Category Archives: Twitter

Why Giftedness Matters

When you think about the word giftedness, you may come up with the several different pictures in your mind. You may envision a nerdy guy with classes, a little girl reading some very think books beyond her grade level, or maybe you may be  a middle school student taking high school and college classes.

Giftedness has many different aspects, along with many different visions of identifying and servicing gifted children. According to the Columbus Group

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.  This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity.  The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.  (The Columbus Group, 1991)

Gifted children aren’t the same. They may have similar qualities and characteristics, but they are very different. There are many different theories about giftedness. Here are a few.

The Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory is a theory that that helps to test your child to find out which of the 9 cognitive abilities your child is strongest in.

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Another is the Dabrowski Sensitivity Theory. There are five different sensitivities your gifted child could fall into. Each has a different characteristics and methods of assisting children who are living with these sensitivities.dabrowskis-sensitivities

There are more theories about giftedness such as ones from Joseph Renzulli and Gagnes which I hope that you will check out as well.

So why did I go through all of that? Because Giftedness Matters! Our gifted children are a unique student population that needs attention, understanding, and our time. Our gifted children need to be challenged, pushed, prodded, and at times let to fail. We all have these stereotypes of what we think gifted children are, but that’s what they are…stereotypes. Gifted children are real people, who live with the perceived advantages and disadvantages of being gifted every day.

Giftedness matters because of how they are taught matters. Gifted children need to be taught in a different way than other children. They need to be stimulated and challenged in many different ways. Teachers can’t teach to the average or below average children, and think that gifted children will show yearly growth. If they aren’t challenged they won’t grow. Instead, they will show behaviors that are unwanted in the classroom.

Giftedness matters because the educational setting matters. Some students need a small groups, large classrooms, and others need to be schooled at home. Whatever the appropriate setting to met the needs of the gifted child are they should be done.

The #ohiogtchat is having a discussion on this on Nov. 6th at 9pm ET. I hope that you can join this chat and further the conversation with us and our guest Celi Trepanier, author of Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling and blog Crushing Tall Poppies. I wrote a review on this blog about her book. You can read it here.

Follow @jeff_shoemaker and @HeatherCachat  to get more information on this chat. You can also go to the #ohiogtchat website for more information as well.

How to be Effective During Chats

As one of the moderators of #ohiogtchat I help to lead a chat that brings topics related to Gifted Education, advocacy, and gifted children and adults. Near the end of each chat we encourage those who participated in the chat follow each other. What I have noticed in past two years of moderating #ohiogtchat I have noticed that many new people are joining the Twitterverse.

One of my passions is advocating got gifted children and Gifted Education. So if I can, I want to help others who have a passion for gifted advocacy online to be more effective I will. Now, the few tips that I want to share are ones I have learned from being on Twitter and participating in chats.

Before we talk about the chats, let’s talk about your profile on Twitter. Here are a few suggestions:

Don’t be an Egg-Head. When you set up your Twitter account they give you a colored egg as your avatar. Change it. Add a picture of yourself, or use some of the online photo editors to dress up your picture as much as you want. If you don’t want to put a picture of yourself, then use a logo of something that relates to you. For example, if you graduated from a college then use their logo as your avatar. I use my favorite picture with my wife.

Screenshot_20160413-130334Create a Profile. When you create your profile, write your description of yourself that accurately describes you. When you leave it blank it doesn’t allow others to see who you are. I would also use hashtags in the descriptions of the things you like or follow. For example, to the left is mine. I tell what is important to me, about me, and share the hashtags I like to follow. I also have a link to my blog page. I also added a picture to top. That picture shows I am into sports, particularly high school sports.

Use a handle that represents you. Some people like to use their name as their handle, which is what I did. Some like to be more creative with their handle. Whatever you choose let it show people who you are. Don’t make it complicated. Don’t use your zip code or birthdate in it. For example, don’t use “jsh03maker12fght”. It’s too complicated. Just be yourself.

Remember on Twitter, pictures and tweets last forever. People will judge about you is the material that place online. So don’t post images or tweets when you are angry, drunk, or extremely tired. The posts won’t make sense most of the time, and you may say something you regret later.

No as it comes to being effective in chats, here are a few things I would suggest. 

