Category Archives: Critical Thinking
Soft skills – aka non-cognitive skills or social-emotional learning skills – can be categorized in many ways. In school, we consider communication skills, problem solving skills, critical thinking and concise writing. They also involve resilience, resourcefulness, integrity, ambition … habits that improve learning. Soft skills revolve around the realization that mastery is an ongoing process and not based on hard and fast rules. Soft skills can be applied in any circumstance one chooses to use them.
Considering that soft skills need to be taught even though hard to measure; skills such as self-regulation, flexibility when faced with new situations and motivation to get things done can all help students succeed. Career success must embody the adoption of soft skills such as dependability, adaptability, working on a team while maintaining positive relationships with others. Other invaluable skills include stress management, facilitation and leadership. Advanced soft skills are necessary for career advancement; skills often needed earlier in life for GT students and include networking skills, negotiating skills, savvy self-promotion, and the skill of persuasion.
Academic expectations for GT students are extremely high throughout the school day … expected to be leaders, independent learners, team leaders, great communicators … all of which can lead to burnout. GT students and their teachers are mainly focused on academics and achievement; easily measurable expectations. Soft skills may be overlooked, but necessary for these students just as they are for all students. Many GT students struggle with interpersonal relationships, dealing with failure and perfectionism, working in class with age-peers. They need to be taught perseverance, flexibility, regulating emotions.
How do soft skills help our 2e kids to be successful? The very nature of twice-exceptional students – having needs to be met, but often misdiagnosed or mis-judged … calls for nurturing of soft skills in their everyday life. When 2e kids are given the tools to succeed; they can live a more fulfilled life without the stresses associated with social and emotional setbacks.
Soft skills need to be taught and well-prepared teachers are essential for this task. The most simple soft skills – reading social cues, socializing with age-peers, respecting others – are the foundation of a successful life. They can aid in self-confidence and emotional regulation.
Best practice for teaching soft skills begins in the realization that these skills aid in learning. Teachers who model excellent soft skills such as self-regulation, patience, and empathy will be the most successful. In teaching social skills, best practices values students’ voice and attitude towards education, school attendance, and behaviors. Student outcomes are dependent on more than test scores and achievements. Soft skills can be integrated into the curriculum through project and problem based learning, 20% time, and genius hour which encourage time-management, self-control and self-reflection on the educational process.
Parents of gifted students can reinforce soft skills outside the classroom by modeling these skills in their everyday life. Character building based programs can have wide ranging positive influence on their children. They can seek to build a positive relationship with their child’s teacher and school personnel. They can model the use of patience and perseverance in difficult relationships; seeking additional support when necessary. Parents who place value on soft skills are uniquely positioned to teach them at home as well and to focus on the benefits of future outcomes for success in their child’s life.
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 2PM NZST/Noon AEST/1 AM 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.
Hannah’s Collections (book bn)
The Most Magnificent Thing (book bn)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad
This week at Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT on Twitter, we chatted about what a choice-driven classroom looks like and why is it important. A truly choice-driven classroom goes far being a choice of menu options – it’s empowering students to control their learning. Full stop. It values a student’s ability to choose while at the same time providing appropriate supports and guidance. Not all students … even GT … will adapt to this new way of learning easily. A choice-driven classroom gives voice to topics explored, grouping, scaffolding, assessment and final product expectations; and, it embodies the ideal that education is preparation for a life well lived and a civil right for all students; including GT.
“A choice driven classroom has students that are engaged because they are empowered to learn about what they like, how they like, and/or their input is valued in how they demonstrate knowledge and mastery.” ~ Amy Rogers, Advanced Academics Coordinator for Willis ISD, TX
Gifted students need to be provided tangible ways to express their voice and have those sentiments respected if they are to take ownership of their own learning. They must have a viable option for submitting feedback on a regular basis and have it validated through time response in the classroom. Teachers need to be ready to relinquish control to some extent … motivation for GT students requires independence and developing leadership qualities in students with authenticity being the driver.
How do you incorporate student choice in the classroom? The Choose2Matter movement and Angela Maiers have great suggestions for incorporating student choice: good old-fashioned brainstorming, surveying student interests, debating topics, and voting as final affirmation. Outside the classroom resources can lend direction and authentic responses to student choice via conferences organized and led by students and positive participation on social media platforms. Teachers modeling the ‘process of choice’ can reduce the possibility of risk-aversion by making sure students understand choice works and affects their entire lives.
This topic begs the question, should students choose everything? Students do not control the classroom – they are participants and are subject to the same constraints there that are present in life … civility, available time, prior learning. Adapting to a choice-driven approach to learning still requires educators to provide guidance to their students. The idea of potentially limiting choices in a choice-driven classroom is not the antithesis of such but the validation that it is a ‘process’ and not a ‘result’. Guard rails as guide-rails suddenly makes sense.
