Training with Dr. Brandi Maynard


Friday, February 14, 2014

Helping your gifted students Go for the Gold requires exceptional teaching

Would we ever consider sending our Olympic athletes to Sochi without a coach?   How are the athletes in Sochi similar to intellectually and creatively gifted learners?  How are they different?  How do we as teachers coach our gifted students toward academic and creative greatness?  

According to Renzulli, giftedness occurs when we have above average ability, commitment to task, and high levels of creativity.   This definition fits our Olympic athletes, although I wonder how much creativity it takes to ride the luge.  I guess I will have to ask Erin Hamlin of the United States.  
Athletic ability is one area of giftedness according to the Marland Report of 1973.  That proves that our best athletes are highly gifted.  But with millions, perhaps billions, of people watching the Olympics from around the world that seems like a given. 
According to the Columbus definition, "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."  I can’t imagine our athletes experiencing asynchrony.  

Perhaps when they were young and trying to do difficult “tricks” they saw their heroes performing perfectly that might have caused some feelings of asynchrony.  Asynchrony is more common for our intellectually and creatively gifted kids?  They have these amazing ideas in their heads but they sometimes cannot get those ideas out onto the paper.  The sculptures or models do not come out quite the way they had planned.  This can lead to complete emotional breakdowns.  Shaun White experienced a failure to medal in this year’s Olympics.  Things didn't quite come out the way he wanted them to.  But, he showed children everywhere, how to lose with grace.  That is a lesson I hope every child brings with into adulthood.  Especially our gifted kids because it can sometimes be difficult to deal with failure when you always do things well.  It is easier to learn how to fail when you are young, with the help of a wise parent or mentor, than when you are older and haven’t failed until you hit your first difficult class in college or a situation you didn't handle correctly in the workplace.  Those kinds of failures can seem far more crippling if you haven’t had instruction or modeling in how to fail gracefully and pick yourself back up.  I image Shaun has had many failures along the way and learned lessons that he was able to share with the world.  
The Olympics begin with a dream.  For most athletes, reaching their dreams requires countless hours of training for both their mind and their bodies.  In the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, he says that is takes 10,000 hours to master a topic.  That made perfect sense to me until I read an article by Tony Manfred discussing a book called The Sports Gene.  If both Shaun White and I began snowboarding at the age of 5 and roughly spent the same number of hours on the half pipe, with the same level of coaching, I cannot imagine that we would be at the same level of mastery in the sport.  Our genetic makeup is quite different and I am not so keen about being upside down over hard packed snow. 
This seems true for gifted kids as well.  It takes gifted kids 1-2 repetitions to master information, where it might take the average student between 8-15 repetitions to understand the same piece of information.  This means that a gifted student will need far less practice than the average student.  It would also mean that the 10,000 hour rule would be debunked because the number of hours of practice is far different depending on the skills and level of task commitment each person possesses.  It stirs up the age old question of nature vs. nurture.

There is a lot of competition to get into gifted programs.  Like Olympic athletes, some students are recognized early, while others do not start “training” until they are in Jr. High or even High School.    For gifted students, great “training” comes in the form of highly trained gifted teachers and/or intellectual mentors.  Ideally a student would train with someone who knows more than they do about topics they are interested in.  In some cases, this intimidates teachers.  If the student is working beyond the teacher’s level, then together they need to find the best print, digital, and human resources for the gifted learner so they can proceed to the next level.
It would be a crime to keep our best athletes from reaching their dream.  If the talent is there and the desire is strong we help them achieve their goals.  The same should be true for our best and brightest students. If they are committed to the task, have a high degree of skill and creativity, we should challenge them beyond where they are currently working, and help them take the intellectually journey toward greatness.  Not offering gifted students well equipped coaches, would be like the ring malfunction at the opening ceremony in Sochi when the final ring of the Olympic symbol didn't open.  It is very noticeable to us and those around us when we do not reach our potential.  