Increase your PLN (Professional Learning Network). When you join in a chat you like, I will go through and follow those people who are active in the chat. I want to learn from others. 

Study Up. Most chats will post the questions a few days before hand. Check out the questions. Do a little bit of research so you can add to the conversation. 

Like / Retweet. During the chat like and retweet statuses of others. By liking the post, you are agreeing with them. Post your own original thoughts in a chat. It’s nice to like and retweet, but you need to add your opinion or better yet some of your research. Share the article, website, post, blog, or the handle of someone on Twitter that will add to the conversation.

Finally, help to promote your favorite chats. When the moderator posts upcoming chat times and topics share those with others. Get more people in the conversation. The more people you have, the diverse the conversation. Here is a link to several tweet chats that you may be interested in. 

I hope this helps to give you an idea of ways to be more effective on Twitter. Again you can always follow me on Twitter at @jeff_shoemaker, and check out the chat I moderate called #ohiogtchat. (This chat is sponsored by the Teacher Division of The Association for Gifted Children.)

If you have any other suggestions on how to be more effective on Twitter and during tweet chats please let me know in the comments section below.

The Digital Footprint

I had some conversations with a few of the students here in school about what they do online. Most students are on Facebook and Instagram. Some students have ventured into the Twitterverse, and making and posting their own YouTube videos. Very few students I talked to have blogged or even read a blog. None of this surprises me. I live in and work in an urban school where kids have limited resources when it comes to technology. Most of the students I teach or see in the building have a smart phone of some kind, and for some this is the only thing they have since they don’t have a computer and internet at home. They use them to post pictures, or other things on in their life on the sites I mentioned. Something that has occurred to me is this question: has anyone ever told you that what you post on the internet can be there forever?

I read an article today about 10 things students should know about their digital footprint. I believe this is something we need to have our students read. I know my students could learn a lot from this article. Some of the main points I believe are important to stress from this article are:

College admissions and employers do read your online profiles and they do make decisions based upon information they find out about you online.

Keep private information private. 

Build your own positive image and brand yourself in a great way.

According to Cybersmart you can manage your digital footprint by:

Keeping your personal details private. Use a nickname instead of your real name and always ask your parents before giving out your name, address or phone number online.

Not sharing your username or password with anyone.

Thinking before you post. Once posted, it can be difficult to remove.

Not posting things that you don’t want others to know about or that you wouldn’t say to their face.

Being respectful of other people’s content that you post or share. For example, a photo that your friend took is their property, not yours. You should post it online only if you have their permission.

I don’t think we teach our children these ideas as often as we should. We need to teach our children what it means to have a digital citizenship at a young age.  I do know that after the conversations I had I need to teach my students this, or at least remind them. I would hate to have them post something that could potentially ruin their future.

What do you do to teach your students about their digital footprint?

The Naked Truth teen infographic PDF-page-0

 

 

 

What a Great Day

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You never know when great opportunities will come. Earlier this week, I was contacted by Sam Rengel from The Amazing Teacher. He has an awesome website, and very amazing Podcast focused on training new teachers. Today, I had the opportunity to be the center of his next podcast. We discussed everything from Gifted Education, to Middle Schoolers, to advise for new teachers. It was a blast! I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out his website and watch some of his podcasts I would suggest you do. I watched several, and I learned so much. I will post a link next week with the podcast that he and I did this afternoon over Skype.

If you are interested in joining the New Teacher Chat (#ntchat) it’s on Twitter from 5pm-6pm PST/8pm-9pm ET on Wednesdays. You can get more information on #ntchat here.

 

Being a Blowhorn

My students tell me I talk to much. That’s fine. I love to teach. I love connecting with students, and getting to know them. I do this, because I want to know them. I have several of them on my Instagram and Twitter. Several of them follow our Classroom Facebook page. I believe that knowing students in and out of the classroom is important. I learn a lot about them from their Instagram, and what they talk about on twitter. The other aspect of that is they get to know me in and out of the classroom.

Many ask why I focus on making meaningful connections with my students. The answer to that is easy. Its easier to stand up and be a voice, a blow horn, or an advocate when you are invested in someone. If you are invested, then those you stand up for are more than numbers or blank faces they are close people. They are connected to you. You feel obligated to do your best for them. That’s how I feel about my students. They are my children.

