Category Archives: Differentiation

Boredom Busters for Gifted Students

gtchat 04112017 Boredom

Why should teachers be concerned that gifted students are bored at all? At the very heart of teaching – of becoming a teacher – is the belief that all students in their care are learning. Boredom for any student often leads to classroom management issues and gifted students can pose significant disruptions to learning. It is in everyone’s best interest to keep students engaged.

“All kids need to be engaged at their zone of proximal development. Gifted kids needs freedom to explore.” ~ Barry Gelston, Mr. Gelston’s One Room Schoolhouse

Boredom can create many undesirable consequences in the classroom and can affect gifted students exponentially as they progress through the educational system. The results of boredom in school are felt far beyond the classroom walls; misbehavior doesn’t stop at end of school day.

There are things that shouldn’t be done in response to a gifted student who is truly bored at school. Gifted students shouldn’t be given busy work, ignored, or condescended to when they finish early. They shouldn’t be expected to serve as teacher’s helper simply because it’s a convenient way to occupy their time.  Down time in the classroom should be used to provide meaningful work for gifted students that addresses their specific needs.

No more worksheet packets! End the madness! Appropriate, purposeful instruction based on data driven decisions. ~ Sarah Kessel, Supervisor of Advanced Learning Programs

There are strategies which can be used to alleviate boredom in the regular education classroom. Pre-assessment is the first step to heading off boredom. Realistic expectations of ability are needed. Rigorous, relevant and appropriate differentiation takes time and effort when planning curricular interventions for GT. (See resources below.)

“I also like to have students “choose their own adventure” by finding ways to show concepts with their voice- how can you show this?” ~ Heather Vaughn, M.Ed, UT Austin – Coordinator of Advanced Academics

What should teachers look for to determine if the student is bored or it is something else (perfectionism, 2E, ability)? Teachers need to look for signs of misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis. Then, refer the student to the appropriate staff members for evaluation. Teachers should have any and all relevant evaluations of student’s past performance and possible issues.

Engaging kids in solving authentic problems is 1 of the BEST ways to make their education REAL! ~ Tracy Fisher, School Board Member, Coppell, TX

Parents can do numerous things to combat summertime and holiday boredom when kids aren’t in school. Parenting GT kids is hard work. Adequate planning is essential to head off boredom. They can consult with GT teachers, gifted organizations, and websites about summer opportunities.

It’s also important for parents to recognize need for ‘down’ time as well. Not every minute away from school needs to be planned. Summer and school breaks are a wonderful time for gifted kids to explore their passions – think family vacations; camps; and internships.

Boredom does not need to be a subject to be avoided, but rather seen as an invitation to see how to best meet the needs of the gifted student.  A transcript of the chat may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon NZST/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 Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa 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

Links:

Bored Out of Their Minds

15 Tips on How to Differentiate Learning for Gifted Learners

Boredom Busters: Breaking the Bonds of Boredom (PPT)

Gifted and Bored? Maybe Not

Early Finishers: Ideas for Teachers

Early Finishers: 9 Ideas for Students

Smart and Bored

Smart Kids and the Curse of the Kidney Table

Primarily Speaking: Word Work Fun!

I’m Done, Now What?

Daily Practice for the New SAT

TED Connections from MENSA for Kids

Book Review Writing: A Guide for Young Reviewers

Cybraryman’s Geocaching Page

Cybraryman’s Programming – Coding Literacy Page

Cybraryman’s Robotics Page

Genius Hour with Guest, Andi McNair

Steve Spangler: The Science of Connecting People

Coppell Gifted Association: Summer MOSAIC 2017

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Genius Hour with Guest, Andi McNair

gtchat 07122016 Genius Hour

 

 

This week, #gtchat welcomed Texas educator, Andi McNair, to chat about Genius Hour. Andi was named one of the Top People in Education to Watch in 2016 by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences.  She is currently in the process of writing her first book about Genius Hour which will be released in the Spring of 2017. You can read more about her here.

