Monday, October 3, 2011


Remember that time I told you I'd write about my crazy gifted class experiences?'s the day!  Some of the information I'm going to share will be fairly embarrassing...some of it could get the former teacher fired, or worse (though I'm pretty sure she's long-retired by now), what's said in the scoop stays in the scoop.  Kapeesh?  (Also, this turned out to be a pretty lengthly post.  Stick with it, though - I tried to keep it entertaining! ☺)

Ok, here we go:

From the 2nd to the 6th grade, I went to a gifted class with 10-14 kids (in the same grade) from other elementary schools in the district.  The other students were mostly boys - there were 1 or 2 other girls at various times, but mostly it was 10+ preadolescent boys...and me.

We met once a week in our own special room at one of the other elementary schools...and to get us there, they sent a short bus around to pick us up (embarrassing tidbit #1).

Our teacher, who I'll refer to as Mrs. W, was fairly similar to Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus...
...except she had short hair, was a little bigger at the waist, and wore eccentric jewelery.  She also had about 537 pairs of colored plastic-rimmed glasses similar to these:

Each day included the following activities (among other more normal ones, I'm sure):
  • timed creative writing...on WordPerfect.  We were usually instructed to tape a piece of paper over the monitor and just type.  I may or may not have learned to write computer code at this age...we had the oldest computers in the building, at the time.
  • walking "the mile" around the playground.  This wasn't meant to be a form of was just something we had to do before we "played" at recess.
  • eating lunch in the lunchroom with all the kids at the elementary school.  To make our isolation more obvious, we had to sit in a special area - either at a separate table or in the inside perimeter of the large square of tables they made in the gym/lunchroom...while the other kids sat on the outside perimeter (embarrassing tidbit #2).  If I remember correctly, we had to be separated because the other kids couldn't get along with us...perhaps they taunted/made fun of us...? I don't have any personal memories of this, so I'm pretty sure it didn't happen to me directly, but generally, I think that was the case. 
  • When our work was done, Mrs. W occasionally let us play computer games.  The most popular one (or perhaps the only one) was Oregon in the original version:
I don't know who Nicole is - it was just the most accurate screenshot I could find.  Dysentery didn't usually end well...may she rest in peace.
A few other random, memorable projects include:
  • making a "rain forest" inside.  We had a huge black tarp (or maybe it was a bunch of black trash bags taped together), taped it into a cylinder, stuck a box fan in one end, and made a door flap in the other.  It was big enough for nearly all of us to fit inside at the same time.  We made lots of animals, plants, etc. to put inside...and I'm sure we had to do extensive research about it all, before the fact.
  • We did a Native American unit, once, complete with a food day (we all had to try the pickled cactus).  We also made Kachina dolls out of painted Easter eggs for the head, and high-gauge wire strung with beads from those beaded car seat covers for the body...

    ...and we decorated them with leather and beads from Mrs. W's old jewelery.  The hot glue gun was used for this and many other projects.  Many fingers were burned over the course of our time in that classroom.  Anyway, here was my finished product:
Stunning, I know.
I sure hope you appreciate the detail here - I'm sure much research went into it at some point in my life.  ; )
  • popping enough popcorn to cover the floor - still don't know what this was all about.
  • playing the piano in the music room across the hall.  In the third grade, I'd accompanied my regular school's class on a music program for a song called "Big Dreams."  After practicing it so much, I had it memorized (and still do to this day), so I would play it for the gifted class...except the boys changed the words, and it became "Big Germs"...and our theme song.  We also liked "Marshmallow World," for some reason.
  • Every Christmas break, we took home a felt cut-out item to homework.  Examples include snowmen and Christmas trees.  I believe "bonus points" were awarded to the most creatively decorated shape.
  • "Toshiba projects" - In a nutshell, we had a year-long project every year for which we were required to come up with an original invention that would make a specific task easier to accomplish...or something like that.  We had to create many drafts of documents, make a model of the invention, write a bibliography, and fill out forms to enter our project in this competition.  Inventions I remember creating include: magnetic things to put at the bottom of the shower curtain, so it would stay closed (apparently I didn't know these already existed...?) and a towel with elastic at the top that was sewn together such that it stayed up without having to be tucked in itself (I vividly remember my model for this one - a Barbie dressed in a piece of a washcloth held up by a sewn-in rubber band).  Recently, I became skeptical as to whether or not the competition actually existed, but apparently it really did...and still does.
Just seeing this logo brings back memories...I had a water bottle and a fanny pack with it on them, because even though we didn't win the competition, we got consolation prizes!
  • One of our favorite activities was to go to "the creek."  There was a community center about a half-mile behind the school where we met with a creek running between it and the school and trails surrounding it.  We'd walk along the road in a single-file line (picking up aluminum cans and other trash along the way), take our lunches, and go to the creek for the afternoon.  I think the learning opportunity here was to hunt for fossils, but we really just played and swam the whole time.  The boys also hunted for crawdads, which sometimes made the trip home in whatever containers we had along.  Sometimes, Mrs. W had us perform "community service" which consisted of building steps down the bank of the creek to the rock stepping stones, so people could cross easily and safely.  Of course, we did this every year, because young children with limited tools, instruction, and building experience can only do so much to prevent natural erosion.  One year, the other girl in the class and a boy were carrying a large, flat rock to use as part of the steps, and somehow, the rock landed on her big toe...and Mrs. W tried to stop the bleeding with a dirty glove.  The girl was (and still is, thankfully) an avid dancer.  Her big toe was broken...and possibly infected.  This is how I became the only girl in the class.
  • Speaking of hunting for fossils - One day, Mrs. W drove us to a road construction site where they'd recently blasted the side of a hill to make the 2-lane highway 4 lanes.  She let us out and instructed us to hunt for fossils.  Not sure how long we were out there...or if we had permission to be...but I think I remember finding some good ones!  haha

