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
-2 reams of white copy paper
-4 sharpened pencils
Frances M. Snyder (Francie)