Gifted Children and Technology

20180308_102215How are your gifted students using technology? Are they coding? Are they indulging in battles over Minecraft? Are they video editing, podcasting, or designing new ways of living in space or on the moon?

I am always fascinated by what my gifted students are doing on the computer. I have several of my students teaching me the ins and outs of Minecraft. I find it interesting how they can collaborate with each other, then go on a PVP battle (player vs player) and be so savage with each other.

I have some students who enjoy podcasting and video editing. The use websites like SoundCloud to upload their podcasts on whatever topic they feel is important to them at the time. I have some who are very good at video editing and Photoshop. They use their creativity to create something unique and interesting.

I have some students who are very good at coding. There are many different websites to help with this. Some use Tynker, some use Scratch, and some use and Code Academy. They use these sites and others to make games and apps.

What all of these activities have in common is the fact they force gifted students to learn and use the 21st century skills. Those skills are:

  • Collaboration and teamwork.
  • Creativity and imagination.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Problem solving.

Technology isn’t just a thing you put in front of students and hope they learn from it. Technology is a tool we can use to help our children to be fluent in technology skills. Everyday technology is creeping into our workplaces, homes, and schools. If we don’t teach our children the fundamentals of technology, and the importance of it in their future, then we are doing a disservice.

We need to teach our gifted children how to use technology to be productive, not just to find videos and music, and games. We need to show them how technology works in the real world, and why they need to know how to use technology along with the 21st century skills to be productive in the real world. Right now we are teaching our children and preparing them for a world where the job they may have doesn’t exist yet.

In conclusion, how are you challenging your gifted children in their use of technology and their growth in the four areas of the 21st century skills?




Skills Needed By Gifted Children

Building on what I posted the other day, I thought that if teachers begin to create activities and assignments that have rigor, then there are some skills that gifted children will need to know. Just because these children are gifted, doesn’t mean that they have acquired skills to meet those rigorous activities and assignments.

Many gifted children as they go through elementary school unchallenged, and they don’t learn skills most of their peers learn through struggling. Once they hit middle or high school the classes get more challenging, and they don’t have any coping skills to deal with the challenges. Here is just a few things I believe every gifted child in elementary and middle school should be taught.  (This isn’t a complete list, just a few.)

john-clow-stressed-out**Teachers don’t assume gifted students have these skills just because they are brilliant. These skills are essential not only in school, but also in real life beyond college and in to a career.

Study Skills: 

Before a teacher starts to use strategies that will help challenge their gifted children they should review different ways to study material. They should know how to organize information in ways in witch will meet their personality. Some students do better color coding material. Using different colored pens to match the material they are studying.

Gifted children should be taught how to use a planner. In today’s world everyone has a cell phone, or uses Google products. Both a calendar, and can be personalized to meet their needs. Having this tool at their disposal is great, but they need to know how to use it to get the benefit from it. (Some students need to use the paper version of a calendar or planner which is also alright.)

Since gifted children learn quickly, and retain huge amounts of material they don’t often learn to study for a test. Teach them strategies on how to study for a test. There are many materials on how to study for the SAT, or ACT. Use some of these ideas to help see why these skills are needed. Many of the skills needed to do well on these tests can use transferred to other tests and tasks that may take in the future.

Research/Note Taking Skills:

Many of our gifted children begin taking college level classes in middle and high school, and some wait until after high school. Regardless of when they begin taking this level of classes gifted children need to know how to research effectively. They should know how to use the library effectively. They need to know how to use the reference department, and other facets of the library.

They also need to know how to use the internet effectively. Checking on sources, knowing what is fake or not, and which sites are credible to use are important skills. Teaching our gifted children to recognize bias on different sites is also an important skill.

There are a variety of ways to take notes. Finding the system they are most comfortable with that will work for them is important. One great way that can be personalized in many different ways is the use of Cornell Notes.

