The Academically Gifted Gazette

Ronald E. McNair Elementary

Volume 3, Issue 5

February 2016


7th: Super Bowl - Go Panthers!!!; Free webinar

8th: TAG meeting

9th: 100th Day of School; 5th field trip to the opera

10th: Public open forum on GCS AG Plan

11th: BOB meeting

12th: Awards program

13th: African Drum Circle and Storytelling event

17th: Early release

18th: Parent data night; BOB meeting; 5th Outer Banks trip chaperone meeting

20th: SELF Design Studio event (PAGE members only); Piedmont Environmental Center tree identification event

23rd: Benchmark testing; New to AG meeting

24th: Benchmark testing

25th: 4th field trip to Raleigh; Interim reports; BOB meeting

29th: Snow make-up day

Attendance Awareness

Our school social worker, Ms. Sims, would like to share these tidbits with families regarding attendance:

  • This is the time of year when winter weather and children’s illnesses can take a toll on school attendance. But it’s important to get your children to school every day possible.

  • Absences, even if they are excused, can add up to academic trouble. This is as true in kindergarten as it is in high school.

  • Children who miss too much school in kindergarten are less likely to read well by third grade. By middle school, absenteeism can predict who will graduate from high school.

Miss Green's two cents: We all know attendance is important to academic success. But have you ever thought about how this specifically effects your child in AG? If your child is out on their AG service day, they are missing 100% of their service for the whole week. It is even easier to fall behind in this unique setting. Please contact me if you anticipate an absence ahead of time and I am happy to send work home early. If the absence is unanticipated, I am happy to send makeup work too. Thanks!

Cultivating Creativity in Mathematics

Have you ever wondered how to cultivate the same sort of creative expression that children have in their artwork and storytelling in their mathematical work? Have you even wondered if that was possible? Harvard professor, Heather Hill, believes kids can be just as creative in their approach to solving math problems as they are in the creation of their own stories and songs (Kris, 2015). In fact, this creativity can lend confidence to children’s study of mathematics and connect to their study and understanding of more advanced and complex mathematical ideas.

In her article about creativity and mathematical thinking, Deborah Farmer Kris shares several suggestions for ways to encourage students’ use of creative thinking to work and solve mathematical problems.

  1. Encourage children to question and observe: Ask what they think about the concepts that are introduced in school and allow time to mull over, ask questions and make observations about what they already know about and what they wonder about.

  2. Pose open-ended questions: Challenge children with questions that require them to grapple with the solution. Arm them with the tools that they need to solve the problem, but allow them the opportunity to make choices about which tool that they may want to use.

  3. Apply skills to new contexts: One way to see if children really understand the concepts that are being taught is to require them to use those same concepts within different contexts. Children can create stories or visual images to apply the new skills and ideas that they have learned.

  4. Look for patterns and sequences: Challenge children to see patterns that are around them in the world that they live in. What things go together? What things don’t? Taking walks, shopping, and picking up toys can all provide children with the opportunity to sharpen their observational skills and notice order and patterns.

  5. Leave math notes: Challenge your children’s thinking by leaving them mathematical notes. “Did you eat more fruit snacks or potato chips today? How many hours did you watch television? Was it more than the amount of time that you read today?”

  6. Have math chats: Engage your children in conversations around math skills. Have them count the number of items that you put into the shopping cart or pick up in a store. Challenge them to add and subtract numbers or even multiply and divide if their skills are ready to be stretched. Ask them to explain how they solved the problem.

    For the Full Article, see:

Kris, D. F. (2015, November 25). Mind/Shift. Retrieved January 28, 2016, from

Caesar's Corner

Check this out! Now your child can practice Latin in even more ways online. Don't forget, our next quiz is right around the corner!

Technology Times

Did you know there's a free Sumdog login for parents? It lets you keep in touch with your child's Sumdog work. Click here to sign up!

2nd Grade Talent Development

Students included in the small group thinking classes on Fridays have begun a unit of learning centered around the text Hannah is My Name. As we prepare to read, students have explored the map to find Taiwan and San Francisco, discussed the importance of names, and have compared and contrasted the community in the illustrations with our very own here in Greensboro.

3rd Grade

Welcome to the class of newly-identified third graders! Classes began on January 28th where we discussed AG procedures, including what to bring to class each day and how students will be expected to exit and reenter their classrooms. Thank you to the parents who were able to attend the Open House event. Your support for this important endeavor is very much appreciated! For those who were not in attendance, please review your child's AG home folder and return the pink form as well as the Differentiated Education Plan (DEP) that was sent home with the initial eligibility paperwork. This form must be signed and returned for your child to continue receiving AG services. Please help your child get one USB flash drive to last them through fifth grade. I may need your help with ensuring that your child keeps this tool in the provided lanyard in their book bag at all times (unless there is an assigned use). In this way, they will have it with them every day at home and school. We are all excited to begin our units of learning next week!

Who is My Neighbor?

Students will use their reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills this semester to explore the notion of knowing and appreciating neighbors of all sorts through the lens of immigration. This unit will end with the children developing and implementing a service learning endeavor to help our McNair neighbors. Are you in a position to help us?