Exceptional teacher and coaches come alongside their gifted students as an advocate/ally, adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of each student, creating an architecture that maximizes their potential, aggregates the best resources, and creates an atmosphere that eventually leads to complete autonomy.  This model works for coaches and teachers.  In education the A+ model creates exceptional gifted teachers who help their students “Go For the Gold.” 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Differentiating for the digital native

Technology is like learning how to drive, we are familiar with transportation from the vantage point of the passenger seat, but getting into the driver’s seat is an entirely different experience.  As an ally of young learners striving to understand technology, I adapt to their needs and build an appropriate architecture through aggregating the necessary resources, and promoting autonomy along the way.

 As an ally, it is my role to build rapport with students and join them in the passenger seat as they begins their learning journey.  Sometimes students knows exactly what they want to accomplish with technology, while other times I support them by asking thoughtful questions and sharing skills needed to reach a goal.  I must adapt to their needs.  Young digital natives see the world through a different lens and I have come to understand that we can both learn from one other.  We share our ideas and often combine them to discover roads we could have never found on our own.  As a mentor, it is my role to aggregate the best print, digital, and human resources to lead young people towards a high level of excellence.  Throughout the journey, I encourage students to one day become autonomous learners.  Once autonomy is achieved, the mentee will be able to complete the circle of mentorship and help another by riding coming alongside them in the passenger seat.  
How are you coming alongside your gifted learners? How are you preparing them for college and beyond?How do we do that anyway?  What is their future going to look like anyway?  Much different than mine, that is one thing I am sure of.  Another thing I am sure of is that their learning experience must be more than a one size fits all approach.  We must differentiate to meet the learner where they are in the learning process. 
The first thing teachers need to do is determine what content the student needs to learn.  There is no need learning something they already know.  What is the point of that?   Read the content objectives within the curriculum, state standards, or what your child has expressed interest in.  
Next, choose the areas your child does not know.  This could happen through formal or informal assessments.  Your role in this process is to knock out the fluff and get to the heart of what needs to be taught.  
Now, you can connect the content to your child's unique learning styles.  How do they learn best?  Do they prefer to act things out or create learning games?  Are they talented at memorizing or would they rather chant the 50 states.  Find out their preferences and help them connect the content to their natural abilities. This will create a learning experience weaving together the content with your child's unique learning profile.
Finally, you want to help them communicate what they have learned.  Encourage the child to share with an audience bigger than family, school, or community.  Encourage them to make a difference in their world.  We want to move our children to producers of new information rather than consumers.  We want them to join the conversation the world is having about ideas that are important to them.  
Here are some of my favorite tools to reach out to a broad audience--with step by step directions on how to use them.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Envisioning the day in the life of a 21st century gifted teacher

The sun is shining and a new day has begun.  The teacher centers herself before the students arrive, preparing her body, mind, and spirit for the day ahead.  She has a keen awareness of herself and realizes each day must begin with a specific routine; otherwise she feels disconcerted.  She begins by assessing her energy level to determine what she needs before the day begins.  She prepares her material prior to class, but uses the morning to prepare mentally for the day ahead.  She also takes a quiet moment before the students arrive to consider what their needs may be and how she may come alongside and serve them.  She is the servant teacher.

She was hired to teach the pullout program for her neighborhood gifted program.  The students in her gifted classroom spend one full day a week with her for enrichment opportunities.  She has both an educational background and experience in serving gifted students.  Thanks to her education, her experience, and the wisdom of her Personal Learning Network made up of gifted educators, she realizes that best practices in gifted education can benefit all students.  Her school provides her with instructional support, but she wants the school to adopt her ideas throughout the district because she wholeheartedly believes an educational revolution is needed to change the hearts and minds of both teachers and students.  She believes that continuing to plant seeds with hope and intention will cause other teachers to notice she is doing something differently and ask how they can do the same in their classrooms.
She knows the students as she knows herself, and she is in tune with their individual needs.  She keeps detailed notes on each child are in her computer, and they are accessible to her from anywhere.  She has data on the students’ unique interests and aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses, and learning and personality profiles.  This allows her to conceptualize the learners in order to meet them where they are in the learning process.  She has been with this particular group for several years now and has built a relationship with their families.  She has a history with these families based on mutual trust and respect. Parents trust her as a steward of their child's time, space, and resources; she takes this responsibility to heart.  She is the families’ ally in the educational journey.

