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, numeracy

Ease off the drill and practice

In this time of remote learning I have noticed one of my children has been set a lot of drill and practice activities for mathematics.

Drill and practice has a place, even for our bright and gifted students – but not an overload.

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Once a person has understood the concept, drill and practice is no longer necessary –  as they understand!

Teachers need to move these students onto using these skills in real world situations, problem solve with them, see how they work in our every day lives.

Children can be accelerated through the grades in one subject such as mathematics, and this may involve some more drill and practice so they understand the topic further, but it still needs to be minimal.

For bright and gifted students, all drill and practise does is demotivate them. Anything we understand well becomes repetitive and boring, even as adults.

We switch off, we no longer enjoy the topic and that’s when mistakes happen.

Mistakes in drill and practice activities should not be penalised unless it is obvious the student has misunderstood something.

Too often teachers seek perfection and this is something we cannot ask of our students who clearly understand what is being asked of them. Mistakes are a normal part of learning.

So what should schools and teachers be doing whilst remote learning?

  • Give students real world activities. This way they can apply the basic skills that have been mastered on the worksheet or in the computer game.

Here are some great links for you to give to your children so they are engaged and are learning.

  • National Geographic at home

https://www.natgeokids.com/au/teacher-category/maths/

  • Taronga Zoo

https://taronga.org.au/education/digital-programs-online-resources/zoo-mathematics

  • Nrich Mathematics

https://nrich.maths.org/9993

  • Edutopia

https://www.edutopia.org/article/7-real-world-math-strategies

  • Scholastic Maths magazine

https://math.scholastic.com

 

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.

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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.

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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!