SPM gifted students host closing open house

Published 11:19 am Thursday, July 2, 2015

Emmy Benton, Zakiyah Smith and D’Mari Eley instruct Carolyn Lawrence, Zakiyah’s grandmother. -- SUBMITTED | LIZ BURGESS

Emmy Benton, Zakiyah Smith and D’Mari Eley instruct Carolyn Lawrence, Zakiyah’s grandmother. — SUBMITTED | LIZ BURGESS

by Liz Burgess
Gifted Instructor
Special to The Tidewater News

Are you smarter than your child? The S.P. Morton Type II gifted students put their parents to the test when they invited them to a closing/open house gathering at the S. P. Morton Elementary School library in early June.

Analyzing logic puzzles, figuring out a Story with Holes, solving an algebraic expression or dissecting a Wordle is what the adults in the room were challenged to complete as the first, second, third, fourth and fifth graders shared with their parents the type of skills they were presented during each gifted class they attended throughout the year.

The students went on to describe other activities in which they were involved.

The first, second and third graders explained their business venture. With economics being a unit of study in all three grade levels, these young entrepreneurs decided to use their economic knowledge to establish a real world company — a crayon company to be exact. After two years in the making, these students went through trials and tribulations, similar to challenges any new business would encounter, to develop their product; they established rules and procedures; they set up a flow chart for the jobs to be done; and they even had to borrow money from the bank (well, from their teacher, Liz Burgess, aka ‘the bank’). But, they were ecstatic to be able to finally sell their crayons; the guests at the Open House bought every package of crayons they had made. After paying off their debt — they are now in the black at $.28!

The fourth graders decided mid-year to start up an internal post office. The objective was to increase the reading, writing and vocabulary skills of all students at S. P. Morton, as well as build camaraderie between students and grade levels. After developing a “business plan” of sorts and visiting the local Franklin Post Office, they set out to begin the process of starting their post office. Though it was late in the year to be getting started, this small team of students sent letters to the teachers asking if they would be interesting in participating in the initial endeavor of establishing a post office. Due to the drive to meet with success on the SOL tests, many teachers opted to wait until the fall to get on board this post office idea. However, 15 teachers did agree to participate. The fourth-grade gifted students pulled each participating teacher’s class list and matched up an older grade level with a younger grade level, then matched up student to student. The first letters were delivered to pen pals in the school May 8. Several other pick-up and deliveries subsequently took place. This group of post office personnel already have plans for next year and can’t wait to get the program up and running in late September or early October.

The fifth graders were charged with designing a new playground for students. They brainstormed ideas and, as a team, decided to create a biome-themed playground. The students paired up and chose a biome to develop. There was to be a mountainous area, an area that was based on the ocean, another biome/playground area that resembled a forest, and, in the center, a zen area where parents could sit and enjoy the entire playground. Once each area had been designed on paper, the teams were charged with choosing one piece of playground equipment in their biome and drawing it to scale. From their drawing, they were to actually build out their piece of equipment, using balsa wood, saws, safety glasses and glue. Their playground pieces were prominently on display at the Open House.

Each group set up a presentation table. At the end of their presentation, those in attendance were encouraged to go up to each project and ask students questions about their work. The parents were able to see, first hand, what their child had been doing throughout the year and the students were provided the opportunity to stand in front of an audience and share their year-long activities in which they had engaged. It was a wonderfully engaging evening for everyone!

Have a relaxing summer, gifted students. It sounds as if you all have some work to do in the 2015-2016 school year!