Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Newsletter - October 2015

Dear Parents-

We are off to a great start this year! One of the things we have been striving for in our Gifted Laboratory is to keep the focus on our learning process and not the final products.  Many of the strategies we use in one inquiry will be needed in another and it is my hope that by focusing on the process of learning rather than final products, strategies will transfer. Don’t get me wrong, we are not sacrificing quality, we are attempting to stress if you plan and execute quality throughout you are more likely to produce a quality final product with less stress.  With that theme in mind, we spent some time both exploring and learning to use The Scientific Method. Students worked in small groups to design experiments using bubbles and other materials in the classroom. There were many discussions about the need for measurable data, it is okay for a hypothesis to be wrong, and other elements of the process. There are plans for a lot more Science Technology Art and Math (STEAM) this year in the program.

We have also begun to explore the topic of Genius Hour, which is  based on a business practice that Google uses with their developers.  They are allowed to use 20% of their time, provided that work has the potential to advance the company.  Like everything else we do in our program we will be focusing on the process. There will be mini lesson on strategies such as: choosing an appropriate topic, note taking, developing a quality product and other items that may appear throughout. Our guidelines/rules for Genius Hour are as follows:
-You must start with a real-world question or problem. 
-You answer/solution must require research. It must require more than a Google Search.
-Your final project must be sharable. 
I am really looking forward to seeing where these students take these projects. 

We have also begun to explore the idea of Grit, as a personal trait. Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” The research on Grit has shown it contributes to long term success. The research propose that individuals who possess a drive to tirelessly work through challenges, failures, and adversity to achieve, set goals and are uniquely positioned to reach higher achievements than others who lack similar stamina, no matter their intelligence level. We have spent time defining, listening to experts, holding group discussions and writing reflections on the role Grit plays in our person success. These types of exploration throughout the year encourage students to own their own growth process.  One thing, as a parent, you can do to help encourage and/or develop this mindset in your child is focus your praise on process, learning, and effort (You really worked hard on this and have learned a lot. You did a great job of developing a plan and following it through. You’ve really developed as a musician.), as opposed to ability (You’re so clever. Look how smart you are; you did that so fast. You’re good at math. You’ve got a lot of talent.)

This quarter has brought us some good news as well. Thanks to Donors Choose and some friends of mine, we were able to purchase locks and other supplies for our Break Out Room. Our Breakout Room activities will teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. These materials will be used several times throughout the year. Also, we received a three hundred dollar grant from the Manatee Education Foundation entitled “Creative Engineering”. These hands on materials will be utilized throughout the this year to provide inquiry based STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts and Math) Activities. I am looking forward to getting these materials into the students’ hands as soon as possible. If you know an organizations or any individuals who donate to the Manatee Education Foundation please be sure to thank them for what they are doing, not only our gifted laboratory, but so many other classrooms across the district. 

I try my best to ask for very little supplies throughout the year and only ask for things that we use a great deal of. I want to personally thank the four or five families who have sent in the items I requested and please know the extra help goes a long way. If you have not already done so we could still use your help. Thank you in advance
Supply List:
-2 reams of white copy paper
-4 sharpened pencils

Thank you, 
Frances M. Snyder (Francie)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Newsletter- August 2015

Dear Parents-

I would like to welcome you back for the 2015-16 school year. We have several exciting things planned for this year. First, we will be participating in Rock Our World (R.O.W.) which is a global collaboration project where students create music with GarageBand, Video Conference and learn with other students from around the globe. We will also be utilizing technology available to connect with literature and other classes from around the globe through Virtual Literacy Circles.  STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) explorations will be occurring often at all grade levels.  In everything we do the Florida State Grade Level Standards will be infused - with our main focus continuing to be on goals/standards that come from Florida's Framework for K-12 Gifted Learners.

If you need to reach me, the best way is through email at snyderf@manateeschools.net.
Supply List
-2 reams of white copy paper
-4 sharpened pencils

Thank you,
Frances M. Snyder (Francie)

Educator of the Gifted

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Newsletter -January 2015

It is hard for me to believe that this school year is already half way over and we have been very busy with several activities.
In December we participated with 91,755,200 others from around the world in the Hour of Code. This is a program put on by Code.org and serves as an introduction to computer programing. The students loved these activities and will be continued with other coding activities throughout the rest of the year.

We also worked really hard to complete and share our biography reports on our inventors. These projects are now hanging on the wall outside our classroom. To help students get a better grasp of when each inventor lived, what else was happening in the world and a bit of their inventors impact on society we have created a timeline, which is hanging just above these projects. Please feel free to stop by and check them out. Another activity we participated in while projects were being presented was a thinking routine entitled,”Step Inside”. This routine consists of the following four questions to guide student to think deeper about what was presented. These questions were written about and discussed.

What did this person see, notice or observe?
What did this person understand, know or believe?
What did this person care deeply about?
What did this person wonder about?

A fourth grader after participating in “Step Inside” for the first time said,”Before I was looking at what he did, but now I am really seeing who he truly is."

During the third quarter our fourth and fifth graders will begin using the Challenge Based Learning (C.B.L.) Framework to guide our invention process. I for one am looking so forward to seeing what problems they will choose to solve with their inventions. The primary students will be participating in a CBL challenge entitled “Germs Make Us Sick”. They be exploring the topic through research and science experiments. From there students will work together to build a campaign to prevent the spread of these germs. 

Also, starting in February the fifth grade students will be working with students in Iowa on Virtual Literacy Circles. We will be reading and exploring literature together using video conferencing and other online tools. This is a project that Gina Hill, an educator from Iowa and I created and participated in during the spring of  2011 with much success. Personally, I can not wait to get started.

 As a reminder, I have an open door policy and if you have any questions and/or concerns please contact through email snyderf@manateeschools.net.