The teacher moves through the space in her classroom.  Like an architect, she has designed each space with a different purpose in mind.  As she passes through the classroom, she makes sure to flip on the power stations to make sure that all of her computer and audio-visual equipment is ready to go.  Next, she visits each unique area to be sure the proper tools are in their places so students have the materials they need in order to do their work.  She notices that the printer needs to be refilled and that the art supply station could use more construction paper.  Like most students, gifted students thrive on order in their environment, and she is mindful of that when she “zens” the classroom, her way of purposefully preparing the space so everything is in its place.  The classroom space speaks volumes, and she wants to be sure it is free of distractions when students arrive.  She adds a few apples and oranges to the fruit bowl, and the room is ready for the day. 
She is aware that she must create spaces to meet the wide variety of learning styles within her classroom.  There are formal learning areas with conference-style seating as well as informal learning areas with soft, movable spaces that students can enjoy alone or with others.  The spaces are suited to meet individual learning styles, projects requirements, and moods.  The teacher realizes that gifted students, especially students in the profoundly gifted range, tend to be introverted and need quiet spaces to rejuvenate, and that they sometimes just prefer to work alone. 
The teacher prepares the content prior to the students’ arrival in class.  She is aware of each student’s learning contract, and she aggregates content that she will either push out to the students or offer as direct instruction.  She trusts that students will also pull in their own information as their independent study projects move forward.  Students have the necessary training to find the resources they need in order to move through the independent study process systematically.  The teacher has a large personal learning network she can access when a student’s needs move beyond her own expertise.  She is masterful in her ability to connect her students with passion-area experts.

Although students arrive at different times throughout the morning, the teacher builds community by greets each student by name with warmth and enthusiasm.  Students are valued for who they are, not for what they can offer the classroom.  The teacher knows her students better than she knows her own content area.  She recognizes the tired looks on the faces of the students who are night owls and worked late into the night on their projects; she sees those early risers who probably made progress before arriving at school this morning.  She understands their strengths and weaknesses, and teaches to their strengths whenever possible.  She knows that gifted students flourish when they are encouraged to focus on their strength areas.  She empathizes with the self doubt of one young man and offers encouragement and reminds him of past successes as he prepares to seek reelection in the upcoming assembly later that day.  “Ren, remember when you conquered your public speaking fear and presented your findings to the school board?  That is evidence that you have what it takes to present your campaign materials confidently at the upcoming assembly.”  Her students trust her to believe in them, even when they do not always believe in themselves. 
The teacher understands her own weaknesses and humbly asks students to help her grow in those areas.  “Riley, could you please show me how you are using Tumblr for your blog?  You are using it in creative ways that I have experienced before.”  She learns as much from her students as they learn from her, and they appreciate her noticing their unique skills and abilities. 

