Utilizing Technology to Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners
Instead of walking into a classroom and listening to your teacher talk, how would you like to enter your classroom and see this?
So many of our gifted students are bored and estimates show that 20% - 50% are underachieving. One of the big challenges in gifted education is keeping these kids motivated and engaged. Powtoon is one easy way to motivate and engage ALL students. In under 45 minutes, I was able to use one of their templates, figure out how to modify it, and create the Powtoon linked above. And it cost me nothing! I think this is my new favorite website!
Effective use of technology is one way to meet the needs of our much ignored gifted students. With the focus on the lowest 25% of students, our highest students are left to fend for themselves. Technology offers hope for these bored and frustrated students. In his article, Using Technology With Gifted Students, Neven Jurkovic delineates four ways technology can serve our gifted students. One way is to provide differentiated content for kids ready for more than the regular classroom can offer. Another way is differentiated assignments, which would allow gifted students to show their learning about the same topic the rest of the class is studying in a more challenging way. Additionally, technology can allow these students choices for what they want to explore in depth. Finally, Jurkovic praises technology’s communication opportunities which enable our gifted students to connect with like-minded peers across the world.
As a classroom teacher, it is very difficult to appropriately differentiate for our highest ability students. I agree that technology offers a multitude of ways to successfully challenge these kids. Here are some more resources I have discovered. Many would be good for all students, but these offer gifted kids in particular the enriching opportunities they crave.
· Powtoon: a great site for teachers to create fun ways to deliver content. I would have gifted kids use this site to create presentations for class assignments.
· WebQuests: these are projects which require a great deal of research and problem solving, most of which is done online. For example, I found one in which students are given the task of designing and building a community park. This requires a multitude of cross curricular skills to complete. There are several WebQuests available. There are also templates and tutorials to help you create your own. This is the kind of learning project that many gifted kids love. I would offer this for kids who can pass a pretest on the topic and allow them to complete a WebQuest to go deeper into the topic.
· Virtual field trips: many organizations offer this opportunity to visit far-away places without leaning your classroom. This allows gifted kids to pursue their passions without having to travel. These could be used to enrich so many topics and again, this would be good for all kids.
· Online courses: there are a plethora of sites out there that allow gifted kids to take courses at their academic level as opposed to their grade level. Many are free. This could be a replacement of traditional homework.
· Online Projects: there are projects to be completed online that require students to interact with other students across the world that are working on the same project. Gifted kids can choose a project they are enthusiastic about and interact with others.
· I also discovered rezzly.com which takes educational content and turns it into an online game. Instead of passing tests, kids earn experience points and badges. Video games to learn school content??? What kid wouldn’t love that?
· One other resource that many articles I read supported for gifted kids are some Web 2.0 resources. (Check me out! Before yesterday, I had no idea what Web 2.0 meant!!!). One type of scaffolding that gifted students need is interacting with other gifted kids. Blogs, social media, and other Web 2.0 content can serve that need well. I have used a blog in class before and it is definitely something I would do again.
Reaching and serving our gifted kids is something I am passionate about. I had a great time exploring some online resources to enrich the curriculum for them. Before this exploration, I didn’t know most of these resources existed. I am wondering what else I can make into a Powtoon….
Best Web Quests. (n.d.). Retrieved on 9/13/16 from http://web.archive.org/web/20050616010026/http://www.bestwebquests.com/default.asp
How Gamification Works. Retrieved on 9/13/16 from http://rezzly.com/does-gamification-work/.
Jurkovic, Neven (2012) Using Technology With Gifted Students. Retrieved on 9/13/16 from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/technology-gifted-students.shtml
Online Projects for Kids (n.d.) Retrieved on 9/13/16 from http://www.vickiblackwell.com/projects.html