The idea of ‘genius hour’ originated at Google as a business model that sparked innovation where engineers are allotted 20% of their work week to work on personal projects about which they are passionate. It is directly credited with the creation of Gmail and Google News. The potential benefits for education were soon realized and today it is being rolled out in classrooms across the country.

To get started with Genius Hour, Andi explained, “Help students understand what passion is and find out what they are interested in learning more about.” It’s important that teachers have done their homework before starting a new program. A willingness to forge new paths in education can contribute to the success of Genius Hour. Teachers can explore the many resources available for Genius Hour online at the links provided below.

The 6 Ps of Genius Hour are Passion, Pitch, Plan, Project, Product, Presentation. The emphasis on passion affirms the need for students to be inspired to follow their passions.

6 Ps of Genius Hour via Andi McNair

6 Ps of Genius Hour (Photo courtesy of Andi McNair)

There are occasionally some challenges faced by teachers trying to implement Genius Hour in their schools. Andi told us, “One challenge is convincing your administration that Genius Hour is meaningful and relevant in the classroom. Also, teachers need to be okay with the chaos and failure that happens during [the initial phase of] Genius Hour; realizing that this is often when the best learning happens.” We hear a lot about mindsets today. Genius Hour requires a willingness to set aside the worksheets and embark on a new mission. However, teachers must be cognizant of budget constraints when planning any new program; this includes Genius Hour.

Can teachers meet standards using Genius Hour and still have time for content instruction? According to Andi, “Definitely.  Weaving the standards into student projects gives students an opportunity to apply standards in real life situations. The standards are so much more meaningful when they are applied and Genius Hour is the perfect opportunity to allow students to do so.” Online resources are plentiful which acknowledge the need to integrate standards into any new instruction method. Delivery of content must be viewed through a new prism; many gifted students need guidance rather than direct instruction.

What outcomes should teachers expect from using Genius Hour? Andi answered by saying, “Teachers can expect their students to become thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators. They will see many students that have not been successful suddenly become interested and motivated to learn by doing.” One of the best outcomes for their students in a higher level of self-awareness and subsequently self-confidence. When students follow their dreams/passions, they ultimately have the potential to achieve at higher levels. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa 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

 

Links:

Andi McNair’s Blog: A Meaningful Mess

What is Genius Hour? – Introduction to Genius Hour in the Classroom (YouTube 3:09)

Genius Hour Website

The Genius Hour Guidebook: Fostering Passion, Wonder & Inquiry in the Classroom (Amazon)

Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation & Taking 20% Time to the Next Level (Amazon)

Genius Hour 6 Ps (pdf)

6 Ps of Passion Projects

Learning from Experts – Five Ways to Connect Your Students with Outside Experts

Genius Hour…Just Keeps Getting Better

12 Most Genius Questions in the World

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New

20% Class Time in Two Minutes (YouTube 2:00)

Introducing 20% Time in Your Classroom (YouTube 1:39)

Genius Hour (YouTube 3:58)

Kicking Off Genius Hour – A Guide

#GeniusHour : What Students Think

Genius Hour Mini-Documentary (YouTube 12:27)

The 4 Essentials of a Successful Genius Hour

Cybraryman’s Genius Hour Page

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Design Thinking with Guest, Krissy Venosdale

gtchat 06142016 Design Thinking

 

Our guest today was Krissy Venosdale, Innovation Coordinator at The Kinkaid School in Houston, TX. You can learn more about Krissy at her website.

For this week’s chat, the second chat in our #gtchat Professional Development Summer Series, we wanted to look at design thinking, makerspaces and deep learning as they relate to gifted education. Design Thinking can be thought of as a process; a ‘way of thinking’. It enables you to face and answer challenges. The steps to be followed are Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. As Krissy explained, Design Thinking “originated from the idea that we must know our users when we create for them – an excellent way to get kids thinking about others!” Michael Buist, a 5th grade teacher at the Knox Gifted Academy reminded us, “many GT/2E kids see the world in more intricate ways than most of us ever will.” A great reason why Design Thinking resonates with many of them.

