Friday, November 22, 2013

November Notes

November 22, 2013

Dear Parents,

Having your children attend QUEST continues to be a wonderful blessing. The students have been working hard, thinking broadly, and creating the extraordinary. Overall QUEST focuses on the process of developing critical and creative thinkers. Certain strategies have been the focus through various content areas over the past nine weeks. These strategies have included:
• SCAMPER (substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other uses, eliminate,
and reverse or rearrange)
• Logic Problem-Solving with Grids
• Analogies
• Red Herring Puzzles
• Creative Problem Solving
• Fluency/Flexibility/Originality/Elaboration
• Research

First and second graders have been focused on the study of palindromes. Reading books, creating cartoons, solving riddles, and writing an ABC book about palindrome words and phrases have been ways the learners have incorporated critical and creative thinking through language arts. For math the students have learned how to change any number that is not a palindrome into a palindrome. They have also analyzed mathematical patterns as they have used 0-99 charts to help them discover relationships and connections. In addition the children have manipulated geofix shapes to design and create palindrome geometric figures.

Third Graders continue their reading of Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. This mystery is providing opportunities for the students to learn about pentominoes, Fibonacci numbers, codes and ciphers, as well as literary elements. As the novel is progressing, the connection to the artist Johannes Vermeer has provided the stimulus to conduct research about his life and art. The children especially have enjoyed the interactive pentomino website, .

Fourth Graders are constructing meaning from their reading of The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett while making connections across the curriculum. They are enjoying this mystery that revolves around Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago as they ponder whether architecture can be art. Exploring the life and architectural designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, the fourth graders are about to embark on a research project about various structures that Wright designed. In addition, working with 3-dimensional pentominoes has brought a new perspective to the math connection with this literary work.

Fifth Graders have traveled to England with the character, Calder, from The Calder Game by Blue Balliett. They have been making predictions and connections to the real world while delving into this exciting mystery and considering the beauty of Woodstock, Oxford, Blenheim Palace, and the Marlborough Maze. With the connection of this novel to Alexander Calder, research about his life and art have consumed a large portion of the time for fifth graders as they have first explored his life online through notetaking. From those notes, the learners have been given the opportunity to creatively develop three-dimensional timelines to demonstrate their learning. It should be very interesting to see these final products.

The weekly focus on affective education with the investigation of a variety of people demonstrating growth mindsets seems to be a favorite part of our time in QUEST each week. Some of the people are well-known, while others are not. They have included George Danzig, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Thomas Edison, Patricia Miranda, Jim Marshall, Angela Duckworth, the wounded warrior Band of Brothers, and Diana Nyad. It is the intent that the QUEST students develop an understanding that success is about stretching themselves to always be learning something new, and that a growth mindset is about developing themselves through hard work and sometimes failure. “It’s about learning something over time: confronting a challenge and making progress” (Dweck, 2006, p. 24).

Some students will be missing QUEST the week after the holiday break while I attend the TAGT state gifted education conference in Houston. Those classes have been rescheduled and will be made up. Please let me know if you ever have questions or need information about QUEST or your child’s participation.

Enjoy the holiday break!

Lynn Price
Teacher of Gifted & Talented Students
Comstock & Taylor Elementary Schools
Frisco Independent School District

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Connecting in QUEST

It's been great to reconnect with the students in QUEST after the summer as well as to make connections with the new students joining us in QUEST this year. Our universal theme this year is "CONNECTIONS" and will guide our higher level thinking skill development as we pursue various cross-curricular topics of study. There will be a QUEST parent meeting in October to inform you about more details regarding what we are doing in QUEST each week. The date and time will be provided in the near future. The first few weeks of QUEST, we have been focusing on developing a "growth mindset" based on the book by Carol S. Dweck, entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I highly recommend this book for parents and teachers.

Learning about the brain, we had fun with the AP, "Your Fantastic Elastic Brain." It has great information about how the brain works and how challenge helps the brain to grow. At the end of the book part of the AP, there are quite a few very interesting, challenging games. Though the AP is $4.99, I believe it would be well worth the investment. Here is the link: I mentioned to the students that I would share this link with you, because they enjoyed investigating several of the games and activities.

To develop visual perception, the learners have enjoyed playing SET. This is a game of attributes and perceiving various ways to create sets based on likeness and differences. The game can be played with cards, but it is also online. Everyday there is a new daily SET puzzle. The link to the daily puzzle is This is an example of one type of brain teaser/warmup activity we do each week.

This week focused on introductions into the theme/topics of study for the year: * 1st/2nd Grade: Literature Unit * 3rd Grade: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett * 4th Grade: The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett * 5th Grade: The Calder Game by Blue Balliett While the literature studies will incorporate reading and language, there will be "connections" to mathematics, history, geography, science, and art. The students seem very excited to begin the reading and related activities/projects next week.

Please remember that you are welcome to contact me if you ever have questions or concerns. I'm as close as an email (the best way to contact me since I serve more than one campus.)