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.
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!
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.
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.
Several years ago, I got a fabulous idea from a book called What’s On Your Mind? by Joel Anderson and Joan Brinkman. One of the lessons recommends that gifted students create an “Eight Trait Floor Plan.” The students are asked to think metaphorically about what a blueprint of their attributes might look like. Which “rooms” would be the largest? How many doors would each room have – and where would they lead? The book gives many excellent questions to help students visualize this “House of Traits.”
I’ve used variations of this lesson with my GT 5th graders over the years. Sometimes the students created the floorplans in MS Excel, sometimes on graph paper. Generally a description accompanied it, whether typed or written. It’s been so interesting to see the creative ways students visualize their own attributes – from hidden rooms to indoor pools to closets with no doors. The project is always insightful for me and for them. Last year, it was an excellent introduction to their Dream Team projects.
We were kind of cutting it close on time this year, so I gave the students graph paper instead of asking them to complete the floor plans on computers. I directed them to the Periodic Table of Character Strengths to choose their traits. Instead of adding paragraphs to the bottom that explained their floor plans, they were told they could use one of the creation apps on the iPad, such as: Tellagami, Puppet Pals, or ThingLink. I promised the students who created videos that we could add some “Aurasma-tazz” by linking them with the Aurasma app.
One of the projects is pictured at the top of this post. If you have the free Aurasma app, you can follow our channel (Hidden Forest Elementary), and view the Puppet Pals video that accompanies the floor plan by scanning the image above. Or, you can view the video that I’ve embedded below.
The advantage of using the Aurasma app is that my student can take this project home, and her parents don’t have to go to a website to look for her video explanation. All they have to do is scan the picture with Aurasma.
If you are not familiar with Aurasma, which is one of several augmented reality apps, here is a link to my page of Augmented Reality Resources. This page includes links to tutorials, as well as other activities.
Don’t be mislead by the title of this site. You are not required to download any software, and the math resources here are fun and free. Although primarily designed for middle and high school students, there seem to be a lot of activities that could be used in upper elementary – and it would be a great site to refer to for extension activities.
The first thing I discovered when exploring the site was the “Starter of the Day” link, which gives a mathematical brain teaser for each day of the month. Below is the example for today:
Shine + Write has many activities that would be great to use with an interactive white board. This “True or False” game, for example, takes some thought. Fun Maths has a page of games and math tricks that will be sure to entertain. Investigations offers challenges that might be good for gifted math students to work on independently.
There are many other links on Transum Software that you may find useful. If you are looking for a way to make math class more exciting, I highly recommend checking out this site.
I need to add more writing to my curriculum and I am going to definitely use it more with these S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities. Usually, I just have the students do an illustration as a fun warm-up activity, but I like her idea to add a little more “depth” to their drawings.
The one I chose to do this week was from my Spring S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Packet, which you can find on my TPT site. I asked my 1st grade GT students to imagine that a mother bird’s eggs has hatched but the last one is a huge surprise. What is it?
There were a couple of Easter Bunnies, but then there were two that were opposite extremes of each other. One student drew a baby hippopotamus, and another student drew a tiny little fly! I asked them to identify what other S.C.A.M.P.E.R. piece they used to come up with these ideas, and they correctly named the “Magnify/Minimize” one. And then there was the very cute, upside-down, walking baby cactus. Talk about imagination!