I know that all students will benefit from knowing these skills.  Many teachers are under the assumption that gifted children can automatically do these skills because they are smart. Having these skills is important. For gifted students to use these skills effectively they have to be challenged and struggle. They only way that is going to happen is when teachers create activities and projects that are challenging, have stretch and complexity, and are rigorous.

If our gifted children are learning this while they are in college, or after we have failed them.

What skills do you think gifted children should know to help make them successful in and beyond school?

Gifted Children Need Rigorous Assignments…Not More Work

workplace4-kbf-621x414livemintAs I talk to fellow teachers around my area they ask a common question: “What do I do with my gifted students since they get finished before everyone else?” Many of their first thoughts is to add more work to their plate. Many believe if they can do 25 math problems in 10 minutes than I will give them another 25 to do to fill in time. That really doesn’t do much for the gifted child. Adding more work is just a punishment particularly when they already know how to do the work.

What gifted children need isn’t more work… its more rigorous assignments. To find out what you students already know I would suggest that you start with a pretest. If your gifted children score a 100% or close to 100% then allow them to choose an aspect of that curriculum and dig deeper into it. Allow students to explore the complex nature of the content. While doing this can cause some issues with grading, because not all the students are doing the same work, which can be a common concern, as a teacher you will figure out how to fit this into your grade book.

When developing rigorous assignments for gifted children you need to include thinking skills. You should have assignments where they have to use divergent or lateral thinking to come up with an answer. The use of Blooms or DOK will help with verbs and ideas of products that students can do.

One of my favorite ways to add rigor to assignments is to make it project based or problem based. Using real world issues and ideas can help add rigor. These type of projects can have multiple answers, and allow students to use multiple skills to complete it. Using the book Project-Based Learning in the Gifted Classroom by Todd Stanley is a great place to start. You can also look to for help on ideas, ways to set up the classroom, and other resources.

Finally, when creating rigorous assignments teach students strategies, not necessarily the answers. In the real world answers aren’t always simple, and sometimes they may never get an answer. So teaching strategies on how to get an answer is must intriguing and challenging.

Gifted children love to learn, and be challenged. When we don’t feed their mind gifted they can be discipline issues. I encourage all teachers to not give more of the same work to gifted children, but to give them rigorous, challenging, and mind stimulating projects and assignments.

What do you do to add rigor to your assignments for gifted children in your classroom?

Ten Things Gifted Teachers Should Consider in Their Classrooms

top-tenI was talking to a few teachers this week, and the conversation of classroom climate and management came up. So from that conversation I came up with ten take-a-ways that gifted teachers should consider.

  1. Teachers set the climate of the classroom. Teachers set up the goals, expectations, and we challenge the students to meet and exceed those challenges.
  2. Form relationships with your students. Make time in your daily routine to have a short class meeting. In that meeting allow students to talk, share, and express themselves with you and others.
  3. Know your students. When pairing students together know who is an extrovert and an introvert. Do some learning inventories and pair students that way.
  4. Let students take ownership of projects. Give your students some leeway to put their personality stamp on projects that you do in your classroom.
  5. Listen to your students. Many students have passions they want to explore. Give time in your weekly schedule to allow students to explore these topics. Give them the opportunity and materials they need to effectively explore their passions.
  6. Create a classroom library. This goes along with number 5, but as you are listening to your students see what interests them in their reading. Get those books for your classroom library. If students like books along the lines of Harry Potter then try to get those books for your classroom. If you see that some students are interested in paleontology then get books on dinosaurs and such. The better stacked your library is the more opportunities you give your students to explore new and exciting topics.
  7. Climate of creativity. Allow your students to be creative. Do projects that multiple answers. Incorporate into your classroom passion projects or project based learning projects. By doing these you are giving your students some real world learning.
  8. Incorporate technology and social media. Just about every student has some experience with technology.Use that as often as it is appropriate. Along with that use social media (age appropriate as well) in your lessons. Allow students to use Twitter or Facebook to post thoughts, videos, and links to assignments.
  9. Co-Teach with regular education teachers. Sometimes it is good to go into the regular classroom to see how your students perform. Work with as many regular education teachers to help deepen the content for your students and for regular education students.
  10. Differentiate your curriculum. Even though all of your students are gifted, you still need to differentiate your instruction.

