The Python Brainwave

Evergreen Mill's Gifted Education Newsletter

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November 2022

Happy November, Evergreen Mill Parents and Students!

After the trees release their leaves in anticipation of the winter season, I start to get excited about what's to cocoa and roaring fires, a plethora of culinary treats, cinnamon and evergreen scents, and the treasury of holidays that reunite families.

Speaking of families, thank you to all who collected and sent in cardboard paper towel and toilet paper rolls for our Rube Goldberg crazy contraptions building day. Not only did we learn all about this Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, but we also discovered the importance of testing our prototypes. Team construction required collaboration, a willingness to accept failure and revise or rebuild, and to laugh at ourselves along the way. If you asked any 4th or 5th grade FUSION student what has been their favorite FUSION day so far, it's more than likely you'd hear "our Rube Goldberg construction day."

National STEM/STEAM Day was November 8. It's a day set aside to encourage and celebrate kids exploring science, technology, engineering, art and math through fun, hands-on learning. Building and design challenges are a regular part of FUSION, DCI, EDGE, and SEARCH--and you'll find photographic proof of that in this monthly newsletter.

Right now, the county's universal gifted evaluation process is underway for all third graders. I'm pushing into third-grade classrooms with talent development lessons that will be followed immediately by portfolio lessons. For questions about the SY22-23 Elementary Gifted Evaluation Process, please view this video.

I am ever grateful for your support and for the opportunity to teach your amazing children. If you have questions, concerns, or just wish to share some fabulous news about your student, email me anytime at For more resources and information, visit my EMES Gifted Ed webpage.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Martha Rombach

EMES Gifted Resource Teacher

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SEARCH - Kindergarten - Third Grade

The majority of SEARCH lessons are rooted in the power of a good book. The trend continues in November.

Kindergarten - Sort It Out, A Color of His Own
First Grade - Five Creatures, Grandpa Gazillions
Second Grade - Beautiful Oops, Secret Numbers
Third Grade - Talent Development Lessons, Can You Zooley

To launch a lesson on attributes, kindergarten listens to Sort It Out by award-winning author Barbara Mariconda before playing Which One Doesn't Belong. In Color of His Own by Leo Lionni, a colorful chameleon searches for his home. The SEARCH lesson focuses on animal adaptations, and students use their creative skills to camouflage Leo in their own settings.

The books of choice for first-grade lessons include Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins and Laurie Keller's Grandpa Gazillion's Number Yard. In the first, students learn there are countless ways to categorize three humans and two cats, the five creatures in the book. Grandpa Gazillions showcases a different perspective on number sense.

In the second-grade hallway, Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is the centerpiece of a lesson on turning mistakes into beautiful creations. The Secret Numbers lesson calls for mathematical thinking and deductive reasoning to solve a series of number puzzles.

In November, third graders participate in one talent development lesson and then test their deductive reasoning skills with Can You Zooley, an opportunity to use logic and critical thinking to unravel a map mystery.

Specially designed for K-3, SEARCH lessons encourage students to take intellectual risks and to develop an excitement for learning and discovery across a variety of thinking skills. The curriculum spirals developmentally through five components: reasoning, perceiving, connecting, evaluating, and creating.

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FUSION (formerly FUTURA)

FUSION - 4th & 5th Grade

Innovation is the name of the game in FUSION. We continue to investigate real-world innovators like Paul Dyson, who created 5,127 prototypes of the Dyson Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner before it went to market. Other innovations we learned about included the Penguin Chick Bot, a robot penguin chick used by scientists to study emperor penguins, and the Baubax Travel Jacket with a built-in inflatable neck pillow. Sign me up!

Most importantly, we spent two weeks stepping into the innovative shoes of Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg. He became famous for sketching wildly complex contraptions that accomplished the simplest of tasks. Thank you to all those families who sent in cardboard rolls; we used them like crazy (and have extras for a future project - yay). FUSION students enjoyed a day of Rube Goldberg stations that included building inclined planes and domino runs. On our Rube Goldberg construction day, teams of students had an hour of design and collaboration to build a working Rube Goldberg machine that landed a candy pumpkin in a bowl. No two contraptions were alike--and I'll share a compilation video soon, so you can truly appreciate the creative designs straight out of Evergreen.

Coming soon in FUSION is more design thinking, biomimicry, and patents. Stay tuned!

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DCI - Differentiated Classroom Instruction

DCI - 4th & 5th Grades

Language Arts - Our weekly agendas cover a myriad of hands-on activities: vocabulary, short stories, comma rules, reader's theatre practices and performances, creative writing shorts and longs, word ladders, and other curriculum extensions.

Math - Deductive reasoning and mathematical thinking are the driving forces behind math enrichment. Weekly content is often aligned with in-classroom instruction, but calls for higher level thinking. Word problems, balance equations, mystery numbers, and complex grid problems make regular appearances. One of our most popular activities is mystery numbers, which your student can attempt at home at (with your permission).

EDGE - Empowering Diversity in Gifted Education

EDGE - 2nd - 5th Grades

The EDGE program’s mission is to identify, nurture, and challenge high-potential students who have been historically underrepresented in LCPS advanced academic and gifted programs. The classroom and gifted resource teachers work in tandem to promote academic rigor, to foster a growth mindset, and to prepare these young learners for more challenging and rigorous academic pathways.

November Focus: Dictionary Dig, Multiplication, Storytelling, Context Clues, Mystery Numbers, Rounding Decimals, Balance Math, STEM Building Challenges

EDGE takes place in the Gifted Resource Room.

  • 2nd Grade - Weekly pull-out sessions - Launches Friday, December 2

  • 3rd Grade - Weekly pull-out sessions

  • 4th Grade - Biweekly pull-out sessions

  • 5th Grade - Biweekly pull-out sessions

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Gifted Identification Process - Fall/Winter 2022-23

This month, universal screening for all third graders began, so as to identify students who are eligible for and in need of gifted education services. Parents of third-grade students who are found eligible for gifted services will be notified via email in May. Identified students start programs next fall for the 2023-2024 school year.

Visit the LCPS Gifted Education website for updates and more detailed information. LCPS students may be evaluated for gifted services once per calendar year. Contact me anytime at with questions.