Students enter the secure space and prepare for the day by choosing their work, deciding what goals they would like to set for themselves based on their individualized learning contract, and choosing the tools they need to reach those goals.  The teacher provides a high level of autonomy in the classroom.  Students are energized by the choices before them.  For some, this might mean firing up their Mac and working on their iMovie.  Others might be gathered around a surface computing device, learning anatomy by pulling back the layers of skin on the virtual cadaver they are controlling with the touch screen.  Small groups of students might be storyboarding an idea on the wall-to-wall whiteboard space, capturing their ideas in both words and pictures.  Individual students may be reading from a book or an e-reader, or listening to the latest podcast by an expert who shares their passion.  Students may access a variety of tools based on their individual learning styles, the learning requirements, or their mood when they walk through the classroom doors.  For all students, the resources aggregated by the teacher and brought forward to the students, means unrestricted access and complete autonomy within the learning architecture the teacher has built.
As the students work, the servant teacher seamlessly glides around the classroom, quietly listening to needs expressed through both words and actions.  She checks in with students about where they are on the learning continuum, because many of them have moved further along in the project between the time they left school and arrived back again this morning.  This empathetic presence demonstrates a deep understanding of the gifted child and expresses appreciation for the curiosity and wonder they bring to every learning experience.  “Grace, you are on the right track. Your layout is visually pleasing, the content is easy to follow, and the graphics in your invitation pop.  You may want to add some vocal spice by adding a sound bite to your invitation.  You have a beautiful voice and it might add that extra something that you feel is missing.  Let me know if I can help.”  The teacher is fully present when students need her, offering specific feedback on their work.  Her presence is calming and her encouragement authentic. 
She is masterful at guiding students to the appropriate tool for the job.  Like a builder, she realizes that a framing hammer would be a better option than a sledgehammer in situations that require more precision.  She gently persuades students to consider the best tool for the job at hand — which may or may not involve the use of technology.
By mid-morning all of the students have arrived, and they gather for a morning meeting.  This generally takes place in one of the soft spaces around the classroom.  The meeting consists of the group members’ reconnecting with one another and sharing any particular needs, challenges, or successes they have.  This sacred time is a chance for the group to build community.
At times, the morning meetings become a place of healing because classroom culture promotes authenticity, genuine caring, and respect for every student.  The teacher encourages the healing process, perhaps healing brokenness in students caused by years of feeling alienated and radically different from their age-appropriate peers.  The students know when to speak and when to listen.  They are trained in the art of listening from a young age; that knowledge comes from a shared commitment to active listening that is promoted both at school and at home.  The students value this process because it is through listening that they truly understand those around them, and they are truly understood.

The teacher listens to the students’ words as well as their body language.  When the students are ready, she shifts the conversation from one of healing to one of action. Students share their action plans and commit to their accountability partners for check-in time later that day.  The volume in the classroom during the morning meeting is like a wave, and when the wave hits the crest, the maximum point of positive energy before it comes crashing down, she celebrates their time together with high-fives all around and turns on a familiar song that signals to the class that they are ready to move back into independent study.
Gifted students are more different from one another than they are alike, but in their gifted class, they can likely find an intellectual peer with a shared affinity.  Students are independent workers, but they are also interdependent with others within the classroom community.  The more experienced students help the less experienced students, and that interchange is different from project to project.  These interchanges are evident during the work time.  The gifted scientist may help the struggling artist when they are studying anatomy, but the artist might become the mentor when they create sketches of the various organs.  Every member of the community, including the teacher, contributes their unique gifts and talents to others within their sphere of influence.  They are committed to each other’s growth.

Not only does the teacher see the big picture, but she also has the foresight to be mindful of where children are on their learning continuum and where they need to go.  She offers wisdom to move them along the learning journey toward greatness by encouraging them to build on their unique strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. She notices a younger boy needs inspiration to take a difficult step required to move his project to the next level.  She gently touches his shoulder and points up to the banner on the wall above them.  “Talon, look up and reflect on the quote by Harriet Tubman as I read it to you. ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.’  I know you can do this.”  While nurturing the student’s gifts, the servant teacher encourages the child to dream great dreams and begins to help conceptualize the picture of unrealized potential. 
Throughout the day, the teacher manages the content delivery to her students.  If direct instruction is needed on a particular topic area, students have choices, so they can pull the information in a form that best supports their learning style.  For instance, Grace needs to know how to mail merge her invitation and send it to her audience.  As a visual learner, she can access the screencast her teacher recorded last week with step-by-step directions on how to complete the mail merge. 
The teacher also has the capability of pushing the information to individual or small groups of students based on student needs.  For instance, Ren and Riley both need to know how to capture their audiences’ attention with a strong opening paragraph.  Their teacher realizes that their projects are completely different, but at this moment they both need exactly the same content. 
The boys are encouraged to move to a space in the classroom where they can interact with one another comfortably, and the teacher pushes to their mobile device a podcast outlining how to grab a reader’s attention, followed by practice scenarios for mastering the skill.  Directly following the podcast, the boys practice together using the scenarios provided.  Finally, they craft their opening paragraphs for the content areas they are working on.  The teacher understands that hands-on learners need a safe place to practice before creating their content.  Once they are confident, Ren writes his opening lines on his notecard, and Riley transfers his ideas directly into his blog with the option of turning his content into a podcast of his own.

