Monthly Archives: October 2021

Teaching Empathy in Elementary Classrooms

Empathy is how one thinks about someone else’s emotions or perspective. It is imagining walking in the other person’s shoes. How empathy is defined can influence its expression in everyday life. It is a skill which can be taught, but not always learned. It affects interpersonal relationships with friends and foes. Empathy is the basis for creating a caring environment both at school and at home. It begins with empathetic leadership, leading by example. It can be a defining moment in one’s developing humanity.

Throughout their lives, gifted students will face instances where an empathetic response can be the difference between doing what’s right and honorable or allowing a self-centered reaction to be a reflection of their character. Nurturing empathy in young, gifted students assists in their becoming self-aware and increases the potential for positive interactions with peers. Gifted children can develop empathy through mindfulness, developing an appropriate emotional vocabulary, and being provided with opportunities to express kindness toward others. It enhances their ability to face adversity and trauma by becoming more resilient.

When children are not taught the lessons of empathetic living, they can become susceptible to narcissism, aggression, and a sense of entitlement. Lacking the social skills to express empathy can affect a child’s ability to thrive in the adult world. It can affect work performance, goal attainment, productive social interactions with colleagues. Empathy is the antithesis of bullying; a foundation for social engagement; the basis for better communication skills; an antidote to racism; and an avenue toward success.

Teaching empathy in the classroom does not need to be hard. It requires a bit of spontaneity; a willingness to look for teachable moments while students are searching for answers. It can be as simple as connecting with your students. Bibliotherapy can be an entry point for teaching empathy. Putting aside technology for a moment and providing for face-to-face interactions can be beneficial. Encourage students to think about empathy through writing prompts. Additional strategies to teach empathy include practicing kindness in the classroom, teaching kids how to regulate their own emotions, engaging students in cooperative learning experiences, and encouraging students to help others.

Resources for teaching empathy can be found in the library – books about empathy, kindness, and role models. Online resources can include reaching out to potential mentors, facilitating connections with peers, and providing speakers who specialize in the development of empathetic skills. Teachers can also seek out curriculum that defines and integrates competencies associated with empathy. Students should be provided with student-centered, authentic instruction.

What can parents do at home to nurture empathy? Nurturing empathy at home begins with being aware of and respecting individual needs. Children learn empathy when they experience it. Parents should emphasize the importance of caring for others both inside and outside of the home. As in school, children need to be provided opportunities to express empathy toward others. Parents can talk to their children about empathy; discuss ethical dilemmas and way to resolve them; and develop strategies to control their own emotions.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1PM NZDT/11AM AEDT/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gtchatmod

Resources:

Teaching Empathy Strategies for Building Emotional Intelligence in Today’s Students (book) | Routledge

The Caring Child: Raising Empathetic and Emotionally Intelligent Children (book) 

Empathy and the GT Child

Creating Strong Kids Through Writing 30-Minute Lessons That Build Empathy, Self-Awareness, and Social-Emotional Understanding in Grades 4-8 (book)

Teaching Empathy and Embracing Intensity

The Neuroscience of Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Compassion (Amazon)

Developing Compassionate Empathy in Gifted Children

Teaching Empathy: The Best Way to a Compassionate Classroom

Nine Competencies for Teaching Empathy | ASCD

4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy | Edutopia

5 Tips for Cultivating Empathy | Harvard  Graduate School of Education

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World (book)

3 Ways to Build Empathy with Digital Tools (video 1:26) | Common Sense Education

Walk Two Moons (book)

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things (book)

Helen Keller: The Story of My Life (free ebook) | Project Gutenberg

Mind Matters Podcast Episode 36: Empathy with Intensity – Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children

All About Empathy (for kids!) (YouTube 4:48)

Roots of Empathy (website)

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict (book)

Lessons of a Lifetime | Smithsonian Magazine

Cybraryman’s Empathy Page

Fostering Empathy in Young Learners (Vimeo 29:41)

Adventures in Being Gifted (Podcast)

Do Mirror Neurons Give Us Empathy?

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Characteristics of Young Gifted Children

Simply recognizing gifted characteristics in young children is not a substitute for identification but can be a strong and important addition to the process. One of the most obvious indicators is nuanced understanding and use of language, and early reading ability. Young gifted children use advanced vocabulary and reasoning, possess insatiable curiosity, think critically and abstractly, display intense passions for things of interest, acutely self-aware, and quick to assume leadership roles. Gifted preschoolers display exceptional verbal ability, are developmentally far ahead of age-peers, have high levels of accumulated knowledge, are uncomfortable with ambiguity, show signs of math precocity, and have a keen sense of humor.

