August Newsletter

Posted by Kathleen Marshall on 8/16/2018


pgt teachers



Welcome to the 18/19 school year! The PGT team is thrilled with how things have gotten underway. This year our team name is Cloud 10. 


Here is some general info:


GT Parent Evening Night (“Media Matters”) Thursday November 29, 2018 -- 5:45-8pm


GT Celebration Wednesday, May 29, 2019 -- 5:45-8pm


CARPOOL: If you are interested in discussing carpooling, please contact PGT parent  Harini Rajasekhar  at


As we wade into week three, we are starting to see some students struggling to keep up with assigned work. We strongly encourage students and parents to check in on IC so you can stay abreast of grades and assignments. Always feel free to check in with teachers if that information is insufficient.







7th Grade ELA: We have started reading our first quarter novel, Flowers for Algernon. Students should come with their "Socratic Seminar Prep Sheet" prepared every Monday for class discussions. Our first quarter essay form is Cause & Effect. The theme for the year in 7th grade ELA is 'Beliefs.' Our reading Essential Question for the quarter is How do authors explore the meaning of identity? Our writing essential question is How can writers best describe problems and solutions?


8th Grade ELA: We have started reading our first quarter book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girlwhich will be followed by the play, A Raisin in the Sun. Students should come with their "Socratic Seminar Prep Sheet" prepared every Monday for class discussions. Our first quarter essay form is Problem-Solution. The theme for the year in 8th grade ELA is 'resilience.' Our reading Essential Question for the quarter is How can authors demonstrate the impact of large social forces on individuals? Our writing essential question is How can writers clearly describe the impact of causes and/or effects of significant events or phenomena?



6th Grade Science/History: Unit 1 Driving Question: Why do we look at things from far away and close up? We begin the year in The Big History Project with the following objectives:


  1. Define thresholds of increasing complexity, origin stories, and scale.
  2. Understand that Big History is a modern, science-based origin story that draws on many different types of knowledge.
  3. Understand how you fit into the Big History narrative, using the concept of “thresholds” to frame your past, present, and future and the history of the Universe.
  4. Understand what disciplines are and consider how the viewpoints of many different scholars can be integrated for a better understanding of a topic.
  5. Learn to use timelines as a way to compare the scale of personal and historic events.
  6. Identify a thesis statement and how writing is structured, and evaluate both of those elements in writing.

We start at the end of the month in Unit 2, looking at The Big Bang.


6th Grade ELA: We begin the year learning about the PGT ELA program and exploring our various tools and our theme for the year: Identity. We start reading and discussing A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge. We start learning about the first essay form, the Exemplification Essay. Our reading Essential Question for the quarter is How do the decisions and actions of characters reveal their personalities? Our writing essential question is How can writers use compelling examples to make a point?


Math 6: We begin the year learning about the Mathematical Practices by creating presentations to teach each other and creating icons that describe and represent the practices. We will then dive into integers, beginning with number sense and computing with integers.  





7th grade Physical Science: Welcome to science! We will start the year reinforcing Scientific Inquiry as we complete many hands-on lab activities using lab equipment safely and metric measurements. Next, we will delve into Chemistry as we explore our Essential Question: Why is it important to understand interactions? 


8th Grade Honors Biology: Our first quarter essential question: How does perseverance impact resilience? will be supported in Honors Biology as the students complete their bottle Biology projects. Student teams will design mini ecosystems to study how manipulating a single variable affects the overall biology of the system. Teams will be designing  tests to replicate real life ecological challenges existing in the Great Basin today. Teams will present a collaborative project to the class as well as turn in an individually written report per the supplied Bottle Biology rubric. 


I am planning two field trips to support our upcoming Ecology PBL (Project-Based Learning) on our area wetlands. More information on these field trips is pending.





8th Grade Social Studies: We began the year with the Historical Thinking Skills unit, in which students have been reviewing how to use sourcing, corroboration, contextualization, and close reading to determine the validity of a source, and what the source reveals about the past. Students will practice assessing primary and secondary sources using these skills. After this short unit, we will begin the Gilded Age unit of study. Students will look at business tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie to analyze the pros and cons of their business practices, and the government’s response to those practices. Students will also study journalists and progressives of the time to see how they influenced the era. Essential Questions: How do we know what really happened in the past? Were capitalists of the Gilded Age “captains of industry” or “robber barons?” Is muckraking an effective tool of reform?



