News and Notes - Bell Elementary (1)

News and Updates from Gifted Education/Enrichment!



Hello Families!

Is it me or did January feel a little crazy this year.  Snow days, teacher work days, warm weather, ice.....anyway, welcome February.  

Mr. Schmidt's after-school Technology Club began on January 31st and will run for the next five Tuesdays from 2:30 - 3:30 PM.  Thanks to those who signed up!  

We'll be exploring programming tools such as Makey Makey's and Spheros as well as playing with the Aurasma app and Little Bits.  If we have time, we'll also check out the Rube Works app (as in Rube Goldberg!!) or explore GIS (geographic information systems) mapping. 


The Bell Elementary Geography was held on Tuesday, January 24th in the Media Center.  Twenty-eight 4th/5th graders qualified for the final competition.  As the field was narrowed down with challenging questions, Kaitlin Webb, a 5th grader from Mrs. Meagher's class emerged as the winner! Runner-up was Trevor Scarborough, a 5th grader also from Mrs. Meagher's class.  

I was very proud of all the students who participated and the event was a lot of fun.  Thanks to National Geographic for providing the questions and opportunity for kids.  I would also like to thank Mrs. Rose and Mrs. Klein for their help and support of the Geography Bee!  

5th graders recently finished up their Caesar's English Drama Projects! Their work can be seen on each student's Weebly website.   It was fun watching what kind of creative ideas the kids came up with to demonstrate their learning.  The graded rubric was sent home Wednesday, February 8th. 


The C.E. Drama Project was inspired by something called the "48 Hour Film Project" which takes place in cities all over America.  In that, groups have to write, plan, film, edit, and present a short film, all in 48 hours time.  Groups select a genre out of a hat and have to incorporate certain props and lines of dialogue in their films.

What the 5th graders did was similar except they wrote, produced, and acted out a live-action skit.  A genre was randomly selected, they incorporated a specific line of dialogue in their scripts, used specific Caesar's English words, and a prop, and then acted out their story in front of the class.

5th grade AIG students also are working on Computer Programming, using the website Khan Academy.  Students are learning the HTML language to create websites.  Some of the work on this unit will take place using an online class called CANVAS.  Students are enrolled in my CANVAS course where they can see the assignments, reading, questions, and where to put their assignments upon completion.  


Along with the programming, students read an article called "Breaking the Code" from the Mountain Xpress.  It looks at gender stereotyping in the coding/programming field.  Students answered questions and discussed the article in a seminar.  

4th grade AG students recently finished a STEM building project called the "Bridge Challenge."  Kids teamed up to design and build a bridge using straws, pins, and tape.  They were required to build the bridge according to certain criteria and within a budget.  Each bridge was required to support a given amount of weight.  

4th graders are also reading articles about the on-going water crisis taking place in Flint, Michigan.  As is often the case, we take for granted the basic necessities of life until there's a problem.  Students will discuss the causes and effects of the tragedy and we will look at where our water in Asheville comes from.  

I'm excited for my 4th graders to begin some work using GIS.  GIS (geographic information system) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.

I came across an excellent website which provides problem-solving lessons and projects for kids to work with GIS.  See the link below. 


A couple of the lessons we'll work through include:  "Public Land and National Parks" where students will analyze the importance of conservation via our park system; Another is called "Where Does the Water Go?" which will identify which watersheds our community is located in and look at how elevation effects watersheds.  

I want to thank all of the parents of the recently-placed 3rd graders who came in to meet and discuss the AIG program.  It was really nice to meet you all and make that face-to-face connection.  I'm excited to be working with your hard-working kids!  

The 3rd graders started a unit called Hands-On Equations which provides the basics in algebra.  The kids learn about balanced equations and solving for variables.  They get to apply their knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as develop problem-solve strategies. 

After the algebra unit, we'll begin the Caesar's English which is the study of Latin stems and advanced vocabulary.  Kids learn how our English language is rooted in Latin.  


I want to say thank you to Andi Metts, from the Bell Elem. PTO, who generously offered to solicit funding and purchase books for my Bell Elementary Readers Odyssey team which began December 1st!

Readers Odyssey is like Battle of the Books and concludes with a competition with kids from 4 other schools.  This competition will take place at Johnston Elementary in Tuesday, April 18th.  

The books kids will read this year are:

Fortunately the Milk, by Neil Gaiman
Jack Adrift: fourth grade without a clue, by Jack Gantos
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
Crow Call, by Lois Lowry
The Truth of Me, About a Boy...., by Patricia McLachlan
The Best School Year Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Kids read and discuss a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts each week. The competition involves teams being asked questions about the books and the team that answers the most questions correctly wins!   Our Readers Odyssey team is made up of thirteen 5th graders!  We meet most Wednesdays during the school day. 

Kids should feel free to let me know if they have any creative ideas or things they would like to share on the class blog!

Currently, my procedure for having students post items is as follows:

1.  Student shares with me an interest in posting something and then submits to me a draft of what they want to share.

2.  I contact parent and let them know.

3.  I assist student with any edits and make suggestions.

4.  Student uses the username and password for the blog to login and post item.  


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me and thank you for your support.

Chris Schmidt 

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