Early identification is important when considering interventions and accommodations for young, gifted children. Without it, potential skills may deteriorate; and students eventually become resentful of the slow pace of instruction or lack of enrichment. Early identification can thwart boredom and inappropriate self-concepts of superiority; promote enthusiasm for learning. It can help develop self-confidence and result in greater academic achievement.

How do you identify potential giftedness in our youngest learners? Multiple forms of assessment are necessary at younger ages. Information from families and performance in a variety of contexts should be considered. Assessments should take into consideration linguistic and cultural background, and the potential need for above-grade level testing. They may include formal intelligence tests, checklists, or developmental scales. Interviews, observations, portfolios, and notations of strengths such as task persistence, level of questioning, making connections, self-evaluation, sensibility, and creativity are all important in the identification process.

There are both benefits and challenges to gifted behaviors in young learners and it’s important to recognize both. No two children will exhibit potential giftedness the same way and too much shouldn’t be read into behavior at this age. Children who are good at abstract reasoning can focus on the big picture as well as the details but overwhelm classroom decorum with incessant questioning. Children with an excellent sense of humor understand jokes but exploit sarcasm with age-peers. Children with excellent memories may possess a wide breadth of information but become frustrated in a regular classroom dominated by repetition. Kids who experience intense concentration will explore passions but, find transitions difficult. (Clark, 2012)

Young, bright children need opportunities to discover new passions and possibilities in order to foster their creativity. It’s essential that these needs be met both in the classroom and supplemented at home. Creativity is often a response to fresh challenges each day. This can increase a young child’s joy and excitement for learning. School becomes a place for academic discovery. Teachers and schools can provide extensive libraries with above-level reading materials, sensory materials and manipulatives, and access to technology. Exposure to experts in passion areas and mentors can also foster creativity.

Why is it important to establish and maintain reciprocal relationships between teachers and families? Parents should be recognized as partners in identifying and nurturing young, gifted students. They can provide insights into abilities which made not be seen in the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, pictures, relevant information, and examples of products should be requested from parents or primary caregivers to begin the assessment procedure.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1PM NZDT/11AM AEDT/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Teaching Gifted Children in Today’s Preschool and Primary Classrooms (pdf book preview) | Free Spirit Books

The Young Gifted Child: A Guide for Families (download) | Ohio Department of Education

Early Access for Highly Advanced Gifted Children under Age Six (pdf) | Colorado Office of Education

Young Gifted Children | The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented

Perspectives in Gifted Education: Young Gifted Children (pdf) | University of Denver

Early Childhood Education Resources for Gifted Learners | University of Melbourne

Young Bright Children | NAGC

Early Childhood: Creating Contexts for Individualized Learning in Early Childhood Education (Position Statement – pdf) | NAGC

Early Childhood Gifted Education: Fostering Talent Development (book)

Recognizing Gifted Students: A Practical Guide for Parents (pdf) | Kappa Delta Pi Record

Characteristics and Signs of Giftedness | Paradise Valley Schools

Characteristics of Young Gifted Children

Characteristics of Young Gifted Children | The Queensland Association for Gifted and Talented Children (AU)

Common Traits in Young Gifted Children (pdf)

Teaching Young Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom: Identifying, Nurturing, and Challenging Ages 4-9 (book)

Identifying Young Gifted Children and Cultivating Problem Solving Abilities and Multiple Intelligences | Learning and Individual Differences

Frequently Asked Questions About Extreme Intelligence in Very Young Children | Davidson Gifted

Evaluating Interventions for Young Gifted Children Using Single-Subject Methodology A Preliminary Study | Gifted Child Quarterly

Is Your Kid Gifted? Here are the Signs, Says Performance Expert—and How Parents can Raise Exceptionally Smart Kids | CNBC

Meeting the Needs of a Gifted Preschooler | The Grayson School

Five Needs for Young Self-connection

Cybraryman’s Gifted Identification Page

Gifted, Creative and Highly Sensitive Children (TEDx 15:38)

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Supporting Academic Rigor in the Classroom

Academic rigor defines the lesson as something more than just the curriculum or its content. An academically rigorous lesson challenges students with depth and complexity. It explores and constructs new knowledge. It motivates students to think outside the box; to push the boundaries of their thinking. Academic rigor begins with a teacher who has high expectations for their students and creates an array of engaging activities.

Why does it matter whether students are engaged in rigorous learning? Engaging the brain in rigorous learning is simply a matter of neuroplasticity. When students are challenged, their brains are building new neural connections. By demanding higher-level thinking, we increase the potential for more creative problem-solving, better executive function, deeper reflection, and intellectual growth. Failure to provide academic rigor for GT students can severely limit potential individual growth. These students can easily become bored with school and in worse case scenarios, lose motivation and drop out altogether.

