Thursday, December 19, 2013

Second Grade Work with Matilda

So, we've got an informal second grade reading group. These students have been reading Roald Dahl's Matilda. Here's a quick video of these students demonstrating understanding of the novel by sharing in a game called "What's My Character?"
Check it out!

What's My Character? Matilda Edition from John Pruett on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hour of Code for AIG Thursday

Our fifth grade ladies from AIG had a great opportunity today to teleconference with programmers from Boston as we continue to work with the national program, Hour of Code.

Mrs. Eggett has set up outstanding activities for many Claxton students in honor of the Hour of Code. Our programmers today are friends of hers! They led our students through interesting, challenging activities - and were fun and funny to boot!

Link for Thursday, 12/12

 Link for Thursday

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing Code

Three members of local web design company Paleosun visited with fifth grade boys today to discuss computer coding. Our wonderful Mrs. Eggett set this up for our students as part of a national Hour of Code. Claxton students have worked throughout the week to enjoy lots of cool activities. 

Check out activities at

Our fifth grade girls have a different opportunity tomorrow!

More to come!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fourth and Fifth Grade

What no videos to check out lately? Well, here's a couple. Our fifth grade has been working with the Beaufort Wind Scale - specifically designing their own scales, BUT, we introduced things by having dramatic reading of the Beaufort Scale. Check out each fifth grade class on the enclosed Vimeo videos.

 As an added bonus, I'm also posting some videos of fourth graders (our advanced subject group in reading students) performing poem in two voices by Paul Fleischman. Enjoy them all!

Thursday Beaufort from John Pruett on Vimeo.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Writers in our Midst

Young ladies in our fifth grade study group enjoyed a presentation about writing by a Claxton parent who has written extensively for television.  Audience and purpose were two big ideas from the presentation; both looming large in writing instruction here at Claxton! 

Many thanks to our speaker for showing us not only an Emmy award but the importance of writing!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Student Government Service Project

A second service project for Claxton Student Government wrapped up this week! Students were able to get together to decorate holiday trees for Hospice. Mr. Ackerman and our government officers and representatives decorated trees to suit a variety of holidays!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Highlights

In December: For third grade parents, the ACS testing coordinator assures me that the aptitude screen for third grade will occur the week of December 16th. Thanks for your continued patience! In fourth grade, our groups continue work with electronic personal profiles, math work (Hands-On Equations), and a shift to some short stories for our readers. I have choices for a new novel study in January. Fifth graders have a visit from a television writer, and cool activities for “The Day of Code”, a nationwide push to introduce students to writing computer code. Our project focus is continued work on student-written scales.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Student Government Service Project

Our student government sponsored a food drive for Harvest of Love, a local initiative to combat hunger. Here are some snaps of our officers displaying the 249 items donated. Look our for more great things from this awesome group of students.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Re-Evaluation and 3rd Grade Testing

Board approved AIG plan revisions have been in place since the summer. It's been a task for the AIG team to implement and trouble shoot these revisions. We have met monthly in this effort and will again on Monday, November 25. A large part of the agenda for this meeting will be the consideration of how to systematically reflect on student performance. We are finalizing plans to re-evaluate students. EOG scores, not being nationally normed, are no longer used for qualification. There are options for us to move forward with re-evaluation plans, however, I beg patience until district policy is put in place. In regard to 3rd grade testing, evaluation plans have been in place since the adoption of the new plan. I have tried to keep you abreast of dates, and I do believe this testing will take place in December. There are lots of great things going on with our students! Thanks for your continued support of the AIG Program!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Claxton students showed up for the UNCA astronomy night Wednesday. After a presentation and some Q and A, we were able to see Venus, the moon's surface, and a bi-star system. Very cool (if not cold) evening. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Testing for 3rd Grade

We are moving ahead with aptitude assessments for third graders. Testing materials have been delivered to the system and will be administered to all 3rd graders at the earliest moment. I will let you know the final date when it is shared with me! Thanks for your continued patience and support!

Stargazing at UNCA TONIGHT 11/13

Yesterday's overcast skies ruled out any telescope work, however, our friends at UNCA have rescheduled an astronomy program for Claxton AIG students at 5:30 tonight! We'll begin in Rhodes/Robinson Hall on the quad in room 111 at UNCA at 5:30. I hope you can make it! Bundle up!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Attention 3rd Grade!

