“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Sunday, 28 April 2013

What's Cooking Good Looking?

Asian Chicken Salad Wraps

These are super healthy, gluten free and last for days in a sealed container in the fridge.

I am always forever on the hunt for school lunch items which are quick and easy to make, can be shared with my daughter for her school lunch, and will make enough to last us both for several days.  Asian style chicken salad wraps hit the mark in my household.

You will need:

  • 1 large rotisserie chicken
  • Rice paper wrappers
  • Rice vermicelli noodles (thin)
  • Julienned carrot pieces
  • Julienned cucumber pieces
  • Washed red lettuce leaves
  • Cilantro 
  • Asian Sesame Dressing (I like Kraft)
  • Sesame Seeds (optional)

I like using Costco rotisserie chicken.
These are the wraps I use.
Any think rice vermicelli noodle will do.

Prepare the rice vermicelli noodles according to the directions on the package.  Drain them and let cool.  I then mix the noodles with about 1/2 TBSP of Asian sesame dressing.  Wash your lettuce leaves well and blot dry with paper towel.  Shred chicken with your fingers.  Slice cucumber and carrot into thin, julienned strips. Wash cilantro and blot dry on a paper towel.  Have all ingredients organized and ready to be assembled for when the rice paper wrappers are ready.

Now prep your working surface.  Take a clean, dry dish towel and get it really DAMP.  Wring it out well, and lay it flat on your preparation surface.  

Next fill a pie plate with hot water, it does not have to be boiling but I usually use water from the kettle.  Place rice paper wrappers ONE at a time in the pie plate filled with hot water.  Leave submerged for 20-60 seconds.  (It's best to follow the directions on the package but I have found I have to experiment to find the right amount of time so the wrappers are not too stiff but also not too pliable.)  Don't leave the rice paper in the water for over 60 seconds or it can rip and disintegrate and you will have to start again.

Remove rice paper from water, lay flat on damp dish towel.  Place one clean lettuce leaf in middle of rice wrapper.  Next layer with chicken, noodles, carrots, cucumber, cilantro and top with sesame seeds if you like.  I often add an extra quick squirt of Asian sesame dressing at this point.  

Roll from bottom.  Lift bottom edge of rice wrapper to cover ingredients in the middle.  Fold sides in.  Continue to roll tightly until the filling feels snug inside the wrapper.  Place "seam" side up in a storage container or on a plate.

Continue to roll wraps one at a time.  I can usually make 8-10 with 1 large chicken breast (my hubby eats the dark meat for his meal).  I like to put a little Asian sesame dressing in a portable container and use it for dipping, but these wraps taste great just as they are!  I can take 4 to school in a sealed container and they will last me two days, properly refrigerated.

For dessert I like to have some fresh cut papaya with some lime juice squeezed over it!  It's really a refreshing meal!

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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Above and Beyond~ Gifted Students and the 4 C's

It is so hard to believe that I have been blogging for a year now!  This weekend marks my one year blogiversary!  I started blogging because I was inspired by all the teacher blogs I was seeing on Pinterest.  I wanted to be part of the community of teachers who wrote and shared about what they were doing in their classrooms each day.  Initially I thought I would blog only about teaching gifted students, but I have come to realize that I blog about what is happening in my life, my classroom, the world, and it doesn't matter if it is directly related to gifted teaching or not.  It's all good:)  I hope you enjoy this post in honour of my one year milestone.  As most of my posts, it doesn't apply just to gifted students, it applies to all of us.

I went to a meeting last fall where they showed the video "Above and Beyond".  This is how teachers often describe gifted learners, those who are able to go "above and beyond" what is expected of them.  Often times, this "above and beyond" is measured in academic terms.  These are the students we think will always get good grades, study, turn in their work on time etc.  From my experiences teaching students who have been identified as gifted, I know that often these traits are those of a "good student" rather than those of a "gifted" student.  Some students ARE gifted thinkers and good students...but many others who have been identified as gifted, are not your typical good student.  

If you have read my earlier post "You might be gifted if..." you know that I feel there exists a wide spectrum of gifted behaviours.  I am an adherent that everyone is gifted in some way.  Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences very much appeals to my way of teaching students and addressing their unique gifts.    "According to Howard Gardner, human beings have nine different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world. Each person has a unique combination, or profile. Although we each have all nine intelligences, no two individuals have them in the same exact configuration -- similar to our fingerprints."


I like that this video stresses thinking "outside the box" as well as critical thinking skills, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  To me it represents what we want for ALL students, be it in a gifted program or not.  All students need opportunities to explore their gifts, to work with others, to problem solve, to think critically, to fail and to try again.  

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pay It Forward Day

Today is International Pay It Forward Day. I love this idea. I think it's too bad we actually need a day to recognize it, but perhaps that also is a good thing, as it will raise awareness. 