There are a myriad of reasons why school districts may not offer more rigorous courses beginning with the lack of teachers certified to teach the classes. Unfortunately, in some areas there is a mindset among school boards and parents that more rigorous classes are not necessary. There is also a misperception that if coursework is too rigorous, it will affect students’ test scores. For a school with a majority of its students working well-below grade level, will more rigor result in more failure and increase retention rates?

Can refining differentiation, AP classes, or dual-enrollment provide the necessary degree of rigor needed by GT students? Simply labeling options as rigorous does not ensure that they are in fact rigorous. An AP class which teaches to the test may offer little rigor for GT students. Dual-enrollment classes through local community colleges may not provide rigor beyond an advanced high school course. Classes in which teachers must differentiate instruction and curriculum for a wide array of ability levels may not be adequately differentiated for high-ability students.

Strategies to cultivate a climate with academic rigor include requesting students to explain their problem-solving thought processes; pre-test to determine student knowledge; eliminate repetition; Socratic seminars; and expect advance vocabulary. Rigorous classroom should be student-centered; use authentic assessments; connect learning to real-life context; emphasize critical thinking; provide for student choice and learning opportunities based on ideas; and cultivate curiosity. Teachers can increase rigor by teaching cognitive and metacognitive skills; organize their curriculum to look at big ideas and concepts; and provide exposure to events outside the classroom.

How do teachers get students to a place where they are engaged, but not overstretched? There needs to be a point of equilibrium when it comes to rigor in the classroom. Pushing a student too far beyond their capabilities for an extended period of time may cause the student to lose motivation. Students should be exposed to tough problems – those not easily solved – on a regular basis but with teach directed strategies which keep students engaged and willing to persist in finding solutions.

A transcript of this chat can be found at our Wakelet page.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1PM NZDT/11AM AEDT/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Searching for Rigor – Identifying Practices of Effective High Schools (pdf) | The National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools

School Leadership Strategies for Classroom Rigor (pdf) | Eye on Education

Academic Rigor: You’re Doing It Wrong and Here’s Why | The Edvocate

Teaching for Rigor: A Call for a Critical Instructional Shift (pdf) | Learning Sciences Marzano Center

Rigor and Assessment in the Classroom (pdf) | Instructional Leader Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

Teachers’ Perspectives and Development of Academic Rigor: An Action Research Study (pdf) | Dissertation University of Bridgeport

Understanding and Reporting on Academic Rigor (pdf) | The Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media Columbia University

Teachable Moments and Academic Rigor: A Mini-Unit | Edutopia

The Relationship Between Project-Based Learning and Rigor in STEM-Focused High Schools (pdf) | The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning

Gifted Children Often Don’t get the Challenge They Need | Vanderbilt Peabody College

What is Academic Rigor and What Do We Do with It? |

Rigor for Gifted Learners: Modifying Curriculum With Intellectual Integrity (book – Kilgore)

Gifted Guild’s Guide to Depth and Complexity: Finding Your Way Through the Framework (book)

Slow Down and Ask the Right Questions: Building Depth and Complexity into Pre-AP and AP Classrooms | TAGT OnDemand

Promoting Rigor Through Higher Level Questioning: Practical Strategies for Developing Students’ Critical Thinking (book)

How to Increase the Rigor in Online Assignments for Gifted Learners | Broward Schools

Academic Rigor in the Middle School

Keep Remote Learning Robust and Rigorous

Rigor, Relevance and Relationships

Explaining Academic Rigor — and Why You Want It for Your Child

Cybraryman’s Rigor Page

Gifted Children Need Rigorous Assignments…Not More Work

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Virtual Reality and GT Education

This week, #gtchat welcomed Ryan and Fallon McLaughlin as our guests to chat about Virtual Reality and its potential use in gifted education. Ryan is a veteran teacher and currently the Curriculum Specialist for Prisms of Reality, a company pioneering a brand new paradigm for math education via virtual reality. Fallon currently works as the Executive Assistant for Optima Domi, a virtual instruction provider focused on classical curriculum delivered in virtual reality.

Virtual Reality – creating a simulated environment; either artificial or no longer in existence – has a myriad of benefits for GT students. Virtual Reality can give GT students the freedom of self-directed learning; learn at their own pace; and to take risks in a safe environment. It can spark creativity, enhance imagination, and facilitate language learning. GT students through Virtual Reality can connect with intellectual peers, mentors and experts in their area of study. It can accelerate understanding of complex subjects through experiential learning.

