Summer Sprout is beginning on Monday June 24. We are excited to offer student interest projects each day such as pirateology, inventors, slime, scavenger hunts and much more.
This week we’ve explored the pop culture phenomenon-Star Wars! The kids talked about favorite characters, wars, species of life on planets. It was fascinating! Then some made lightsabers and others made sensory/calming jars.
This week in Sprout, we tackled big issues: OUR THOUGHTS! Gifted kiddos often think and feel bigger than others. They can be told they are too sensitive, you talk too much, you have too many opinions! How frustrating for our kiddos!
Our groups went round-robin style telling us quickly their random thoughts and feelings, LOL! We were all over the place from video games, flooding, art ideas, traveling, to hunger.
We took all of these thoughts and feelings and put them in our Smash book! Our Sprouters were able to write, draw, cut and paste images, etc into their own books. They could share or keep private.
I’ve never heard our groups so quiet and then burst into laughter or deep conversations. They connected over shared thoughts and feelings. It was an amazing week!
Well, it happened.
The request was made for a day of video games at Sprout… who would’ve thought! So, of course, I had to comply.
We began with a timeline – when, why, and what.
Then we moved into a pros and cons list. The pro side: They are fun! They could be used for learning. They are fun! You can connect with people from all over the world.
Cons side: Too much screentime may be harmful. You waste too much time. You lose track of time. My mom yells at me when I play for too long. (LOL) There’s no human interaction. (This was debated)
Then we talked about how are video games created. You need to think about four main things: Concept, Visuals, Coding, and Distribution.
Finally the choice of the project: You can conceptualize, create a storyboard, and create visuals for a game you’ve invented. This could mean you make a new version of a game you know too.
Take a favorite part of a game you play and create a hands-on game or art project from that game.
So what did the Sprout group learn from an activity like this?
They learned to listen to each other, share information, and debate issues. They learned that it is tough to start from scratch on a new idea that follows a plan and makes sense.
Whenever we partake in activities such as this, that are so incredibly open-ended and the children could take in any direction they want, we see a few of the same outcomes.
- A small group of students knows exactly what they want and rush to start and finish the task.
“I’m done!” Is proudly heard in the quiet room.
When questioned, “tell me about your game.”
The student begins with “It’s called…, You can…, It’s so fun! What can I do now?”
- Redirecting that student to add detail, give more thought, think more about the project can be really tricky and more often than not it will be frustrating for the kid that likes to be done and done first!
2. Another small group of students stares blankly, “I don’t know what to do.”
- Ok, this can be tricky too. You need to walk them through the outline/design process. You need to find out what personally he/she is interested in. You need to offer choices and ideas without giving too much away.
3. Then there are the one or two kiddos that do not follow one thing that was laid out in front of them, even though you offered choices in the outcome. They came up with a completely different outcome than the class project.
- In situations like this, it’s important to evaluate the child, not necessarily the project outcome. Think about why he/she didn’t make ‘a video game.’ Think about if he/she participated during the group ‘lesson.’ Then think about why? Is it because the project didn’t speak to him/her? Is it because he/she didn’t understand the project? Does his/her outcome make any sense in the plan for the day?
Each class period, it is important to look at what the students like but it is just as valuable to look at what the students don’t like and why they might not like it. What challenges does your gifted child face?
Overall, this project turned out to be a very successful project. There was much collaboration, sharing, and creating.
The school year is underway. Supplies bought and sent off. The nerves of meeting your child’s new teacher have melted away. New clothes for the first day and class photos worn out already. The buzz and excitement of the new school year has faded.
And now what?
Each day your child comes home with the same attitude. The conversation is redundant, day after day.
How was school today?
Tell me about what you are reading?
Charlotte’s Web but I read that when I was five.
Tell me about Science.
OH YEAH! We made catapults today! I told the other kids about the trajectory of the projectile is influenced by the push force of the catapult, the angle of the release, the weight of the projectile, air resistance and gravity.… but they were no longer listening and only said that what I was saying was weird and they had no idea what I was talking about.
Emotions such as these are ones encountered daily by our students. They are excited with anticipation of a new school year and deflated pretty quickly if their needs are not being met. Gifted students can become impatient and bored if the classroom isn’t flowing quickly enough. They can get frustrated if the material isn’t challenging them on multiple levels. They crave being understood and finding a group of intellectual peers or a “tribe of their own.” A lack of challenges can cause gifted students to take shortcuts in their work, doing the minimal amount or taking the easy way out. Gifted students, if not challenged from the start of their academics, will not show their true potential and their chance of ever loving school will be lost.
Your child finishes all the work in five minutes. Your child is the one that raises his/her hand with the correct answer before the teacher even finishes posing the problem. He/she is the student that never stops asking why. So, what do you do?
Create a partnership with your child’s teacher
Start by meeting with your child’s teacher. Approach the conference as a partnership. Share your child’s interest, strengths, and areas of challenge. This could even be goals for your child’s social and emotional growth.
Ideas on how to approach differentiated work
It is important that gifted and talented students pass state standards in each grade level so to avoid assuming your child knows everything, ask the teacher to give your child a pre-test for units of study. Some schools approach this by using the end of the unit assessment as not to create more work for the teacher. Just like a spelling test, children are given the test on a Monday and if they pass the test (90% or above) they can be given a choice board of things to do during the unit.
Bring ideas to the table such as supplementing work that your child already knows with things that would expand his/her knowledge in that area.
Ask for ways that technology could be brought in during different units of study. For instance IXL, Kahn Academy, and Beast Academy have online activities and lessons that a student could engage in to learn materials rapidly and then engage in a activity that is meaningful and challenging.
Although I don’t advocate for a gifted child to become the assistant teacher in the classroom for his/her own learning, there are benefits to having children become the “teacher” for a lesson or two on occasion. As an educator, I found that when I was taught to teach others there was a deeper understanding of a topic became real to me instead of a passive way of learning the material. By preparing lessons and having materials/visual aids, a student can gain a deeper insight into a topic and work on presentation skills – oral speaking, making eye contact, and engaging others. Some students would not love this option so it might push them out of their comfort zone to try something new and work on a new skill too.
Find ways to connect your child with other people that think like him/her. By looking at activities outside of school to help engage your child, he/she will be sure to find a community of learners that are passionate and eager to learn more. Check out your local universities and online tools as well for enrichment activities.
By creating the partnership with your child’s teacher and having ways that you can help support your student, you will be off to a great start to the school year.
Monday’s Sprout Class Tessellations! Third time a charm… even though it was still a frustrating/abstract idea for some, we had many terrific outcomes. Feelings of accomplishment and delight flew through our class today!
One child commented, “It’s finally quiet in here!” LOL 🙂 We do have lots of energy in Sprout.
This week, we explored M.C. Escher’s art and math this week. It was a difficult concept to grasp but each child worked so hard on their own frustrations and challenges! I saw a lot of perfectionism this week but lots of perseverance to complete the task too!
We also played a game of CLUE! My favorite!!!
This is a great article that NPRed published on September 28, 2018. It talks about the need of gifted students finding their “tribe” of people and the need to be challenged without judgement. It talks about what schools should be doing to identify gifted learners and how best to advocate for them. I hope you find the article as interesting as I did. Please share your thoughts!
What makes a good rule or law? The Sprout kids debated many ideas of what makes a good law after reviewing The Code of Hammurabi and our Middle School Assistants talked about the Bill of Rights too! After our discussion we played a game of guess the rule, where the students had to guess the rule based on objects they found around the room. Finally, they made their own laws. Of course some kiddos coded their laws and you have to decode it!!! Thanks to our friends at FWD – Gifted Services for the great activity!