The Academically Gifted Gazette
Ronald E. McNair Elementary
Volume 3, Issue 4
December 2015/January 2016
6th: Hanukkah begins
11th: Last day of Box Top collection/Festive Family Friday
15th: Basketball Poetry/Discovery Education Techbook Experience
16th: Student Leadership meeting
17th: PTA meeting/Winter Musical/Duke Tip EXPLORE test deadline
18th: Winter break begins at 2:25pm!
21st: Little Blank Canvas art and digital programming camps begin
25th: Christmas Day
26th: Kwanzaa begins
31st: New Year's Eve
1st: New Year's Day
5th: Winter break ends/REM Science Fair projects due/Letters About Literature (writing contest) due to Miss Green
7th: Battle of the Books team meeting (and every Thursday thereafter)/Lego Fun event
11th: GCS Spelling Bee
12th: AG Transition to Middle School meeting (5th grade only)
13th: 4th ELA final project due
18th: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday
19th: 5th ELA final project due
20th: 3rd grade Newly Eligible Open House
21st: Teacher workday
22nd: Teacher workday
Ms. Anderson and Miss Green have fun building their ideal school in the Story-Starters room of the High Point University Lego Showcase event in November.
Creativity on display!
Marcus and Elijah represented McNair and both had a lot of fun competing in various STEM areas!
Lego Robotics Update
The Learning Myth: Why I'll Never Tell My Son He's Smart
By: Salman Khan
My 5-year-old son has just started reading. Every night, we lie on his bed and he reads a short book to me. Inevitably, he’ll hit a word that he has trouble with: last night the word was “gratefully.” He eventually got it after a fairly painful minute. He then said, “Dad, aren’t you glad how I struggled with that word? I think I could feel my brain growing.” I smiled: my son was now verbalizing the tell-tale signs of a “growth mindset.” But this wasn’t by accident. Recently, I put into practice research I had been reading about for the past few years: I decided to praise my son not when he succeeded at things he was already good at, but when he persevered with things that he found difficult. I stressed to him that by struggling, your brain grows. Between the deep body of research on the field of learning mindsets and this personal experience with my son, I am more convinced than ever that mindsets toward learning could matter more than anything else we teach.
Researchers have known for some time that the brain is like a muscle; that the more you use it, the more it grows. They’ve found that neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes doing difficult tasks rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones.
What this means is that our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.
However, not everyone realizes this. Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has been studying people’s mindsets towards learning for decades. She has found that most people adhere to one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. Fixed mindsets mistakenly believe that people are either smart or not, that intelligence is fixed by genes. People with growth mindsets correctly believe that capability and intelligence can be grown through effort, struggle and failure. Dweck found that those with a fixed mindset tended to focus their effort on tasks where they had a high likelihood of success and avoided tasks where they may have had to struggle, which limited their learning. People with a growth mindset, however, embraced challenges, and understood that tenacity and effort could change their learning outcomes. As you can imagine, this correlated with the latter group more actively pushing themselves and growing intellectually.
The good news is that mindsets can be taught; they’re malleable. What’s really fascinating is that Dweck and others have developed techniques that they call “growth mindset interventions,” which have shown that even small changes in communication or seemingly innocuous comments can have fairly long-lasting implications for a person’s mindset. For instance, praising someone’s process (“I really like how you struggled with that problem”) versus praising an innate trait or talent (“You’re so clever!”) is one way to reinforce a growth mindset with someone. Process praise acknowledges the effort; talent praise reinforces the notion that one only succeeds (or doesn’t) based on a fixed trait. And we’ve seen this on Khan Academy as well: students are spending more time learning on Khan Academy after being exposed to messages that praise their tenacity and grit and that underscore that the brain is like a muscle.
The Internet is a dream for someone with a growth mindset. Between Khan Academy, MOOCs, and others, there is unprecedented access to endless content to help you grow your mind. However, society isn’t going to fully take advantage of this without growth mindsets being more prevalent. So what if we actively tried to change that? What if we began using whatever means are at our disposal to start performing growth mindset interventions on everyone we cared about? This is much bigger than Khan Academy or algebra – it applies to how you communicate with your children, how you manage your team at work, how you learn a new language or instrument. If society as a whole begins to embrace the struggle of learning, there is no end to what that could mean for global human potential.
And now here’s a surprise for you. By reading this article itself, you’ve just undergone the first half of a growth-mindset intervention. The research shows that just being exposed to the research itself (for example, knowing that the brain grows most by getting questions wrong, not right) can begin to change a person’s mindset. The second half of the intervention is for you to communicate the research with others. After all, when my son, or for that matter, anyone else asks me about learning, I only want them to know one thing. As long as they embrace struggle and mistakes, they can learn anything.
Congratulations to Christian, our REM 2015 Spelling Bee winner! Thanks to Taneille (runner-up) and all of the classroom finalists for a job well done!
Members of the Spelling Club use kinesthetic learning to practice their words.
Would you like fries with that? Mrs. Cathey and Miss Green served our families at McDonalds to raise funds for the fifth grade field trip to the Outer Banks.
K-2 Talent Development
3rd Grade Building Thinking Skills
AG screening update: Students received letters in Tuesday folders detailing their specific status in the screening process. NNAT and further IOWA testing happened this week. Further information will be collected from teachers and students in the coming weeks. Parents will receive final notifications of eligibility/ineligibility by January.
Explaining the Unexplainable
Engaging Scenario: The Natural Science Center of Greensboro is hosting an upcoming exhibit about Greek Mythology and its’ connection to science. As a Scholarly Advisor to the museum, you must select a myth that you feel will be essential to the exhibit. Write a summary of the myth and an explanation that conveys the myth’s historical and scientific significance. At the completion of your writing, you will audio record your work in class to be used as part of a listening center for the exhibit.
What can electric cars and rats in boxes possibly have in common? They are both a means to understanding abstract mathematical concepts such as rates and probability. Einstein continues to lead us through this fascinating world and we love coming along for the ride! At the end of the quarter, students will write a letter to their future self, providing mathematical and life insights that will help them make good choices as an adult.
I Have a Voice
Engaging Scenario: As a photo journalist, you have been asked to create a photo (collage) essay that conveys a story to the viewer about human rights. For your inspiration, refer to the book Every Human has Rights or the human rights pamphlet from class and select one of the rights that is most important to you. Each image should represent what you value the most and evoke emotion to get your point across to others. It may also be shared with a professional advocate for human rights who may choose to use it to illustrate the selected right.
Beyond Base Ten
Students have explored the difference between a number and a numeral, have solidified their understanding of base ten and have learned how the base five system works. In recent classes, students have even learned how to convert between the base ten and base five systems. Here are some fun prompting questions you can ask your child at home:
How old are you in base five?
What grade will you be in next year in base five?
How many pairs of socks do you own in base five?
Hint: If they do not use any digit higher than 4 AND if their base five answer seems larger (in most cases) than the base ten answer, they are probably right! Ask them to explain.
Next up: Base two! For our culminating activity, students will be hired by Milton Bradley to design a BINGO game that works on the skill of converting bases for the gifted population. Class time will be provided for this project.