Finally, the teacher would like to push a live lesson to the entire group.  “Class, I realize that all of you have plans for posting your projects to the class wiki.  There is no need to move; please just take out your personal device or move to an area where you are connected, and I will walk us through the process.”  For students out of earshot due to illness or travel, this message comes in a text format over their mobile devices.  The servant teacher understands that her learners may need to access this content again when it is time for them to upload their projects.  She uploads the content from today’s lesson into an online library of resources that are housed in a permanent location in the cloud.
The servant teacher understands the needs for frequent breaks and is adaptable based on the needs of her students.  Although there is not an established time for rest in the classroom, students can take breaks when they need them.  Some students take a much-needed break from their work to enjoy lunch, while others prefer a working lunch.  The schedule is based on each student’s individual needs, which change from day to day, month to month, and grade to grade. 

The afternoon continues in much the same way it began, with the teacher managing the ebb and flow of content and the students driving the learning based on their skill, ability, and energy level.  The teacher realizes that for a short time, she has been tasked with the great honor and responsibility of stewarding these gifts and helping each child reach his or her full potential.  This teacher pushes students to practice critical and creative thinking, uses higher-order thinking skills to solve problems, and seeks out information through inquiry.  She encourages students to take risks, make mistakes, and seek innovative solutions to problems.  The students are ultimately responsible for the learning, while the servant teacher is responsive to every student.
Like a train engineer, a wise teacher realizes it is very difficult to stop a moving train, and a lot of energy is required to get it moving again.  It is much more effective to slow it down or speed it up when needed.  Ultimately, keeping this type of learning train at a constant speed requires the least amount of energy.  Keeping students at a constant speed throughout the day requires a fluid connectedness between the content areas and the elimination of distractions.  Hard stops, like breaks between classes or long periods of teacher-driven instruction, can disrupt the students’ state of flow.  Flow is present when a student is free of distraction and has ample time to work on an area of passion in an environment conducive to learning.  Flow is the state of learning the servant teacher strives to create for each student.
Students say their goodbyes throughout the course of the afternoon, and the school day is over.  The teacher feels rejuvenated even though her day was full because the school provides her with trained educational support personnel supporting her throughout the day by joining her in the classroom and enabling her to rest when needed.  She understands that in order to give to her students fully, she must take care of herself first. 
With another day behind her, she takes a few moments to reflect on her day, jot down important notes about where students are in the learning process and what the next steps may look like, and note the things she is grateful for: her students and their families, her school, and her ability to serve.  These are all precious gifts to the servant teacher.

This classroom is far from traditional.  Students are not bound by time, as is evidenced in the structure of the beginning and the end of the day, which is based on the needs of the students.  The content is student-driven, and projects are chosen by the students.  Students are encouraged to work on real-world problems that require critical and creative thinking.  Rather than discussing an imminent collision of Train A and Train B both leaving the station at 3:15 p.m. and traveling at 60MPH, students are on a collision course for autonomous learning and are served up by a teacher who listens, heals, empathizes, understands, conceptualizes, plans, stewards, commits, builds a community, and provides tools and training that empower students to arrive at their desired destination — on time and ready for the next leg of the journey of life.  This is the life of a servant teacher.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Teaching Gifted Students the Art of Struggling

Have you ever had to struggle?  We all do on a regular basis, right?  I seem to be in the center of a couple struggles right now in my life.  Usually things come easy for me, but I am working on a project that is really stretching me.  I find myself turning ideas over and over in my head as I try and understand the best way to serve gifted students in the age of Common Core Standards.  This piece is not about Common Core, we can talk about that another time, rather it is about struggling through something when you are not used to struggling.
My own son is struggling in school right now.  In the age of high stakes testing I see the frustration in his eyes when we begin a topic he doesn’t understand and he feels like he is never going to get it.  As parents, we teach him to persevere by saying “It isn’t going to be easy, but I promise you it will be worth it.”
Gifted kids on the other hand, are not used to the feeling of angst that comes along with struggling on something.  Things come easy to them and when they have to struggle they often break down because the feeling is so foreign and they do not know how to cope with it.   We need to teach them the art of the struggle.  Here are a few suggestions that parents and teachers can do to help students who are struggling.

