Category Archives: Youtube

Learning Communities

After reading a few replies from a post I did this past summer, Marti Pike posted a link to a very good Tedx Talk by John Green and the importance of learning and learning communities.

Is your classroom a learning community? Do your gifted students feel like they are part of a learning community? Do you you encourage your gifted students to take part in some of the on-line learning communities on Reddit, or on YouTube?

We know gifted children have a drive to learn. We know that if they get bored they can be a handful to say the least. So why not introduce them to learning communities that can help them learn more about a topic or subject they have an interest in.

What learning communities do you as a teacher enjoy that helps you stay connected to learning as a teacher? What learning communities do your gifted students like to engage in? Post those to the comment section below.

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Parent Division of OAGC hosting a GHO

Parents, Educators, and Advocates of Gifted Children

Mark your calendars for an engaging and informative Google Hangout:
“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Navigating the World of Gifted Education”
See below and the attached flier for more information.

April 21, 2016, 7 p.m.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Navigating the World of Gifted Education
Live Google Hangout Video Q&A
With OAGC Parent Division
#oagc
Watch Live here: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Navigating the World of Gifted Education

OAGC_You_Don't_Know-Video_Hangout-April21,2016

Teacher Appreciation Week

This is Teacher Appreciation Week here in the United States. I came across a video of veteran teachers writing letters to themselves in their first year of teaching. Then I thought what advise would I give to myself 14 years ago knowing what I know now?

 

Well, here is my letter to myself.


Dear Jeffrey,

I want you to know teaching isn’t easy. It’s always changing, and isn’t an exact science.  Your first day of school will be exciting, and nerve-racking. You will have a class full of students who want you to be their teacher. They are looking to you for guidance, and for help. I can tell you that some from that first year will come back to you several years down the road and thank you.

Those butterflies you get in stomach the night before the first day of school. They don’t go away. Fourteen years later you still get them.

I want to tell you a few things to remember as the first year progresses on. Don’t short change yourself. You are a good teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ideas on the content you are teaching. Never put your self in a box. Use your imagination, and create some lessons that are fun. Students love doing things with their hands.

Don’t worry about the criticisms of students. Many of your students will tell you your class is boring. Don’t take it personally. It happens to everyone. Just use that as a signal to step up for lessons.

Remember, everyday you are in front of a class you are influencing the future. Take everyday serious, but have fun. There is nothing like the first year of teaching. I can tell you it doesn’t get any easier year two, three, or four, but you will still love it.

Just a few last things: Stay organized. Keep track of your resources. Communicate with parents often. Finally, keep learning, and keep your love of teaching. I can guarantee it will be worth it.

Keep up the good work.

Your Future Self

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

 

 

 

Diagram This!

Today my gifted students and I are starting a new project based unit Mythbusters. We are designing two projects based on urban myths that they will have to debunk or prove to be true. They will create their own Mythbusters style video proving or debunking an urban myth. They will post a video of their “episode” on YouTube. One group is looking into the idea that enough cell phones piled together could pop popcorn. The other group is looking to see if the sensors in the road are set off by weight or by magnets.

To begin class we used everyone’s collective brains to break each project into the basic parts. We used the idea of Mind Maps. We started this on the board and then they will add more details to it on mindmup.com. They will then add it to their portfolio. I know these diagrams could be more creative.

I was the scribe, and my students were the ones who decided the topics and arrows. It was one of the best days on diagramming we have had in a long time. I feel like after four projects my students are finally getting the idea of breaking down their projects into manageable parts.

Phone Diagram

phones diagram

Traffic Sensor Diagram

traffic light

 

Do you use diagramming and Mind Maps in your classroom? How do you use them?

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.

lima-senior-spartans-student-council-hoodie-586-586-55-55-2013lshs-nn-8-0266-0-sc

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.

Infusing Project Based Learning into the Gifted Classroom

This is an article I wrote for the OAGC Review. It was published in the Spring 2013 edition 

Being a Gifted Intervention Specialist for the past 8 years in an urban school district, I have found that my students are looking for real life experiences that can be translated into experiences outside of the classroom. I feel that our students need to be taught the skills to handle experiences outside of the classroom. I believe that we as GIS, need to focus on four overarching skills (you may tweak them based on your students), and technology skills. These skills will help students to be successful in a Project Based Learning classroom.

Before we can begin to discuss how to infuse Project Based Learning into the classroom, we first need to discuss what it is. According to Edutopia.org  Project Based Learning (PBL) is “a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real world problems and challenges. With this type of active and engaged learning,  students are inspired to obtain a deeper knowledge of subjects they’re studying.” Every teacher should want this from their students.There is a difference from doing projects and PBL. The major difference is that when you do PBL you are teaching through a project, not so much teaching to do a project. You are developing skills while working in PBL.

