HIS students engage in Gifted Education Month activities

Pictured here is HIS fourth grader, Chris H., a Helena Intermediate Gifted Resource Class student, with his team’s Budder Busters information folder for the Gold Rush Project. (Contributed)

Pictured here is HIS fourth grader, Chris H., a Helena Intermediate Gifted Resource Class student, with his team’s Budder Busters information folder for the Gold Rush Project. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

The Helena Intermediate Gifted Resource fourth grade class has been applying their skills and learning new ones in classes presented in a very 21st-century format.

January was designated Gifted Education month and some notable visitors, Superintendent Randy Fuller, Sen. Cam Ward and Mayor Mark Hall, recently visited with students in the classes of Gifted Resource teachers Mrs. Shelli Abernathy and Mrs. Amanda Miller.

The visitors were presented with tissue-paper Olympic-style flames with cards that read, “Gifted students represent a vital resource that has unlimited potential. We need to make sure these exceptional young people have the support and services they need to be successful.”

In Mrs. Abernathy’s class, fourth graders were currently engaged in an academic simulation called Gold Rush, focusing on the big idea of discovery.

“The essential understanding is,” Abernathy explained, “discovery affects society and shapes human history.”

In each class students form teams of three to six members, then read a non-fiction piece and create an outline of the information.

Students then study the information and participate in a mining round (answering questions drawn at random).

Questions are cumulative as more information is read and outlined.

The game ends with 56 questions to be answered by students.

Students can also have the role of recorder—the writer who chronicles what the team has gone through in the “day.”

Another role, the leader, is the person in charge of handling the gold and doing the math for each days’ rounds.

“Fate cards” can either bring good or bad luck which increases or decreases the amount of hard-earned gold for each team.

Students learn outlining skills, teamwork and team dynamics/process, decision making and creativity.

In Mrs. Amanda Miller’s classroom, teams of students worked together to create an invention using Legos and found objects.

“These students learn that each person brings their own something to the project,” Miller said. “They build their social skills and they learn tolerance of others’ views which fosters respect.”