"In 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel Pay It Forward was published and adapted into a Warner Brothers film, Pay It Forward. In Ryan Hyde's book and movie it is described as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed that one receives. Such good deeds should accomplish things that the other person cannot accomplish on their own. In this way, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society, at a ratio of three to one, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place." (source: Wikipedia.org)

I discussed the concept of Pay It Forward with my class yesterday and gave them a copy of Laura Candler's Pay It Forward Day handout to record their good deeds on today.  
Click on the image above to download a copy of Laura's handout from her Seasonal Activities page.

I hope that everyday can become a Pay It Forward Day for all my students, my friends, colleagues and followers.  Who doesn't want to make the world a better place for everyone?

In light of recent events, Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching, Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties, and Ideas by Jivey are hosting this uplifting linky!  Click on the image above or any of the blog names to link up yourself, or to check out what other teachers are doing!

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

What's Cooking Good Looking?

Today is NOT a recipe day. Today I am going to write about something I do "eat" everyday though, Sweetleaf 100% Natural Stevia Sweetener.   This is not a paid endorsement.  I am telling you about this product because it has changed my relationship with food cravings.

I LOVE this stuff! I am proud to say that I finally kicked the artificial sweetener habit. Recently I have read so many negative things about aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) that I finally decided that I had to give it up.  (If you are a consumer of artificial sweeteners then I suggest that you do your own research and reach  your own conclusions.)  I have been avoiding sugar for the past 6 years since I lost over 100 pounds.  I needed to stay away from sugar so I blindly switched to artificial sweeteners.  I was drinking nearly 2 L of diet pop a day, but I said to myself "Who cares?  There are NO calories!"  I was not making the connection between consuming all of these artificial sweeteners (most diet pop contains several types of artificial sweeteners) and my intense cravings for MORE sweet things AFTER I had consumed the diet pop.

After doing some research, I decided to try Stevia which is a natural sweetener.  I discovered through more research that many brands of Stevia are processed with harmful chemicals.  Enter SweetLeaf. A teacher at school gave me a box, and I have been buying it ever since. It does not taste as sweet as the other sweeteners, but it also doesn't set off the "craving cascade" I experienced with sucralose and aspartame. You can buy it in Toronto at Loblaws Superstores in the Health food section. I buy the packets and the drops. I use the crystals in my coffee, and the drops in my plain greek yogurt, mixed with some real vanilla. YUMMY! If you are concerned about controlling your calories and your glycemic index (does not affect your blood sugar levels) then you  might consider Sweetleaf.   Right now they are holding a contest, so why not enter and you could try it for FREE.  http://on.fb.me/10CvJ7D
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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Grammargories are great!

It's getting to be that time of year again...you know what I mean. Spring break is behind us, the days are getting milder, test prep is in full swing (if you are NOT in full on TEST MODE), and your students are getting...well, antsy!

I have finished my year of Daily Math and Grammar Minutes.  For Daily Math I am starting to use the grade 7/8 edition to give my students some exposure to concepts they will encounter in middle school.  I was at a loss as what to do with the 5 minutes or so right after lunch when I normally do Grammar Minute.  I came across Kristen at Aspire to Inspire on TpT and found a product which I thought looked fun. 

Kristen suggests that "Grammargories should be used after students are familiar with all parts of speech. You may want to allow students to keep a “cheat sheet” of the parts of speech with them while they complete the activity. Make enough copies of each list so that every student has his or her own. Cut each copy in half so that you can use one list at a time."

Included in the download file are the following items: 
Suggested uses and directions 
26 alphabet pieces 
6 category lists (2 per page) 

How to Play: 
1. Distribute a copy of the list you are using to each student. 
2. Explain that students will have ___ minutes (choose between 3-5, depending on skill level) to complete the list using words and phrases that begin the letter you choose. Example: If the letter chosen is D, and the list asks for a noun related to the theme On Vacation, they could write driving. 
3. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. 
4. Randomly select a letter from the alphabet pieces. 
5. When students are ready, announce the letter and start the timer. 
6.  As soon as the time is up, students must put down their pencils. 

Reminders to students: 
Begin all answers with the chosen letter. 
Skip the ones you’re not sure of and come back to them. 
Think creatively since points are awarded on originality. 
Don’t use the same answer more than once on a list. 

Kristen gives some suggestions for scoring the answers, but I have let the students give answers in a round robin, popcorn format.  Each student who has a "different" answer gets an opportunity to give their word.  If a student doesn't have a word to share, or has a repeat, they say "pass".  This has worked really well with my class and it allows everyone a chance to share, without everyone putting up their hands at the same time.

My class of grade 6 gifted students are OBSESSED with Grammargories. One student even said "Why didn't we get to do these ALL year, instead of grammar minutes?"  I knew I was onto something when the students gave me 64 more suggestions for grammargories "categories".  They love that I will be using their ideas in the weeks to come.

Another modification I made to Kristen's idea, is that rather than using the letter cut outs she so kindly provided, I wrote the letters of the alphabet on popsicle sticks and keep them in a baggie with my timer.  I also draw the name of the lucky student who gets to draw the letter of the day from my can of student name popsicle sticks.  Yes, I like to use popsicle sticks!  This keeps the students even more engaged. I have the sheets photocopied and cut in half, the baggie with the letters and the timer all kept in a bin.  One of my students passes out Grammargories before lunch.  The whole system works beautifully.  