Did I miss anything that you feel I should add to this list? If you let me know in the comment section below.

Why it is Important to go to Professional Conferences

I love going to conferences. I love presenting at conferences. If you are like me these days away from the classroom, and being able to meet new people and hear some new topics is invigorating.  Getting the chance to connect with other teachers in my field doesn’t happen very often. So I try to take advantage of it when I go to a conference with other Gifted Education teachers, advocates, and parents.

It is important to go to conferences for several reasons.

  1. To connect with other educators: Sometimes it feels like you may be along. I know for me, I am the only one doing gifted education in my school. So I don’t always get the chance to connect, and share ideas with, or collaborating with.
  2. To hear new information: Many times at conferences there are those who work with state agencies, or with high level administrators at school districts and counties. Thy will share some new information that may have a direct impact on what you do.  So hearing that information and getting the chance to ask the person who is in the know is very helpful.
  3. To buy new products: I like to talk to the venders that go to conferences. They have some great stuff. Look through their booths and buy some new materials that will benefit your students.
  4. To get some teaching ideas: I like to get new teaching ideas, curriculum ideas, and instructional strategies to help me in my classroom. I try not to do the same thing year after year. So going to conferences I can get those new ideas.

This year, I made it a point to do some of the following:

  1. Connect with as many educators as possible.
  2. Went to sessions that had the latest information
  3. Went to sessions that related to my students
  4. Looked for chances to collaborate with other teachers

Social Media has made a large conference much more manageable since many are using hashtags to communicate to its attendees. At this year’s OAGC Conference the hashtag #oagc2016 was in use. If you weren’t able to make the conference go on to Twitter and check out that hashtag. A lot of information was shared using it. I would also suggest you follow the people who posted to it. You may be able to go to a conference in the future and see that person.

Below are the two presentations I was part of. The first one is one I did with Heather Cachat about the #ohiogtchat. The second one is one I did with the the OAGC Teacher Division Committee. Check them out, and let me know what you think.

To see other presentations I have done click the “Talking Points tab above.

What conferences are you planning to go to this year? What are some goals that you are setting as you attend?


The Roles of Technology and Social Media in the Gifted Classroom: an #oagctdchat Topic

This Sunday the OAGC Teacher’s Division will once again host the #oagctdchat at 9pm. The topic will be the roles of technology and social media in the gifted classroom. You can find some information here about the chat.

Dec. 7th chat ad

What I like about this topic is that there is so much to talk about. With technology being embedded into our lives more and more it seems to be creeping into the classroom as well. I have a page on this blog that shares some of my favorite apps and extensions from Google. (It needs a little updating, but it still has some great information.)

I see the role of technology as a tool for students to use. I don’t think just because your school has 1:1 computers that your students will be learning more than those schools that don’t. Technology has to be one of tools we use to engage student learning. The products students make, and share with not only the school community, but with the world at large can be a great way to get students engaged in learning.

Here is a few things that I think teachers should do, (including myself) when it deals with technology:

Try it first. 

Sometimes you have to try some sort of new technology to see if it fits into the scheme of your lesson. Try it at home. Give it a test run. Make sure you can answer questions about it before you send students off to work with it. If they get frustrated with the new technology it may throw off your whole lesson.

Keep a folder of links to resources or apps

I have a list of apps/Google Extensions, and websites that I am using, or want to use if the opportunity presents itself. I try to link the uses with some of my lessons. I try to put a technology piece into all of my lessons. You can keep the list on your blog, or in an Evernote folder that could be shared with others.

