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, 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

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, 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!

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Building resilient learners

Without considering learning difficulties or underachievement, many gifted students cruise through their schooling years.

I come across many gifted students who just cannot cope with a challenging task – although they are gifted, have tested highly or are anecdotal extremely able.

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They cry, they misbehave, they say ‘I’m hopeless’ at the drop of a challenging hat.

Although school is fun, there are friends and great activities – School is easy. There is little challenge.

And this poses a problem.

These children NEED to be challenged on a daily basis and many schools are doing these students a disservice by always giving them work they can achieve easily.

Without challenge, students never feel a sense of failure.

Without challenge, students do not need to change their way of thinking.

Without challenge, students do not need to build resilience

Without challenge, students do not know how to problem solve. 

Every teacher, in every classroom needs to set the bar just that bit higher. They need to pre test students to understand what they know so they can give them learning opportunities where they will be challenged.

When students are challenged they may fail, but they can work out solutions to fix that problem.

When students are challenged they understand how to deal with mistakes and failure and build up resilience.

When students are challenged they feel a better sense of achievement. 

It is too often I teach gifted students who get easily upset in pullout programs or misbehave because they are being challenged. They do not know how to stretch themselves or deal with mistakes.

Teachers of every grade need to constantly challenge their students in some way so that they grow every day and become stronger believers in their own abilities.

Visit my facebook page for some great discussions and ways that I can help you as a parent or teacher to challenge these students with my online or face to face course.

Educate Empower Gifted: https://www.facebook.com/groups/293988788179957/

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Supporting your gifted students from Non-English speaking backgrounds.

 

In every school there will be students from a Non English speaking background and from this group there will be gifted students. We need to outline, in every school policy:

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What a Gifted NESB student looks like.

 

 

  • Acquire the new language at a faster than typical rate,
  • Demonstrate an ability to code switch or translate at an advanced level,
  • Show aptitude for negotiating between cultures,
  • Display inventive leadership and/or imaginative qualities,
  • Read significantly beyond grade level in the heritage language,
  • Effectively assume adult responsibilities at a young age,
  • Problem-solve in creative, nonconforming ways.

 

How do we assess these students to test if they are gifted?

 

  • Teacher observations
  • Pre assessments using different methods apart from pen and paper (try conversation in their mother tongue, drawing their knowledge)
  • Discussions with parents in mother tongue on students early development.

 

How do we support  Gifted student from a NESB?

  • Ensure the curriculum is enriched to the ability they can work at.
  • Ensure the curriculum is culturally sensitive where needed.
  • Develop an Individual learning plan that could involve self directed learning
  • Support the student where needed in the English language.
  • Make sure all teachers have PD in who gifted students are
  • Regularly communicate with parents to make sure they know how to support their child at home.

 

https://www.edutopia.org/article/identifying-and-supporting-gifted-ells

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Parent and school partnerships.

Partnerships such as those that Pfeiffer’s discussions help forge between parents and educators can help minimize the differences between the treatment that athletically gifted and the academically gifted students receive. But what about the glory? What can academically gifted students do that will bring them the rewards and recognition that those who excel athletically often receive? The answer is competition, and there are plenty of competitions open to those who excel in areas such as mathematics, science, geography, writing, and the arts.

There is nothing more important than a good quality partnership between a school and the parents of the students they teach.

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In an article I discovered this week by Linda Neumann, it outlines the importance of deepening that connection so that academically gifted students receive just as much support as our athletically gifted students.

 

Although this article is dated 2011, I would argue that this disparity still exists in terms of how society sees gifts and the importance of gifts.

As educators we need to ensure that ALL gifts are catered for in the best way we can within the school we teach in.

 

As parents we need to advocate for our gifted students to ensure that there are as many provisions for them as possible. If the school cannot have all these provisions on site, there are many great places to go to both online and in person.

 

We also need to ensure there is regular communication between parents and teachers to ensure everyone knows how to support the student in every aspect of their education.

 

 

Read the whole article here: https://www.sengifted.org/post/finding-the-glory-on-and-off-the-playing-field

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Building and nurturing resilience in highly gifted children

Many gifted students, due to their higher sensitivities have difficulty ignoring complex situations.

Resilience is rarely innate – it is a learnt behaviour.

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Resilience is cultivated when the children hear the school & teacher being talked about positively.

When the child is praised for their interests and strengths and who they are (personality) this can give them confidence to believe in who they are – not focus on their underachievement or boredom at school.

What you can do:

  • Talk positively about the school environment with your child whilst listening to their problems.

 

  • Talk to the school and your child’s teachers as often as you need to – we need to work together.

 

  • Find others in the community that have similar interests. Mentoring and group work with like minded individuals help gifted students to flourish. 

 

  • Try to deal with any issues in a positive manner.

 

  • Nurture your child’s inner resources (what they are good at – sewing, reading, researching, building etc)

 

  • Help your child to focus on the present – focus on each day and what can be achieved in that day rather than worrying about making it through the whole year. Focus on one good thing that happened during the day rather than focus on the negative.

 

Contact me if you are interested in school PD sessions for parents and teachers.

vanessaryanrendall@gmail.com

 

 

Gifted Education, Parenting, teaching

Providing support for your gifted students.

High-achieving year 6 students have identified their relationships with teachers and peers and participation in extra-curricular activities as three of the most important factors in their schooling.

In a recent article it was found that Gifted students who felt supported by their community are more likely to develop their gift into a talent. This lines up perfectly with Gagne’s Model of Differentiation and is something that all schools, parents and wider community need to take on board.

So what do you need to provide for your Gifted students?

 – A sense of belonging. Allow them to work with like minded peers on topics they share interests in and at a level that challenges them.

– Pre-assess for every new subject area so you know how to cater for each student, their knowledge and learning style.

– Pursue interests. Learning shouldn’t be confined to the classroom. Encourage extra curriculum activities that spark joy rather than focussing on what they can’t or don’t want to do.

Get to know them. The better a teacher understands his or her students, the more the student feels at ease in the classroom. Find out about their interests, their strengths and their weaknesses. Find out who they socialise with and what makes them happy. Lannie Kanevsky’s possibilities for learning is a great tool to use in the classroom for teachers to get to know their students.

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Gifted Education

Enriching a literacy lesson – character

As a teacher of gifted students in a pullout group setting that focuses in literacy I am always trying out new ways to extend and enrich these students.

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This week, in Year One, we looked at characters. The scene was set – we had just invented a machine that could travel inside books to meet different characters.

  1. Students were asked to think of as many characters from books as they could (noting books not movies)
  2. We then classified these characters as being either from the Past, Present, our world or other worlds. Some characters fitted in more than one quadrant. Students needed to justify why the character was placed where it had been.
  3. Once we did this, students chose a character from each quadrant that they would like to meet.
  4. I then introduced Gardner’s multiple intelligences in a simplistic way to show students all of the different ways someone can be smart.
  5. Students then worked out how their character showed different types of intelligences throughout their story with examples from the book.

 

This is a great way to look differently at character analysis and also helps students to see that being smart isn’t just about academia, it can be about so much more than that.

Let me know if you get to share this lesson in your classroom!