What I love about Grammargories is that I participate each day at the same time as my students.  It is impossible to provide answer sheets, so I have to try to come up with possible answers of my own.  I have learned a lot of conjunctions, prepositions and interjections in the last few weeks!

If you are looking for a fun way to review for the end of the year, or just want to change things up for next September, I highly suggest you try Grammargories. They are student endorsed, and that goes a long way in my book!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

What's Cooking Good Looking?

This is a quick and healthy alternative to store bought smoothies and it contains LOTS of protein too!  When I want something sweet but healthy I often make this for the family.

You need:

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice (fresh is best)
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt (18 gram protein)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 1/2 cups of chunked frozen or fresh (not canned) pineapple
  • ice 

Mix all ingredients in a blender.  

This is slushy, yummy and just darned delicious.  Try it, you'll love it!

Just a reminder that the 
is still going strong!  There are
over 200 links!
Click on the image below to go to 
the party.

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Friday, 12 April 2013

Five for FRIDAY...is it really Friday?

I have to admit that I don't know where the week went!  I can't believe it's Friday.  I think I am coming down with a cold or something of the sort.  All the kids in my class are sniffling and going through boxes upon boxes of Kleenex!  

Have any of you ever been hacked?  I didn't pay much heed to getting an email from Scribd telling me that my account had been compromised and that my information had been copied.  I wasn't even sure that the email I received from Scribd was real.  I thought it might be a phishing scam.  Well, you know what they say about learning the hard way?  I had my teachingisagift Outlook account hijacked this week.  It would appear that someone who had the email address and the password used my account to send JUNK/SPAM mail to almost everyone on my contacts list!  I was mortified.  I also could NOT use my account.  It took me until this morning to regain the right to use my account.  Guess what else I had to do?  Change ALL my passwords...ON EVERYTHING!  Yes, I am one of those people who thought it would never happen to me, so I had duplicate passwords.  Well NOT ANY LONGER.  There is a serious downside to changing all your passwords, and making them all secure and unique...you don't remember what you made them.  I got to work this morning and could not even open my email account, let alone Twitter or Pinterest!  Had to wait until I got home.  I am now looking into a password manager account.  What do you do to remember your passwords?  

This week I tried one of Jenn from 4mula4fun's "Solve and Snip" activities with my class.  I used the probability package.  My class loved the novelty of the questions and that they had the "right" answer on the snip page, and they had to match up their work with the answer.  My students are normally very hesitant to "show what they know" but they loved the challenge of proving to me how they knew the answer they had snipped and glued was correct.  The students were totally engaged, and everyone met with success!  I don't think I've ever had a lesson/activity where every single student got the questions right and felt so good about it!  To get your own copy of this FANTASTIC FREEBIE just click on the image above and try it with your class too!

This week I also tried Addie's Using Cookies to Learn Phases of the Moon activity.  If you read my post about making a Phases of the Moon board , you know that students struggle with this concept.  I have tried a variety of different activities over the years to try to teach this topic.  This year the students have used Celestia software to simulate a virtual tour of the solar system and view the phases of the moon.  We are also doing a "moon watch" and recording what we see each night.  The students are recording what they observe in a flip book template.  Once they are finished their observations in early May we will cut out the template pages and put them together to make an animated flip book.  
This activity from Addie Education was the best yet!  The students were very motivated to create the phases of the moon using the Oreo cookies, and they did a great job don't you think?  I also like that they have a variety of questions to answer AFTER they have made their cookie models of the phases.  This really made them connect what they had made with what they were learning.  Just click on the image above to download this FABULOUS FREEBIE from Addie's TpT store.

Still on the topic of teaching Space science.  I have been really lucky this year in that I had my friend Steve Lang from the Canadian Space Resource Center come in and work with my class.  We set up stations and had the students work their way through 3 activities; Astronaut Avatar (exploring what it takes to be an astronaut by doing research on Canadian astronauts and then creating an avatar of themselves as future space explorers), Power Generation on Mars (conducting hands on experiments measuring energy production using wind and solar power) and Packing for Space (looking at what inhabitants of space colonies would HAVE to take into space and what it would cost to get it there).  The days we spent doing these activities were exhausting for the adults involved, but great for the students!

This week the students have been using Celestia software to conduct a virtual tour of the solar system.  This is amazing software that you can download for free, just click on the image above.  Let your imagination take flight, as you explore the solar system and navigate your way among the cosmos.  My students are so engaged when we use this software on the laptops in my classroom, it is hard to get them to shut down when the class is over.

Well, that's my five for five!  Perhaps not so random, but still a busy week for me...both the good and the bad!  Hope you had a great week!  Don't forget the TEST PREP LINKY PARTY is still going strong...there are over 200 TEST PREP materials ready to be downloaded.  Save yourself some anxiety and CLICK HERE  or on the image below to check it out!  

Freebie Fridays

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