2020 Fall GT Newsletter

from your GT Specialists

Greetings to our GT community!

Please take a moment to read about all the exciting things that have been happening in our schools. Our students are engaging those critical thinking skills by participating in various activities, such as hands-on activities, conducting research, and participating in competitions.

The GT Specialists have also included highlights from several articles related to our high ability learners. Topics include executive functioning, motivation, friendship, and social/emotional needs.

ACGE Meeting on December 10, 2020

We will be holding our meeting virtually this year. It will be held on December 10, 2020 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. A message will be sent to parents with additional details. The focus of our meeting will be on the social-emotional needs of gifted learners. We will discuss situational stressors, anxiety, and post-secondary planning. We hope you are able to join us.

Prairie Crest, Heights, Hill, Ridge, and View - Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Mason and Mrs. Zastrow

Verbal Groups

Verbal groups have been researching, recognizing challenges and creatively thinking of solutions for our latest Future Problem Solving topic: Wearable Technology.

Nonverbal Groups

Nonverbal students examine different types of maps and their features in preparation for making 3D virtual tours.

Quantitative Groups

Even with online learning, our quanitative fourth graders are showing their math thinking with gusto!
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Article: Gifted Learners and Executive Functioning

Executive functioning can be a slippery slope with talented and gifted students. It seems that struggles with executive functioning go hand in hand with advanced intelligence. You may find yourself wondering how to support your child with these life skills, while still enabling them to embrace their giftedness. Read the article from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Then check out the chart below for strategies you can implement right now to support your child with executive functioning skills.


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Prairie Creek - Ms. Tendick

Fifth grade students worked on 3D projects the first few weeks of November. They really enjoyed working with the 3D pens! They have also read two short stories and have worked on extension projects related to the stories. My sixth grade literacy students learned about our planet and even spent a day mining for chocolate! They have also worked on different literacy extension activities. Math groups are continuing to work on their mathematical skills and are learning new concepts. It is wonderful to see all the learning and creativity in all my groups!

FPS teams are learning about the topic Wearable Technology. This is technology we wear on our person and each year these devices, such as smartwatches and augmented reality (AR) glasses, have become more advanced and available to consumers. Teams are reading research articles, learning new vocabulary and are discussing the central themes related to the topic. They will use the six-step problem solving process and write challenges, identify an underlying problem, provide solutions, develop and write criteria and then create an action plan. Go, Future Problem Solvers!

Article: "Do's and Don'ts for Motivating Your High-Ability Child"

This article provides strategies in several areas for parents to use with their high-ability child. These areas include avoiding sabotage, understanding cause and effect, finding meaningfulness, discussing gifts and abilities, and listening to and supporting interests. Article highlights are noted below.


Article Highlights:

Do's and Don'ts:

Do model a growth mindset.

Don't use "est" words like best and fastest.

Do let your child struggle a bit.

Don't swoop in and offer unnecessary assistance.

Do help your child analyze their successes and failures.

Don't allow him or her to blame others for their failures.

Do help your child break down projects.

Don't assume your child knows how to manage projects.

Do model curiosity and creativity.

Don't ignore opportunities on how to transform your child's curiosity into action.

Do support your child in exploring what is personally interesting to them.

Don't force your child to pursue interests that you like or feel they should pursue.

Do share your child's interests with the teacher at school.

Don't be afraid to let the teacher know what your child cares about.

Do help your child see that it takes effort to succeed - no one is born a Ph.D.

Don't devalue the importance of working hard and putting forth effort.

Do encourage your child to take risks.

Don't imply that giftedness is tied to perfect performance.

Do be an active and empathetic listener.

Don't be dismissive when your child is trying to share their feelings or point of view.

Do remember that when providing complements, they must be specific, genuine, and earned.

Don't complement your child in a general way, such as saying "good job," or for underperforming or for tasks that aren't challenging.

Prairie Point - Mrs. Ling

Future City

There are two Future City teams hard at work designing their future city on the moon for this year’s competition. Point has one 7th grade team as well as one 8th grade team who will compete in this year’s virtual competition in January.

Open Minds Open Doors Girls STEM Conference

The Open Minds Open Doors Girls STEM Conference was virtual this year. Several 8th grade girls attended the conference. This conference included several area experts in STEM careers and connected girls with STEM virtual experiences. Next year 8th grade girls will be invited to this conference.