Don’t rely on technology

Don’t rely on technology to teach your students. You are still in control of your classroom, and it is your responsibility to make sure students are learning. Don’t just put your students on the computer or iPad and expect them to learn. Students need direction. Give them the direction they need. I have in place expectations in my classroom when it comes to technology. Post your rules and expectations so students don’t take advantage of class time by playing games that just wait time.

Be open to try new things

Finally, be open to try new things. We know that younger students have the pulse of what is going on in the world of tech. Let students show you new and exciting things they have found. Be open to allow them to use something they found into a project.

The role of Social Media

When it comes to social media, I think that the more you share what is going on in your classroom, the more transparency you show. Here is a few things that I do, to help with communication and to show off student work.

Communicate your blog, website, Twitter, or Facebook page to parents

At the beginning of the year I send home information about my class. I only see my students once a week, so I need to communicate with administrators and teachers in three buildings along with parents, and students. So I often send home reminders via email to teachers, parents, and administrators to check the website of our class for upcoming information. I try to keep this up to date as possible. The information from my website I also post on Facebook and Twitter. That way I know all of my bases are covered.

Use a hash tag

I use a hash tag when posting about my students or my classroom which is #WestGT. I use this so anyone can search that hash tag can find what I am posting. I would suggest you do the same. The more you post the more information is out there, the you need the use of a hash tag.

Post often

I post often. I try to post pictures of my students everyday. I want my parents, administrators and teachers I work with to see what my students are doing. I want to show them off to the world. They are smart gifted students who want to show off their creativity. When they know I am posting the pictures on line they tend to work a bit harder than before. (As a side note, I do not post names with the pictures.) I also keep a  collage of pictures and make a YouTube video out of them each month. That way my students can see what the other students in my classes are doing.

Invite communication

Finally, invite conversation into your social media. Ask for suggestions, do polls, and share the results with parents and students on line. Knowing that feedback is coming is great feeling. I enjoy talking to my students, and their parents on line. When it comes to parent/teacher conferences parents already have an idea of what we have been doing in class.

In today’s classroom technology and social media have a big role to play not only in communication, but in educational engagement. It is important to use technology in the classroom but it must be used in a way that enhances your teaching not the only thing that teaching your students.

How are you using technology and social media in your classroom?

Snapchat: Creativity a Snapshot Away

This past week my sons introducedme to a cool app called Snapchat. If you don’t know how to use it here I is a short rundown. Once you download the app to your phone (iPhone or Android) or iPod you walk through the steps to sign up. That should only take a few minutes. Then you are ready to use it. Just open the app and send a picture to whom ever you phone recognized as having the app or to someone you know who has the app. Once you send the picture the recipient will only have just 3 seconds to view the picture. Its the same when someone sends you a picture.

So I was pondering a lot about how to use this in the classroom. Since you can only view the picture once for such a small time frame how would I use this? Another aspect of this is how to monitor it so that students are taking appropriate photos. So here is what I came up with.

1. Tell a pictorial story: To begin tell students they are to walk around the school with thier iPod or phone (make sure you have parent and administration approval before starting this) and they are to take pictures that tell a story. Have the student or group of students send the photos to your phone or iPod or iPad. Make sure only one person in the group is sending pictures at a time. If you are able to connect you Apple product to your projector you can show the rest of your class the photos and see if they can tell the story. After the students come back have the class tell the group that left what they thought the story was. Then have the group tell the class what thier story was. See if there are any similarities.

2. Most Creative Photo: Today, everyone has a smart phone or iPod. Why not use it in a productive manner? See just how creative your students are. If the climate is good why not go outside and take some photos. One of the aspects of Snapchat is that the pictures can be saved then sent to a recipient. Give the students a topic they must photograph such as nature, optical illusions, birds, close ups, or action photos. Have the students save thier pictures before sending them to a recipient that way you can collect all of the pictures and make an online collection. Have students make a survey of thier top photos from other class or class period.

These are just a few ideas that I have. I know there are more ideas out there. I would love to to hear some of your ideas. Please leave a comment and let me know how you would use Snapchat.