Some parents of third graders were able to attend my informational meeting earlier in the year. Others have touched base with me to keep up with how the qualification process proceeds. As of this date, no third grade students in ACS have qualified for AIG services. The Cognitive Ability Test will be administered to all ACS third graders in November - I believe the window to be from 11/7-11/15. This date has been pushed back for reasons having little to do with myself or Claxton. I've had the good fortune to be in third grade classrooms and assist in providing materials for our high-ability students. Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

5th Grade Super Heroes

By my accounting only 4 more students have yet to present their work on creating a super hero. Students have really run with this project, making and presenting interesting and unique super heroes! Here is a link to a website called Vimeo to see the presentations. Students also filmed and uploaded these great stories, so know they're involved on both sides of the camera.

Watch (or fast forward through) the first video, and you should have access to others!

VC Hero C5 001 from John Pruett on Vimeo.

Student Government Officers!

Congratulations to President Beau, Vice President Lily, and Secretary Chloe! The election was VERY close this year. All candidates represented themselves and their classes with honor!

Student Government Elections

Here's a snap of students waiting to give their campaign speeches. Everyone was very professional. A great group of young ladies and gentlemen!

Snaps of Fifth Graders at Work

Here are students working to produce, present, and record SuperHero projects. Great stuff! We' complete work and assessments by months end and move on to work with weather and wind!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Astronomy Visit Two

"When you're looking at the sun, you're looking at the past." "If it's the night sky it could be hundreds of years in the past."

These are a couple of the insights heard today in our fourth grade AIG meeting with astronomy students from UNCA. 

Today was the second visit from students from Dr. Lyubov Nichols' students. Our students interacted with a presentation about today's topic, stellar evolution, the history of stars.

Friday, October 11, 2013

AIG Update

Happy Friday everyone! Here’s some short notes about what’s happening in our AIG groups.

4Th Grade
So we’re moving beyond our initial work with Junior Great Books. [Touchstones from this work have been sent home along with student work and a self-assessment of our work together.]
Our next assignment is to read our way through Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Students have very manageable 30-40 page reading assignments per week. We’ll meet to discuss themes and greater questions from the novel. We will focus on the novel, not the movie! So if you haven’t seen the movie, hold off! Let’s finish the book first.
Here’s Gaiman on Coraline:

Our groups are evolving into math clubs, where the focus is on challenging material and how to solve it! We’ll be drawing from sources like “Math SuperStars” and “Challenge Math” to establish smaller ‘response groups’ that solve and present.

CSG (our aptitude / thinkers group)
We’ll be discussing Howard Gardners multiple intelligences and constructing PowerPoint presentations about our findings later this month. We’ve also taken time to discuss attributes and played the game “Set.”

5th Grade ESG
Between workdays and field trips our schedule for presenting SuperHero work has been pushed back some. We’re looking to wrap up this month, with early finishers taking a role in videotaping presentations.  There will be  some videos becoming available via my blog next week:

3rd Grade
Aptitude assessments are coming up later in the month. I’ll let you know an exact date when I have that information. Whole group enrichment has been interesting. I’m glad to get to know the students!

Thanks for your support of the AIG program!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

5th Grade Heroes

The board is growing as students complete and present their Super Hero work. Look for videos soon! Students are drafting their own assessment rubrics for this work as well as staging and filming their own presentations.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fourth Grade Advanced Subject Group Reading

Claxton’s fourth graders have worked with a program called Junior Great Books. The Great Books program is an educational movement whose mission is “to advance the critical, reflective thinking and social and civic engagement of readers of all ages through Shared Inquiry™ discussion of works and ideas of enduring value.

In Junior Great Books, students share meaningful literature and participate in discussions to improve reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Our group has read four stories chosen as an introduction to this work. We have practiced many reading skills and also how to positively participate in a seminar discussion. The social interaction skills are often as important as the content.

I am sending home thinking guides that helped direct our thoughts and discussion. Also included is a participation map from one of our discussions. This map shows student contributions to our conversation and will also reflect questions and interaction from the group. 

Our next project is to put our communication skills to use through a 'book club' focusing on Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline. Students have weekly reading assignments and we'll cover the first (pp.3-34) on October 15. 

Here's a blurb of Mr. Gaiman reading from his work:

Thanks so much for your continued support of the AIG program! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Duke 4th-6th Grade Talent Search

Qualification for the Duke 4th-6th Grade Talent search is based on a standardized test score of 95th percentile or greater. Applications have been mailed home to qualifying students.