Academic Pentathlon

Sixteen 7th & 8th grade students are becoming experts in Cold War history. Students are learning cross-curricular content in math, science, literacy, social studies and music & art related to the cold war. They will compete in January with other Iowa Academic Pentathlon teams. This competition will also be virtual in 2021.

Academic Decathlon

Five 9th grade students are also studying the Cold War and preparing for 10 different content related exams including an essay and speech. Decathlon’s first practice tests will be the week of December 7th with competitions to follow. All competitions will be virtual this school year. Decathlon students are able to on occasion work with Pentathlon students discussing similar Cold War topics.

Many 7th/8th/9th grade gifted and talented students are working on or preparing for: Poetry Out Loud, Optimist Oratorical, Mensa Reading, Junior Great Books Short Stories and Purple Comet Math Competitions this winter. All are continuing to work on their Personal Education Plan goals as well.

Lori Ling

7th-9th Gifted and Talented Specialist

Prairie Point

319-848-5500 ext. 1098


Article: "Gifted Students and Friendship"

“When gifted children are asked what they most desire, the answer is often ‘a friend’. The children’s experience of school is completely colored by the presence or absence of relationships with peers.” (Silverman, 1993, p. 72.)

During this pandemic and students having so many more available hours with at-home learning, they can also feel even more disconnected than usual from their peers. There has never been a more important time to focus on the social-emotional growth of gifted children.

Social-emotional development in gifted students often stems out of their peer to peer and peer to adult relationships. Because gifted children often experience asynchronous academic and social development, they can struggle to make meaningful connections with peers. The following are some ideas to help students make meaningful

relationships that will help them in their social-emotional journey.

Connect with older peers with similar academic interests and skills: Children tend to choose friends with similar academic abilities and interests. Gifted children seek out peers with their same intellectual strengths and interests and this can look different at each age. Younger gifted students frequently make friends through scheduled play dates, scheduled clubs and/or lunch groups at school. Sometimes online opportunities with other students in their ability level and interest group can be productive. Older adolescents and high school students tend to get involved in band, speech, drama and athletics. Since high school offers more clubs and activities, it’s often easier for students to find areas of interest and like minded peers. Regardless, gifted students frequently find connections with older peers since they tend to understand them and/or are at their academic or interest level.

Volunteer in an interest area: Younger students benefit from older students volunteering because it gives the younger student a role model as well as someone to converse with at their level. Older students benefit while growing in their ability to communicate and lead a younger student. Volunteering can be a great experience for younger and older students.

Develop listening skills to communicate with peers: Listening skills are crucial for children to develop empathy and social skills to make friends. Often we assume children and teens know how to listen to their peers, when in reality role playing and direct instruction can help them develop those skills.

Other lessons needed to develop social skills: Sometimes lessons regarding obvious frequently taken for granted social skills are needed. Physical space appropriate for social comfort levels, tone of voice, and conversation starters are just a few. When adults role model these skills and discuss them outloud with a gifted child it can help the child identify and grow in these skills.

Social Skills During COVID 19: With more time for gifted students to develop interests and to pursue online opportunities, students can use those activities as a conversational starting point. For example if I’m a student researching Art online, I can ask other students with artistic interests if they know about the site or if they would like to participate with me in that particular online activity or competition.

A Few Resources for Parents:

True friendships cannot be engineered, they occur organically, however, the more tools students have in their toolbelt, the more successful they will be at fostering those relationships. In addition, it’s sometimes crucial for students to have an adult help them find the tools and successfully navigate through their development.

If you know your child is struggling with peer relationships, please reach out to the gifted specialist for help and further resources.

Prairie High School - Mrs. Hoffman


Students at PHS have been working hard this fall. I have enjoyed meeting with the students and learning how I can help each one through their Personal Education Plan. For seniors, we have been looking at college and scholarship information. For juniors and sophomores, we have been looking at ACT prep materials and dual enrollment opportunities.

Right now, many students are finishing up work for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. There are many talented artists and writers at PHS!

Erin Hoffman

10th-12th Gifted & Talented Specialist

Prairie High School

319-848-5344 ext. 2027