  1. Help students take a deep breath and calm themselves.  In order to tackle difficult things they have to be in a good place emotionally.
  2. Through storytelling, share a time in your life when you struggled with something and how you worked through the struggle.  Be sure to add that it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
  3. Teach them some positive self talk by modeling it aloud.  Their brain should be reacting positively to the task at hand.  At first use your voice to teach them the kinds of things they should be saying to themselves.  
  4. Transfer the ownership to the student by having them share with you what their brain is telling them.  Correct the child if they are experiencing negative self talk.
  5. Remind them that the struggle isn’t going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

It is my nature as a mother to want to protect my children from struggles.  I think many of us feel that way.  But like the story of the butterfly that has to fight her way out of the cocoon in order to survive, I have learned that we must give our children wings to fly.  I will tell you something—it is much easier to help your child through struggles on “small” things when they are younger, rather than them having to experience their first struggles in high school or college when the stakes are much higher.  Find the little things that might create struggle and be the voice on their shoulder to help them through the difficult moments.  This voice will be with them as they face bigger challenges in the future.  Remember, it isn’t going to be easy but I promise you, it will be worth it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Beyond Average

There is something to be said about being average.  I had the pleasure of being an average learner at a Denapalooza event in Boise this past weekend. 
What is average you ask?  Here is the best explanation I have heard.  Think about a Bell Curve.  The average is the highest point of the Bell Curve.  The average is dead center.   When we think of gifted people we look at the people who are on high end of the curve, or the far right.  You might note that those on the far left are equal distance from the midline as those on the far right.  In school, those on the left qualify for special education services and if a child on the right side is lucky, there school provides gifted education services for those students who need them.  I use the word need here because if you fold the Bell Curve in half, both students are equal distance from the middle, or average student.  Both sides are entitled to services because we are part of a system, out of necessity, that teaches to the middle. 
I experienced being in the middle this past weekend and it was glorious.  I was fully engaged and learning from those around me as an attendee at the Denapalooza event.  I was a speaker and shared what I knew with the audience and loved every minute, but the highlight was getting to hang out with people who knew more about technology than I did.  I love being around really bright people, especially in my area of passion which is technology.  I learned about using green screen technology to do videos in the classroom, how to organize a classroom so every student is working at their own level, and we even delved into creating our own apps to share with the world.  Now that really intrigues me. 
I came home feeling like I had really learned a lot.  There is something to be said for attending events and coming away with new and exciting ideas and opportunities.  This is the kind of learning out gifted students may rarely experience.  They know over half of the material when they walk into the classroom and when they do not know something, they can learn it in 1-2 repetitions.  As an average learner, I was fully engaged and taking notes like crazy as those around me shared what they were doing in their classrooms.  How do we give this kind of opportunity to our gifted children and help them to have the best experience ever as a learner?  I believe it boils down to 5 things.
1.        We come alongside our students as an ally.  This means that we are a servant teacher, one that practices the art of Servant Leadership and puts the needs of the students first. 
2.       We are adaptable to the needs of the students.  In gifted education this comes in the form of differentiation.  Differentiating as much of the curriculum as possible to meet the learners where they are in the learning process.  It also means that we are willing to adapt our own view of education and allow ourselves to be both a teacher and a learner.
3.       We are architects of the student’s learning.  We know how to build learning experiences that are at just the right level of readiness for our students, in their zone of proximal development.  We know how to structure learning so it is engaging and builds on a student’s strengths and interests.
4.       We are resource aggregators.  We know how to pull the best print, digital, and human resources together to meet the needs of the students.  As my friend Ginger Lewman likes to say the teacher is not “the source, but a resource.”
5.       Finally, we must promote autonomy.  We will not always be able to be alongside the student so we need to teach them how to learn on their own, promoting lifelong learning.  This is not always easy, but it is always necessary.
My bog is going to focus on these 5 areas as it relates to teaching, learning, gifted education, and 21st century learning tools.  When I mention the idea of an educator as an adaptable ally, who is willing to aggregate resources to create a learning architecture that promotes autonomy, the idea can be awesome and overwhelming, all at the same time.  We are going to break it down through a series of blogs and trainings that will help you to see the whole picture and how to accomplish it.  In the meantime, what strategies are you currently using to educate the gifted learners in your life?  If you are a gifted person, what strategies work for you? Please leave your ideas below.
I would also like to send you a personal invitation to friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, join us on Pinterest and learn from us on Youtube.  We look forward to you becoming part of the ingenuity we are sharing with educators everywhere.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Ingenious! ideas are shared yesterday, today, and beyond

