Tag Archives: gifted

James and Susie

I landed in a new Twitter chat this weekend (#ecet2 – Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers).  The moderator was @AngelaAbend, and the topic was gifted students.  Here is one of the threads from the discussion when we were asked to describe gifted children:Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 4.26.27 PM.png

I don’t like to over-generalize gifted students.  Some can be hard on themselves and do their best in school.  But there are others who do so well at the beginning of their school careers that they receive more compliments than challenges.  Without sufficient problem-solving practice during these formative years, these students may never learn what to do when answers do not immediately appear in their heads.  By assuming young, successful students will “be fine,” we inadvertently cripple them later in life.  It’s essential that we target every child’s Zone of Proximal Development regularly so they can be equipped with tools and strategies for dealing with difficulties.

During the chat, Angela Abend tweeted the video, “James and Susie,” which illustrates the need for all children to be challenged.

When my gifted students say, “This is hard!” I tell them, “Good!  That’s my job!  If it was too easy, I’d be worried.”  Of course, there are students like my 5th grader from last year who would say, “This isn’t in my ZPD!” with a sly grin on his face.  “Keep trying!  You’ll figure it out,” I always responded.  And he would.

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Make a Manifesto with Canva

As our school year begins to wind down, my 5th grade gifted students are attempting to synthesize all that they have learned by determining what they “know for sure.”  While browsing the examples on Laura Moore’s TCEA Hyperdoc website (click here for my original post about her Hyperdoc presentation), I found this “Manifesto Project.”  When I showed it to my students, they were excited about designing their own manifestos. We did a lot of brainstorming and discussion before the students started working on Canva.  The examples I am showing you are just rough drafts (including mine), but I think they are off to a great start!  Knowing the personalities of these students, I am very impressed by how the students were careful to choose words and designs that really reflect their values and beliefs.

I remarked that it might be fun to make each manifesto into a t-shirt, and the students got super excited about the idea.  So, if anyone has done something like that before, please give me suggestions in the comments below!

If you are interested in more ideas for using Canva in the classroom, here is a link to their lesson suggestions.

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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

Envision Gifted

While I was looking for resources for an upcoming presentation about Depth and Complexity, I found “Envision Gifted.”  Marcie Griffith’s site offers many ideas and examples for using the Depth and Complexity icons developed by Dr. Sandra Kaplan.  

Be sure to click on the menu items at the top of the page to find suggestions on how to use Depth and Complexity for Math, Language Arts, and more.  Many of the pages have free, downloadable pages to use with your students.

Depth and Complexity does not have to be reserved for use with gifted students.  By integrating these icons into your classroom, you will find that students will apply the icons in ways that reflect their understanding of topics – giving you a naturally differentiated curriculum.

Click here to go to Envision Gifted!
Click here to go to Envision Gifted!

Two other sites I always recommend for Depth and Complexity ideas are: “Byrdseed” (best for 4th grade and up) and “Not Just Child’s Play” (great for primary).

 

Invisible Ink Books

This Friday’s edition of “Gifts for the Gifted” may be a blast from the past if you ever went on long trips as a child without the benefits of electronic entertainment systems.

When I was little, preparing for travel consisted of packing a bunch of books to read and a few books of puzzles.  I can’t remember ever flying in a plane without one of these invisible ink books.

You can still find them in stores.  On the rare occasion I visit a Cracker Barrel, there is usually a display of invisible ink books.  Most of the ones you see these days are products of movie advertising, like Toy Story or Frozen.  But I was amused to come across some of the classics while browsing the “New Products” section of MindwareOnline.

Invisible Ink Books (image from Mindware)
Invisible Ink Books (image from Mindware)

My absolute favorites as a child were the Mr. Mystery Secret Agent Spy ones.  (You can find More Mr. Mystery and The Return of Mr. Mystery online as well.) I loved the challenge of the puzzles and the independence that the invisible ink pen gave me to become a detective in my own imaginary world.

mrmystery

I got my daughter one of these a couple of years back for an upcoming trip, and I think she enjoyed them just as much as I always have.  Of course, in retrospect I probably should have gotten one for myself, too!