When it come to resources, Krissy told us that, “You can find them free online. Think of the steps as a structure and make it work for your classroom.” When considering professional development, Krissy said, “form a group of teachers to try it with; share ideas; support each other. Read a guide together.” Although resources are important, design thinking is more a mindset to re-imagine how we view education.

The discussion then turned to Design Thinking challenges which are an open-ended format that works well for events and  competitions. Krissy explained, “Design Challenges can be as quick as, design a boat with a piece of paper that will hold as many paperclip passengers as possible or as complex as, design and build an invention to improve the campus recycling issue. [And] the beauty? No limits in Design Thinking; it’s open ended and INVITES kids to imagine, create, and explore. Things deep-thinkers LOVE!”

“Just don’t think of Design Thinking as “one more thing to do. It’s an oven to bake the learning in. Tastes better than a microwave!” ~ Krissy Venosdale

Can Design Thinking be integrated with gifted education models? As a pedagogy directed at creating innovation, it can be integrated into pull-outs, stand-alones as well as independent studies. Design Thinking gives gifted students the opportunity to explore passions and decide on priorities. DT challenges speak to the academic mindset and can be initiated in multi-age, cross curricular environments. According to Krissy, “Design Thinking is a totally natural fit in gifted education. Process is emphasized, along with creativity; and thinking outside the box. It breaks down the walls of perfectionism. You aren’t worried about being right if iteration is encouraged.”

At this point in the chat, many participants were already hinting at the synergy between Design Thinking and ‘making’. Design Thinking serves as a catalyst to making; a framework to understanding the process of making. Krissy excitedly pointed out, “Design Thinking is all about the process, iterating, prototyping… maker mindset galore! Joy and play belong, too! Maker mindset BELONGS in gifted programs. GT programs need to be the MOST INNOVATIVE places on campus.”

“Too many kids are starving for creativity like little birds with their mouths open.. waiting. It’s time to FEED them. All of these new ideas, can give gifted education a much needed refresh and update! “ ~ Krissy Venosdale

How does design thinking affect deeper learning; a much desired requisite for gifted education?Deeper Learning is a mix of knowledge; critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. It facilitates learning how to learn; an intricate part of deeper learning. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa 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

 

Links:

Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity & Bring Out the Maker in Every Student (Amazon)

Design Thinking in Education: Empathy, Challenge, Discovery & Sharing

An Educator’s Guide to Design Thinking (pdf)

Design Thinking in Schools

Designers: Think Big! (TED Talk 16:50)

45 Design Thinking Resources for Educators

How the Maker Movement Is Moving Into Classrooms

The Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators (Email req’d for download)

Design Thinking in the Primary & Elementary Grades via @krissyvenosdale

5-Minute Film Festival: Design Thinking in Schools 

Design Thinking in Schools: An Emerging Movement Building Creative Confidence in our Youth

Design Thinking Projects and Challenges

Culture by Design

Embracing Failure as a Necessary Part of Deeper Learning

The Deeper Learning Network (pdf)

Teaching Kids Design Thinking, So They Can Solve the World’s Biggest Problems

How to Apply Design Thinking, HCD, UX or Any Creative Process from Scratch

Krissy Venosdale’s Blog

Makerology at KrissyVenosdale.com

Stanford Webinar – Design Thinking = Method, Not Magic (YouTube 49:31)

Design Challenge Learning

Design Thinking in Action

What Kind of Challenges Can be Addressed Using Design Thinking?

How is Design Thinking Being Implemented in the Business World?

The Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking

Cybraryman’s Design Thinking Page

Cybraryman’s Empathy Page

Bootcamp Bootleg (pdf)

Montclair State University Gifted and Talented

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Ability Grouping – Has Its Time Returned?

gtchat 04262016 Ability Grouping

 

Students can and should be grouped to learn in a way that best meets their individual needs, and regrouped at reasonable intervals during their progression along a curricular continuum. This grouping may transcend age, homeroom, and grade level if it allows the student to be more successful.” ~ Ellis School, Fremont, SD

 

A discussion about ability grouping must inevitably begin by explaining the difference between it and the more controversial concept of tracking. Generally, tracking separates students into separate classes, whereas ability grouping occurs within classrooms. Today, most ability grouping is considered to be more flexible than in the past.