Being an advocate is like being a blow horn. You are trying to get noticed, to give instruction, or give warnings. I call my self a blow horn. When you are a blow horn, you are rallying to troops around. In my case, I am trying to make sure that my students are getting what they need in their regular classes, and parents are getting information that will beefit their children. I am making sure parents and students  have someone they can talk to when they want to have some experiences like summer camps, internships, or starting a parent group. They can count on me to help them as much as I can.

Being an advocate isn’t always easy. You have to be tactful, calculating, and sometimes cunning. Sometimes I hear my students complaining about a situation in a class they are in, and they are bored, under-challenged, or not engaged. I will try to meet that teacher, and suggest things to do with my students. It has to be done it tactfully. No teacher wants to be told they aren’t meeting the needs of their students. So informing others that their gifted students need to be pushed and stretched has to be done in a way that helps the teacher and students.

What I love about being an advocate is the fact that I get to share my passion, knowledge, and experience about and for gifted children. I try to be an open door for my colleagues to come in and talk about what I can do to help them, or to collaborate with them. I can I share my point of view. I don’t always get to meet with other teachers because of my teaching schedule, but when I do they will hear my views.

Advocacy takes several shapes. They don’t always have to be direct connection between students and teacher. Sometimes it with the public. Advocating is like a form of persuasion. You have to influence someone to get what you need. Sometimes advocacy is writing letters to the editor of your paper, or testifying in a state committee hearing, or going on a local morning show to plead your case.

Advocacy is also helping. Forming parent groups though SENG, or at your local school is one way that parents and schools can work together for the betterment of gifted students. Letting parents know what the gifted program is like, and why it exists is important. It also a good way for parents to find out what their school is offering gifted students like early college classes in high school, to post secondary education options from the local high school. It’s always good to have parents, teachers, and administrators making the suggestions for rules about acceleration of students for whole grade or subject.

Finally, advocacy is being informed. Letting parents, teachers, and administrators about some of the resources on the internet, classes or seminars / webinars, or blogs,books and magazines is an important aspect of advocacy. Parents and GISs need to stay aware of what is going on in the area of Gifted Education so they can share it with others and with administrators.  Joining a gifted association like Ohio Association for Gifted Children, or your state Gifted Association is a great place to start. You could also join the National Association for Gifted Children as well to see what is going on nationally in Gifted Education. Joining a tweetchat on twitter or a gifted related Facebook page, or following several bloggers who write about gifted issues is a great place to start collecting resources to be an informed advocate.

How are you being an advocate for your gifted children? What have you done that has worked? What have you done that didn’t work? PLease share your experiences in the comment section below, or better yet, join the #gtbloghop and post your blog on Twitter using the #gtbloghop hashtag.

 

How many Watermelons will fill a Volkswagen?

Do you know how many watermelons it would take to fill a Volkswagen? How would you figure that out? What challenges would your students have to figure that out? How creative would your students need to be to figure that out? My students would ask why would you want to know.

While I was at Edcamp over the weekend, I participated in a session where the topic was “how do we get students to change their mindsets to take on challenges”,  and this was a very informative session. There were so many different types of teachers (high school, middle school, elementary) and each had their own view of what to do with their students when it came to challenges, and how to change their mindset to see challenges at positives not something that is a negative.

Many teachers discussed how their students face challenges. Somtimes its all about motivation when it comes to students and facing challenges. Most have students, like mine at times, who shut down when the challenges seemed to be too difficult. Most of the discussion centered on how teachers can be creative in ways they present challenges to students. Sometimes you just have to hide those challenges in a way that is presented in a fun way. Challenges has to have a real world skill application like those posed in project based learning projects. When students see some cross over from school to real life the lessons they learn from those challenges will more likely stick with them. The challenges that teachers face is creating those challenges to fit standards, and yet stretch our students to grow intellectually, and give them real life lessons.

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Another session I went to that really stuck with me was “how to be creative in the world of restrictive education.” This one was very interesting to me for the fact that our school lives have aspects of things we can control and not control. We made a list of all of the things that keep us from being creative. Many we have control over; many we don’t.  (You can zoom in on the picture above to see the list.)

