities to solve problems together.

Fourth Grade

The fourth graders embark on a study of how culture influences architecture through the unit, Every Building Tells a Story. The purpose, style, and materials utilized in architecture throughout history have reflected the culture, especially the values of the culture. In a way, the buildings tell the stories of the people who built them. The cultural component of the unit culminates in a Tour of Austin’s architecture, scheduled for Monday, November 30th. You are welcome to join us for one or more of our stops as we visit such locations as One World Theatre, City Hall, the Bremond Block, and the Capitol.

In addition, the students will also participate in a project-based learning experience as they design an ideal school. We will not be able to work with AIA in schools this year, but we have the lessons from previous years. If you happen to know an architect who might be a guest speaker, please let me know. Mrs. Hollenbeck has already offered the name of a landscape architect for the landscape component of the project.

Fifth Grade

How can we use our creativity and problem solving skills to make a difference in the world? This essential question is the driving force behind the first project-based unit in fifth grade, Philing Good. The students will review the concept of creativity and deliberate ways to enhance creative thinking skills. Then, they will explore the concept of philanthropy and ways we can make a difference in our world. The students will work in teams on a project of their choosing and develop an action plan and presentation of their work.