Creativity, Gifted Education, literacy, teaching

Adding challenge to a passion project

Passion projects are a bit of a buzz word and can be lots of fun for students to take part in – they get to choose what they study and also how the present it.

But are they learning?

When we create passion projects we need to make sure that there is:

  • Challenge
  • Limited amount of ‘googling’
  • Questions that extend beyond the basic facts for more able students

I have used KAPLAN prompts to drive my students towards more challenge in their projects – to seek the how and the why and question why things just are!

Please feel free to download this resource to use in your classroom today

Gifted Education, mathematics, numeracy, Parenting, teaching

Programming for challenge

When we start a new year or a new topic most teachers are lucky enough to be given a program from the year before to use. This can be fantastic as it saves time and also inspires ideas for the current year but there are many things we need to do before we use the program and it goes beyond just reading through and tweaking.

Always pretest

Pre test your students and consider if this program suits them at all. Does the topic need to be changed? Will they engage with the activities and are the activities differentiated to suit the needs of the current class?

Pre testing is vital for all KLA’s so that we are prepared to challenge every student in the different subject areas not just in their ability but also how they view the world through the different topic areas we are presenting to them.

How are they challenged?

How are the students being challenged in the program? Are they being challenged through the questions being asked or the skills they will develop?

Are you using Higher Order thinking stems for enrich their thinking and which model works best? 

What level is the challenge?

If there is challenge and differentiation – great but at what level?

Again, you need to consider the students in your class and think if the level being presented to them in the current program is really for them

Will the main topic generate passion for learning?

The curriculum is much more flexible than we think and as the classroom teacher you need to consider which topic will really excite your learners.

Instead of just looking at ‘living things’ can your more able students look at ‘dangerous living things’?

Instead of just writing a book review – review a book review site instead and create your own. 

How limited does the topic of space need to be? Can you go beyond just the planets in the solar system and discuss how people could live on these orbiting bodies.

It does take time to create new programs and also look through existing ones but when we do, our students enjoy learning and engage with us and this is worth the time spent!

Creativity, Gifted Education, literacy, teaching

Encouraging creative thinking

All children need to be encouraged to think creatively but our gifted learners are able to really go beyond what we imagine the responses to be.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Having a weekly prompt to encourage more than just creative writing helps with not only creative thinking but also problem solving, independent ideas, collaborative planning and working on ideas and concepts outside of our comfort zome.

There are many great resources on the internet to show students for a ‘power 30 minute creative thinking time’. This thinning time could be:

  • Design a new way
  • Create a way to convince others we need this in our every day lives
  • Change this so that the viewpoint is seen from someone we would not expect
  • Write an advertisement
  • Write a jingle
  • Write a story about the object.

Shaun Tan’s Oppsatoreum is an excellent tool to use for your Gifted students. In this book Shaun Tan has worked in collaboration with The Powerhouse Museum to engage readers in some odd objects.

These objects are part of the museum’s collection and although they do look odd, they are often fairly simple and boring in their original description. 

Instead of outlining the facts about the objects, Shaun Tan has created a story about the object to make it much more unusual and fun!

Imagine an ear piece which is now a love trumpet or a jar for leeches and honey which is not a literacy tester!

The possibilities are endless and you will have a lot of fun not only reading Shaun Tan’s descriptions but also coming up with your own! 

Gifted Education, mathematics, Parenting, teaching

Asking open ended questions

Open ended questions and activities are what gets kids moving, excited and engaged.

Asking open ended questions

What are open ended questions?

Open ended questions are those that have a myriad of responses. Open ended questions allow us to embrace different ways of thinking and responding and can often, at times, waken our own thinking up as we learn to see how others think.

For example – in maths lessons at home or at school show them some triangles and ask them: Is it a triangle or not? Why? What is our fixed definition of triangle and is this always correct?

This can then lead into what triangles can and cannot be through seeing what is in real life.

Another open ended task could be as simple as run your own ‘lemonade and cupcake stall’. For younger students they may simply work out prices and how many they need to cook/make. Older students will need to work out the cost of making these things to factor into the cost along with their own labour fees! Through this activity the students are learning how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

So do we need to do away with drill and practise? 

Not necessarily  but we MUST cut down on it. Worksheets for every child in the class are not supporting anyone as the only sense of value children will see is if they can finish the task.

Drill and practise can be done in open ended ways – not just worksheets of the same addition style problem. Play games, make a maze with the answers, talk about the best solutions, link to real world activities – go beyond silence and repetition just for the sake of it.

Children do need to practise to get better at things BUT they need to see value also.

How does this support Gifted students? 

Many gifted students, although they will need support when a new concept is given to them, will pick it up quickly so there is not point asking for repetition.

Gifted students see more value in those open ended tasks as they can see where it applies in their own lives, they can add their own twist to it and they can be challenged.

Check in with your own classroom teaching or your students teachers and ask how they are allowing bright and gifted students to shine. How are they adding excitement to learning? How are they engaging and growing young minds.

What are your thoughts? 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Mathematics and Gifted Education

little girl with clock

Many educators and parents are often quick to jump onto online games, free worksheets and you tube tutorials to help support mathematics.

But what about gifted students?

At times, most gifted students do need support from a teacher  in the classroom – even if it is a quick five minute lesson.

But do they need online games at harder levels or harder worksheets as homework or as a fast finisher activity?

The answer is mostly, no.

Any gifted mathematician, once they understand the topic or new skill only need a small amount of drill and practice to master and from there it is up to the educators to give them tasks that allow them to use this new knowledge.