Congratulations to these students!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3rd Grade Assessments

In October, all third graders in Asheville City Schools will take the Cognitive Ability Test (COGAT). This assessment is used in different ways across the system - including as a screener for AIG services.

I will let you know when testing dates have been finalized.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

And Marina!

5th Grade Projects

As you know, our fifth grade groups have been working on projects where they create their own super heroes. As their work rolls in, I'll share them through this blog. Without further ado, her's our first entry WOLVEN-GIRL!

Fourth Grade Reading

Here are some snaps of our reading group using Junior Great Books materials.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Forth Grade Astronomers from UNCA

I’ve had the good fortune to work with Dr. Luba Nichols and her astronomy students from UNCA. These students volunteer to come into schools and present astronomy lessons. Erin, Lauren, and Ashley came to Claxton today and led fun and informative lessons about the seasons and phases of the moons with our fourth grade AIG group. The kids were highly engaged and had a great time with our visitors!

I’d like to thank Dr. Nichols, Lauren, Ashley, and Erin as well as our fourth grade teachers for making this visit happen! I’m also excited to relate that they’ll be back later in the year. If that’s not enough, Dr. Nichols is working on a viewing night for Claxton families to check out the heavens! We look forward to working futher with our friends from UNCA!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fourth Grade Work

As the dust settles, here's a blurb or two about the specific work in fourth grade AIG groups:

Advanced Subject Grouping M (math group)
We’re working on SuperStar math, differentiated word problems from the state. We’ll begin on grade level and adjust - hopefully up. We’ll consider other resources, activities, and games; but for the moment we’ll treat it as kind of a math club – with seminar discussions about the work. I’ve got “Hands On Equations” – an introduction to algebra -  in the chute for later this fall.

Advanced Subject Grouping R (reading group)
We began work with Junior Great Books introductory material. The focus is on ‘shared inquiry’ – seminar/paideia types of discussion focused on a text. We’ll mix it up with some share days and other projects.

Comprehensive study group (students qualify on aptitude)
This one’s a little more esoteric. We’re beginning by looking at ‘thinking’ skills sheets from a source called Thinkathon. Students will have packets to keep in AIG folders.  I’ve got some ideas for later work.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Testing Information from NC

The following was sent to me from the state Board of Education in regard to EOG testing from 2012-2013:

The State Board of Education yesterday approved additional time to make a decision regarding setting new achievement levels on the state’s new end-of-grade and end-of-course tests given for the first time in 2012-13. This means that student reports will not be available before November. The precise distribution date will be communicated with you as soon as possible. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

More AIG Information

Thanks to those of you who were able to attend my informational meeting at Claxton's Curriculum Night! If you were unable to do so, I'm happy to chat with you at a convenient moment.

The Asheville City Schools AIG plan is revised on a three-year cycle and then approved by the Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction. A new plan for qualifying and serving students is rolling out this year.

Changes in our plan highlight our attempts to more closely match how students qualify to how they are served. To this end, our AIG Services Committee has met to write new plans for all fourth grade students. These plans have been completed and were mailed today. Any student who qualified for services last year still does, these services are just slightly different.

Students qualify with multiple criteria including nationally-normed assessments in achievement (reading and math) as well as aptitude. Fourth grade students will continue to meet with me weekly, they will just meet in groups determined by these qualifying areas.

Fifth grade students will continue with a once-weekly enrichment study group - as they have in the past two years. Newly qualified students will also participate in this service. All student AIG plans will be rewritten at the end of fifth grade to prepare them for middle school services.

I look forward to further discussions about the AIG program and how we serve students! Please contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Curriculum Night

Hola! I'll be presenting new information about the AIG plan at Claxton's Curriculum Night, tomorrow. I know there's a rotation system to allow folks time with various teachers, so I'm planning on presenting at 6:00 and 6:30. Come chat, if you're able.