By integrating VR into existing curriculum, teachers can enhance the benefits of learning through experience. The most fundamental aspect of creating a successful outcome for students is to develop a well-structured plan. Curriculum integration should take into consideration that the teacher is more of a facilitator of learning; an integral part of good practices in gifted education. VR is another tool in a teacher’s toolbox. VR is an immersive pedagogy. Curriculum development can be costly and time-consuming, but there are beginning to be many new resources available (course content) online.  

In the not too distant past, VR was considered too expensive; but that is changing. There are two ways to access it via individual headsets and the immersive classroom experience. Think ‘holodeck’ from Star Trek. VR headsets require minimal equipment (less cost) and space in the classroom. They are most impactful with secondary students who have the skills to better use the technology and appreciate the vivid sense of immersion. Immersive classrooms are more suitable at the elementary level as it allows for more supervision and interaction between students. Images are projected onto classroom walls which younger students may find more enjoyable.

Challenges to implementing VR in classrooms seem to be diminishing by the month. Progress has been made in improving the technology, reducing residual effects of motion sensitivity, and increasing awareness of the benefits of VR. As with any new tech, buy in can be consequential. Teachers exhausted from the demands resulting from the pandemic may be resistant to adopting yet another tech tool. This can be helped with PD for VR. Challenges still to be met include development of more content, financial concerns for providing every student access, and improving the tech to diminish cyber-sickness (similar to motion sickness).

The opportunities to use VR outside the traditional classroom seem limitless; especially for GT students. It can be used to conduct research while connecting with mentors and experts in the field. VR can be used to improve social emotional skills for GT students who can connect with intellectual peers, attend relevant academic conferences and lectures on a global level, and even for educational entertainment. For students isolated due to physical limitations or geographic considerations, VR can provide a way to access educational opportunities not heretofore available to them.

Virtual field trips are where VR can really shine and can be a very tangible way to stretch tight school and student budgets. VR reduces expenses, expands potential destinations, transcends time, and increases accessibility. Virtual field trips via headsets can provide acceleration opportunities for GT students to explore personal educational passions. They can increase student engagement and improve retention for all students.

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1PM NZDT/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

VR for Education

Virtual Reality in Education – What’s the Buzz?

VR in Education – Immersive Pedagogy and the Five Pillars of Success

VR in Education – Listening to Student and Teacher Feedback

Virtual Reality For Education in 2021

The Future of VR & AR in Education | Getting Smart

Virtual Reality in Education: Achievements and Challenges

Virtual Reality in Education: A Tool for Learning in the Experience Age |International Journal of Innovation in Education

Assessing the Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Technology as part of an Authentic Learning Environment (pdf)

Virtual Reality and Social and Emotional Learning

Augmented Virtual Reality: How to Improve Education Systems (pdf)

Immersed in the Future: A Roadmap of Existing and Emerging Technologies for Career Exploration

Effects of an Immersive Virtual Reality-based Classroom on Students’ Learning Performance in Science Lessons | British Journal of Educational Technology

Reasons to Use Virtual Reality in Education and Training Courses and a Model to Determine When to Use Virtual Reality

Digital Transformations of Classrooms in Virtual Reality (pdf)

Effects of Applying a VR‐based Two‐tier Test Strategy to Promote Elementary Students’ Learning Performance in a Geology Class | British Journal of Educational Technology

Immersive Virtual Field Trips in Education: A Mixed‐methods Study on Elementary Students’ Presence and Perceived Learning | British Journal of Educational Technology

Virtual Field Trips as an Educational and Motivational Strategy to Teach Iowa History (pdf) | Dissertation University of Iowa

Handbook of Research on Mobile Technology, Constructivism, and Meaningful Learning (Advances in Educational Technologies and Instructional Design) (book)

Integrating Virtual Reality Tools Into Classroom Instruction

5 Worthwhile Augmented and Virtual Reality Tools | Edutopia

Making Virtual Reality a Reality in Today’s Classrooms

Virtual Reality in Education: Benefits, Tools, and Resources

How to use Virtual Reality in Lessons | ResourcEd 

10 Reasons To Use Virtual Reality In The Classroom | Teach Thought

Cybraryman’s Virtual Reality Page

Cybraryman’s Field Trips Page

Seeing Is Believing: Using Virtual and Augmented Reality to Enhance Student Learning | Gifted Child Today

School of Music Professors Unify to Create VR Conducting Program for Music Students | Illinois State University

Image courtesy of Pixabay   Pixabay License

Photos courtesy of Ryan and Fallon McLaughlin.

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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