  1. BURKE


ALL MATH: We’ve started the year off by diving into different activities designed to help students understand my classroom procedures, google classroom, edpuzzle, and the flipped classroom model. We have set up our interactive notebooks and have been reviewing the 8 Mathematical Practices through a problem-solving activity that prompted great critical thinking. Ask them about it!


Integrated I: (The problem solving activity was about postage stamps.) Our first unit will be a review of Integers, Order of Operations, and Rational Numbers. Essential Content Question: How Does the structure of arithmetic help us model and predict the world around us?


Integrated II: (The problem solving activity was about rectangles with the same perimeter and area.) Our first unit after review will be on Linear Functions. Essential Question: How are relationships connected to resilience?


Algebra 2 H: (The problem solving activity is about a walk home from school.) Our first unit after review will be on Radical Operations and Imaginary Numbers. The Essential Question for the course: Why is modeling phenomena essential?



  1. ROMO


7th Grade US History: Students are learning that history (pronounced “his/her story” in class) is so much more than memorizing dates and names. It’s a series of exciting stories that reveal much about ourselves when viewed from multiple perspectives. Students will become Retronauts (sailors/explores of the past) as they examine primary and secondary sources. First Quarter Topics: Unit: 1 American Revolution: An Experiment in Democracy and Unit 2: Forming a new nation: US Constitution & Bill of Rights. Essential Questions: What does it mean to be an American; How does history shape identity?; How can political and social power be limited or expanded?; How do resources affect cooperation and conflict?; Why do inequalities and oppression exist and how should they be addressed?; How do cultural and physical geography shape decision-making? Guiding Questions: How do people (individually and collectively) influence the development of a new nation?; How do hierarchies influence interactions? 





What are the Common Characteristics of Gifted?


Because gifted children are so diverse, not all exhibit all characteristics all of the time. However, there are common characteristics that many gifted individuals share:

  • Unusual alertness, even in infancy
  • Rapid learner; puts thoughts together quickly
  • Excellent memory
  • Unusually large vocabulary and complex sentence structure for age
  • Advanced comprehension of word nuances, metaphors and abstract ideas
  • Enjoys solving problems, especially with numbers and puzzles
  • Often self-taught reading and writing skills as preschooler
  • Deep, intense feelings and reactions
  • Highly sensitive
  • Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful
  • Idealism and sense of justice at early age
  • Concern with social and political issues and injustices
  • Longer attention span and intense concentration
  • Preoccupied with own thoughts—daydreamer
  • Learn basic skills quickly and with little practice
  • Asks probing questions
  • Wide range of interests (or extreme focus in one area)
  • Highly developed curiosity
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Puts idea or things together that are not typical
  • Keen and/or unusual sense of humor
  • Desire to organize people/things through games or complex schemas
  • Vivid imaginations (and imaginary playmates when in preschool)



What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?


Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. In Gold Standard PBL, Essential Project Design Elements include:


  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.



What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?


Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a process which helps children cultivate essential life skills including awareness of one’s own emotions, fostering respect and care for others, establishing strong relationships, making ethical and responsible decisions, and handling adversity constructively.

Many gifted students face social or emotional concerns ranging from perfectionism to low self-esteem to overexcitabilities. Asynchronous development can leave a gifted child thinking like an adult while his/her ability to process emotions remains that of a child. Exploring and discussing is-sues such as organizational skills, procrastination, stress, good character and impulse control can help students to maximize their potential and utilize their intelligence more effectively in their world. Pulling from a variety of sources, students will discover, discuss and analyze social and emotional concerns.


What is a Driving Question (DQ)?

The driving question is both the foundation and the blueprint that gets learners started and guides them throughout the project. A well designed project is based on a driving question that sets off an inquiry based learning process where the project activities, and objectives are all determined by the driving question.


What is an Essential Question (EQ)?

Essential questions are simply lesson objectives reworded in an interrogative format. Essential questions are posted on the board and changed each day to reflect the goals of the lesson. Essential questions will be answered that day (week, unit, year, etc.).