I'm happy to talk with you later, if the evening's too busy. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

AIG Update

Greetings to one and all! First, please let me say that I did try to take 6th grade families off my email distribution lists, so if you’re receiving email, and you’d prefer not to, please just respond as such, and I’ll take you off the list. I’m hoping you don’t parse the grammar in that sentence too closely! LOL

 Second, a letter will go out this week explaining our new AIG plan and its ramifications for qualifying and serving students. Let me be clear: if students have qualified for services in the past, they will again this year. These services may change, but my time with fourth grade students will be informed by their own strengths: math and/or reading – as well as the intellectual (aptitude) piece. Fifth grade students will continue with an hour-weekly study group – as their plans will be rewritten for middle school services next year. I think you’ll like it, and I plan on talking more at open houses this fall.

 Thanks for your patience as we move forward! Fifth grade study groups should begin next week (or that’s my goal!), and fourth grade services will kick in thereafter. This will give our AIG service committee time to wrap their heads around the new plan and provide plans for fourth graders!

 I’m excited to be back in the swing and appreciate your continued support! Don’t hesitate to call/email if I can help or clarify in any way!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to the 2013-14 school year! I am very excited to see everyone next week. We've got TONS of cool stuff planned for the year. The AIG plan revisions will be rolling out this fall, so stay tuned for more. We will begin AIG study groups as these revisions are put in place. Thanks for your continued support for the AIG program. Now more than ever we need advocacy for high-end learners! See you soon!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Audio of Tech Seminar

Tech Seminar

I had the good fortune to work with Mrs. Eggett in a seminar for her technicians from grades 2-5. We focused on a document called "The 10 Commandment of Computer Ethics."

Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics

Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Harm Other People. 
Thou Shalt Not Interfere With Other People’s Computer Work. 
Thou Shalt Not Snoop Around In Other People’s Computer Files. 
Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Steal. 
Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Bear False Witness. 
Thou Shalt Not Copy Or Use Proprietary Software For Which You have Not Paid. 
Thou Shalt Not Use Other People’s Computer Resources Without Authorization Or Proper Compensation. 
Thou Shalt Not Appropriate Other People’s Intellectual Output. 
Thou Shalt Think About The Social Consequences Of The Program You Are Writing Or The System You Are Designing. 
Thou Shalt Always Use A Computer In Ways That Insure Consideration And Respect For Your Fellow Humans.

Here's a cool shot of us hard at work-also courtesy of tech-guru Mrs. Eggett.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More Fossil Finds

Here are some budding paleontologists finding fossils from the PCS Phosphate mine in Aurora, NC.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Our 3rd grade study groups have been discussing geometry. We began our work by reviewing dimensions - in particular 1, 2, and 3 dimensional measurements. Students took notes about our discussion and have begun working with math tools called pentominoes. I'll let them tell you more later, but I did want to share some snaps of their work.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Technology for Communication

Our fourth grade AIG students used an online service called "Today's Meet" for class communication today. Each students could post to an instantaneous message board. These messages, by the way, are erased after a specified amount of time. At any rate, it was a different way to foster conversation. The students seemed to enjoy it - one pointing out that it would be helpful for keyboarding skills! Content focused on a background assignment for our final work with paleontology. Students were also reminded that any/all web content can be a matter of public record. Remember those online skills that Mrs. Eggett has taught you!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

AIG Update

Above is a shot of some fourth graders using loupes as part of an observation lesson.

Here are some notes about our study groups and beyond!

3rd:  Decoding work (Fat Cat activity) as well as work from “You Be the Jury” (a simulation where students review courts cases) both went home this week. Check it out! We’ll move into some geometry to wrap up the year!

4th: Hands-On Equations has come to an end. I think students really enjoyed – and better yet got a lot out of- this activity. Student work goes home this week. Check it out! We’ll be talking about paleontology for the remainder of the year. There will even be some hands-on fossil finding!

5th:  Two of our groups are completing the Great Ocean Rescue. When they are finished, we’ll compile the results and announce the winner – the team that solved all 4 missions for the least money spent. This winning team will work with me to design an appropriate award.

As you know, state testing data for this year won’t be available until the fall. This, along with some changes to how students qualify for AIG services reflected in on-going plan revision, means that AIG services for rising 6th graders won’t be available at the end of the year. Our district AIG team is working to provide these plans as soon as we are able. There will be further clarification soon for these families.

As we approach EOG testing, please remember the importance of sleep and breakfast. These two factors go a long way to insuring testing success.

Thanks for your continued support for the AIG program!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Simulation Work

Here's some shots of fifth graders working in small, collaborative groups to solve the final mission of the Great Ocean Rescue.

