Top 10 Myths in Gifted Education

Even though I teach elementary gifted students, I consider myself an advocate for all students.  When I brainstormed titles for this blog many years ago, I chose, “Engage Their Minds,” because I believe all students have a right to learn through lessons that are exciting and relevant to their lives.  That being said, it bothers me that students who are identified as gifted sometimes don’t receive a lot of support because they are perceived to need less help – and this is certainly not the case.

I ran across this video while researching an upcoming presentation I will be doing.  Here are some gifted kids speaking out about the myths that have unfortunately impacted their educational careers. Hopefully, sharing this will help to dispel some of those myths.

The Faces of Gifted Students
The Faces of Gifted Students Who Want You to Know Their Truths

Picture This Clothing

I typically post something light on Fridays, (often not connected to education) called my Phun Phriday Post.  For today’s edition, I am sharing a cute website I came across called, “Picture This Clothing.” Similar to sites like “Imaginables” and “Doodle Your Toys,” which allow you to upload a drawing that can be turned into a stuffed animal, Picture This Clothing offers dresses that can be made based on your own artwork.  All you need to do is download and print the template, color it, send a picture of the design, and order your custom dress.

Dress sizes on Picture This Clothing are children’s sizes 2-12.  The dress will cost you $49, and you can also add on identical miniature dresses for dolls.  According to the site, it will take 12-15 business days for you to receive your order.

For those of you with budding fashion designers in your household, this could be a fun way to channel their passion before you decide to purchase a sewing machine and let them loose in the fabric store to start creating their own creative wardrobes.

image from Picture This Clothing
image from Picture This Clothing

Welcome, Mr. Reed!

I want to welcome a new teacher to the profession.  I don’t know him.  I don’t even know where he teaches.  But I know he teaches 4th grade, and I’m pretty sure his students are going to have an awesome year.

Mr. Reed Welcomes His New 4th Graders
Mr. Reed Welcomes His New 4th Graders

Mr. Reed made a special music video to welcome his students to 4th grade, and watching it made me wish I could be in his class.  I love that he found a way to combine two of his obvious passions – music and teaching.  I also think it’s great that you can download the music track for free here.

You’re incredible, Mr. Reed.  To you, and all of the other new teachers beginning their careers this year, I welcome your energy, enthusiasm, and elation. I wish I could make you feel as special as your students must feel.  Thank you for committing to this profession and, more importantly, to the students.  I don’t have a music video to communicate how great it is to have you join our ranks, but here is a link to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Video for Teachers to help you out on those days when you start wondering if you made the right decision.  (Trust me, you did, Mr. Reed!)

Brainstorming Relay

I was doing a little research the other day for ideas on how to teach brainstorming, and came across this article by Jim Flowers on, “Five Brainstorming Structures.” I generally vary brainstorming structures in my class from individual to partner to group, but I hadn’t seen the idea of a Brainstorming Relay until now.  It would be too much pressure for rookie brainstormers, but I like the idea of adding a bit of team competition to see which group can get the most ideas in a timed session.  Some students have a hard time understanding that quantity is more important than worrying about quality when they brainstorm and “braindrizzle” because they are so worried about coming up with good ideas.  This might be a fun way to practice getting some more fluency when they ideate.

brainstorm

International Dot Day 2016

International Dot Day, 2016, falls on September 15-ish.  I never feel like the school year has truly begun until we celebrate Dot Day.

Here are some of my past posts about Dot Day:

I hunted on Pinterest to find some ideas I hadn’t seen before, and this is what I found:

There are plenty more creative people out there with Dot Day activities to share.  So, don’t forget to get out there and, “Make your Mark!”

image from Flickr
image from Flickr

How Do You Feel About Homework?

I’ve been thinking a lot about homework lately.  This is partly because my daughter begins high school today, and one of her teachers has already assured us that there will be lots of homework assigned in her class.

When I was a 5th grade teacher, I assigned homework every night. My goal was to teach responsibility because I had heard the middle school did the same.  I didn’t worry about whether or not the homework was meaningful or how it might impact the students who had home environments and/or schedules that weren’t conducive to doing school work every day.

When my child entered grade school, homework began almost as a game.  They received packets at the beginning of the week with bingo pages that allowed them to choose any 3 homework activities in a row to turn in on Friday.  My daughter was so excited that she insisted on doing every single activity each week.

That didn’t last.

My least favorite assignments were the ones that required parent participation.  We would have to cut out game pieces and make boards and then I had to try to pretend that it was exciting to practice my multiplication tables while I simultaneously attempted not to crush my daughter’s spirit by excelling at the game.

If I ever taught 5th grade again, I would not assign mandatory homework.  First of all, I’m lazy.  It takes a lot of time to explain homework assignments, collect them and record who did them, and delve out consequences to the ones who didn’t.  Secondly (and I realize this should be the first reason, but I’m just being honest), I really don’t think it teaches very much to the students who need practice the most.

I’ve read a few articles like this one that seem to support that homework shouldn’t be assigned, at least at the elementary level. This school in Massachusetts, which is banning homework for the next year, seems to agree.  (Full disclosure, they have lengthened their school day as well.)

In this hilarious video from the Huffington Post, you can see what happens when a middle schooler tries to get some adult help on math homework.

I get it.  Sometimes homework is important – particularly in secondary school.  But it’s intention should be to support learning – not to teach responsibility (and it should never be used to introduce a concept.)   One of the teachers I follow on Twitter (@alicekeeler) suggests that students be given a sampling of math problems to do, and then the choice to get feedback on whichever three they would like.  This, in my opinion, makes homework about what the student needs, instead of drill and kill.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about homework in the comments below!

homework

Advice for #NewTeachers

In my latest article for Fusion, I give some advice to new teachers – fully aware that I still feel like a rookie after 25 years in the profession.  If you don’t have time to read it all, at least check out the last paragraph where I reveal my favorite teaching/parenting secret that has never once failed me in a quarter of a century😉

photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr

Great Minds Don't Think Alike!

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