I think you should start by checking out KK’s Creations Website and You Tube Channel (new subscribers are welcome). Once you do, I think you will want to know more about a sixth grader whom I will call KK. She attended virtually all year, and I was so happy to have a chance to be her teacher. In case you are also interested in dragons and digital art, you might want to see her Avery Myst site and YouTube Channel. But wait! There’s more! KK also invented her own fan fiction tribe of dragons, which is featured on her Moonwings site.
Now that you’ve seen KK’s work, I can tell you what we worked on this year in school. I am a sixth grade science and language arts teacher. To call this year stressful is a wild understatement. However, this year also brought me a lot of joy. Case in point: KK. I knew KK and her family from previous experiences in our district. I knew that her parents are both highly creative and successful professionals who are supportive and involved in our district. KK attended an after school STEM course I taught several years ago, and l I was wowed by her ideas. KK was a student I had been waiting for...hoping to have an opportunity to be her full time teacher. This year she was in my homeroom. Jackpot! Since I knew of her interest in rockets and STEM studies, we concentrated on compacting sixth grade science and creating “orbital studies” for the first part of the year. (Orbital studies are studies related to regular curriculum, and extend and enrich it.) Her dad was extremely helpful and valuable with these efforts because he is an aerospace engineer and knows a lot more about rockets than I do!
KK and I would chat during our Google Meets and she told me about her drawings and interest in dragons. She was in my Strategy Games elective class and created a spectacularly produced board game based on the Wings of Fire book series, complete with multiple sets of miniature 3D printed dragons. It was incredible. I asked to see more of her work, so we had an after school Google Meet. KK shared her screen and really let me into her world. The sheer volume of KK’s creations and wide variety of media helped me realize that she needed to have this work incorporated into her (virtual) school day. I knew she had a 3D printer in her basement, a small kiln in her garage, and her own Etsy site, but I didn’t realize how much KK was creating during the school day. There was some downtime in the Google Meets and she would draw. KK was also drawing and creating while attending classes. All this indicated that KK had a bigger need for GT programming than just compacting science.
We implemented a team process for the rest of the year. The team included our GT Coordinator, KK, her parents, and me. KK and I started to meet regularly to create and set goals for the rest of the year. KK continued to compact science material and we added social studies as another place to “buy time”. KK worked on her social studies course at her own pace and used the time saved in science and social studies to work on her creations during the school day.
Our GT Coordinator started meeting with KK regularly to do a book study, using The Gifted Teen Survival Guide. Her parents read the book with KK and were a great support during this process. I had KK create a portfolio-type website to organize and share the work she had already created at home. Her parents helped take and post gorgeous photos featuring each media category on the site. We concentrated on the website and videos, which were posted in our district’s newsletter and tweeted out by our principal.
Eventually, the website and videos started to become a grind for KK. HIghly creative people detest that sort of routine, and I sensed that KK was becoming disengaged from our goals. We shifted our focus, created fewer goals for production, and made sure to discuss and value work that she would still produce “just for fun.” We wanted to help KK meet deadlines, but also retain the joy of creation. One important revelation was that KK enjoyed the video production a lot less than creating art. The team realized she needed chances to share her work in a more personal way.
We then brainstormed and set new goals. I arranged for non-digital opportunities to share her work. Her parents helped her curate a collection of her art and they brought it in and arranged it in the school’s display case near the office.
Check out the slideshow of her art here.
The cards beside each piece explain a bit about the work and inspiration that guided her work. I arranged for KK to have one-on-one Google Meets with her friend Julia so that she could share her work and simply talk to her friend whom she hasn’t seen in person for a while. I also arranged for KK to collaborate with another student in our class to co-create a fantasy story. Aubrey would write it and KK would illustrate it! We didn’t have time for them to finish the story this year, but I hope that they can collaborate more in the future.
I plan to keep tabs and work with KK in the future. I might not be her teacher anymore, but I hope to stay involved. I will be KK’s advocate and continue to find ways for her to share her creations with the world.
WATG Board Member