News and Notes - Oakley Elem.

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.  

The Oakley Elementary Geography was held on Friday, January 13th in the Media Center.  Twenty-one 4th/5th graders qualified for the final competition.  As the field was narrowed down with challenging questions, Mariah McMinn, a 5th grader from Mrs. Beam's class emerged as the winner! Runner-up was Mason Blau, a 5th grader from Mrs. Ryan-Bailey'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. Walton and Mrs. Doughty and Mr. Fusco for their help and continued support of the Geography Bee!  


5th grade AIG students recently finished up their Rube Goldberg machine projects!  The students were learning about the work of cartoonist Rube Goldberg as well as learning how to use simple machines. Each group created a machine that performed a simple task.  Students filmed their machines in action and those can be seen on each child's Weebly website. The projects were graded on a variety of criteria including:

- did their machine utilize at least 3 of the 6 simple machines?
- did their machine run for at least 5 seconds?
- did their machine have at least 4 inter-connected steps?
- did their machine include a creative element?
- did their machine successfully perform the simple task?

Here are some pictures of the kids' works in progress but the videos of them in action will be way cooler.  

Simple task: knock over a cup

Simple task: pop a balloon 

Simple task:  move a car

At the conclusion of the project, we were fortunate to get an opportunity to talk with Jennifer George, who is Rube Goldberg's granddaughter!  She shared with us information about his life and work and the work her foundation does to promote creativity and problem-solving.  
The kids read more on Rube Goldberg's life and asked some great questions! Super fun! 

Jennifer George is the author of this text which I purchased for the class.


5th grade AIG students also started a unit 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.  


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 also wanted to share with you that this year I have created a student-run blog (see link below) for my classes at both Oakley and Bell.  One of my fifth grade students at Bell Elementary recently posted about her family dance performance.  

I thought it might be nice for students to have a place (not on their websites) where they could share things that they are doing outside of school that they are proud of.  Our students have such a variety of talents & interests and the blog gives the kids a chance to share these things with each other, not to mention gives them practice with writing for a purpose.  This will essentially be a student-curated blog.  

Currently, my procedure for having students post items on the student blog is as follows:    

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

2)  I contact the parent and let them know; share.

3)  I help student with any edits & make suggestions. 

4)  Student uses the username and password of the blog to login and submits work. 

Here is the link to the site:


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Chris Schmidt 


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