This conversation was very informative for me just because I found that I am not the only one who struggles to understand creativity. We had a debate about  creativity being something your are born with, or being born with the ability to be creative. We looked at creativity on the teacher side,and the student side. Some quoted from Carol Dweck’s book Mind set, which I haven’t read yet, but on Amazon, here is the book synopsis:

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset.

Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

(The discussion of talent also created a debate. We talked about how talent and creativity aren’t necessarily the same thing, or exclusive of each other. We had to develop a working definition of not only creativity but also talent.)

We found that as teachers most of what we face everyday in some form can be influenced by us to either be a hinderance or a stepping stone. It’s all about mindset. No matter what you are faced with you will have to chose if it is an obstacle or stepping stone. Once you do that you will find you don’t have too many obstacles that will hinder your creativity.

One aspect we focused on was social media to help with getting over many of the aspects we listed on the white board. Some of the best resources teachers can use is Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook,and Instagram. I know personally and professionally, social media has given me many different ideas and resources to help me create my units for gifted students.

So to sum things up, what is hindering your creativity? What do you have influence on? What are those aspects that you don’t have influence on, but can make as an asset for your creativity? Remember, this kind of thinking isn’t that “sexy” or “edgy” retrospective thing, but it can change how you view things about your creativity, and that will benefit your students.

So go out there and fill that Volkswagen with watermelons.

Hoodies, Headphones, and Axe Spray

I love being a Middle School teacher. I feel like this is the place where I am supposed to be. There are certain things about middle schoolers that make them a special population regardless of their intelligence and ability. This became clear this morning as I was at my morning bus assignment. Every morning I stand out front and I greet the students coming to school as they get off the bus. As I was greeting students some things about them just stood out. I highlighted them in my title.

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Hoodies. 

You can tell a lot by the hoodies that our students wear. Most of the time, they wear hoodies with sports logos, school spirit, brand names, music artists, and images that they really like. Our students here in my school district wear school uniforms. They don’t have a lot of choices. That’s why I really like to see the hoodies they wear to school. It’s easy to see what students like. You get and idea of the music they like, and the brand names they like. Sometimes they wear those things to fit in with their peers. Sometimes they are the trend leaders in our school. I like to see students wear our school spirit wear. It gives me the chance to see what kind of sport they played or are currently playing.

Headphones.

I bet when you walk by a teenager you will find they have some headphones in or on their ears. They are either listening to music, a Vine, or YouTube video they found on Twitter or Facebook. Today’s teens love listening to music or watching videos. Some students can afford the Beats headphones. Some can’t. Some prefer the headphones that came with their phone or iPod. Some like the portable speakers they can carry around. I have found those students like to more vocal about their music than others.

Sometimes, students wear headphones to block out stress, or so they don’t have to socialize with other students. Headphones can be a wall that a teenager sets up for any number of reasons, some may not be school related at all. The next time you see a teenager sitting in the cafeteria alone listening to some music sit down with them and ask them what they are listening to. Break the walls down. You may find that you have somethings in common.

Axe Spray.

If you walk down any hall of any middle school right before home room starts and you hear that familiar sound of spray coming from aerosol can. Then you can smell the Axe in the air and you eyes will burn. Middle school boys in particular will wear the famous body spray. Most of the time to is too much. So why do they do it? They are trying to get the attention of girls. They are at that stage in life when they are trying to figure out who they are, and how they relate to girls.

There is so much behind the Axe. Many students are unsure of themselves. Some are just trying to fit in. Some are hiding their insecurities. it not until we get past the cloud of smell that we can see that some of our students need attention just as much as they think they need to smell good. How do we do that? We have to create safe, inviting, and open classrooms where students don’t feel like they have to be someone else to succeed or fit in. As a teacher, I try to greet every student that comes in to my classroom right of the bat so they know I am glad to see them. I have done this for years. It’s the best way to start off class right. It also shows students that you are interested in them. It’s not about what they look like or how they smell. It’s about them as a whole. Once students know that about you students will be more open with you.

So if you are a middle school teacher have fun with your students. Let them know they are valued, and not judged by what they wear and what they listen to. Enjoy it all…even the Axe Spray.