Why would PBL be good for Gifted Education? There are several reasons. One such reason is the obvious, it is engaging and goes in depth. The addition of the complexity it adds to the depth of study is one of my favorite aspects of PBL. For example, if your student’s project requires them to do research you may have to teach them how to collect data, organize data, and how to use that data in a way that makes sense.

PBL also adds choices for students. Students can take a variety of ways to answer the overall driving question of the unit.

Another reason PBL is important to Gifted Education is the fact it makes the student accountable for their learning and teaches them organization. I feel these go together, because keeping a journal, portfolio, or using a plain old manilla folder to hold all of your work is important. It saves time and keeps students from re-doing unnecessary work.

Finally, PBL incorporates real world skills into the classroom. By doing some of the same type of collaboration, study, and testing that professionals do in their field in the classroom makes PBL come to life for students.

On the other side of that engaging and in depth learning comes the need to know and use technology. In our day and age we are surrounded by technology that keeps improving every day. So we need to not only teach our students how to use technology we need to teach them how to use them in the context of learning. I feel there are four major skills that we need to impart in our gifted children. They are organization skills, collaboration skills, interpersonal skills, and divergent and convergent thinking skills. We know many of the characteristics of gifted children. One of them is the fact that so many are unorganized. Many find it mundane, and not needed. But in the real world, organization skills can help you get a job done faster and more efficient.  Teachers along with myself, need to show students the importance of good record keeping, labeling data, and organizing all of this into a portfolio of some sort so they can get to what they need at any time.

Collaboration skills and interpersonal skills are connected. Gifted students need to know how to collaborate in a group. They need to know they don’t have all of the good ideas, but by listening to the ideas of others, and collaborating with each other they can all come up with several good ideas. Those interpersonal skills are so important. Gifted students have to know when they can take control of a collaboration session, and when not to. We need to show them not to sit back and listen too much and not contribute to a session, because they don’t like the trajectory of the conversation. They need to know that everyone may have an idea, some just need more revision than others. As a side note, if they fail, the group as a whole fails. Many gifted students fall apart when they fail. They take that failure as they did something wrong. Sometimes by going back to a point and seeing where the failure stemmed from and being able to fix it can be a success. They need to be shown that.

Finally, divergent and convergent thinking skills are important for the fact that many gifted students can do these well by themselves, but demonstrating that for a group or in a group can be a bit difficult. Which is why all the other skills mentioned above, I believe, are so important. To me they build on each other. Divergent thinking is defined as “out-of-the-box thinking; thinking that moves away in diverging directions so as to involve a variety of aspects and which sometimes lead to novel ideas and solutions; associated with creativity” according to Wordnet. Also, convergent thinking is defined as “thinking that brings together information focussed on solving a problem; especially solving problems that have a single correct solution.” Both of these have to be used to solve problems in the real world. So we need to show our students how to use these skills effectively.  By being able to use these skills gifted students can investigate a topic in depth.

Continuing on the technology side of things. Teachers need to give our students skills they need to be successful in today’s society and in tomorrow’s world. One of those skills needed in a PBL classroom is research skills. We all use Google, but do your students do it effectively? Teach your students how to use the advanced search option. This will help to keep down the unusable websites.

Another aspect of technology that students need to master is using the cloud. Cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive are great examples.  These services are free and they are easy to use.

Students should be taught how to collaborate using wikis, Google Docs, Twitter,  Facebook,  Skype,  or Google Hangouts.  All of these allow for interaction between students in and outside of the classroom.  Gifted students need to know that learning isn’t confined to a classroom. It can be anywhere.

Finally, we need to teach our gifted students to communicate.  In our society,  communication is important. In a PBL classroom students use real audiences. They should be encouraged to blog, create YouTube videos, or podcasts using Voicethread or Soundcloud.  Interaction with a real audience is important.  It gives real feedback. That’s where real learning is experienced.

In conclusion,  if we are expecting our gifted students to lead and succeed in the 21st century then we need to give them real life, engaging and diverse experiences along with the skills needed. There needs to be some choice in their learning. Gifted students need to be given the opportunity to see there is more than one solution, and more than one way to get an answer for a project. That’s the gift of Project Based Learning.

Resources:

Websites

www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning

www.bie.org

http://wordnet.princeton.edu/

 

Book

Project Based Learning for Gifted Students: A Handbook for the 21st century classroom by Todd Stanley