Category Archives: Books

5 Methods for Developing Problem-Solving Skills


This infographic comes from the blog over at  I particularly like the first suggestion, “Brainstorming with a Twist.”  I often have my students brainstorm, but I have never thought of adding this additional challenge once they are finished.   You can go here to view the book, Teaching Students to Dig Deeper: The Common Core in Action, by Ben Johnson, from which the infographic is adapted.  There is a link on that page to download a PDF sample from the book.

Middle School for Gifted Kids

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Maybe it’s because my own gifted daughter will be attending middle school next year that these articles caught my attention.  I thought I would share them with the rest of you who may be parents of gifted children who are in middle school or will be soon.

In “Middle Matters: Guiding Gifted Girls Through the Middle School Maze“, by Susan Rakow, you will find some interesting case study examples, and specific advice on how to deal with some of the obstacles girls face during those awkward years.

In “Middle School Gifted: Making Sense out of Chaos“, by Marie Brucker, you will find a compilation of different resources.  I particularly like the one near the end, which gives ideas for “Coping Skills and Stress Relievers.”

In “Surviving the Middle School Years with your Gifted Child“, by Christopher Taibbi, I found some information that would probably help with any relationship, whether it be with gifted children or adults.

And, finally, I would like to recommend this book, The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook, which is great for parents and children to read and discuss together.

Little Thinkers

Leonardo da Vinci "Little Thinker" doll from Unemployed Philosophers Guild
Leonardo da Vinci “Little Thinker” doll from Unemployed Philosophers Guild

My series of  holiday (or any time) “Gifts for the Gifted” continues today with a set of adorable dolls and puppets from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild.  The Little Thinkers dolls include a wide array of influential personalities from different cultures and fields of study.  There are scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, revolutionaries, and even radio hosts (N.P.R.’s Carl Kasell).  Inspire your own little thinker with a cuddly Galileo or Frida Kahlo.  And if your child has an active imagination, you might want to look at the very reasonably priced puppets – which include some of the same notable personages, but also offer a few different ones, such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.  I would bundle one of these with a children’s book; you can find several of the famous names in Chicago Review Press’ “For Kids” series, some of which are listed on this Amazon list.

I know a lot of parents are considering bestowing iPod Touches or iPads to their children for Christmas, so next Friday, I will be giving a list of apps that you might want to load on your child’s iDevice before you put it under the tree.

Here are links to my previous “Gifts for the Gifted” posts:


Camelot Jr.

Little Bits Holiday Kit


Q-Bitz Extreme

2013 Guinness Book of World Records

Also, you might want to take a look at my Pinterest board, which has even more ideas.


2013 Guinness Book of World Records

Since gift-giving season is right around the corner, I thought I would use my Fun Friday posts to share some excellent gift ideas for engaging your kids.  The newest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records (currently $19.11 on has been released, and it has a special feature that families with iDevices might appreciate.  By pairing a free augmented reality app from Guinness with the book, readers can experience portions of the book in 3D.  There is also a free bonus e-book app to go along with the printed version.  Below is a video showing some highlights, or you can go to the following link:

J.K. Rowling and Pottermore

image from:

Yesterday, my students and I, along with classrooms around the world, got the opportunity to view a live interview with J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books.  If you missed this webcast, there is a recording of the nearly 50 minute presentation available here.

Unsurprisingly, Rowling was delightful and inspirational during the interview.  Having no idea what topics would be covered, I knew I would have to “wing” it in our follow-up discussion.  I should not have been nervous, however, as the questions and responses gave me plenty of fodder for our classroom dialogue afterwards.  For example, Rowling was asked what she considered to be the most admirable quality in a person, and she answered, “Bravery”, which easily connected to our topic of the character traits of heroes.

Along with the webcast, which was sponsored by Scholastic, you might also want to take a look at Scholastic’s resources for a Harry Potter Reading Club.

And, if you want a really immersive reading experience, then you will thoroughly enjoy Pottermore, the website launched by Rowling and friends that allows the user to get involved in the virtual world of Harry Potter, from purchasing school supplies to getting sorted into one of Hogwarts’ four houses, to many adventures beyond.  Oh, and if you have children, they would probably enjoy it, too 😉

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

photo credit: ETPA via photo pin cc
Ever since I saw a presentation on Augmented Reality at TCEA this year, I have been pumped about using it in my classroom.  However, I haven’t seen a lot of user-friendly applications for every-day teachers yet.  I tried desperately to get AR Sights to work on my Mac at home and on my PC at school, and neither experience lived up to my expectations.  I purchased an AR pop-up book, and though the kids seemed to enjoy it, I did not really feel like it had the impact I desired.
Richard Byrne posted about a new app from PBS called, Fetch! Lunch Rush!, and I suddenly saw the power of AR, and how I could use it in my classroom.  Although this particular game is too basic to use in the Gifted classroom, I can definitely see how activities like this would engage kids.
So, I did a search on Richard’s blog for other mentions of AR, and found a free app called Aurasma.  And, now I can make my own augmented reality layers that will appear whenever my students use the iPad camera on images I select.  My students, too, with a little guidance, can create their own.  Instead of using QR codes, I can make an Interactive Bulletin Board on steroids!
Check out these videos for some live demonstrations of Aurasma:  Aurasma in the Classroom (embedded below), Aurasma for Shakespeare
This would be a really interesting assistive technology for students.  Imagine having images on the pages that students can scan for help with the text, just as the hostess of Aurasma for Shakespeare demonstrates.  This falls nicely into Universal Design for Learning.
I would love to hear from anyone else who is using Aurasma in the classroom!

Aurasma in the classroom from mark herring on Vimeo.