We have always had ways of passing along information, skills, and learning to those around us.  As a child my great grandmother taught me to crochet.  These long chains, as well as hook latch rugs, became a fabric of who I am becoming.  We talk about how the art of passing along those "old fashioned" skills is now becoming obsolete as fast as handwriting is losing ground as an art form.  It hit me a couple of weeks ago that this is not the case.  We can celebrate and learn from one another through a variety of forms of social media in ways we could not in the past. 
Although my grandma is in her 80's, she is connected to us through social media.  Even though she posts private messages on her wall because she hasn't found the message button in Facebook, she is sharing her life with us.  Robyn shared that her daughter is learning to sew and her and her grandmother look up patterns online.  Imagine the sewing forums available with ideas from other grandmothers and their saavy teens and 20 somthings.  Not only could they look up patterns, but together they could watch youtube videos with sewing techniques that grandma hasn't learned yet.  Voila, we are suddenly educating two generations of learners--and perhaps 3 if mom is involved in the process.
Maite and Joanna both spoke of using YouTube for inspiration.  Joanna also mentioned using Pinterest in place of print media, like magazines she used to pine over.  The printing press revolutionized learning in the same way, I believe, the internet has the potential to change the way we learn today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Yesterday a friend told me that although she knows the videos I create are very valuable, she has less time to watch a video than to read a post because we read and process information 6-10 times faster than we can watch a video.  Wow, I hadn't realized that.  I sometimes prefer to read content as well.  We must provide our readers/students with more than one way to process information.  This blog is for those of you who prefer to have text based information.  It is also for those of you who love learning from others.  This is the beginning of a wonderful conversation we will weave.
As I worked my way though my PhD program, I kept hearing that the dissertation process was our way of joining a conversation that was occurring among academics. It was our job to research the conversation so we had something new and interesting to say.  Once we had the background information we could join in the conversation by contributing a small body of new knowledge to move the conversation along.  That is the purpose of this blog, to hold a conversation with you and for you to build connections with one another.  You are all reading content on the web and beyond that will contribute to our conversation.  Please reply with your ideas for how your new learning can be used with gifted learners in clever new ways in the comment box below.
What are we going to talk about you ask?  That is up to you!  My passion and areas of expertise are gifted education and what it takes to educate 21st century gifted learners. I will share tips, tricks, tools, and ideas with you and provide space on Pinterest to organize those ideas so you’re Ingenius! ideas will not overwhelm or discourage you.  Our next conversation will focus on organizing your resources.  
Until then, please introduce yourself so we can welcome you into our conversation.  Please feel free to share how you learned as a child and how you are currently learning.  I look forward to all of your ingenious! ideas.
In the meantime, if you are in the Treasure Valley, Idaho area I would love to meet you.  I have been invited to speak on Educating 21st Century Gifted Learners on the 2013 DENapalooza Tour at the capitol building in Boise on Saturday, May 11th, 2013. If you can make it I would love to see you.
The event is 9am-4pm—I speak first thing in the morning in the main Auditorium.  The event is free and here is the link to register. It is an amazing opportunity for teachers and I can’t wait to learn more.