This can be done through

– Problem Solving

– Real world tasks

– Projects that embed the new skill/s

Some examples that I have used in the classroom and online

  1. Measurement: Stage 3 – Length, Area and Perimeter

My group of students had understood how to measure length, perimeter and area and from this were given the task of finding these dimensions in their own bedroom BUT – Let’s add challenge by increasing the parameters: I gave them the task to design their own tiny house. These houses have a set area of 40m2. They also had to use furniture that they had to buy from a particular homewares shop. So not only are they using their knowledge, they are also problem solving with a real world task. The students had fun and enjoyed the challenge. https://aussietinyhouses.com.au/tiny-houses/casuarina-84/

2.  Measurement – Time – Stage 2

This group of students understood how to tell the time on an analog clock. The main class were given the task of making their own clock to use the learnt skills but this group were asked to design a clock or a set of clocks that would help people to know what the time was in other countries. From here they had to decide the best time for the people in the different countries to call each other. Another additional activity is to challenge these students with elapsed time such as I started lunch at 1:27pm and ate for 1 hour and 17 minutes. What time did I finish?

There is no excuse for extra worksheets – problem solving and real world activities are the answer.

If you would like me to support you at your school or as a parent need support to talk to your school, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Vanessa

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Depth and Complexity for Gifted students

So you have a gifted child and you are remote learning?

Blue and Gray Maximalist Technology Instagram Post

The activities being provided online may not be ideal for your child as teachers juggle the new platform and catering for all students.

So what can you do with a frustrated child and perhaps worried parent?

Projects!

A great way to support your gifted child is through projects that are:

– In their area of interest

– Challenging with depth and complexity

– A new area yet challenging and through provoking.

Think Dinosaurs, space, plastic waste, favourite authors, famous scientists or even LEGO. The possibilities are endless yet the depth and complexity is what needs to remain high.

I often use Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity Model to create my projects and you can try this too.

Here is an example of my use of this model – please use and give me feedback:

Using the Kaplan model to extend and enrich

 

Here are some website links:

https://www.romoland.net/cms/lib/CA01902709/Centricity/Domain/21/Kaplan-Depth-and-Complexity-1y4xdgk.pdf

https://www.byrdseed.com/introducing-depth-and-complexity/

 

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Are gifted children healthy?

Interesting article about the physical and mental health of gifted children.

Studies show that our gifted children are often highly active, social and mentally healthy.

We just need to ensure the right support network is around them, like minded peers and various options for them is the key

https://www.nagc.org/blog/are-gifted-kids-healthy

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching, Underachievement

Are there underachievers in your classroom? Part 2

There is still a lot of work being done in the field of underachievement in gifted students and one area that has been looked at is building the self esteem of the student.

Different research methods have been trialled recently to see what works best to lessen the amount of students who are underachieving in our schools.

Some tools have looked at ways to:

  • enhance motivation through self interest projects with built in depth and complexity
  • Learning how to set goals and regularly check in with a mentor (trusted teacher, older student or a link with a local university or interest group)
  • Grouping with like minded individuals within and out of school.

imgbin-peer-pressure-peer-group-social-influence-adolescence-s-group-influence-exb4j7reYwKgFvtU0uM23Aidc.jpg

And although these interventions are not all boosting the academic side specifically, they do help. When a student has a good friendship group, when they believe in themselves and when they see themselves achieve goals – they will naturally perform better academically.

So where to from here?

Schools need to consider how we help students to bond with like minded individuals, to build self esteem through challenge and to understand their strengths and weaknesses in a positive way.

More must be done to help all students – not just our gifted to reach their full potential.

A great way to do this is to raise the awareness of teachers about who gifted students can be and how we can help them.

Contact me

Contact me if your school needs assistance in training your teachers in the area of Gifted Education.

Part One can be read here

Gifted Education, teaching

Are there underachievers in your classroom? Part One.

An underachiever is a student who is not achieving to their potential.

The underachieving gifted student is too common in classrooms today due to various factors , of which many we can change.

Why underachieving gifted students?

Many might think if a student is gifted then they find work easy, always want to do their best and are happy.

But this isn’t always the case.

In a school context, underachievement occurs when there is a discrepancy between expected achievement given one’s academic potential and actual performance that one demonstrates.

iStock_000003621931_.jpg

Identification isn’t done well

Many teachers may not be equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to identify a gifted underachiever. Gifted underachievers often come about due to:

  • a curriculum that is not challenging enough (so what is the point in trying?)
  • they want to fit in with their peers(friends over grades)
  • Perfectionism (I’d rather get one sentence correct than a whole page of mess)
  • Lack of support at home (no one cares how well I do anyway)

So what can we do?

  • Ensure teachers have adequate support so they feel comfortable identifying gifted students and then challenging them (I can help here – educateempower1@gmail.com)
  • Ensure adequate and regular testing is done all year round from Kindergarten.
  • Ensure that the curriculum always has options for students to be challenged.
  • Ensure the curriculum is open ended, hands on and tailored to more students needs and learning styles.

Watch out for Part 2 of underachieving students soon – or sign up to my email list!

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Being Gifted is not how well a child does at school, it is who they are.

Are you confused with the label of Giftedness?

Perhaps you have heard it being used too often or not at all?

For someone to be labelled as Gifted they are functioning at a higher level in their field of talent than the majority of the population.

That field can be:

Academic/Intellectual

Creative

Socio/Effective

Muscular/Physical

They have these gifts before they head to school in some form or another. These gifts need to be nurtured at home and in the classroom if they are to develop into talents.

 

 

 

So in looking at this, schools cannot make students Gifted.

They can however help students realise their gifts, they can challenge them and enrich their learning.

Parents are the key links to informing the school about their child and the gifts they display at home.

Teachers are the key to identifying the children in their classroom so they know how to challenge and support each gifted child to develop their gift into a talent.

How does your school identify and support gifted students?