This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
I've enjoyed reading Chapter 7 because it reminds me of what makes teacing gifted kids so interesting, and so different each day! Their divergent thinking and the creativity they demonstrate on a daily basis is a major component of keeping the our SPIRAL classroom vibrant and open to nourishing those very students. As page 93 states "So much about gifted children is outside the box--their ideas, fashion tastes, abilities, use of language, energy level, and perceptions of the world around them." This sums it up so well. As teachers, we also need to get creative with our resources. To complement our SPIRAL units, we try to take students out of the usual classroom environment for different learning environments. We like to take students on field trips that are unusual and not always open to the typical school child. We've taken students to Baylor College of Medicine to talk with neurologists about diseases of the brain and to see firsthand how an MRI machine works. They have talked to real scientists and seen the lab rats used to study epilepsy. We even purchased lab coats for our students so they could really fit in at the medical school at Baylor! The doctors there were more than eager to talk with our kids and even bought pizza and cupcakes for them as they talked about current research on Alzheimer's disease. We also like to bring in speakers to the classroom. For example, our students will be studying DNA and genetic problems. One of the problems is hemophilia and this will lead into a study of the Russian Romanovs. This will take us on a side trip of Faberge eggs. Our studens will create their own Faberge eggs. To complement all this, we have a parent who taught Russian Language and Culture at Duke University. She'll be coming in and working with our students. I think it's important to network and find opportunities to bring into the classroom whenever possible. Parents and field trips are great resources and great ways to take kids out of the usual ways that students learn.
1. About the best extra resource I have found with GT students is the students themselves. In their particular area of interest they have a lot of information to offer if they get the chance. Sometimes their parents are helpful in particular areas. A resource I like to use in science is old, really old, science text books. These are good to show students the evolution of ideas and why things are as they are today. It also shows what scientists did before computers came along and what a little thinking can do to solve a problem.
About extra resources--I have always been a fan of field trips. Many students in our campus area have very limited experiences outside of the home. However, field trips are limited on our campus to one per semester. I beleive my best hdden resources would probabl be my parents or our community. I know the fiesta store gives guided tours beyond the front store area. I need to tlk to more of my parents to reveal what resources might be there. Last year, one student's father, who is blind, with the help of his wife brought in his braille machine and typed each child's name in braille on a card along with the alphabet so students could experience what it is like to read when you are blind. The students loved it. I also need to explore the community a little more to see what esle is out there for our use.
P. 85 I don't need to look far for untapped resources because we certainly don't have that many doctors and scientists waiting in the wings! My team is an excellent resource for me - we are all very different (some global, some detail) and are often able to help one another think of different ways to challenge our kids. For example, one of my teammates has an exceptionally talented reader/writer - the only one on her level in the class. I bring her into a group with two of my kids of similar talents and we do a particular project to extend reading/writing. As a team we mix and match our kids all the time to meet their needs. Another resource is mentoring buddies from higher grades to assist GT kids in extended activities.
I've found that parents and especially grandparents can give wonderful first person accounts of events that impacted the world. I teach 8th grade history and our kids don't have the memory store that their elders do. There are also excellent websites that provide virtual tours of places connected to history that are too far to visit. The Smithsonian Institute provides a virtual of the Star Spangled Banner restoration project that the kids love!
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I agree with so many of the comments made by my peers. Field trips, resources old and new- living and non-living, humor, searching out the non-expected really make a difference... utilizing divergent thinking. Our custodian often becomes a personal connection for many students, as do other community members if we can just remember to reach out and ask them. Net-working with local companies as well as maybe our retirement centers can bridge the gaps we often find in trying to make our curriculum relevant and engaging. I look forward to pondering ways to find untapped resources for curriculum areas already taught this year to make next year more connecting. (Of coarse, I'll do that for the rest of this year, too.)
When I was in the classroom I often used field trips as resources. I realize field trips aren't exactly "untapped resources" but I tried to make them relevant to whatever we were doing in class. One year I tried to find different places for our kinder and first graders to visit. We had been going on the same trips for years, and I was getting bored. I agree with weberp about using your teammates as resources. I have been fortunate to work on two fabulous teams with teachers that are diverse and continually think "outside the box".
I think it's important to allow students to tap into their "creative flow" as described in chapter 7. I've seen students become so immersed in something they were interested in that they just don't notice the passage of time. I've seen artist who are so into their work, that they can't stop until it is finished. I really think our students need that time...and it should be respected by their teachers; otherwise I believe it will just leave the student frustrated.
I loved, this chapter. I found myself smiling as I thought of moments or instances of something that one of my kiddos has said or done. I agree, the kids are absolutely the best resource. Their thirst for knowledge and boundless inquiry constantly amazes me. I think if we let the kids share their 'expertise', it not only celebrates them, but it lets the other kids in to their world. I loved the teacher who used the multisensory lesson to make it real for the kids. I love this teaching and would love to challenge myself to incorporate more of this into my daily routine.
Our parent population definitely has a lot of professional people. Bringing these adults in is an obvious resource and something we do. I wonder, though, what would be the best way to determine who has what to offer in a minimally invasive way. I know a lot of their expertise goes untapped. Every year in fourth and fifth grade classrooms we have doctors (parents) come and demonstrate dissection of a variety of organs from animals (cows, sharks, pigs, etc.). The students are able to dissect their own organ in small groups after the demo and lesson. It's a big hit for most students. Using the school custodian (p.84), however, as a resource was mentioned in the book and was an ah-ha to me. It makes me think of all the adults in (and out of) our school that must have a hidden talent to share with students. The trick is ascertaining the talent/skill and matching them with a particular lesson or interest. I agree that the students, themselves are a great resource as well as field trips and colleagues.