How do you assess the learning if students are choosing to do such different things? Assessments must reflect the reality of choice-driven classrooms … students must have responsible influence in how their work is assessed. Authentic assessment includes self-reflection, peer assessment, response to personal inquiry. Choice-driven learning embodies personalized learning and this should include a modest level of one-on-one periodical engagement between teachers and students; again in validation of process. John Spencer suggests that switching to standards-based grading honors a mastery mindset, allows for mistakes and renewal – a good match for choice-driven classrooms.
Far too often, students become accustomed to being told what to do and what is expected of them. Providing choice is a risky undertaking for all stakeholders – gifted students know this and can assess the risk/benefit outcomes. Adults in the room can respect student voice and choice at the same time supporting those choices – ownership of learning increases engagement, critical thinking and ultimately student success. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.
At the beginning of 2019, the team from Global #gtchat Powered by #TAGT welcomes you all to the New Year!
Image courtesy of Unsplash
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
The textbook definition of multipotentiality is: an educational/psychological term referring to the ability and preference, particularly of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity; to excel in 2 or more different fields. A multipotentialite does not need to be an expert in any one field and may like to study diverse subjects. They are often referred to as a Jack-of-all-trades or Renaissance person.
Being a multipotentialite means having the potential to pursue many different passions and be successful at many or all of them. They have a wide variety of career choices and the ability change from one to another if they wish.
Is there a downside to multipotentiality? A multipotentialite often finds it difficult to choose a single career or when they do; stick with it. Often they are never challenged until college when studies become difficult. It can lead to high stress levels, overscheduling, confusion and depression.
One can embrace their own multipotentiality by seeking inspiration from peers and from mentors who can help a multipotentialite focus on their passions. Investigation, researching ideas, and trying things out can all help a multipotentialite gain a career focus.
How can parents guide their child’s response to being a multipotentialite? They can expose children throughout their lives to opportunities to work with peers, mentors and professionals. Parents can tune into their child’s passions and look for ways to help them explore ideas and potential careers.
Multipotentialites should embrace the philosophy of ‘variety is the spice of life’; it is no longer necessary to remain in a single career throughout one’s life. It’s acceptable to hold multiple part-time positions that blend passions. They should remain adaptable and be ready to change course when opportunities arise. 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 1 PM NZDT/11 AM AEDT/1 AM 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.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad
This week, our guest at #gtchat was Dr. Mary Christopher, Professor of Educational Studies and Gifted Education at Hardin-Simmons University and Program Director: Doctorate in Leadership. Dr. Christopher is a Past-President of TAGT and also does consulting in gifted education and leadership. She is the co-author of Leadership for Kids: Curriculum for Building Intentional Leadership in Gifted Learners from Prufrock Press.
The definition of leadership has been evolving in recent years. It now includes the ability to expect the unexpected and adapt quickly to change. Leaders today are seen as innovators and producers rather than simply consumers of someone else’s information or product. According to Robert Sternberg, gifted leaders possess creativity, intelligence and wisdom.
“Since the Marland Report, experts included leadership in definitions of giftedness and viewed leadership as integral to giftedness, but leadership remains the least served domain of giftedness. Gifted leaders may not be served within the gifted program.” ~ Dr. Mary Christopher
It is important for GT students to learn about leadership. Depending on their personal interests and goals, GT students often become future leaders and the quality of their leadership depends on understanding what makes a great (intentional) leader even better. Today more than ever, it’s important for GT students to see the value in moral and ethical behavior, clear communication with those they are working, motivating others through personal positive actions and providing inspiration.
“Gifted kids will often be ahead of the pack in some regard throughout their lives. Learning to achieve goals through teamwork whether they have formal authority or not is going to be crucial for a sense of satisfaction.” ~ Kate Arms
What characteristics, skills, and perspective of leadership are needed to become intentional leaders? Intentional leaders should be able to develop ideas to be studies, provide new solutions to existing problems, persuade others to assist in solving problems, and ensure implementation of those solutions. (Sternberg) They are willing to work with a diverse group of colleagues engaged in problem solving and seek to involve all stakeholders.
“It’s important that we balance students cognitive abilities with skills that allow them to be successful people in the world. It’s about challenging Ss to tap into the affective domain that will grow their capacity to bring positive change to society.” ~ Matt Cheek
Educators can use many different strategies to incorporate leadership training into their curriculum. Students should be presented with opportunities for critical thinking, analysis and creative problem solving. For young gifted students, teachers can include biographies of great leaders in their LA curriculum to read and discuss.
Where can students find opportunities to develop leadership skills outside of the classroom? Finding mentors who are leaders in their community can help develop leadership skills and allow skills to develop naturally. Volunteering exposes students to opportunities to practice and model leadership skills while helping others. Extracurricular activities can provide avenues for developing skills necessary to lead within group and team activities.
Below find curated resources from the chat and additional ones that can be used in and out of the classroom when teaching students about leadership. A transcript 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 1 PM NZDT/10 AM AEST/1 AM 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.
Leadership for Students: A Guide for Young Leaders (Prufrock Press)
Building Everyday Leadership in All Kids (Free Spirit Publishing)
Photo courtesy of Dr. Mary Christopher.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.