For more ideas for gifts, check out my Pinterest Board.

gifts

When Moreferentiation Requires an Uppervention

image from Krissy Venosdale (@venspired)
image from Krissy Venosdale (@venspired)

The other day, some teachers and I mulled over a relatively new conundrum in the standardized testing world.  If you are going to measure growth in a student’s ability using a standardized test that tests the minimal skills required to pass a grade level, where does this leave the gifted student?  If he or she is already able to do 5th grade math in 3rd grade, then how will we know for the next three years if that student ever learned anything new?  Achieving a 99%ile every year does not necessarily prove growth.  Alternatively, receiving a failing score doesn’t necessarily demonstrate lack of growth; it might prove merely that the gifted student was tired of taking irrelevant tests.

We couldn’t come up with the best, objective way to measure learning growth in this population.  However, we all agreed that when a gifted child genuinely enjoys coming to school, he or she is probably learning.

How can we foster this love of learning so that these students will continue to grow even when minimum standards do not require it?  According to Lisa Van Gemert (@Gifted_Guru), one thing we should not do is moreferentiate. In her article, “Top Ten Ways to Annoy a Gifted Child,” Van Gemert explains “moreferentiation” as giving a child more of the same work.  I know – none of us do that, right?  Well, I will be the first to admit that I have done something just as unhelpful – told them to read a book or asked them to tutor other students.  In fact, when I was a classroom teacher, I was guilty of about 8 out of the 10 things that Van Gemert lists in her article.  Ouch.

So, what can we do for these students?  Josh Work has some suggestions in his recent article for Edutopia, “Uppervention: Meeting the Needs of Gifted and Talented Students.”  I think one of the recommendations that I’ve seen to be the most successful in the classroom is to “Develop Deeper, Not Wider.”  This could be the use of Genius Hour projects or another type of independent research that is based on something that interests the student.

If you are looking for some more ideas, I also wrote a post this year called, “It’s Not Enough,” which outlines some other suggestions for giving gifted students more opportunities to grow.

There is not one right answer for meeting the needs of gifted students.  Every student is unique.  However, there are many wrong answers.  My challenge to all educators is to eradicate the “Top Ten Ways to Annoy a Gifted Child” and find at least one way to inspire all of our students to leap out of bed in joyous anticipation of each day of learning in our classrooms.

Photo Mapo + Tellagami + Aurasma AppSmash

Shanghai Photo Mapo
Shanghai Photo Mapo/Tellagami Project (Scan with Aurasma app to see video.  Be sure you are following the Hidden Forest channel.)

UPDATE:  Photo Mapo is no longer free (.99) and Tellagami no longer offers the text-to-speech or customization in the free app.  You can read more about the Tellagami changes here.

Yesterday I wrote about an app-smashing project my GT 5th graders did, and today I want to present to you one that my GT 1st graders have been working on.  They have been researching countries, and recently created Photo Mapo postcards to tell about particular interesting landmarks. Typing is a bit of a laborious process for some of the 1st graders on the iPads, so I let them keep their Photo Mapo descriptions fairly short.  However, I wanted them to elaborate a little more.  This was the perfect opportunity for them to use Tellagami. With Tellagami, the students were able to choose if they wanted to type or record their own voices.  This involved some heavy decision-making for some of the students. On the one hand, they weren’t fond of typing.  On the other hand, they loved all of the different accents they could choose for their avatars if they did take the time to type the script! For some of them, that was plenty of motivation 🙂  Others decided they would rather speak for themselves. Once the students created their Tellagami videos, I loaded them up to Aurasma studio.  Now, you can scan their Photo Mapo postcards, and see the videos that give a bit more detail.  Their parents will be able to view them at home, as well, by scanning the pages with the free Aurasma app. For more ideas on using Augmented Reality in the classroom, check out my Augmented Reality Resource page – to which I just added an amazing lesson from Andy Plemmons using Layar for a 4th Grade Wax Museum.

Spain Photo Mapo
Spain Photo Mapo/Tellagami Project ( Scan with Aurasma app to see video.  Be sure you are following the Hidden Forest channel.)