When people implement Renzulli's Schoolwide Enrichment program, they do mini-lessons on special topics - things from stamping to Civil War weaponry. They find folks with interest in those areas lead the mini-lessons. That sounds a lot like some of the comments above. I think they find folks by sending surveys home to parents and surveying teachers on their campuses. For me, I think web 2.0 tools are the newest place to find resources. We can connect to people anywhere in the world for free through web 2.0.
I must admit that it never occurred to me to use such unorthodox resources as a custodian. However, this chapter convicted me of my creativity challenged ways in terms of lesson planning and opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about teaching. I now realize that there are a plethora of "untapped resources" available. We only have to think outside of the box. I do have ideas, but 99% of the time I lack the confidence to see them through. Chapter 7 encouraged me to take some creative chances for my students’ sake!! The quote on page 97 is something that I am aiming to say to my students and/or my planning team before the end of the semester: "I'm not sure if this will work. This will be an experiment for all of us. Let's see what happens!"
I agree with PCarr in regards to time limits restricting "creative flow". I am guility of resticting "creative flow". Many times I catch myself watching the clock and pushing students along to finish something that requires imagination or creativity. The quality of this type of product is exponentially better and more reflective of the students capability when I ease up on the time limits and let students work at their own pace.
I really enjoyed this chapter especially page 86 when the student solved the math question from left to right. It reiterates the need to allow students to free think openly. This can be in solidly thought out curriculum but also in play which is something I think we are moving away from. I can see it in my children that have/are recently been through pre-k programs that pretend and out of the box thinking are being replaced with a curriculum. The children no longer go to pre-k to play in pretend kitchens or reenact scenes with blocks like many of us use to which promoted creative thinking/problem solving they already have to write their name/sentences/and read in order to be ready for kinder/1st grade. In the classroom, I think the Activ boards have helped create more exploration because we are able to manipulate the comments, answers, even google comparisons so easily.
I have thought a lot about this question. At first I was thinking I didn't have any but after reading some of the repsonses above, I realize I do. My kid's parents. I ask for help know that a lot of parents like we have need to be encouraged more to come up and help. Then are not really comfortable int he school but the encouragement helps they try anyway. Also other staff memebers in my school I often just try to do it all mmyself, but we have a lot of really awesome people in this school I can andshould ask for help. Then there are all the people who work inteh small businesses around the school. We have a horse stable we could use as a walking field trip, we ahve a small bakery, several lawn services, a maid service, a handicap van outfitter, and many others. These could be great resources for me to give more interest and pizzas to my lessons. Then we also have all the resources on the internet. I can see now that this is a n area that I do need to work on tapping into!! for my own sanity and for the good of my kids.
Like many of you have mentioned…the world is full of untapped resources including parents, community leaders/members, co-workers, spouses, business workers as well as the students and their interests. One of the newest for me to explore is Web 2.0. Resources seem to be everywhere…leave no stone unturned when expanding your resource “net-work”…many of them offer a free service.
J Canon's comment (moved to the correct posting by LB):I say "ditto" to all the wonderful opportunities that we have here at SPIRAL which Patricia spoke of in her post. On p. 92, anything we can do as teachers to help children experiment and think on their own is important and the more the student is engaged, the more they learn. In addition to field trips and bringing in speakers, teachers have the classroom to turn into a relative, as well as compelling environment that can become a backdrop to current learning. Our classroom has become a laboratory as we donned lab coats and safety goggles to do our frog dissections. Several years ago, I turned my classroom into an underwater cave as we studied and researched ocean life. We use humor from "The Far Side" to set the stage for our unit studies. Teaching requires constant evaluation and revising in order to stay fresh and tuned in to our student's thinking.
I was first reminded of a vast ‘underutilized resource’ in my classroom. When presenting multicultural music and teaching performance practices to my kindergarten and first grade students, there are myriads of video clips to compliment and supplement the curriculum. The problem is choosing the ‘best fit.’ (Could that be a bit of perfectionism?) Within each class, several cultures are represented. Inviting parents to come and share their musical heritage could provide a valuable musical experience as well as a bridge to greater understanding and appreciation of their classmates’ cultural background. In addition, I have a substantial network of fellow musicians and former students who could be invited to my classes to demonstrate their instrument and/or talk about their favorite musical experiences.
I think that we utilize the untapped resource of fellow GT teachers far too infrequently. Being in a self contained classroom this year, I find that I have much less time for collaboration. By taking time to step even next door, or allowing my students to do so, I could enhance the learning within my classroom.
I also thing that instead of immediately directing my students towards technologically advanced methods of research or production, I should continue to encourage more traditional methods that also lend thmeselves to creative and open-ended development.
This chapters spotlight on being creative with finding resources reminds me of one thing I truly believe: the classroom should have many voices. Though many classrooms have made the shift to learner centered instruction, giving voices back to the students, I believe we have more to do in creating diverse climates with mulitple views. One great resource for this is the blog. I know the potential of a blog having experienced 23 Things, but I have only slowly introduced it into my current instructional practices. The good news is, I am currently in the planning stages of getting a student blog for book club, research discussion groups,writer's workshop discussions, and performance (read aloud podcasts). After reading the posts I certainly am inspired to get parents and community representatives involved.