Friday, April 26, 2013

All Purple Checks! or, How Hands-On Equations Set in Place a Song/Dance Craze

So, many of you may remember that our fourth grade AIG study groups are working with a cool system called Hands-On Equations. This system uses math tools to conceptualize fairly abstract algebraic equations. And, evidently, it’s kind of fun. At any rate, when I grabbed a random purple marker (at least not a judgmental red one like my teachers used!) I had no idea I would set in place a song and dance craze. A couple of students developed quite an affinity for the checks they received on their work. Here’s a moment of unbridled joy. All due to a purple marker and algebra!

All Purple Checks from John Pruett on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Battle of the Books

It is my honor and pleasure to act as host for the EBOB competitions. In this role, please let me clarify a couple of things:

1. I do not write questions, answers, rules, or procedures
2. I am not privy to any planning or conversation in regard to questions, answers, rules or procedures
3. I do not make any judgment decisions in regard to questions, answers, rules, or procedures.

The media specialists work hard to present a fair and entertaining event. I read the questions and patter between rounds.

It was fun(ish) today, and I look forward to next year.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pi Day - 3.14.13

I know it was last month, but I found a couple of photos I took at Ms. Gebhard's "Pi Day" celebration and thought I'd put them up. Enjoy!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tonight at UNCA

The astronomy and physics departments of UNCA have joined forces to present a science festival on the UNCA campus tonight at 8:00.

A slide show presentation will be featured in Robinson Hall at 8:00. There will also be a digital tour of the universe using a Geodome Portal – a half dome incorporating a visual presentation. At 8:45, there will be observing sessions on the quad using telescopes.

I apologize for the late notice, however, word got to me only yesterday. I hope you can come out and enjoy this opportunity!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mountain Xpress Publishing

Hey! If you didn't know, a number of Claxton students were recently published in the Mountain Xpress "For Kids, By Kids" issue. These include Lucy, David, Isabel, and Sarah from the AIG program. Awesome work!

My bulletin board on the third floor now features both the visual and written submissions. I'll send the items home with students later in the year.

Here's a shot of the board; check it out if you're at Claxton!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Writing Prompts

Think about our field trip to Bent Creek and the French Broad River. Use your notes for the following assignment.

Here are a couple of poetry writing prompts for you to consider. Choose only one to begin with!

Please save your work to "My Documents" and use the word "RiverLink" in the title.

Prompt 1:

You are the river! Consider the following questions:

1. As a river what is your morning routine like?
2. As a river who are your friends and family?
3. As a river who are your enemies?
            4. As a river what are your favorite things to do?

Write a poem about what your day is like. Think about your experiences. Use "Word" for your poem.

Prompt 2:

Think about our field trip to the river. What were the things you saw, felt, heard, smelled, and tasted? Write a poem about your experiences. Use "Word" for your poem.

Prompt 3:

Use your notes from our field trip to write a poem from the perspective of a plant or animal near the river. Include in your poem how you interact with many elements of the ecosystem. Use "Word" for your poem.

Monday, March 11, 2013

AIG Plan Review

Each LEA (teacherese for school system) in North Carolina develops its own plan for identifying and serving gifted students. These plans are written with input from lots of stakeholders and reviewed by the state's Department of Public Instruction (DPI) every three years.

Our current plan revision is due this summer. As you may imagine, a lot of work has gone (and continues to go) into this revision. As part of the AIG district team, I will be taking a few days over the next month or so to help revise and resubmit. I regret time taken from school groups, but this is another very important aspect of working with the AIG program.

I should also note that our plan has been favorably reviewed by DPI. If you're interested in checking our the plan and other aspects of the program, I would refer you to the ACS AIG website at:

Thanks so much for your continued support of the AIG program!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

4th Grade Spelling Contest

Dr. Allen Sher and Kiwanis representatives were at Claxton on February 7th for a fourth grade spelling contest. Students prepared for the competition over the past two months. Each class determined a team for the competition.

Fourth grade classes showed exemplary behavior throughout the competition. In the end, Ms. Greenelsh’s class took the victory, with Mrs. Wells and Mrs. Jackson’s class hot on their heels.

Kiwanis representatives present included former Asheville mayor Russ Martin and Karen Korp. Many thanks to these community members for supporting our students and school

I would like to thank Catherine Campbell, Stephanie Greene, Beth Mahan, and Julie Willard for acting as judges and scorekeepers!