Winner, Winner!

The Continental Math League testing at 4th and 5th grade is now complete. Throughout the year, close to 200 students in fourth and fifth grade chose to participate in the Continental Math League and a whopping 61 of those students earned a perfect score at some point throughout the year!  Here’s a listing of those students:

TEST 1Tucker Albaugh, Charlie Alexander, Adam Belouad, Ashwin Colby, Turner Crockett, Christopher Draper, Abby Fred, William Hladky, Jeremy Katen, Paige Kessman, Elbetel Kiros, Grace Kummer, Elliot Lam, Sam Norton, Fletcher Saaty, Olivia Thenhaus, Alex Vennebush & Eli Vennebush

TEST 2Tucker Albaugh, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Quinn Drennan, Davy Gaskins, George Salmoiraghi, William Sutton & Eli Vennebush

TEST 3Tucker Albaugh, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Gavin Donnelly, Christopher Draper, Ginnie-Li Heretick, Noah Horowitz, Jeremy Katen, Elliot Lam, Carlos Ortiz, Jose Perez, Carson Ramey, Kate Snyder, William Sutton, David Ting, Maureen Tremblay, Alex Vennebush, Eli Vennebush & Carter Williams

TEST 4:  Tucker Albaugh, Billy Asel, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Sammy Fried, Robert Fritsch, Jarrett Jardine, Preston Lieu, Nathan Prichard, Lucy Rhee, William Sutton, Mya Taheri, Vedika Thapliya, Alex Vennebush & Eli Vennebush

TEST 5Wendy Abstone, Yahya Ahmad, Tucker Albaugh, Charlie Alexander, Billy Asel, Adam Belouad, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Ethan Bong, Sophia Carney, Elena Clark Wilson, Ashwin Colby, Mercer Colby, Wes Crawford, Turner Crockett, Christopher Draper, Sam Ettinger, Jack Freas, Abby Fred, Robert Fritsch, Tilly Gale, Ginnie-Li Heretick, Jeremy Katen, Paige Kessman, Elbetel Kiros, Ben Kozbelt, Joe Kritenbrink, Preston Lieu, Calvin Mayer, Ben Mossburg, Molly Mostow, Noah Peng, Lucy Rhee, Fletcher Saaty, Henry Singh, Kate Snyder, Lydia Sturgill, William Sutton, Charlie Taylor, Vedika Thapliya, Olivia Thenhaus, Alex Vennebush, Eli Vennebush, & Domanic Zacharias Martin.

Our top three scorers in 4th grade were:  Eli Vennebush, who finished with a perfect score of 30 for the year, Alex Vennebush, with a score of 29, and Edward Bogoslovskiy, with a score of 28.

Our top three scorers in 5th grade were:  Tucker Albaugh, who earned a perfect score of 30, William Sutton, not far behind with a score of 29, and Jeremy Katen, who rounded out the top three with a score of 26.

Team scores are based on the top 6 scores from each round of testing.  With 6 questions per test, that means a perfect score is 180.  Our fifth graders ended up with a final team score of 167; our fourth graders ended up with a final team score of 177.  I’m not sure where those numbers will take us, but after the fourth test, our fourth graders were ranked third in the nation, so I suspect some good news will be coming our way!  As soon as I know anything, I’ll post it here!




A Visual Journey

So just what does a week in the ACE resource room look like?

Sometimes it looks like Word Masters Challenge practice using these handy bridges…


Sometimes it looks like hunkering down to solve a Quick Think problem on divisibility…


Sometimes it looks like planning for a video about the rain forest…blog-rainforest-plan

Sometimes it looks like organizing top secret notes in preparation for a debate…


Sometimes it looks like typing up an original pangram…


Sometimes it looks like starting a new obsession…

Sometimes it looks like a poster showing everything you know about symbolism…


Sometimes it looks like solving problems to hone your spatial reasoning skills…


Sometimes it looks like finally getting your name on the Masyu Hall of Fame…


Sometimes it looks like piecing together a mural…


Sometimes it looks like we’re working hard, sometimes it looks like we’re having fun, sometimes it looks like a little bit of both!



Small Group ACE Update

3rd grade Level 2 ACE Math students have moved on from the unit on logical thinking and are now tackling tasks requiring spatial reasoning.  We’ve already tried our hands at Slitherlinks (tricky little puzzles requiring a great big amount of forethought!) and played the game Bloxorz (a big hit – find it at and are in the middle of creating our own tessellations (dragons and schnauzers and cats – oh, my!).  Throughout the unit, there will be loads of opportunities to explore problems requiring spatial reasoning using a variety of hands-on materials.

3rd grade Level 2 ACE English students, meanwhile, have been launched into our Word Play unit.  It’s oodles of work, but tons of fun!  We started by reading a short biography of Duke Ellington, listened to his music, and then crafted poems to capture the essence of his work.  Try to read these two stanzas by one third grader without tapping your foot!



King of the Keys.



Slick steppin’ ease.”

4th grade Level 2 ACE English students are winding up their look at symbolic thought in literature.  Some have written three paragraph essays detailing the symbolism in The Happy Prince, while others have created posters summarizing the symbols encountered throughout the unit.  And a few of the kids have managed to do both!  Next up: a unit on debate.  Once we’ve learned the elements of a debate argument, we’ll start preparing for our first debate.  The topic: Would it have been better to be a passenger on the Titanic or the Hindenburg?  Should be interesting….

4th and 5th grade Level 2 ACE Math students have continued their incredible work with math problem solving.  On that front, I just received news that our fourth graders are fourth in the nation in the Continental Math League!

