Talents Program Information
Molly Smith is the Communications teacher at Yarmouth Elementary School (grades 3-4), the Think Lab teacher at YES (grades 3-4) and the Think Lab teacher at Harrison Middle School (grades 5-8). She also serves as a consultant for the Rowe School and YES (K-2). Students identified as having the highest need for regular enrichment are recommended to participate in Communications or Think Lab, which meet once weekly instead of a regular language arts or math class. A short synopsis of what we do:

  • Our time together is driven by an eternal quest for new knowledge! Students challenge each other to apply critical thinking skills to apply, synthesize and evaluate new content and skills.

YES Communications: In both grades, students are required to keep a Seed Book, which we use at school to record quickwrites, story ideas, play scripts, poems, new words, .... Students are also expected to take their Seed Book home each week and write a response to the weekly prompt OR an entry of their choice (they have a list of options stapled inside their Seed Books). We spend our time together honing our writing skills in different genres, such as narratives and poetry, reading and discussing challenging literature and expressing our creativity through drama. Our units of study are driven by student interest and need. In the past, we have performed a fractured fairy tale play for peers, published a book of Hinky Pinkies, and published a school newspaper. Skills we learn and sharpen together can be applied back in the classroom across the curriculum.

YES & HMS Think Lab: In all grades, students tackle brainteasers, puzzles, logic problems, lateral thinking and strategy games. Once the brain is warmed up and ready to go, we dive into an extended design challenge or unit of study. These are based on student interest and grade level math standards. Examples of design challenges include bridge design and construction, the aerodynamics of paper airplanes and kite design. Units of study explored in the past were driven by questions like: How do we use deductive reasoning skills to solve complex mysteries? How are mazes visual puzzles? What characteristics of shapes and objects allow them to tessellate? How can we use our knowledge of math to make a difference in our community? What is the mathematics of origami? We also take advantage of math challenges, games and contests on-line.

Interested in hearing about our latest endeavors? Check out the Think Tank Chronicles!

Miss Smith seeks to offer enrichment and challenge to a wide array of students at YES & HMS. ALL students have access to the following opportunities at some point during their career at YES:
  • Science Club: Miss Smith explores science with all of the second graders throughout the year during Science Club. She teaches this class once a week, rotating through each second grade class. Students explore the field of science through hands-on activities and open-ended, investigative challenges. Students learn from the school garden, design their own inventions, and apply the skills a scientist uses to explore the world around him/her.

  • 3rd and 4th grade Writing Club: meets once a month (the first Tuesday after school); interested students sign up for each session they're interested in and bring a piece of writing to work on with other excited wordsmiths.

  • All Subjects and grades: Miss Smith collaborates regularly with colleagues to team-teach units of study, support small group enrichment, provide independent study opportunities, share resources to support differentiation; she LOVES to get into the classrooms!

NOTE: These opportunities are in addition to classroom enrichment, which includes Discovery Math, Mindful Math Mission, Every Day Math games, student choice in independent reading and differentiation provided by classroom teachers.

Charlotte Agell is the Communications teacher at Harrison Middle School (5-8). Students identified as having the highest need for regular enrichment in language arts at HMS are recommended for Communications, which meets once weekly instead of a regular language arts class. The small group setting allows for individual attention as well as collaborative projects. A quick snapshot:

At all grade levels, students are required to keep an NQQ Notebook (whether actual or virtual notebooks!). NQQ stands for Notes, Quotes, & Questions. Jotting down ideas for further exploration is good practice for writers and thinkers. We start each session off with students sharing their notes, quotes, and questions for the week. A sampling: Is there time in outer space? (6th grader) "Is the glass half full or half empty? It depends on whether you are drowning, or in the middle of the desert." (7th grade student) We take the NQQ topics and run with them into very interesting territory (all over the map,and often off!). Typically, each session also features a warm-up - a lateral thinking or other activity. Main course activities often relate to classroom work; for example, students may be polishing personal narratives assigned in the regular classroom to then submit to venues outside school. Other times,the topics are not specifically tied into classroom work. A few examples of such units include a focus on metaphor, a unit on the evolution of language, an altered book project, and poems for two voices. We spend time delving into a wide selection of literature from writers such as Karen Hesse, Amy Tan, Kurt Vonnegut and others. Projects may take a single class session or extend through several weeks, or even months. We seek to provide an environment conducive to exploration and ideas.

The Talents Teachers seek to offer enrichment and challenge to a wide array of students. At HMS, we have the 104 Open Door Policy, featuring (but not limited to) the following options that ALL interested kids can take advantage of:

MATH:
  • Drop-In: drop into room 104 and join Miss Smith for discussions around enrichment math/puzzles/logic games!

5th/6th grade Drop-In time: Thursdays 9:20 - 10:007th/8th grade Drop-In time: Fridays 1:40-2:20
  • Weekly enrichment math problems are built into each grade, including Discovery Math to the fifth graders. Plus, math contests are shared for all kids to enjoy.

  • Additional resources are provided to classroom teachers to support differentiation and provide enrichment.

  • HMS Science Club - Miss Smith coordinates this fantastic club which brings together retired scientists with interested students. Monthly sessions consist of hands-on learning in different fields of science from chemistry to engineering to biology.

LANGUAGE ARTS (and Artists, too):
  • Drop-In: drop into room 104 and join Ms. Agell to delve into writing/word games/creative thinking!

5th/6th Grade Drop-In time: Monday 9:20-9:50
7th/8th Grade Drop-In time: Monday/Tuesday 1:40 – 2:20
  • Fifth and Sixth Grade Writing Club: Once a month after-school meeting (2:30 - 4:00) , the last Tuesday of the month. Writers may also come during 5th/6th Enrichment Drop-In (see above).

  • The Poem Booth: Any student may submit a poem to our poem booth, newly returned to HMS!

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  • Legenda: Any 8th grader is invited to join the literary magazine staff. We meet on Mondays and Tuesdays (come to one or both), 1:40-2:20. November through spring. Students in grades 5-8 are invited to submit work (writing and drawing) to Legenda.

  • Personal Writing: Students in grades 5-8 are invited to check with Ms. Agell regarding personal writing. They are also invited to submit to various contests (such as Letters About Literature) and other outside venues such as magazines. More information on Ms. Agell’s teacher page and in person. Google.docs has enabled us to increase the ease with which we share, but good old pencil and paper works are just fine, too!

  • Eighth Grade Writers Workshop: Students meet monthly with Ms. Agell (and sometimes Mrs. Smith, our lead language arts teacher) in small groups to expand their writers' toolkit through a variety of creative writing exercises. Nomination by a classroom teacher is the prerequisite for joining this group. Although we meet rather infrequently, much writing flows between us, between sessions.

  • Eighth Grade Grammar Extensions: If a student is too advanced for the daily MUGS work, he or she may work with Ms. Agell on challenges based on that classic, The Elements of Style, as well GrammarGirl (the website).

All Subjects:
Classroom visits and unit extensions for whole grade, small groups or individuals upon teacher (and sometimes student) request. Collaboration is commonplace!