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, Parenting

Finding your child’s gift

Have you ever wondered if your child is gifted?

Perhaps they taught themselves to read at an early age?

Maybe they display empathy towards others beyond their years?

Some gifted children can manipulate numbers ten years before their age peers.

Being gifted can be seen in many different ways and although my blog has a strong focus on books and global issues, gifted education is something very close to my heart.

Having a masters in Gifted ed and working closely with gifted children over many years of teaching I have come across gifted children in all different types of classrooms.

One issue many gifted children have is not being recognised by their teacher. Parents often have a good sense (but sometimes doubt themselves or don’t know who to compare their children to) of what their children can and can’t do – and need to pass this onto their child’s teacher.

In order for our children to be supported we need to recognise the gifts they have and support them.

Here are some possible ways you can recognise if your child is gifted

  • Walk and/or talk early
  • Have an unusual sense of humour
  • Be very curious and ask complex questions
  • Show an early or intense interest in books, often learning to read at a young age
  • Make unusual connections between topics
  • Be self motivated, perfectionist, persistent or independent
  • Have a long attention span and unusual memory for details or facts
  • Learn rapidly, with little practice
  • Think faster than they are able to write
  • Prefer the company of older children
  • Have unusual perception and problem solving ability
  • Worry about adult issues and problems
  • Need less sleep than most children
  • Not always show their abilities in a school setting

It is important to remember that:

  1. Giftedness is not static – it is always changing so don’t arum just because your child can’t read at two that they are not gifted.
  2. Anyone can be gifted – It is not restricted to age, race, gender or disabilities/abilties.
  3. Being gifted does not always mean you are gifted in everything – You may only be gifted in one particular area

 

There are many different ways gifted children can be supported depending on their needs, some are:

  • Subject acceleration
  • Grade acceleration
  • Mentoring
  • External programs with like minded peers
  • Working alongside teachers in planning how they learn.

There was a great article in the Australian last year stating that one of the key problems gifted students face is boredom in the classroom which can lead to low self esteem, poor behaviour and disengagement with education. As parents and teachers we need to make ourselves aware of what to look for in order to identify gifted students and then how we can best support them so that their gifts turn into talents.

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Gifted Education

Ways that schools help and hinder Gifted students.

The justification for gifted education is simple: Academically advanced children should be given work at their speed and level, both to nurture their talents and prevent them from becoming bored and disruptive in class.

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I came across an interesting article this week: 4 ways schools help  or hinder Giftedness

This does make links to schooling in America but I believe there are links to Australia too.

Slow growth – it is often found in many schools that students who score highly in NAPLAN (albeit controversial testing) often do not show growth. How can we ensure that high achievers continue to achieve? There are many ways we can do this but change may be needed within the classroom – pull out groups, grouping within the classroom, acceleration, project based activities are just a few ideas.

Identification – are we using the appropriate identification tools for the students in our schools? Do you consider if you have students from a non-english speaking background? Indigenous background? Born overseas? Refugee? Each school needs to consider how they use standardised testing BUT they also need to consider how well teachers are equipped to create high quality pre assessments to gather data as well as good observation skills so they can pick up underachievers and 2e students (Twice exceptional)

Advanced curriculum – How well do we cater for gifted students in the classroom? Do we extend or enrich their learning? Teachers need to consider if they just need to be stretched sideways (problem solving, critical thinking within the current grade outcomes) or advanced to harder content (acceleration through stages). Many Gifted students will benefit from a combination of both but many do not receive this in the mainstream classroom. Teachers do need support for this to happen.

Tailor to students interests – It is really important that with Gifted students – and with other students also, that we tailor to their interests as much as possible. Think about how a lesson can be taught that catches students attention so not only are they excited about learning, they can use the great skills they have to build on skills in other areas. A students who is talented in mathematics can be extended in other ways – not always just in mathematics. They have the reasoning skills and the problem solving skills that may help them to solve environmental issues, humanitarian crisis or just something as simple as an issue in how the school timetable flows.

Creativity, Gifted Education, Parenting

Creativity

Gifted children, from an early age can show the capacity to think creatively, critically and abstractly.

Have you ever had them ask a question and you wondered how they came up with that thought? Or wondered why they have thought so hard about something that just seems trivial to you?

Gifted children need to know that these thoughts are valid and wonderful! As a parent you need to support this thinking and foster it in the best possible way so you not only have a confident child but you are a confident parent.

Being a confident parent allows you to inform teachers the strengths and weaknesses of your child.

What can you do?

  • Build a home environment that nurtures this creativity. Allow your child to flourish at home and have a space that they can always create.
  • Before praising them about the way the have responded or created something,, ask them how they came up with the idea. Learning how to explain their thinking is a great tool.
  • Provide them with opportunities to explore their area of interest and link in with like minded individuals. Think after school activities, holiday clubs, online groups, links with universities, visits to art galleries, performances and music halls.
  • Keep records of their creations and try to create with them.
  • Encourage taking risks when trying new techniques and talk about mistakes and why we need to make them to learn.

If you need support with your gifted child or a gifted student in your classroom. Please get in touch for one on one consultations and workshops.

Vanessa: educateempower1@gmail.com

And read this great tip sheet created by The National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Publication%20PHP/NAGC%20TIP%20Sheet%20-%20Nurturing%20Creativity-FINAL-UPDATED-October%202017.pdf