Math Quest

In what world might you find an Arithma Tic attacking travelers' water, a Decimalus Rex who inserts decimals to your team's treasure amount, or a Geomet Tree that, if climbed, will give up its treasures? Only in the Math Quest world, of course! Math Quest is a role-playing simulation which acquaints students with six strategies for problem solving: Guess and Check, Draw a Picture, Use a Table or Chart, Look for a Pattern, Act It Out and Work Backwards. Groups of students work cooperatively to travel through several exciting worlds while their fate rests in the card their team draws and the supplies they chose to take with them. Who will make it to the $50,000 treasure chest first?

Please note that the plan is to play Math Quest each year grades 3-5. Each level will be asked to solve different problems, however, the strategies they use to do so remain constant as do the friends and foes of the game. By fifth grade, the kids are usually begging to begin our Math Quest adventures at the beginning of the year. If you are able to send in the following items with your child to keep in their AG cubby for the duration of this quarter, it might just help out their team tremendously (wink):

-one or more baseball caps

-a graham cracker

-a football

-one or more shower caps

-die or dice

-a new or used calendar with a few random dates circled

The following might also be good to know:

-how to calculate a batting average (and regular average too)

-how to explain any of Newton's 3 simple laws of physics

-what the "C" in Einstein's famous E=mc squared theory stands for


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4th Grade

The Power of Literate People

Students will explore the issue of illiteracy as they research and apply strategies/skills to evaluate the issue and develop solutions that will lead to an action plan and project. The focus of the unit will be on developing research, writing, speaking, listening, and planning skills to help students examine key issues regarding the public concern of Literacy through informational and literary texts and through analyzing community needs related to Literacy. Students will have opportunities to make choices about the direction of the research and action with an emphasis on opportunities to learn to read and to have access to reading materials for the individuals who reside in our community and participate in our schools. However, exploring the issue beyond the boundaries of the school, community and nation will allow students to realize the scope of the issue. By creating oral, written, visual texts, or digital reports, students will undertake an action project that will speak to the needs and concerns of Literacy in their world.

Ratios, Rates, and Proportions

Using North Carolina's rich history with pirates, students will work in teams to review equivalent fractions and to use this knowledge to solve problems including understanding ratios, creating proportions, determining unit rates and understanding problems involving time, rate, and distance. If possible, please arrange to have your child participate in your next grocery trip. Have them notice the important information listed on price tags. We can work together through this unit to help your child build an understanding of how math can help him/her become a smart consumer.

5th Grade

The Arts: Wherefore Art They?

Here are the essential questions we will explore throughout this semester-long unit:

  • How can research help me to understand how the Arts are important and valued in the lives of individuals?

  • How can the empathy and understanding I gain from reading and talking about the arts being threatened help me to develop and participate in a class action project to address that issue in my community?

  • What influences creative expression?

  • Where do artists get their ideas?

  • In what way is it evident that Nature is an inspiration for artistic expression?

  • What is Human Nature and how is it expressed through The Arts?

  • How is feeling and mood conveyed musically? Visually? Through movement?

  • Does art have a message?

  • How does a piece of art warrant merit?

  • What is beauty and who decides?

  • Is art a matter of taste or principles?

  • To what extent do artists have a responsibility to their audiences?

  • Do audiences have any responsibilities to artists?

  • How do the arts affect a person’s life?

  • Is it important for young children to be exposed to The Arts?

  • What does the lack of arts exposure take away from a person’s life?

  • How does knowledge gained through the arts make a person powerful?

  • What is my responsibility in improving access to the arts in my community?

  • Why must literate people speak up for the rights of people who have not had the opportunity to participate in the arts?

  • How can I make a difference in my community’s access to the arts?

  • Why is the value of The Arts threatened during hard economic times?

  • How could an individual’s emotions and well-being be affected by a lack of access to The Arts?

  • Who decides what is artistically relevant?

  • How do the arts shape, as well as reflect, a culture?

  • What can artworks tell us about a culture or society?

  • How do artists from different eras explore and express similar themes in their work?

This unit will culminate with a service project to promote/save the arts in our community. Please send your ideas and resources our way!

Think Like a Scientist

The goal of the unit is to help students develop critical thinking and sound judgment based on data. The instructional activities emphasize the collection and analysis of data and its connection to scientific inquiry.

Imagine that you have been invited to join an international think tank studying a group of unusual and often misunderstood creatures - kids. What would your team want to know? What methods might you use to conduct an investigation? During this unit you will learn to collect, display, and analyze data to answer your questions with the same strategies used by scientists and statisticians.

Interested in finding arts opportunities in our community for your child? Click here.

Previous unit extension: How are football and the Hindu-Arabic number system related? Click here to find out!

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AG Classroom Needs

-guest speakers on any topic above

-20 lemons (by 02/11)

-new or used iPod cases

-thin dry erase markers

-wooden paint stirrers

-composition books

-USB flashdrives

-volunteers (in school or at home)

Have you joined PAGE yet? Check it out!