“Without ability groups future Olympic swimmers would have to paddle in the shallow end of pool till all were at same level.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources

However, ability grouping like tracking has  garnered a lot of negative attention even in the face of recent research which presents many positive outcomes; especially for gifted students (see links below). One issue which seems to accompany any new practice being introduced into education is the lack of adequate professional development and training for teachers. It’s also important to consider the feelings and well-being of all children when changing the way they are grouped in classrooms.

“We confuse potential with need. Ability grouping meets a need, but it is seen as predicting who will succeed and who won’t.” ~ Shanna Weber

Of course, it was pointed out that ability grouping already exists in most schools that have athletics. In fact, without being able to develop athletic talent, sports would eventually cease to be what they are today. Sport talent is developed through identification of top athletes, providing the best coaches, and training. Some U.S. colleges seek commitments from top athletes while still in middle school. So why do schools turn their backs on their top academic talent?

“Ability grouping is “legal” in everything except academics. No one wants to admit someone else is smarter or better in academics.” ~ Carolyn K, Hoagies Gifted

Historically, schools grouped students based on factors other than ability; relying on observations only. The selection process or identification was often tied to human bias. An easy solution would be to screen all children. Flexible grouping and regrouping which responds to ongoing assessment of progress could be used rather than the inflexible system of strict tracking.

Preparation matters. In communities across the country, pipelines are in place to nurture and develop promising young athletes. Not so with academic stars. Why not? In a word, because singling out advanced students for special coursework involves tracking. But tracking is controversial. By definition, it involves differentiating students in terms of their skills and knowledge. Recent research on tracking that employs techniques to minimize selection bias and other shortcomings of previous research, has documented examples of tracking being used to promote equity.” ~ Brown Center on Education Report 2016 Section 2

We then turned out attention to recent research on structuring ability grouping to promote equity in high-ability tracks. States with a larger percentage of 8th grade students in tracked math classes have a larger percentage of high-scoring AP students four years later. Heightened AP performance holds across racial subgroups—white, black and Hispanic. (Loveless) Equity has a better chance to occur when the ‘human’ factor is reduced. Research suggests tracking high-achievers across the board boosts performance for all. (Card/Giuliano 2014) A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa 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

Links:

2016 Brown Center Report on American Education Part 2: Tracking and Advanced Placement 

AUS: Ability Grouping and Mathematics: Who Benefits?

Ability and Instructional Grouping Information

Should Schools Rethink Reluctance to Track Students by Ability?

Instructional Management/Grouping

Final Recommendations Fremont S.D. Strategic Plan Future of Education at Ellis School Committee (pdf)

How “Tracking” Can Actually Help Disadvantaged Students

The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Persistence of Tracking (YouTube 4:08)

Effective Grouping of Gifted Students

Grouping Without Fear: Effective Use of Groups in Classrooms 

Amazing Classrooms: Engaging the High Achievers (YouTube 14:35)

Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom

Sorting Kids at School: The Return of Ability Grouping

Effects of Within-Class Ability Grouping on Academic Achievement in Early Elementary Years (Abstract)

In Search of Reality: Unraveling Myths about Tracking, Ability Grouping & the Gifted (pdf)

Tracking in Middle School A Surprising Ally in Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives & Impact of Tracking: Evidence from Randomized Evaluation in Kenya (pdf)

The Effects of Grouping Practices and Curricular Adjustments on Achievement (pdf)

Education for Upward Mobility – Tracking in Middle School: A Surprising Ally in the Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Helping Disadvantaged and Spatially Talented Students Fulfill Their Potential: Related and Neglected National Resources (pdf)

INEQUITY IN EQUITY: How “Equity” Can Lead to Inequity for High-Potential Students (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Assessments Page

The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of the Gifted and Talented Learner 

Photo courtesy of  Pixabay     CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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