We went on numerous field trips as a class.  Usually, we all fit in a 15-passenger white van.  Just imagine Mrs. W at the wheel, possibly a para in the passenger's seat, and a van full of young boys...and me.
On one trip, I sliced my thumb open trying to shut the window in one of these.
A few examples of field trips we went on include:
  • The Kansas Museum of Natural History.  We went here a few times, and one time, we got to pick out a souvenir...probably for under $1, or something.  I picked a glow-in-the-dark slug/worm-looking thing.  Yes, I still have it (embarrassing tidbit #...3?).
  • Some sort of nature center where we did a ropes course, team-building activities, and ziplined!  This was a favorite (even though as we got older, the team-building exercises with one girl in the group became a little awkward).
  • Crown Center in Kansas City.  I know we went here more than once, but the only time I specifically remember was to go ice-skating...and that I was terrible at it.  One of the more embarrassing moments of my life: clinging to the edge while (mostly) everyone else glided around like they'd been doing it their whole life.  One thing I do remember happening at Crown Center on more than one occasion was stopping at some candy store, and Mrs. W buying us each a stick of rock candy.
    Who in their right mind would purchase pure sugar for the children they're responsible for to ingest while in a public place?
  • One time, we went to Mrs. W's of the most interesting places I've ever been.  I really wish I could remember it better, but all I know is that it had TONS of plants in it, and I saw her entire necklace and glasses collection, because as the only girl, I had the privilege of using the master bathroom.  She and her husband lived out in the country and had animals (plural, I think), outbuildings, and a pond.  We spent part of our time there cutting her very old, shaggy horse's hair with orange-handled office scissors.  Please imagine 10+ preteen boys and myself standing around a horse with longer-than-normal hair giving it a haircut with these:
    Yep.  This activity was followed by the assignment to search for unique plants and creatures...which turned into a swim in the pond...which turned into a mud fight.  Yes, I participated.

Finally, I'd like to tell you about a Christmas present Mrs. W gave each of us one year.  We had these in our classroom, and I guess Mrs. W thought everyone liked them so much we should each have one of our own!  It came home in it's own special habitat with it's own special food.  It was a...
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach!
No, mine is not still living - I just found this picture online.
I'm not joking.  Pretty sure she didn't get parental permission before sending these home.  Somehow, someone ended up with two (maybe someone really couldn't take theirs home), and those two became many more than two...and those "many more" came back to our classroom, but we didn't have proper living spaces for them, so they escaped.  To this day, I'm not sure whether or not we located all of them afterward.

So, there you have it.  All these gifted class experiences, and many more, made me the person I am today.  Whether it was for better or for worse is for you to decide, I suppose.  : )

As I said, I'm pretty sure Mrs. W is retired, by now.  She actually moved to Texas after my class graduated from elementary school.  She came to our house to say good-bye one summer day (my brother was in gifted class, too, and had her during his first year only, I think).  We were swimming in the neighbor's pool, and I remember it being a very awkward good-bye.  Wouldn't have expected anything less, though.  : )


Favorites of the day:
the weather
the movie "The Help"
football season


  1. Well done. You did the class justice.

  2. I almost just peed my pants reading this. I didn't know about giving her horse a hair cut with scissors or looking for fossils amidst a construction zone. LOL. But, seriously, isn't education a different world now!? I can't even take kids on a filed trip without copies of the drivers insurance and a detailed description of what we'll be doing. Anyway, I'm glad you survived gifted. I'm glad you didn't marry B.O. like you originally planned while in gifted, and I'm glad you're so stinking creative (no thanks to Mrs. W.)