Posted by: Kate | October 21, 2010

A Butcher, A Baker, A Candlestick Maker

Well, perhaps I haven’t been any of those things, but I certainly have had a lot of jobs in my life. From retail sales to landscape assistant to government bug inspector and corporate writer, my many jobs have taken me many places and broadened my knowledge base. I’ve enjoyed most of them, some more than others, and certainly appreciated them all.

My newest project is taking me into the classroom. I have been volunteering for years with reading at the primary level (still do, even though Bush Boy left primary two years ago) and so have been comfortable with kids in an instructional setting. Last year I had the opportunity to guest teach a class on poetry for our district gifted program. That came about through conversations with our district’s elementary school gifted ¬†program coordinator and teacher, which began because of a presentation she did at a District Parent Advisory Council meeting. Although I don’t talk about it a lot, gifted programing was a huge part of my life and certainly shaped a great deal of my education and curiousity about the world. I was very fortunate to be raised in a time and place where gifted education received funding (usually through enrichment classes), and I attended a high school for my last three years where there was a gifted program I participated in for all my classes. So in my conversations with the coordinator we had a lot of discussion about what it is like to be a gifted student, especially in this climate of little funding for gifted programs and for enrichment (hers is not a full-time position even). One of my problems with gifted education is that people often assume you are somehow considering these children privileged, or are showing off if you talk about it personally. I consider it just another component of special education, as many of these students, with no program to support them, will have trouble in school. A number of the students I went through high school with were not model students by any stretch, but they had some gifts that the program allowed them to use and explore.

This year I was invited to teach a five session course on story writing to Grade 3 and 4 students. The students are selected by their teachers to attend the program. Yesterday was my first afternoon teaching, and it was great fun. Gifted students can be a challenge, they are not simply bright, good students (big myth) but often students who, if not recognized, are labeled as difficult, defiant or problem children in their classrooms. I love these types of kids.

We are using a great program as a story writing tool, and it is a free one that anyone can use. I thought I’d let you all know about it, as some of you with children may want to use it, or even show it to your child’s teacher. The program is called Story Jumper (www.storyjumper.com) and it is a fun way to turn a story into something special.

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Responses

  1. Wow, Kate, this is fabulous! You are so fortunate to have this wonderful opportunity to teach kids how to write. “Creative Writing” in my school years was always my favourite.

    Your writing brings to mind a favourite author of mine, Julia Cameron. I don’t know if you’ve heard of her many book on writing and creativity. I’m using it to help me with my bad case of procrastination or ‘blocks’ as so many of us have. I recommend any of Julia’s book, most esp. “The Artist’s Way” to get you started. (not that you need any help! I know you’re well on your way and I always look forward to anything you’ve written).

    I’m also going to check out the storyjumper site you mention, thx for sharing that. It’s somewhat timely that you shared your present mindset, as I’ve just finished another of Julia’s books last night. Now I’m so inspired I don’t know what to do with myself!! LOL

  2. congratulations kate!
    this sounds like a perfect fit for you and your myriad of talents.

    i also appreciate your take on gifted programs – it’s just another tool to help students succeed.

  3. This sounds like a a great opportunity that will provide you not only with enjoyment but will challenge you as well. I hadn’t thought of that term ‘gifted’ in so long…I so rarely hear it nowadays. My brother and I were both labeled as such after IQ tests and like you, my junior high and high school had the funds to put us in some special classes that challenged us above and beyond the normal classroom setting. And like you, I really think that those opportunities shaped who we are. So exciting you get to work with some of these students.


Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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