And last, but not least, 5th grade Level 2 English students are learning all about tropical rain forests in preparation for our claymation unit.  The kids have learned about the four layers of the rain forest, the flora and fauna that make up the rain forest, and, perhaps most importantly, they’ve been learning about the threats which face rain forests, as well as some of the great strides made in recent years to protect them.  Once they are well versed in all things rain forest-y, plans will commence for our original claymation productions set in, you guessed it, the rain forest!




Geography Bee Update

Wow!  TJ students rocked the semi-final round of the geo-bee-colorNational Geographic Geography Bee once again!  It’s true!  Not one, not two, but eight fourth and fifth graders made it through seven rounds  in the classroom without missing a single question!

Congratulations to fifth graders Jack Ackerman, Nils Andersson, and Ketevan Gallagher, and fourth graders Grace Kummer, Lucy Hladky, Charlie Alexander, Eli Vennebush, and Jonathan Katen for achieving this impressive feat!

After dodging all of the illness running rampant through TJ, we were finally able to hold our Final Round of the National Geographic Geography Bee this past week.  The finalists spent close to an hour answering questions in my room on Monday afternoon.  In the end, it was Eli Vennebush who came out on top and was named the TJ School Champion.  He’ll take a test  next week to see how he fares compared to the other school champs throughout the state of Virginia!

Geography Bee Next Week

On Thursday, January 12th, TJ’s 4th and 5th grade students will have an opportunity to participate in the National Geographic Bee, a nationwide geography contest for schools.

There are three levels of competition:  school, state, and national.

The school level of competition begins during the week of January 12th  with the classroom level competitions.  Each teacher will be supplied with the same set of questions.  The students with the highest scores among the participating fourth and fifth grade students will advance to the final competition at our school (on Friday, January 13th).  At this time, a new set of questions will be used to determine the school’s top two students.  These two students will participate in the Championship Round.  The Championship Round determines the one student from the school who will compete for advancement to the State Bee.

To compete for advancement from the school to the state level, the winning student in each school must take a written, multiple-choice Qualifying Test.  The students in the state of Virginia who receive the highest scores will be invited to attend the State Bee.  The first place winner from the State Bee advances to the national level.

Some of the questions in the Bee will require knowledge of place names – a skill basic to geography – and of the location of cultural and physical features.  The distribution and patterns of languages, religions, economic activities, populations, and political systems will also be covered.  Students may be asked about cultural and physical regions or about physical phenomena, such as tectonic activity, landforms, climate, bodies of water, soils or flora and fauna.

The format of the Bee questions calls for brief answers, usually only a word or a phrase.  Questions may require interpretation of maps, graphs, and photographs.

The National Geographic Society posts a ten question quiz daily using questions from previous Bees.  You can find the quiz at:


Tiger Pause, Take 2

A new round of Tiger Pause enrichment classes started on Tuesday. No doubt many adventures and lots of learning will be encountered in the coming weeks!

Third graders enrolled in ACE will be exploring the Project M3 Me in Measurement unit. Project M3 is a curriculum created by staff at the University of Connecticut specifically for use with gifted students.  Throughout the Me in Measurement unit, 3rd grade ACE students will be hard at work measuring objects, making estimates, developing personal benchmarks, and focusing on accuracy.  Students will take the unit a step further by exploring ratio as part of the “Build a Yeti” project.  They’ll team up to discuss which measurements they might need to make a yeti, record the necessary measurements on a chart, then determine the size of a yeti’s body parts based on an assigned ratio.  The next step in making a yeti?   Making a few body parts, naturally!

 Grade 4 ACE Humanities groups have launched a unit called Meet the Press.  Students will take a look at some current events and some not-so-current events!   The kids will travel back in time with Ms. Allan to become eyewitnesses to historical news events.  The fourth graders will then set about researching a variety of historical topics (Jackie Robinson’s debut on the Dodgers, the sinking of the Titanic, the Irish Potato Famine, and more!) and will then hold Meet the Press panel discussions featuring the likes of Michelangelo, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Eric the Red!

Grade 4 ACE Math students are working on a Project M3 unit, as well.  There’s is entitled  At the Mall with Algebra: Working with Variables and Equations.  The Project M3 curriculum has a heavy emphasis on being able to communicate ideas verbally and in written form, so as the students are introduced to algebraic thinking, their problem solving and math communication skills will be strengthened.  In the included “I’m Thinking of a Number” activities, the students are introduced to the idea of using a variable to represent changing quantities.  “Number Tricks” require students to write equations that represent a rule, and variables with specific values are explored through “Variable Puzzles”.

Fifth graders have launched into the ever popular Create a Country unit.  Each fifth grade ACE student has selected a land mass and is in the process of developing everything a new country might need – money, a flag, a national anthem, and more.  As the kids discover their geographic neighbors, they’ll no doubt have an issue or two to tackle!  This unit is always one of the students’ favorites and a great opportunity for creativity to merge with learning.

University of Virginia Summer Enrichment Program

Each summer the University of Virginia Curry School of Education hosts a highly successful Summer Enrichment Program for gifted and high-ability children rising into fifth through tenth grades.

There are three twelve day sessions being planned for June and July.  Students live on-grounds at UVa while taking classes in such diverse topics as neuroscience, scientific research, and the philosophy of Harry Potter (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly want to take this class…).

Click on this link to get all the details: University of Virginia Summer Enrichment Program.

Applications are due on February 15th.  A teacher recommendation is required, so build some time in to your application process for that to take place!