Forest North TAG Newsletter


Welcome Back!

Welcome back to an exciting new year! I'm excited to be teaching this year at Forest North Elementary part-time with Mrs. Stewart! I ended up starting my "summer" directing a summer STEAM camp with another TAG teacher, Mrs. Scallan, challenging students at Patsy Sommer Elementary.

I also got to spend a week in Connecticut this summer. It was an amazing experience! I had a blast collaborating with other gifted educators from all over the world. This picture is with my teacher friends from Pond Springs Elementary and my new Canadian friends. This "camp" experience (we slept in the dorms and ate cafeteria food) was generously paid for through funds raised at the other school I work at, Pond Springs Elementary, as well as Round Rock ISD funds. I got to be roomies with my other teacher partner, Mrs. Mulbry, from Pond Springs Elementary.

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4th Grade ISP - Civic Mission

In our project, “Civic Mission”, students are challenged do a service for their community. It only took a few seconds before they had made up their minds that they wanted to help shelter animals. Fortunately, my fourth Grade Talented and Gifted students share my enthusiasm for rescuing shelter animals.

Now a word from my students:

We're sponsoring a black lab mix named Ryder. If you'd like to make a donation of money, we have a goal set of $100. We would especially appreciate it if you would donate ABOVE our goal knowing all proceeds go to help support Ryder before transitioning into his forever home. That might even be your home! Donate here!

Or check out the link below Ryder's picture. It's a link that will take you to the pledge page I've created for the students. The shelter is also looking for donations of ASAP needs. Click on the link and check them out:)

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Late Work? Not Anymore!

To help students gain more organizational skills and independence of completing homework, I have created a planner for your son/daughter where they can track all of their assignments in one location. Please ask your child to show you this. It will be in their binder. This important tool is essential to helping develop organization and workload management. This is crucial especially for planning and working on ISPs. Your child should always bring his/her planner to class so that it can be properly filled out. This is also a good source of communication so that you will know what is happening also.

Habits of Mind

Here at school we use Costa's "Habits of Mind" to help students adopt a growth mindset, reflect on how they can adapt their behavior to become more successful at a task that allows them to work more independently and/or interdependently.
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TAG - Where the Tough Get Going!

As always, we're in the thick of things and we're (Mrs. Stewart and I) are asking kids to

T (To) A (Adapt) G (grow). In order for students to grow, we strongly encourage them to adopt a "growth mindset" - a term coined by Dr. Carol Dweck noting that:

"Children who believed that a person's intelligence was fixed tended to believe that truly smart people don't need effort in order to succeed. By contrast, those who believed that intelligence could be developed were much more likely to credit hard work as a key factor in achievement."

So, YES, gifted students NEED strong study habits, too! Thank you, parents, who for having your child access their Google Drive, take responsibility for their own learning, and complete the homework daily. Hats off to you for supporting your child's academic success!

Third Grade TAG L.A. have been busily reading Regarding the Fountain and enjoying exploring thinking about literature on a deeper level facilitated by Kaplan's depth and complexity icons. Students in 4th Grade L.A. are reading Inside Out & Back Again, a book written in free verse. They're learning how to analyze poetry by using the "SoapsTONE" method. Ask you son/daughter about this!

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Team Work Using Habits of Mind Allows for This Team's Success!

Team Building - Marshmallow Challenge

Students enjoyed the team building exercises this year. We decided to have both 4th grade and 5th grade work together on this. The objective was to build the tallest, free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one meter of tape, one meter of string, with a marshmallow on top in eighteen minutes. The challenge proved, well...challenging! But, it did allow for a wonderful discussion on the traits of successful students and employees. We then were able to discuss and review which "Habits of Mind" and their icons ( after Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, Habits of Mind: A Developmental Series, Copyright © 2000) they used to complete the task successfully or which habits of mind would've been great to have utilized in order to be successful. You can find a copy of all of these habits in your son's/daughter's binder.
Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

Making Friends with Failure

TAG students often struggle with the idea that failure is okay. Research has shown that the more students are challenged appropriately, the better able they are to build resilience for later in life. We support this in the classroom by encouraging risk-taking and rewarding effort. As parents, you can encourage this thinking at home also. Our natural tendency as parents is to protect our children and try to avoid anything uncomfortable. Failure is uncomfortable, but overcoming the struggles and persevering lead to feelings of accomplishment and pride. TAG students often deal with issues of perfectionism which complicate facing the possibility of failure. Encourage your child to keep trying if faced with a difficult math problem. Ask them guiding questions to help clarify the problem. Encourage them to contact classmates and/or one of us. This helps them become advocates for themselves and teaches them how to use all resources available to solve problems.

If you would like to learn more about this, I have attached a link to an article for parents:

Your Son/Daughter Is a Sloooooow Typer? No Problem!

Technology in the classroom is not going away any time soon so we must embrace the change. But, sometimes change comes so swiftly that we can't catch up. Like, just yesterday, your son/daughter was learning how to hold a pencil and now I'm asking them to type! Yep. Unfortunately, with our rigorous curriculum we do not have time for a designated typing class like in the days when my mom and dad went to school (or maybe you). I sat home one summer and learned how to type after my father told me, after he had finished typing the third college paper for me my freshman year, that this was the last paper he would ever type for me. Boy, that sure was an incentive for me to learn to type.

Now days, there are several free Chrome apps that you can find in the Chrome Web Store. I definitely think they're work checking out and having your child work on their keyboarding skills at least twice a week. But, what about now?

There's a new feature (or maybe just new to me - I've never seen this icon there before) in Google Docs that allows for voice to text. Click on the link and it will show you more. Now, I tried this feature out at school and it works great! Problem is, we don't have any microphones in our computer lab or on our laptops, so this feature is only available at home (unless I can hunt down some microphones).

What if your son/daughter is not in Google Docs and still wants to use a voice to text feature for other projects? Great question! I use Voice Note II that can be found in the Chrome Store. It's awesome! Just like in Google Docs, it will even add the appropriate punctuation for you. Just say question mark, for example, after your question and it will add it for you! Then, you just cut and paste what was typed out and transfer it to your assignment.

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ISP District Showcase

Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 6-7:30pm

5720 McNeil Drive

Austin, TX