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Coppell Student Media highlights the CGA Symposium

February 18, 2012

By Sarah Police

Staff Writer

It is no secret Coppell residents pride themselves on the Gifted and Talented (GT) students. In elementary school, Coppell students are required to take an exam that determines if they are a GT student.

Even though a child may be GT, it doesn’t mean that their parents understand how to help them utilize their inventiveness.

Parents of Gifted and Talent Coppell Middle East students walk around to each booth at the CGA symposium to collect information about other potential programs like Coppell High School’s MATE team and the People-to-People Ambassador program. Photo by Rowan Khazendar

On Feb. 4 Coppell Middle School East hosted the second annual Coppell Gifted Association (CGA) Symposium for gifted students and their parents. There were activities and workshops for parents and students alike that helped them understand more about the GT learning.

Cottonwood Creek Elementary third teacher Stacie Nickols hosted a creative design challenge for students in kindergarten, first, and second grade.

“I did a workshop with the kids,” Nickols said. “It was basically a design challenge about structures so we were building things. It started out with building with straws and paper clips. We talked about how strong a triangle is and if it is stronger than a square and why.”

These types of workshops make students think hard, become innovative and apply previous knowledge to solve their problem.

“It was how you could use what you know about triangles and squares and all the different shapes in this big structure,” Nickols said.

Nickols used the story of the Three Little Pigs to inspire the students to build a strong structure. The students were to act as if they were pigs building a house, which made their creative juices going.

“When they were finished we walked around with a bellow and it was like I was the wolf,” Nickols said. “So we tried to blow the house down.”

Nickols thinks how a student applies itself may indicate if they are GT.

“They have to have a certain level of intelligence; they have to be smarter than the average bear,” Nickols said. “From there, can they use that intelligence to problem solve, be creative, and eventually work as a team?”

While Nickols was teaching the students about problem solving and ingenuity, Mockingbird Elementary fourth grade teacher Crystal Wheatley was talking to Coppell parents about new technology that may be useful to parents with GT students.

“I presented on technology that is being used in the classrooms,” Wheatley said. “Mainly it was things that are being used here at school that can enhance what they’re doing at home. I made (digital storytelling) the main thing I talked about.”

Digital storytelling is making it easier for students to tell a story while also having fun.

“It’s basically where students write stories that they can make into books,” Wheatley said. “Some of them they can start from scratch and for some there are story starters. Some you can upload art and record your voices.”

Story starters are an option in storytelling to help some students who struggle with where to begin, get started.

“I thought parents would like it not only to help your kids but they’re good gifts too,” Wheatley said. “For someone who’s GT there’s one site that has artwork provided by a certain artist. Once they choose whatever artist they want to work with, they can only use the pictures provided.”

Since students can only use the pictures provided, they have to get resourceful and fit their story around the pictures they have selected.

“So the kids have to get creative on ‘how am I going to use this artwork in whatever story I’m creating’,” Wheatley said.  “For others that struggle there are story starters that help get it going for them. Seeing pictures often sparks the creativity in them. Other than just staring at a blank slate and having no idea what to write.”

Wheatley was able to talk to parents because CGA awarded her with a scholarship to go to a conference.  The CGA Symposium was helped planned by Vice President Michelle Bauer, a parent of three GT students in Coppell.

“We were trying to promote awareness of gifted children,” Bauer said. “We were trying to help parents and give them some options for their gifted kids. I’m an advocate of information to parents so they are more aware.”


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